oblation-feat

Featured Retailer: Oblation Papers and Press

 

Housed in the Pearl Street district of Portland, Oregon is an urban paper mill, letterpress print shop, bindery, custom invitation gallery and design studio, and a fine European paper boutique. One might think we are speaking of six different businesses, but in fact, it is all under one roof known as Oblation Papers & Press. Here, they also design and produce their own line of wholesale goods that are warehoused and shipped from this very same location.  (more…)

mothers-day

Happy Birthday to Mother’s Day!

A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest.  Irish Proverb

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Mother’s day in the US became an official holiday in 1914, so this year we celebrate 100 years of Mother’s day. Many people still believe it was created by Hallmark as one of their commercial ideas, but actually it was established by a West Virginian woman as a day to honor motherhood. (more…)

Featured retailer: Two Hands Paperie

Our goal is to help you make things with your own two hands.  

Two Hands Paperie began on Pearl Street, in the beautiful city of Boulder, CO. in 1993 as a small bindery with a few hand-bound books and a small rack of decorative paper. Mia Semingson and Gerald Trainor took over the store in January of 2010, “Mia and I both shopped at the store just about from the time it opened in 1993, says Gerald. “ Mia apprenticed with Diana (the founder) as a bookbinder and worked in the store for many years. We also did custom printing and bookbinding from our own studio for the store before just taking over the whole thing. So, we were intimately associated with just about the entire process and most of the products before we became the owners. It was a sort of natural progression. “

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Mockingbird-Paperie

Featured Retailer: Mockingbird Paperie

Nestled in the college town of Ithaca, New York, Mockingbird Paperie is based on the premise of love. Not only named after the owners favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird, but begun from a love of paper and a love for her husband. Owner Suzanne Loesch says.” Hmmm, where to start…Well I guess the beginning is the best.  I have been a paper lover, crafter and artist for my entire life.  I got into paper when I fell in love and began writing to my husband.  There was a period where we were separated and we both spent most of our days writing to each other and it was then that I discovered the love and art of writing a letter. The content maybe a poem, an angry note, a testament to our love… Each envelope had to be a work of art.   Now when we open that giant trunk full of letters we are struck with its romance, but even more, what it really meant to sit down with a special pen and a few sheets of special paper and pour our hearts out to each other”.

That was the beginning, what brought us here today was a little store on the Commons “.  (more…)

Featured Retailer: VERTECCHI, Rome icon

The next time you find yourself in Bella Roma, make a point of having lunch or a caffé macchiato in the Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps). Then head 3 blocks towards the Piazza del Popolo, and take a left on Via della Croce. There you will find, (not only a fabulous chocolate shop), but the most well stocked cartoleria (stationery shop) in Rome. For anyone who confesses a penchant for paper, a wonderful place to feed ones addiction is Vertecchi.

 

Over the last 60 years, Vertecchi has become a benchmark in the stationary industry, thanks to its impeccable assortment of products which are thoughtfully selected and displayed. Not only is it the place to go for every celebration, whether decorating for a party or looking for fabulous Christmas ornaments, but you will find sections for fine arts, technical, office supplies and a huge selection of exquisite pens, in its own sub-store. Rounding it all out are sections of gifts and leather goods, decorative packing, and all that is paper: writing, greeting and wrapping. It is a paper lover’s dream. If you are a tourist, pick up some of their own lovely blank books covered with pen and ink designs of all the historical sites of Rome, both in water color and black and white. They come in all sizes and make terrific gifts. This will definitely set you apart from the typical touristy souvenir giver when you get back home.

 

The business was founded by Sergio Vertecchi during the 1940s in an architecturally lovely storefront in Via della Croce, 38, right in the historical center of Rome near Piazza di Spagna. Within a few years, more space was added to adapt to an increasingly demanding clientele. One standard that was never compromised was the retail space itself. Period buildings dating back to the 15th century….with marble columns and vaulted ceilings were acquired every time another store was added. It was to be a space to reflect the distinguished products and clients.

In the beginning, sales were limited to supplies for nearby schools. Within a few years, brother Luciano, (today sole director of Vertecchi) had joined. The brand established itself in the Roman market as a leader in the stationery industry. Vertecchi was ahead of the curve, as they became fully computerized in the early 80s, to the benefit of customers who find the store fully stocked and if not, able to order anything quickly.

