We Miss Snail Mail. Tell Your People You Love Them by Sending a Note.
Let your favorite friends, your local stationery store, and your mailman know you’re rooting for them by sending cards and notes made by our favorite small presses in the West.
I think that everyone can agree that e-mail is an absolute drag. Slogging through packed inboxes filled with notices about promotions and sales, desperate pleas for money from all of the organizations you support, and those “just following up to make sure you received my last 10 emails” emails are enough to make me want to unplug and wander off into the woods on permanent “out-of-office” mode.
Do you know what’s not a drag? Receiving a card or a note in the mail, for your birthday, for Valentine’s Day, for National Pizza Day—or just because. Beautiful stamps and creative stationery have become one of those delightful relics of the past, like vinyl and handwritten recipes, that a few dedicated souls refuse to let fade away.
Here are a few of our favorite small letterpress outfits and family-run printers that we’d like to see stick around for a very long time. Stock up on some letter-writing tools, dust off your third-grade cursive, and make someone’s day by sending a little bit of love via the U.S.P.S.
Founder Stephanie Clarke expanded her custom wedding invitation and announcement business to include greeting cards, wrapping paper, and notepads in 2014 and we’re glad she did. Introducing some modern irreverence and graphic punch to the age-old letterpress technique, Dahlia makes paper goods with a modern P.O.V. Clarke’s best idea (those cute activism postcards aside) is the Dahlia “Stationery Squad” subscription box, a monthly mailer with all of the seasonal cards your heart desires, starting at three cards per month for $15. You’ll never have to sort through over-picked drug store cards again.
West Hollywood, California
A Beverly Boulevard institution, the Jonathan Wright stationery store feels like the store that time forgot—in a good way. Delightfully oblivious to things like memes and gifs and Snapchat, it’s one of the last places in L.A. where you might find a wax seal, or wrapping paper. While formal wedding invitations are the brand’s bread and butter, bespoke notes and envelopes that feel soft and substantial in your hands are the name of the game here, and may make you long for that expensive pen you got for high school graduation (they have those, too).
NOTEWORTHY PAPER & PRESS
To us, “quaint stationery shop owner in a rustic Western town” sounds like a fantasy job in a rom-com. And a recent Instagram post of the snowy storefront of Missoula-based Noteworthy Paper & Press confirmed that printing cute cards with grizzly bears and camper vans on them is a dream gig. Founders Taylor Valliant and Amy Dolan have been happily running this gift shop—elevating the Montana souvenir, and procuring killer vintage Western-themed postage for their custom invitations—since 2008.
With Portland-appropriate level of quirk and a progressive/subversive attitude, Egg Press is the ideal stationery studio for its location and clientele. Saturated colors, cartoonish graphics, and plenty of puns round out the collection of greeting cards. Buy products from the “press for change” collection, and a portion of the proceeds are donated to various human rights and cultural awareness nonprofits across the West.
Family-owned and operated since 1976, Paper Chase Press has proudly maintained its storefront, printing business and book bindery on a gritty stretch of the Sunset Strip. All of the cool kids in L.A. (including Block Shop Textiles and Clare V) hire Paper Chase to print hang tags, posters, and mailings for their brands. Artist, “fantasist,” and famous birthday-rememberer Clare Crespo has designed a series of kooky-fun cards printed by PCP over the years. The studio will custom-print cards for anyone who wants them, and has some designers on hand to help lend professional polish to the process.
Just seeing the words “social stationery,” which encompasses personal letterhead, notecards, and such, transports you to a long-ago time before “where u at?” texts replaced calling cards and written invitations. Missive, a small Bay Area outfit founded by Lisa Willis in 2009 that creates elegant handcrafted cards, channels some of that gentility with her collection. Her beveled note cards with simple font and terrazzo-pattern paper envelope linings are our favorites.
Self-taught illustrator Keiko Brodeur translated her graphic design degree and love of watercolors into a boutique stationery business, Small Adventure, with the “intention of exploring the majesty of nature through illustration,” with a focus on preserving the earth. Biodegradable and compostable materials are used to package all greeting cards, and materials used for shipments are re-used. Brodeur also creates her designs with a focus on diversity, depicting families and faces that reflect a broader cross section of humanity.
FOLIO PRESS AND PAPERIE
Santa Barbara, CA
Looking for Cali-coastal-themed stationery, postcards, and gift cards that aren’t the least bit dorky? Folio Press in Santa Barbara has got you covered with boxed note cards printed with everything from an elegant octopus to a halved avocado to appeal to Golden State residents and tourists alike. The cute shop, just a few blocks from the beach, is a must-visit if you’re in town, and it stocks everything from house-made coasters to candles, soaps, and books.