Archive for the ‘Behind the Scenes’ Category

How I got into Letterpress

Steel Petal Press - Chicago Letterpress Demo

I recently had someone ask me via social media how I got into letterpress and what advice I had for someone looking to learn.  I thought I’d share my thoughts here too!

I’ve had a lot of formal training in letterpress.  I first learned while in my undergrad degree I took a book making class for 1 year.  After graduating with a BFA in I was immediately accepted to a six-month internship at Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY. There I studied silk screening, letterpress, and papermaking, while maintaining the studios and assisting the artists-in-residence and staff. I went on to assist various artists and curators in Washington DC and the San Francisco Bay Area. I also continued to volunteer regularly at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center and the San Francisco Center for Book Arts.

Steel Petal Press - Chicago Letterpress Demo

Later on I relocated to Chicago to work towards my MFA in book and paper art at Columbia College Chicago.  (I never finished my degree but that’s where Steel Petal Press was born)
My first semester in Chicago I Steel Petal Press as a side project from my classwork.  I started by printing holiday cards to send to friends and family living far away. After printing my letterpress projects for school, I would use the school’s studios to print personal work in my spare time. I found stores to sell any extra cards I had printed, and the company grew from there.
For someone looking to get into letterpress, I would start by looking into print shops in your area that might offer workshops or dabble classes.  This is a good way to get your feet wet without committing to school tuition or more competitive internships. If you’re looking for more community and immersion into letterpress try reaching out to a letterpress shop and see if they take apprentices or interns.
Below are a few resources to get you started.
Ladies of Letterpress
Briar Press: (the craigslist of letterpress)

Steel Petal Press - Chicago Letterpress Demo


Meet Shelby! Retail Lady @ Steel Petal Press


Shelby joined the Steel Petal Press team in August of 2017 and quickly dazzled us with her enthusiasm for retail and merchandising while cursing and laughing with us. She has been a great fit for our small team.  As we geared up for the holidays she became our first full time employee (outside of me, Shayna) If you’ve come into the retail shop 5 times out of 7 you’ll interact with her.  We’re happy to have  her as a part of Steel Petal Press!
What kinds of things do you do at the studio? What do you enjoy most?
The primary focus of my job here at the studio is the retail space so I like to jokingly say that the sales floor is my baby. I handle every product from the moment it is delivered to us to the moment it goes on the sales floor to the moment a customer purchases it. The process of “checking in” products is a primary role and this simply means that it is input into our computer system and can be found on the register at the time of the sale. Another large portion of my job, and my favorite, is merchandising the sales floor. I truly get creative fulfillment out of making products look fun and inviting for people to shop and I feel proud to make our store look the best it can at all times! While there are lots of additional tasks I do behind the scenes, I would say the last, but certainly not least, main part of my job is customer service. Everyone defines this differently, but for me, it just means making people feel welcome (as we welcome EVERYONE in our space) and that they leave having had a laugh and finding exactly what they came in looking for (and maybe a little bit more).
What do you enjoy doing outside of the studio?
Once I step out of the studio, my favorite way to be is in the company of my amazing friends. We spend most of our time enjoying Logan Square (and other great neighborhoods) appreciating the great food, booze, and arts that our community has to offer! I also enjoy smothering my fur baby, Kitten, with undying love, doing crossword puzzles in PEN (how wild), and binge watching tv shows until my brain melts.
What is your favorite Steel Petal Press card/product and why?
My favorite Steel Petal Press card is the “Even When I Hate You I Still Fucking Love You Dammit” love card because it perfectly sums up how I feel about every single person in my life that I love and it says “fucking”…which is my favorite word…so, it’s perfect.

Screenshot 2018-01-17 at 12.14.14 PM

What would your perfect day in Chicago look like? 
Honestly, I am lucky enough to be able to live my perfect day in this city on a pretty regular basis..but it would probably involve hanging out with my best friends, eating delicious food from the neighborhood (I’m partial to Parson’s or Boiler Room), getting drunk at one of our favorite places like Estero or Ez Inn, and then catching some live music at The Empty Bottle or Cole’s. It’s nothing fancy but it’s got everything I need and want in a perfect day! 🙂

Hi From Steel Petal Press

Steel Petal Press Team

We just wanted to pop in this morning to say hi and let you know that we’re thankful for you. Seriously, thank you for being a badass customer of Steel Petal Press. We couldn’t do any of this or come to work with jazz hands each day without you, so thanks!

