Christmas Cards - UPstudio November 16, 2017 05:00

I can't believe Thanksgiving is next week. This year, and especially the last two months have flown by!

As of today, there are only 39 days till Christmas. Blows my mind! I need to start my Christmas shopping, and I need to get my Christmas cards ready to mail. I have yet to receive the first card, so there is still plenty of time. 

Let UPstudio help you with your Christmas cards this year. We have two Christmas card designs available!

UPstudio Christmas Cards

Our first card, Trees, is printed similarly to our Everyday Cards (double sided offset printing on 160# cover paper). The design is featured on one side with the opposite side having a single tree and enough space for you to write a message. You can purchase them individually or in packs of six. If you'd like to order a larger quantity, contact us for pricing.

UPstudio Christmas Trees Card

(Add a little yuletide spirit to your organization with the Gold Christmas Tree Paper Clips featured above.)

This beautiful Reindeer is featured on our second Christmas card!

UPstudio Reindeer Christmas Card

This is our first color card with a design of a pixelated reindeer on the front that opens to "Merry Christmas" on the interior. This card is also available for purchase individually or in packs of six.

UPstudio Reindeer Christmas Card Styled

There are four envelope colors available: red, real gray, kraft, and lockwood green. Both cards look great with all colors. If you'd like a variety of colors, contact us.

UPstudio Envelope Color Options

Christmas cards (or any of our cards) would also make great gifts and stocking stuffers!

UPstudio Cards are a Perfect Christmas Gift

We only printed limited quantities of Christmas cards, so get them while you can!

(PS... Sign up for our newsletter and use code NEWSLETTER to get 10% off your order today!)

Behind the Scenes: Everyday Cards July 20, 2017 05:00

Mary Beth and I are kind of old school.  Of course, we use technology everyday and definitely appreciate what it can do, but we also love reading a real book with paper pages, writing in a physical planner, and sending some old fashioned snail mail.  Designing and developing a line of Everyday Cards fit right in with our product line of high quality paper products. In fact, when we launched the UPstudio website, the only products we had were 4 varieties of Everyday Cards, and a calendar set (my how we've grown!).  Today, we're giving you a behind the scenes look at what happens to make a run of Everyday Cards.

It might not seem like it, but A LOT of thought goes in behind the scenes to develop a product.  As you've heard us say before, we like to get involved and understand all aspects of what we're making.  This means that we had countless conversations and visits with our printer (local Raleigh, woo!) to get a full understanding of paper types, colors, thicknesses (weights), sizes, printing methods, and economy of printing.  Believe me, this is a lot of work, and a lot of decisions.

The design concept of each card came first, but the final layout and cropping was decided after understanding what type of paper would be used, and how it would be printed.  We went in depth about paper weights and the differences between offset and digital printing in this blog post, which if you're in to paper is a pretty interesting read.  The UPstudio Everyday Cards are offset printed on 160 lb cover stock, which in layman's terms means that it's printed on really thick paper with a very even matte black finish.

Once we decided what size the cards would be (mainly determined by standard envelope sizes), our printer could figure out the size of the paper that they would be cut from.  It's not something you think about every day, but a card isn't printed on the size paper that it ends up being, instead there are multiple cards printed on one larger sheet of paper.  The overall design size is greater than the final cut size, and crop marks are included in each print, so that the cuts will be precise and the ink will print full bleed and look clean when cut to size.  The UPstudio Everyday Cards are sized to print 8 cards from a 13x20 sheets of paper.  This sheet is cut in half from a 20x26 sheet of paper in order to work with the size of the printers.  So, to simplify:  large paper is cut to print size, designs are printed, and cards are cut to final size.

Depending on the thickness of your paper and the amount of ink that is applied, sheets may need to be laid out to dry for several hours before cutting.  The very first run of Everyday Cards from our printer turned out to be a bust after the sheets weren't allowed quite enough drying time.  Once they were stacked and cut, the still slightly-wet ink bled onto other cards and made them messy and unusable.  Talk about lessons learned!  Many of the UPstudio Everyday Cards have a very saturated black design, which means they require EXTRA drying time.

Once the reprints were dry, our printer contacted us to come view a proof and approve before the final cuts were made (even though we've printed out tons of cards with them, they understand our level of pickiness and always make sure we're good with everything before finalizing!  They're the best!)

(above: an example of a proof sheet ready for approval)

After we gave the thumbs up, it was time to cut. The sheets were stacked up and placed on a cutting machine.  The crop marks were aligned on the cutter and once set correctly, the sheets were secured in place and a large sharp blade cut a big stack at once, kind of like a paper guillotine.  Check out this video for a good example of how this works (disclaimer: this is not our printer, but you get the idea).

