The Hand Letter Shop is a small business in Cleveland, Ohio. Owner, Vivian, creates designs by hand. We interviewed this local entrepreneur to learn more about her background & her craft. Meet The Hand Letter Shop on June 3rd, 2018 at our Ohio Explored Summer Maker Mart at Strongwater Columbus.
Tell us about your business.
I’m Vivian, creator of The Hand Letter Shop. For weddings, I help brides who are wildly in love take the stress out of planning a wedding with fine art wedding paper they can trust. For home decor, I help women create a simpler, more intentional home as they tackle the chaos of “adulting.” I make everything in The Hand Letter Shop from the desk of my cozy studio in Cleveland, Ohio. After 8+ years of drawing and painting, art is my passion–I love being creative and encouraging creativity in others. My husband Caleb and I are always working on some kind of creative project together.
What drew you to your craft?
I began learning calligraphy as a way to encourage the women in my life. I love how hand lettered words can be both a reminder of truth and beauty, and how pretty florals can add just a little extra joy and intention to your everyday.
What is your favorite thing you have ever made?
In August of 2017, I created what has become iconic in my shop: red poppy watercolor flowers. I love the delicate petals and stems of poppy flowers, and how they can be used in so many different ways–cards, art prints, desktop wallpapers, and wedding invitations.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve wanted to be many things, and I’m still trying to figure out what I really want to be when I grow up, but I do know that I’ve always wanted to be an artist, and use my creativity to build up others around me. Other dreams have been a veterinarian, an English teacher, and a graphic designer, so I’m still on the search for a job that might include all three.
What is your creative process?
I use a traditional calligraphy dip-pens, watercolor, and paintbrushes. I LOVE sharing behind the scenes photos and videos of client’s orders on social media so they can watch them come to life! For florals, I first draw the design by hand with a calligraphy pen onto thick watercolor paper. Then, I add watercolor, layering it to create petal and leaf textures. I digitize my florals for printing purposes, and then print them on a high quality paper. I don’t modify my designs digitally, but prefer to draw them by hand. For calligraphy, the process is much the same, with a bit more digital formatting and correcting when necessary.
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
I would tell myself to practice enjoying the moment more and not to wish time away.
Why is it important to support local artists & makers?
When you support local artists and makers, you’re supporting a whole community of people who are actually chasing their dreams. I saw a quote once that said something along the lines of “You can choose to help someone else build their dream, or you can choose to build your own.” That idea has stuck with me. Local artists and makers are so inspiring for me to be around because they are the real deal dream builders.
Why do you love doing what you do?
Creating something beautiful makes my heart happy. Creating something beautiful that also builds up another human makes my heart just overflow with joy. I love viewing my business as a way to truly serve other people and help them feel loved and known.
What advice do you have for other people who want to start their own businesses?
Oh boy, there’s so much. First, I would say that you can’t be everything to everyone. The most successful creative businesses do just one thing, and they do it well. You’ve got to be specific about who your “ideal” customer is and isn’t. Then, I would also say that owning a business is a LOT of work, and usually doesn’t make a lot of money right away, so don’t get discouraged. It is so, so important to join a community of other makers that you can encourage, ask questions and who will be able to encourage you.
What is your favorite thing about exploring Ohio?
One of my absolute favorite things to do anywhere, anytime, is go to a cute little coffee shop and walk around little downtown streets. I love how Ohio has so many gems like that.