This week, I'm happy to share the story of Castle Paper Co, a lovely hand lettering & modern calligraphy shop run by Mallory Overton in Massachusetts. Her positivity and creative drive are contagious! Read on to find out all about her and her shop.
Being a small business owner myself, I love to hear the origin stories of other makers. When and how did you decide to start your own business? What is your creative background?
My whole life I have loved handwriting. In fact, I distinctly remember that while I was in Pre-K learning to write the letter “M”, my teacher told me I was forming the letter incorrectly, and that I needed to start at the bottom (or the top--the opposite of whatever I was doing--see? I still don’t know!) and I remember refusing to accept the idea that a letter could be improperly formed. In the end, it was the same result, right? I have maintained that same stubborn attitude as I’ve delved a bit deeper into my exploration of letter-formation.
I first started thinking about my handwriting as a business about a year and a half ago. It was a dear friend who encouraged me to consider it, actually, and I mentally waded deeper into her suggestion for about six months, until I became so certain it was going to happen, even my self-doubt--which was and still can be rather enormous--would be unable to stop me.
To speak in the traditional sense of “background”, I did not go to art school. Instead I got a degree in English Lit., because I am very much compelled toward language, stories, and writing in both senses of the word. While writers certainly are artists, I have always been drawn towards the visual, though never as someone who draws or paints. I love beautiful, well-made things, and I think for a long time I thought I wanted to be a wedding stylist...this was even before there was a real title or market for that.
How did you decide to focus on your medium & style?
My aforementioned friend was initially suggesting that I build a business off of my handwriting, which is something I have always treated as a personal artform. When she suggested a business though, she used the word “calligraphy”, even though I don’t think either of us recognized the difference between the two at the time! As I began to look into it I basically just started incorporating tools traditionally used for calligraphy, nibs and brushes, into my pre-existing love of writing by hand. And guess what?! That’s modern calligraphy in a nutshell. I now love writing with nibs and ink as much as I do with a felt marker.
Have you set any exciting goals for yourself or your business? What can we look forward to seeing from you!
Well, Castle Paper Co. is turning one this November, so that is exciting! I am also making the shift from being an entirely service-based business (i.e. custom/wedding work only) to having pre-made items in a shop. My aim is to be there by the fall, though it’s definitely been a slower process for me. I value intentionality in my work, meaning, I dont just want to make a bunch of stuff so that I can throw it out into the cybersphere. I’d rather take my time and be sure I really mean it. Sometimes I think I’m being ridiculous and just need to move, and other days I’m a little bit kinder to myself and I remember that pace is a part of this whole process, and it is a personal one. Truthfully though, for me it’ll probably be a delicate mixture of hustling up a bit and being okay with how I naturally progress, and I’m still working on finding that balance!
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their own self-made business?
This is tough because everyone probably needs to hear something a little different, but one thing I think applies to every creative, or just every human, is DON’T BE AN ISLAND. Don’t try to do it alone...just don’t. So, if you’re reading this, and you’re just starting out, you’re not alone! I’m right there with you, and so are tons of other people. It’s an amazing thing to have a digital network but a physical, warm-body network is critical too. Don’t hoard your awesome from people, and don’t miss out on becoming better as a result of other people’s awesome.
When you're not creating, what do you love to do?
I love to be outside in the sunshine, and if I’m being totally honest, the snow! I love thrift shopping and eating fantastic food, I love to people-watch, make new friends, hold babies, troll Instagram & Pinterest, read new books, and have people over for tea! Well, so far that last one has never happened, but it will. Soon.
Lastly, can you share three of your favorite artists?
This is literally the most difficult question I have had to answer all week. There are so many of you amazingly talented people who inspire my life daily, and I am incredibly thankful for each of those influences. Consistently, though, I am inspired by letter illustrator @mollyjacques, who has been an icon for me thus far in my lettering journey. I love all of the quirky, exquisite portraits by Corrie of @cwdrawings, and finally the unwaveringly creative positivity of @dallasclayton is always motivating.
Thank you so much for reading! I am so passionate about building creative community, and I hope you come away from this feeling like you’re not the only one who’s ever felt a certain way, or just like you’re not the only one!! We’re all unique in our journeys but we so badly need each other to be built up and I hope in some way this helps that spirit in you. A BIG thank you to Bianca, for making this happen and for creating such an awesome space for just that. And thanks for having me today