Sharing the stories behind the most talented creatives in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.
My connection with Lisa Krowinski of Sapling Press is a little different from my other maker friends here in Pittsburgh. I met her a few weeks after I’d moved back to the area in 2014 when a mutual friend introduced us. Turns out Lisa, a super accomplished and talented stationer with a line of snarky text-driven letterpress cards, was opening a brick and mortar shop in my town. We met up for coffee and I decided to be a part of it on the spot! These days I’m helping at the Sapling & Sons shop a few days a week as well as helping buy, which is immersing me in the stationery world that I’ve always been in love with. Lisa is a smart businesswoman who is also the most laid-back person I’ve ever met, a rare combo that she makes working the best way.
Every company has to have a motto!
Tell us a little bit about how you got your start with Sapling Press.
I started Sapling Press while working as a graphic designer in Baltimore. I think I was destined to have a small business ever since I was a kiddo. I used to paint pictures and sell them door to door, and would sell candy instead of lemonade outside my house. I have a lot of hard working entrepreneurs in my family so starting my own thing never seemed undoable. I used to collect the old letterpress cuts because of the design element to them, but I eventually wanted to learn how they were used in practice. I found a woman in Baltimore with a press in her home, and she taught me how to print and handset type in a private 4-hour class. I was hooked. Within 4 months I found and purchased a press, rented a studio space with friends, and exhibited at my first National Stationery Show. I had no clue what I was doing and it showed. Fortunately I’m a big fan of the “slow and steady…” life motto and over time the business grew into what it is today.
A beautiful Heidelberg press that’s used to print cards.
What’s your favorite part of the process? Your least favorite?
My favorite part is the product development, designing, and the social media aspect of the business. Not too long ago it was putting on my apron and printing, but as we’ve grown I’ve slowly continued to take a step back from the production side of things. My least favorite part is anything that has me on a deadline. That sounds horrible but very true. My crew is fantastic at it, but personally I’m the wors. When I started the business I was drawn to being able to create anything at any time, and have it be a product almost immediately. In this industry especially, I’m having to design holiday cards several months out, create new releases for several trade shows a year, and so on. So yeah, I love designing, but designing on a schedule is not my thing.
The second of three presses in action. A selection of shunts.
What other makers inspire you most?
I’m inspired most by my local pals who run their own businesses, whatever they may be. I think it’s because I get to peek behind the curtain a bit and personally see how hard they work, how they react to failure, and what they’re hustling and aiming for. Folks like Commonwealth Press, strawberryluna, redraven studios, and so many more. The list of talented people in Pittsburgh is insanely long and it just makes you want to do better to earn and keep your place in the lineup.
Cards recently printed on the Heidelberg.
Where do you see Sapling Press in 5 years?
No idea. Planning is also not my strong suit. I rarely look past what’s happening within the next 24 hours in both life and business, and that way of living always seems to pan out for me. Sapling Press has grown in a way that I could have never planned in a million years, so I’m fine to continue to let it grow on its own in whatever direction it sees fit. In 5 years I see more of the same — a stationery company that continues to stay relevant, showcase clean design and clever copywriting, and gives folks a good laugh.
Sapling Press has 200+ cards in their current collection.
What makes having a small business in Pittsburgh so great?
The affordability and the local support. I don’t think I could have started my business anywhere else. When I left my design job in Baltimore and moved to Pittsburgh 10 years ago I never got another job. Sapling Press became my full time gig because my husband and I could afford to live off of one salary here. That’s almost unheard of in a lot of cities, and it played a big roll in allowing me to focus on the business. And Pittsburgh loves local. We’re fortunate to have a long list of clients that have been with us since day one, supporting what we do even when so many other business and online options have become available to them. I’ll never leave.
There’s a window every autumn that screams for hot apple cider, and thankfully we’re in the middle of it right this moment. I made a pot last night and plan on making another later this week to drink during trick or treating – with a splash of rum! I shared my favorite easy recipe for the stuff over on Ebay, so click over and enjoy!
Matt Leines‘ mixed media art seems just about as perfect as it gets for the week of Halloween. His drawings and paintings are rich in detail and color, the influence of his youth spent in New Jersey during the ’80s is pleasantly obvious.
I’m loving Tanner Goods‘ alternative to your standard felt turntable slipmat, this intricately stamped leather version that’s sure to collect less dust and static as well as look much better. Each one is cut from natural tooling leather and stamped with their signature Geoglyph pattern.
Elizabeth Pawle creates some lovely paintings, but the real gems lie hidden on her Instagram account in the form of these amazing textile pieces. A rainbow of wool, cotton, silk and acrylic stitches cover pieces of hessian with a result that looks both tribal and modern.
Scent is an extension of personality, style, and person. It’s something that can be deeply intimate, linked to memories and different periods of life. For me it was CK1 in junior high, white musk in high school, Ralph in college, and several more since. It’s all been an experiment in making sure what I’m wearing reflects who I feel I am at any given time.
Lately I’ve been exploring with MCMC‘s fragrance’s. I’d been curious about the Brooklyn-based shop for some time, and after meeting co-owner and modern perfumer Anne McClain in August, I knew I needed to dig deeper. I tried the six scents above, but what I fell in love with instantly was a new collaborative scent – MOCIUN #2. The perfume oil has elements of wild black spruce, patchouli, and Brazilian rosewood and I feel like this one is going to be with me for quite awhile.
Four things to keep in mind when choosing a scent:
Sniff away at anything and everything, but know that your olfactory bulb weakens after the first three. If you’re testing more than that try burying your nose in your elbow crease in between to “reset” your senses.
Start with lighter scents like musks, then cycle through heavier ones like citrus, floral, and woodsy.
Just because you like the way it smells in the bottle doesn’t mean it will smell the same once it hits your skin. It’s all about chemistry, so make sure you try it on yourself before making a purchase. It can even change over a few hours making a test-run essential.
Make sure you understand what you’re smelling, so that you can isolate your favorite notes and look for them in other scents as well.
Singapore-based Izziyana Suhaimi is a multi-talented artist, that’s for sure. Embroidered touches embellish her beautiful illustrations as she explores “evidence of hand and time” in each piece.
Embroidery for me is a quiet and still act, where each stitch represents a moment passed. The building of stitches then becomes a representation of time passing and the final work is like a physical manifestation of time – a time object. Each stitch is also a recording of the maker’s thoughts and emotions.
If I’m being completely honest about my kitchen habits, I can tell you that I mainly live off of homemade soup during the months of October through March. But some days call for something a bit heartier – enter stew. Check out these twelve takes on the comfort food right here.
Click on each image to go to the recipe. All photos copyright of their respective sites unless otherwise noted.
Roos van der Vliet‘s floating heads and emotive eyes are stunning. van der Vliet’s realistic paintings not only make me want to make the hair mask a thing to block the cold this winter, they also make me want to pay more attention to plucking my eyebrows!