Stationer becomes a font of knowledge
Two fonts walk into a bar ... Adenike Carmichael knows you won’t get the joke.
The stationer was thrilled to finally meet her own type at a stationery workshop in the US last month.
She was joined by 32 women from “all over the world” after her best friend and mother surprised her with the trip.
“Ghana, Nigeria, Canada, some from the islands and the US. We would all meet for breakfast and it was such an embracing experience.,” said Ms Carmichael who owns custom decoration business By Invitation Only.
“I can have a whole conversation about fonts and vector images and everyone looks at me like I’m speaking a completely different language. With these ladies, I felt as though I was among my peers that truly understood and we could have a good laugh.”
Ms Carmichael had been following Atlanta-based stationer Sandi Spells for years and wanted to attend her upcoming seminar, the Art of Stationery. “She produces phenomenal custom-made invitations and supplies, menus, table numbers,” she said. “When I saw the prices, I knew I couldn’t afford it, so I put it out of my mind.”
But not before sharing her wish with her best friend Angel Smith.
“Unbeknown to me, [Angel] wrote to her that day. The next morning, she received a message directly from Sandi Spells saying, ‘Your best friend is coming to the show — she has earned herself a scholarship.’
“She and my mom conspired and got tickets, hotel and car rental, so that all I had to do was pack my bags and go.”
Ms Carmichael was surprised to receive an invoice in her inbox. She cried with joy.
“Of course, I’m breathless and in tears and very emotional that two of the people that mean the most to me would put all of this together for me,” she said.
She started By Invitation Only in 2005 as a side business. Before her career at the Bermuda Monetary Authority, Ms Carmichael had attended the Fashion Institute of Technology for buying and merchandising in New York and was looking for an artistic outlet.
“I wanted to do something with my spare time, but I just didn’t know what — it certainly became this,” said the 42-year-old.
“A friend of mine was getting married and she was so frustrated with the cookie-cutter invitations that you find in stationery stores.
“I put together an invitation using her favourite colours and everyone was amazed.
“From there it became word of mouth and person after person came to me directly asking for help.”
Ms Carmichael is self-taught. Her services include invitations, menus, programmes, custom Christmas ornaments, cake toppers and engraved charger plates.
“I had one bride who wanted a booklet at every table with the number outside. Inside it had pages for people to fill out. She had 20 tables, so every year she and her husband will open one for 20 years and see the wishes,” she said of the keepsake.
She and Ms Smith left on October 25 for the three-day workshop.
She said the experience was eye-opening.
“We learnt custom-made details from start to finish; we went to a die cut manufacturer who allowed us to have die cuts made; we went to a three-storey arts supply store and everyone’s mouths were watering as we drove up.
“If you know stationers, we love paper,” she laughed.
“From day one, it was just phenomenal. My best friend would come to our hotel room after and I would talk her to death.
“She said I looked like a five-year-old on Christmas. I was so elated.”
Ms Carmichael was excited to meet fellow stationers, some she had already followed on Instagram. She now is part of a WhatsApp group with her new friends. “We share fonts with each other. We have a OneDrive and everybody has access. There’s a lot of collaboration.”
In a demonstration of their shared understanding and trust, Ms Spells shared her vendors with the group.
“It was absolutely amazing to be tutored by her,” Ms Carmichael said.
“For me, the difficulty has been sourcing materials and getting them here and being able to supply to my clients without making them so expensive.
“One of the wonderful things about Sandi was she was open to sharing all of her vendors, so that we can take our business to the next level.
“I can see already that I’m starting to benefit from having gone.” An awards dinner took place on the last night. Ms Carmichael won most creative contestant after submitting samples of her work including a carved Minnie Mouse pumpkin she made for her goddaughter. She said the workshop reinforced her belief in her business. “Sandi said that when she got into the stationery business, no one was willing to teach her. I’m a strong believer in teaching. It’s not going to take away from me; if anything it’s going to add to me. An individual can either flourish or not, but it’s not for me to hold on to things that are gifts.”
• Instagram: @byinvitationonlybda
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