Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Paper Gossip

I confess—I just love going to the hair salon. Not only do they torture my stubborn, naturally curly locks (temporarily at least) into a sleek, straight and shiny mane, but I get the guilt-free chance to catch up on many of the celebrity/gossip magazines that stock the salon’s “library.”

So, there I was, somewhere in between the latest news about Angelina and Brad, when an ad caught my eye. “Young people do everything on line—like order millions of magazines…” The message of the ad went on: “Contrary to popular misperception, the phenomenal popularity of the Internet has not come at the expense of magazines…Readership is actually increasing and adults between 18-34 are among the most dedicated readers. The medium that some predicted would vanquish magazines is actually helping fuel their growth. And vice versa.” The tag line read “The Power of Print.”

This short but meaningful message got me thinking about NSS’ own recently launched marketing campaign Paper Power. I believe that this theme serves as a very important reminder of the value and purpose of our industry in a time where things are changing at a record pace. Especially over the past 15 years, as the Tech Revolution has spread around the globe, I’ve listened to dozens of conversations about the fate of the stationery industry. Many worried that the growing acceptance and use of email, ecards and evites would decimate the social stationery, greeting card and invitation business. Would Gen Y and Gen Z become “paperless” generations?

As a similar ad in the uber-popular Wired magazine persuades, the wired lives we all lead have only served to underscore the value, influence and need for tools of expression which are “enveloping, embracive and immersive.” Technology has not robbed paper of its impact, its unique ability to deliver the message “I care.” Indeed, in our jam-packed world of tweets, texts, and social media, paper has taken on a higher perceived value. Email is an everyday thing. Few, if any emails, are memorable, and none serve as keepsakes. But nowadays, a letter, a handwritten note, an invitation, a beautifully wrapped gift stand out as even more special, irreplaceable experiences. When the message, occasion, and most of all the person really matter, we still use paper to deliver treasured expressions of connection. Movies didn’t slay the enjoyment of radio. Television did not wipe out movie attendance. And high touch and high tech continue to grow, influence, and enhance each other. As sales of thousands of wedding invitations, millions of greeting cards and billions of dollars can attest, paper will continue to remain a profitable and powerful part of our lives.

Speaking of paper, it’s been several weeks since I last visited My Bella Beauty Salon. While my hair still looks great, I’m trying to think of an excuse to drop by the shop anyway. There’s an intriguing article on George Clooney I didn’t get the chance to finish reading…


Thursday, July 22, 2010

The NSS Has a New Look!

Check out the new look of the NSS community website – Chock full of new energy and great content (we think!), it features the first of three YouTube videos on the Home page, beginning with Trendspotting at the 2010 NSS. The next two videos roll out over several month leading up to May 2011, and highlight the many faces of the Show and our industry.

The site also reveals the Show’s 2011 marketing campaign “Paper Power”. Paper Power encompasses the impact of paper both as a product category and as a medium. Paper is profitable, high touch, personal, diverse, colorful, fashion-forward, on trend, a statement of personal taste and style - and is more in demand than ever by the end user! Pretty powerful indeed.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Camp Greetings

So the girls are off for their summer fun – one is at camp and the other, seeing the world. Boy, are they lucky! I remember my years as a camper; first ½ the summer, then the big 8-weeker kicked in, and then on to a career as a CIT and Counselor! No matter what age or stage, one of the best parts of the day was when the mail came in (in those days the package “restrictions” weren’t rigid and the boxes of fun, and candy, of course, would pour in). If you send your kids to camp, you know what I mean about “package restrictions”!

If I could send packages to my daughter, I would pack them with fun things she could do in her bunk with her buddies – lanyard string, stickers, jacks, mad libs, beads, silly string, a deck of cards and her favorite Starburst candy – not ½ the snack cupboard, money, extra clothing, clandestine electronics and the like that created the whole package restriction thing in the first place! So, to what do moms and dads turn in droves? Greeting cards! We send cards somewhat in excess I must admit – and would do so regardless of whether we could send packages or not!

There are so many fabulous cards out there, some camp-specific, but many are more general fun, cute and adorable “I miss you types” like the Carlton Card I sent today that simply says “Me? Miss You?” And on the inside, “Only all the time.” Of the 20or so I have stockpiled to use this summer, this card is the only one that doesn’t have a picture; the design is all about the typeface. But, I will tell you that animals rule in the “I Miss You” department – monkeys, puppies of all breeds, mice, bears and of course, kittens - are the most popular images. My arsenal includes cards from Avanti, American Greetings, Design Design, Recycled Paper Products, Carlton and Hallmark, versed with sentiments including:

“If I sent you a card every time I thought of you, you wouldn’t need a mailbox…You’d need your own post office!”