In 2008, it established itself on the international market via the internet.The ecommerce channel now covers more than 16,000 products for office supplies.

That year they also introduced innovative products for retail designs and store interiors, which operates out of the shop at Vicolo del Lupo, 10 (in the historical center and upscale shopping district). The Vertecchi team installs exterior and interior decorations of public spaces, shops, restaurants, hotels and homes.

Vertecchi continues to be the choice of architects, artists, students and professors of the Academy of Fine Arts, Rome, as well as painters and designers, such as Gaetano Castelli, a famous Italian set designer and producer.

The business model, the growth of Vertecchi and quality of products was soon recognized by Italian Institutions. Luciano Vertecchi was elected as a Knight of Commerce in 2011.

 

They now have three stores in the city center of Rome (Via della Croce, 70 – Vicolo del Lupo, 10 – Via Belsiana, 96C) and another in the Flaminio area (Via Pietro da Cortona,18). The family business remains strong in the capable hands of Lucianno Vertecchi’s children: Giorgia, Sergio and Anna.

 

Their selection of Rossi1931 products is extensive. Anna says, “Our customers…both local and especially the tourists, love Rossi.” The shelves at the front of the store are full of notecards and journals and writing paper. “Anything Florentine has a great appeal, as a gift or for personal use.”

www.vertecchi.com

The heart of Harvard square: Bob Slate

“Bob Slate Stationer is a magnet for Harvard students–and college students in general. After all, Boston is crammed to the gills with colleges and universities.”

It’s been called, “the miracle on Brattle Street”…

Harvard Square pen and stationary lovers had reason to celebrate one morning in autumn 2011, when Bob Slate Stationer returned to Cambridge under new ownership. The iconic Cambridge institution left the area in March 2011 when co-owners Mallory and Justin Slate closed the three Cambridge Locations.Their father, Bob had opened the store in the 1930s to supply the paper needs of Cambridge residents, Harvard students and faculty. With declining sales as a consequence of both the tech age and big box stores and their own advancing ages, the brothers held a giant inventory sale. Soon the doors to Bob Slate locations were about to be shut for good, when in walked Laura Donahue, a self-described “pen addict”. “I was horrified to find the store closing,” she said. “I thought to myself that we just can’t let this one go.” Surrounded by devastated patrons like herself, she marched to the back of the store, to inquire about purchasing it.

 

Donahue was first introduced to the store in 1981, when she was a freshman at Harvard. “It was like a treasure hunt every time I was there,” Laura said. “This place became my Cheers; a place where I went to feel good, enjoying pretty things and friendly service.”

 

Now 20 years later she stood, pen in hand, signing the papers to buy Bob Slate. She reopened the store at 30 Brattle St. “I’m deeply honored that the Slate family has entrusted their name to me”.

 

To keep customer service top-notch, Donohue has rehired five former staffers, including a 28-year veteran. Coupled with new staff, who bring in fresh ideas to keep the product lines current….it’s an unbeatable combination. Together they bring expertise to design, sourcing, and technical which helps consumers understand the different ink and paper types which when combined give the perfect “look”.

Of course their product selection is a huge draw:distinctive wraps , elegant stationery, fine writing instruments, journals sourced locally and from around the world, elegant engraved papers, delicate letterpress and vibrant watercolors, blank and greeted cards and earth friendly products. Rossi transitions well into almost all of these categories.

 

Of course being in a college city, journals and writing notebooks are a big draw; ”Based in the heart of Harvard Square, we have a real writing-oriented audience, so the journals sell quite well. Anything with the marbled or Florentine prints sell very quickly, with the letterpress prints becoming new favorites.

 

The store is quite festive right now with their beautiful display of Rossi boxed Christmas notes and cards near the front window where one can gaze out into Harvard square. In addition there is a vivid display of letterpress and seasonal decorative papers. “The Rossi individual sheets of gift wrap are seen as a real treat for customers at the holidays — many love to complete a favored gift with the hand-marbled prints”, states Laura.

slate cardsThis time of year can be quite challenging for a busy retailer.” The holidays present a host of challenges, from betting on which styles will be successful in a given year, to estimating quantities and volumes, to finding creative ways to utilize space in the store to present the additional merchandise to its best advantage, to maintaining staffing levels with the appropriate expertise to answer technical product questions. It is very tiring but also exhilarating to hear the customers rave about our excellent product selection.”

