||Our featured store this month is The Good Envelope Party, a collective that makes stationary out of recycled materials. I interviewed founder Jenny Rask.
Margo: How did your group get started and how did you come up with the idea of using recycled materials to make stationary?
Jenny: We got started meeting as a group last spring. It started out as some of my neighborhood friends hanging out together socializing. Some of us have children so I felt like I wanted to create a reason to meet and socialize more often. I had been making my own envelopes for a while and it dawned on me that my friends might like learning to do it as well. We are definitely all multi-taskers. We can fold, drink and chat. We started making them for our local schools to sell at fundraisers to raise money for them. When more people joined the group we realized how many we could make in an evening and realized that as a monthly collective we could produce even more and use the money towards helping people in need. So a great equation of Fun + Folding = Helping Others.
The reason we use recycled materials is to give old books and magazines another life and to to reduce waste while demonstrating how easy it is to be creative with materials we all may already have in your home. Anyone can fold an envelope or make their own gift wrap out of almost anything. We aren’t reinventing the wheel here. We are hopefully demonstrating to the consumer that we don’t have to buy “new” from new resources, that beautiful products can come from being resourceful with everyday things around us.
Margo: Can you explain a little about how a collective works?
Jenny: Well we all are very motivated in helping others who are in need. So that is really our common goal when we come together for this party. We really felt that if we could help one person or one family locally and directly that it would be incredible! So during our party we vote on short term goals who we would like to help the most immediately and then vote on long term ideas, who we would like to see receive our money in the future. The more stationery we sell obviously the better for whoever is the recipient of the money. We also vote on how much money we will donate for each cause.
So there is a lot of voting and then I help manage and guide the group a lot about where our stuff will be sold in shops, manage the online store and work with the daily orders. I source the materials we use too. We love donations of salvaged books and magazines with great full page photos or illustrations in them as well : ) 12 inches at least in height please!!!
Our meetings are really a fun party. It really is about having a laugh, hanging out together, helping others and building community. We welcome newcomers in our area. The stationery is our way of giving back to our community through maybe a little bit different approach.
Margo: Your site says that you donate all your profits to charitable organizations. How do you choose where to donate?
Jenny: We cover our costs first with the money which are fairly minimal and then the rest of the profit is saved until we have a recipient we agree on and have the sum of money saved in our account that we agree on. We vote on the recipient at our party. We have not yet donated as our store is new and profits are just finally coming in. We have voted on who will receive the first money though and it is someone local.
Margo: How did you sell your stationary before you started your online store with Flying Cart?
Jenny: We used to donate it to school fundraisers and had our stationery in a local store in L.A. called O.K. on 3rd Street.
Margo: In a very short time, you are having amazing success with sales and have a nice fan following. What have you done to get the word out about your store?
Jenny: We are so lucky! Being published in Daily Candy has been a huge help : )
Margo: Tell me a little about your blog and about some of the other projects you are working on.
Well, let’s see. Ask WoollyM. (www.askwoollym.typepad.com
) is an eco-friendly help site that I started last year. I am a mom of two kids and had been researching living more sustainably and toxin free since they were babies. It really inspired me to help others because there is so much information out there and I wanted to take a guilt-free user-friendly approach to it.
My friends kept asking me about their toxin concerns in their daily lives so it seemed kind of like a fun idea to help them by creating this and maybe help anyone else who might need a head start on their green path. I started this site to test the waters a bit and see how I might be able to contribute in this way. It is a question and answer site. So anyone can ask a question and I will research the question and post the a personal solution with my research. It is an amazing way to learn about other’s needs in this area or what their concerns are. Kind of like going to school again, but on my terms.
I am working on a few other eco-education projects that will hopefully be accessible online soon. They are coming from a different angle than other “How to live green” approaches. Hopefully the projects will be entertaining and educational. Check out www.theguidegirls.com
in a couple weeks.