NYC Summer Market Report, #1

I’ve been home from New York City for nearly a week now, and as usual, I’m still walking on air! While I love visiting any market, anywhere, to me there’s just nothing like experiencing fresh design in Manhattan.

Perhaps I’m so attached to NYC because it was my first market city — I lived in the East Village when I became Stationery Editor for Gifts & Decorative Accessories in Spring 1997. That publication was then housed in the famed NY Life building, and I would run over to the 225 Fifth Avenue showrooms across Madison Square Park to borrow product for shoots or meet with vendors. (And the reason I lived in NYC in the first place was that I’d fallen forever, irrevocably in love with it on my first visit there, at age 6.)

At any rate, I well remember my very first NY NOW — then called the New York International Gift Fair — and although that still occurs at Javits, these days if you’re heading to NYC for market, you’ll hit Pier 23 for Shoppe Object too.

My visits to both markets were beyond inspiring — and while each has their own distinct philosophy and vibe, both NY NOW and Shoppe Object work together dynamically to form a riveting design whole. Having had some time to reflect, I can now assert that there is really nothing else even close to this experience these days in the states.

So, as I gallivanted through both markets over two exhilarating days — often with Kate Murray of Quick Brown Fox Letterpress strolling nearby — I managed to take over 400 photos. Although I felt rather crazed at the time, as I kept running out of storage and having to delete apps, I wanted to arrange everything thoughtfully and methodically here. So, since I got great photos from 27 makers at NY NOW, that’s three posts with nine each, presented alphabetically. Then I’ll tackle Shoppe Object.

Before I get started, a quick word about photos. All funky angles and weird shadows are mine — and sometimes I get distracted and don’t take as many shots as I intended. Typically, I shoot what I don’t want to forget, to make sense of later on, so I just try to capture as much as I can, as artfully as I can get it. For me, looking at these shots afterward is the next best thing to experiencing market — so I hope whatever role you play in the industry, you find them as inspiring as I did.


Numerical brands are so lucky — they’re first in every run-down! This one is run by the cutest darn dream team ever, Emily and Nicole, and discovering 2021 is like getting to know a cool person you instantly feel like you’ve already known forever.

Meanwhile, I don’t know what I was thinking, not taking any shots of their cards, but I am downright addicted to their Pocket Journals. Full disclosure: As a writer, for years and years I have not left my house without a little journal in my purse — and these are some of my favorites. I love their palm-sized size, the sweet rounded corners, the fun artwork and overall colorway. Plus this display is so compact, it’s hard to resist passing by!


I last saw Amita in San Francisco this past spring, and she has been quite busy since *Noted. Her giftwraps and gift bags straddle the line between exotic and whimsy, which is not an easy note to hit, at all. I am particularly smitten with her gnome-mushroom design.

Brittany Paige Designs

The Brittany was back, and in a big way, with lots of BDE, plus plenty of stationery gasoline to burn the patriarchy down. Her pen sets are adorable — I love how she took them to a Golden Girls place!


This sharp, smart range was a brand-new discovery for me — so possibly it is for you too. This Connecticut maker focuses on plants and puns, with great effect. That “I’ve Gone Postal” card is a gem, as are so many other colorful offerings. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more!

Calladine Creative Co.

Here’s yet another great maker find. To be simultaneously prescient and retro is tough, but this range of stickers, cards and coasters makes it look easy. I am not usually a big peach/orange/brown person, but I’m deeply digging this vibe!

Chez Gagné

What a treat it was to see Alex again — you know anyone who can write a tagline like, ‘If you can’t make it nice, make it funny’ will be my soul sister. But Alex was just getting started! Get a gander at her latest card releases, plus her candles, drinkware and bath & body offerings take her snark into new mediums that have been begging for her messaging all this time.

Crow & Canary

This legendary rep was back, so some serious nerding out was in order.


This cool Colorado brand was hard to miss with new wraps, gift tag stickers, patches, pins, and of course plenty of sweet cards.

Badger & Burke

I have never run this Vancouver brand in Stationery Trends — I have to work on changing that. Meanwhile, that cat on that Valentine is just crying out for a series. I need more tidbits of wisdom!

Carpe Diem Papers

I have been nerding out on Mindy Carpenter’s work for years now in High Design in Atlanta. I’m so happy that she and C&C are working together because her cards are exquisite, Carina knows just how to spotlight them, so this is a true win-win! I’ve been dreaming about splurging on an original for years now, I think it’s clear why.

Felix Doolittle

If your envelopes are not all that, they will be with a little help from these Decorative Labels from one of my all-time favorite watercolorists. I shot the holiday ones, but the everyday styles are equally marvelous.

Red Cap Cards

Here’s another range I’ve been obsessed with for years and somehow never included in Stationery Trends. This artist-driven range is so well produced, with every element carefully considered, each is really a little masterpiece (foiled or not).

Worthwhile Paper

The tagline of this Michigan brand is ‘delivering positive energy in paper form,’ and I think it does just that. I love the clean lines, easy shapes and casual lettering — they just strengthen the messaging.

Dahlia Press

Now we are out of Crow & Canary, time to visit Dahlia Press! Stephanie’s signature lettering, easy elegance and feminist vibe are by turns eye-catching, inspiring and funny. This is a very straightforward range that packs a big emotional punch. If you haven’t yet tuned into to the latest Paper Planes Cocktail Hour podcast episode, where Amy and I chat up Stephanie, you can do so here. The episode is called, ‘She’s Gonna Need a Bigger Booth.’

Ellen Walsh Designs

Here’s another booth I’m kicking myself for not taking more pictures in — especially since Ellen hauled her cookies all the way from Melbourne, Australia. I just love her work — and those retailers looking to differentiate themselves with indie stationery could do a LOT worse than these delicate, artful watercolors.

Well folks, there you have it: my first of *three* summer NY NOW rundowns. I’ll be back next week with Part 2!