“We hear from customers that they are desperate to find quality & style, and don’t mind paying an extra dollar or two to have paper worth writing on. Our customers are constantly sneaking open the stationery boxes to feel the paper inside, and are very clear about their preferences for quality paper. Rossi provides us a great offering to customers. Thankfully, Rossi is maintaining its standards unlike some other small vendors who feel compelled to compromise their quality to meet the demands of the big box stores.

Is she still happy she happy she bought the store? ” Buying this store has absolutely been the right decision for me. It is an iconic brand that stands for quality and distinctive products and quirky individuality! — I hope that I can do it and the family justice.

·         30 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-547-1230 www.bobslatestationer.com

Giving Thanks

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

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Thanksgiving is America’s most celebrated tradition. It falls every year on the fourth Thursday in the month of November.  Its origin can be traced back to the 16th century when the first thanksgiving dinner is said to have taken place.

In 1609, a group of Puritans fleeing religious persecution in England moved to Holland. They ­lived in Holland for a number of years until, in 1620, a group of English investors — the Merchant Adventurers — financed a trip for more than 100 passengers to the New World. On Sept. 6, 1620, 102 passengers set sail on a ship called the Mayflower, a 17th century sailing vessel leaving from England. The pilgrims reached Plymouth Rock on December 11th 1620, after a sea journey of 66 days.  Many did not make the final landing in Plymouth (Massachusetts), succumbing to the extreme cold. Still many others perished from that first cold winter in Plymouth without much food.

In the spring of 1621, native Indians taught the pilgrims to survive by growing food. With their help, the Pilgrims were able to survive in the New World. They were taught how to get sap out of the maple trees, how to avoid plants that were poisonous and how to plant corn, beans and pumpkins. In the autumn of 1621, Plymouth Colony’s first governor, William Bradford, decided to throw a celebratory feast and invited the colony’s American Indian neighbors to take part. The American Indians brought food as well, and the celebration is said to have lasted for three days. The grand feast was organized to thank God for his favors. This communal dinner is popularly known as the “first thanksgiving”. It’s uncl­ear whether the Pilgrims themselves called that first feast a thanksgiving celebration, but they were certainly celebrating the abundance of food and the peace with their American Indian neighbors. There is however, no evidence to prove if the dinner actually took place; some historians believe pilgrims were quite religious in which case, their thanksgiving would have included a day of fasting and praying. Other historians say that the dinner did indeed take place.

It wasn’t until several years later, after enduring a month’s long drought, that Thanksgiving was celebrated in earnest. In response to the hot, dry summer months, the governor called for a fast. Soon afterward, rain revived the shriveled crops, and the Puritans celebrated.

The custom of marking good fortune with a day of gratitude quickly caught on throughout New England. In the early days of the United States, the new nation’s leaders began proclaiming country-wide thanksgiving celebrations. In the American Revolution, for example, the Continental Congress called for a day of thanksgiving to mark the U.S. victory at the Battle of Saratoga. Then in 1789, President George Washington called for a day of thanksgiving in recognition of the U.S. Constitution’s ratification.

Although its origins are traced back to that first thanksgiving in 1621, a number of other countries celebrate harvest related festivals. They are observed with different names and in different seasons. Harvest related festivals, all the over the world are characterized with fun and merrymaking, for the most part, celebrating communal harmony. Each region has its unique customs and traditions to jubilate the occasion. 

Canada celebrates thanksgiving on the second Monday in the month of October .The first Canadian thanksgiving was celebrated on 15th April 1872 to thank the recovery of King Edward VII from serious illness. The next thanksgiving was celebrated after a few years in 1879 on a Thursday. 
Canada later, had a turbulent time deciding the day of national Thanksgiving. It fluctuated between Mondays some years and Thursday in others. Finally, on January 31, 1957, Parliament announced the second Monday in the month of October as the official ‘Thanksgiving Day’. It was declared as “a day of general Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.” The thanksgiving celebrations include parades, customary ‘family feast’ and ‘turkey’. It is a time for sharing, loving and family reunions. The central idea behind the celebration is to be thankful for the past harvest and praying for the coming year. 

 India also has a number of harvest related festivals in different regions. Though the underlying principle behind each of them is same, every festival is exclusive and different from the other.

