The Paper Chronicles

Industry Spotlight: Sarah Schwartz

From: The Paper Chronicles

Sarah Schwartz, editor-in-chief of Stationery Trends Magazine, is on the top of our list for favorite folks in the industry. We were so excited to see her new blog, The Paper Chronicles, include some of the many items she isn't able to include in their quarterly publications. With an eye for fabulous style and a keen intuition for spotting trends, her new blog is almost too much stationery eye candy to us to handle. We snagged an interview with Sarah to find out more...

Why did you start The Paper Chronicles?

I am passionate about both the stationery and gift industries, and I want to do what I can to keep letter-writing, card-sending and invitation-using alive. I would also like to promote the stationers that work so hard — often thanklessly, for very low profit margins — and the designers whose work is so personal to them and so impressive (and often very surprising) to me. There are so much that doesn’t make it into every issue of Stationery Trends (and we publish four printed issues and one digital issue a year!). As I photo-edit each issue, so much amazing work ends up in my “extras” folder, and there are so many great stories I have to take a pass on because we only have the space to print so much. Starting a blog seemed a reasonable solution.

What trends are you loving the most right now?

That is really hard to pick! There are some trends — like silhouettes — that never get old for me; the best treatments somehow feel modern and retro simultaneously. I love little details, like gold foil, opaque printing and painted edges, especially when they’re done with a restrained hand. I still find chalkboard looks & typography that mimics actual handwriting really mesmerizing. I do tend to have a pretty short attention span, however, and am always looking for that next big thing. I should add though, that just when I think I’m completely sick of a given trend, I see someone hit the ball out of the park in a new way with it that just takes my breath away.

Tell us a little bit about your letter writing campaign.

As I mentioned, I really want to promote letter writing, card-sending and utilizing the USPS. I feel like even those in the industry (perhaps especially those in the industry) have so many great papers sitting around unused and gathering dust. So I wanted to entice people to actually use them, and hopefully appreciate the fun, beauty and individuality of hand-written letters. There is a certain thoughtfulness that has to go into them that just isn’t present with emails. You choose your words more carefully when you are actually writing them, and perhaps without being aware of it you leave personality markers: the handwriting, what you choose to write on, even the ink color and type of pen you use frames the message distinctively.

I unrolled the campaign October 2, so it’s pretty new. I’ve gotten seven responses so far, which I realize may not seem like a lot, but I’ve really enjoyed getting each one — I feel like I’ve rediscovered the excitement of getting a letter when you don’t know what’s written inside. My readers hopefully have caught that as well.

It’s gotten to the point where I’ve been bringing my letter opener to my post office box because the anticipation of looking at a letter and wondering what’s in it while making the 10-minute drive back home has gotten to be too suspenseful for me.

What's the most valuable piece of advice you've been given?

Funny thing about advice, I tend to ignore much of it in the moment but tuck it away, and it often seems to come in handy at some point later. Lately I’ve been remembering that given to me when I first started at HarperCollins, by my publisher: If you’re going to be in this business, you have to get used to juggling a great amount of projects, and waiting a long time to see results from any of them. At the time I was told that, it sounded like a vision of hell to me (and indeed, book publishing was ultimately not for me), but as time goes by I’m more accepting of it. I’m also far more appreciative of those things you actually see the results of fairly quickly, like a nicely executed meal for my family, or figuring out a tough Rainbow Loom bracelet pattern with my 7-year-old daughter.

Coffee or Tea?

I’m an equal-opportunity caffeine user (and abuser): I enjoy coffee from the Keurig in the morning, tea from the Instant Hot at night.

What book is on your bedside table?

I’ve been on a crime jag lately; if I had to do my career all over I would have loved to be a detective and personally put bad guys in jail. On my nightstand are two books waiting to return to the library. Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson by Jeff Guinn scared the tar out of me, perfect for October, and The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales left me scratching my head. There was actually a very weird moment of synchronicity in the Sales book where someone compared the Bling Ring to a modern Manson family. The Bling Ringers were more narcissistic than sociopathic — in this case, a really good thing — but still totally anti-social and insecure, so really fascinating to me. Meanwhile I just started Tai Pei by Tao Lin, it’s great so far, but I’ve only made it to about page 20.

What is your favorite vacation spot? 

Anywhere with a beach, some sun and a good book.


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Thank you Sarah!