I've been into drawing and various forms of art as long as I can remember. My aunt Elaine worked for American Greetings painting designs for cards when I was little, and I thought it was 'hands-down' the Coolest. Thing. Ever. About that same time, I started to develop a rather frighteningly abnormal 'love' for all things mail-related. As a kid, I could be in the backyard, and hear the 'stop•start•brake' of a jeep on the street, and a feeling of joy would well up inside of me, because I knew it was Sal ------ the mailman!
I didn't get much mail of my own, so I found some girls to be pen-pals with through my teacher at school. I had one from Alabama, Louisiana, and another from Russia. As I'd write these girls, I started to try to think of ways that could make the mail more and more exciting for them to receive. I'd make envelopes out of pages from Art magazines, put stickers all over, and try to write their address in my very best handwriting or bubble letters. and so it began.........
Fast forward about 25 years (don't worry - I did turn out to be somewhat normal – had boyfriends, went to parties, concerts, played Ultimate Frisbee, etc), after a degree from James Madison University in Graphic Design (Go DUKES!), a stint in Marketing and Package Design at different CT & NY firms; which helped me to 'learn the ropes' in terms of production & hone in on my design skills – friends started asking me to design invitations for their own various events. The *thrill* of having such an intimate role in my family or friend's weddings and other events left me so honored and humbled. It became my passion. And with that - I found my niche! One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I had my own business creating custom-designed wedding invitations (circa 2004).
Shortly after, on a whim, I headed to Greenwich, CT one Saturday morning with some of my samples. I walked into The Papery - a high-end stationer on the well-known Greenwich Avenue, where I met Jill, who managed the store. We hit it off right away, and she thought there was something that I had to offer that she couldn't give people from the books that they customarily ordered from. That fateful day lead down a long and winding road of eventually becoming business partners at our very own store, J.papers in 2007. Throughout the last 7 years, Jill and I have overcome one of the toughest economies – and come out on top thanks in large part to the loyal following we've formed together in Greenwich. We worked our butts off - - and we became a team like no other. Our business model was 'do whatever it takes'....I am so proud of our accomplishments – and of the friendship that we've forged over these years.
I got married in Block Island, RI in July 2011 to my handsome & loving husband, John. It was a day that our friends and family still talk about - perfect. Life was wonderful & carefree -- but just a month after we celebrated our first anniversary, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was 33. It was not something we were expecting - to say the very least. Throughout surgery, chemo and radiation, I continued to work. It kept my mind off things, but more importantly, it helped me keep focus on the things in life that are to be celebrated by still being able to design invitations for my clients' events.
I got through it all – and 'knock on wood' I am OK now. But - - - it changes you. Being faced with something that heavy, scary and life-threatening; you start to reflect on your life. I realized I was spending too much time commuting & not enough time Living. I do have a passion for making other people's events supremely special, but I now know that I need to make every moment count for myself as well & create my own events to celebrate. I have a new-born desire for making the most of my life & living in the moment - - and at some point we'd like to begin thinking about starting a family of our own!
After much deliberation, this summer, Jill and I decided to split our partnership back into the 2 businesses we started with. Thus, Social Alchemy was born. I now work from my home studio and have been trying to establish a better life-work balance - still coming to Greenwich or for appointments. This allows me to work on each design for my clients with a lot more focus. I am excited about it! So far, its been going great! I am blessed by so many, many lovely clients - - new faces and the ones who have been around for a spin or two!
So, here's to many more events to celebrate, many more years to celebrate them in, remembering what matters - - and much thought & decadence in creating the perfect invitations!!
...now I'm going to go snuggle up with John, a glass of wine & our dog, Sable.
Thanks for reading! xoxo