5 Things I’ve Learned in 5 Years of SCD


Last week we had a little shindig to celebrate the 5th birthday of Swiss Cottage Designs! Sometimes it feels as if I’ve just started this business while other days it’s impossible to remember how it felt to work for anyone but myself. Running the business has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve undertaken but also one of the most rewarding. It’s been fun to look back on the last few years to see how far it’s all come and how much I’ve learned along the way. In that spirit, I wanted to share 5 lessons I’ve learned over the last 5 years of SCD.

Mistakes are okay. You will make them. No matter how hard you strive for perfection, there will be slip ups, accidents, and oversights. From small errors to (seemingly) more colossal mistakes, they are bound to happen along the way. As the old cliche goes, no one is perfect. The upside is that each mistake can be a learning experience so that you can do better in the future and avoid making the same mistakes again. Even as you perfect one aspect of the business, new challenges will arise in which you are bound to encounter some hiccups. It’s an ever evolving process, so take it in stride and don’t let it get you down because…

There is always a solution. I know it doesn’t always feel that way, especially in the moments after something has gone wrong. If you take a deep breath and give yourself a moment to brainstorm, a creative workaround will always come to mind. Reprint the job, messenger the samples, offer a discount….it’s won’t be the most ideal situation because ideally nothing would have gone wrong! But it’s great to take a step back and realize that nothing is so bad that it can’t be fixed or solved. Keep a positive outlook and an open mind and you’ll be able to tackle any issue that arises.

Kindness always wins.  When it comes to clients, vendors, employees, and yourself – being kind is never the wrong way to go. You won’t regret treating someone with kindness and understanding, especially when it would have been much easier to respond with annoyance or terse words. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and truly empathize with where they are coming from. This helps avoid tense situations, awkward interactions, or sour relationships. It won’t always feel like the easiest way to respond, especially when you’re frustrated or stressed, but it goes much further in the long run and will keep you and those around you much happier and more positive.

Self discipline goes both ways. It takes an incredible amount of self discipline to work for yourself. It’s wonderful to make your own schedule but even when trying to stick to a “normal” 9-5 , many nights and weekends will be swallowed up by the business. It’s not uncommon to miss out on beautiful days because you’re inside working or having to say no to a night out with friends to meet a deadline. A lot of willpower goes into saying “no” in order to prioritize the business but I’ve also discovered the importance of making sure you say “yes” to things – don’t let too much of life pass you by as you work. I’ve certainly missed out on things or events I won’t have a second chance to go to, so I want to make sure I’m mindful of the balance I’m striking so that the business continues to thrive and that I feel fulfilled in my other relationships and activities. Set aside time for yourself and your other priorities outside of the business.

The positive outweigh the negatives. Despite the bad days or moments of uncertainty, running your own business will always be worth it for many reasons. You’ll spend your time doing work you actually enjoy doing. Pajama Friday is a very real thing. Setting your own hours leaves you free to run errands on a weekday afternoon or work remotely for a week while you visit family. No one can judge you for how many snacks or treats you consume during the day. Great relationships will be forged with clients and you’ll get to see and feel the excitement firsthand. Each day is a new chance to improve and expand. Failures can feel more personal but successes feel empowering, exciting, and earned.

I’ve been so fortunate these past five years and I can only hope that the future brings even more exciting challenges and learning opportunities for Swiss Cottage Designs. Do you have any lessons or insight that you’ve taken away from the work that you do? I’d love to hear them if so!


It take TWO: My save the date

Alas! I am finally sharing pictures of our save the date. I’ve promised this roughly 8 times so far, so I’m happy to finally deliver on this. Ok, so first things first- designing for yourself is pretty weird, hard, stressful but also so much fun. It’s kind of a crazy to be your own client. There were no rounds of edits, no brainstorms… nothing. I was able to put pen to paper and create my vision which was actually incredibly liberating! As a designer, I am inspired by so many things but when it came down to my own save the dates, I ended up keeping it more about the details and less about big illustrations and typography.

