First, it was annual vacations in France. Then, for a change of pace, a summer trip to the Tuscany region of Italy. From that moment Susan Naythons was hooked.
Susan is the founder of EyeItalia, an online retailer of Italian handcrafted goods. So impressed with Italy during that summer vacation, she decided to stay for a year in 2005 and help friends renovate a villa and outfit it with everything that was needed— furniture, housewares, linens, stationery—in preparation for paying guests.
But when the year was up, Susan wasn’t quite ready to give up Italy completely. Instead, she returned to California and with the knowledge gained from her time in Italy, launched her website, EyeItalia. “That year-long experience really helped prepare me for my next venture,” says Susan. From excursions around the Tuscan countryside and beyond, she discovered many of her product lines, including Rossi fine Italian stationery.
“Rossi is one of my anchor companies,” says Susan. “It’s a wonderful product line to carry in terms of quality and design, and their customer service is second to none,” she adds. She stocks a full line of Rossi products and finds her best sellers are still the traditional Florentine patterns.
Equally important are Rossi’s customer policies. “They offer a real advantage for American retailers who import from Europe; you absolutely can’t beat the fact that they do business in dollars, not euros. They also include the freight costs so there are no surprises on the bill,” Susan states.
Encouraged by her online success, in 2010 Susan opened a brick and mortar version of EyeItalia, in Sausalito, California, just north of San Francisco. She stocks plenty of Italian fragrances and beauty items, luxury Italian linens, artisan jewelry, and a wide selection of Rossi stationery items. Now all her customers can touch and feel the Italian goodness she features on her website!
Susan’s Italian saga is still unfolding. In 2006 she purchased an abandoned farmhouse in the beautiful “comune” of Volterra (Tuscany). Badly in need of renovation, Susan has been working diligently on the house during her twice yearly treks to Italy.
Five Questions for Mattia Rossi: An inside look at the Rossi brand from Mattia Rossi, who heads up the company’s sales and marketing efforts.
I’m sure customers would be interested to see three generations of Rossi historical archives… Do you have an in-house “museum” where you display your most interesting designs?
The archive is very important, it holds many years of research and conservation. The material can be more or less expensive, from expensive art print books to simple postcards found at a market. Many items are from abroad. These have been accumulated over the years, not necessarily something found and used for the collection that same year, sometimes it’s taken out years later.
Many of the items have an emotional value, which is probably the best part of it. An old magazine from the 30’s may generate an idea. It is a way to spread a culture, a taste.
During the 80’s Giorgio Rossi purchased an archive with art reproductions.
However, our archive is not open to the public, our staff may have access.
Over the years we have tried to acquire antique machineries and to restore them. In our factory we have dozens of antique machineries, partially still to be restored.
Your company does business in many countries, how do you appeal to the varying tastes of countries you are selling into, while staying true to your Italian heritage?
Actually, it is true that we work with many countries, from Australia to New Zealand, Europe and North and South America and the number of countries increases every year. It is very important to remain within the Italian taste: vintage, retro, traditional Italian. The product has to be “recognizable” as 100% made in Italy, even before the customer sees the country of origin label. This intrinsic taste and value is perceived by the consumer. However, even if the made in Italy is the driving force, functionality, the right specs, the right price is what makes the product suitable for everyone.
Rossi has always had a special attention for the US market and not only because it’s an immense market but also because Americans have a cultural perception of stationery and the art of writing. There’s a tendency to anticipate trends which helps us to then be on the cutting edge in other countries as well.
As an example: Three years ago I was at the Stationery Show and I saw all this revival of letterpress, seen as a new trend while in Italy it was considered old, obsolete and old fashioned. Whereas an American printer saw it as an opportunity, an Italian printer discarded it as old.
Rossi is a true artisan brand—something that American companies are trying to build into their products these days. Tell us how you manage to avoid the “mass production” culture in your company and retain the high level of craftsmanship.
Taste, craftsmanship, quality, but if one wants to export his products into the world, one must be open to innovation and find a balance between taste and industrial culture.
I remember when I was a child, my father Giorgio ran the factory and there were many more workers than today (and probably less “feeling” for quality), my father used to say over and over again to those ladies: “Imagine it’s a box of chocolates and imagine how you want a box of chocolates: beautiful, impeccable, clean and perfectly made.”
