pearl & marmalade is an amazing design studio out of chicago, comprised of dani and lee, two of the wittiest and nicest ladies around. we found them online a couple of years ago, and we've been obsessed ever since. their cards are offbeat and super, super sweet. i mean, who doesn't want to receive a note in the mail that reads: "like a shepherd and its rawhide chew i am rather fond of you." here are just a few of our favorite cards, and let me tell you, it was hard to narrow it down. enjoy, and thanks so much to dani and lee for answering our questions and giving us a peek into the world of pearl & marmalade!
this is quite possibly the best "sorry" card ever made in the history of paper goods.
click on the image to read the text.
card without cracking up.
what were your first jobs and how did you end up working in stationery and design?
Dani: In middle school I would babysit my cousins. Most of my hard earned money was spent on clothing and accessories from the local mall.
Lee: My first job was picking berries at a local fruit farm the summer I turned 13. I ate a lot of strawberries & spent most of my earnings on a very chic pair of hot pink Reebok high-tops!
We never formally studied graphic design (Lee went to school for writing & Dani's studies concentrated on textiles & fiber arts). But in Chicago we stumbled upon jobs at the same company creating & typesetting wedding invitations and became fast friends! From the beginning we were both at wit's end with the mainstream design-work, and bored with a greeting card market saturated with mean cards, hip catch-phrases & lazy typesetting. We took some spare change & a month of morning coffee money (we started P&M with about hundred dollars each), bought a ream of card stock and got to work. The early days were challenging- learning the ins and out of the mysterious world of business management, pricing & printers was a labyrinth (we are sometimes still in it!). We worked full time which demanded our weekends and nights belong entirely to P&M. But looking back it was the best motivator. Since we didn't have financial support from loans or investors our only option was to turn our ideas and that initial spare change into something more, or simply fail. The past 4 years has been a magnificent adventure. Getting to know other card-makers, being a part of the finest stationery shops (one such favorite called O'Suzannah comes to mind), and connecting with admirers of our cards is such an honor.
house, and it makes me smile everyday. yes, those
are raindrop hearts.
what are your favorite pieces/groups/series in your work?
Dani: I'm most proud of our limited edition letterpress prints. As a card designer I fear that my cards will eventually get discarded. The hope with the prints is that they will be framed, put on display and cherished for a long time. Our first print Amidst Routes was designed by Lee. It features botanical imagery, lace details and diamond shapes. It has a sophisticated color palette of warm grey and mustard yellow. I immediately fell in love with the design when Lee showed it to me. It reminds me of an old botanical print, but with a modern edge. It's just gorgeous! I'm a proud owner of the print, and it's on prominent display in my living room. We also offer two prints named Numbers, Numbers, one version in blue and grey and the other in pink and grey. I designed these prints with a baby nursery in mind. I think of these prints as my way of introducing children to design at an early age.
Lee: Of our letterpress cards I have a perma-crush on the Octo Love card that Dani designed this year- it's my favorite for a valentine/love card! And I have a fondness for our roots & vegetables cards 'cause each was designed with a special someone in mind (Mushroomy Compliments was for my husband, Fiercely Rooted for my childhood best friend, & Turnip Times was for Dani).
who or what inspires you?
There are piles of visual things that inspire us (antique valentines & wallpaper, 60's & 70's children's books, vernacular photography, vintage Vera scarves, old-time illustrations, strong fonts). But, plenty of our inspiration is also born in our fascination & longing for the curious manners of "olden days". We're all for a bit of sass and sarcasm here and there, but with our greeting cards we focus on an attempt to be a part of a community of folks wanting to send and receive sentiments of a kinder, more heartfelt & quirkier nature.
what three websites do you visit daily?
style me pretty
oh so beautiful paper
describe your ideal sunday.
Dani: My ideal Sunday is waking up late, treating myself to a homemade latte (I'm an espressoholic) and reading fashion magazines. If the weather is nice I love taking walks with my husband through our neighborhood and admiring the beautiful architecture. We live in the Chicago neighborhood of Wicker Park, which is known for its beautiful Victorian era homes. If the weather is crummy my husband and I love curling up on our sofa with our three cats and watching movies.
Lee: Mine would involve getting up early, taking the pooch for an extra long stroll & a few thrift stores. I also try to catch up on my letter writing & the week's news. On Sundays my husband usually makes fresh sorbets in the summer, or really simple delightful soups in the winter (in my book, this is ideal!).
studio vignette...hmm, owls and mushrooms, two of our favorite things.
Our studio space is tucked away in the Logan Square 'hood of Chicago. Our walkway & backyard is plumed with wild grasses, Queen Anne's Lace, giant hosta leaves and a gang of surly "garden cats" that shyly spy on. It's a perfect fit for us- quiet, a little dusty and off the beaten path. And as we grow, it's been large enough to comfortably fit all our production & stock, but small enough to remind us to keep things in tune to our initial mission of independent, honest and personal designs.