Latest trends in fine stationery, custom invitations and announcements from the Stationers Guild

Over the last several months I have had several interesting conversations with Harriet Malmon, the vivacious owner of Francis-Orr in Corona del Mar, California. Ms. Malmon has some very definite ideas on the importance of business stationery and, in particular, the business card. Three weeks ago in New York, I had the opportunity to sit down with Harriet (“please, skip the ‘Ms. Malmon’”) to discuss business cards.

RM: Harriet, I know you have some definite ideas on business stationery. Would you care to share them with the StationersGuild?
HM: As an established stationer, we work with a number of local firms to design their business stationery. Many of these businesses have sought our advice because they were not entirely satisfied with their commercial printers. For the most part, the various components of their stationery didn’t work together – different fonts, design layouts, mismatched ink colors – and, in some case, their business cards were not even printed on a straight line. Our job, as a stationer, is to help the client develop a coherent design and select the paper and printing process that will lend credibility to the enterprise, regardless of its size.

RM: Do you consider the business card to be the focal point of business stationery?
HM: Most definitely! I know it wasn’t Shakespeare, but a phrase that has stuck in my mind is “that you never have a second chance to make a first impression.” That “first impression” of your business card tells your prospective client that your firm has substance, style and deserves a closer look. In fact, I consider business cards to be one of the firm’s most important public relations investments. I often ask my prospective client whether their current business card “belongs in the hands of their most valued prospect or in the restaurant fish bowl for the weekly free lunch drawing?”

A smiling RM: I guess your clients never get a free lunch?
HM: Quite the contrary. Our business cards even stand out in a fish bowl.

RM: What do you mean?
HM: With paper, you have so many design options that even a business card can have personality. For businesses that need to project a conservative image such as legal firms, accountants and wealth management companies we suggest increasing the paper weight from the standard 64# to 96# and even 220# or, perhaps, vellum. For firms that have an artistic bent such as interior design or body-sculpting, we suggest colored paper and, possibly a vertical orientation rather than horizontal.

RM: What about logos?
HM: Gosh, that is such a complicated topic that we need far more time. All I can say is that you should first see an experienced stationer, preferably a Guild member, before you engage a graphic design artist.

Thanks Harriet for sharing your insights with us. You certainly make a convincing case that there is more to paper than meets the eye.

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