Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

Mental Health Awareness Month | One

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

I’ve been sitting here at my computer running through my mind all the things I want to say about my personal mental health struggles:
“What is my story?”
“Why is it important?”
“What do I want to say?”  

The truth is, there are so many reasons to share my personal history with mental health. It has been challenging to organize my thoughts.  

For me, it all starts with understanding what I can control and what I cannot.  Mental illness, depression and anxiety runs in my family. It’s a genetic disease that has been passed down, not through actions and habits of my family, but through brain chemistry.  It took me a really long time to understand that feeling depressed and anxious is actually NOT something I can control. I struggled through many years trying to contain my emotions and then beating myself up when I couldn’t, it only made me feel worse. The tricky thing about mental illness (specifically anxiety in my case) is that sometimes an emotional reaction cannot be regulated by reason.  After years and years of ups and downs I met with the right psychiatrist. He helped me understand that some things are beyond my control. I was finally able to let go of trying. Rather than fighting an impossible battle with my brain chemistry, I was able to focus on the things I actually could control, like lifestyle, surroundings, situations and triggers that lead those feelings to surface.

So, What is my story?
It’s over 20 years of struggling with anxiety and resulting depression. Within those 20 years I experienced five episodes that completely debilitated me from functioning in everyday life.  HOWEVER, I want to reiterate, this is *not* a sob story. This is a story of someone who struggled and prevailed, and then fell and got back up again. I write this now from a positive, productive and rational place. In those moments of despair it’s the absolute worst. It feels hopeless and helpless and isolating and completely alone. But it has always gotten better.

So, why share my story? Why now?
I’m finally at a place where I feel like I have a much better understanding of myself and my illness.  With better perspective of my own story, I feel much better sharing what I know. Anyone else who feels similarly, I want you to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

The more we talk about mental health the better we can understand each other, maybe together we can lessen the stigma and shame by sharing our experiences. I hope this blog series can help add to the conversation.

2015 in Review

2015 Year in Review

Happy 2016!   I hope everyone enjoyed a nice holiday break and had some time to unwind and relax with family and friends.  I always like to start each new year by taking a moment to pause and look back over acheivements and milestones of the year before.  After that I set goals both short and long-term for both personal and professional growth.  It’s a ritual I’ve come to appreciate over the years.   Looking back at the recaps over the years make it easier to put things in perspective.  Most of my days I spend head-down in day-to-day tasks, but taking time to really see the big picture really helps me put more intentionality into envisioning my future.

(you can read all my past yearly recaps HERE)

Below are my highlights from 2015

Sales Reps
It was a goal of mine to pick up a sales rep in 2015.  I was fortunate enough to sign with two last year!  The first reached out to me in February, and the second reached out over the summer.  They have definitely helped me get Steel Petal Press® cards out to more retailers than I would have been able to reach on my own.

Paper Source
In the summer of 2014 Paper Source picked up one of my cards and started placing large orders regularly.  In July 2015 they picked up another style, and in the last few weeks of 2015, they picked up 3 more styles!  Paper Source already contributes to a significant chunk of my income, I’m looking forward to that increasing in 2016.

congratulations baby card

I doubled the number of shops that carry Steel Petal Press® cards.  These new shops found me through a variety of venues: sales reps, Etsy Wholesale, at the National Stationery Show, or just randomly reaching out online. I definitely beat my goal of adding 20 more retailers. View my full list of current stockists HERE.

National Stationery Show
I attended the National Stationery Show for my third year in 2015.  I learned a lot from the experience and came out with new ideas for when I exhibit again. I’m taking 2016 off, but that doesn’t mean I’m done with NSS for good.

Steel Petal Press National Stationery Show 2015

Continuing Education
– In June I attended the APA Wayzgoose in Chicago, connecting with letterpress printers from all over.
– And then in July, I flew to LA to be a part of first 1-day Business Camp put on by Tradeshow Bootcamp.
Both were amazing experiences.

I was happy to host three wonderful interns this year.  My internship program is something I’ve been developing since 2012, and I feel great about how it’s evolved.  The program is now a “well-oiled machine” that ensures the experience is fulfilling and worthwhile for everyone involved.  I also love being able to pass on the hands-on knowledge of letterpress to people and students interested in learning the ancient craft.

My first employee, Maranda, left to pursue her own endeavors in the summer of 2015, and I hired Kat to take her place.  And in the last quarter of 2015 I reached another goal of hiring additional part-time employees to come in as-needed to help with shipping, packaging and inventory management.

Studio Move and Retail Space
Last April I started the search to move into a larger studio space.  A studio move was a longer-term goal of mine that quickly became more pressing as I am running out of space in my current space. Last June I negotiated and signed the lease, in July I met with architects to help plan the space, then we waited for city permits to begin construction.  The permits finally came through in the end of November, construction has started and my projected move-in date for the new space is slated for March 2016.  This new space is a huge new endeavor and deserves it’s own blog post.  (To be continued….)