After the final trim, the cards are QC'ed (checked for quality control to make sure they're all trimmed and printed correctly), then packaged up in stacks ready for pick up.  We pick them up, then take pretty pictures and package them up for purchase, just for you!  

(above: stacks of cards wrapped in plastic from the printer)

We currently have a line of 8 Everyday Cards, 2 seasonal Christmas cards, and approximately a million more designs in mind.  We have an open invitation for anyone who wants to send a card to an active duty or retired military service member to request a free card, so don't hesitate to take us up on it.

We hope you learned something with this blog post!  Happy letter writing!

Inspiration: Everyday Cards - BBQ Free Download May 18, 2017 05:00

Memorial Day is coming up which will officially start BBQ season!  Did you know that you can download a free BBQ Everyday Card to use as an invitation for any of your upcoming summer barbecues?  Regardless of whether a barbecue means pork, brisket, or hot dogs and hamburgers, we've got you covered.  

Before we settled on the final design for the free download, we went through several options of what the card should look like.  I (Becky) take the lead on designs and after I get to a starting point with one or more options, MB and I will discuss, make corrections, then I'll make changes, we talk again, lather rinse repeat until we're both happy with where we land.  For this card, I started by thinking of all the things that could possibly mean BBQ, then finding images of each of the items for inspiration.  From those images, I created digital drawings of individual items.  For me, the easiest way to create these is in AutoCad.  I love to use Illustrator, but because of my day job as an architect, I personally am more comfortable drawing vector images (particularly those with curves) in Cad.  From Cad, I can then export the file to a .eps and open that to manipulate in Illustrator.  I used Illustrator to then create several iterations of the layout of the actual card.  As mentioned above, MB and I discussed them all, made some adjustments, and then agreed on the final option.  See below for the preliminary designs and the final free download!

And the final design that you can download today is...

Download yours today and don't forget to invite us to your BBQ too!

2017 Mother's Day Gift Guide May 4, 2017 05:00

Do you ever have a holiday sneak up on your only to realize that it's the next day and you haven't prepared for it at all?  (you're not alone!)  In an effort to not have that happen again, here is your official reminder that Mother's Day is quickly approaching - don't forget to do something for your Mama!  For your convenience, we've curated a list of sure-fire awesome gifts that Mom will love, at all price points.

  • A hug (if you're close enough to give one)  FREE
  • A phone call (if you won't see your mom in person to give her a hug)  FREE
  • A thank you note (don't underestimate the power of a hand written note!  we love the UPstudio I Heart You and Check Box cards, and also this and this)  $1 - $5
  • Wine (sometimes, wine is wine and unless she's a connoisseur, she'll never know how much you spent) $3 - $25
  • A nice candle (we love the scents from Southern Elegance like the Southern Sunshine candle) $10 - $25
  • Jewelry (currently loving everything from Shop Wind Blown and the graphic metal pieces from Haden Designs
  • Handmade pottery pieces (planters or mugs or a jewelry holder like this Philodendron Leaf Bowl from Lauren Sumner Pottery)
  • A fancier-than-normal dinner (homemade is always a winner, or take her to any of our favorite Raleigh restaurants: Poole's Diner or Bida Manda)

Here's the thing - no matter what you do, your mom's going to love it just as much as she loved the drawings you brought home to her from pre-school that she has tucked away.  A phone call or a hand written note can mean more than money, and will more than make her day.  

UPstudio Christmas Cards November 17, 2016 05:00

Last year this time we were just releasing our inaugural 2016 UPstudio Planner. After its release we focused nearly all of our efforts on marketing and promoting the planner through the end of the year. We generated a few Christmas card designs but the time slipped by and sadly we didn't have time to produce and release them. 

We were not going to let that happen again!

We are excited to announce that this year UPstudio will have two Christmas cards available!

Our first card, Trees, is printed similarly to our Everyday Cards (double sided offset printing on 160# cover paper). The design is featured on one side with the opposite side having a single tree and enough space for you to write a message. You can purchase them individually or in packs of six.

UPstudio Christmas Trees Card

(Add a little yuletide spirit to your organization with the Gold Christmas Tree Paper Clips featured above.)

This beautiful Reindeer is featured on our second Christmas card!

UPstudio Reindeer Christmas Card

This is our first color card with a design of a pixelated reindeer on the front that opens to "Merry Christmas" on the interior. This card is also available for purchase individually or in packs of six.

