Claudia Smith is the Designer + Proprietress of Fig. 2 Design Studio, which swept into National Stationery Show in 2011 like a small, rather chic tornado — setting the industry on edge, and she really hasn’t really slowed down since. The posh house offers both ready-to-wear pieces like notecards and gift wrap as well as couture custom invitations, all meticulously designed and crafted, and all living up to the tagline’s promise, “correspondence for the well addressed.”
Claudia is one of my favorite designer profiles that I’ve written at Stationery Trends — it ran in our summer 2012 issue — and then we used a photograph of her monogram series of copper foil-stamped correspondence cards for the cover of our Spring 2013 issue — you can see it here — when we unrolled an extensive redesign. That is one of my favorite covers to date — and actually, our team had a very hard time deciding on a cover for the following issue, as we felt it was a really hard act to follow.
Fig. 2’s invitations suites are the stuff that dreams are made of, I am sharing just one here, from The Fresh Collection, called Nothing But Fireworks. It’s shown in digital printing with silver foil (though other printing methods are available), with honey + mint julep inks and marshmallow and silver envelopes. Colors are customizable as well.
From her grab-and-go offerings, I love Fig. 2’s giftwraps — I’m a bit partial to the bowtie designs you see below — and foil stamped thank-you sets with pastel envelopes. They add a perfect chic touch to baby showers — and add pizzazz to any occasion
With a repoitoire like this, the honor is all mine to ask Claudia TPC’s Five Questions.
1. SS: How did you get into this crazy business?
CS: My background is in graphic design so it was a good fit but I never thought I would end up with a wholesale business. Once I left my full time job at a local design firm, I really planned on continuing as a freelance graphic designer and thought I might do some stationery (mainly wedding invitations at the time) on the side. I contacted a local bridal boutique, and when we met, they encouraged me to start a wedding album. Two years later, that ended up turning into a full wholesale line of paper goods which now includes boxed sets, greeting cards, and gift wrap (and new items in 2014!).
2. SS: Are there any design or lifestyle trends you are finding yourself particularly intrigued with these days?
CS: I don’t think I’ll ever tire of calligraphy. My first set of greeting cards included a series with calligraphy, and I knew then it was something I would want to keep in the line always. I love all forms of type, but calligraphy is so special and unique and can convey emotion more than any typeface I know of. I’ve been so fortunate to work with some truly gifted calligraphers and I don’t take it for granted. They are incredible artists!
3. SS: What letter, card or invitation first comes to mind as the best you’ve ever received?
CS: It’s a tie. When I first launched my design business, I sent little promo packets out to perspective clients and friends and family, including my parents. In the package there was a post card the recipient could check off if they wanted to learn more info or send a comment. My dad mailed the card back with a really nice note saying how proud he was. It was really sweet and I’ll treasure it always. A close second is when my 6-year-old niece drew me a picture last year as my birthday card and I love it. It’s a picture of the two of us and we have matching outfits and hair. It’s taped on the wall in the studio and it just makes me smile every time I see it. The hair style is probably the funniest part!
4. SS: What are your three favorite paper lines aside from Fig. 2 Design Studio?
CS: I live and die for Russell+Hazel. We get a lot of our office supplies from them for obvious reasons, they are clean and simple but perfectly designed and have the perfect touch of color or pattern. We joke that I hoard their binders, which is sort of true really. I have eight of the mini binders and who knows how many of the large ones, but I just love their products. We use their adhesive notes, tab dividers, rubber bands, notebooks, you name it. Die hard fans here.
I love Pei Design because she has such a sweet aesthetic that matches her to a tee. Her work is really well thought out and executed, from the designs, to the branding, to the photography. She’s a great example of someone who is their brand.
Sycamore Street Press is another fave. From their hand drawn patterns to their interesting color combinations, they have such a lovely grasp of folk-inspired graphics mixed with unexpected color palettes that makes everything they do look so fresh and new.
5. SS: Is there anything you do personally to keep letter-writing, card-sending and invitation using alive?
CS: I always, always, always send thank you notes. I’m not saying they go out within two days of receiving a gift or a kind gesture, but even late is better than never. Yes, sometimes I will text someone a quick thank you, but I always follow up with a hand-written note. A texted thank you does not take the place of a note. I once had an intern who texted me a thank you for her holiday gift, and I was so disappointed! If someone has the time to find you a gift or they’ve helped with something then I have the time to thank them in a worthwhile way.