Apologies for being quiet for a while. I was off in San Diego doing a total immersion course in awesomeness.

Seriously, I was spending time with my good friend Erika Firm, founder and president of custom letterpress house Delphine. Erika and I went to The University of Georgia together waaay back in the 90s. She launched her stationery line in 2003 in San Diego and named it after her grandmother, who is still ravishing and energetic at 83. (As an aside, Mémé Delphine grows the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen.)

I’m always trying to improve à deux and ensure that I’m doing the best job, providing exceptional service and maintaining efficiency. After a fun phone conversation, Erika invited me to take part in the behind-the-scenes stationery action at Delphine. Wow! What a week!

First off, inspiration is everywhere in their studio. It’s a smorgasbord of color, shape and organized chaos. Bright greens, pinks and metallics. E’s desk is near a wall of envelopes in a variety of colors, flap styles and sizes. Every magazine imaginable shares space with stationery samples, ideas for new work and fun, random toys and ephemera.

It’s not all as glamorous as you’d think. We’re talking nitty-gritty people. I saw orders being created from the initial email to packaging. I hauled boxes of samples and organized … everything. Erika even took my advice about a design, let me draw part of a logo for a current job and sit in on a planning meeting. Wheee! Emails, blog posts, tweets, new orders, vendor relations and website updates all get handled during a day that starts early and goes late. It’s hard work being an unpaid intern {wink}.

I spent the week just being a sponge. Erika’s husband John also works in the studio and he’s a king of fulfillment and efficiency. From distribution to package handling, the former Marine is totally focused and  knows what’s up at all hours of the day or night. He helped me make sure I’m pricing à deux’s product correctly, how to forecast our financials and even taught me a quick and easy (if somewhat noxious) method for affixing envelope liners.

There were tons of little tidbits and helpful hints that only veteran stationers have, like making the most of the usable space on a press sheet and where to get super-cheap packaging supplies. I learned where I should be spending money (and valuable time) and what things can be avoided. My OCD was validated as well since Erika *also* organizes her design books by color.

The Delphine crew is in the middle of a website redesign so stay tuned for new designs and an updated look to delphinepress.com. In the meantime, I came back to Boston with a head full of big ideas and a fresh jolt of creative inspiration for à deux’s future works of paper art.


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