In this age of electronic – everything, what is the hardest thing from a sales/marketing standpoint to keep your brand front and center with customers and prospects?
Electronics has helped us tremendously to become known globally, and in fact a lot of investments have been made in web-marketing. Communications are faster and easier and we’ve been able to speed up many tasks. However the true ambassador of our company, beyond all technology, is our product, our brand and quality which enters in a shop or in a family, that is how a company wins faithful customers.
Tell us about your creative process and your creative team….. who does the wonderful artwork for your amazing patterns and designs?
We start to work on the new products in June, so that the new products can be launched in January. At first it’s sketches, designs, a study of what competitors are doing, new trends, brainstorming. Then the sales are analyzed so that we can determine which products need to be increased and which collections should be decreased. Once the program is established, it is followed by various individuals and the new collection is created, both by internal design and graphic personnel, as well as by outside artists who work for us.
Crafting is enjoying tremendous growth at the moment thanks in part to a strong DIY movement. Websites like Etsy have sprung up, fair trade retail is surging, and the green movement is fueling the recycle, repurpose, and reuse trend.
Designer and UK resident, Juliette Goggin, co-author of Junk Genius, is at the forefront of this trend, expertly blending her marketing and crafting skills to create several successful product lines. And she uses Rossi stationery products for many of her artisan ideas. Here Juliette explains how it all came about:
“I first discovered the amazing range and quality of the Rossi collection at the Top Drawer Show in London. I incorporated some of their beautiful botanical papers in a small selection of soaps for my Juliette at Home gift line, and they quickly became our very best sellers.”
She explains: “Locally made rectangular soaps were first wrapped in glassine paper to protect them. Next I wrapped them in a variety of Rossi paper designs. From a range of six shown at our first trade show, the collection grew rapidly to around 20 and to our delight, the sales kept going up as well. This idea is a simple project which anyone could copy to transform a plain soap into the perfect gift. The hardest part is deciding which paper to choose!”
Juliette claims: “It’s a well known saying that people buy with their eyes, but occasionally the quality of the product disappoints. However with Rossi one discovers that the quality of the papers matches the beauty of the designs, and this lifts any project way above the ordinary.”
Since those early beginnings Juliette has used Rossi papers to wrap many a gift and cover many boxes. “I also included Rossi papers in my craft book “Junk Genius” where they were used to embellish envelopes and decorate gift tags and labels. My latest discovery is the Letterpress collection with which I have only just begun to experiment. I am sure this journey will be as much fun as my very first Rossi experiments, ” she said.
Juliette concludes with these quick tips for wrapping soaps:
“Wrapping soap is just like wrapping a parcel. The important thing is to remember to cut the paper to the right size, so that it wraps around the width of the soap and overlaps at the back, but at the sides there is just enough to make a neat envelope closure. Too much paper will mean that the corners won’t be sharp and the soap will have a bulky look.”
“I always prefer to use opaque scotch type tape rather than clear sticky tape as it’s virtually invisible and looks so much more professional. Before wrapping with decorative paper, it’s a good idea to use baking parchment first, or other barrier type paper to prevent the soap discolouring the wrap.”
Valentine’s Day is traditionally known as the day of love, often expressed by handmade paper Valentines and homemade treats of all sorts. Rossi embraces this tradition, in fact, it’s practically the company credo and you’ll see it proclaimed numerous times on the Rossi website. It’s true: the Rossi stationery products are made with creativity and tradition—and a big dose of love!
With less than a week to go to the Big Day, share your love and appreciation with these inspirational Valentine ideas crafted with Rossi products.
Kris Stewart, owner of Scroll Book Arts, loves using the new letterpress papers
for her albums and books. She explains: “Never having worked with letterpress before, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it! Now it’s officially my favorite Rossi paper to work with. Letterpress has such a nice texture to it. If you haven’t felt letterpress before, the printing process leaves an indentation so you not only see the printing, you feel
it. This paper is a dream and I thoroughly enjoyed crafting these albums.”
Rossi decorative sheets are not only great for albums, but work well with any product branding. Juliette Goggin from the UK packages her soap line, jewelry and repurposed goods with Rossi papers.