UPstudio Reindeer Christmas Card Styled

We have also added a new envelope color, lockwood green, to make your cards feel even more festive. Both cards look great with all envelope color options (red, real gray, kraft, and lockwood green).

UPstudio Envelope Color Options

We only printed limited quantities of Christmas cards, so get them while you can!


Inspiration: Everyday Cards - It's Been Too Long July 14, 2016 08:00

We've talked before about how we've come up with a few of our different products and designs (like the Sticky Pads, and the NC Toast Everyday Cards, as well as lots of posts about the 2016 Planner). Today's post talks about another product inspiration, specifically the It's Been Too Long Everyday Cards.  

MB and I are both dog lovers and have dogs of our own, as you may have read on the FAQ page of our website.  I never had dogs growing up, but whenever we would visit with my grandmother, her little dog Lucy was in tow.  Lucy was a dachshund and my sister and I loved to play with (read: torture) her by dressing her up, toting her around the house and yard, and teaching her to sing and howl.  When my husband and I were a year into our marriage, we decided it was time to get a dog.  We looked at local shelters and almost took home a medium sized mutt, but with our small condo, lack of yard, and non-commitment to the daily walks she would need, it wasn't the right fit.  In the end we agreed that a smaller dog would be better for our circumstances, and looked into adopting a dachshund.  We finally ended up finding our sweet puppy Penny from a doberman rescue (her full name is Penny Pinscher... I know I know, it's such a good name).  A year later we adopted her sister Gretta from a dachshund rescue.  They have been the best of friends since day one, and provided us a ridiculous amount of entertainment and love.

Before our first round of Everyday Cards came out last summer, we came up with countless designs, but in the end chose just 4 of them to feature.  In those designs were a few fun dachshund patterns, but they didn't quite make the cut.


Fastforward to this past winter and the release of the 4 new Everyday Card designs.  We knew we wanted to open up options for a card with a dog on it.  A dachshund paired with the phrase It's Been Too Long was developed (because dachshunds are long, get it!) and voila, a new fun card inspired by our furry friends.

These knuckleheads are pretty cute too though :)


Where do you find inspiration? May 12, 2016 08:00

Not sure if any of you guys read the "Real Talk With Mary Beth Russo and Becky Brady" on Earn Spend Live. If not, we completely understand, the word count was pretty high. But if you're wanting to learn more about us and what UPstudio is all about, we recommend it, won't take you but maybe 5 minutes. Quick excerpt:

Who/what inspires you in work and in life? Are there any books, movies, or a specific person?
MB: I’m so bad at these kinds of questions. I feel like I can never pinpoint one person, book, movie, or idea when it comes to inspiration. I find inspiration everywhere. So many people in my life inspire me daily. I see their strength in areas where I am weak often, and it impresses me and makes me want to be better; more gracious, more patient, more faithful.

B: No one specific thing wins over another, but I am most inspired by others who are in the same position – young entrepreneurs juggling life and not giving up on their dreams, particularly women. I love to look at the work of other designers and pull inspiration from them – both current and in the past. I’m a big fan of Charles and Ray Eames, and especially Ray, who was less vocal, but just as important as her husband. Since I’m the introvert of our team, I appreciate seeing other introverts making a quiet difference.

This question isn't 100% about what I want to chat about today, but it is a good starting point. What I hope you pulled from our answers is that neither of us can hang our hat on just one thing that inspires us. It all boils down to the fact that we find inspiration everywhere. I feel like we are constantly on the hunt for what is next, so our eyes are always open, absorbing everything. 

We've been asked by many of you how we came up with some of our ideas, and how we determined what we were going to run with. So, we thought we'd share a bit. 

Well, everything starts with a list, right? We both have running lists where we jot down ideas constantly. When we are ready to decide on the products for the next quarter we set a meeting time. We both bring our idea lists, and any mock-ups we've pulled together to help the other visualize. At our meeting we narrow down our list to actual products (example: journal). And then we both spend a week or more (really until we can fit in the next meeting around family and work schedules) really focusing on generating ideas for those specific products (example continued: cover ideas, interior pages, size of journal, etc.) At our next meeting we brain dump once more to pull all of our ideas together to figure out the best option for the products. Typically at this point (or earlier) we meet with our supplier or printer to determine what is most economical, what restrictions we have, etc. (example: can we do a mostly black cover, what size of journal is most economical for printing, what will the price to print the journal be, etc.). We then make some semi-final decisions so that Becky can work her magic to bring our idea to fruition (example continued: drafting our cover). We then have another meeting where we go through many different options and play with our design until we get it exactly how we want it. So in summary: lots of meetings. But one great thing about a partner is that you can help each other generate some great ideas. They can help you find that one piece of the puzzle you are missing.

