It’s National Indie Retailers Week(end)

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We love a good observance holiday (hot dog month, ice cream day, etc.), but none makes our heart beat faster than National Indie Retailers Week.

Shopping local is important year round, but this special week gives us the opportunity to reflect on why it’s so meaningful. First of all, shopping local isn’t about what it does for the retailer; it’s about what it does for YOU.

From our friends at Neighborhood Notes: “When you spend money at an independent, locally owned business in Portland, you’re making an investment in your community and building your own personal wealth due to something called the multiplier effect. In a nutshell: When you spend a dollar at a local business, .58 cents stays local whereas that same dollar spent at a non-local business sends .67 cents out of Portland.* Money that stays (and circulates) in Portland helps create a stronger tax base and that, in turn, helps improve our city and its neighborhoods—your neighborhood, your home.”

It’s really powerful to know that the ability to make a difference in Portland’s economy and livability is in our wallets. That’s within reach!

We’d like to encourage you to get out this weekend and shop locally at your fave Pearl District retailers and to expand that list by exploring independent businesses that are new to you.

Visit Ecru’s Indie Retail Neighbors

If we overlooked an indie retailer in the Pearl, please let us know (in the comments below) and we’ll add them to the list.

Happy shopping!

*From the 2011 report Going Local: Quantifying the Economic Impacts of Buying from Locally Owned Businesses in Portland, Maine

Sasquatch Sighting!

Sasquatch cards by Michele Maule and Egg Press

Cards: Michele Maule (left) and Egg Press (right)

Attention, Bigfoot trackers: The big fella has been spotted in Portland’s Pearl District! The urban setting is a departure from his usual forest environs, but rest assured, this is no hoax. After rocking out at The Gorge and brewing up a little trouble in Eugene, Stumptown is the perfect spot to chill out with a beer and burger.

Sasquatch has made appearances in everything from advertising to games to sports, and now his hairy mug is trending on greeting cards from makers like Orange Twist Cards, Little Low, Michele Maule and Egg Press. We’re a bit smitten with the guy, we must admit.

If you want to catch a glimpse of Sasquatch, you should hurry on over. This guy has a habit of disappearing quickly.

Sasquatch cards by Orange Twist Cards and Little Low

Cards: Orange Twist (left) and Little Low (right)

Artist of the Month: YoshiniG Creative

YoshiniG Creative at Ecru Modern Stationer

The simply elegant and playfully designed line of YoshiniG Creative greeting cards came into existence thanks to Yoshini Gunawardena’s two best friends and one long night—the pair not only pushed the illustrator and designer to launch this endeavor but they physically sat by her side as she designed card after card for six straight hours, wrapping up that first burst of creativity with 20 different card designs.

Really, it’s the support of those that are closest to her that inspire and support all of her creations, which are full of vibrant colors and frequently feature off-kilter quips that are silly and humorous or just eye-catching patterns alongside imagery of animals and everyday items. Born and raised in Portland and schooled at Portland State University, Yoshini has seven years of professional graphic design under her belt and designs all of her cards by hand or digitally before printing them right here in town.

This “small business slash hobby,” as Yoshini describes it, is a labor of love—for both Yoshini and the friends and family that support her. In the end, “My goal is that they are as much a delight to receive as they were a pleasure to make.”

Say Hello to YoshiniG Creative

Yoshini Gunawardena of YoshiniG Creative

How does living in Portland and the Northwest inspire your designs?

Living in Portland definitely influences the designs I create. A lot of my ideas come from things on my way to work—the quirky feel of the city and its strong design presence. It’s hard not to feel inspired by everything Portland has to offer!

Speaking of work, we hear you have a full-time job in addition to your card company. What all do you do in life and how do you balance your time between the different areas?

For my day job, I work as a graphic designer for an interactive agency in NW Portland called ISITE Design. I’m on a team that creates the front-end visual design for websites and mobile applications. Aside from working a full-time job, I also enjoy spending time with my friends and family, though most of my time is spent with my boyfriend Richard and our two-year-old dog, Autzen. I’ll admit, it’s hard to find balance between working, my card hobby, and spending time with those I love, but I do my best to give each area the attention and focus it needs.

Where do you create your cards? Do you have a dedicated studio or do you work from home?

Right now, I just work in the living room of my condo, curled up on the couch with my laptop. Eventually I’d love to have a room dedicated to my card business—mainly to keep our dog from chewing up my cards and the cat from laying on top of them!

What artistic techniques and processes do you use?

I design my cards both digitally and by hand. When I design them by hand, I use Prismacolor markers to create an almost paint-like aesthetic. Most of the time though, I use programs like Photoshop and Illustrator to create my designs. What I enjoy most about using the computer is that it allows me to quickly iterate on different concepts. Additionally, I love when I learn a new technique in digital illustration and I’m able to bring that skill into my work at ISITE.