If you want to keep up with us throughout the upcoming holiday season (really, holiday is right around the Halloween corner) – then come follow along with us on Instagram. We love seeing your #steelpetalpress goods and photos & keeping you in rhythm with our shop shenanigans.

And if it’s been a while since you’ve stopped by our Logan Square brick and mortar shop, come on in! We can’t promise to greet you with jazz hands, but we may perform on demand.

See you soon!

Greeting Card Facts

Greeting Card Facts

A few interesting facts I stumbled on about greeting cards.  (SOURCE)

• Americans purchase approximately 6.5 billion greeting cards each year. Annual retail sales of greeting
cards are estimated between $7 and $8 billion.

• The most popular Everyday card-sending occasion by far is Birthday, followed by a number of secondary
occasions that include Sympathy, Thank You, Wedding, Thinking of You, Get Well, New Baby and

• The most popular Seasonal cards are Christmas cards, with some 1.6 billion units purchased (including
boxed cards). This is followed by cards for Valentine’s Day (145 million units, not including classroom
valentines), Mother’s Day (133 million units), Father’s Day (90 million units), Graduation (67 million units),
Easter (57 million units), Halloween (21 million units), Thanksgiving (15 million units) and St. Patrick’s Day
(7 million units).

• Women purchase an estimated 80% of all greeting cards. Women spend more time choosing a card than
men, and are more likely to buy several cards at once.

• Greeting card prices can vary from 50 cents to $10 – with a price point for every consumer. The vast
majority are between $2 and $4. (Total price per year include boxed cards.) The cost of a typical counter
card, however, is between $2 and $4. Cards featuring special techniques, intricate designs and new
technologies and innovations – such as the inclusion of sound chips and LED lights – as well as
handmade cards, are at the top of the price scale.

• Seven out of 10 card buyers surveyed consider greeting cards “absolutely” or “almost” essential to them.
Eight out of 10 of these buyers expect their purchases to remain the same going forward. Of the balance,
twice as many card buyers say they will “increase” their purchasing as say they will “decrease” their
purchasing in the coming year.

Interview on Proof to Product!

Proof to Product Podcast, Shayna Norwood

Hey Everyone!! I wanted to announce the release of my podcast for the Proof to Product Podcast by my stationery friend and colleague Katie Hunt of Tradeshow Bootcamp.

I took the Tradeshow Bootcamp webinars in 2012 before I exhibited for the first time at The National Stationery Show.  Since then I have been an active member of the TSBC online community of stationery designers and printers, such an inspiring group of entrepreneurs and creative minds.  More recently I attended PaperCamp+ for alumni in more advanced stages of their business.

I was thrilled and honored to be interviewed for this podcast and give back to a community from which I’ve learned so much.  In my interview I talk about how I started Steel Petal Press, opening the flagship retail shop, managing both a wholesale business and a retail storefront, the challenges I’ve faced while growing the business and advice to designers who are pitching their products to wholesale buyers.

I had so much fun talking with Katie and sharing some of the things I’ve learned along my journey.  You can listen to the full episode HERE.  Please check it out, I would love to hear what you think! Was there any new information you found helpful?  Anything I didn’t address, I would love to comment more here.

Thanks so much to Katie and everyone in TSBC for creating such a wonderful and supportive community!



PaperCamp+ with Tradeshow Bootcamp

Paper Camp+ Tradeshow Bootcamp

At the end of June I spent 2 wonderful days at the PaperCamp+ conference in Palm Springs. It was a business-focused conference for smaller stationery companies who are mid career and looking for ways to grow their businesses.  The conference was targeted to alumni of  Tradeshow Bootcamp and companies in the stationery industry.

