Features Industry Profiles

May 14, 2013 •
Smudge Ink

Kate Saliba and Deb Bastien
Smudge Ink
Charlestown, Mass.

1. When and how did you start working in this business?
It was more than 10 years ago the two of us began laying out their business plan for Smudge Ink on the back of an A7 envelope, and we’ve never looked back.

For as long as we can remember, we’ve always been drawn to design-related projects, whether it was drawing, painting, building furniture, studying architecture … you name it. Kate said “hello” to letterpress while she was living in Oregon and quit her job to start a printing apprenticeship closer to home in Massachusetts. Hooked, she bought her first press and moved it into a garage bay on Cape Cod where Deb came on board.

2. What is your signature style?
Smudge Ink’s style is clean and modern yet playful. As anyone can see, we love bright pops of colors. The outdoors is also a great inspiration to us. We both enjoy hiking, skiing, gardening and running (even if that means running after our children these days!), and it’s the energy that we derive from these simple pleasures that we try to convey in our own designs.

3. What are your most popular stationery offerings?
Our boxed notes are consistently a big hit, as is our ever-expanding birthday card selection.

4. Please share the direction your line will be taking.
We really push ourselves to look at our core strengths and see how they can be translated into not only new designs, but also new products. We think it’s extremely important to keep our line fresh and exciting (we are in a creative field after all!) so continually ask ourselves “what next?” Getting to know our customers has led us into launching into giftwrap and, most recently, notebooks. For now, our products are still within the realm of paper, but we can see ourselves moving beyond this category one day.

5. What are your top three tips for success?
1) Don’t let the road bumps get you down — always persevere and be positive!
2) Maintain balance between work and life outside of work.
3) Hire for your weaknesses.

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