“On a scale of 1 to 10…I miss you a million!”

“Just sending you a little hug…Did you feel it?”

“You’re always on my mind… And always in my heart, miss you.”

On the back of the envelope, I, of course, embellish with stickers of all varieties and glitter. The one time I literally sealed with a kiss (kissing the back of the envelope like my mom did) she was mortified and begged me never to do that again! Corny, I know.

I run to the mailbox everyday so I have my “aha” moment when her letter is there awaiting me. She’s equipped with some of the best Camp stationery and postcards “this side of the Hudson” designed by Penny Laine Papers and purchased from the store I call “Camp Central,” Scarsdale Child’s Play.

So, in a couple of hours, I’ll be thumbing past the bills and credit card solicitations, eager to read about water flumes, ziplines, soccer, chili dogs, painting, jump rope and more contained within the envelope carefully addressed in the script of my eighth grader and embellished with, you guessed it, stickers and glitter.

Happy summer!


Thursday, July 1, 2010

There’s just nothing like the USA…

Nothing brings your hand to your heart faster than playing the Star Spangled Banner. This week the theme will resound as towns across the country commemorate freedom with marching bands, confetti and brilliant fire works. Yep, the 4th of July is a national holiday and this year America celebrates its 234th birthday!

History buffs claim the red of the flag represents valor, white stands for liberty or purity and blue represents loyalty and perseverance. And in the past few years, there’s been a noticeable increase in these colors being flown around town. People will wear the appropriate red, white and blue as they pass out hot dogs at the annual barbeque. (Hopefully they stacked up on Hangables’ food-safe acrylic bowls!) Tables will be set with themed color napkins and paper plates. Paper stars and little flags will adorn coasters and banners -- just look at the festive designs from Caspari! Party favors will be tied up with sassy ribbon from companies like Ampelco and houses will be decked out with red, white and blue streamers.

What a great thing to be able to express freedom, to stroll down Main Street without a care, to disagree with a neighbor in a fun and friendly way or exchange ideals with someone who’s new to the area. It’s good to live in America!!

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness! Enjoy these simple precious things while sipping a cold one! Set aside a few minutes to remember what the colors of our country represent. And have a wonderful 4th of July!!

Later… Alyson

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Change: It’s a great thing

Change is a part of life. Everything changes eventually. Sometimes the change is within our control and sometimes it is not. Some changes seem like they should be in our control, but in reality have already been made for us.

Take my wedding for example. Last time we spoke, I told you that it was going to be a fall wedding at my mother’s house in central Virginia. Maybe we would have a harvest theme; maybe we would have a string quartet play us down the aisle…

Well, none of that is happening anymore. Now we are having a destination wedding at a resort in St. Lucia - pretty big change. This was decided by my fiancĂ© who, apparently, did have a “picture perfect wedding” in mind all along (I’d told you that she did not).

At first, I was a little freaked out. I mean we had to scrap all of our plans and start fresh. Also, none of our extended family would be able to come to the wedding due to the added expense and time. But then I realized that everything would pretty much be taken care of for us. And once we spoke with our wedding planner, Sharon (who is included in the resort wedding package), I knew that we had made the right choice. Sharon has been amazing, we give her our vague ideas and half thought-out plans, and she gives us a finished product. She has had options for even our most random wishes. Working with a wedding planner is wonderful; she is a one-stop for all of our questions.

With a change of wedding venue comes a change of wedding theme. Here are just a few of the new invitation options:

L'Oiseau from Hello!Lucky

kurai from Smock.

Foliage from elum

So, what do you think?

Pretty different from the browns, oranges, golds and reds of an autumn harvest isn’t it? Different, but good. Change is taking me somewhere I probably never would have gone otherwise, that’s what change does.

Good times…

- Aaron

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dads and Grads (you expected something else?)

In case you haven’t heard, Father’s Day is just around the corner (Sunday, June 20), and there’s still time to run out and buy Dad a gift.

I was chatting with Doni Luckutt yesterday, who brings the company Simply Alive! to the NSS each year. She reported that she had a good Show, and met with some great retailers. She’s still working with them finalizing their orders. (Note: not all orders are placed at the NSS, and Doni knows the importance of post-show follow-up! Way to go!)

