Year One Reflection

One year ago, I was at a turning point. I had worked at Front Room Photography for four years and I had outgrown my position. I needed to move on, but where? I knew the corporate world was not for me, I wanted to start a business - but doing what? I didn’t feel good enough at anything.  

I had a small Etsy shop where I sold a few invitations, but I wasn’t proud of it. I liked doing calligraphy but couldn't call myself a calligrapher.  

Regardless of my doubts, I saw an opportunity, and I dove in. I left my job at Front Room, and started a stationery business. I knew I wouldn’t make money right away so I had lots of back-up income. Nannying for multiple families, driving Lyft, and working wedding photo booths for Sound by Design on the weekends. I went searching for knowledge. I signed up for online courses, I connected with other entrepreneurs, I was always looking for opportunities to learn new things and practice my craft. I did get some clients, and any money I made, I re-invested in my business. Money was slim - very slim - but I kept pushing. I told myself, to just keep saying yes, and that’s what I did for the next year. I said yes to styled shoots, bridal shows, collaborating with other artists, risky projects I’ve never tried before, teaching and speaking opportunities, and I learned from all of it.

Things began to pick up, and I would think to myself, "Huh...I'm really doing this!" It's such an amazing feeling. 

I'm so grateful for the people who gave me the advice they wish they had been given, referred me time and time again, or even just gave a little shout out on social media. It truly means so much to have a supportive community of entrepreneurs who've got my back. 

It is awesome (and terrifying) to be completely, in control of my own career and income. Now I won’t say I’m anywhere near where I’d like to be, but I’m a hell of a lot closer than I was a year ago, and so proud of how far I’ve come.

This July, to celebrate my one year business anniversary, I'm giving a gift to all my loyal followers!

(Just like in grade school, when it was your birthday, you were expected to bring cupcakes for everyone...bogus - right?!) ;)

Very soon, I'll be sharing some awesome new products and collaborations. When these products launch, only Shelby’s special people (the ones who receive my email newsletter) will have access to a discount coupon that never expires! Enter your email below to sign up!

wedding stationery timeline

Time is of the essence once a wedding date has been picked. Knowing when to send save the dates and invitations can be baffling. This blog post explains exactly when these pieces should be sent and why.

when to mail save the dates

Shop this suite

Shop this suite

Knowing when to send save the dates is typically the more confusing question. The answer depends somewhat on who you are expecting to attend your wedding. If you’ll be having out of town or international guests and/or having a destination wedding, save the dates can be sent out up to a year in advance. This ensures everyone has time to budget for and book travel, and not plan another trip during the day of your wedding.

On average, save the dates should be sent between 6-8 months before the wedding.

Shop this suite

Shop this suite

Save the dates are fun because they don’t have to be so formal, you’re just giving your guests a heads up to mark their calendars for your special day. You can show a bit of your personality by including a picture from an engagement session, or maybe a Information that’s good to include is your names (of course), the wedding date (if it’s not on a Saturday, it may be a good idea to indicate that), and the wedding location city and state. This is also a great time and place to share your wedding website, so be sure to have it up and running. Lastly, the bottom of the save the date should say “formal invitation to follow” so your guests know what to expect and that they will be receiving more details about the event.

See the Atrium styled shoot

See the Atrium styled shoot

when to mail wedding invitations

Wedding invitations are a little different than a birthday party invitation. These should be sent about 8-6 weeks (1.5-2 months) before the wedding. Destination weddings may need to send invites up to 10 weeks prior in order for guests to book accommodations and flights.

The invitation is typically accompanied with an RSVP card and envelope already return-addressed back to the sender. The RSVP is important so you know number of guests attending and their names. The RSVP is also used to select meal options, or indicate dietary restrictions.

If you are struggling with a polite way to tell your guests kids are not invited, here’s a tip. In the bottom left or right corner, having “adults only” on the RSVP is a subtle way of getting the information across. They’ll definitely be looking closely at this card since your guests will need to fill in their names in the blank.

Shop this suite

Shop this suite

If you’re having blocks of rooms reserved for out-of-town guests, the details card is the best place to share that information. Also, if your reception is in a different location than the ceremony, the reception location and start time should be present here. It’s a good idea to reiterate the wedding website here, as well. You’ll likely have more information to share with your guests now that the wedding date is closer.

