We had the good fortune of connecting with Sally Thompson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sally, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Without taking risks, there is no way my business would be where it is today. There have been so many scary decisions and leaps of faith over the past four years – some of them were really dumb, and some of them helped take my business to the next level. But what I’ve learned is that even the bad decisions taught me very valuable lessons and helped develop me and my business into what it is today. I’ve tried a lot of things that didn’t work to find what did. I was one year out of college when I decided to quit my full-time job in advertising (with very little money in my bank account) to pursue my own business. It was a struggle for a long time, and probably not the smartest move I’ve made, but I know I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t done it. And ironically, it wasn’t until I went back to a full-time job at Hallmark in Kansas City that my business took off. Hallmark provided me with the financial stability I needed to let my business really grow, and I also learned a great deal from the incredible creatives that work there.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I design and letterpress print wedding invitations and stationery. For those that aren’t familiar, letterpress is the act of pressing a design onto paper with ink in-between. The pressure creates an indention in the paper that you can see and feel. The tactility and handmade quality of letterpress is really special in a day that is so digital and modernized. When I started college for Graphic Design, I very quickly knew I couldn’t sit and stare at a computer all day long. I’ve always craved making and creating with my hands, even as a little girl. When I accidentally enrolled in a letterpress class my sophomore year I knew it was my solution. I was able to design and problem solve creatively on the computer, but then I was able to take those digital designs and literally bring them to life through letterpress. One big thing that sets me apart from others in my field, is that I am not just the designer. Most wedding stationers (people that design wedding invitations for couples) will outsource all of their printing. I’m not only the designer but I am also the printer. It creates a seamless process from start to finish, and it means I can insure that my designs are brought to life perfectly when it comes to printing. Letterpress specifically has a lot of room for error – the ink colors are mixed by hand, and each sheet is hand-fed through the printer one at a time. I’m a bit of a control freak, so I love that I can make sure this process goes smoothly and the final printed piece is exactly what my couples were dreaming of.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We would definitely go to Rino for a day – my studio space is there so I would show them that and then go to some of my favorite spots around there: Blue Sparrow Coffee, the Preservery, Epic Brewing, Improper City, Denver Central Market, Birdsall Plant co, Ratio Beerworks, and Block Distillery. I live in West wash park area and we would also explore some of my favorites spots around here: Pearl street has uno mas taqueria, Hazel, and platte park brewery are my go to’s. One day we would go for a hike – probably something like the Royal Arch hike in the flatirons. Maybe afterwards we would grab lunch in Boulder on Pearl street and walk around there for a bit. Other fun spots would be the Denver Botanic Gardens, Wash park, and Highlands area (my favorite cocktail spot so far is Lady Jane). And if we had time I would love to take them to Breckenridge for a couple days to hike or ski and explore Main street there. A margarita at Rita’s is a must! I just moved here in August so I’m sure this list will just keep growing and growing!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people, places, books, and even podcasts that have been huge for myself in my business. It’s hard to pick just one! I think the biggest shoutout is to the community print shop in Kansas City that I started out in. Letterpress equipment is not easy to come by, really hard to move, and you of course need a space to store it if you have it. So starting out is really hard if you don’t have those things. Kansas City has a community print shop that I became a member of and I was able to use their equipment and space for the first 2 years of my business before I was able to acquire my own equipment. If it weren’t for them, I truly wouldn’t have had the means to get started. They are called Print League Kansas City. I hope some day I can provide the same foundation for creatives in Denver whether its through mentorships, letterpress workshops, or even my own community print shop. The other big one would be my parents. They have been so supportive to me throughout this journey, and continue to be my biggest advocates. My. mom is very creative herself, so she’s helped me with so many creative decisions and would even drive 3 hours to come help me with my craft shows on the weekends when I first started.
Personal photo of myself is by Lindsey Mehlhorn.