The Five Questions: Lisa Mattison Roberts

If I had a dollar for every time I have heard someone sound the death knoll for stationery, I could definitely get a Kate Spade satchel out of it (possibly with a matching pair of wedges). For I have heard all the complaints there are to possibly make: about consumers rejecting the category; about trade shows not being a viable source of profit; about retailers not marketing the category correctly; about companies who should know better putting out low-quality product. You name it, I’ve heard it! Since I’m nosy by nature and it’s my job to listen, I always rather enjoy hearing peoples’ confidences.

Still, every time I see a really smart retailer set up shop and hit the proverbial ball out of the park, it’s gratifying to remember that it is possible to rise above all the negativity. To me, Lisa Mattison Roberts is just such a retailer.

She opened the first Rock Paper Scissors with her mom, Ann Mattison, in Tecumseh, Michigan, in 2011. That went well, so Lisa opened another location, in Ann Arbor, in April 2012. And that went really well too, so she opened a pop-up shop in Detroit over the 2013 winter holidays. She plans to open a full-time store there this April. These shots from RPS pop-up illustrate what an engaging environment she creates.

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Quite frankly, I’m wowed — by Lisa’s energy; by RPS’ compelling merchandise mixes (tweaked to suit each venue’s distinctive clientele); by her signage and displays; by the engaging editorial on the RPS blog. For that reason we have profiled Rock Paper Scissors in Stationery Trends, and Lisa also sits on my Editorial Advisory Board. I have always thought that the best stores showcase product in such a way that you want to own everything in them without really understanding why, and Lisa has this precious skill in spades. For that reason, she’s the ideal Five Questions subject.


1. SS: How did you get into this crazy business?

LMR: I ask myself that every day! I went from corporate jobs at Target & Bank of America to owning and operating my own retail stores. I have always been excited about design, cards, stationery & invitations.  After college I dabbled in design, but really fell in love with retail and building relationships with clients. After I worked on the invitation for my wedding in 2010, I knew this was an industry that I wanted to be a part of. So three years, thousands of hours of research and three stores later, here I am, doing exactly what I want to be doing. I couldn’t be happier or more thankful.

2. SS: Are there any design or lifestyle trends you are finding yourself particularly intrigued with these days?

LMR: Hand lettering is big right now, along with beautiful calligraphy. I love both looks, and am in awe of the amazing artists that create both, but I’m really drawn to out of the box lettering or design right now.  The quirkier the better. Artists and designers like Printerette Press, Ladyfingers Letterpress and Emily McDowell are some of my absolutely favorites at the moment.

3. SS: What letter, card or invitation first comes to mind as the best you’ve ever received?

LMR: I have a 3-year-old daughter that was born with a heart disease. We found out about her condition when I was 20 weeks pregnant, and my dear friend Sara sent me a handwritten note of encouragement every week, from the day we found out until the day of her open heart surgery when she was 4 months old (these days my daughter is the feistiest, most spirited and healthy almost -3- year-old around!). Those notes of encouragement were so thoughtful, and just what I needed. It was one of the nicest gestures that anyone has ever done for me, so as I hear of other people going through a tough time, I try to send cards, because I remember how much of a bright spot it was for me during our challenges!

4. SS: What are your three favorite paper lines?

LMR: This is the hardest question as it changes all of the time! Currently, I’m loving Benchpressed (their cards say it all), Ladyfingers Letterpress (amazing stamps, cards and they did our store Christmas card — part die-cut, part letterpress and ALL amazing), and Moglea—the cards, the stationery, everything is beautiful.

5. SS: Is there anything you do personally to keep letter-writing, card-sending and invitation using alive?

LMR: I try (note the try), to send three pieces of non-business, non-bill personal mail a week. Whether it’s a Welcome to the World baby card from 9th Letter Press, an “oh shit, you’re pregnant card” (my favorite go-to baby card from Benchpressed), or a Rifle Paper Co. “You’re the Cats Pajamas,” card, I try to keep up with my card-sending and handwritten hellos. I also keep Moglea’s mini-letterquette in my purse (adorable notecards and envelopes in a cute little notebook) along with some stamps, just in case I have a few minutes to jot a note and pop it in the mail! At the store we blog about the importance of the handwritten note. We also Instagram our correspondence with #sendmoremail and encourage customers to do so as well! From time to time we’ll do giveaways using the hashtag and send winners our favorite cards to keep the letter/card writing cycle going!