I mention Doni because she has a lifestyle column in the Denver Post, and told me that she was writing about Father’s Day. Her angle is coming up with different gifts to suit different types of dads – she said she’s covering “Sporty Dad,” “Techie Dad,” – even “Sentimental Dad!” And guess what? All of her gift suggestions come from companies that exhibited in the May 2010 NSS. To see her picks (article available on Friday, June 18), click here.

Of course, a Father’s Day card is essential. Picking up on Doni’s idea, here are my card suggestions.

For Sporty Dad, here’s a great card that “covers all the bases” from J & M Martinez.

The inside reads “Happy Father’s Day.” J & M Martinez is distributed by Calypso Cards.

I’ll take “sporty” to another level – how about “He-man” – or “Gym” Dad? Here’s a “strong” choice from Up With Paper:

For the king of the castle kind of Dad, here’s a card that bestows the crown from Night Owl Paper Goods.

This card is letterpressed on 100% reclaimed & recycled cotton ecru cover paper. So it should appeal to the Eco-conscious Dad, too!

For the cool dad, here’s one from NobleWorks:

The inside reads: Happy Father’s Day to the best Dude I know.

My dad had a great sense of humor, and I definitely would have given him this great card from Selfish Kitty, which is also distributed by Calypso Cards.

The inside reads “You know, like on Mother’s Day.” Too funny! My mom would have appreciated the card, too!

I have to put this one in from Nobleworks, as well. My dad would have identified with it completely. In fact, I may have had this exact conversation when calling from college:

The inside reads: Happy Father’s Day to my favorite benefactor. That card really would have been perfect for “D.O.D.” as we called him. (Dear Old Dad). Ah, I miss him.

For sentimental Dad, something from Leanin’ Tree:

The inside of the cards reads: For being silly, for being strong, for being there, for being you. Love to you on Father's Day and every day.

For the life of me, I could not find a card out there for “Techie” Dad. Please, everyone, feel free to post your suggestions for this – or any category!

Finally, how about those Grads?! Around here (suburbs of NYC) some kids haven’t yet crossed the stage. Because we had so many school closings during the winter, the school year had to be extended ‘til the end of June!

Here’s a great graduation party invitation from Checkerboard:

Hannah Rodewald, owner of the store The Pleasure of Your Company, in Lutherville, MD (near Baltimore), has a great blog, She talked about graduation in a recent post, and I found a few great graduation cards from Quotable Inc. there. I lifted my favorite, as it seems to be what my life has been like, so I would give this card to any Grad!

Wise words. Or as some car commercial says “Enjoy the ride.”

I am told by many retailers that Bald Guy Greetings is a popular line in their stores. So, here’s one from the funny guys at Bald Guy:

Reminds me of a few other words I see misspelled a little too often!

And for the Grads themselves, who will likely be receiving cards and gifts, may I respectfully remind them to send a personal thank you note for the riches that they will receive.

This thank you card comes from Roger la Borde in a boxed set:

I love the layered look and the printed inside of the envelope.

Or, one might like the elegance offered here by Crane & Co.

So, here’s to all the great Dads and awesome Grads in our lives. May you live long and prosper!

Until next time,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

And the Winner is…

Happy, sad, seasonal, supportive, congratulatory, condolence and the like. How to say it or convey it has become a meaningful industry. For 22 years, the Louie Awards have offered recognition to all those who put their best foot forward in the greeting card industry. Here you’ll find winners of “Handmade”, “Superbly Stated”, and “The Judges’ Choice”, just a few of the fifty-six categories.

Entries are judged by imagination, impact, artistry, harmony, send-ability and value. And can you imagine -- over 1,000 cards from over 170 international publishing companies were judged by members of the Greeting Card Association and fellow industry professionals! It’s an annual testimonial to those who help make it so much easier to express our feelings.

This year a special category was added. “The Young Entrepreneur” award found its way into the hands of ten-year-old Ian Meier, whose handmade cards are selling like hot cakes in the Philadelphia area. The young designer says that making cards “gives him a good feeling” and he was absolutely thrilled to be part of the night’s festivities. And what an event it was.

Young Ian Meier in his element gages his future industry!

The Louis Awards were held last night at The Lighthouse at the Chelsea Piers where merriment persisted and dancing topped off the evening. Cards of the nominated categories flanked the entrance. Nominees beamed, knowing how important the awards are. And like the many sentiments that are expressed in their cards, the room was filled with warmth, good wishes, and lots of happy faces. It was a fun-loving crowd emphasizing the importance of the very industry they serve.

It’s good to be acknowledged by your peers…. so make sure you swing by the Louie Awards area at the back of the 3600 aisle to see who’s won what! You might even send them a note of congratulations! Yep, there’s time. The National Stationery Show runs through Wednesday, May 19, 2010. See you there.