If the bright yellow bike parked out front at The Paper Merchant doesn’t make you smile, then what’s inside definitely will.
Along with room after room of paper, greeting cards, gifts, wrapping paper, journals, books, and calendars, you might also find a rubber chicken or two. That’s because it has become the owners Stephen and Patricia Burnham’s signature gag gift, and they sell a lot of them, along with of course, paper.
Residing in a historic Gothic Revival house on bustling Third Street in Geneva, Illinois, this big little stationery retailer has been printing and selling fine stationery for over 30 years. The house itself has an interesting style which seems to suit the creative atmosphere of the Paper Merchant perfectly. Built in 1869, it was originally a summer home for a Chicago attorney and later converted into retail space.
Custom printing makes up a good portion of the Paper Merchant’s business. Equipment is housed in the store’s basement, and depending on the time of year, custom invitations can be turned around quickly, sometimes within a day.
Many a customer has come to the Paper Merchant following a disappointing experience with an online retailer. “Buying online has its place, but this is a tactile kind of business and customers want to touch the paper, feel the weight and texture, and compare colors… in person, not on a computer screen,” said owner Steve Burnham.
The Paper Merchant sells a steady stream of Italian designed Rossi products including wrapping papers, gift tags, albums, file folders, and notepads. Customers seem to quickly sense the difference in the quality of Rossi stationery, even its product packaging.
Steve says: “The Rossi products are always a mark above the rest. When we tell customers they’re manufactured in Italy, they seem surprised and take a step back.”
Their best-selling Rossi design is the iconic Fashion decorative paper with its distinct mid-century vibe. “To me she represents Italian style and fashion, where it all started. Our customers love that paper,” he adds.
The Paper Merchant seems to have figured out what customers want. In today’s market, that’s unusual. But then so is the Paper Merchant, a Geneva treasure.
Sarah, owner Steve Burnham, and Dawn at The Paper Merchant, Geneva, Illinois
As you might have heard, letterpress has been enjoying a renaissance in the last decade or so. Beautifully tactile and simply exquisite, letterpress printing has a rich elegance that one can’t help but appreciate.
Last year, Rossi introduced a letterpress collection featuring 16 classic designs. That collection, which included Italian designs dating from the 15th and 16th centuries, surpassed expectations and now in 2013, has been expanded, this time with a more contemporary and modern feel.
Letterpress is both an art and a science. It’s just the type of printing that Rossi excels at because it requires a high level of craftsmanship and great patience to produce. To create the collection, Rossi’s own vintage printing presses were brought out of retirement and put to work.
Prints are made one-at-a-time with each print having its own unique variations of ink coverage and depth of impression. Registering the color on press is critical, especially when the motifs are tight and complex, as they are with the Rossi patterns.
A high quality and heavier weight paper that will not tear or collapse when pressed is generally used for letterpress. Rossi 1931 uses a perfect type of paper containing fibers that are soft and readily accept an impression. Needless to say, the prints are luxurious and the telltale impression the press leaves on the paper is sought after by stationery fans everywhere.
These distinctive prints are available in a large size of 20 x 28 (50 x 70 cm) making them ideal for invitations, book covers and albums, greeting cards, and personal stationery, even framed prints. Here’s a sneak peek of the new collection:
A large selection of Rossi papers are now stocked stateside in Florida, making shipping and delivery a breeze throughout the US. For a list of retailers carrying Rossi papers, please click here.
It’s always fascinating to learn about entrepreneurs who have turned their passion into thriving businesses. It’s even more interesting when you discover that Rossi decorative papers have played an important role in their businesses!
That’s the case for Kris Stewart, a talented bookbinder from the Pacific Northwest who has been designing exquisite books and albums for the past 14 years. Last year, she designed two of her best-selling albums using Rossi decorative papers: a beautiful blue peacock feather motif with shimmering gold accents and a weathered gold brocade on a white background.
Happily ever after: a popular Rossi sheet used for a wedding album
Kris describes herself as a “maker” and a “designer.” She says, “When I was really young it was construction paper with tape and staples (way too much tape and way too many staples!) Then it was coloring books filled with abstract patterns just begging for the right combination of crayons. Next it was grand architectural plans for houses I wanted to live in when I grew up, complete with furniture arrangements and landscaping.”