So, lets see one of our ideas in action:

Everyday Cards - North Carolina Toast

Last year we went to a show in Charlotte, North Carolina. We realized then that if we were going to branch out of Raleigh for shows we should have a card that connects with all of North Carolina. We made a mental note to do just that when we were brainstorming new cards for 2016.

Some of our reject ideas at our brainstorming meeting:

  • something with a pine cone
  • something with a long leaf pine, maybe lots of trees that make up something, similar to this
  • something that looked like the Verizon coverage map but was about a cool North Carolina fact, like BBQ restaurant locations or population
  • something with the state motto ("To be, rather than to seem", "Esse quam videri" - in case you were wondering)

The inspiration for the final choice:

  • On my honeymoon (March 2014) I took a couple Our State magazine's to read on the plane. In the January 2014 issue I learned that North Carolina is the only state to have an official toast. The article, "Where the Strong Grow Great: North Carolina State Toast" by Scott Huler, included only the first stanza (or whatever it is called in a toast) which meant once I was within internet service I googled the rest. 
  • There are tons of prints and products you can buy out there that have text in the shape of something. Prime example: this guy by Molly Mattin.

So, I brought those two ideas to our first brainstorming meeting, along with a very basic mock-up to help Becky visualize my idea... 

North Carolina Toast Brainstorming Ideas

Once we decided we'd run with this idea it was up to Becky to work her magic. She managed to get all 4 stanzas to fit and be readable. We edited the shape and re-sized text a couple times and finally ended up with this (she did a great job, right?):

Everyday Cards - UPstudio - North Carolina Toast

You can purchase this beauty in a pack of six or as a single card.

I'm a sucker for a great background story, so we'll try to share more behind the scenes info on some of our other products soon.

Happy Thursday! 

(I just experienced a quick mind-blown so I thought I'd share: I have a torn out copy of the toast article. This torn out copy does not have a picture of the author. The online article I referenced above however does. I looked at the picture and knew I recognized Scott Huler and then it clicked. He was recently invited to do a presentation for an organization I'm part of on his book, On the Grid. In preparation I read it. If you are a nerd that wants to understand more about your city and all of the behind the scenes stuff that goes on, it is a great read. So, I met Scott, over a lunch presentation about a month ago. I didn't realize he was the author of this article I read 2 years ago that really stuck with me. I doubt this blew your mind, but #cray.)


New Products - 2016 Spring Release! April 7, 2016 08:00

While you were out on Spring Break we have been hard at work behind the scenes to release new products, and are thrilled to share them with you today.  Get ready, we've got some really exciting stuff!  The shop listings are filled with a lot of information, but we'll give you the highlights of new products below.  Everything you see on the website will be available at upcoming shows and pop up markets, including the Pink Social Girl Tribe Spring Pop Up in Charlotte on April 16 (we hope to see you there!)

Drumroll please...

Planners and Calendars

I know what you're thinking: old news, right?  We'll release 2017 editions later this year, but while we still have some 2016 styles in stock, our prices have dropped AGAIN!  Planners are now $15 and calendars are $5!

Vintage Products

This is not a surprise as we've been advertising them on social media and had a previous blog post about them, but we want to stress that we're getting new items into the shop frequently, so make sure to check back on the website for what is available!  We'll post on social media too, so follow us on Instagram (@upstudionc) and/or Facebook if you want updates.  We are absolutely swooning over this adorable umbrella.


Sticky Pads

Hopefully you saw the poll that we launched and voted for your preference of sticky or non sticky for notepads.  Sticky was the official winner, so these beauties can now easily stay wherever you want them - on the refrigerator, in your planner, taken to the grocery store, on your bathroom mirror, etc.  The dot pattern can be used as a grid for list making, bullet journal style listing, or an impromptu game of dots (anyone else remember doing this on long car rides?)  Side note: check out this life changing sticky pad tutorial from Elite Daily on how to remove a sheet without the sticky side curling up.  So helpful!


Chick Flick Catchphrase Pencil Set

We loooove this new set of pencils because these lines from movies really speak to us.  One, all these movies are classics that we've seen countless times, but even out of context, you know exactly what they're referencing.  We wrote down every quotable quote we could think of and picked our top favorites.  Girly themed movies won this time, and we think it's perfectly appropriate for our #girlboss business.  (We'd love to hear your favorite and if these resonate with you!) #illhavewhatsheshaving


Everyday Cards

The line of Everyday Cards has also been expanded to include 4 new designs.  Highlights of these new cards include small images on the opposite side of the card, as well as some more occasion-specific cards instead of generic designs.  Each one is still all-purpose and BONUS - now you can purchase cards individually!  (Side note: did you know that April is National Letter Writing Month?  Snag a few of these and send out some overdue notes to friends or family!)



