Saturday, November 22, 2014 · 7:44 p.m.
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One of the most recognizable sights in Warehouse Row is the dress-form sculpture outside of Shadowbox Paperie, a reminder of the owner's days in art school at the University of Montana. (Photo: Staff)

The philosophy at Shadowbox Paperie is as intimate as the shop’s nook on Warehouse Row’s first floor.

“The least [cards and stationery] should be is personal,” explained owner Mariah Mayfield.

Walking through the french doors opens a world where paper is paramount, the whimsical and customized creativity is given the main stage, and nothing compares to the care and warmth conveyed through a handwritten thank-you note or wedding invitation.

Shadowbox is a treasure trove for everything paper. (Photo: Staff)

Shadowbox Paperie, which found a home in Warehouse Row after Mayfield had operated locations on Williams and Main streets, provides fully customized announcements, business identities, cards, invitations, and rubber and self-inking stamps, as well as an inventory of gift and paper products, including cards, stationery, journals, recipe cards, pens, gift tags and party accessories. 

In addition to partnering with the staple brands of the industry—William Arthur and Crane and Crane, among others—the shop has built out its 25 to 30 company networks based on the direction Mayfield has observed. 

Gone are the days of imprintable holiday cards with a preset design onto which text was placed, and in are the delicate and individual designs of the smaller, artisan presses.

“What I see as a trend in stationary, which I think is a trend in home and clothing, is simple, classic and sophisticated,” Mayfield said. “Now, it’s much more of a boutique industry than it was 20 years ago.”

She explained that rather than diluting their creativity with a 200-item product line, companies like Rifle Paper and Austin Press pare down their inventory to ensure each item is truly unique in look and quality. 

'Tis the season
Even though the majority of communications a person has every day involve some sort of digital element, the Christmas card tradition is alive and well at Shadowbox. In fact, Mayfield has a list of clients for whom meeting with her to choose just the right font and picture is an annual event.

The Christmas offerings at Shadowbox range from elf dolls to gold glitter ornaments to place cards. (Photo: Staff)

“You want to get them in your mailbox,” Mayfield said. “It’s so fun to open your mailbox and get something other than a solicitation, a bill, an Ace Hardware coupon or some kind of mass mailing. People appreciate it.”

The process of creating a seasonal card can be as simple or intricate as the client desires. Mayfield’s shop is a library of companies' sample books with pages and pages of templates and paper stock from which to choose. Clients can select their card’s paper type and color, design, message or greeting, as well as font type and color. 

Cards can be on the high end of the price scale with letterpress printing or in the midrange with digital printing.

If the client doesn’t find the right combination of those elements in one of the books, Mayfield—an art school graduate and former art teacher—taps into her expertise to create a custom card reflecting the client’s own style. She goes through multiple proofs and minute changes with customers, sometimes spending more than a week on one project without a charge for each step.

Once an order, custom or otherwise, is completed, that designed becomes unavailable until the next year so that each card coming out of Shadowbox is one of a kind. Both white glove, customer service practices are emblematic of Mayfield and the stationary industry’s old-fashioned, but welcomed, attitude.

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