Studio Stories is another new department, which arose out of the idea that I’d like to highlight just what goes into that invitation or birth announcement you get in the mail. Luscious Verde first crossed my radar screen about five years ago, shortly after we premiered Stationery Trends. My phone rang while I was making dinner, and it was Co-owner and –founder Wendy Schkolnick Solganik on the other end. She couldn’t believe that the editor of this new trade magazine had the same area code. Turns out that Luscious Verde is less than a 10-minute drive from my house, and I run in the same circles as both Wendy and her partner Chris-Anna Goldstone Sterling. They were early and constant supporters of the magazine; I have featured them dozens of times and they are both members of our Publisher’s Advisory Board. Over time both Wendy & Chris have become friends, albeit ones I don’t see too often due to the craziness of our collective lifestyles. I really am proud that they created this dynamic company from an idea hatched during a toddler playgroup — and that my wee little world shares the same zip code as theirs. The latter fact really came home to me last May, when they asked me to represent them at the LOUIE awards, should they win one of the awards they were nominated for, including that for General Invitations, about $3.50. They did, and I gladly did — and it was an incredible experience all around.
I toured Luscious Verde a few weeks back. Chris was on vacation, so Wendy took me around. Practically the first thing you see when you walk in this impressive mantle of their awards, with the aforementioned LOUIE smack in the middle and several Trendy Awards — overseen by my colleagues at Stationery Trends but voted on by the public — flanking it.
Wendy took me upstairs to her and Chris’ office, and we actually talked blogs for a bit. Wendy is the creator of Healthy Girl’s Kitchen, and after a few weeks of juggling blogging with Stationery Trends, not to mention running a household, I have a whole new respect for her. We then got down to Luscious Verde talk, as well as about the industry in general. Wendy told me it is an immense challenge to give consumers the tools to create invitations and stationery having their own personal stamp on it, year in and year out — especially while all these gorgeous papers are now akin to men wearing suits or women wearing hats, that is, growing rarer. As a result, Luscious Verde attempts to “up the ante every year,” Wendy told me, and showed me a peek of their newest letterpressed bridal album.
I think these designs are a really compelling extension to their line. The new albums will join these, representing an enormous and literally multi-faceted body of work.
Wendy told me that every week they get 3 to 4 of what she dubs “can you do this” calls from their retail clients. A bride may want a custom die-cut, or a certain combination of raw parts that LV may not currently offer. They do all they can to deliver, and interestingly, that’s where a lot of modifications to their line arise. Here’s a bevy of their little die-cut shapes, which can take a printed piece in infinite directions. And I should add here that Wendy told me they are open to licensing the work of other designers — so if you are interested, you should reach out to her.
Here you see their designer Beth at work — with two computer monitors, no less — on just such a creation.
They have a hall painted with accolades from customers — these are just a few of many. All these words surrounding you are very powerful and inspiring.
Here is their enormously clunky letterpress that makes the delicate creations I showed you above — it is a lovely beast!
Then we walked through a huge area (one of the advantages of being in the Midwest is that office space is more affordable) where invitations were being assembled. These cute little custom die-cuts were all ready for a boxing-inspired birth announcement.
And these laser-cut reception cards make me wish I was going to this elegant affair.
Quality control is a huge issue, Wendy told me. About 5% of their output needs tweaking — the color may not be exactly right, or a card may not be mounted straight onto a backer. Speaking of color, look at these. My seven-year-old wouldn’t know which one to use first!
Then we went into yet another huge area, devoted to assembly and packing. When Luscious Verde sends an order out, samples (often modified to preserve privacy) of other jobs are added so the retail client can see their latest and greatest creations. Or they might add something like this image below, which shows options for ribbon, grommets, little gems and more. The end user sometimes gets free goodies too; a Bar Mitzvah might get free pack of note cards (more about those in my next post), or a branded guide to writing thank-yous.
Finally everything is all wrapped up with coordinated ribbon and tissue. Another customer will be very happy very soon!
I also wanted to mention that Luscious Verde accumulates a huge excess of scrap paper. Recycling it doesn’t seem right to Chris and Wendy when people can benefit from it, so they developed a donation system for schools and community groups. It’s a win-win situation that I can personally attest to, as they have donated to my daughter’s school — her art teacher came up with countless projects that the kids could use it in. So email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested.
Luscious Verde is also in partnership with Trees for the Future, a nonprofit organization that helps restore tree cover to deforested areas. With every order shipped, Luscious Verde plants one tree. So even when the event long over, something new grows from it!