Lisa Manley of Butinski Design and Stacey Hagarman of S.E. Hagarman, both first-time entries, were vying for “The Rising Star Award”.

The crowd awaits the announcement of “The Card of the Year”.


Monday, May 17, 2010

NSS 2010 is Buzzing!

The aisles are buzzing at the 64th annual National Stationery Show! It's only Monday afternoon, but so much has taken place already. From celebrity book signings and incredible in-booth promotions by exhibitors, to packed seminars and Daily Demos...never a dull moment!

My favorite so far, you ask? The Opening Night Party at Battery Gardens, and the reveal of the new Butterfly stamp by the United States Postal Service.

The Opening Night Party was hosted at a new venue this year, with panoramic views of New York Harbor and Lady Liberty. The outside venue was perfect after a day in Javits, and well received by all. A true Manhattan experience...

And just this morning, dignitaries from the USPS were onsite for the First-Day-of-Issue ceremony for the Butterfly stamp, a new $.64 stamp specifically for square or irregular shaped envelopes, developed in collaboration with the Greeting Card Association. As Patti Stracher stated in her welcoming remarks during the ceremony...such a symbolic event...the launch of a $.64 stamp for the industry, at the 64th annual NSS. In case you missed the big reveal, here is what you'll see popping up on envelopes in the very near future.

Enjoy the rest of the show for those of you who are here!


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Good Eats In NYC

Wow, do I love to eat!! And one of the reasons why New York is such a great event city is because of all of its restaurants. From greasy spoon to ultra fine tablecloth, there’s a selection to be had.

One of the more interesting websites for finding good eats is Register for free and every few days you’ll receive news about a good eats deal. It could be a free bottle of wine, a free cheese platter or 30% off your dining bill. Eateries of all kinds are included in this -- from very new places to very established restaurants like Aquavit or Cipriani.

You’ll receive the “deal” via email. You’ll have 24 hours to decide if you want this deal. It’s a one day only invitation but you get a pass code and thirty days to use it. These places are not sluggish little cafes that are hurting for business, so make a reservation whenever possible. It’s a great way to entice you to try many different types of restaurants in many different neighborhoods.

So when you’re in NY for the NSS, don’t just stay in midtown. Take a cab, take the train, take the bus, and try something different. Life is good. Go take a big bite out of it!

Have fun! Alyson

Friday, April 30, 2010

Lists, lists and more lists

What’s on your “To Do” list? How do you keep it? I got intrigued with the question after viewing the exhibit “Lists” at the National Portrait Gallery in DC this past February.

Check out this packing list by Adolf Konrad. I love it. Plus it looks like Adolf was a pretty dapper guy! Does anybody out there know anyone who creates a list like this?

Guess what? “ There’s an app for that!” There really is; you take pics of your clothes and create outfits with it – think InStyle pages, but with your clothes.

Speaking of InStyle , In the April 2010 issue, the feature “Life, etc.” profiled Rory Tahari, creative director of Elie Tahari. Rory has just come out with a book, "Lists For Life: The Essential Guide to Getting Organized and Tackling Tough To-Dos” I haven’t bought it yet, but I’m interested in knowing what’s inside.

By the way, I’m happy to give a shout out to InStyle, as some of its editors are registered to attend the Show again this year!

Here’s another list I thought was interesting - a list Pablo Picasso made recommending artists for the Armory Show in New York. Look at that handwriting!

So, how does the Show Manager of the NSS keep her list?

In a nice Lily Pulitzer notebook from Lifeguard Press (we must admit to a certain addiction to these). Patti makes nice neat check marks when she's gotten something "off the list."

Laura Susi works in our Operations department (she’s the one you can thank for arranging all the shuttle buses we have on-site, among other things). Here’s her method of keeping a “To Do” list – a flower-shaped sticky note!

And finally, mine. I like to use 2 pencil colors – one to make the list, and the other to check off with. I use an “X” for done, and a "/" for when something is part-way done.

How do you keep your lists? Anyone doodle? Do you use pens, pencils - is an eraser a bad thing, by the way? Meaning, who wants to erase something, when you can check it off the list and feel that sense of accomplishment? And on the topic of of erasers… we just booked Fashion Angels into the Show! Yay. Check them out for their line of cute puzzle erasers… Hi to Sarah!

That’s all for now. So much to do in the next couple of weeks before the Show. Looking forward to seeing everyone on-site at the Javits very soon!

Until next time - Kelly