Women of The Wedding Industry Wednesday with Kristin Hussey of Sable & Gray Paper Co.
Happy Galentines everyone!
Ever since Galentines Day came into our ever growing national holiday/celebration calendar by way of Leslie Knope and Parks and Rec in 2010, women round the US have been delving deeper into their friendship and quiches on February 13 in celebration of female friendships.
Ladies celebrating ladies. Leaving the partners at home and kicking it, breakfast style.
A few weeks ago my revelrous heart had dreams of throwing a dreamy Galentine's Day brunch celebration complete with a tower of bacon and flowers all spray painted in pastels because #ontrend and maybe maybe allow my translucent white winter legs a glimpse of freedom from their sweatpants and wear a CUTE DRESS.
But alas. We're in the midst of the gales of February and every well laid winter plan I have is usually upended by Northern Michigan weather patterns. It's hard to throw a party in a monthlong snowstorm in Northern Michigan.
And, something else.
Throughout this business journey, I have felt incredibly thankful for and warmed by all of the different women who come together to share in this entrepreneurial journey. Who encourage each other and support each other and give shout outs to each other and create networking events and mentor sessions and workshops where they give people the opportunity to learn new skills. Who create opportunities to get together, and are endlessly praising and building each other up on the 'Gram and IRL. Sometimes I have been the recipient of this lady affection, and sometimes I have given it.
And it's great. And has introduced me to some of my new favorite people as a result.
But not so long ago, I saw something I resonated with so much by way of my friend Annie, owner and creator at Compass Paper Co. (a small but mighty shop that produces some of the cheekiest outdoor cards and goods this side of the universe - and proudly are now sold at over 60 REI stores). Annie talked about something that had been a realization I had over my first year as a small business owner.
Take care of your OG people, was the gist of the message. Step out of the circle jerk every once in awhile (okay she didn't use this term, but we talked about it and it seemed like a fitting and vulgar metaphor- my favorite).
Yes, it's wonderful to have industry connections. Yes, we all love (and I mean love) seeing you open your BoxFox on Instagram stories. Yes, cocktail hour and sexy lattes and boomerangs and dinners out and events and workshops and classes with your best industry buds and friendors helps build camaraderie and infuses joy into this work. There truly is nothing like connecting with people who are also in the throes of owning and operating their creative business and make a living this way. They get it, and that's such a gift.
But don't forget to take care of your people, Annie said. Behind the scenes.
Don't forget to do the simple things. Don't forget to send things in private, without anyone needing to know. Don't forget to support and grow the friendships that exist outside of this creative industry world. Don't forget to send a generic but thoughtful gift just because. Or check in with your friends and their work.
Don't forget that entrepreneurism is not the be all and end all. That your people are doing wonderful and important things as teachers and nurses and doctors and marketing specialists and project managers, and non-profit leaders and consultants and grad students and engineers and and all of it. Don't forget to lean into their successes, their trials, their work conflict, their bitchy boss. Don't ever tell them they should quit their job and move back to Michigan finally and "see what happens". They hate that. That's your life babe, and you need their endless pep talks to make it through each week, remember?
Several times over the past year, I have felt like a failure as a friend. As a daughter. As a partner to my husbabe. As an acquaintance. As the one friend who used to remember to send cards for every birthday and send a small thoughtful gift, who organized weekends or theme parties or holiday get togethers with my college friends, who made my parents something handmade and special for their birthdays. Who bought new charms for my niece's gold bracelet and visited my friends for a weekend when they were having a rough go of it. Who could afford $12 cocktails (2 even) during not happy hour with my nice fat salary.
But in 2018, I felt like I was pouring all of my energy into my business and my new relationships, or my client couples, and after awhile it was starting to get to me.
What happened to my ability to care for my closest? To make them feel special? To honor our 15 year friendships? To remember the little things, like sending a card?
I made myself a few promises for 2019. I don't do resolutions. But I do look out for my future self, and I try to be a friend to her.