Last but not least are journals.  Heavy linen paper covers in the Arrows design protect your choice of either blank pages or dot filled pages to jot down lists, sketches, bullet journal lists, meeting notes, or whatever your heart desires.  All internal pages are top quality for whatever use you choose.  The best part is that these are perfect bound and lay flat!


We hope you are as excited about these new products as we are!  Let us know your feedback - what are you most excited about?  What Everyday Card is your top pick?  Do you prefer dots or blank pages in your journal?  What's your favorite quote from a classic chick flick?  What product do you hope to see next?  (Don't worry - we're already working on new ideas to come out soon!)

Here Comes the Bride February 25, 2016 08:00

Don't you guys love wedding season?  Once the weather starts to get warmer, the save the dates start rolling in for occasions to celebrate friends and family and make memories. My husband (Mike) and I (Becky) have been married for 8 years now, and we are well versed in weddings.  We've witnessed a countless number of nuptials, with our best summer topping out at a whopping 10 weddings in 3 states.  

Weddings are the type of event that you remember - even if you just remember one aspect of it.  One gem that we attended had some last minute changes, as the bachelor party held the night before the wedding (not recommended) led to shaved eyebrows, fights, and a B-team groomsmen party as members were replaced.  I went to a beautiful wedding this past fall celebrating a totally fun couple.  Tyler and Alyssa are fearless and choreographed their own dance which was performed at their reception.  This was no surprise as Tyler's proposal was a day long event including a video of friends and family also performing (another) choreographed dance and giving opinions on whether she should say yes or not (spoiler alert: she totally did). (Not posting the video because yes I did the dance and I am TERRIBLE!)

Tyler and Alyssa kept up with the launch of UPstudio and loved our Everyday Cards so much that they decided to use them as their thank you cards.  We were thrilled to help them out, to say the least, and were happy to offer an entire line of envelope colors for them to choose from, so that the cards would match their overall theme and colors.  (And we'll totally do the same for you!  Just email us!  If you're getting married in or have ties to Raleigh, the Raleigh Streets or Nolli Dots cards could be perfect.  The Arrows and Sunburst cards are also neutral and a good fit for any occasion.  We are currently working on new additions to the collection, so keep an eye out!

My own wedding had a lot of homemade aspects to it since my husband and I created and printed our own invitations and programs, designed and fabricated all our decorations, and even used a life-sized cut out of my husband that my dear friend Katie created for my bachelorette party (but that's a story for another blog post)! We got married in March with the reception planned outside.  We knew it was risky, but we decided to take our chances anyway.  A week out, things were looking great:  the weather was predicted to be 70 degrees and sunny and we couldn't be happier.  I bet you can guess where this is going.  Four days later the weather report changed drastically - to 40 degrees with 20MPH winds.  So, we changed our venue.  I've never freaked out so much in my life (debatable), but I wouldn't change a thing about the actual day.  Even the part where my husband shoved cake in my face (and up my nose, and down my dress, etc.  I know I know, and we're still married!) (Sidenote: this photo which pretty much sums up the last 8+ years of my life, doesn't show it, but he totally started it.)

Photo by Hayne Photogrophers

Planning a wedding is straight up crazy.  There are a million things to coordinate, dresses to try on, cakes to taste (this was not a problem for me), flowers to choose, thank you cards to write.  Since we did so much on our own without a wedding planner, we had a dedicated notebook to record all our notes and decisions.  If I had the UPstudio Planner at the time, it would've been a lot easier to keep track of what was what, with the divisions in the weekly layout to divide tasks, and extra graph paper for ideas, sketches, and final decisions.  Even if you have a wedding planner, this could be helpful for your own sanity.  (Or, if you ARE a wedding planner - you can keep track of multiple weddings at a time with the divisions in the weekly layout!)

If you have an upcoming wedding - congratulations!  We are so excited for you!  Remember to take a deep breath, and try your hardest to enjoy everything you are doing for your special day.  It can be overwhelming beforehand, but it's over before you know it.  My best recommendation is to get a photographer that you're comfortable with and be open about what you want your photos to be.  Photos are the best way to reminisce, and your memories will last a lifetime and beyond.

If you're already married, congratulations to you too!  We think married life is pretty great, and we'd love to hear what your favorite memory of your wedding is, or any advice you may have for someone who is planning a wedding now.

