An interview with Carol Mackin of Orange Art, Woodstock, CT.
“Our roots are deep in paper.” ORANGEART has been a family run, wholesale, fine paper business for three decades. Once strictly a distributor of art products and material, OrangeArt now offers its own line of letterpress products.
Through Orange Art, many fine retail dealers have been able to find stationery products from around the globe which are far from ordinary.
Why or how did you pick the name Orange Art?
Actually, we bought a tiny rising art paper distribution business in 1983 already named OrangeArt. We have enjoyed the easy marketing the name provided.
You have a direct sales force. Yes? How many states do you cover?
We do the selling ourselves in New England and New York and employ Reps in other parts of the country. John has been personally visiting many of our customers in the last few months. He also has a new Prius hybrid which is a good incentive to get on the road.
Any plans for expansion going forward? Speaking of which, did I understand you now have an online “store”?
We are expanding our trade show presence. We will be in Atlanta Gift in January. We have always been at the NYC Stationery Show and Gift Shows (now called NYNOW).
Yes, our online sales are growing very fast which has changed things. We used to be entirely direct sales/phone/fax. Many of our customers, especially wholesale print paper customers, like our Rossi customers, prefer to order online after working hours. We have an easy online ordering system that sets up an account page for our customers with their order history so they can re-order quickly.
How do you decide what lines/products to distribute? I like how you say, “collect” unique social papers. And speak to the difference between being an agent and a “collector”.
What we did in the fine art paper and materials business for 30 years was “distribute” which we sold in 2010. We were a regional distributor of art products to retailers in New England and New York. That means there was no personal involvement in the product design and choice.
However, since the beginning of OrangeArt in 1983, our stationery business has always been based on our choices. We manufacture and design our own products.
We also represent some European lines in the USA, exclusively. That is what an “agent” is.
How has the computer impacted your business?
Only is good ways. I love the immediacy of it. We can service faster and we can show our customers what is new online immediately
In this economy, do you see a trend that more customers are making their own social items (invitations, etc.) from your papers rather turning to custom designers like Crane or Wm. Arthur?
Digital printing has become less expensive and more accessible. That has changed the way stationery papers are personalized, forever. There is no excuse for a badly done business card or note!
Since we have now being living with technology for some time now, do you see any traditions coming back that once were lost? Any new ones beginning?
A personal, hand-written note or paper invitation is finding its modern place in our lives. It is something distinct from email which has become too banal. It is now communication “etiquette” to write and invite in this “personal” way. It takes time which is a gift in and of itself. The paper, the stamp, are a reflection of the personal taste of the sender.
I think that people are happy to spend more money on a well-designed card, journal, etc. Again, it is a little exercise in design much like their choices of home décor.
How, and when did you find Rossi?
We have stocked Rossi products since 2006. We travelled to Borgo San Lorenzo to talk to the Rossi’s about our interests and paper background, which included 12 years of experience with another, similar paper also made in Italy. We really know how many ways our customers can use this versatile, beautiful paper. Our experience has taught us how to support sales with thoughtful templates and well versed customer service who can explain an album fold from an A5 sheet, convert metric into inches and always make sure they are ordering the right envelopes!
We appreciate all of the Rossi products. By the way, their warehouse packing is the BEST! Everything arrives correctly and un-damaged. No one appreciates that more than the people who receive, stock and re-ship it.
What does the future hold for Orange Art?
Well, we did recently sell the “big” business and as I said, we are in transition in a good way. The reason we did OrangeArt together, here in this beautiful place, was to control the way we were going to live and raise our two children.Now we can be smaller and more focused.We would like to find just a few more exclusive lines, and maybe tiptoe into complementary products. I keep imagining a beautiful desk we could all use in our lives to keep our “stuff” organized and allow us to write, think and look out the window at nothing at all. What would be on it?