For many a small stationery designer, getting an order from Greer CHICAGO is a major milestone on the road to success. It was founded by Chandra Greer with a big-picture goal to “create a place whose purpose was steadfastly positive, a place devoted to good design, good feelings, intelligent thought and the celebration of beauty” — and she has accomplished not just that, but so much more.
Chandra is also dedicated to the notion of civility — which she defines as “a commitment to promoting appreciation, respect and doing the right thing.” Lofty goals indeed, and Chandra makes it look easy to promote them through a humble stationery shop.
With integrity & ideals like these, I would think Chandra a good fit to sit on my Stationery Trends Editorial Advisory Board — but her impeccable eye for product makes it a necessity. Perusing Greer’s clean, clever website is as close of a pleasurable experience as actually visiting a physical boutique as you can get.
With this kind of presentation — not to mention product — I was thrilled when Chandra agreed to take TPC’s Five Questions.
1. SS: How did you get into this crazy business?
CG: Fifteen years ago I was in advertising, working at Leo Burnett on the client side, when I made the decision to start my own company built on what I had learned during my career — the power of communication and creativity — but also expanding into areas of personal interest, specifically promoting beauty, civility, kindness, appreciation and positive thought. I had always loved stationery and correspondence and thrived on working in a creative environment where I could interact with smart, interesting people. Opening my own retail store devoted to stationery seemed like the natural synthesis of it all and I have never regretted it or looked back.
2. SS: Are there any design or lifestyle trends you are finding yourself particularly intrigued with these days?
CG: I’m intrigued by the growing number of young people who are interested in what I call the analog elements of culture: letter-writing, typewriters, crafting, old cameras, etc. As society becomes increasingly technologically advanced, I think the appeal of these more soul-satisfying endeavors will continue to grow.
3. SS: What letter, card or invitation first comes to mind as the best you’ve ever received?
CG: The best cards I’ve ever received are definitely those handmade with great love, care and ingenuity by my two daughters! A close second is a hand-painted card I received from a man serving a life sentence for armed robbery in a Michigan prison. He had seen a profile of Greer in Dwell Magazine and sent me a stunning, hand-painted card with a beautiful message sharing his love of letter-writing and creating his own cards and stationery. It was poignant, yet truly amazing.
4. SS: What are your three favorite paper lines?
CG: I absolutely cannot limit it to three. But among my favorite paper lines are Dee & Lala for its gentle wit and exquisite design, People I’ve Loved for a unique aesthetic and expressiveness that lie completely outside the bounds of commercialism, Rifle Paper Co. because Anna Bond is one of the most gifted commercial artists of her generation, A. Favorite Design and La Familia Green for keen and intelligent cultural observations and Oblation Papers & Press for their clever and perfectly-rendered work that alludes to the past but appeals in the present.
5. SS: Is there anything you do personally to keep letter-writing, card-sending and invitation using alive?
CG: I keep correspondence alive every day by making interesting, beautiful, quality stationery and cards accessible to correspondents not only in Chicago, but across the country via our website. A couple came into the store last week and said their decision to relocate to Chicago vs. New York was based on the fact that Chicago has Greer. That revelation was a tremendous honor but also a reminder of how important what we do is.