In terms of my inspiration here, well, it was the poet {aka 90’s rapper} Rob Base who actually gave me the idea. I was walking to the supermarket one day and walked past a guy selling mix tapes and “It Takes Two” was blaring over his boombox and immediately it hit me: what a perfect idea for a save the date. If you don’t know the song, I suggest you do yourself a favor and watch the video here. You can thank me later. My fiancé Paul and I are sort of music dorks {among being just general dorks} and I’m slightly obsessed with 90’s rap so this was the perfect idea for us. I drew a retro boombox and added some small details in to personalize it to us. On the details insert, I drew a pair of old school headphones and had the wire create a little heart. Come on- every save the date needs a little cheese. On the night we got engaged my sister took this picture of us and I felt it perfectly captured who we are as a couple so we wanted to throw that in the mix because we are a. vain and b. think it’s kind of funny. I created the mini buttons you see in the pictures and put them across the bottom of our photo. My friends and family LOVED the buttons and have been wearing them on their coats, bags, etc. which was really fun to see.

I saw the boxed mailers at Paper Source and thought that would be a cool way to send out our save the dates. I will say this, it requires a fair bit of postage {almost $3.00} so certainly something to keep in mind if you’re thinking about using a box. I created mailing labels that also doubled as a way to keep the box shut {printed on crack and peel stock}. I wrapped the entire set in silver tissue and created a striped belly band to seal the deal. All in all, a great first taste of what our wedding will be like. Now, stay tuned for the invites!

SCD in Martha Stewart Weddings

It’s a complete dream to be included in the Martha Stewart Weddings special travel issue! I’m a travel junkie and bride so this magazine was a pitch perfect read for me. Every issue of Martha Stewart Weddings is so meticulously edited and styled that I’m always left beyond impressed. To actually see our work on the pages though, that is pretty surreal. I think the checkout girl at Barnes & Noble thought I was a little creepy when I bought 5 issues and had this weird glazed over perma-smile thing going on… sorry about that.

Since this is the travel issue, one of the features focuses on unexpected places to wed. One of which was the Heceta Head Lighthouse in Oregon–it’s amazing and kind of my dream venue. The feature gives a few great tips about the area, shows some excellent goodies you could purchase in and around the area {Hey Stumpown!} Our lighthouse suite {pictures to follow on our blog next week} was shown as an idea for an invite suite. The suite is completely hand lettered with some cute supporting illustrations. It’s nautical without being over the top.

Thanks again to everyone at Martha Stewart weddings for including us in this issue- we are humbled to say the least.






SCD in June’s BRIDES

I am a little obsessed with the new look of BRIDES magazine. Last month {May} was their debut issue with the new look. With a new editor in chief, BRIDES it’s a little taller, a little cooler, a little sleeker and overall a completely fresh take on the classic mag. I am so pumped to be included in the June issue! Our watercolor invite was included in the “get the look” section of their Real Weddings. Very cool! Thanks to all the *awesome* ladies at BRIDES for including us- we are totally humbled.

SCD for Paperless Post

It’s a familiar routine. You’ve been recipe scheming, developing a signature cocktail and perfecting your guest list for weeks. In the midst of all this activity, plans to pick up stamps and post your invites have been neglected. You realize your event is a week out as you glance at your calendar, shout a few choice expletives and feel a sinking sense of disappointment that your stylish invites may end up being a few sentences dashed off in a boring old email. Not so fast. Thankfully, Paperless Post exists.

Paperless Post is helping to bring the classic feel and personalized touch of custom stationery to the digital age by offering paperless announcements and invitations,  personalized to suit your needs, without sacrificing an iota of style or feeling the empty sense that your event details are just being plugged into a boring digital template. They have created and refined their own line of stationery and have taken the concept even further to pair with renowned designers like Enormous Champion, Mr. Boddingtons’s Nephew, BluePoolRoad and Linda & Harriett and now Swiss Cottage Designs. Paperless Post understands that the art of the letter doesn’t need to be lost in this modern age of online everything.

What I love most about Paperless Post is their commitment to upholding and respecting the personal feel and aesthetic draw of fine stationery and their refusal to think that simply because we’re in the age of bandwidth instead of paper stock, doesn’t mean that we have to sacrifice any of our taste. When they approached me about creating a line for them, I could not possibly have said “YES!” any faster.  I’m so thrilled to announce that I’ve created over 35 custom designs for the fall/winter season. While my deep love for paper goods, the tactile richness of letterpress and obsession for adorable stamps will never leave me, you have to admit: stationery in the digital age never looked so good!