PGH Maker Profile: Sapling Press


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.







The Vintage Vogue

The Vintage Vogue-1-Design Crush


I’m admittedly a homebody. I love my home, I love being surrounded by things that hold meaning, and I love spending lots of time with my pets. But as we head into colder weather my time indoors increases even further, and I find myself doing what can only be described as nesting. Padding my space with a few new pretty things as I give it a seasonal deep-cleaning. One shop that’s caught my eye lately is The Vintage Vogue. Charlotte, the artist behind it all, gravitates towards a muted palette and natural materials that I just can’t get enough of.


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The Vintage Vogue-3-Design Crush

The Vintage Vogue-4-Design Crush

The Vintage Vogue-5-Design Crush


Happy Weekend

1-Design Crush

2-Design Crush

3-Design Crush

4-Design Crush

5-Design Crush

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10-Design Crush

01/ This dog’s nutritional pyramid is hilarious.
02/ An entire collection of tools made out of chocolate.
03/ Fascinating satellite photos of seaweed farms in South Korea.
04/ Check out these whimsical book covers created by Aniko Koleshnikova.
05/ The BAM breathalyzer necklace can help you not drink too much.
06/ I’ve had campers on the brain lately, and the Hütte Hut is adorable.
07/ Canismo captures adoptable dogs as they shake non-toxic paint onto canvases.
08/ My friend Emily McDowell has created the BEST collection of empathy cards.
09/ The WINKpen lets you write with wine, beer, tea and more.
10/ America’s oldest shopping mall was converted into microapartments.

This week on Design Crush:
Ten fresh art prints to up the art ante of your walls.
I’m pinking up the office for a much needed facelift.
Beautiful sugar and watercolor stained glass by Sipho Mabona.
The Kame is giving me some major suitcase envy right about now.
Loving these overhead POV paintings from Ida Badal.
I’m obsessed with my Life & Type custom letterpress poster!
Sylvia Baz’s Typeworks alphabet prints are graphic and amazing.
The perfect summer grilling aprons by Hedley and Bennett.
I’d love a few pieces of this cement pottery from Studio Twocan.

Design Crush elsewhere:
I paired up some bare rooms with their perfect floor rug matches.


Mother’s Day Cards

If your mom is even half as amazing as mine you’ve struck gold. The lady who birthed me is my #1 fan, my best friend, and my anchor in this sometimes crazy world. My grandmother has also been a huge influence on me, as well as my aunt. So don’t just celebrate your mother on Mother’s Day, let all of the incredible women in your life know just how appreciated they truly are.



ROW 1: Egg Press // The Good Twin Co. // Rifle Paper Co.
ROW 2: Ashkahn // Sycamore Street Press // Sea + Lake Paper Co.
ROW 3: My Dear Fellow Co. // Moglea
ROW 4: Denote Stationery // Ink Meets Paper // Hairpin Letterpress
ROW 5: The Detroit Card Co. // One Canoe Two // our heiday


National Card + Letter Writing Month

You still have nine days left to be a part of National Card + Letter Writing Month, you know, if that’s your kind of scene. It’s definitely mine, because there’s only one better thing you can find in a mailbox than a card or letter. (Money.)



ROW 1: Hi // Hey Good Lookin’ // You Had Me At Hello
ROW 2: Text Less, Write More // Hello
ROW 3: Abstract Thank You // So Long Dachshund // Poetry Time


14 (More) Valentines


Gold Foil Love by Julia Song Ink // Heart In Hand by Hammerpress //
Hey, Valentine by Our Heiday // Hugs & Kisses by Evermore Paper Co.



I Will Dance For You by Retro Whale // LOVE Hands by Idlewild Co. // Love Mixtape by Swiss Cottage Designs // Love by Old Tom Foolery // Neon Pink Heart by Banquet Atelier & Workshop



Saving All My Love For You by Egg Press // Sweet Treat by Terrain // You & Me. by Scouts Honor Paper //
You Are Oh So Wonderful by Cardtorial // You’re Lovely Mini Card by Lilikoi Design + Letterpress

(… see the first 14 valentines here.)