I almost hate to say it, but I was working from home WAY before it was cool. I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to help found Stationery Trends magazine when my daughter Veronica was 18 months old, so for the past 15 years or so, I start most days in my pyjamas with a cup of coffee in front of my iMac.
In the years since my daughter started being away in school all day, I’ve grown to rely on the stillness of my house to reach my ideal flow. But, there is one entity whose interruptions I find inspiring, not irritating: yes, I’m talking about my canine companion, Little Scout.
Any time spent working in my office is punctuated by her entrances and exits; furthermore, I quite suspect she enjoys it when people notice her during Zoom calls. As a work companion, Scout reminds me not to take anything (especially myself) too seriously, and if I start to, well, maybe a walk or a quick trip to the back yard is in order. Whatever is bothering me bothers me far less once I’m distracted by her hijinks.
And now that V (as we mostly call her) is 16, the timeless truth of this Nora Ephron quote speaks to me: “When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog around the house so that someone is happy to see you.”
Which somewhat brings me to k.Patricia Designs, a mother-daughter stationery brand based in Massachusetts. Kelly Gustafson is the daughter, and the artist behind the line. She moved to Tokyo in 2018 and while there, taught herself to watercolor. After showing her Mom, Shannon Gustafson, the designs, they thought it would be fun to print a small batch of Christmas greeting cards to sell in Shannon’s stationery store. After seeing the positive response, they officially opened k.Patricia’s doors in 2020.
Kelly has enjoyed every second of her entrepreneurial journey. “As cliche as it sounds, k.Patricia means the world to me. I feel incredibly lucky that I get to spend everyday drawing new designs, packing orders and running our whole business with my co-owner, my Mom! I have always wanted to create something that would inspire others and make them smile, and I feel like I am doing just that. I am always optimistic for the future so I cannot wait to see where k.Patricia will take us!”
Kelly was named to the Gift + Stationery 40 Under 40 Class of 2022. Meanwhile, k.Patricia has expanded into wrapping paper, notebooks, tea towels and notecards — and the artisanal family business will return to NY NOW in six short days.
It was actually at the summer NY NOW that I was chatting up Kelly and Shannon at their booth, and somehow their pet portraits came up. I unaware k.Patricia offered this service, and completely taken aback by not just the obvious love Kelly has for dogs, but for her passion for bringing the distinctive (and borderline saintly) character of each to life.
When k.Patricia first introduced pet portraits in 2019, they wanted to donate all proceeds to Toka’s Friends. This organization was founded by Shannon’s cousin and her husband; they train service dogs to be placed with veterans who suffer from PTSD and TBI. With its wholesale launch, k.Patricia focused on wholesale a bit more, but now their pet portraits have started to pick up, they are donating to Toka’s Friends once again!
“We are very excited to be doing this as it has a very special meaning to us,” Shannon told me. “Their first service dog, Lou, is in honor of my father, so it’s a memorable way for us to stay connected with him and to honor our veterans.”
(Incidentally, have you heard of the movie Devotion? It got a 92% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes so it clearly hits the mark on several levels. The title character, Tom Hudner, is Shannon’s dad! Below you see the whole proud crew at the LA premiere as depicted on the back of their gorgeous holiday card with their entire lovely family. I am definitely star-struck and so happy for them!!)
Anyhow, back to the pet portraits! Shannon and Kelly offered to do one of Little Scout on the spot, and thus our design process began. So unfortunately for me, our dog is obsessed with my husband Rick, so I let him pick the main shot we would use. It’s his favorite, taken when Scout was a puppy.
Although it captures Scout’s personality and energy, it doesn’t really show her whole body, so we sent a few more shots to fill it out. And slowly, Kelly brought our Little Scout to watercolor life.
We could not be happier with the result — and I absolutely adore the white double thick #240 card stock the actual art prints are printed on. Frankly, they feel museum quality, which is really only fitting given the subject.
Meanwhile, k.Patricia also just launched over 40 new gorgeous designs. You can certainly shop them on Faire, but you can also experience them live and in person at NY NOW in Booth 2029. I know I will!
Finally, Kelly and Shannon wouldn’t take any money from me, so I made a small donation instead to Toka’s Friends. Since *I* can only work with a dog, I can well understand how dogs are uniquely equipped to support veterans in ways humans simply cannot. So whether you are a run-of-the-mill paper nerd looking to commemorate your pet or score some spectacular stationery swag, or own a store and need standout product to fill your shelves, start your shop here! Be sure to tell them that Scout sent you.