Tastemaker Tuesday – Kalyn Johnson Chandler of Effie’s Paper

coffee, girl, tastemaker, Kaylyn
Kaylyn and her favorite accessory!

This month, we’re introducing you to one of our favorite new friends, Kalyn Johnson Chandler of Effie’s Paper::Stationery&Whatnot, an energetic lifestyle authority who is setting the trend on lifestyle accessories, travel style, and the power of Black Girl Magic

Kalyn and I met at a recent Black Southern Belle conference in Charleston.  Her enthusiasm for female entrepreneurs , her smile and love of stationery and pretty things made us fast friends.  With her signature pops of pink and encouraging words, she is a chic and engaging tastemaker, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Three words that describe your style?

Downtown, chic, hip

As a fashionable city woman, what’s the source(s) of your inspiration?

Believe it or not, walking down the streets of Manhattan and riding the subway are a font of inspiration.  New York city has some of the most fashionable people I’ve ever seen. I take my cues from the people around me.  What I love about New York is that each neighborhood has it’s own style – for example, on the Upper East Side, people are generally classic dressers with clean lines and solid colors.  While downtown, in Tribeca, the vibe is decidedly expensive hipster.

Name three people (alive or dead) you’d invite to your dream dinner party…

Agatha Christie – I’d love to spend the evening with AC, as I affectionately call her, to get a sense of how her mind works because I love a good murder mystery.  In fact, growing up and to this day, my parents, sister and I read murder mysteries voraciously.  Lately, I’ve become addicted to all of the British murder mystery shows on Netflix and Acorn – Vera, Midsummer Murders, Broadchurch, Unforgotten and the like. What I love about the British shows is all of the twists and turns, they’re quite cerebral. Who knows, at a dinner party with AC, there might be a murder in the drawing room that needs to be solved!

Maya Angelou – I’ve been an avid reader since I was a kid. One of my fondest memories is spending the weekend at my grandparent’s house and finding a copy of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, I was probably 11 or 12.  I read it cover-to-cover that weekend and she instantly became one of my sheros.  Maya Angelou had an amazing life, was a generous soul, a prolific writer and an extremely wise woman.  I think she’d be the dinner guest everyone would be clamoring to sit next to just hoping to gather a few nuggets of her vast knowledge.

Michelle Obama – I just kind of love everything about her!  She brought a level of class, graciousness  and openness to the White House that I haven’t experienced before in my lifetime.   Her infectious smile and her ability to make fun of herself with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show will forever endear her to me and many.  I would love to sit down and chat with her about what it was like to become a part of the upper echelons of society while not losing who she is at her core.  She’s a woman I admire greatly; she stepped into a role she was very hesitant to take on … it took her a minute to figure out how to make it her own, but that she did and then some!

stationery, paper, tastemaker
Pretty and professional stationery

A pieces of/type of accessory you couldn’t live without

I never leave home without a silk scarf or a bandana.  For some reason my neck tends to get cold, so I learned a long time ago that rather than be uncomfortable, it was just easier to always have a little something to put on my neck.  And I’m super excited because I just designed the some really chic bandanas that we’re selling now.   In addition to keeping your neck warm, they add the perfect pop of color to your outfit, look great tied around purses and do double-duty as a hat on bad hair days!

Do you recommend people follow a particular set of rules when writing letters?

My only rule when it comes to letter writing is sit down and write!  I find that people love to receive handwritten notes in the mail, but rarely take the time to write them.  I’ve heard all sorts of excuses from I can’t find nice stationery to I never seem to have stamps.  These two “problem” are easily solvable – you can buy both stationery and stamps online nowadays.  Of course I think everyone should be using Effie’s Paper to write their notes on, but whatever you have – please use it!  A simple note with just three sentences can make someone’s day.  And, the satisfaction derived from taking a minute to express one’s gratitude to another is priceless.

What would be the one thing you would have to have if you were stranded on a deserted island?

My Kindle and some kind of super duper charged battery pack. I love to read.  So, being stranded on an island with nothing to read would be a kind of purgatory for me.  I’m often reading more than one book at a time, which is why I’m partial to my Kindle, although there’s nothing like holding an actual book in your hands.

paper, stationery, tastemaker
Write it down, in a pretty book of course!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please share a piece of advice you’d offer to an aspiring stationery creator.

Go for it!  I get asked this question a lot and as I result, I wrote an e-book to help folks who are thinking of starting their own product-based business.  There are a lot of players in the marketplace, so do your research and figure out what will distinguish your products from those that are already out there.  Identifying your target audience up front – know who she is, what she buys and why up – will save you a lot of time and energy.  Then before you jump in, learn what you can about the industry to make certain it’s a good fit for you.  Next, think about your strengths and weaknesses to determine which gaps you’ll need to fill.  I have a great team of young women I work with, I LOVE my girls; your tribe is your vibe! And finally, assess the direction the industry is headed in to determine where your products will fit in best and come up with a strategy to court those customers and retailers.

Bonus:  Here’s a quick round up of some of our favorite ‘whatnot’ from Effie’s Paper, just in time for summer hostess gifts and even Father’s Day gifts!

coffee mug, donut
Who else needs this coffee mug?!

