Wedding Stationery: An Interview With Alison From Chameleon Stationery
1. Alison, the word ‘chameleon’ conjures up so many happy memories from my South African childhood. Why did you choose to use this word in your business name?
Chameleon became this notion that was all encompassing. The chameleon is a mascot for fun, disguise and variety. It represents something that is important to me as a designer – I didn’t want my work pigeon holed and I think the chameleon represents this creative flexibility.The chameleon also represents customers planning a party. People love going to parties. You get to get dress up and become a different you, leaving all your worries behind for a little while. I think it’s a name that people remember because it suggests fun, flexibility and creativity.
2. Your website is clear, uncluttered and so appealing. Give me three words that describes you.
It’s a good thing you can’t see my work desk!
Chameleon Stationery is about simple creative fun.
I think a simple idea is often best. As a designer I’m always looking at ideas and trying to simplify them. This is what makes the most effective solution.
Keeping it simple is a great motto to live by. Why make life complicated?
Imagination makes anything possible. I think people sometimes are scared of the word ‘creative’ because they think it always relates to painting or drawing.
At the core of creativity is problem solving. Sometimes you just need to look at things from another angle.
Life is too short. Have fun. That’s what every good party is about. Just have fun.
I have to thank two people for the hard work they did for the website: Sean O’Grady from Miralize, he’s the talented guy who built the website and guided me through the process. I had so many ideas but he helped to guide me through what was most important. And also a massive thanks to Lisa O’ Dwyer, who took all the wonderful photographs featured on the website. We had great fun working together.
3. Tell me about a crazy pressured day in your business.
I try to get up as early as I can – usually about 06.30. I feel this gives me a headstart before offices and the normal working day begins. I use this time to assemble my thoughts and sort out what I’m doing and when. I find this time best to put the finishing touches on an order, or to put together a proposal. I’ll take a break at around 9 or 10am and get some breakfast.
After that, the day turns into a bit of a balancing act. I’m normally working on lots of different projects in any given week. I could be working on two or three orders at a time, each at a different stage. For one client; I might be preparing a quote, sourcing materials and creating ideas; for another client; I will be making revisions to a design before going to print and for the third couple; I will be printing and assembling an order. I will prioritize these jobs, on a given day, to meet agreed deadlines. I will flit between different tasks all day.
When I’m working on proofs and revisions for a client, a day can go by in the blink of an eye. Small revisions might only take five minutes, but the initial concepts and designs for a custom invite could take 6-8 hours before I think they’re ready for a client to see.
I normally collect paper or equipment for an order myself. A trip to Dublin, after morning rush hour, might take an hour, or maybe three, depending on the number of stop-offs required.
I will take my lunch at 13.00, maybe for only half an hour.
There are lots of other smaller jobs throughout the day that you don’t always get to see the results off straight away, such as:
- Answering email enquiries, I try to answer these within 24 hours.
- I try my hardest to spend a small bit of time everyday managing the website or maintaining the Facebook page, but as you can see from my work day it can be hard to try to find the time. That might explain why my Facebook posts can be so erratic!
- Preparing for consultations
- Sourcing materials. This can be very time consuming. It involves a lot of phoning and emailing as well as surfing the web for hours, looking for the right materials, at the right price; finding suppliers who are happy to ship to Ireland etc.
At about 15.30-16.00 I can hit a bit of a wall, so I will take a break and go for a walk if I can. This really helps me clear my head and I can start organizing what remains to be done.
When I get back, I will spend another hour tidying up loose ends.
After dinner I might have to spend another hour replying to emails, or I might have to get ready for an after work consultation.
4. Sparklers or candles?
Do I have to choose?
Candles and then finish with sparklers….Candles give a great sense of atmosphere to any occasion – sparklers are all about fun and excitement.
I guess if I had to choose I would say candles.
5. I love food. I am known to eat lots! In fact all of us here in the WD HQ love a good bite. Tell me about your favourite food.
I grew up on a farm, in fact, my workshop is in an old milking parlor. I love food. I’m big believer in simple food with good flavors. My mother makes the best homemade brown bread. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures. Brown bread and tea.
There isn’t a problem in the world that can’t be solved with a good cup of tea.
I can’t really think of a favorite food right now. I love dishes that can be put into a big pot or casserole. It’s simple to cook, and great fun to eat, you can just let everyone sit down and help themselves. The thing that makes a meal special is the people you share it with.
6. Tell me about your favourite piece of stationery?
I guess it would have to be the invite I created for my sister’s wedding in 2010. It’s lovely to be able to create an invite for someone close to you and I wanted to create something very special for Pauline and her fiancee Patrick. I knew that the invite had to be black and white, as those were her chosen colours, but other than that I had carte blanche. One of their favorite movies is Braveheart and Patrick is a massive Thin Lizzy fan, so it was a simple decision to base the design around a celtic theme. The invite has really become a bit of a showcase piece for me. The invite is a tuxedo wallet with a mounted pearl ice white inner that reveals a pocket for the accommodation card and reply card (also printed on pearl card). The invite was trimmed with a bellyband and matt black envelope. If I attend a wedding fair or during a consultation this invite always gets very special attention!
7. Do you have a disaster stationery story to share with us?
Of course, little disasters happen all the time in the workshop. I usually catch them before they leave the workshop though. I hate recalling that story because it’s something no invite supplier ever wants to happen!
This story is really embarrassing…
It was one of the earliest custom orders I completed. I put myself under pressure to complete it within 10 days. I was so looking forward to seeing them finished because they had an unusual wrap-around spine that I’d never used before. The happy couple collected them and about two weeks later I received distressed phone calls from the bride, and then the groom, and then the groom, again. The invites had started to come apart whilst they were being written out!
Well luckily, paper being paper, they could be fixed. So about half of them were returned to me on a Saturday morning and everyone of the blighters got glued to within a inch of their life! There was no way that these invites would come apart. So I met the couple with the newly fixed invites on Sunday; by way of apology, I printed their Mass Books (free of charge) for the wedding.
It hasn’t happened since and I try to be so careful with all my finishing. I have paid particular attention to the adhesives I use ever since.
8. Dancing in the rain or writing a love letter to someone?
Dancing in the rain in Ireland? not recommended!
It has to be a letter. I love receiving post and I love writing. As a young teenager I had penpals from all over the world (I know sounds geeky, doesn’t it). Getting a letter is special. I like the idea that somebody has taken the time to assemble their thoughts for you and your eyes only.I guess I’m a sentimentalist…
Alison runs Chameleon Stationery from an old milking parlour. We reckon this makes for extra creative wedding solutions. Be sure to check them out: