We are so excited to be sharing Hallmark Signature’s bright, bold, and one-of-a kind artist collaboration with Thimblepress®, available exclusively at Hallmark Gold Crown and online at Hallmark.com. Today, Thimblepress® founder Kristen Ley is taking us behind the scenes and into their charming Jackson, Mississippi studio to learn a little more about their inspiration, their brand, and this special collaboration!
Tell us a little bit about your brand.
I started Thimblepress® in my bedroom and my garage in 2012 as a hobby to create things that I love for people I love. That hobby quickly blossomed into a full production studio with a full time team of 8 and a part time team of 5! We now operate in a 5000 square foot studio in downtown Jackson, Mississippi. We create and sell greeting cards, art prints, verse boxes, kindness cards, gift-wrap, gift tags, banner kits, and much more! I started creating and printing on a 1925 Chandler + Price letterpress and we now have two more in our studio space. Our products are all designed and created by me, and we have over 600+ SKUs. Our products are hand painted, crafted, and assembled in our studio. We fulfill every order right in our downtown space, including customer orders, wholesale orders, and large orders that we have to stack on palettes. We hope every product we create brings a little joy to someone. One of our favorite and best selling products is our Push-Pop Confetti™. It was developed back in 2013 as a pre-show mailer for the National Stationery Show and it quickly became a product with five different confetti variations!
When someone thinks of Thimblepress®, what do you want them to think of first?
Most of all, I want them to think of color and happiness. We create products that help you celebrate life’s moments big and small. We create products that inspire communication and connection. We believe our products truly make others happy!
What 5 words best describe your brand?
Fun, innovation, experience, inspirational, kindness
Where did the idea of starting Thimblepress® come from?
I have always loved creating things with my hands. I have loved painting, sewing, and woodworking since I can remember. I had moved back to Jackson, MS from Charleston, SC in 2010 and was working for a school full time from 8 am – 4 pm. It was creative doing the marketing and graphic design for them, but I was still missing that hand drawn/painted/sculpted element that had drawn me to a career of graphic design in the first place. I had taken a letterpress class in 2009 at the Redux Contemporary Arts Center in Charleston, SC when I lived there and had fallen in love with it. I knew one day that I wanted to learn to really hone in on my craft with the press and create things with it. I was drawn to it like a fish to water. It was, and still is to me, instant gratification. Being able to create something with such a beautiful piece of machinery, instantly, with colored ink, is thrilling! Seeing your first piece come off the press and into your hands is a feeling like no other. I decided to open an Etsy account in January 2012 with no idea what Thimblepress® would become. It is so wonderfully crazy and amazing that I get to do what I love every single day. The name Thimblepress® came from the love I have for sewing, which my grandmothers taught me, and the thimble collection that I still have and showcase in my dining room in old fashioned printers’ type drawers that act like shadow boxes. Ultimately, Thimblepress® is a reflection of me and what means the most to me: family and friends, stories, memories, and the places I have lived and traveled.
How do you decide what to include in your store?
Along with our website, all of the Thimblepress® products can be purchased in our brick and mortar retail store in downtown Jackson. We opened up the brick and mortar operation to support our local community and to bring in brands and artists we love. We host pop-up events there, art shows, and sample sales. Since I produce products, it is obvious that I LOVE beautifully designed products. We carry a plethora of different lines that I gravitate to. A lot of the brands we carry are Mississippi based, but maker friends of mine are also represented. Being in the industry I’m in, you might assume that I would make friends that do the same thing as I do. Well, that’s true! Some of my closest friends are letterpress artists, card designers, and business owners. I carry a lot of their products in our store because they are beautiful, and also because I know the heart and soul that went into each product they created. Every year our shop gets busier and busier, attracting more people to our downtown area. As we grow, we will add more products and lines to our shop.
Tell us about your blog.
Our blog, The Thread, is a place where the team and I have an outlet to support and inspire others and show some of the stuff we’re doing. I wanted our customers to get to know us beyond our products and social media. I wanted our customers to see the things that we cared about, to see the products we love, and also have a place for me to answer frequently asked questions. I don’t know it all, but what I learn I like to share with people willing to listen. If I would have known early on some of the things I know now and share on our blog, I probably would have avoided some mistakes and gotten to places in my business faster or smarter. I think it’s important to pay it forward, to help someone, and to encourage others to reach for their dreams. And it also brings me joy. I joke that if I could get paid to be a professional encourager, I probably would take that job on the side. We hope our blog inspires others, shows what we think is rad, and answers a few questions. 🙂
Is there anything unique about your working process?
My day-to-day work life is always different. When I am working on new products I like to “quarantine” myself off in my office or bedroom and not work on anything else but new product development. As a business owner, I’m pulled in a million directions a day, so when I get to create, draw, paint, and develop, I like to be alone and not look at email the whole time. I become a hermit of sorts. I keep podcasts on or listen to a Netflix movie while I’m painting. For me, I have to have that time to really disconnect and focus on creating products that will make people’s jaws drop in utter positive shock and awe. :))
What’s your work space like?
