Archive for the ‘Behind the Scenes’ Category

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

NOW OPEN: Letterpress Stationery and Gift Shop Chicago

Steel Petal Press: A Letterpress Stationery and Gift Shop is now open in Chicago

Stationery and Gift Shop Logan Square Chicago

We are super excited to announce that as of June 1st, 2016 the Steel Petal Press Letterpress Stationery and Gift Shop is NOW OPEN in Logan Square, Chicago!!!

Here you can shop the full collection of Steel Petal Press cards along side other stationery and gift items that we love.  Below are a few photos from around the space, or if you’re in Chicago please come visit us in person!!

LOCATION: 2321 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago 60647
Summer HOURS: Mon-Fri 11-7 | Sat 10-7 | Sun 11-5

Stationery and Gift Shop Logan Square Chicago Gift Shop Chicago Gift Shop Chicago

The space is open and you will be able to view the vintage presses and the production area from the Gift Shop area. Below is a photo of me in front of the press area a few weeks after we moved in.

Stationery and Gift Shop Logan Square Chicago

We can’t wait to see you!

Please don’t forget to follow us on social media for all the latest updates too:
instagram | facebook | twitter | snapchat

I’ve also been meaning to share a blog post about the move. So please stay tuned for more on that….

Steel Petal Press is coming to Logan Square

Our move-in dates are finally set for our big move into our new location!! I can’t believe it’s ACTUALLY HAPPENING. After 3+ years in my Lacuna Studio, I’m so so SO ready to be in a larger space. We are literally busting out at the seems.  I can’t even make new product because I don’t have anywhere to put it in my current space.

Below is a photo of my space about 1 month ago.  All the electrical, HVac and plumbing was completed, and you can see the structure of my office and the bathroom in the back left corner of the room.  But obviously it was still in really raw condition. The lights aren’t in, the floors are unfinished and there’s still lots of work that needed to be completed.

Steel Petal Press Logan Square Buildout

And below is a photo of it closer to being done.  The hardwood floors are in, the shop lights are in, the office and bathroom are completed. You can also see our little “kitchen” area in the back right corner.

Steel Petal Press Logan Square

Most of the space will be for our studio expansion: production and fulfillment.  The front 1/4 of the space will be a dedicated retail area open to the public.

Our move is scheduled for the last week of April.  We plan on taking a month to set up shop, and then opening to the public in May.  Before we move we’ll be hosting a huge moving sale to help clear out some inventory before we move.  Here’s a little teaser for details on the sale

Moving Sale Steel Petal Press .

So mark your calendars for the last week of March you’ll save big on lots of letterpress goodies from Steel Petal Press!!

Also follow us on social media for more behind the scenes updates:
Instagram  ////  SnapChat //// Facebook



Meet Jane our Spring Intern!


Jane Katte is the newest intern at Steel Petal Press.  She’s been learning how to process orders, helping with huge paper source orders that go out, had a stab at envelope liners and has already spent some time on the press.

Here’s a short bio from the “about” page.

A lover of all things handmade and old fashioned, Jane has always been drawn to the distinct visual aesthetic of letterpress. She’s thrilled to have found an outlet to explore the printing process in depth!   Her educational experience is varied–after earning a BA in English from Florida State University, she switched tracks and moved to Chicago to complete a certificate in Baking and Pastry from the French Pastry School. Nowadays, when she’s not learning the presses here at Steel Petal Press, she’s a pastry cook in a Michelin-starred restaurant.


Shop Steel Petal Press is Coming Soon to Logan Square

Steel Petal Press Logan Square

2321 N Milwaukee Avenue Chicago

If you follow me on social media (FB, Insta, Twitter) or receive my newsletter then you probably already know that I’ve been planning a move into a new retail location in my neighborhood for quite some time now.
(you sign up for the NewsLetter here –>>

It’s been almost a year coming from inception to reality.  I first started thinking about moving sometime last winter. At the time, my building was going through changes I wasn’t happy about and I started thinking it would be a good time to get out.  It’s a good thing I started looking when I did (last March) because it’s taken almost a full year to find the new space and execute the relocation (and I’m not even moved yet!)

I knew I would eventually need more space, so I was looking for something much larger (a space I could grow into without having to move again), closer to home (goodbye 30 min commute) and I wanted a storefront so I could be more connected with Chicago and the community.  After a month of searching I finally found the location pictured above (2321 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago) and decided to move forward with the lease: it’s a half mile walk from my house, 3x the space, lots of foot traffic and room to grow.

In April 2015, I started the process of signing the lease.  It took a month for the lease to be finalized (going back and forth with lawyers and revisions). Once I signed the lease, I met with an architect to work on the buildout and design of the interior. Then drawings were submitted to the city for building permits. City permits took 2 months longer than expected and building (which was supposed to start in September) didn’t start until mid December of 2015.

I was originally quoted 6 months for the whole process from start to finish, but once the dust has settled, it’s looking like it will be closer to a year.

It’s quite a bit more expensive than my current space, so I decided to add a retail shop in front, while keeping production and fulfillment in back. I’ll be moving my entire business to Logan Square (my Chicago neighborhood).  I plan on selling my own letterpress cards and gift items, along side the work of other independent (and/or) local designers.

At this point (a year later)  I am completely out of room in my current space and can’t wait to move into a larger studio. We will have more room for storage, more room for inventory, more table space for my team to work on post production and outgoing orders, I will have an office where I can close the doors and concentrate on other aspects of creating new product and running a business.

I’m so excited for this new adventure; What the new space will mean for my growing business AND what the new retail portion will bring to the table. It’s uncharted territory, which makes me nervous and excited all at the same time.

Be sure to follow me on social media for all the updates! (FB, Insta, Twitter)
And be sure to sign up for my mailing list here –>>

I’ll be posting more details as they come up – and look out for a MASSIVE MOVING SALE — coming very SOON!