I took the Tradeshow Bootcamp webinars in 2012-2013 when preparing for my first visit to the National Stationery Show in 2013.  At the time I found the information invaluable, and it really helped prepare me for the daunting task of exhibiting at my first trade show, especially on a shoestring budget.

Paper Camp+ Tradeshow Bootcamp

The conference was in a small room at the Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs.  It was a cute little location with average rooms but a beautiful pool setting.  All the Paper Camp+ attendees stayed at the hotel which was super convenient for the all day conferences.  These are some photos around the hotel, but during deep discussions  in the conference room it was easy to forget everyone else around us was on vacation!

We were basically in round table discussions and listening to speakers from 8am until 5pm with happy hours at the end of each day.  There were about 25 attendees plus 5-10 additional speakers and staff.  It was inspirational to hear the speakers, but also to see them participating and taking notes during other presentations.  The information was truly valuable for everyone.

Paper Camp+ Tradeshow Bootcamp

Below is a list of the panels and speakers. I can say without a doubt I got something from everyone.  Some of the topics were more applicable to my current situation than others, but everything I learned was worthwhile:

Thursday, June 29
8:00am – Breakfast
9:00am – Welcome + Introductions
9:30am – How to Clone Yourself with Amber McCue
11:00am – Diversifying Revenue Streams with Kristen Ley
12:30pm – Lunch
2:00pm – Small Group Discussions
3:30pm – Break + Snacks
4:00pm – Visibility + PR Panel Discussion
5:30pm – Happy Hour sponsored by DeFrance Printing
6:40pm – Dinner on your own

Friday, June 30
8:00am – Breakfast
9:00am – Big Dreams Need Big Plans with Tonya Dalton
10:30am – Work Your Wealth in Business & Life with Mary Beth Storjohann
12:00pm – Lunch
1:30pm – Growing a Thriving Business With Fear with Reina Pomeroy
3:00pm – Break + Snacks
3:30pm – Hiring & Nurturing Your Team Panel Discussion
4:30pm – Final thoughts & Take-Aways
5:30pm – Closing Party sponsored by Astro Paper Converters
7:30pm – High fives & hugs goodbye

Paper Camp+ Tradeshow Bootcamp

I came away with some really solid, concrete information, and action items moving forward.  Below are a few goals and other items to start implementing to help improve my business and processes:
– Separating what do I need to do, and what I can delegate better
– Updating operations manuals, and keeping constant
– Better budgeting (actually creating a budget)
– Updating core values / guiding principles
– Creating more efficient systems in the workplace
– Automating my schedule
– Scheduling social media and marketing
– Maximizing shipping efficiency

My biggest takeaway from the whole experience was the conversations, the one-on-one interactions and the friendships that were solidified in real life over real drinks, real laughs, (a few) real tears and a common bond of shared experiences.

The women in the stationery industry are truly one of kind, empathetic, heartfelt and hilarious.  And I feel so lucky to be a part of this world.

Paper Camp+ Tradeshow Bootcamp

(above from left to right: Carina of Crow and Canary, Tonya of Inkwell Press, Lisa of Farewell Paperie, Katie of The Good Twin, Katie of Tradeshow Bootcamp)

Paper Camp+ Tradeshow Bootcamp

(above: Roseanna of Iron Curtain Letterpress, Kristen of Thimble Press)

Steel Petal Press Core Values


I just came back from a super inspiring weekend at Paper Camp+ a conference for alumni and more seasoned members of Tradeshow Bootcamp community. (hopefully, I have time to do a separate post about that…) I learned sooooo much over the two days of workshops, speakers and networking.  Too much to talk about right now, so today I’m just going to focus on one of my first implementations after attending the conference.

One piece of the information that was repeated over and over was how core values and guiding principles really helped build the foundation for making business decisions and feeding a business so it can thrive through growth.  Before I opened the retail shop I worked with some staff to create a list of core values that were applicable at the time.  As we’ve grown our team, interacted more with the public and with each other I felt the core values weren’t as concise or accurate as they could be.  One of my first to-do items was to revise and rewrite some of the values to better match how we’ve grown and changed.  Below you can see my final revision.  I updated some of the verbiage, took out some bullet points that seemed redundant, and added some core values. I feel really good about the ideals listed below and think it’s a more accurate reflection of Steel Petal Press and how we fit in the world.