Craft Fairs
I only did two craft fairs this year; Summer Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago, and One of a Kind Show Chicago.  I stuck with local fairs (less travel fees) and only chose to participate where I knew sales would make the weekend worth my while.  I broke sales records at both the shows and was able to do some great in-person promotion for the new shop.

Steel Petal Press at One of a Kind Show Chicago 2015

And onto Goals and Plans for 2016
– successfully move to a new location and open a retail shop (that alone should take up most of my year)
– hire additional sales associates for the shop
– get Steel Petal Press® on TV (somehow)
– add more sales reps to my team
– add even more shops to my list of stockists.



Wishing all those who celebrate out there a happy and healthy THANKSGIVING full of laughter, good food, good friends and good times.  Please take a moment to give thanks for all you have.

Much love and gratitude – Shayna

Favorite Halloween Costumes

It’s no secret, I love dressing up in costumes almost any time of year, so naturally Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  Even though this year’s Halloween has come and gone I wanted to share some of my favorite Halloween costumes over the years and a few tips on how to achieve them.

This past weekend, Halloween 2015, I recruited a friend to join me in a couples costume as The Grady Twins, AKA The Shining Twins.  Have you seen the movie? Probably one of the scariest films I’ve seen. There’s not a ton of gore or gimmicky horror, but it’s a slow-paced psychological thriller.

Shining Twins Halloween Costume

Here’s what you need:.

– A friend!
– Matching blue dresses – I found this one cheap with a simple google search online
– Lace collars – We made our own and sewed them on.
– White (or light pink) ribbon to tie around waist – Find at fabric store
White Knee Socks
– Black slip on shoes
Matching wigs (unless you and your friend have matching hair this is key!)
– Hair parted to the side with ribbon / barrette
White Face make up with dark circles around the eyes. (For ultimate creep effect)


In 2013 my husband coupled up as Suzy and Sam from Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.  I already a full blog post dedicated fully to this costume, so please check it out here.

Moonrise Kingdom Halloween Costume


In 2014 I dressed as Amy Winehouse.  We are both jewish with similar features so I really only needed some accessories to make this costume work.

Amy Winehouse Halloween Costume

Here’s how I achieved the look.

– Rehab – Amy Winehouse wig
Red bandana in the hair
Gold chain necklaces (I already owned these, but you can pick them up at any costume shop)
– Gold hoop earrings
– Top: anything low-cut and busty
– Short black shorts, or anything tight that shows a lot of skin
– Extreme Cat Eye make up (I searched for “cat eye tutorials” and “Amy Winehouse Make Up” on youtube)
– Bright red lipstick


In 2011 I went as the beauty queen on the cover of the HOLE album Live Through This.  I particularly loved this costume because it was specific yet somewhat obscure.  People who got it LOVED it. Many people, even if they didn’t get it right away, once I showed them the cover art (I carried it around with me for reference) were familiar with the image.
Live Through This Halloween Costume

Here’s how I achieved the look.

– Blond Wig
– Tiara
– Fake Flower Bouquet – I bought these at a local fabric store and taped them together.
– Runny mascara make up and blue eyeshadow
– Long White prom dress (found at a thrift shop)
– Live Through This CD cover for reference 🙂
Live Through This Cover Art



In 2009 I was a flower. I am proud of this look because I engineered and sewed the flower headdress all myself.

Flower Halloween Costume

I wish I had documented the process, but I did not, so here’s my written instructions:

Flower Headpiece
Materials: Pink Felt, Sharpie, Scissors, Wire, Wire Cutter, Sewing Machine (or hand-sew if you’re feeling ambitious)
– draw out  template for petal shape (about 12″ long)
– use template to cut out at least 16 petal shapes from pink felt
– Pin two petal shapes together back to back (do this for 8 petals)
– Sew them together, leaving the bottom open and reverse them so the seams are on the inside (like making a pillow)
– Create “U” shape with the metal wire that is longer than the petal
– Insert the wire “U” into the inside of the petal “pillows” so the bottom of the “U” is at the tip of the petal and the two legs of the “U” hang out 1-2″ through the base of the petal
– Cut a 2-3″ long band of pink felt, enough to wrap around your head and tie.
– Line up each of the 8 petals along the headband
– Sewed each petal to the headband, over the ends of the metal wire
– Bend each flower petal at a right angle at the base so it holds they stand up and hold their shape.

For the rest of my costume I just dressed in green clothing and tried to stay warm.
Halloween in Chicago can be cold sometimes!

A Few Things..

Chicago Winter Palmer Square

I wanted to share a few updates of what’s been going on with me outside the studio, so here we go.

