Inside Look | Postscript
Imagine: you've just parked on the adorable cobblestone streets of a bustling downtown in rural Nebraska bliss. You notice a pop of color winking at you across the street, inviting you to come and see. Immediately drawn to the playful windows, you step into the shop, feet meeting aged wood floors, bell tinkling at your arrival and the intoxicating aroma of espresso and paper goods lulling you into a dream. Pinching yourself, you realize you are indeed still alive and that this must be some echo of heaven on earth. Commence reverie, drooling and all things lovely.
Welcome to Postscript!
Last December after speaking to a mom's group in Ashland, a friend brought me to this enchanting gem and I couldn't stop marveling over the perfect trifecta of intimacy, creativity and loveliness. I had to meet the owner - just had to know the heart and soul behind such a wonder of a place. Her name is Laura Capp, and as you might have guessed, she is a kindred spirit. (Inevitable.) She is cheer and depth and all things true, good and beautiful. Postscript is simply an extension of her being, and I'm so grateful she made it so we can enjoy her passions and loves.
After begging to come back and document this colorful playground, she acquiesced and let me style to my heart's content, making me the happiest photographer in the world. *dreamy sigh* Even now, I'm still twitterpated over those hues and patterns and textures...
Please enjoy this gorgeously written Q&A with Laura, along with a small gallery of my favorite images from our recent photoshoot - you will not be able to keep from smiling!
What do you love most about your shop?
To me, it is a creative sanctuary. I love walking in the door in the morning, hearing the bell jingle, smelling the coffee and the paper, soaking in all the gorgeous paper goods. Two years in, it still feels magical to me. The other side of that coin that I didn't know how to predict or anticipate is the joy of meeting customers who are kindred spirits. Often, a complete stranger will walk in the door, and within moments, we can be knee-deep in a conversation about creativity... how starved we are for it, how difficult it is to take the time, how necessary. It has been so moving to me to see the shop be a dose of creative inspiration for people who want and need that, perhaps without even knowing they were looking for it.
What services and products do you offer?
Postscript retails the typical paper boutique offerings: greeting cards, stationery, office goods, writing utensils, wrapping paper, art prints, and vintage stamps. With a particular interest, however, in book arts, I carry tools and instructional manuals that would help folks learn more about those disciplines. I also carry a variety of picture books because the interplay of image and text is so central to book arts, and a fabulous picture book is a treasure for children and adults alike. In addition to the retail offerings, Postscript is a workshop where we host classes in areas such as calligraphy, bookbinding, paper crafting, watercolor painting, and photography as well as a studio space where I do custom printing, binding, and lettering jobs. Think notecards, business cards, letterhead, announcements, wedding invitations, leather albums, and any lettering projects a person can dream up. And last but not least, Postscript has a coffee and tea bar, too, offering beans roasted and teas blended right in Omaha.
Tell us more about Postscript! How did it come about?
When I finished my undergrad work, I was an English professor wanna-be and went off to acquire a doctorate in literature at the University of Iowa. In the middle of my first semester, I was reading so many hours a day -- primary texts, criticism, theory, fellow students' writing -- that I was going a little nutty and just needed to do something with my hands. I pored over the course catalog for spring semester and discovered a calligraphy class. It was the perfect complement. We were racing through language in my grad courses, and calligraphy asked me to slow down to the opposite extreme, taking language letter by letter. It allowed me to savor language, sit with words at length, and also just find visual expression for the power that words have always had over me internally. That calligraphy course was part of a larger program at Iowa that I hadn't known a thing about called the Center for the Book. It is one of a handful of programs nationally that teach graduate-level book arts courses, instructing students in bookbinding, letterpress printing, paper making, book design, and history of the book, in addition to calligraphy. I started taking courses from the Center here and there as I could fit them into my Ph.D. work, and I fell head over heels in love with it all. I had always been a creative kid but not skilled in the typical ways. I couldn't draw, paint, or sculpt a thing to save my life, and so I hadn't known quite where or how to use the creativity that was knocking around inside of me. But when I discovered this field of book arts, where I could work with color, pattern, textures, and typography and lettering to interpret literature and create a beautiful and fitting home for texts that mattered deeply to me, that was that. I knew I had to incorporate book arts into my future work.
That said, I hadn't planned to abandon the idea of becoming a professor, but I came to some life crossroads along the way that necessitated hard choices. When I finished my Ph.D., for instance, I had one year old twins. After watching friends of mine start Assistant Professorships, moving to wherever the jobs took them, I didn't feel equipped at that point in time to balance the needs of both those two tiny creatures and a major job. At the same time, it so happened that the Center for the Book, which up until that point had been a Certificate program, was granted MFA status and was now a full-fledged graduate program. So I reapplied to grad school while my girls were little, learned letterpress printing, and taught calligraphy, and by the time I finished the MFA program, I knew that whatever I did had to combine literature and book arts. There might be a couple of jobs like that available in universities, but we also wanted to live near family. Ultimately, the best solution seemed to be to invent my own job, which is what Postscript is my attempt at doing. It's an experiment in the making!