There’s some pretty clever, quirky copy on some of your cards. Can you tell us where these ideas come from?

All the really clever card ideas come from my friends and family. I am constantly getting text messages and emails about “a great idea for another card.” I even have a Google Doc with some friends for us to document our ideas. It’s safe to say my cards wouldn’t be nearly as popular if it wasn’t for the great ideas others have been kind enough to share with me.

Cards by YoshiniG Creative at Ecru

We noticed that some of your work seems origami inspired. Is there a story behind that?

As a kid, I had this phase where I was obsessed with origami. My parents supported this by regularly bringing me origami books from the library. Even though I rarely do origami now, I guess you can say that its elegance and simplicity has influenced a lot of my design style as an adult.

How do you spread the word about your business?

Word of mouth has been my biggest way to spread word about my business, though I’ve started to dive deeper into using Facebook and Instagram. I recently hired my friend Doniree Walker to help me with a digital strategy. She absolutely knows her stuff and has been a tremendous help. Though, I do find that at the end of the day, my friends and parents are my best advocates.

What’s your favorite part of your day?

I love waking up every day and knowing I get to do what I love and was meant to do in this life: design. I go to my full-time job every morning excited that I get to work with the most amazing people and am constantly learning and honing my craft. Then I come home and get to go back to my print design roots. I’m especially lucky that I have friends, family and a boyfriend that are incredibly supportive of this passion.

Tell us five things you love, need and can’t live without.

If we’re excluding people and pets…

  1. My laptop

  2. Cheese

  3. Sweatpants

  4. Prismacolor markers

  5. Doughnuts

What’s the best “thing” you’ve recently come across?

This changes daily but lately I’ve been obsessed with vintage advertisements and trying to recreate that look and feel in my cards.

Yoshini Gunawardena at work on YoshiniG Creative greeting cards

How do you avoid creative ruts?

When I hit a rut I usually try to check out sites that inspire me: Colossal, Pinterest, The Dieline, Oh Joy! and Design*Sponge. I also like to take a walk or watch some Netflix to clear my head of the project for a bit.

Anyone you’d like to give a shout out to?

Yes! My local printer: Anders Printing off SE Division. The people there work with my last-minute requests and help bring my designs to life. They were the only printer in town that created the quality I needed for the price I could afford. Most of all, they are so knowledgeable, kind and wonderful to work with!

Lastly, we hear you’re doing some pro bono work for nonprofits and community groups. Can you tell us more about that?

I will provide them with free design services and they will just pay the production cost and shipping. They can either design invites or announcements or even a set of cards that they can then turn around and sell while keeping 100 percent of the profits. I’m looking to work with about two to three groups a month, and depending on the demand, they will be selected by my business partners and I. People can contact us through our Facebook page for more information.

Happy Birthday to Us! And, Some Big News…

Ecru Modern Stationer's downtown location

Ecru’s downtown location will be housed in the historic Pacific Building.

Today marks Ecru’s 8th Anniversary! We wouldn’t be here without all the wonderful customers who have been so loyal and supportive over the years. Thank you for the amazing memories!

We also have some big news: We’re very excited to announce that we will be opening a second Ecru location in the heart of downtown Portland later this summer. In store, you’ll find the same great greeting cards, paper goods, journals, gift wrap and gifts along with a focus on Portland and locally made items. Well, that and a few new surprises.  We hope you’ll stop by and say hello—we’ll keep you posted on our official opening day.

Celebrate INDIEpendence!

made-in-usa-at-ecru

 

Nothing says America quite like the Fourth of July weekend. For many, it’s the kickoff of summer and the gateway to adventures small and large. Whether your plans include camping in your backyard or Glacier National Park, hiking in Forest Park or blazing a new trail in another part of the country, day tripping to the Oregon coast or road tripping across this great country, be sure to pack the right tools—American made, natch—to document your experience and share it with your friends and family:

  • Notebooks (orange/blue) and pencils by Sideshow Press
  • “What to Pack” postcards by Small Adventure
  • “I’d hike anywhere with you” card by Waterknot

 

Happy Birthday, Cancer!

Those born under the sign of Cancer (June 21 to July 23 ) are said to take pleasure in the comfort of home, friends and family. Because Cancer is a water sign, they’re also highly emotional, generous and intuitive. One word to sum up the essence of Cancer is nurturing. These beautiful cards by Ferme à Papier are the perfect way to say happy birthday to the Cancer in your life because the illustrations feel endearingly homemade, offering a cozy friendliness that both sender and receiver will relish.

Ferme à Papier birthday cards at Ecru Modern StationerFerme à Papier birthday cards at Ecru Modern StationerFerme à Papier birthday cards at Ecru Modern Stationer

Father’s Day Cards

Father's Day at Ecru: Greeting cards and gifts

Do you know the origin story of Father’s Day? It’s pretty interesting and fraught with controversy. You may be surprised to learn it wasn’t made a federal holiday until 1972 because, as noted by one florist in the early 1900s, “fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal that mothers have.”