 

 

 

 

 

stars stationery pink
Go ahead and stock up for your Fourth of July summer hostess gifts

Now get going and don’t forget to write to someone. You’ll make their day.  Thank you to Kalyn of Effie’s Papers for being part of our Tastemaker Tuesday series!  We can’t wait to see what’s next on the horizon for you and Effie’s Papers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Who you NEED to Meet: Kristen Ley of Thimblepress

Here in the steve mckenzie’s showroom, we’re currently in the midst of a fantastic art show, featuring Mississippi artist, Kristen Ley of Thimblepress! If you aren’t already following Kristen’s work and dynamic personality on social media, you should be. She’s a gal to keep an eye on for sure, and we feel so lucky to be able to showcase her art in store throughout the month of June. During the rest of the year, we typically have a wonderful selection of Kristen’s handmade, letterpress note cards, which are not only beautiful, but too cute and cheeky!

kristen ley
Kristen Ley

Kristen is such a creative, and fun-loving individual, we thought you’d enjoy getting to know her a little better. She graciously agreed to participate in this “Who you NEED to meet” feature, and we’re so excited to share a bit more about Kristen and her work with Thumblepress with you here…

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sm’s: Can you please share a bit about your background/how you started Thimblepress and how you gained the courage to break out on your own?

K: I majored in graphic design in college and had a marketing and branding firm for 5 years with a friend of mine in Charleston, SC. I moved back to Jackson, MS in our fourth year of business and opened an office. We both ended up getting offered full time jobs that we could not turn down and at the time in the market, having an 8-5 job started to look shiny and nice. I worked at the high school I graduated from, Jackson Academy, for 2 years doing marketing, branding, and advertising work for the school. In those two years I purchased my first letterpress and began to learn and obsess over the craft after getting off work everyday. My first Thimblepress office was half of a garage I shared with my roommate at the time and my bedroom. Printing where there was no central air or heat was interesting during  the extreme seasons; from printing in barely nothing during the summer to ski gear in the winter. I learned a lot in that garage, about myself and what I wanted Thimblepress to be. My job was super supportive of my Thimblepress pursuits. I traveled for craft shows all over (i.e. Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, South Carolina, Nashville, Jackson). I really started to fall in love with printing, and the idea of making things I love; things I poured my soul into for a living. Even with a full time job, I was able to attend my first wholesale show in Chicago, and then the National Stationery Show in May of 2013. After the stationery show in NYC it was very clear where God wanted me to be. I prayed a lot about starting another business full time. I questioned it and wondered if that is where God wanted me to be. I had my mom and aunt as my little prayer team trying to see what God wanted me to do. I began asking him to slam doors shut and blow them open. Boy has he blown doors open. In June of 2013 I was able to confidently leave my full time job and go at it with Thimblepress full time. God honestly gave me that courage to take that huge leap of faith. Without Him, none of this would be possible.

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sm’s: What inspires you/your designs?

K: I am constantly inspired by the colors, seasons, and places around me. Right now, I am really inspired by color and lots of it. I have always had a love of bright colors, but ever since I have been making the confetti Push-pop’s and staring at buckets of color, I have found myself painting with lots of beautiful colors all intertwining. I am also inspired by travel and getting out of my comfort zone. When you make yourself a little uncomfortable you tend to grow as a person, and ultimately as a creative individual.

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sm’s: What your vision is, not only for Thimblepress, but also the individual pieces you craft?

K: I want to create work that makes people happy. I want to create work that inspires others to chase their dream. It still makes me so happy and honestly gives me chills anytime anyone buys even the smallest thing I make. Everything I create is hand-painted, hand-drawn or hand-made. There is so much soul and love that goes into every piece we make, so when someone wants to send a card to someone that they love so dearly and do it with one of my cards… that moment is special for me. My vision is a day to day vision. I try not to get so wrapped up in the future. Yes, there are things we plan for, things we create and have in waiting to get produced, but I am letting God steer this ship. Ultimately Thimblepress is about happiness, memories, family and color.

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sm’s: What do you see as mainstays in your collection?

K: I think our State Flower collection is something that will stand the test of time. It is classic, unique and something I really poured my soul into.

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sm’s: What are the differences in your collections – i.e. how do you create such unique designs that still work together under the Thimblepress brand?

K: I love to make things. I have always loved lots of different things. I have lots of different friends all with different personalities, walks of life, looks, and ages. A lot of people see our work and note that there is a lot of range in terms of the looks in Thimblepress, and to me that is just a reflection of me as a person. I am a very eclectic person and feel like I have different periods of creation when I’m inspired by different colors, mediums, styles, etc. I am sure I could be a little more cohesive and make things go together a bit more, but that is just not me. I am a million puzzle pieces that don’t fit together, and that is okay with me. In essence, its kind of like confetti, which we all know I love.

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– What’s on the horizon for Thimblepress?

K: Hopefully to stay in business. ha! Seriously though, I have the best team ever. I am thrilled to see how our team will grow in the next year and if we have to expand and get more space.

We are hoping to create more home goods and accessories. We started searching for manufacturers in the USA to help manufacturer some of our ideas about a year ago, so we are continuing that journey. I am excited to show what we have done!

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sm’s: As an artist/business person how do you recharge?

K: I love to travel and experience new cultures, people and food. The great thing about what I do is that it allows me to travel a good bit, and if my pup Willow get’s to make the journey, well that just sweetens the deal. When I am at home and have pulled all nighters, I love to paint, watch netflix or just nap in the sun. I’m pretty simple. 🙂

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We just love Kristen and all of her Thimblepress designs, and we think you’ll be just as excited about her original artwork as well! Be sure to come into the steve mckenzie’s showroom and check out her beautiful and vibrant artwork that’s on display now.

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And thank you so much to Kristen for sharing a bit about herself and her journey to creating fabulous handmade goodies with Thimblepress!