Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Making sure that love never goes unnoticed

We are always super excited when we receive new style designs from our vendors, and today is no exception! We’ve recently received 17 new items from Doc Milo, and someone said “Wow. I wonder how all these artists come up with such adorable things.” Well, why not ask?!?

As an opportunity to find out more about one of our creative vendors, we caught up with Sarah Sheffer from Doc Milo and here is what she had to say!

Paperstyle: When and why did you decide to start Doc Milo?

Sarah: I wish I had a more businesslike answer but the truth is that I started the company (in 1998) because it was the single most fun thing I could think up to do. Anyone who’s ever started something from nothing will know what I mean when I say it was all just a grand adventure back then. Terrifying and exhilarating all at once. That the company has become what it has all these years later is as much a testament to the joy with which the whole enterprise was conceived as it is to the fantastic energy of not only everyone now working at Doc Milo, but also the creative spirit that drives our vendors and the end users of our papers. I think when you do what you love, you naturally draw other people to you who love what they do, and that spark just keeps getting passed back and forth and getting brighter and more fabulous for everyone involved.

Paperstyle: When you are looking for inspiration, where do you turn?

Sarah: First and foremost, I come from a family of big party throwers. Lots of cousins, lots of weddings, lots of babies...basically lots of milestones. My whole life, at every opportunity, there’s a party. So I think that the fun, fabulous quality that people so respond to in my work is really just the energy of my family, sort of channeled into ink. Nice that I get to take credit for it, but there’s a whole tribe of wonderful people and experiences and memories behind me every time I sit down to draw. Just remembering the good times we’ve had and thinking about the good times to come.

As for sheer style points? Well, my baby sister (who’s now 30, and yes, still my baby) is definitely my fashion muse - very Audrey Hepburn - she’s like the human embodiment of the word “adorable,” but in a very cool way. Because I have the world’s greatest mother, I got to spend a summer in high school studying in the fashion department at the Parsons School of Design, which was just incredible, and probably permanently firmed up fashion design as a cornerstone of inspiration for me forever. Add to that the fact that I was an architecture major at Columbia and then after college worked briefly in interior design and, well, I guess it’s safe to say you see all those influences at play in my work. Color, line, form, all of that. Just the big wide world of art and design, which is endless. And really, that’s the beauty of inspiration...that it can come from anywhere.

So I guess as far as where I “turn?” I turn all around, all the time, looking at everything I possibly can. You just never know...and that’s the fun. There are amazing people doing amazing work all over the place. If you’re open to it, the really good stuff is everywhere. It’s just about getting yourself in a place where you can be receptive and then, corny as it sounds, it sort of just appears as needed.

Paperstyle: In the years you have been doing this, what have you learned that you would like to share?

Sarah: The social stationery business is endlessly complex and fascinating, but the main thing I have learned is actually the simplest. Yes, we’re all terribly sophisticated these days. We shop over the internet. We get paperless proofs. We have overnight shipping to China or Brazil or London. But when it comes to celebrating the special occasions in our lives, we still want the same things we always have.

We want to mark the big events - weddings, births, celebrations of every kind - with a sort of emotional exclamation point. We want beauty and grace and a true sense of festivity, because at bottom, what this whole industry is about is love. What I do? It’s about helping to make sure that love never goes unnoticed.

For anyone who wants to know the secret to my business, it is just this: the closer I come to capturing pure joy on paper, the better able I am to tap into that endlessly elusive, yet immediately recognizable feeling, the better a seller I have. Because what speaks to all of us at these times in our lives is the same. It’s magic. It’s all about the magic. And, really, what else is love if not that?

Paperstyle: Do you have a favorite of your new line of invitations?

Sarah: Asking me which of my designs I like best is like asking someone which of their kids they like best. Anyone who tells you they don’t have a favorite is lying, but they’ll never tell you who it is, and neither will I. :)

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