Ramble January 14, 2016 08:00

We've met a lot of really cool people recently, including local store owners here in Raleigh.  As you may have seen on our social media, the 2016 UPstudio Planners are being carried in Gather Goods Co. and So & So Books, and Ramble Supply Co. is featuring both Planners and Everyday Cards.  We're so excited to have started these relationships with some pretty fantastic stores, and wanted to take the time to highlight them as well.  Today we're going to focus on Ramble.  

Jessie Connor opened Ramble in November 2014, after moving from NYC and taking a sabbatical to do some travelling.  Her life in New York was exciting, but she started to feel bogged down by the day to day grind of being overworked.  As she contemplated her future, she made a tough decision to pack up and leave.  If she missed NY, then she would return, but if she didn't, it was a sign to start on a new adventure.  She literally explored different areas coast to coast before landing in Raleigh.

Having grown up in Wilmington and having family nearby, Raleigh naturally felt more like a place she could settle.  Jessie's brother owns another local store and encouraged her to take her expertise from her previous job and open up a store to highlight quality products from all over the world.  She did just that, and has been very successful for the past year. 

The Ramble Supply Co. shop is beautiful and simply adorned with a well thought out layout.  The A-framed displays and doorways create a unique character and coziness.  The vibe is friendly and comfortable, and leaves you wanting more.


Beyond just a storefront, Ramble hosts some amazing classes and events, from DIY's to First Friday's and parties that you don't want to miss.  Be on the lookout for their next event in January to learn how to make Kombaucha in a Fermentation Class.

 note: see Ramble Supply Co. website for event dates

We especially love this little corner of Ramble, which UPstudio is privileged to call home for a while:

Next time you're in downtown Raleigh, make sure to stop in at Ramble and say hi to Jessie (and her adorable new puppy, Dolly!)



The Lost Art of Letter Writing November 12, 2015 08:00

Here at UPstudio, we're big believers in the hand-written note.  There is nothing more special than receiving fun mail (read: not bills, advertisements, or coupons for window washing).  Sure an email or a text message are nice, but they don't feel as personal, or as permanent.  I have a collection of letters from my husband from when we were long-distance dating that I'll keep forever.  They're that much more special to me because I know he made the effort to sit down with paper and pen and write something out to me.  We still talked on the phone every day, but getting something physical in the mail always made my day.

  Letters saved from my husband while long distance dating

My grandmother who lives in Virginia just turned 90.  She is hard of hearing so we've never been able to talk on the phone.  Instead, both my sister and I write a letter to her each week.  Usually on Sunday night, I'll take out a note card and write to her about the previous week, and what's coming up next week.  A lot of times I'll try to ask her something about her past, how she felt about something going on in the world, what her favorite book is, etc.  She loves to receive mail and will send back letters and newspaper clippings that she thinks I'll enjoy (minus that one about wrinkles, what was up with that, grandma?! #selfconciousnow)  

Imagine a scenario like this:  You've been dating someone for a while and feelings have grown stronger.  Suddenly, your boyfriend sends you this text message:  "I luv u".  You respond with "I luv u 2".  How sweet.  In order to cherish this forever, you take a screen shot of it and it becomes the background on your phone.  Scenario #2: you thoughtfully pick out a gift for a friend or family member that you spent weeks looking for.  It is sent to them, and you're excited to hear their reaction.  You receive an email that reads "Thanks for the gift".  See what I mean?  Nothing can replace the simple act of writing a letter, mistakes and all, and sending it to someone that you care about.

We encourage you to take the time to write notes when you want to thank someone, tell them something important, or just make a person smile. It might not be practical to send a letter every time, but on the times that it is, make it count.  Especially in this technology-centric world that we live in, take a minute to slow down, write something out, and send it.  I guarantee you that the person on the receiving end will appreciate it more than you know.

Now think about this scenario: you're warm and dry at home as the fall temperatures set in, cozy by a fire with a warm drink in your hands.  Scenario #2:  You're away at war for months at a time, with little to no contact with your friends and family.  The mail is handed out, but you receive none.  On the days that you do get mail, you feel that much more comforted and appreciated.

 Yesterday was Veteran's Day, and we are humbled by the sacrifices that our military has made for us.  This blog post isn't an official letter, but it is certainly one way that we are proud to say thank you to the brave men and women who protect this country.  Thank you to those who have served, or who are currently serving.  Instead of taking just one day to honor and thank our military, we encourage you to consider sending a note of appreciation throughout the year.  There are many ways that you can do this, but one way that we have been a part of is through Soldier's Angels.  They offer different platforms of volunteering, but we especially like the Letter Writing Team.  In this team, you can choose how many letters to write and how often.  You are sent a name and address, and then write a letter to a soldier.  I've done this for several years and don't always get a response, but when I do, it is very obvious how much the letter that was sent is appreciated.  Bonus: it makes you feel just as good to send the letter as it does for them to receive it.  

