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{Unique} Spotlight on TYLER BENDER BOOK CO.

2 Nov

Last week, I emailed several questions to another green vendor who will be selling his wares at the Unique LA December show. Tyler Bender, whose “BOOK CO.” bears his name, thoughtfully responded to our inquiry. We hope you’ll check out his exquisitely creative, decidedly green products.

All the photos you see hail from postings on Tyler’s Etsy shop. Enjoy the interview, and thanks, Tyler, for your time. See you in December.

G|F : How would you describe what you do?

TBBC : I make functional everyday objects from yesterday’s discarded materials, currently: blank notebooks from vintage clothing, LPs, cereal boxes, and discarded library book covers.


Is the “green” element of your work a conscious decision or a pleasant by-product of your design aesthetic? In other words, what came first : the eco-mission or the art?

Our parents raised us to be frugal and resourceful, and this has found its way into every corner of my life, including the making of artwork. The green elements in my work draw more upon the concepts of reusing and reducing via the repurposing of materials otherwise labeled as waste. As I learn more about what others are doing to preserve and make the most of our natural world, my goal is now to become as ‘green’ or renewable as possible. The art is constantly evolving and adapting to this idea, but it was the art that came first.

How and when did you stumble upon book binding?il_430xN.95392645

My interest in bookbinding sparked in kindergarten, when we would ‘publish’ little story books at school. That process was always so exciting to me. After high school I made blank notebooks for myself to write and draw in, using scrap paper from other art and collage projects.

The first binding method I used was my own crude design, using what was immediately available in the house. I pounded holes into a stack of paper with a hammer and nail, and sewed it up with telephone wire.

Considering you work in art and design, where do you glean inspiration?il_430xN.95392916

Thankfully, inspiration may be found everywhere, by almost anything people do. Some of the most brilliant design or technology is often the simplest.

On your Etsy page, you offer custom work. What are some of the most interesting items you’ve been asked to bind or use for binding?

It’s amazing how rarely a customer makes a familiar request. Probably the most heartwarming idea I’ve received so far was the careful portioning of a family heirloom, a grandfather’s coat, into several books, one for each of his children.

And finally : When did you first become involved with Unique LA, and what are your expectations for the December show?

Unique’s Spring 2009 show was my first, and it was very successful. Β The organizers really know what they are doing, and I sincerely look forward to December’s event.

You can find Tyler Bender Book Co. on Etsy.


Manic Monday : It’s just another…

25 Aug

When I don’t do much work over the weekend, it often seems like I spend Monday making up for the time I “took off” over the weekend. Normally I’m in need of a Lexapro by Monday night. This evening, however, I feel the way I do after ingesting a big bowl of boeuf bourguignon : full, satisfied and happy.

Today ended up being a great Monday – busy, but great. I caught up with a friend from grad school, met up with some of The Girls for an afternoon iced coffee, chatted with a satisfied client, finished work on a 50th wedding anniversary and worked on proofs for a new client. I also shipped some gorgeous place cards from our {Victoria} collection. They’re printed digitally on 110 lb recycled cardstock, and I think they’re pretty smashing. The day came to a close over sushi with friends. Maybe I do love Mondays after all, however manic they might be!

Victoria Placecards

Victoria Place Cards

Closer to Love Love Loving G|F

19 Aug

Yesterday, I received a call from a woman asking if we were interested in advertising in Parenting magazine. A few thoughts running through my head as I chatted animatedly and jotted down notes :

(1) Pay attention, Catherine. Pay attention!

(2) How do they know who we are? (which, by the way, I forgot to ask – don’t be mad, Bij and Jeek. I just get so excited about these calls. I should really have some kind of script next to the phone in the event that Martha Stewart calls and I’m completely dumbstruck. What? It could happen!)

(3) Do we have enough money in our marketing budget (ha!) to advertise in a magazine?

We’re reviewing our options.

After Misty and I had dispensed with the official marketing dis-cush, she asked about the music on our website. We actually get this question a lot. For those of you who haven’t figured out that if you hover your mouse over the moving bars on the right-hand side of our home page the artist and song title pop up, the music on the site is as follows :

Song 1 : Closer to Love by Mat Kearney

I first heard this song (three or four times a day) when Nick and I were in Hawaii a few months ago. We found a great radio station, which played non-stop in our rental car during my week-long exploration of Oahu, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. When J and I revamped the website, I insisted we include this song. It’s upbeat, thoughtful and sweet, as is much of Mat Kearney’s music.