First, I was going to make room for myself to be alone - that needed to happen. As an extrovert who thrives among people and within social groups, I realized I would get burnt out if I didn't learn how to rest and restore some energy for when I'd need it (hello 18 hour wedding days with no sleep the night before). I set the 'one social activity a week and one meeting a week max.' It is a perfect parameter and it has saved my ass. It's weird telling people no. They don't always expect it from me. But like I said it's quite literally saved my sanity.
I was going to be present for my marriage. Which meant figuring out how to turn off work at 5:00 PM when Ryan gets home even though my work lives in our home. In my head. And in my heart at all times. I was going to protect our time together and prioritize it above all else. I set the '5:00 PM - 7:00 PM dinnertime is sacred' parameter and it has saved my young marriage and friendship with Ryan from ultimate destruction (so metal).
And lastly, I was going to remember to take care of my friendships and my family.
I set the 'showing my family and best friends that they matter to me comes first, before other relationships' parameter. And it's something I struggle with because I don't live near our family or my best friends.
I was going to remember to send the cards.
And in this realization, I reminded myself this week that I didn't need to throw an elaborate Galentine's Day party. What I needed was to pick up the phone. To FaceTime. To go buy pretty stamps. To send a card. (Still working on this!). To write the "mail by" dates in my calendar. To remember to be a friend IRL.
On another level, I feel the need to acknowledge another intention with these blogs.
This year has strapped me financially. Starting a business is a risky investment. Quitting your full time job in your first year as a business owner is dumb (HI!).
In an effort to keep our finances stable, I finally had to acknowledge the same priority structure I have in my relationships would have to be applied to my finances.
I realize you all lead incredibly interesting workshops and retreats. And sell absolutely cool and interesting things I want to buy. And gift each other the most beautiful gifts to show you care. And attend fun networking events and drink $12 cocktails. I know that at your heart, you are supporting this wide web of female entrepreneurism and I LOVE THAT.
And I'll join you, one day. I know that. I'm optimistic about this business's potential. I know that I am in the seeding phase, and one day I'll look out and see my garden.
But for now, this blog is my love language.
My way of telling you I support you. I want to show up for you. I want to acknowledge the work you are doing. The one thing I am able to give you right now, in this phase of my slowly growing business, is words of affirmation - my love language. It's the one thing I can give freely, and equally to both my new friends and my old ones without running out. Without bankrupting myself.
This blog was never intended to be cliquey. And I hope it hasn't made anyone feel that way. As a sensitive person, I can see how it might be. I simply am prioritizing introducing you to women I tend to work with, or have the opportunity to work with in Northern Michigan, Grand Rapids, and Detroit. I prioritize women who I've connected with in real life or who have shown up for me through work or in the social network that we spend time on. I prioritize women who have sent me encouraging messages or who have taken time to write something sweet to me. One such person is Kristin Hussey, owner and creative director of Sable & Gray Paper Co. A true letterer of love and creator of all that is holy and swoonworthy!
Though I have my priorities going into 2019, any opportunity I have to meet a new gal in the industry is welcome, appreciated, and so so fun. It's in my nature to be expansive with relationships. It's just balancing that with depth too.
As Women of The Wedding Industry goes on, I'll be interviewing some women I know well, some women I consider friends, and some women I have never met, but who I hope to when our paths cross!
As you'll learn below, I saw Kristin but once in real life, at a favorite coffee shop. I was too shy to say hi and introduce myself, but as I walked by I heard this gorgeous, wholesome looking, banged blonde drop the most perfect F bomb and I thought, now that is a lady.
Obviously we'll start with the basics. Your last name is Hussey. Are you currently, or were you ever a hussey? For reference, a 'Hussy' (n) is an "imprudent or immoral girl or woman".
Lol! Not really! I've always been pretty type A, and more of a rule follower. I still vividly remember my one and only klepto moment, which was stealing M&M's from my 2nd grade teacher's candy jar, and I felt so guilty about it that I came home crying to my parents and fessed up about the whole thing. But the day I got married, my husband's aunt said, "congratulations! Not many us get to become "hussies" AFTER we're married!"
