The Write Touch is eager to share their love of paper. Their incredible shop in the San Marco section of Jacksonville, Florida, is a paper gourmet’s dream. The shelves are full of refined and whimsical boxed notes and offer an eclectic mix of stationery, custom invitations, leather goods, gifts and accessories. For more than thirty years, the store has been the consummate resource for the art of civilized communication.
In 2007, when customer, Carolyn Hawthorne learned the shop was for sale, she was instantly smitten.
After extensive renovations, Carolyn reopened the store with Tucker, her now fourteen-year-old Golden Retriever, by her side. In 2011, Golden puppy Nicholas joined the family. The boys have been featured in the majority of advertising campaigns for the shop and are dear friends of many customers. You will find them lounging near the front door waiting for a friendly pat hello.
With career experience in journalism, specialty retail and fine art, Carolyn came to The Write Touch with an eye for quality and design. Carefully curating her collection of goods, she buys from artisans around the globe as well as pieces made in the USA.
Carolyn and her staff, including delightful and talented manager, Rebekah (who actually made a full size bridal gown in their front window from wedding invitations!) both love the quality and designs of Rossi. They offer custom printing and monogramming on any paper purchased in the store. Once the selection has been made and the desired information shared, they will promptly provide proofs featuring a variety of typestyle and ink options.
The Write Touch, 904-398-2009
1967 San Marco Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 32207
Florence is one of the most magical cities in the world. The city is ripe with grand museums and architecture, exquisite art treasures and world-class eateries and shops.
The streets in Florence also stand out as places to browse and window-shop — what’s more, the store windows are nothing short of art installations — prepare to be wowed. Over one million people annually invade the streets and squares, in every season, making it come alive.
One boutique in particular will catch your eye and that’s the stylish 56 Rosso. Located in central Via Ricasoli and only a block away from Florence’s most famous resident, the statue of David by Michelangelo, 56 Rosso is a concept store stocked with the most famous brands in Italian design.
56 Rosso opened in mid-December 2010. Co-owner Inge Cavalletti said: “We opened with Rossi1931 as our only paper printer because of their exceptional designs and ability to blend the past with the future. We felt that the traditional quality of the Florentine papers had to be displayed inside a more contemporary concept together with other designers.” She added: “We believe in the Rossi brand and are happy to feature their products. We try to select a cross-section of their new designs that reflect their good taste.”
The idea of a concept store might be new to the US but not to Italy. Ms. Cavalletti said, “The main difference between our Italian concept store and its US counterpart for me would be the designers themselves and our concept to have products of Italian design. We have clearly chosen only one brand from each category of product.”
As with any retailer, sourcing unique products is challenging, but 56 Rosso has managed to find top Italian brands. Ms. Cavalletti says, “We selected Fabbrica Pelleteria Milano for its high quality and design for our suitcases and briefcases; we have one artist for our jewelry, Vittorio Guidi, who works out of his Milanese atelier in the trendy Brera in Milan. We also have the Vabene watches and sunglasses designed by Georgio Grimoldi .The bags of Bonfanti are made especially for us with the Tricolore italiano, the traditional red and green colors of the Italian flag. We are always scouting for new and fun Italian products.
This week our new entry is the Tecno Chic sunglasses, which are very special and made entirely in Italy of a very light material that can float on water. Great for the beach!”
Ms. Cavalletti continued: “Rossi 1931 just came out with a new line of products for their beautiful stationery in cylinder boxes of the Classica Italiana collection. I believe the heart collection and their new Florentine designs will do well. In the past our best sellers were their “Moda ” collection with their handbags and their shoes, traditional Pinocchio and “Musica.” Also of course since we are in Florence, the traditional Florentine stationery sells very well.”
We’re in the midst of graduation season, and that means gifts and parties for college, high school, and nowadays, even middle school and elementary students.
When you think of graduation gifts, what comes to mind? Watches and jewelry, cash, and of course, the ever popular pen sets are the traditional gifts.
But why not snazz up your gift by adding Italian-made stationery into the mix? Rossi has plenty to choose from with options ranging from monograms to letterpress boxed sets. And besides, having a beautiful box of Italian stationery close at hand is positively inspirational when you’re drafting dozens of thank-you notes.
Personalization is a hot trend and Rossi has several unique variations of monogrammed stationery. Here are three options with great looking monograms:
Details count, so don’t forget the finishing touch when wrapping those gifts. There’s plenty of decorative papers from Rossi that fit the graduation theme. And if you’re hosting the party, these papers can even be used to creatively decorate the table. Here’s a peek at some that look congratulatory!
Can a store-bought wedding invitation be changed up for ten different looks? And can it be accomplished on a budget? You bet!
Using simple and inexpensive ideas, a standard invitation package was transformed into ten unique, stylish versions. This DIY invitation comes to us from Shelly and Megan, the creative mother/daughter team who founded online retailer, Paper Mojo.
For this makeover, Shelly used a classic Rossi patterned decorative sheet from the Flowers collection (TSC 027).
Here are Shelly’s simple instructions:
#1 Add an envelope liner. Our invitation came with a square flap envelope. All it takes is one square of cut paper and double-sided tape to secure the liner. With the extra paper, we added a wide belly band, holding all the pieces together, neat and tidy.
#2 Add a Fuscia backer card. The purchased invitation is actually a little smaller than 5” x 7” (4.875” x 6.878”), making it easy to add a standard size backer card.
#3 Add drama with black. Adding black backer sheets provides a thicker border and focuses the eye on the invite copy.
#4 Create a package by laminating to the Rossi paper. Add a black cord tie and tag. Who doesn’t love to open a package!
#5 Adding a fancy pocket organizes the content – response card, directions, etc.. especially if you prefer to keep the front side completely original.
#6 Add the Rossi sheet to the back of the invitation, directions and response card and tie the bundle together with a coordinating ribbon. This is another good way to introduce color and pattern into your invitation.
#7 Create a gatefold by placing the invite on larger paper – 5 x 7- then scoring and folding the sides. Add a bellyband and secure with an elegant monogram tag.
#8 Add a contrasting color envelope and backer card for a country look. Switch the envelope to a pointed flap and you have a completely different look.
#9 Use a bit of origami style folding to create a decorative paper closure on a folded card. The result looks elegant and classic and holds the invitation together in a unique way. Inside, a simple band secures the invitation enclosures.
#10 Add elegance with a pocket fold invitation jacket. They’re available in a variety of sizes and shapes so a standard size invitation will nicely fill the center panel. The pocket fold is lined like an envelope and the outside gets a layered seal, allowing it to easily open and close.
Shelly says that most of these ideas work well for a beginner paper crafter and require only basic paper crafting tools like scissors and paper cutter or trimmer. What’s truly amazing is the affordability …. usually only a few dollars to completely transform the look.
Want to learn more? Shelly provides detailed instructions, a cost breakdown, and additional photos on the Paper Mojo website.
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.
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