Say what?!

If you’re like us, your dad has influenced your life in deeply sentimental ways. Our love of morning coffee, unusual greeting cards and reading books? Yup, all dad’s doing. His fingerprint is evident in our daily routine, and we cherish every single moment because we can’t help but think of him—and smile.

This Sunday, June 15, take the opportunity to tell your dad how much you appreciate him for your strong sense of style, mastery of barbecue tools, dashing good looks, or whatever else he’s passed along to you: Jot down your thoughts in a handwritten note.

If you’re looking for the perfect card to convey how you feel, we’ve got a nice selection in the shop: Letterpressed for the design aficionado, locally made for the small business owner, and a range of sentiments that will appeal to the terminally hip (“Dad, You’re Rad!”), cross-fit types (“Happy Father’s Day. You’re Number One.”) and even do-it-yourselfers with an affinity for the home improvement store (Strong Dad: All-Purpose Building Compound).

Father’s Day Card Gallery

Father's Day cards at Ecru by Sugar Paper, Ink Meets Paper, and Creative Lab Press

Left to right: Sugar Paper, Ink Meets Paper, and Creative Lab Press (made in Portland)

Father's Day cards at Ecru by Egg Press

Made in Portland by Egg Press

Father's Day cards at Ecru by The Social Type, Paper Source and Smudge Ink

Left to right: The Social Type, Paper Source, and Smudge Ink

Father's Day card at Ecru by Water Knot

Water Knot

 

Say Congrats With Modern Graduation Cards

congrats hat card by papersource at Ecru, modern graduation cards

Do you remember your graduation from high school or college? Take a second and and let your mind travel back in time. If you’re like us, graduation (particularly from high school) was punctuated with possibility and excitement. Most of all, it was our first taste of adulthood. Well, it was the first time we were treated like adults—didn’t we all consider ourselves mini-adults well before that, like when we were 13?

If you’ve got a friend or family member who is (or will be) a graduate, be sure to mark the occasion and celebrate their accomplishment with a handwritten note of congratulations. We suggest an updated—or modern, if you will—version of the classic graduation card. The themes are generally the same as when we all graduated but the graphics, printing methods, typography and paper selection say 2014, not 19whatever.

Money is still (and likely always will be) the favorite gift of the graduate, but journals and solid writing pens for post-graduate adventures abroad (or even in the city) have a special appeal to those who wish to document their first forays into adulthood in a private, meaningful way.

No matter how you choose to mark this special day for your graduate, we hope you’ll take a moment to cherish your own memories as you celebrate his or her big day.

Modern Graduation Card Gallery

adventure begins card by onecanoetwo at Ecru, modern graduation cardsglasses card by sugar-paper at Ecru, modern graduation cardsModern Graduation Cards at Ecru-001Modern Graduation Cards at Ecru-002Modern Graduation Cards at Ecru-004

 

Happy Birthday, Gemini!

Those born under the sign of Gemini (May 21 to June 20 ) are said to be witty, imaginative, highly energetic and creative. That’s why these charming but cheeky birthday cards by Uncooked are the perfect way to say happy birthday to the Gemini in your life.

Cheeky Birthday Cards We Love

Cheeky Birthday Cards by Uncooked at Ecru Modern StationerCheeky Birthday Cards by Uncooked at Ecru Modern StationerCheeky Birthday Cards by Uncooked at Ecru Modern StationerCheeky Birthday Cards by Uncooked at Ecru Modern StationerCheeky Birthday Cards by Uncooked at Ecru Modern Stationer

We Love the National Stationery Show

National Stationery Show

It’s almost that time again, paper geeks: The National Stationery Show (NSS) kicks off tomorrow in New York City. We can’t wait to see what the vendors have in store for us—you know, the invites, greeting cards and gifts that we’ll soon have in store for YOU.

In preparation, our vendors (and prospective vendors) have been stuffing our mailbox with the most lovely paper goodies—everything from pom poms to flash cards to coasters. And, the penmanship. Oh, the sweet, sweet penmanship. To say we’re impressed is an understatement.

The takeaway? It’s really unusual and somewhat intoxicating to receive beautiful, well-designed cards with handwritten notes and envelopes. Our mailbox is usually littered with the same things you find stacked in yours: bill, bill, coupon, bill, etc., so the past few weeks have reminded us just how good it feels to know that someone is thinking of us. It made every single day very special. And, it reminded us that we have the same opportunity to brighten the days of people in our lives.

We’re heading to the park today to enjoy the sunshine and fill out a card or two for people who are in our thoughts. Thanks for the inspiration, NSS!