Today I bring to you an interview with Alexe, a wedding stationary designer based in Montreal, Canada. Alexe started Alexem Boutique about a year ago and in that short space of time the business has boomed.
Alexe and I connected on Twitter after I tweeted her about how much I loved her unconventional stationary business.
You will find plenty of different designs on her website or Etsy shop that are usually the starting point. Her clients then advise they want to have / to change in order to get to their desired invitation. She then does all the changes, sends them different versions, etc until they end up with the final PDF file that they can print how they want, or upload the design to a service such as Vistaprint.
What inspired you to start Alexem Boutique?
I did a master in multimedia design with the intention to do « user interface » design: website and apps! I thought it would be a perfect match between my rational & creative sides. So I was doing that full time until the birth of my daughter. While on maternity leave, I started spending a lot of time on Etsy, decorating the room and searching inspiration. I came across invitations and I remember thinking “oh my god, I NEED to do that!” I mean, I had always been obsessed with paper, agenda, MAIL! Everything beautiful, really. I cannot believe it took me all those years to actually try my hand at stationery for the first time. But when I did, boy did I like it! And this was how my Etsy shop was born.
What stationary products do you offer?
I can design pretty much anything related to stationery & signage. However, my pre-made designs are mainly invitations because this is what I sell the most, and I always tell my clients that I can re-design any design they like into something else.
Which parts of your designs can be changed?
All of them! Event, text, patterns, colors, fonts and even the layout. I really like the challenge that comes with a change request. Most of the time, my clients have a very specific idea. And they come to me specifically because they know they won’t be able to find exactly what they want pre-made on big mainstream websites.
What inspires your designs?
It’s different if I design « for myself » v.s. when it’s an order for a client. But generally, when it comes to design (stationery or interior!) the biggest challenge for me is always to decide what I want, to CHOOSE only one style. I am inspired by a lot of things, which makes me want to try a lot of things. So at first when I start a project I always have this period of exploration where I try things… During this phase, I am unsettled. But I keep going, confident in my creative process. And then, something happens and I have a vision of what it’s gonna be. From there, it generally goes pretty smoothly because I have a clear goal, and I work towards it. But one thing I do systematically when I have a « first » version of a design is to stop right there, save it, and come back to it the next day with a fresh perspective. It always pays off.
If we were a fly on your wall when you’re creating new designs, what would we see?
A very focused person. I can work pretty much everywhere because when I am in my creative process, I practically don’t hear what’s around me. If I’m working on the week-end and late at night – which I do often because I’m a night owl, I will be on my couch, potentially with a glass of wine. But during the week, you will see in my newly redesigned home-office. But my setup is VERY simple. My mac-book pro is all I need for 99% of the process. Then at the very end, if printing is required, I will dive in my samples closet.
OK, I’ve chosen one of your designs, what happens next?
If there are no specific change requests, then I will integrate the information provided and send the digital design for approval within 48h after purchase.
If the clients want custom, or need some changes, I always ask them to tell me / show me everything about their wedding. I want to know as much as possible on all other aspects (venue, dress, flowers, colors) because I’m creating a full picture in my mind. It will help me to get a good feel of my clients tastes as well. I will ask them about their vision. Recently, I started asking for Pinterest boards because most Brides go to it naturally and its easier this way for them. In other cases, I will create the board and show them my vision through it. Once I have everything, then I start to work according to the schedule set with the client.
Finally, what advice would you give to a couple planning on a budget?
“The details are not the details. They make the design” – Charles Eames
I am a firm believer in the importance of first impressions. And in the case of a wedding, it starts with stationery. I know it because I do it everyday: it’s possible to have beautifully designed stationery for an affordable price if you invest time. Purchasing a digital design can help you achieve your stationery budget goal without compromising on style and personalisation. Ask your designer for suggestions on paper that you can buy at the office supplies store near you, and to put multiple invites (or RSVP) on a single page. Yes, you will have to cut them yourself, but it’s not as bad as it seems. At this same store, they probably have paper trimmers that are way better than scissors for this kind of work. Choose a smaller size (4×6) for the wedding invite, and use the backing for RSVP at the same time. You just the cost in half! Setup a Wedding Website with all additional information, such as parking, accommodation and gift list to help avoid printing multiple additional pieces. Ask your designer for an image that matches your invite to use as a header banner on the website for less than the cost of designing and printing an accomodation card.