Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Kate Pickett, artist and founder of Pickett's Press, a business founded in 2008 that creates custom stationery, explains how this image represents her business.
These are some of our custom letterpress — the oldest form of printing — note cards with hand-painted edging. Pickett's Press creates custom stationery using hand-drawn designs and all traditional print processes from engraving and foil stamping to letterpress and a modern, digital line.
I always wanted to start a business, and I always wanted to design and print stationery. I loved stationery as a little girl, and I loved illustrations and drawing. I knew I couldn't just start a business like this right out of college — first of all, I had to make some money! I studied art and economics at Harvard undergrad, so I went into mergers and acquisitions at Merrill Lynch. From there I worked at DLJ Private Equity before attending Harvard Business School. That's where I really thought up my business plan.
When I graduated, I set about getting experience in retail and stationery. I got retail experience in the training program at Saks Fifth Avenue. Most people don't realize that I actually worked on a shop floor for minimum wage after graduating with a MBA from Harvard. No one else in my class went for that career choice, I can promise you! I was put in the lingerie department, believe it or not — I literally walked around with a tape measure around my neck to fit women for size — and promoted to manager.
After a year I started my own business. Then, I interned for the CEO of Kate's Paperie — the original amazing paper and custom printing chain which began in Soho — I worked as a buyer and in strategic planning for the company and learned a ton of invaluable information about running a small business, and also made necessary contacts in the printing world, which is small and actually difficult to enter in many ways.
An interesting thing about Pickett's Press is that 100 percent of the design motifs we use are drawn by hand, regardless of printing method. I still draw about 90 percent of those motifs myself.