Engage!12 The Breakers Recap :: Part 2

Monday, December 17, 2012

In my talk at Engage!12 this past week, I mentioned three women who have changed the course of the stationery industry by inventing something new in the world of invitations: Andrea Liss of Hannah Handmade, Ellen Black of Lehr and Black and Christine Traulich of Red Bliss Design. Of course there are others (Envelopments and their invention of pocket invitations comes to mind), but I chose to mention three who were sitting in the room. There is a wealth of heritage in our industry and it is full of people who quietly work behind the scenes to allow the thousands of other wedding entrepreneurs to keep bringing new creative ideas to their clients.

engage!12 the breakers, engage wedding conference

Andrea Liss of Hannah Handmade is credited with inventing the use of layered fabrics and stitching on invitations and stationery. Her contributions to the stationery industry don't stop there. Have you ever sent a square envelope through the mail? When the post office wanted to do away with them because they were too much of a hassle, Andrea was one of the design experts who testified before the US Postal Rate Commission on the value of square envelopes in the mail stream. She was also part of the team that developed the 64 cent butterfly stamp. Like I said in my talk: send these ladies a thank you note.


I first met Andrea this past May when she attended my class at the National Stationery Show in New York (oh yeah, she's also the designer behind the NSS official logo). I'm pretty sure that within twenty minutes of the class ending, Anne Chertoff, Jessica Paulen, Ellen Black and I had talked Andrea into attending the June Engage in Las Vegas. By the end of that Engage, Andrea remarked to me, "I've worked in weddings for decades, but this conference has me thinking about my business on an entirely different level." It is a real testament to what Rebecca and Kathryn have created that the Engage conferences can further even the businesses of industry icons.


For this Engage at The Breakers, Andrea created a custom turndown gift for each attendee -- a dupioni silk covered mirror with the tagline "Reflect on all things possible." Aside from being beautifully made, what struck me was the booklet inside.

Millennials (the generation born between 1979-2000 and who currently account for 83% of wedding clients worldwide) value heritage, artisanal and handmade products, and love getting a glimpse behind the scenes. Andrea took this information to heart and made a booklet with images of her process behind the creation of these boxes.

dupioni silk invitations

hannah handmade process
That is hand-printed velvet. Amazing.

hand stitched invitations

box invitations

The booklet shares that the entire process of making these mirrors and boxes took more than forty steps from beginning to end. In addition, the last page is numbered (mine is number 267 out of 275), letting each person know that their gift is truly one of a kind and a limited edition.

suede box invitations

Whether you've been in business for decades or are just starting out, inviting people to see your process will help them connect with you and can help build loyalty to you and your art.

Photos courtesy Andrea Liss, Hannah Handmade, except top photo courtesy Elan Artists, Scott Clark and Chellise Michael

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