FEATURE: Kate & Isabel of Of Note Stationers

isabel bonenfant (left) and kate kellman (right), founders of of note stationers, a boston based paper goods company specializing in the art of written note.

isabel bonenfant (left) and kate kellman (right), founders of of note stationers, a boston based paper goods company specializing in the art of written note.

I discovered Of Note Stationers a few months back, where else, but through Instagram! You guys should check out their IG account because they have this easy, clean and inspiring feed that makes you want to send a snail mail out --- just because.  And when I found out that we were going to be neighbors at last month's Unique LA Spring Show, I got even more excited because I would get the chance to see these witty cards in person, and yes I did. I love the inspiring messages they put together --- so simple, and yet gives true and sincere meaning to both giver and receiver.

At Unique LA, I got the chance to personally meet Kate, Of Note's Co-founder and Director of Communications, Sales and Marketing and later got to e-meet Isabel, Of Note's Co-founder, Creative Director and Designer.  I am so honored that they gave a bit of their time to share their stories today for your inspiration and mine.

Can you give a little background about yourselves?

Kate: Hello to all! I am 28, originally from Los Angeles, CA, but currently residing in Boston, MA. I went to Kenyon College, a small liberal arts school in rural Ohio and graduated as a Sociology Major. Following college, I joined Teach For America and taught three years of Special Education. After three years I took a break, a step back to slow down and assess that I was doing what was right for me. During this time Isabel and I crossed paths, shared a love for writing notes to brighten peoples’ days, and the ideation for Of Note Stationers began. Besides letter writing, other hobbies include: reading novels and nonfiction books related to mindfulness and positive psychology, listening to Podcasts -- currently From Maker to Manufacturing, Startup, and A Few Things, and going to Yoga. 

Isabel: Oh hey there! Isabel here, I am 26 years old and while I grew up in Guatemala City, I have been living in Boston for over 8 years now. I studied Industrial Design at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, where I discovered my passion for strategy and problem solving. When Kate and I met a few years ago, we casually talked about starting a business together. Here we are, two and a half years later, enjoying the growth and challenges that owning our small business bring. By day, I am a graphic designer at a local financial company, and by night I am a stationer. Other than designing and letter writing, I enjoy running at lunch time, reading during my commute (currently on track with my 1 book per month resolution), and thrift shopping with my husband. 

Can you give our readers an overview of Of Note Stationers and tell us how it started?

In the fall of 2013 both Isabel and I were entering a time of career transition. We weren’t completely satisfied with our current paths and wanted to step back and asses. During this time we discovered a shared love for paper goods and began a journey as Isabel and Kate on Instagram. We were “sending more mail, making people smile, and seeing what happens” (our Instagram bio :) During that 6-8 month project we discovered the wonderful world of #snailmail, #sendmoremail, and #happymail. We were amazed to find this strong letter writing community on Instagram and inspired to fill the “just because”  niche of the greeting card industry. 

We like to say that Of Note Stationers was born out of our desire to slow down. In slowing down we learned what we deemed most important: appreciating the moment and cherishing and deepening relationships. Letter writing is the perfect way for us to focus on all three of these things. And that is how our line of meaningful correspondence cards came to be. 

The goal of the SM Blog's Featured Creative Series is to spread inspiration to everyone with the same passion and craft, where do you get your inspiration from?

We are perpetually inspired by the world around us and the interactions with the people in our lives. The sayings on our cards come from moments we personally want to preserve in writing and thoughts we want to prompt ourselves to share with others so as to be sure not to leave things unsaid. We are drawn to thoughtful, kind, and grateful mind-spaces for inspiration. 

For additional inspiration, we both enjoy listening to Podcasts (A Few Things with Claire and Erica), reading entrepreneurial books like #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso, connecting with other makers during local markets, and thrift shopping for vintage ephemera.  

Do you have favorite tools that you use on a daily basis that you cannot live without?

Yes! We both carry around letter writing pouches. Kate’s is a Forestbound “escape” pouch that she snagged at a holiday market and Isabel’s is from Egg Press’ Social Preparedness line, their Thoughtful as Hell Pouch. Our pouches hold our favorite muji and kikkerland pens, USPS postage stamps--current and vintage-- washi tape, our custom return address stamps, and some of our stationery. You never know when you’ll need to write a note!  

Can you give us a peek of your average workday?

Kate’s average workday - What I love about being a small business owner is that no two days look alike. There are some things that I have to do everyday, respond to emails and get our social media posted, but otherwise my tasks vary from styling and photography, to Etsy webshop maintenance, to packing up orders, to sending out newsletters, to reaching out to retail shops, and the list goes on. Isabel and I are very lucky to have found strong complements in each other. The splitting up of our tasks is seamless and we absolutely could not make Of Note happen without each other. 

Isabel’s average work evening – Typically there are things that I’ve been thinking about throughout the day for me to work on for Of Note. If I haven’t written them down in my notebook, they are in my iphone's notes app. I get home and unwind a bit from my workday as I walk my dog. Then, I get right to it. There’s something about knowing that my time is limited to evenings and weekends that makes me work harder, better, and smarter. 

Do you have new projects or products you are working on right now that you’d like to share to our readers?

We are excited to launch a collection of curated vintage ephemera art that will be for sale in person this summer at markets. Perhaps we will launch online as well. Some day we’d love to create letter writing paper, but that is on the back burner for now. Stay tuned! 

SM Blog's Mantra is "Do What You Love", what is your personal mantra?

Be present. In the fall we noticed that more often than not we would have our phones out or accessible when hanging with friends or eating dinner with our partners. We decided to make ourselves a “Be Present” iPhone wallpaper as a quick reminder to engage in the moment. It is a continual practice, but we make a point of clearing our spaces of distractions when we are with friends and family so that we are able to listen and engage in the moment. 

If you were going to give one final advice to our readers, what would it be?

Slow down. Make sure you are taking care of yourself. You’ll be surprised to see how much more you get out of your life and how much more you can give to your relationships when you first focus on taking care of yourself. 

It has been a pleasure to meet you both and hopefully we will cross paths at future shows again soon! All the best to you and thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your stories!

Make sure to follow Kate and Isabel's continuous journey at Of Note Stationers.  To see more of their minimal and sophisticated letterpress cards, go to www.ofnotestationers.com, follow Instagram @ofnotestationersTwitter @ofnotestationer, Snapchat @ofnote and Like on fb.com/ofnotestationers

Check out their website and comment below with your favorite card! Mine is the "can't do this without you" card. Just a sweet reminder that we cannot do all things alone, you know there's someone out there you always want to thank for.