Interview with Kimberly FitzSimons
I’ve been a fan of Kimberly’s work for some time now. But only recently I found out she is also a local (Chicag0) business. Kimberly FitzSimons is a boutique stationery company that specializes in the design of high quality letterpress wedding invitations and correspondence stationery. Their work is known for its timeless appeal and simple elegance. I adore letterpress printing and I am absolutely smitten by Kimberly’s work! I am so happy to share this interview with you today. Grab a seat and enjoy!
1. Tell us a bit about your business (How did it start? What was the main inspiration behind it)
I fell in love with stationery around the time of my wedding in 2007. After the wedding, I wanted to continue my creative streak and so I started making my own stationery. My husband was traveling often for work, so I spent a lot of time at night practicing in Adobe Illustrator and learning about design (typography, colors, printing, etc.). I opened up a small shop on Etsy in 2008 and digitally printed personalized stationery. It was a great way to test out new products and learn the “business” side of things. It wasn’t until 2009 that I moved into letterpress, which is my current market.
Since 2009, I’ve managed to steadily expand my letterpress business through trial and error, advice from mentors and business partners, and also the help of fellow designers. In 2012, I decided to primarily focus on letterpress wedding invitations because I love the industry and enjoy working closely with brides.
It is really hard to achieve balance! I try and make it look easy, but this is something that I struggle with all of the time. I am so passionate about my business that I think about it constantly. I am lucky to have a wonderful nanny and family close by to help watch my daughter 2-3 days per week so that I can focus on my business. However, on the days that I don’t have help, I try to be present with my daughter (or husband if he is home). We are lucky to live in an active and family oriented neighborhood in Chicago that allows us many places to walk, eat and play. My husband and I are also “foodies” so we do like to plan date nights often and try new restaurants in the city!
3. What’s your creative process? What inspires you?
I don’t have a structured creative process. I started a sketchbook a couple of years ago, but I can’t illustrate to save my life. I ended up with mostly doodles! I find that my best work comes when I open up Adobe Illustrator and just start fiddling with new shapes, colors and fonts. I really love clean and minimal design elements and beautiful, balanced typography. I also love experimenting with custom elements, such as die cutting, foil and colored papers. My business tagline is “classically chic,” so I try to design with tradition in mind and add some modern touches in along the way.
I am a very “visual” person and love looking through magazines, reading blogs and browsing Pinterest. That is probably where most of my inspiration comes from.
4. Your work consist only of letterpress. How did you become interested in it?
I always wanted to move into letterpress because it is such a beautiful printing method. I searched high and low for a letterpress invitation for my wedding and have been in love with letterpress ever since I sealed the envelopes to send the invitations to my guests. I took several months of letterpress printing courses at Columbia College in Chicago to learn the craft. (Unfortunately, they don’t offer the courses there anymore.) After the courses were complete, I was lucky enough to buy a rare Vandercook press from a printing machinery mover in Indiana. I spent two years learning how to print on my own and, most importantly, learning how to best design for letterpress. Due to increased demand for my products as well as my growing family, I now outsource my printing to an amazingly talented business partner.
5. What’s a typical day for you?
I try and get up every day around 6:30 so that I can spend some time writing in my blog before my daughter gets up (she’s 1 1/2). That is the one task that I schedule at the same time every weekday. Two or three days per week I have a nanny arrive at 8:00am. I try and get as much done as possible while she is at my home. No work day is ever the same! I divide my time between responding to client e-mails, designing client proofs, packaging orders and marketing my business. By 3:00pm, I stop working and hang out with my daughter until my husband gets home for dinner. My husband travels often for work, so if he’s home, we watch tv together. If he’s traveling, I am nearly always in front of the computer trying to get more work done!
6. What’s your perfect day like?
I love weekend days! Spending time with my family is so very important and meaningful to me. I love brunch, so every weekend we head somewhere new in Chicago so that I can try a new eggs benedict. (Well, I have my favorites, so we don’t always go somewhere new!) Then, we spend time together as a family running errands, playing in our neighborhood or relaxing at home. As I mentioned, my husband and I are “foodies” so several nights per week we end the day chatting about our family over a nice bottle of wine.
7. What makes you smile?
My daughter makes me smile all the time. Her vocabulary is growing every day and she often surprises me with new words! Some of her current favorites are “yellow,” “Ellen” (she loves Ellen Degeneres), and “emma” (as in M&Ms).
8. where can you be found on the web?
Thank you Kimberly for giving us a tour into your creative business. Wishing you the best both in your professional and personal life. It’s been a pleasure having you here!