Talk Shop – Interview with Greenwich LetterpressWednesday, February 11, 2009 17:49
Talk Shop is the series where we interview independent store owners from across the country, to get the inside scoop on what it takes to run a business that supports the handmade community.
In this Talk Shop, Beth Salvini, co-owner of Greenwich Letterpress in NYC, shares her thoughts on owning a letterpress studio and shop with her sister, selling her parents’ merch, and turning business mistakes into gold.
Beth, and her sister/business partner Amy, come from a family of printers. Although their art backgrounds are slightly different, they turned their shared love and knowledge of letterpress art into a full time business in NYC. In their Greenwich Letterpress shop you’ll find the sisters’ own designs on a bevy of print goods, all made on their family’s 75-year-old(!) Heidelberg letterpresses. They also help to promote this craft by selling printed paper goods from other talented small presses, and way-cute items from independent artists and designers.
Letterpress is truly a unique form of crafting. For those who choose to indulge in this highly rewarding, but not very well understood craft, it requires patience, attention to detail, and a natural gift for understanding design. Greenwich Letterpress sells and showcases this impressive art-form, and gets respect for mixing traditional techniques with progressive design.
Greenwich Letterpress is a super cool store filled to the brim with intricate prints, unique cards, and lots of humorous finds from the indie craft community. Whether you’re a graphic designer, or just someone who knows the value of making someone laugh out loud from a greeting card, this shop was made for you.
Tell us what Greenwich Letterpress is all about:
Greenwich Letterpress is a letterpress and stationery shop that my sister Amy and I opened in 2006. The concept was to have a retail space that showcased handmade goods both paper and other and to offer custom letterpress printing. Anything from wedding invitations to business cards and beyond.
Do you have any sort of background in crafting or the arts?
Yes. My focus in school was always fine art and I got my degree in painting. Amy started as an English major, but after school she focused on graphic design. We were able to bring the two worlds together when we opened this shop. Both of our parents are also creative, our Mom makes a lot of things we sell in the shop.
How does your business support independent artists and crafters and/or the handmade community?
We were lucky to open the shop while the indie craft movement was kicking into full swing. That meant there were craft fairs, websites, and blogs to scout for great stuff to sell in the shop. Sometimes we get lucky and amazing talent knocks on our door. Those are always great days!
How can local designers and crafters get involved with Greenwich Letterpress?
We encourage people to write us or send samples to show us what they got! I’m always eager to see new and awesome stuff. I have also been toying with the idea of having workshops in our space. If anyone has any ideas, I’m open to it. Getting people in the door to just look around at what we sell, items that they wont see other places in the city is very important. I think its inspiring, it definitely gives me ideas everyday.
What’s the most unusual item(s) for sale in your shop?
Felt “Meat Pillows” by Natalie Wright. We’ve had them from the start, she rules!
Any advice for those interested in opening up their own boutique?
Research. We would have done some things differently had we spent a little more time sorting out the concept in the beginning, but luckily we made mistakes along the way we were quick to remedy. Making mistakes is a big part of business, if you can deal with them and move on you’re gold!
Where do you shop, besides your Greenwich Letterpress, of course.
Kiosk in Soho is amazing. One of the most unique shops I’ve ever been to.
There’s a street fight between a seamstress and a screen printer… who would win?
Well, the seamstress could get cut in the fight and then stitch themselves back up, so they might have the upper hand.
Any exciting upcoming events or sales going on at Greenwich Letterpress?
Valentines Day and lots of new goodies for the spring!
Greenwich Letterpress is located at 39 Christopher Street, New York, NY 10014.
If you own a boutique, gallery or other place of business that supports the indie craft community, and want it featured in Talk Shop, email email@example.com with Talk Shop in the subject line.