The Art of Letter Writing:
Of Note Stationers
Story by Mandi Tompkins
Photos by Ashley Herrin
Since the time when pen and paper were our only means of correspondence, receiving a letter has been a celebrated affair. To this day, there is a thrill in opening the mailbox to find a letter with your name on it. Not a bill or junk mail, but a true letter sent from the heart. There is something about the time spent on these notes, the anticipation in receiving them, and the personal nature that makes them so special.
Today, there is still a small but dedicated community of sentimentalists who embrace the true art of formal, hand-written correspondence. Two such people are Isabel Bonenfant and Kate Kellman, the co-founders of Of Note Stationers. The two grew up writing and receiving letters, and over the years have fallen in love with the sentiment behind each one. Kate fondly remembers the fine calligraphic letters she would receive from her Grandfather in the mail, and credits him with the dedication she has today to keeping the tradition alive.
All the way through the mid-nineteenth century, letter writing was commonplace in our society. But as new forms of technology have established themselves in our culture, the roots of traditional letter writing have slowly withered away. Communication today is overwhelming, with information constantly flowing through e-mail, but in large part it’s “here today, gone tomorrow.” A message from a friend, or a sweet love note is too quickly forgotten when it becomes buried under spam, bills, and career-related e-mails.
Enter Of Note, modern day pioneers of the handwritten word, who are determined to keep the art of letter writing alive. They believe that letter writing is a mindful act that allows people to “slow down, appreciate the little things in life, and share the appreciation with others.” Their mission is to connect people and deepen relationships through the handwritten word.
“Our goal is to brighten someone’s day, and to connect with people through letter writing. The act of sitting down and noting something is very reflective and therapeutic. You’re saving a moment, and then sharing that moment as well. Letter writing has a strong power to connect people and deepen relationships through the written word,” says Kate.
Of Note was born in Boston, after the two women met through mutual friends at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Kate, originally from California, and Isabel from Guatemala, discovered their mutual hobby of sending notes “just because” and collecting the many notes they had received. Both were in dire need of a creative outlet outside of their day jobs. The company originally started as an Instagram account, where they chronicled all the letters they sent and received. This passion then transformed into a business designing custom cards, and soon after into a full-blown, one-of-a-kind stationery shop.
A key partner in Kate and Isabel’s mission to keep the art of letter writing alive is Mike Dacey of Repeat Press in Somerville, Massachusetts. Repeat is a letterpress studio focused on bringing everything from packaging to business cards to life using centuries-old production methods and machinery, and a “dash of modern technology.” They were a natural fit for Of Note, bringing their simple, stunning cards to life using traditional presses. All of Repeat’s presses were built between 1920 and 1960, and all have origins within New England, from Rhode Island to Western Massachusetts, and even one press purchased from an art teacher at a Brookline, Massachusetts school.
Combined with their local printing partner, Of Note has already begun to make an impact on the New England community. They currently sell their stationery in Black Ink, a shop with locations in Beacon Hill and Harvard Square, and all of their designs are available on their website. Most recently they collaborated with Kristin Texeira to create one-of-a-kind, hand-painted letterpress-printed memory cards. The cards truly bring the mission to life, using letters to “illuminate and preserve the magic of every day.”
As our culture continues to develop new, impersonal technology, and we move further away from our roots, Isabel and Kate will continue to encourage their community to embrace the art of letter writing. It is through this correspondence that only letter-writers will stay authentically connected and preserve memories.
Learn more about Of Note Stationers at www.ofnotestationers.com