Darling + Pearl is a stationery boutique located in Philadelphia that specializes in customized stationery. D+P offers a range of unique products and printing methods. From custom designed letterpress printed wedding invitations to silk screened wooden signs , products produced from D+P are one-of-a-kind and simply beautiful. We had a captivating conversation with owner Lauren Reed, to get the insiders scoop behind the business.
How has Darling and Pearl evolved as a business, where did it all start & how?
I got into wedding stationery while planning my own wedding back in 2009. I had trouble finding exactly what I was looking for. It started with an interest in silkscreen printing and evolved into 3 tons of cast iron for letterpress printing: 3 antique presses and a monster sized paper cutter. My oldest, and smallest, press (the one pictured) is from 1895 and still running strong. (for reference: my digital printer is on it’s third replacement in 4 years…)
What is the process to creating all of the different types of stationery that you offer? Are some more difficult than others?
At the moment, most of my work is custom designed so I can really accommodate a wide range of both businesses and individuals. I always try to find something about the client’s vision that inspires me, and I run with it. The fact that I manage all of the printing personally, really opens me up to getting creative with every aspect of the design. The process starts with the job specifics, quantity, and printing method- pricing is then put together and proofs are created based upon the client’s design ideas and inspiration. Once we make it through the proofing process, then it’s just a matter of getting my hands dirty and inking up the press. Sometimes finding inspiration for certain projects can be difficult, sure. But it’s in my nature (and job description) to work those kinks out.
What is your favorite part of producing custom stationery?
I really love the entire process. Letterpress printing is such a labor of love- but the end result is captivating. I love seeing my original designs turn into something so tangible. And I find creating that perfect puzzle piece that fills the gap between the planning and the wedding day can be so satisfying. Or in any other stationery situation, finding the perfect design that really fills a need or solves a problem- and does it beautifully.
I notice that your company prides itself on creativity. Where do you get inspiration for ideas, is there a certain process that helps the ideas flow?
We do! My clients are the main source of my inspiration since ultimately I’m creating for them. A lot of times I can just be inspired by a certain font or color scheme. Sometimes in letterpress printing- less is more. I like to let the printing method stand out and enjoy elegance in simplicity. Sometimes it’s fun to mix media and figure out the details for a silkscreen + letterpress combo and use both printing methods to their strengths. And sometimes creating a cohesive suite all the way from save the dates to thank you cards seems overwhelming. I try to break it down and push myself to create relative pieces, but not overuse any design element. Add cards on different color stock, mix fonts effectively- and use a motif or monogram in different ways throughout the suite. It’s really hard work to create cohesive, but also exciting stationery that revolves around the entire wedding process.
What steps do you take to personalize a specific project? Which is the most important?
The entire process at the moment is centered on personalization. Custom design, envelope colors, envelope liners, addressing fonts, twine, etc. The proofing process is the most important. The design details are important, yes and we’ll go back and forth until it looks right- but it’s easy to lose sight of the entire concept. Invitations are about an event, and getting people there effectively. The information needs to be correct and checked for grammatical errors and typos. That’s a step that cannot be taken lightly.
Why is Philadelphia your home base?
Born and raised in NJ- there’s a split, Philly people and NY people. I never found myself up north much- I enjoy the Philly vibe, and Philly enjoys my aesthetic too. It’s a mutual love. =P (also we’ll be PA residents soon enough…)
Is there anything you really hope to do in the future such as an event or project relative to your business that you haven’t gotten the chance to do yet?
D+P is still a baby! I am excited to see where I can take it. Currently, I am working on a collection that would operate on a different gear with limited customization options. I find that some people may be overwhelmed by the idea of 100% custom work. I also have a line of greeting cards that I would like to see grow and go retail.
Other then that, I love the idea of meeting and connecting with other vendors and seeing what our individual talents can do when they collide. Build the dream team, they say. And we can take over the world, or Philly- at least. =)
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