April 14, 2010 • Sarah Schwartz
Beginning a new year — as well as a new decade — is always a good time to look back and review the path already traveled, as well as what the future may hold. When I began producing our inaugural Spring 2008 issue, no one knew what Stationery Trends was of course, and that made filling its pages somewhat challenging.
As I called and e-mailed vendors and designers for images, most hadn’t heard of us and as a result, didn’t submit materials. Were it not for the trends seminar I gave at that year’s National Stationery Show — for which all exhibitors were invited by George Little Management to submit images — our premiere issue would have featured a paucity of both stationery and trends.
The last year and a half has been quite an adventure indeed. Now I find myself in the complete reverse situation —
as my deadline for vendors to submit art approaches, a reliable and even formidable barrage of image-heavy e-mails hails upon my inbox for days on end. While I’d never complain, I’ve found photo editing each issue increasingly difficult in that it requires saying “no” to more and more submissions. Sometimes the number of “no’s” will be double, triple, quadruple or even quintuple what I am able to fit on a given page. For example, I received 19 submissions for five to six spots on our birdcage page in Fresh Picks and a jaw-dropping 51 submissions for nine or 10 spots in this issue’s Color Wheel!
In adjusting to this almost surreal situation, I’ve realized that the products I ultimately select aren’t necessarily “better” than the ones I don’t. Rather, the ones that are run work together well in terms of color, theme or mood; in tandem they simply express my vision for a given page best.
I’ve also come to realize that my dilemma mirrors that of any stationery retailer, whether online, brick and mortar or both. There are hundreds and perhaps even thousands of companies wholesaling notecards, for example — but the number with product that fits into a retailer’s vision best is a tiny fraction of that whole. In our uber-competitive and economically questionable environment, it’s essential for buying decisions to be ultra-selective and really reflect a venue’s personality and price point range.
This means, unfortunately, that it’s not enough for a vendor to be wonderful to work with and talented — as pretty much everyone seems to be. Rather, any selection must not only be dazzling in and of itself, it must also work well within the statement a given venue wants to make.
So as you peruse this edition — and hopefully the catalogs and sell sheets that you receive once you fill out your reader service card — think about what you would like to say and figure out how best to say it. It may, after all, determine how your new year, and new decade, unfolds.
Until next issue …