What is your favorite item in the shop these days?
Ha! I have a running joke that every object people bring to the counter is my favorite. But it's the truth! I don't sell anything at the shop that I'm not in love with myself. If I had to pick a current favorite favorite, though, it would have to be this adorable pack of rainbow pencils made by Mr. Boddington's Studio. Each pencil has a designated use, such as "For Keep Out Signs," "For Writing Upside Down," "For Self-Portraits," "For Top Secret Notes," "For Global Jet-Setting." That company has such wildly creative products for kids especially, but those pencils! They make me the happiest.
What's your favorite pick-me-up?
Reading to kiddos. If I feel crummy about anything, I guarantee you that I will feel better after sharing a beautiful book with my kids. The right books are simply life-giving.
What do you want people to know about Postscript?
Here's something a little funny to admit: I feel weird about having a shop. Transactions are psychologically problematic territory for me, and I am a reluctant salesperson in that I genuinely don't want to sell anyone anything just to make a buck. I carry the things that I love, and if you love any of what I offer, too, and think it would add some bit of value to your life or to the life of someone you care about, then yes! That's the kind of transaction I feel good about. But I am an introverted maker first and foremost and an accidental entrepreneur by extension, so the customer-facing, business-end of what I am doing with my shop is a brave new world for me. Why do I want people to know that? I don't even know! If I seem flustered sometimes when I accept money from you, that's why!
What are your favorite things to make?
2) Envelopes bearing calligraphy and vintage stamps. To me, there is nothing more romantic than pulling an envelope out of your mailbox with the yummiest color palette of miniature engraved artworks paired with beautiful lettering. The sight of envelopes like that just fills my heart with longing.
3) Tiny packets of vintage stamps that add up to 50 cents and can send a first-class letter through the mail. I love the puzzle involved in pulling stamps that have some kind of harmony in color or theme or both, when I'm lucky. I tuck them into 2-inch square glassine envelopes, and they are just one of my favorite things in the world.
4) A ongoing project called Poetry by Post, where I print a poem as a flat artwork, write and print a short essay about the poem, and package it all up in a mailer with vintage stamps and calligraphy. It combines all of my favorite things: poetry, printing, good paper, literary analysis, mail, vintage stamps, and hand lettering.
What is your favorite trend in your offerings?
I'm really appreciating a resurgence of interest in quality writing tools. If I had to name an upside to the reality that our whole culture is doing less handwriting, it would be this: when people do write by hand now, they are looking to use something a cut above a crummy ballpoint pen. After visiting C. W. Pencil Enterprise in NYC a couple of years ago, I brought home some pencils that were downright dreamy to use. It was eye-opening! Since then, I've been slowly collecting more pencils and fountain pens to offer in the shop, and customers are happy to find them here. They move fairly quickly, so I plan to keep expanding those offerings.
How do you enjoy your downtime?
Downtime is a something of an elusive concept as an entrepreneur who also has big kids and a baby. However, when I can find snippets of it, I like to take hot baths, sit in coffee shops, read, write letters, take walks with camera in hand, visit stamp shows, used bookstores, and antique stores, hang out with good friends and family, eat out (or get take-out and watch a movie on the couch), and travel. Oh, traveling! I love it so much and don't do enough of it at this point in my life. I also like to take my sweet time walking through Target. That lowers the blood pressure immediately. Ha!
Where do you go for inspiration?
Taking a stroll through a nursery is always wildly inspiring to me. I just adore that setting. Antique malls and stamp shows generally yield up some small treasures that delight me to no end. I have an Instagram account where I follow artists and makers of all stripes, and I can get lost in that feed for so long that I have a love/hate relationship with the whole thing. And of course, books, always and forever.
What's a funny thing we don't know about you?
Weird Al is one of my life heroes. Apart from loving his music, which I do, I just totally admire the fact that he was able to turn his nerdy hobby into something that he gets to do every day and, better yet, that he gets paid (well!) for doing. In a way, that's the dream of my experiment here with Postscript -- can I spend my time compiling packets of vintage stamps and make enough money to pay my bills? Here's hoping...
Thank you, Laura! Can't wait to visit you again with a cup of something delightful in hand while drooling over the beautiful things you curate for the world...
p.s. Vote for Laura to win the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest here! It only takes 15 seconds...