#3: Slouching Through Bethlehem

Watching card and gift shops successfully navigate their small brands first through a pandemic, and then civil unrest, has been unexpectedly heartening. While huge names in retail are closing their doors forever, small makers are emerging, if not unscathed, then at least relatively intact. And few have been more inspiring to me personally to witness in real time than Shayna Norwood of Steel Petal Press.

Those entering its Logan Square doors in Chicago don’t realize, but Steel Petal Press was born in 2008 as a side project for Shayna, letterpressing greeting cards for friends. That grew into wholesale business, and that became the retail space in 2016. When I last saw Shayna at NY NOW and National Stationery Show in early February, all was pretty well in her world: She had a booth of her wholesale range that seemed busy every time I walked by, and also I saw her walking the show shopping for her shop as well.

When coronavirus hit, Shayna kept her doors open as long as she could, then once she had to close to the public, she was still in the shop every day, shipping orders or delivering them curbside. Shayna finally reopened June 4 — just in time for some of the biggest civil unrest this country, including Chicago, has seen in decades. 

If that’s not enough to grapple with, Shayna recently started sharing her struggles with anxiety with her community, mostly on her Instagram feed, in a very open, brave way. At the winter markets she actually released a series of mental health tracker notepads — great timing, I’ve got to say — but I am really curious as to how she is doing personally with all this as well. Tune in to find out!

Subscribe