I actually live above my studio. Downstairs we have offices, production, shipping, fulfillment, etc. Upstairs I have a 2200 sq. ft. apartment. I don’t need THAT much space to live, so in the front of it is our photo studio, a meeting area, and my office. The buildings are the oldest commercial spaces in Jackson, MS. They are very long and skinny, so I have a nice separation of my work and living space upstairs. It’s kind of ideal for where I’m at in life. My office has a desk for painting and a computer desk for my big desktop computer. I also have a small love seat and coffee table with chairs for meetings and a TV for my late night painting sessions. My space has a ton of natural light with a huge window in my office and two windows that open up to the rooftop off to the side of my office. I love natural light. I think the best product photography is with natural light. Overall, everything is super comfortable. I like a space to feel homey, even a workspace. It’s important for it to be comfortable when you are working there all day long.
Tell us all about Jackson, MS.
Jackson is a unique place that has been super supportive of Thimblepress®. Jackson is set in central Mississippi and houses an amazing amount of artistic and musical talent and wonderful cuisine. It’s an affordable place to live and run a business, and the downtown area where we are located is growing. I love my community here. I love the people here. We are like one big and supportive family. The great thing about Jackson that I always tell people is that it’s big enough that you don’t feel like you are in a tiny town and it’s small enough you can make an impact, create positive change, and increase social awareness. It’s a city on the cusp of a downtown revival and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.
What inspires you?
Color, music, and travel! I love getting away and out of my element. When I take the pressure and focus off the need to come up with a million great ideas, that’s when the ideas finally decide to start coming to me. The only time that truly happens is when I’m out of the office and out of town, changing my schedule, changing my view. I also love music. I feel deep connections to music and a lot of memories and stories of my life are tied to music and specific songs. Music can make you feel happy or sad or energetic. It’s powerful.
Is it true you wanted to design for Hallmark when you were little?
Always. My grandmother and grandfather used to take me to the Hallmark store when I was little and would give me money to spend. Not much, but just enough to always spend time browsing the aisles of cards and wondering who got to paint those creations. As I got older and was sending cards of my own, I always bought Hallmark cards. Having grown up with the brand, to me Hallmark is synonymous with greatness and quality. I always had that dream of getting to design a card for one of the greats, so when the phone call came, I about lost my mind jumping around and screaming. It was one of those moments that I feel few people grasp and get to experience… a dream once thought impossible coming true and happening in real life.
Are there any trends that you’re especially loving right now?
I will always love bright color, but I am digging pastels right now. The subtle use of a color says so much. To me, pastels are like a slow song or a soft, whisper-like song. I love pastels overlapping and creating new colors through transparency and pastels bleeding into full color. Color will never escape me, so I guess a pastel will be the closest I get. 🙂
How would you describe your individual style?
My individual style is probably all over the place. I would describe my style as bohemian modern. I love mixing modern pieces with vintage, eclectic pieces. I love comfortable but also Hollywood regency glam.
If you took the day off tomorrow, how would you spend your time?
Easy. Painting, drinking wine, and listening to great music.
What are your 3 favorite songs on your playlists right now?
Run the World by Beyonce
The whole Valerie June album, Pushin’ Against The Stone. FANTASTIC. http://valeriejune.com/
OK GO – Upside Down Inside Out (Zero Gravity) – seriously, the music video… whaaaa?!!! So good! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3LBvh07a1I
Who would you love to have over to dinner if you could?
My great grandmothers, grandmothers, and my mom and aunts, all of us ladies at one table. My great grandmothers and grandmothers could make anything; their ability to craft and create was beyond amazing. I miss my grands all the time!
Speaking of dinner, what’s your favorite meal?
Gosh, I really don’t have a favorite. The only favorite I have is a number, which is 11. Hmmm… I love Mexican food, sushi, Italian, Mediterranean, Thai, etc., so this is hard. I would have to say right now, chicken and rice, because my mom made it when I was growing up and it reminds me of home, childhood, and goodness. And it’s raining outside right now, so chicken and rice sounds super warm and comforting on this rainy day.
Tell us a little bit about the inspiration and vision for this collection.
I wanted this collection to scream color, celebration, and fun. I wanted someone who picked up this card to smile or smirk a little bit to know the joy this would bring to the person they were giving it to. I wanted theses pieces to be kept in scrapbooks or frames for years to come. I wanted them to be a part of a story, a colorful story. For me, nothing says color and celebration more than confetti and sequins!
What’s your favorite card in the collection?
I have to say the YOU’RE A GEM card. It was so great connecting with the team and planning out that card. The fact that we were actually able to get real gems on the card blows my mind! It is simple and to the point yet so colorful and shiny! I love it!
Picture one of your cards—who would you send it to ?
My two sisters, my mom, and my aunt Susan. Those four ladies are the best and always support me in everything I do! I couldn’t do it without them!
When you’re not designing, what are a few of your favorite hobbies?
Traveling, listening to music, photography, painting, hanging out with family and friends, watching old movies, and trying new restaurants and food.
Run, don’t walk, to your nearest Hallmark Gold Crown store to check out Hallmark Signature’s collaboration with Thimblepress®! Or shop it online here. Be sure to tag us if you share your favorites on Instagram. (@think.make.share @hallmarksignature @thimblepress)
Photos by Thimblepress®