Other Asian countries such as China, Malaysia, and Korea celebrate the festival on different dates. Each festival has a folklore attached to it. Harmony, peace, and feeling gratitude is the underlying theme of each celebration.
Many view the first Thanksgiving as an example of the possibility of great respect and cooperation between two different cultures.

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On that note, we here at Rossi1931 are extremely grateful that you take the time to read our blog and we extend a gracious thank you for your support. We couldn’t do what we do without you, your loyalty and your passion for paper.

“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues”~Cicero

Behind the scene: Joka Belgrado

 

Mrs Joka Belgrado

Anyone who has ever contacted Rossi1931, by phone or through the website has, no doubt, pleasantly encountered the sales, marketing and linguistic wizard, Joka Belgrado.

Joka has been with Rossi since 2007 after she and her husband had moved from Florence to the beautiful area of Tuscany known as Mugello, ( a beautiful wide green valley north of Florence) After commuting to Florence for work for several years, she decided,” enough of commuting!” Her husband told her of a local radio station that had been advertising different jobs. She signed on to their website one day and noticed there was a job very close to home with Rossi. “They were looking for someone in the export dept. with a good knowledge of English and German. I sent in my resume, was contacted and after 2 weeks I was working here.” A lucky day for Rossi, indeed. Not only does Joka speak English and German, but Dutch and Italian as well. She says,” years ago I spoke 6 languages, but when you don’t use a language for many years, it kind of sinks away.”

Joka was raised in Holland and Curacao, Dutch Antilles which was still part of the Netherlands at that time. After high school, she took a “gap” year and lived on a kibbutz in Israel. She liked the idea because she could work 4 hours a day and learn the language during the other 4. When she later transferred to the advanced language class in a different kibbutz near the sea, she met a wonderful young man from Italy and today they have been married for 38 years. After they returned from Israel to Italy, where she began college in Florence, they had 2 lovely daughters. Both out of the nest now, Claudia is an architect and lives in Sardinia and Sylvia, a nurse in Florence.

She loves her time with Rossi; “I handle the US and Canada markets, as well as the German speaking countries in Europe….Austria, Switzerland and Germany. I have daily contacts with customers and reps, research to find additional customers and sales representatives in selected areas, and do translations into English and German when needed. “A lot of potential customers find us through our website and sometimes I find them. Either way, I include them in mailing lists and when we send out warehouse catalogues.”

Her favorite part of the job: “The relationship that I have established with some of our customers and reps, which go beyond work”. She never gets bored. “I enjoy talking to potential new customers, explaining how we operate, encourage them to try our line. When they do and it works out for them, it’s a satisfaction and pride for me. They become a regular customer and I feel that I have made a contribution to the company.”

One would think time differences would be a major problem, but Joka handles it with ease. The internet of course helps, as she can simply email customers while she is at work and they are still sleeping. ” I prefer email by far, as the Romans said: scripta manent”.  (Loosely speaking: ‘spoken words fly away, written words remain’). ”In my previous job we always had to confirm phone conversations in writing. It was a lot more work and they had offices all over the world”.

With all the positive growth in design and products at Rossi, Joka says there has been a lot of challenges, as well: ”The last 5 years has been difficult for many companies, everywhere. Italy is no exception. It has been very hard for small companies to stay alive and many have found it tougher to survive. Basically, I have seen that those who did not export have not made it. Rossi has been exporting for decades and that, in addition to making qualitative investments in IT, has kept the company alive and healthy. I feel very fortunate to work here.”

Outside of the fact that her job is only a 10 minute commute now, the best part of her time with Rossi is that she “is trusted and valued” for what she contributes and has “ a lot of independence in handling the job. I had never handled paper products in my career, so I had to learn the product first. It then became automatic to look at similar products in the shops. Now that I have some experience in the category, I think stating Rossi is at the top quality- wise is not an exaggeration. “

When asked to name the product she loves the most: “The letterpress design called Venice in the navy/mauve version. I like the fact that the design is 500 years old. I also like the idea of a new use of the vintage letterpress machines that Rossi kept”.

letterpress stationery

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Perhaps”, she muses,” I also like it because it’s called Venice, my favorite city in the world!   “

Joka can be reached at: joka.belgrado@rossi1931.it

 

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