Creative City Podcast Interview with Tamia Stinson

Are you curious about where we started? Do you even wonder what we even do here all day? Do you want to know more about our process?

We were so excited for the opportunity to chat with Tamia Stinson of The Style Sample about Handzy! We discussed how having a shop started as an inside joke and turned into a reality, the process of creating and curating our Instagram feed, how wedding invitations are the bridge between corporate graphic design and stationery design, why networking is not nearly as effective or fun as friend-making and how we approach blogging as a small business. 

Click this link to give our episode a listen!

If you're more of the reading type and you want the text version of what we talked about—I'll try to sum it up here with a few key quotes/takeaways! 

Would you say that you guys have a similar design style or do you vary?
It's something we struggled with because when you think about successful stationery brands it's usually one person and they have an illustration style and it becomes very popular and they can turn it into products—but it's usually just one person. So we kind of struggled with that because we're two people and we want to keep being two people who that have one business so we used to worry about it at first but now, we're just like—we don't care. We just can't worry about it that much because it's fun for us and it's not what our whole business is based on. We can't let it stress us out. 

So when you talk about your thought process when you're going through developing designs what does that mean? What all do you do?
Our process has evolved a little since we've been in business. Recently we've kind of nailed it down to this—we create three visual concept boards. It's kind of like a brand snapshot in the form of three distinct visual worlds and then we say "what are you responding to?" ... It doesn't mean that they like that logo and that everything is perfect it just means they are drawn to this space. Then once they pick that space and eliminate the others we refine within that space. I think showing them a world and being like this is what it could look like and feel like really excites them instead of doing all of the tiny steps. It's really streamlined our process honestly—we spend less time now because we don't have as much back and forth. It gives our clients confidence. It's hard for people to say what they like and it's easier for people to say what they don't like. 

Tell me about how the shop came to be?
In school we always joked about having a shop. One day Brittney was walking around Covington and saw a for lease sign. She texted me (Suzy) and I was like sure we'll call, we'll look at it to get inspired, to think about our future goals and to put a fire under us. Then we saw it and we were both like "where do we sign?" ... We immediately knew it was perfect. We were waiting for someone to be like "you need to chill, you are not ready" and no one said that. Everyone was like "yeah totally" so we just went for it. We signed the lease really quick and we moved in June first and opened July first.

Did you already have a vision for what you wanted it to be? It all seems very cohesive.
We knew we wanted to focus on stationery, cards and design supplies. There are other designers in the neighborhood so we really wanted to appeal to them. If they needed a fancy pencil/pen or a cool notebook they would know where to go. Everything we stock is local or independent. It feels good to be a platform for those businesses or artists. 

Besides the shop I know you guys do (craft) shows which is where I first encountered Handzy. Was there a particular reason why you decided to start that way?
I think it was probably just the easiest place to start. It's a pretty minimal cost to sign up to do it and there are just so many people there! City Flea is definitely the best! It's fun and we have a blast. We always set up our booth, have breakfast at Pleasantry and then come back. 

Your Instagram is freaking awesome. Tell me a little bit more about the physical process of setting up the photos.
We do it every single day. One thing that we try to stay true about is we really leave the "insta" in Instagram. We don't take a bunch of shots and then reuse them. I literally do this every morning. It is my number one job when I get into the shop. We've kind of got a pattern where we alternate a spatial shot with a flat lay. I'll try to post about something relevant if I can or something cute/new in the shop. I literally move a cart out by the window, set up a giant sheet of colored paper and get all of the stuff. Then, I stand on a chair while Suzy holds a white piece of paper as a reflector. I shoot them all on a DSLR camera, Photoshop them and then it goes up. I type in every single hashtag everyday. 

Pike Street is kind of on the come up though right? 
Yeah! There is a lot of cute stuff over here. So the hotel just opened, Hotel Covington. It's right around the corner and it's so pretty! Braxton is right around the corner. There's a new bar called The Hannaford just right down the street. There is Durham Brand which we just call "boy Handzy" because his business is pretty much the same—design and then the shop. We love Austin. He's been amazing.

Hope you enjoyed either listening or reading the interview!