Here at Dauphine, we truly value our relationships with the retail stores that represent our letterpress lines. We work with the finest, most fabulous stationers in the country and are proud to introduce a series of Store Spotlight posts. We kick off the series with our recent conversation with Libby Pettit of byrd + bleecker based in Fort Worth, Texas.
What did you do in your life B.B.B. (before byrd + bleecker)?
BBB, I was working in corporate real estate for Sony and an attorney in New York City. Which in layman’s terms meant I was finding space to build music studios, movie lots, gaming development labs, retail stores, etc, then negotiating and drafting the leases to get the deals done. It was an incredibly rewarding job and I loved everyone I worked with (and the traveling, movies and music that were concomitant with the job), but the nuts and bolts of my work meant I was usually around people who had problems – their office was too small, the building had too little parking, a wall fell down and the landlord wouldn’t repair it – so when was I going to be around someone who had joyous news? At least once every other week, for a release, I would walk into my favorite neighborhood stationery store (they know who they are!) and decompress, buy a few cards, zone out running my fingers across all the letterpressed goodness. Sooner rather than later, I realized I could do this too! And it helped as I was getting older, with my savings I could afford to take a risk that I might not have been able to take when I was younger. I just needed to find the right place to jump in, head-first. NYC’s bubble had yet to burst, so I chose Fort Worth, Texas, packed up and convinced the boyfriend, now husband, to follow me! We miss NYC dearly, but Fort Worth has been such a welcoming town, full of genuine and interesting people, and my clients have impeccable taste. And here, I was able to adopt the world’s Most Awesome Dog, which I could never have done in my BBB days. (Luckily, he gets along with the world’s Most Streetwise Cat.)
When did you first realize that you had a passion for paper?
When my dad would buy us personalized stationery as a kid and I would get so peeved if I messed up addressing an envelope. That was an envelope with my return address printed! Those just don’t grow on trees, ya know! Of course, I now realize that I have spent my entire life around inordinate amounts of paper: from heavy school books to leases the size of those same textbooks to now owning a stationery store (that sells lots of coffee table books), I must have been personally responsible for the denuding of several small forests. Thank goodness so much of what we all do in the printing business today is recycled or 100% PCW! What’s that they say about karma?!?
How did you develop your letterpress stationery line with illustrator Izak Zenou?
When I began my business, I knew I needed to have a look that communicated the chic, urban, sophisticated client I wanted to attract (without the track record of already having done so). I needed artwork that immediately told you this is a cool store and a cool person with which to do business. Izak immediately understood that and was an amazing, collaborative partner for my branding identity. Then, last spring, he announced he was ready to do licensed artwork and I jumped on the opportunity. We already had a working relationship, he understood the consumer and lifestyle, and I knew the printing and market niches into which we could fit. It was a natural partnership and I am very proud of our curated little line. Just wait until next year…we have big plans for our characters in the cards.
What is the Byrd + Bleecker design aesthetic?
Clean but not spare; elegant but not staid; aspirational but not unattainable; whimsical but not juvenile; friendly but not saccharine; confident but not haughty; feminine but not girly.
What inspires you?
I love anything “graphy” – typography, photography, cinematography. I also live to travel, so I love gathering design inspiration and color palettes when I travel. If something was built in the 1500s and has retained its beauty until today, chances are the glass green, cornflower and saffron tiles they paired together are as timeless a color combination today as it was contemporary back then. Even if you and I wouldn’t think to immediately pair all those colors together.
What trends are you noticing in wedding stationery?
From printers, I see a trending toward finding ways to make suites more affordable either by offering flat printing or changing the shape and size of designs to reduce postage costs. I’m also seeing tons of the “DIY” looks so incredibly popular on blogs like SMP, RitzyBee, 100 Layer Cake, Design*Sponge, Brooklyn Bride, Once Wed, Snippet & Ink, etc. From brides, I see lots of brides trying to personalize their designs using custom calligraphy (there’s another -graphy I love!) and/or monograms instead of through multiple variations on the design itself. If your name is already something unique to you, why not display that in a unique way that no one else can? Also, I see brides skipping inner envelopes entirely appreciating the simplicity and ease of the reply postcard.
What are the hottest trends or must haves for weddings in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area?
In Fort Worth, it has to be purple, purple and some more purple. TCU (Texas Christian University) grads especially love any combination of the colors. We have also had a number of pewter and verbena brides. Another must have I see is corner rounding. It never ceases to amaze me how such a simple finishing process can change the whole tone of an invite. Lastly, brides here are still very sensitive to etiquette, so I see a lot of them requesting tissue or glassine sheets for inserting in between the pieces and advice on how to address everyone properly.
Photography by byrd & bleecker and Fred Egan