Our monthly Letter Writing Club is coming up! It's this Thursday evening. It sort of snuck up on me, but in a nice way, like a forgotten coffee date with a friend. Our last Thursday evening meet in May was a bit smaller, but I think I liked it a bit more intimate - there was more time to chat and take it easy. That's not to say I don't love a bustling club with letter writers everywhere, but there is something a bit more relaxing, especially for an introvert like me, about a smaller evening letter writing session. So to celebrate another meeting of snail mailers and people who like papery things, I thought I would share an easy way to add a personal enclosure to your letters - making bookmarks out of your Instagram photos.
I got a few photos from my Instagram feed
printed out, just because I thought they would be cute and fun and simple to share. They're about the size of business cards, although maybe a bit shorter. Of course people are always looking up other people on Instagram and other social media, but sharing a physical print of a photo of your shop or Caleb or stationery tools that inspire you is a (literally!) tangibly different thing.
I got mine from Social Print Studio
in the US on the recommendation of a friend, but I would love to find a Canadian printer, if you know of any! Social Print Studio specializes in printing out photos directly from your Instagram account, and you can select different quantities of each print, along with different sizes and formats. I really love the quality from Social Print Studio: the cards are nice and thick and smooth, and the photo quality is very good, but it means a lot to shop closer to home when you can. But if you have a hold punch and some raffia or yarn or jute, you can make a beautiful and personal bookmark to send to your pen pals! Even Jon said this was a great idea, although I'm not sure if it's because it's an idea that won't cost him any more money, or if it's because he legitimately thinks it's a great idea, but I will take what I can get!
I like this because the quality of the photo is so good 0 I don't think you can print on stock this thick in a regular printer. But the real reason I love it is because it's such a great way to share a piece of yourself! I am a bit reluctant to tell my pen pals to look me up online to see more about me, because that defeats the whole purpose of writing letters - there is something so romantic about getting to know someone completely through what they write you in their letters. Everything you know about someone is because they make the effort to write and tell you that story or that piece of themselves. I love receiving photos from my pen pals, seeing what they look like and their families, but it's also nice to see photos from their lives, even without themselves in the photo. Someone's Instagram feed really says a lot about their style and what inspires them and what sort of colours and light they gravitate towards - who they are, really. A picture is a thousand words, and this is a great way to show your pen pal your interests, or your family, or a photo that you took
of something that you found beautiful and inspirational - a sunset on your way home, or new flowers, or the scene at your local farmer's market. And in bookmark format, it's something they might use and and they might also find a bit of inspiration from it!
The only thing that's a bit of a bummer is that the paper isn't super fountain pen friendly. Even though it's a matte finish, it's coated, so some fountain pen inks may bubble off a bit, or certainly take a long time to dry. Any drop of liquid will cause fountain pen ink to wash clean away, which is good in that your photo will be protected from liquid, but bad in that you can't write on it with a fountain pen. Your best bet is to use a permanent felt-tip type of marker, or even a ballpoint. You can also write a bit about the backstory of the photo in your letter! Each of my Instagram photos feels a bit like a mini story, and it's a different way to share about yourself with your pen pal. For example, the photo above is from one of our first days at our new shop location, now almost a year ago! Caleb broke our slate chalkboard, so we no longer have it, but I remember all of the excitement of moving in and opening our doors for those first few weeks. I could've sworn I'd written a blog post somewhere listing out some ideas for enclosures to include with your snail mail, but I can't find it now. In any case, here are some other ideas for things to include:
- bags of tea, or you favourite loose-leaf in a glassine envelope
- Magic Fortune Teller Fish
- dried flowers or leaves
- vintage postage stamps
- Instax or Polaroid type photos
- washi tape samples
We've started interviewing for our positions open at the shop! Summers are generally slower for retail, but as we gear up for our trip out west, and we also gear up for the fall and ordering for Christmas, we're really looking forward to our team growing.
It's hard to believe that even at this time last year it was just me and Jon and Caleb and Super moving into this space. I think part of the reason we waited so long was because we were super conservative, probably too conservative, but also because our space at 906 Dundas West was too small to accommodate more people. What a different a year makes.
And speaking of Instagram and our account, we've made a tough decision to create a new account that will be for mostly personal stuff. Our shop account will still be @wonderpens
and Jon will still be sharing his shop perspective @jonatwonderpens
, but now I'll be sharing most of the photos of Caleb and my own personal desk messes and behind the scenes and stationery and writing and coffee shop trips @makingwildrice
. As the shop grows, I know people who are searching up Wonder Pens may really be looking for mostly news and updates and what products are coming in - shop stuff. So much of our shop has been when it was just me and Jon, but these days we have other people helping out in the shop or packing up orders, and it just makes more sense to separate it out a bit. Sometimes we wonder if people who are following the shop are really interested in the more personal stuff, and this is a good way to let people "opt in" or opt out of what they'd like to see.
As I write this, I've got my cup of tea and some Nutella on toast, a sleeping cat on my desk and a sleeping dog on the floor. Jon got us all t-shirts and tank tops that say Wonder Pens on them, so I'm in my pyjama pants and my flashy new Wonder Pens tank top, feeling the cool evening breeze through the window.