I once saw you at BLK/MRKT and I was too shy to say hi because I only Insta-knew you, but I heard you drop the F bomb and I knew I would really, really like you. How do you balance being real and sophisticated so well?
LOL! Oh my gosh I wish you had said hi!! As I state below, there are definitely a few choice words I LOVE to say when I'm mad! I think being a mom has taught me to reign in the sailor-mouth a bit until I'm around certain people hahaha. But I think the "sophisticated" side actually comes from me being a tried-and-true introvert. I'm painfully shy and have to work really hard to overcome that when I'm around new people. Once I'm more comfortable around people, I'll start to let my freak flag fly a bit more, but when I'm in a setting where I'm still getting the feel of things I tend to be pretty quiet and err on the side of just smiling and nodding.
Who is Sable? Who is Gray?
My company is named after two of my first loves; my horse, Sable and my cat, Gray. I thought that both names were fitting for an art business as they're both names of colors, and "sable" is also the best type of watercolor paintbrush that you can buy!
I read once and I think it's still on your website that you were an architect! Tell us about that time in your life.
Yes! I went to school for architecture at North Carolina State and graduated with a double bachelors in Environmental Design and Architecture. After that I worked at a beautiful, modern architecture firm in Durham, which was a total dream firm to work for. But I quickly learned that the reality of being an architect wasn't the right fit for me (you spend a very small percentage of time doing design work, and much of the design work that you do is done on the computer). So I decided that I wanted to do a career where I was able to spend more time working with my hands, building meaningful relationships with my clients, and creating artwork that I was passionate about. But the time I spent at architecture school was invaluable! I learned so much about design, how to present my ideas, and how to take criticism about my work. It's also where I met my husband, which was definitely a bonus. ;)
How did architecture lead you to painting the most romantic and beautiful watercolors?
Aw thank you! I think it may have been the opposition of it? By the time I decided I didn't want to do architecture anymore, I wanted to go in an almost completely opposite direction. I first tried my hands at floral design, and that reawakened my passion for flowers, romance, and beautiful weddings. (My mom is (and my grandmother was) a master gardener so I've always been very inspired flowers and nature). While I was working at that florist, the owners bought a stationery company and asked me to run it because they knew I had a background in design. I was a bit nervous about the transition, but I took a leap of faith and I ended up loving stationery design. After designing their stationery for a bit, I decided to go off on my own (with a lot of encouragement from my husband), and I haven't looked back! (That was five years ago now... I can't believe it!)
What is your favorite word in the English language to say, and what is your favorite one to write?
I think it depends on what mood I'm in? There's a few choice words that are pretty fun to say when I'm mad lol. But I love the scene in Donnie Darko when they talk about "Cellar Door" being the most beautiful words in the english language... and I have to agree it's really beautiful to say. And I love writing words that start with an "S" and have a "Y" or a "G" in them... it's fun to play with the tails of the letters when writing in calligraphy.
You are so dang talented. You paint. You calligraph. You draw. You graphic design. Do you do them all in one day, or do you set different days aside for both.
I usually do a mix of different things each day. I wish I could set aside more time to just paint and create, but the reality of running a small business it that I have to wear a ton of different hats, so I spend a lot of time responding to emails, updating social media, managing projects, etc. But the designing days are definitely my favorite days. I do like to mix different media within my designs, so I usually end up doing a bit of each art form you listed above for all of my suites. I think this makes them extra special, and creates a look that is without-a-doubt custom for each bride.
This vintage equestrian suite though. Designed by Sable & Gray. Photo credit, Cory Weber.
You have the sexiest assistant team right now! Tell us about Em and what your day to day office life looks like with them. Thank you!! Em is such a life saver. She is an artist in her own right, and is mega talented, and I am the luckiest lady in the world that she is willing to share some of her time to help make my dreams a reality. Em works in my studio two days a week and helps with project management, client calls, writing proposals, assembling suites, and pretty much keeping me sane. She's the absolute best and I selfishly hope she never leaves me!
One of Em Randall's seasonal winter cards, sold through her online shop, www.emrandall.com.