The goal is to have the invitation, reply card and details card be as clear and concise as possible so your guests are confident they know where they’re supposed to be and when. Following these tried-and-true methods will ensure your guests have all the information they need in plenty of time to plan their arrangements to celebrate with you.

Confused about invitation wording etiquette? Read about that here.


How I fell in love with calligraphy

I'm not quite sure exactly when my love affair began with letters, but it was definitely before I called it "calligraphy". In grade school I remember learning cursive and becoming OBSESSED. I would write words in cursive and practice my signature for hours. In middle school, I began to notice my classmates' differences in their handwriting and began trying to write my notes in their handwriting style. Pretty typical middle school, just trying to fit in. I eventually found a handwriting style that worked for me, and stuck with it. 

Fast forward about 10 years, and I'm a recent art school graduate that happens to be obsessed with Pinterest. Calligraphy and hand lettering are on-trend and I want in. I found a site called Skillshare, which is an awesome place where you can learn from artist professionals around the globe on topics like design, photography, crafts, and lettering. I joined Mary Kate McDevitt's Skillshare class called Hand Lettering Essentials for Beginners. One exercise she suggested, which I really liked, was tracing printed alphabets. This gave me a better understanding of each letter of the alphabet and how exactly it's shaped. I was so impressed by her work and tried it out myself. Here is the first piece I ever did...*GULP*...

We all start somewhere! Strangely enough, two days after I created "The World is Beautiful", my boyfriend proposed!! 

Photo by Front Room Photography

Photo by Front Room Photography

Now that I was an ENGAGED, Pinterest obsessed woman, I really wanted to get good at lettering! I continued taking classes on Skillshare including Introduction to Modern Calligraphy from Molly Jacques (which by the way doesn't even exist anymore!), and Lettering for Designers by Jessica Hische.

Throughout the planning of my wedding, I continued practicing lettering and took my lettering supplies with me everywhere. I tried out lots of different tools including brush pens, pointed pens, chalkboard writing, and watercolor brushes. When you're first starting out I think it's really important to try everything and see what you're really drawn to. In this stage, I realized I wasn't feeling very connected to hand lettering, which is the art of drawing and sketching letterforms. I was more intrigued by calligraphy, which is the art of writing beautifully. 

bambi quote.jpg

I took a few more Skillshare classes, this time focusing on calligraphy. Waterbrush Lettering Essentials by Teela Cunningham  and Pen and Ink Calligraphy: The Art of the Envelope by Bryn Chernoff. I also took an in-person calligraphy class, Flourish: A Modern Calligraphy Workshop, taught by Angela from Saffron Avenue.

By this time, I was completely hooked. Over the next year or so, I continued practicing - trying new tools, materials, and styles of writing. I began following other calligraphers and letterers, and getting inspired by their work and picking up tips and tricks along the way.

It wasn't until two years after writing that first quote that I actually felt like I had a unique style and could sell my calligraphy services. I remember hearing this same thing from Molly Jacques that it took her about two years before she felt "good enough" and I thought that was a crazy-long time. But, it really is a time-intensive craft. Repetition is key and it's the only way to get better. It doesn't matter how many online classes you watch, you won't get better unless you're doing it.

Even now, I have so much more to learn! I am constantly challenging myself and finding new tools or techniques to try. Most recently, my husband gifted me an iPad Pro and it is the coolest thing since sliced bread (he's so awesome). It is completely unlimited possibilities at my fingertips. Getting inspired by new tools and materials is what gets me re-invigorated the same way I was when I first started on this lettering journey two years ago.


Are you interested in learning calligraphy? I'll be teaching a brush lettering workshop at Revel Craft Bar in Madison, Wisconsin on Wednesday, May 17th! 

Sign Up Here!

Invitation Etiquette Explained

Invitation Etiquette Explained

Brides and grooms, I know your confused and overwhelmed about your wedding invitations. (Who mails things, anyways!?) Your invitation acts as a first impression for your guests, and gives them an idea of what to expect at the wedding, and the way it is worded can make a huge impact in that impression. In this post, I will explain what details and information needs to be included on the invitation, and several options of how it can be worded.

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