Songs 2 and 4, respectively : Love Love Love and Madly by Tristan Prettyman

Did anyone else like the soundtrack of He’s Just Not that Into You more than the movie itself? Talking Heads and the Replacements, Wilco and the Black Crowes. Divine. Speaking of which, check out Tristan Prettyman, if you haven’t already, whose song Madly I first heard in the movie. She’s not first on our website, but Love Love Love was certainly our first choice for the video we created for the Martha Stewart Dreamers into Doers contest. When I need a pick-me-up, I play this song.

Song 3 : Fidelity by Regina Spektor

This one will always and forever remind me of playing flip cup at Scott and Emily’s place in Hanford. Arguably the most mainstream of our choices, it’s on here for two reasons : (1) It makes us smile and (2) Jacqueline LOVES this song.

Isn’t that what music’s all about? Enjoy, and share the love.

Viral Marketing 102 : Twitter? Really?

9 Aug

In the week since I posted my initial rant on viral marketing, we’ve begun to see some results. In the same way that it took approximately six hours to receive our first phone call as a result of our Google AdWords account, the pace at which information disseminates via Twitter, Facebook, etc is astonishing (to me, anyway).

Our viral logo, as seen on Etsy, Twitter and Facebook.

Our viral logo, as seen on Etsy, Twitter and Facebook.

Our tried-and-true Chief Marketing Officer (yes, she has a title – and no, Bijal, it didn’t take three or four months for us to decide you deserved one!) has been hard at work searching for leads via Twitter. Who knew this website, whose founders couldn’t figure out how to harness the profit-making power of millions of people “tweeting,” could help make a profit for us?

In one short week, we’ve had inquiries from multiple companies, publications, websites and blogs. I’m putting together samples for Rachelle at SoFabuluxe, a contact made through the wonderful world of 140 character updates, who will (hopefully!) showcase our goods for her brides. I’d say more, but I’m afraid to jinx it. I promise to keep you updated when things are set in stone; but in the meantime, from one skeptic to the rest of you : I’m a believer.

Now go follow us on Twitter!

Viral Marketing 101 : Apparently I’m Old

2 Aug
Co-founders Catherine (left, b. 1980) and Jacqueline (right, b. 1982) dressed as Laura Ashley and the Material Girl for a piano recital

Co-founders Catherine (left, b. 1980) and Jacqueline (right, b. 1982) dressed up for a piano recital as Laura Ashley and the Material Girl.

In spite of being just 15 months my senior, my husband used to brag about being “a generation older than me,” because was born before Reagan was elected president. I’ve always been “young for my grade”: A junior in high school when I [finally] got my driver’s license, seventeen at graduation, twenty-two when I finished grad school. This week, however, I ceased to be young-for-my-grade and I started to recognize that not only am I an old soul, but I’m also just… old.

I spent the last week working in the Bay Area. Monday, I officially met our new Chief Marketing Officer, Bijal Shah. She’s energetic, knowledgeable and… young – in such a great way. Our two-hour conversation left me so inspired and excited about the future of our little company. Two days later, I sat down for an interview with Jelly Theory blogger Jessica Lee. Jess graduated from Stanford one year ago. I almost choked on my French baguette. My five-year college reunion came and went (a couple of years ago). But meeting with Bijal and Jess left me a little starry-eyed about the possibilities of viral marketing.

In less than one week, and after making connections with two extraordinary young women, we have a feature on an oft-read blog, a Twitter account, a new Etsy storefront and a facebook fan page. There’s more to come, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s just amazing to me that I’m too old (in the technical sense) to understand this tweeting, facebook-ing generation (and don’t even get me started on MySpace). I’d still like to think that being in my twenties qualifies me as young, but the reality is that I wouldn’t have come up with any of these marketing ideas on my own because, well, apparently, I’m old. If you’re an entrepreneur who isn’t as edgy and forward-thinking as the Gen-Yers (even if you’re not one yourself), how do you navigate these marketing opportunities? They’re not out of our reach, they just seem to be less intuitive.

Fortunately, at G|F we don’t have to worry about our age because of our recently acquired (and very youthful) help in this department. On a personal note, I’ve realized I’m approaching the end of a very critical decade in my life. Despite these recent revelations, or perhaps because of them, I’ve adopted the axiom that with age comes wisdom. And I’ll be sure to send our CMO a “tweet” letting her know that I was born before Reagan was inaugurated. Who’s got the edge now?