We believe in letter writing and thanking our military so much, that we're offering to send you a complimentary Everyday Card and envelope so that you can pass it along to a soldier or a veteran.  Just send an email to with your name and address and we'll send one along.  Join us in helping to make someone's day!

 American Flag on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh

A Little Inspiration August 20, 2015 08:00

A little inspiration... but first, a little background.  As you may or may not know, UPstudio is not our full time job.  We both work for the same company during the day, Becky as an architect, and Mary Beth as a structural engineer.  Did you know that out of all registered architects associated with the American Institute of Architects, only 17% are women, and out of all licensed Structural Engineers, once again, only 17% are women.  Not to get all 'Sheryl Sandberg' on you, but I think that's pretty significant and says something about the two of us.  We've worked hard to accomplish where we are in our careers, and that's on top of being wives and mothers, which are full time jobs in themselves.  It's easy to get bogged down in everything on our already full plates, so why would we ever want to start our own side business?

The answer to that is tough to define.  Here are a few reasons: we wanted a new challenge, we wanted to see what it would be like to work for ourselves, we wanted to create quality products that would be versatile enough to be great for us but also be fit for people in all walks of life, and finally, we've been inspired by others who make us believe that we can do it.

There are too many people in the design world to give credit to as inspiration, so for today we'll just mention a few.  Charles and Ray Eames broke the mold during their time by designing quality furniture that was affordable to the masses.  Not only did they manufacture furniture, but they designed graphic textiles, built houses, created films, developed company logos, etc.  We love their theory of 'the best for the most for the least', and as we develop products at UPstudio, that is in the forefront of our mind:  how can we create the best product that would be functional and pleasing to the most people, and sell if for the least amount.  Their influence and strong sense of design is still apparent in homes all over the world (including Becky's!) with their Herman Miller line of furniture.  You may see a nod toward them and mid century modern design in some of our products, including the sunburst everyday cards.  As for the best inspiration when we start to feel doubts about ourselves and our abilities, Charles is quoted, 'I don’t believe in this “gifted few” concept, just in people doing things they are really interested in doing. They have a way of getting good at whatever it is.' 

 image from

Another inspiration is modern day designer Emily Henderson.  Emily is a stylist and TV host (you may have seen her on HGTV), with a love for shopping thrift stores and flea markets for vintage finds (also a love of Mary Beth's).  She's quirky and fun and isn't afraid to share how she balances her home life with her career.  She's a mom of a toddler with another on the way and she still is perfectly adorable for every instagram photo.  She is REAL.  She inspires us to know that there is a time for work and a time for play, and to enjoy both to their full extent.  We relate to her love of vintage flair, which you can see in our staging of product photos on our website.  

image from

Now it's your turn - we would love to know who inspires you!  Share your thoughts and comments below.

-- Mary Beth and Becky

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Everyday Cards - Variety Pack August 6, 2015 08:00

The UPstudio website has been live for over a week, and we're already hitting milestones!  We've made our first sales (thanks Mom and Dad), we have over 100 followers on Facebook, and we're getting really good feedback.  Some of the feedback has come in the form of questions and requests.  We are happy to answer any questions you might have about our company.  You might be able to find some answers from our FAQ page, but if not - ask us!  Contact us via email at, or through the contact page on the website.  Or - leave a comment on any one of our blog posts. 

A few people have told us the same thing: they can't decide which of the everyday cards they like best (the struggle is real - we go back and forth too).  To solve this problem we're introducing a variety pack of everyday cards!  This set will have one of each of the designs with one choice of envelope color.  Having just four in a pack will allow a couple of things: you can easily check out all designs and narrow down which one is your favorite, or, you can buy multiple packs and switch up your envelope color.

What do you think?  Do you already have a favorite design?  We'd love to hear your thoughts!

-- Mary Beth and Becky

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Paper Weights and Printing Behind the Scenes July 31, 2015 11:04

By day we are an architect and an engineer. So we are comfortable in the design world. But when it comes to our new endeavor (UPstudio) there are many hats that we have had to put on that we aren't so comfortable with yet. We've had to be business ladies, marketing ladies, researchers, website developers, the list goes on and on. We have learned so much already and we continue to be educated every day by all of the people helping us along the way (and by google).

