Stories From The River: Hartland Brooklyn
In the late summer of 2019, Hudson River Exchange sat with Emily from Hartland Brooklyn about the creation of their business, their recent move, and the opening of their brick and mortar in Leeds, NY. Part of being a creative is reflecting on not only how to expand your platform and business, but how to engage with and use your platform for what you believe in.
For this week's conversation, we are republishing the interview from 2019 with a recent follow up. In this two part interview, we discuss scaling a business organically, advice for engaging as a social platform, and how the pandemic has affected physical locations in our region.
Can you tell us a little about your business and how you got started?
While working as a designer for a fashion company in NYC, I started to make cards for coworkers and then their friends as well. After some encouragement, I got together a small collection and went to a stationery store that was around the corner from my apartment in Brooklyn. The owner gave me some wonderful advice, and also purchased a few styles to sell at her shop, Papel. I eventually quit my job with the idea that I was going to help my mom in WNY on her dried flower farm for the summer.
I received a custom order on Etsy for a baby shower - which as luck would have it - was for a buyer at Anthropologie. She had found my card in Papel, then found me on Etsy. She had me send samples, and soon after I received my first larger wholesale order!
This forced me to get organized and figure out a way to produce my cards in larger quantities. (The first ones were all hand painted) I found a local eco-friendly printer, and we worked together to match my vibrant paint colors. After about two years in business, when I knew I could handle larger orders, I set up at the National Stationery Show. This is where buyers from stores all over the country (and world!) come to buy wholesale greeting cards and gifts to sell at their stores.
At this point I had too much inventory to house in a Brooklyn apartment, and when I moved to a studio I immediately realized that was also too small. I started looking in Brooklyn and also upstate for a studio space.
Taking Amtrak to my parent’s outside Buffalo, I always loved the towns and cities along the Hudson. When I came across an old general store that had plenty of studio space, a storefront, and was located across from the post office, I couldn’t help but think it was the move we needed. We moved up here in 2015 and opened our shop and espresso bar in 2016.
What is your favorite part of the creative process?
Seeing the finished cards come back from the printer! With the set-up of the offset process I am unable to get proofs of how the neon pigments will show up on paper. So it’s a calculated risk each time… but also very exciting to see how they come out.
How is your studio set up? Tell us about your space and the different tasks or things that happen in the space on a given day.
We open the coffee shop at 7 am and I come to work around 9 or 10. I print off the wholesale orders that came in overnight that need to be packed and shipped. Our studio is located behind the shop so we are also responsible for restocking the shelves and making sure the shop looks good. Depending on the day I help pull orders, answer emails, and then ship orders which will be dropped off at the post office around 4:30. Most of my designing happens off-hours and weekends when I won’t be distracted with urgent emails or requests.
Over the years, how has your day-to-day changed or stayed the same? Any work hacks you find helpful?
It’s gotten more streamlined, we know our tasks and what needs to get done. I’ve also stopped answering (most) emails off hours, since you have to have some boundaries. When you first start a business it’s hard not to work 24/7.
I would say for me personally, I can only design when I’m feeling creative. Otherwise I waste a lot of time sitting and designing something that I’m not going to like anyways. I’d also like to keep the fun in the design process as long as possible. This is when it helps to work on the business side as well, because there is always a task to do to make you feel productive in those times.
What is something you like to do when you’re not working or need to take a break?
Play with our studio dogs, and go for a hike. Anything outside always gives you a new perspective and fresh eyes.
Anything else you’d like to share? Maybe something you're currently working on or something you have on the horizon?
I have been working on designing wallpaper for quite a while and I’m hoping to launch it this year! I want to make sure I love each style and make the best product possible since it’s somewhat a passion project.
We followed up with Emily recently to reflect on the past few years. Keep reading below.