It was over a decade ago that I began my nationwide search for my very first letterpress. I had immediately fallen in love with the tactile feel of letterpress when I first laid eyes on this artform during my early days as a graphic designer. With the main part of my business focused on wedding invitation design at the time, I decided I wanted to try letterpress myself and print invitations in-house for clients. I searched far and wide for a press for at least a year, checking listings on Briar Press and Ebay at least 3 times a day. Finally, I discovered a man in Rhode Island who refurbished old presses and at long last, I was finally able to end my search. When my little tabletop letterpress arrived on my doorstep in January of 2009, I was over the moon.
I spent countless hours researching the craft and fumbling around on the press trying to figure out how it worked. I learned mostly by trial and error, which at times was a very frustrating way to learn, but I had this passion inside of me that kept me going. The more I learned, the more I wanted to explore, so I began printing my own hand-drawn illustrations. I still remember the very first illustration I printed of a little coffee cup and the great joy it brought me to see my design come to life on that piece of cotton paper. It was then that it clicked. I was going to start my own stationery business.
Throughout the years, my business has grown and evolved to look so much different than it did 10 years ago. Originally starting as a wedding invitation business, today Ramona & Ruth primarily partners with retailers all across the country, and even the world, to sell our paper goods. In the early days, I worked out of a spare bedroom in the upstairs of our house. I had one single drawer for my inventory, and printed orders on demand. I eventually purchased a larger press - my Golding Pearl press - and had my brother and husband lug the 700 lb machine upstairs.
From day one, it was my dream to exhibit at the National Stationery Show, a tradeshow specifically for the stationery industry that was held every May in New York City. I would pour over photos of the event from one of my favorite blogs, Oh So Beautiful Paper and thought, I'm going to do that someday. With a couple years under my belt, I finally gathered the courage to exhibit at my first show in 2011 with the Ladies of Letterpress. We each had a little section of the booth to call our own. It was just perfect for a first-timer like myself.
The next two years, I shared a booth with my friend Eva from Fat Bunny Press. We initially met in the Ladies of Letterpress booth the year before (you can spot her in the photo above) and became fast friends. We had such a great time sharing a booth together and chatting in between buyers.
In the next 5 years that followed, I exhibited in my own space with a booth that my Dad built for me in the basement of his house. When the booth was all finished, we gathered it up, loaded it into a crate and sent it on its way from Omaha, Nebraska to NYC.
As the wholesale side of my business continued to grow, I knew the time was right to purchase a Heidelberg Windmill letterpress to help me with printing larger wholesale orders. With this press upgrade also came a studio upgrade. Weighing in at 3,000 pounds, the Windmill was a much larger machine than my current press and therefore needed the space to accommodate it. Instead of finding a separate off-site studio space, my husband and I decided to have a letterpress studio built onto the back of our home. With no overhead and no commute I could better balance staying at home with my two little boys with my work in the studio.
After a few months, the studio was finished and the presses were moved in safe and sound. I did have to hold my breath a little when the movers shimmied that Windmill up the stairs into its new studio!
Perhaps the biggest change came in 2016 when I decided to change the business name from Paper Lovely to Ramona & Ruth. I had been thinking about a name change for a couple of years when I finally decided to go ahead with it. I knew it would be a big undertaking and was a little risky given the brand recognition I had already built up for 7 years, but felt in my bones that it was the right thing to do. The name Paper Lovely just didn't seem to fit anymore. My designs had evolved and I felt like I had finally found my unique voice. Moreover, I longed for a name that was more meaningful to me. Ramona & Ruth was it. Named after my two grandmothers, I loved how the name honored them and also encompassed the idea of fostering connection between others, even across generations, through the gift of a handwritten note.
It has been an amazing journey, one that I am so thankful for. My family has been a huge support system for me as I navigate through the ups and downs of owning a business. From lending a helping hand for packaging cards, traveling across the country to tradeshows, and even just a word of encouragement, they have been there through it all.
Thank you for following along and for all of your support along the way! I am so thankful that I get to create greeting cards for you to share with your loved ones. Playing a tiny role in helping to make someone's day a little brighter is at the core of why I do what I do. Thank you for these 10 years. I can't wait to see what the next 10 bring.