In this era of constant communication, we've evolved to a point where correspondence is so casual and flippant that Emojis, emails, and text messages are replacing traditional thank you notes and invitations. And that's not cool.
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Sending out a classy handwritten note is still important. Not only does it show you give a sh*t, but it can make or break business relationships, and generally make you look like a standup guy. And if you care enough to be in the company of other standup guys — from powerful magazine editors and business tycoons to celebs like Karl Lagerfeld and Elton John — you’ll be sending them out on your very own bespoke Connor Stationery.
Nestled in a corner on the top floor of Barney’s New York flagship, Connor is a far cry from your neighborhood Paper Source. They’re the holy grail of fine stationers, working closely with an elite clientele to create custom collections from the ground up. We stopped by to see how it's all done.
Among the first steps is to develop a unique monogram or design that will pressed onto the card. If you have a specific vision, Co-Founder and Creative Director Henri Richter-Werner will help you realize it, or, alternately walk you through their archives for inspiration.
And if none of the hundreds of ink colors in their extensive pallet quite match what you have in mind, they’ll mix them to create the Pantone swatch that does.
From there, your design is sent to Paris and meticulously engraved into steel plates by the best hands in the biz: a cadre of artisans who’ve been doing it for generations. The Connor co-founders literally travelled the globe to find people whose skill level matched the quality they required.
Once finished, they’re shipped back to a workshop in Washington, D.C., where an old-school pressing machine is loaded with the ink(s) of your choosing and pressed onto the card stock you’ve selected. Multi-colored designs can become quite complex (and expensive), as each colored section requires its own steel plate The final embossed image becomes the result of several coordinated layered pressings.
With pricing starting well into the thousands, they will not settle until things are perfect. For instance, one client had them re-do the steel plates entirely when the design — a beloved deceased dog — didn’t quite capture its subtly wonky eye. The tweaked final version, though, they claim moved the customer to tears.
In addition to the card stock color, style, and size, they'll help you choose envelopes to complement them. They can become works of art themselves, as they’re not simply dyed or printed on the inside, but lined with a thin layer of of colored or patterned tissue paper.
If you’re not quite ready to invest in the full bespoke treatment, they do have more affordable simple monogrammed options and even offer a rad (and free!) iPad app where you can send digital thank yous, invitations, and other custom messages on a variety of still life photographs of their actual stationery. That still doesn’t excuse you from sending out the real deal when it’s important, though.
Joe McGauley is a senior editor at Supercompressor and could use some serious improvement in the penmanship department.