Who doesn’t want to go into business for herself? No more nitpicking boss, no more boring spreadsheets, no more coworkers microwaving fish so the whole office smells like the penguin pond at the zoo.
Former architects and current spouses Amanda Eich and Tony Vassallo began living everyone’s fantasy a few years back when they ditched unfulfilling jobs to form Spilled Ink Press. What started as a one-time gig making wedding invitations for a friend became a burgeoning green business boasting not only invitations and stationary, but several lines of cards coming soon to a Target Store near you.
Our Town How did you arrive at your company’s name?
Amanda Eich Seven years ago, [when I did an] invitation job for friends, I thought it would be fun to design a logo to put on the back. I was thinking something “ink”, and asked myself, what would I do with a bottle of ink? The answer was obvious; I’d spill it.
OT What real life experiences have inspired designs?
AE After we got rolling with wedding invitations, we started designing greeting cards based on the life of someone working in corporate America. The original “Daily Grind” line of cards came from ridiculous situations we laughed about on our lunch breaks. An original office humor cards says, “The key to a happy work day is apathy.” Tony used to tell me that when I would get upset about how I was treated at the office.
OT How do you keep Spilled Ink environmentally friendly?
AE We work from home and take care to do the necessary domestic things [like] recycling, composting (I love my worms!), cutting down on unnecessary paper products and fluorescent bulbs, and using I-Go and Zip Car when we need wheels. The paper we use is at the very least FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified stock, which means it comes from responsible forestry sources. It’s at least 30% post-consumer waste recycled paper, [and] it’s processed chlorine free.
OT How did your upcoming Target line come about?
AE Initially it was a ‘right place/right time’ kind of thing. The second year we went to the National Stationery Show in NYC, someone from Recycled Paper Greetings happened to walk past our booth. He looked at our cards and laughed. You have no idea how rewarding that is to hear someone laugh at your card! Turns out he lived a few blocks away from us in Chicago. We met him for coffee when we got back. That was over two years ago. It’s been a long process of getting the cards market tested, tweaking the design, and finally we hit the sweet spot with our humor pitch and graphics and it caught Target’s attention.
OT What’s it like to work with your spouse?
AE We really do love working together! I think the worst for me is not working with other people. Right now it’s just us and the cat. I’m on facebook and twitter a lot simply because I miss the random chatter of an office. Someday we’ll have a staff of people and separate offices and our personal and professional lives in balance.
OT Any advice for starting your own business?
AE I’m a risk-taker, so I would say just do it. Make sure you have a good marketable product and keep your customer service skills impeccable. There is the minor detail of money [but] I tend to trust the Universe to take care of me. Then again, I’m not the one doing the books. Tony is.
To learn more about Spilled Ink Press http://www.spilledinkpress.com/index.htm
A freelance writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum, when not writing, supports herself as a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago's Story Studio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She’s kind of looking forward to it actually.