– Winter in Chicago is in full effect.  The photo above is the park by my house during the blizzard a few weeks back.  Funny story is I actually got on a flight to New York that day (60% of flights were cancelled) and took off while snow was still coming down like crazy.

– On that trip I visited NYNow, a potential trade show I’ve been considering.  I was planning on doing a whole post on NYNow, but time has gotten away from me, so I’ll just share a few of my highlights.

I literally flew out of Chicago in a white out:

Snow Storm

I got to meet the ladies of 1Canoe2, SUCH sweethearts.

one Canoe two

And, I caught up with old letterpress friends Rachael of Pistachio Press and Kathryn of Blackbird Letterpress (So nice to catch up!!)

Rachael and Kathryn

I was literally in town for 48 hours. It was a whirlwind trip.

Two weekends ago, we celebrated my husband’s birthday and Valentine’s day.  We ate food at The Southern (hubby is originally from Atlanta GA) The Southern also have a great groupon deal going on which I highly recommend.   On Sunday toured the new Lagunita’s Brewery in Chicago (delicious Beer, fun beer hall atmosphere, great for groups) Just get there early! Weekends are packed to the nines.

Last weekend I stayed in and caught up on rest.

I’ve been really into cooking soups recently (I blame the already mentioned winter) I cooked a delicious Spicy Turkey Chili on Sunday while watching the Oscars.

My Oscar highlights were:

– Patricia Arquette – THANK YOU for looking like a real woman in her 40s, reading glasses and all. You are beautiful! and Such a breath of fresh air.

– Wes Anderson and the Grand Budapest Hotel – He’s been a favorite of mine since Royal Tennanbaums. (remember my Moonrise Kingdom Costume from 2013?)

– Common and John Legend’s performance of their Oscar Winning song Glory:

– Lady Gaga’s Julie Andrews tribute. Girl can sing! And she killed it in her performance:

2014 In Review

2014 Year in Review

I know I say this every year, but 2014 was another big year for Steel Petal Press!!  I usually like to start these posts by looking over the goals I set for myself the previous year (see recaps from 2013, 2012 and 2011) but it looks like I didn’t write those down last January, so I’ll just have to go by 3-5 year goals from 2012 (still totally applicable!)

Here are the highlights and milestones of 2014:

New Website
I started working on revamping my website in September of 2013. 6 months later, it finally went live in March of 2014!  Read my post about the experience HERE.

National Stationery Show
It was my second year exhibiting at the National Stationery Show. This year I had my own both, built my own hard walls and brought my husband with me.  You can read my recap of the experience HERE.


Paper Source
One of my card designs got picked up by Paper Source! Selling to a national chain has been fantastic. They place fairly large wholesale orders very regularly.

Other New Stockists
I added 20+ new retailers to my list of stockists in 2014. They are super awesome and I’m thankful to be working with each and every one of them.  You can see my full list HERE.

In August of 2014 I hired a lawyer and filed the paper work to officially become Steel Petal Press Inc. (Goodbye sole-proprietorship!)  When I made the decision to hire my first employee,  the first step of the process was to separate myself from my business. Hence Incorporation! Which leads me to my next big event..

Hired an Employee
In August, I posted an ad on craigslist, weeded through over 150 applications, went through the interview process and hired Maranda, as my part time administrative and studio assistant. It’s been a learning curve adjusting to someone new in the studio, but it’s definitely alleviated a lot of my workload.

I hosted 4 interns in 2014.  They all brought something a little different to the table and I enjoyed working with each of them. It’s also so fascinating to see how differently each of them works, their strengths and weaknesses.

Celebrity Wedding
I worked on one highly intense, celebrity wedding rush order.

Custom Orders
I worked on over 100+ custom orders including personalized stationery, business cards, holiday cards, save the dates and wedding invitations.   More than half my custom orders were wedding invitations.  I worked with couples all over the world from Chicago to Australia.  The state that wins for most clients? 12 couples from New York chose my services last year.

Gold Foil Wedding Invitation

I got some great press this year.  From Buzz Feed, Oh So Beautiful Paper, and more (see the full list here), but the most exciting was seeing my work and my studio featured in a Japanese book about letterpress: A New Trend In Letterpress Printing

And now on to my goals and plans for 2015

– get busy enough to hire another part-time employee (someone to help with packing and shipping)
– pick up 10-20 more wholesale accounts (at the National Stationery Show or elsewhere)
– be published in a major bridal publication, Brides Magazine, Martha Stewart Weddings etc.
– have more card designs picked up by Paper Source
– Find a Sales Rep

Longer term 3-5 year goals

– move into a new space, hopefully a storefront closer to home (the commute kills me)
– new space = more space, purchase a Windmill and learn how to print on it
– hire a full time employee


And now a few personal goals

Get finances together – buying a house has been expensive, and definitely an adjustment in terms of spending and money
Keep going to the gym – I was really good about working out regularly last year, and I want to keep that up in 2015
Read more books – Winter is the time for reading! I have 6 on my shelf ready to get into
Eat less sweets – I have a major sweet tooth, it is one of my vices that got out of hand over the holidays. I’ve found that if I allow myself to eat sweets on Sunday, it’s easier for me to resist for the rest of the week.
Personal relationships – Although there are still times that work can take over, over I felt good about my work-life balance last year. I want to continue to put energy into my friendships, my husband and my family while still working to improve and grow Steel Petal Press.


And that’s my 2014 in review!  You can also view 2013, 2012 and 2011 recaps on my blog. How was your 2014? Any big goals for 2015?



(image credit  and pumpkin pie recipe)

I’m about to head out of town to Atlanta Georgia to spend Thanksgiving with my cousins, aunts and uncles.  It will be a nice few days off after the crazy few weeks I’ve had.

This year I’m thankful for so many things. My friends and family, my new home, my health, my husband.  I’m particularly thankful for the amazing team at Steel Petal Press who have worked late nights and long hours with me the past few weeks to help keep up with the holiday rush. And of course I’m so thankful for all the shop owners and customers, brides and couples who continue to purchase letterpress greeting cards from me, and who have supported my growing business throughout the years.  I am so thankful to be able to do what I love and make a living out of it – I couldn’t do it without any of you, so for that I am truly thankful.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving and I hope too get a chance to take a moment to give thanks.

–  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –

Coming up!!  I am preparing for a huge CYBER MONDAY sale details are below:

25% off EVERYTHING *
with the coupon code: CYBERMONDAY2014

Monday, December 1st ONLY

*excluding wedding deposits

The Difference in a Day

Clare Elsaesser

It’s Monday and I just wanted to check in and say I’m feeling sooo much better today.  I just needed a few days to sleep in and catch up on rest, spend some time on the couch, eat some good food and relax.  The next few weeks will be busy, but I’m feeling ready to take them on.  Thanks for letting me vent on this blog.  Life isn’t always puppies and rainbows.  Sometimes it’s important to be real.

(Image Credit: Clare Elasaesser)

When it rains it pours

record player

I’m going to be honest here and say this week has been rough.  I’ve been working 12+ hour days trying to prepare for holiday craft fairs, stay on top of etsy and wholesale orders and keep up with the custom orders that are still coming in.

What has just been the icing on the cake is that every piece of technology I own has pooped out on me in the last seven days! (I’m not even kidding)  FIRST my 2006 ipod totally dies, which is fine, it was old and probably coming to the end of it’s life anyways.  Sure it is a bummer, but I was ok with that.  But then less than a week later my computer screen started flickering and seconds later went completely blank.  That was the second time my computer died in less 3 months…  So I spent half my day at the apple store. They sent it out for repairs and when it returned last night the entire hard drive was replaced and nothing was saved,.  There are a few silver linings; the last repair was within the 90 day warranty, so they repaired it this time for free. AND, Since the last computer failure I have been vigilant about backing up my work, so I lost somethings, but nothing too terrible.

But it doesn’t end! Just this morning when trying to update my iphone, it failed too, the whole thing had to be wiped and rebooted from scratch.  So here I am, during a super busy time of year, having to spend half my day downloading apps, reinstalling fonts and reconfiguring all my broken / fixed technology.  The dishes are piling up in the sink and I’m exhausted.  Oh did I also mention I’m extra hormonal because it’s that time of the month? (sorry if that’s TMI)  I had a mini melt down and cried while doing the dishes earlier today. Sometimes you just gotta let it out, you know?

Anyways, I’m trying to stay positive and focus on the good things; I would much rather be too busy than too slow.  My mom got me an ipad for my birthday, so that’s been a fun new adventure in technology. And it’s almost the weekend.  Until then, the room pictured above with the record player and the led zepplin records will be my happy place.

Until next week, xo – shayna

A trip to the Pumpkin Patch!

Last weekend my husband and I took a trip to the pumpkin patch; Honey Hill Orchard, about 60 miles west of Chicago, to enjoy some fall activities before the winter is here.  We got to see some spectacularly bright foliage and fall colors:

Fall Colors

At the farm we road a hay ride to the pumpkin patch and picked some HUGE pumpkins to bring home with us.

Pumpkin Picking

We also picked some crazy shaped gourds to use as fall decor around the house.  Nature is insane! I’ve never seen such variety of shapes and colors in gourds before. It was pretty amazing.

Picking Gourds

pumpkin patch


We took advantage of some cheesy photo ops.

Farm Visit

Chad and Shayna

And spent some time petting goats and a donkey at the petting zoo. Could this Kid be any cuter?

Goat Petting Zoo Farm

Goats at the Petting Zoo