March 14, 2017
NSS Stationery Stories honors everyday people who make the industry great

“Stationery Stories,” a National Stationery Show (NSS) initiative celebrating the journey and experiences of people on all sides of the business, features personal narratives on how the stationery business has influenced and inspired them. More than 35 stationery store owners, buyers, designers and exhibitors have had their stories featured on the NSS website since the program’s launch in 2016.

“These powerful stories put a face to dozens of wonderful people we may know, and give us history and context as to how the stationery industry has shaped their lives,” said Kelly P. Bristol, NSS show director. “At its core, the NSS is about human connections, so it’s important to share these stories with one another.”

The People Behind Recent “Stationery Stories”

Throughout her childhood in Toulouse, France, her work at graphic communication agencies in Paris, and her immigration to Canada, Marie-Laure Plano has overcome her shyness by sketching life inside countless notepads. While making her own greeting cards, she came up with the idea of developing her own line of paper products and then founded Lili Graffiti. Plano says, “I draw my inspirations from my travels, but mostly from my life in Montreal, a city that I embrace for its light, its architecture, its creativeness, its easygoing lifestyle and its gastronomy.”

Penniless and disillusioned, Juliana Kissick left Hollywood for Northern California, where she picked up a pencil and began drawing stories from her childhood…and elephants. A month later, she realized that her elephants and their stories of joy and despair were actually different iterations of herself. “I was using the imagery of animals and nature to teach me about my humanity,” Kissick says. “I needed to share the magic of illustration immediately – I needed to make cards!” She brought in co-founders with MBAs and successful careers in tech and consulting to help her start Good Juju Ink. Kissick’s advice to others: “No one can do anything alone. Don’t try to be a hero/martyr/mad scientist/artist/ accountant/ brand expert/marketing guru party of one.”

At this year’s NSS, Sarah Schwartz, editor-in-chief of both Stationery Trends magazine and The Paper Chronicles blog, will celebrate 20 years of covering the industry. She sees her mission as “keeping letter-writing, card-sending and invitation-using alive, but also, and just as importantly – helping empower makers and retailers to succeed.” She adds, “there is no experience like the National Stationery Show. The excitement in the air is palpable, and discovering gorgeous new product and hobnobbing with friends old and new – year in and year out, it’s an experience without parallel.”

Jim Holland, a retired Carlson Craft executive, attended his first National Stationery Show many years ago when it was held at the New York Coliseum. As the person responsible for promoting the “phone order service,” Jim would have to run down the street from the show and use a pay phone just to call in new leads. Now, when the retiree sees stationery albums in stores, he reminisces about the early years when Carlson Craft had a 10” x 10” booth with a tabletop display featuring wedding invitation papers. He says, “I liked meeting our dealers face to face and getting feedback from them. It was enjoyable to just look around the show and see all the companies and varieties of products that were offered.”

From the moment she went to work in a card store at the age of 16, Liz Richmond knew she wanted to own her own store some day. Two years later, she got another job at a small card and stationery store in Allentown, Penn., called The Paperbag. Over the years, the owner taught Richmond everything she needed to know to own and operate a retail business – and then sold her the store in 1997. Richmond says, “We’ve had some trials and tribulations, but we’re still in business!”

NSS will take place May 21 – 24, 2017 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. The Show’s website features a schedule of buyer education programs, the 2017 product showcase, a show planner and “Stationery Stories.” Stories from industry participants are still being accepted; visit the website for more information. Stationery industry enthusiasts can stay abreast of Show happenings by registering for the monthly e-newsletter, Paper Clips, following the Show on Twitter, and visiting the Show Facebook page and its Instagram account. Join the conversation at #NSS2017 and #stationerystories.

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