Since our first three products (calendar, everyday cards, and the planner) are paper products the first thing we had to be educated on was paper and printing. 

We won't bore you with all the information we have learned, but we did want to talk about the two big things in regards to paper and printing that drove our decisions: 1: Paper Weight and 2: Digital Versus Offset Printing.

Paper Weight:

We learned that are many ways to measure the weight of paper. The most common way is the U.S. Basis Weight. This was a little hard for us to wrap our head around at the beginning because the same paper can yield different values based on the “Basis Weight” applied while manufacturing the paper. The most common are Bond, Text, Book, Cover, Index and Tag. Higher values don’t always equate to heavier/thicker print media. For example, a sheet of 100lb Text paper is actually much thinner than an 80lb Cover stock. We learned Cover stock was our best option because it is the thickness and would give us the most durable products. We decided on 160 lb cover stock for our Everyday Cards and 130 lb cover stock for our Calendars after looking over tons of samples. The “Basis Weight” is defined as the weight of 500 sheets of paper in its basic unit uncut size. An uncut sheet of Cover paper is 20 x 26 inches. So our 160 lb cover stock really means that 500 sheets sizing 20" x 26" weighs 160 lb.

(Are we boring you yet? If so, feel free to scroll down to the cool behind the scenes pictures of our offset printing!)

Digital Versus Offset Printing:

The two most common commercial printing technologies are digital printing and offset printing. Offset involves a mechanical process of applying layers of ink to paper with a series of rollers. The printing plate (containing your design) is mounted on a roller. Ink and water are applied to the printing plate. The ink binds to the part of the plate that contains design elements; the water is applied to the white space portion of the paper. Oil is mixed with the ink to ensure that the ink and water repel each other and there is no smearing or blotchiness on the finished product. The plate cylinder transfers, or offsets, the design onto a rubber blanket roller, which in turn transfers the design onto the paper. When doing multiple colors, each roller would have it's own specified ink – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black — or CMYK. As each of these rollers pass over the page, they transfer ink and build layers of colors, resulting in complete images and text on the page. 

Digital printing eliminates the numerous steps involved in the offset printing process, such as creating films and plates for ink rollers. Most digital presses today apply ink in a single pass from a single ink head, similar to common inkjet printers found in homes and offices.

There are many pros and cons of both technologies. The three biggest differences that applied to us were:

  1. When printing large areas of one color on a digital printer the ink has a sheen to it even if you print it on smooth matte paper. That wasn't really the look we were going for with our large black printed areas. We really wanted a matte finish.
  2. Most digital printers can only handle cover weight up to 120 lb, some up to 130 lb. 
  3. Offset printing is usually more expensive by a considerable amount. (Makes sense right based on the process descriptions above.)

So, based on all our research we felt like the parts of our product that were printed in mostly black should be printed offset so that we would get the matte finish we desired.  Everything over 130 lb weight also had to be printed as offset. This meant our only option for the Everyday Cards was offset printing. But for the Calendars we decided to print the back offset and the front digital, to save some money. This drove the choice for the 130 lb paper, because that was the max the digital printer could take. 

We researched and vetted all of the local small format printers we could find in Raleigh in search of the best price and the best customer service. In the end we went with Commercial Printing Powered by AlphaGraphics. They actually do their offset printing in house and they were nice enough to send us some pictures of our Everyday Cards and Calendars being printed.

The plates made for the offset printing:

Some offset process photos:

Final sheets prior to cropping (look just like the plates):

Again, we just hit some of the key points today, but if you are thinking about getting into paper products or are just curious about other aspects feel free to comment below with questions or shoot us an e-mail. We are no experts, but are more than willing to share the knowledge we have.

-- Mary Beth and Becky


BIG REVEAL! July 27, 2015 08:05

Its been really hard not to share sneak peeks, but now it is time for the big reveal of our first two products... a calendar and a collection of everyday cards!


Our calendar is a small unbound monthly calendar, measuring 5"x7". You can use it to show off at your desk or stick in your notebook. It is pretty yet still functional. We wanted to design a simple graphic that played with typography and varies from month to month. Check out more sample months here.

The everyday card collection actually includes four different card designs, so can we count this as five products? That makes us feel way more accomplished!

Use an everyday card for any occasion. Write a thank you, send some snail mail to your grandma to make her smile, etc. All cards are sold in sets of six and include six envelopes. You can choose from five different color options. Click on the picture above to check out our designs and see the envelope color options. Narrowing our collection down to four options was not an easy task. We had exactly a bigillion ideas but in the end these were our big winners. We hope you like them!

--Mary Beth and Becky