NYC Summer Market Report, #2

Thanks to everyone who reached out to me after I posted part #1 – I’m so thrilled to have so many friends walking with me in spirit. Here’s my second batch of finds fresh off the famed NY NOW gift + stationery floor!

Embued Photophiles

There is something magical about this Brooklyn brand, created for those who “wish to articulate and celebrate transitory moments,” explains Founder Beth Bates on her site. She takes her own photos and also forages for existing snapshots to incorporate into her work wherever she wanders —and Beth wanders quite a lot! — so you never know the exact origin of whatever you see on the card.

Part of what elevates this range to truly extraordinary, to my mind at least, is that Beth incorporates both screen printing and letterpress into her work. “I like my creative processes to be slow, simple and tactile,” she writes on her “about” page. “I print everything by hand with a combination of my antique letterpress, silk screens, & photo processes that, at times, date back to the 1800s.”

So obviously Beth’s work is very personal, with fun surprises like a card back that reveals what was taken out of the photo, as you can see in the first shot below. The second shows the *back* of an ice skating card. I am of course kicking myself for not shooting the front, but you may be able to get a good sense of what’s there based on what’s missing from the back. While I’ve only shown Beth’s stationery goods here, her art prints, pillows and totes are definitely worth checking out as well.

Finch + Flourish Paper Goods

Anyone who knows me knows I live to discover charming ranges like this. This brand is right down the road from me in Pittsburgh — and I knew I would like it as soon as I saw their really fetching logo. While there are a lot of fabulous punny paper goods out there, the first card down is pretty brilliant — I’m rooting for the fish to get his act together, escape the pelican, and find his freedom. You can do it, little fish, just like you say!

I believe they only recently expanded into letterpress, with that last “sorry” design being a stellar example of their craftsmanship. The handmade nature really comes through for a design that is as distinctive as each sender and every last messed-up situation.

Humdrum Paper

Here’s yet another new stationery range, again with a subtle but clever and slightly absurd sense of humor. Now that I think about it, it’s hard to believe I’ve been covering stationery for 25 years and never seen a die-cut bookmark that was also a very nicely illustrated fish … or for that matter a champagne bottle or a burrito! It’s little surprises like this that make retail fun and help favorite stores stay a consistent destination.

I really thought the cards in the last picture were hysterical, then I realized they were made in collaboration with Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar, a 2021 film starring Kristen Wiig. Someone needs to turn that “no swearing” design into an actual cross stitch, stat!

Kaart Blanche

Lars and Timo hail from Belgium, and as such I think they understand the nuances of American culture better than most of us. This is a bona fide, laugh-out-loud range, and it has a lot more to offer than pithy celebrity takes (although theirs are pretty fabulous). As a pink girl through and through, I love their airy, light color palette — it feels like you just stepped into a cool cartoon world that you don’t want to leave anytime soon. I also found their greeting card sets to be triple threats: nicely curated, packaged and presented — just excellent examples of this emerging category.

Kokuyo

One of the best things about immersing yourself in stationery is that different cultures take disparate design approaches; experiencing functionality from a foreign perspective helps us push ourselves to start thinking in a new way too.

As such, I loved these color-coordinated deskscapes, and how every offering has an essential function as it works in tandem with coordinates to create one very powerful desk space. Everything has its place in these deskscapes — including your next brilliant idea.

Mellowworks

Divya Guruju has a background in menswear fashion, and I get the sense that that experience really laid the groundwork for her passion project to be so, well, passionate. Her sense of color and pattern is downright mesmerizing, and I just love her belly bands and notebook branding. Meanwhile, Divya has wisely expanded into gift wrap, with great effect! Combining so much sophistication and fun only looks easy.

Midori

Ok, I inadvertently lied — this post actually has 10 makers; I didn’t realize at Market that there were several Japanese brands on display in the booth with Kokuyo. *This* Midori — not to be confused with the American Midori, known for their luxe ribbon and papers — was established in 1950 in Japan.

The D Clips you see below were introduced in 2008, and elevate a disposable office product into something to be appreciated, saved and reused. Below that, the E — or etching — Clips are produced with an etching process on stainless steel. They are sold in coordinated sets for extra fun. Both products lend themselves to stand-out stationery displays as well as multiple and repeat purchases.

Naomi Paper Co.

Here’s something really interesting (not to mention lovely!) — a VERY refined stationery range with an approachable Christian focus. Being Jewish, I am not really suited to comprehend the nuances of this range, but I love that it infuses the ideals, practices and traditions of a very complicated religion into stationery — but not in a heavy-handed or preachy way. (As a side note, this is probably the most common pitfall I see *any* religious range encounter.)

With that said, the more accessible path is tough to traverse, but Naomi Dable makes it look easy. “When you hear the words ‘Christian art,’ do you cringe?” her site asks. “Us too. News flash: Jesus didn’t look like that, and the Word of God is anything but cutesy or outdated. That’s why we create products that represent God’s Word for what it is: beautiful truth. Not in an effort to make the Bible look trendy, but to honestly capture the meaning, grace, and joy found in scripture.”

As such, don’t expect every SKU to be blatantly religious — but the overall vibe speaks to Naomi’s approach to her own spirituality. I love that this house is going all in by delving into letterpress — witness that “you are seen, supported & loved” below — as well as stickers.

Also, I forgot Naomi’s husband’s name, but I always love witnessing a good family trade show operation. I am fairly sure it was their first trade show, and the two of them were so adorable, fresh-faced and fun to chat with, and just so excited to partner with stores and send their wares out into the world. Hopefully Naomi Paper is coming to a store near you — if not, ask for it, and any other maker else you like here, for that matter!

Rhino Parade

Now we take a sharp left turn, to Brooklyn. With AOC vibes front and center, you know that Rhino Parade will be a celebration of freedom, autonomy, color and fun — though not necessarily in that order. Lisa Mohar celebrates it all, whether the product in question is enamel pins, stickers, cards or temporary tattoos. Her vaccination card cases are the world’s easiest add-on sale, and I love how Lisa thoughtfully approaches a much-used phrase like “Black Lives Matter” to make it into mean even more.

Rock Scissor Paper

California sisters Susie and Heidi Bauer started their range in 1994 — so for an old-timer like me, it was so great to see them back at Javits! This is obviously not their first rodeo by any means — but the product is fresh enough to give off that “just discovered” vibe while still feeling well-rounded. Take their mugs for example. This product category is legitimately immense, but theirs feel different from the rest and gel together effortlessly. It’s hard to pick just one favorite, which to me is the mark of a really strong range. So if this graphic, feel-good, and women (and sister!)-owned range is not on your radar, time to change all that already!

Thanks so much for walking with me. I will be back in a few weeks with my last set of NY NOW finds — then it’s time to hop on the shuttle (leaving every hour on the hour) to Shoppe Object!

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