“Now that I’m an adult, I may not live in any of those houses I designed as a child, but I am still a maker and a designer, happily working at the intersection of beauty and function. Bookmaking became a passion when I happened onto a class 14 years ago. I researched new techniques and tried new ideas and now specialize in paper covered albums and scrap books which I sell through my Etsy shop, Scroll.
Kris says she is very fortunate to work with the world’s most beautiful papers every day: “How lucky I am! I get the opportunity to work with papers from around the world, including Italian-made Rossi Papers. They have become some of my best sellers! One of my favorite things is to go to the paper store and pull out one big drawer after another, looking at and feeling each paper.”
Kris says that the design process for an album’s cover starts with choosing the decorative paper. She states: “That seems like it would be the easy part, but really, there are too many choices! So much beauty, so little time.”
Her plans for the 2013 line of custom wedding and baby albums are coming along nicely, and lovely Rossi papers will once again be represented. The new albums will debut in mid-January and she looks forward to another exciting year of bringing smiles to customers’ faces.
There’s no reason to follow ALL the rules at Christmas, especially when it comes to wrapping presents. In fact, it’s the time of year when you can get a little crazy with the wrapping!
Go beyond green, red, and gold and consider some of these Italian-made decorative sheets from Rossi1931. Superbly printed, Rossi is well-known for producing a dazzling array of decorative papers featuring subjects as diverse as shoes to wine labels to vintage airplanes to Pinocchio figures.
So as you begin your marathon gift-wrapping season, think outside the box this year, and consider a few of these exciting choices:
Is there a traveler on your list? This sheet is all about color and fun! What boy wouldn’t be excited to open this on Christmas Day?
A girl can never have enough shoes, (or shoe paper for that matter!)
I cannot tell a lie, I love this paper! The beloved story of Pinocchio is a best loved paper from Rossi. And it practically begs for you to tell your little ones the fable of Pinocchio!
Stylish, retro and chic! The fashionista on your list will appreciate the vintage feel of this.
That’s just a small sampling of what is available from stationery maker Rossi 1931, a family owned company based near Florence, Italy. An icon of Italian design, Rossi has been making stationery products since 1931. Now in its third generation, the company continues to craft its traditional designs, but adds innovative new designs every season. Every product is designed and made in Italy—a true artisan product.
A large selection of Rossi papers are now stocked stateside in Florida, making shipping and delivery a breeze throughout the US. For a list of retailers carrying Rossi papers, please click here.
Thinking of your holiday gift wrap already? If you’re looking for some stylish ways to dress up Santa’s presents, holiday themed papers from Rossi 1931 can make your gifts extra special.
‘Tis the season for poinsettia, holly and mistletoe! This Italian-made collection strikes just the right note of classic and holiday. With brilliant colors and festive patterns, the Holiday papers are some of Rossi’s oldest and most cherished designs. Choose from a large selection of merry and bright colors, like these elegant holly, poinsettia, or mistletoe papers.
Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!
Don’t forget the finishing touch….add a bit of flair with matching Holiday cards, gift tags and place cards. It’s as easy as finding the right match for your greetings!
Known for its vibrant patterns and rich colors, Italian-based Rossi has been producing fine papers since 1931. That’s when the Rossi family opened its doors near Florence, Italy and began creating traditional Florentine stationery, popular with American and British communities living nearby. Today the company is run by a third generation of the Rossi family, still committed to producing the traditional patterns but adding innovative new designs to the mix every year.
The best part? A large selection of Rossi papers are now stocked stateside in Florida, making shipping and delivery a breeze throughout the US. For a list of retailers carrying Rossi papers, please click here.
To see a video of the Rossi1931 collection, click here.
Italy-based Rossi 1931 has launched a social media program designed to provide timely, educational resources for consumers and retailers, as well as its international sales team.
The “Italian Stationery Blog” is being developed as a primary communication tool for Rossi’s social media efforts. The blog will feature customer profiles, company news and updates, and will share ideas and inspiration from projects using Rossi papers.
Mattia Rossi, Sales and Marketing Manager for Rossi said: “We recognize that more than 90% of internet users regularly visit social media networking sites. We hope to engage our customers on our blog with conversation, stimulate discussions and questions, and showcase all the great work that our customers do.”