nss: booth.

by Liz on 07.22



Frankly, building walls was the scariest part of this task for me.

And I wasn’t even going to be the one to do it. Josh swore on stacks of Bibles that he would be able to build us walls for an 8×10 booth, no problem, and I smiled apprehensively.

Other than walls, we need to fill the dang thing. Budget was an issue every step of the way, so we really had to be creative about how to stand out without dumping a bunch of cash.

We’re super lucky to be so close to NYC, so rather than renting furniture or worrying about sending everything by freight, we decided the cheapest option would be to just use furniture from around our house and haul to NYC in a van.

As a buyer at these shows, I’ve always felt overwhelmed by all of the stark white, commercial-feeling spaces. Super clean and modern, for sure, and I imagine they draw a lot of people in. But, I personally felt all of those bright stark white spaces bleed together, while also being really aggressively BRIGHT. In contrast of all of that, I wanted to make our space a sort of cozy, welcoming respite from the commercial and clean. Warm yellow is always my go-to color, which already lends itself to being cozy and inviting. We built on that with the homey hardwood furniture, and then tried to think of anything else that would cozy up the space- make it feel less like a show room, and more like i invited you into my house for coffee and, oh okay fine, some stationery. Table lamps, vases of flowers, and definitely several places to sit seemed the best way.

I figured the old desk would make a perfect spot to sit and flip through a catalog or write an order, while a pair of chairs would make a nice rest spot for weary buyers after endless walking. We brought the old wooden bookcase and several baskets to hide all of the ugly necessities we’d need throughout the day- change of shoes, bottled water, deodorant, phones- while the bare shelves were great for stacks of catalogs and jars of pencils.

We struggled with how to inexpensively get our logo up without taking up too much wallspace and ended up jutting the bookshelf out as a sort of counter for people to come grab a few freebies. We bought our logo in custom vinyl and hallelu, Josh’s experience hanging vinyl made that part of things easy peasy.

In hindsight, I realize yellow might not have been the best plan. Yellow is so tricky! It can go to neon or too mustard very easily, so we chose very carefully, and I was thrilled that folks walking by commented on how nice the yellow looked. But it didn’t translate as wonderfully in photos, and I found that a lot of the photos I found of my own booth in instagram feeds made me shudder a bit at the harsh, harsh yellow.


desk, bookcase, lamp, baskets, vases, wooden chair: from home

teal chairs: Ikea

jute rug: Target

waste basket: Target

wall construction: Lowes and Home Depot and scrounging in my in-laws’ shed

clip lights, extension cords, surge protectors: Home Depot

shelves, frames, matting, envelopes: scrap stores, paper stores and Frame USA

vinyl logo sign and booth numbers: Dana Decals

flowers: a bodega on our way to the show

embossed pencils: Get Stuck Up

candy: grocery store

nss: paper.

by Liz on 07.21


National Stationery Show was, yikes, over two months ago and I still haven’t filled you all in on the juicy bits.

(They are juicy, right?)

The thing about National Stationery Show is that there is SO MUCH TO DO. People say that about a lot of things, like “Oh, packing for vacation, SO MUCH TO DO!” or “I have to write a blogpost today, SO MUCH TO DO!”

This is not that kind of “so much to do.”

Of course, we decided to make things all the harder for ourselves by hopping aboard NSS in March- allowing ourselves only two months to do all of the things that normally overwhelm otherwise sensible entrepreneurs. While pregnant. Smart, that’s us.

So, first thing I did was jump into planning all of the paper things we would need. So many of the other steps felt foreign to me- but designing pretty papery things? Yeah, that I can do.

read the rest…

break, balance.

by Liz on 06.02

Husband and son are gone for the day, as they had been all of last week.

Josh kicked off Monday by offering to help his dad with a few things on their property, Jr tagging along for a visit to Grandmom. But as these things go, one little house project revealed a bigger need for a larger project, and so on, until eventually it’s Friday and Josh is walking in the door, sweaty, grass-stained, paint-covered and I’m asking, “And you are…?”

It’s a nice change of pace for us, so accustomed to being huddled inside together all day, everyday. For Josh, it seems cathartic to do something active and physical and productive after so many months of digitally tweaking minuscule hand-drawn lines and adjusting shades of color ever so slightly. He seems recharged by that grunting, lifting, outdoor sort of work the way I’m invigorated by a swift, thorough cleaning of the house.

And so that was the intention of this week. The cleaning, I mean. And I started out well. Coffee brewing, music loud, windows thrown open as the lemony, soapy smells of a cleaning rampage start to form an almost discernible cloud.

But the whole cleaning thing lost its novelty fairly quickly. With the house mostly-clean, there wasn’t the same motivation or sense of accomplishment in actually cleaning it. Tuesday on sort of devolved into folding a random pair of shorts here and there while sprawled in bed with Twitter open, to finally just smashing junk food into my face (verboten when grabby-handed toddler is around), tossing the wrapper where it may lie, and curling up for a midday nap, no pretense of “taking a break” from “so much hard work.” Josh would come home exhausted from a full day of manual labor, carting the boy, a sticky, cranky mess from too many sweets and snuggles. And, my plastic wrappers and trashy internet articles neatly hidden away, I would brattily writhe in bed whining how we never doooo anything any more and I’m just soooo boooored.

I sometimes moan about how busy we are, but I’ll reluctantly admit that busy-ness tends to keep me in line. Without hard and fast deadlines squashed with a million things to do between, I fall into some gross (if also luxurious and wonderful) habits.

After so much lolling and dawdling, the weekend graciously and unexpectedly allowed me some free time to spend with those two smooshy faces I’d grown to miss. Farmer’s market, iced latte walk, grilled vegetables and impromptu picnic, then soft serve from the ice cream truck. Normal-people pleasures involving things like showering in advance and wearing pants and blinking into the sunlight of the outdoors. It straightened me back into something resembling human.

Now, again kissing the cheeks of two sweet faces goodbye, I’m hoping these next five days allow me to find that sacred middle ground. Somewhere between the grout-scrubbing and the mid-day lounging, there has to be a happy place of productivity and comfort both, that I’m determined to find.

After this creamsicle.