What is your production like? I can't really picture where hundreds of custom invitations come from.
I start with creating the artwork at a larger scale, and then scan it into my computer where I edit it and lay it out using Adobe Illustrator. This is where I add text and create the different pieces that will correspond within the suite. Once everything is designed and approved by the client, I send it off to the printer, who then ships it back to me when everything is printed. We then do a quality check, assemble any details like wax seals or hand-tied silk ribbons, and then package the suite to be shipped off to the client.
When did you get/first use a Mac? How has technology changed to allow hybrid calligraphy, painting, and graphic design to all take place in the same studio?
I've used a Mac since I started college in 2006, and have never looked back. I definitely wouldn't be able to do what I do without it! The main software that I use is Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign, and they allow me to merge all of the different types of art and work that I do into one small space. And yes, technology just keeps getting better and better. I actually just got my brand new iMac last week and it's so fasssstttt!! It's a total game changer!
Whose wedding invitation suite, living or dead, do you most want to design?
Probably Beyonce & Jay-Z? No that's too much pressure I'd probably pee my pants. I'm actually designing my sister's wedding invitations right now and as cheesy as that sounds it's the biggest honor and makes me the happiest girl in the world. Nothing makes me happier than seeing her in love, and having a chance to celebrate that love it just the best thing.
What does it mean to you to be able to write calligraphy in a digital era?
I love being able to work with my hands and create something that is truly one-of-a-kind. Even with all of the tools available on the computer or iPads now, there's just nothing more beautiful than seeing how ink responds to paper, and how different hands can take the same medium and create completely different art.
What do you love most about owning a creative business?
What do you love least? I love being able to decide what direction I want my business to go in, and being able to choose the projects that I am passionate about. I also love the relationships that I've built with my clients along the way. The thing I love the least is how much pressure it can be. You never truly have a day off or a vacation, and at the end of the day if there is a mistake it's all on you.
Left or right handed? Right
Left or right brained? Left
You designed one of my favorite suites ever to be seen on Insta for the incredible Sarah Rhodes Boyce wedding that happened this past fall at The Leelanau School. It was minimal typography based. I am so so drawn to this style, do you think people are leaving calligraphy for a moment to go back to type forward design? Do you like this style?
Ah thank you! This is one of my very favorite suites too! Yes, I can see a trend in using all one style of typography throughout the suite, whether it's all calligraphy or more minimal and all block font. I personally love this look, as it lets you have more freedom to play with printing methods, paper colors, and different textures.
Wedding invitation suite inspired by the lovely Sarah Rhodes Boyce and designed by Sable & Gray.
Walk me through a custom design process. Where do you start when couples reach out?
I first set up a client call where we discuss what they are looking for and the different options that are available to them. I then put together a custom proposal for them, and if they decide that they'd like to move forward with everything I require a deposit and a contract, and then I reserve a date on our design calendar for their design to begin. When it's time to begin their design, we set up another phone call where we'll discuss all of the nitty gritty of what they're dreaming up, what they're inspired by, and the must-have design details in their suite. I will create a custom client page for them on my website, which is our home-base for everything and will feature things like design discussion notes, a mood board, color palette, and everything fun like that. I then start with a rough pencil sketch of their design, and once that is approved I start on final artwork. I will then create a digital proof of what their suite will look like, and at that point they'll be able to approve fonts, colors, artwork, and every little detail before it is sent off to the printer. It is a really fun design process and the client can decide how much or how little they want to be a part of the design.
Where do people get those gorgeous Victorian era stamps from?
We're both in love with Ryans. Tell me about yours.
My Ryan is the kindest, most patient man in the world. He has a wolverine-like ability to grow a beard pretty much overnight, and has the most handsome eyes. He always wanted to be a dad, and he is SO GOOD with our girls... they are pretty much obsessed with him. He is super creative (we met in architecture school), and he now works as an industrial designer. He loves working with his hands as well, and is great at building things, enjoys woodworking, and furniture design. He is a total goofball, tells great dad jokes, and has some pretty incredible dance moves. We've been together since we were 19 and I can't imagine my life without him.