I was first introduced to Grey Moggie letterpress cards a few years ago when I attended my very favorite art show, Crafty Bastards, in DC. Melanie, the witty and oh-so-talented creative behind the brand, writes the most clever and spot-on messages and the look & feel of her letterpress work is super special. As luck would have it, I got to meet Melanie this past year when I, too, was a vendor at CB. I paired a few of her cards with our clipboard frames in my booth and knew I wanted to carry her work as soon a possible in the CP e-shop. Melanie was very kind to take some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions so you can get to know Grey Moggie a little better.
E: In what city/town do you create your products?
M: We print all of our letterpress greeting cards, coasters, and small prints at our Northeast DC warehouse studio. The warehouse is filled with other local artists and makers and has the best creative energy. There's a coffee roaster and two floral design studios so it always smells amazing. And it's just a few minutes from home for me.
E: How does living in Washington DC inspire your work?
M: I love the sense of possibility that comes from living in a city even though it feels as friendly as a small town most of the time. My urban environment really inspires my work. The sense of community you feel when you run into friends and neighbors at a coffee shop, farmers market, craft fair, playground, or new restaurant, that's the feeling I hope to convey in my work. And of course we love DC! We have a whole line of cards, coasters, and prints called "Local Love" featuring our love for DC neighborhoods and quirks. It even has funny cards about DC bus lines.
E: When and why did you initially start your own business?
M: It was sort of by accident. I started letterpress printing as a hobby when I needed a creative outlet during law school. When my daughter was born a few years later, I quit my 9-5 job to be at home with her. I slowly got back into letterpress printing, teaching at a local art center on the weekends and printing in the evenings after my daughter was asleep. Then I started selling my cards at Eastern Market on the weekends. I'd post new cards on Instagram from the market and a few shops got in touch about carrying my cards. I gave myself a crash course in selling wholesale to fill those first few orders. I remember asking myself "what the heck is a line sheet???" and then the next day creating a line sheet. I signed up for Trade Show Bootcamp and did my first trade show, The National Stationery Show, in 2013.
E: What is the best thing about owning your own business?
M: I love making the rules for my business, particularly in balancing work and family life. When my daughter was really young, I was able to spend weekdays with her and grow my business at night and on the weekends. Now that she's in school, we have a much more traditional schedule, but it's one that we've chosen and that can be very empowering. I also love that I get to wear a million different hats. I never get bored because I'm doing something different - from designing new product to printing it, shooting and editing photos, interacting with customers and clients, sourcing new supplies and vendors - every day.
E: What is the biggest challenge of owning your own business?
M: Ha! The work life balance is also the worst thing about owing my own business. The lines between work and home can become really blurred and it's important to set boundaries all around. That has been really hard for me, but I'm learning and improving all the time. And wearing different hats can be good and bad, too! Some days I really want to print or design, but what I really need to do is send invoices and order paper.
E: We love growing our creative network! Can you share a few of your favorite handmade shops?
M: Just a few?? I love everything Katie at Stitch & Rivet is doing. Priya Means Love in Baltimore makes the best natural beauty products. I've been eyeing Mallory Shelter's jewelry since we were booth neighbors at the DC MEET Market a few years ago. I share my workspace with another printer, Sarah Hanks from Fancy Seeing You Here, and I love her screenprinted Gee Whiskers cards featuring her outlaw cat, Jesse James. And fellow DC mama, Emily Biskey from Penny & Paul, makes the warmest, coziest, most stylish knit caps.
Thanks, Melanie! I am SO excited to now carry a small selection of Grey Moggie cards to include with gift boxes and pair with clipboard frames. And I know you are going to love giving her fun cards as much as I do.