  1. Strive for the highest quality: unique, beautiful, lasting products
  1. Laughter and beauty brings joy to the world
  1. Be ready to help — with enthusiasm
  1. Positive communication creates a respectful environment
  1. Work smarter, not harder
  1. Focus on community
  1. Celebrate the little things

Hiring Retail Superstar!

hiring retail job

Steel Petal Press is hiring and we’re looking for you!
Read more about our company here:

We are a boutique stationery company specializing in letterpress greeting cards and wedding invitations. Our retail store is located on Milwaukee Avenue, near the California Blue Line Stop, in Logan Square.

We are looking for a fantastic permanent Superstar Retail Lead to work part-time (25-30 hours/week) with potential for growth. This position has somewhat set hours and could fit well for a person with an open schedule. Weekend availability is a MUST. We prefer that the potential employee live reasonably close to the area of the retail store.

This is strictly a retail position with some creativity needed for visual merchandising and window displays.

The ideal candidate is a person with 3+ years retail experience, with department management experience preferred. Excellent customer service skills, keen attention to detail and one who will fit in well with our small team are all very important to us.

The Retail Superstar is responsible for:
-Management of incoming orders, including assisting the owner with product orders
-Visual merchandising, front window displays, etc
-Maintaining our inventory databases with photos, descriptions, costs, margins, etc
-Customer interaction and service
-Opening and closing procedures
-Retail store maintenance
-Annual inventory counts
-Helping with misc. processing tasks as needed

Our superstar would possess the following skills & attributes:
-Has retail management/supervisory and sales experience, especially in a boutique setting
-Enjoys working in retail and working with customers
-Is very organized and detail oriented
-Eagerness to learn, very reliable and hardworking
-Has a fun, outgoing personality and positive attitude
-Enjoys crafty, artistic goods, and a love of stationery is a plus
-Ability to work well independently and as part of a team
-Fairly open availability for the set schedule we desire
-MUST be available to work weekends

To apply, please follow these steps. If steps are not followed as listed, your application will NOT be accepted or reviewed:
Research our company and showcase that you understand a bit about our company.
Email your COVER LETTER explaining why you feel you would be a great fit for this position and our company (Tips on writing a great cover letter:
Email your RESUME or work history.
Use this email: kat at steelpetalpress dot com.

If it seems that initially you may be a fit for our company, we will first conduct short phone interviews. Some candidates may then be called in for in person interviews.
7-12-16 Steel Petal Press Studio Tour Chicago, IL ©2016 Jennifer Kathryn Photography

Letterpress Demos at Steel Petal Press

Steel Petal Press Letterpress Studio and Shop Chicago

Steel Petal Press - Chicago Letterpress Demo Steel Petal Press - Chicago Letterpress Demo Steel Petal Press - Chicago Letterpress Demo

The second saturday of every month Steel Petal Press will be hostly a Letterpress Demonstration and Q&A as a part of the City of Chicago’s Year of Public Art. You can find more information on the multi-location, year long event HERE.

The event will be Free and Open to the public 2-3pm on the following dates:

Chicago has a long and rich printing history; from printers row on the nations register of historic landmarks, to Vandercook inventing the flatbed press in Chicago over 100 years ago. But how often the public get to see these historic machines in person and watch them in action? Steel Petal Press will host monthly 1 hour long letterpress printing demos on the Second Saturday of every month. At the demos we will go through the printing process from start to finish and be available to answer questions regarding the printing process and the history of printing.

Shop Windows at Steel Petal Press

We’ve been having a lot of fun coming up with creative seasonal shop windows at Steel Petal Press.  Here’s an image of our spring and fall windows for our first few months open 🙂

Fall Window Steel Petal Press

Stationery and Gift Shop Logan Square Chicago

At the end of November we’ll be switching it up for a more winter holiday feel.  Below is a little inspiration I’ve been drawing from.  Or you can also check out my Shop Window Inspiration Pinterest Board.  (What did we do before pinterest?) 🙂

holiday window holiday window holiday window