I know we all hate on the internet sometimes, and that’s valid.
But so often, I find myself in awe of the amazing ways that the internet helps us to connect with people from all over the world. Especially now, I’m grateful for the technology and social media available to us.
I met Kate of Quick Brown Fox Letterpress through Instagram. I am, as you all know, a big stationary and analog nerd, and I love her cute and quirky designs. After starting Longhand Pencils, I got to know her better, and I love following along on her letterpress adventures. Not only is she talented and hardworking, but she’s also incredibly kind and lovely. I feel so grateful for the opportunity to have connected with her.
Today on Talking Shop, Kate talks about Quick Brown Fox’s origin story, the most rewarding parts of her job, and how she runs a printing business in the internet age. So excited for you all to get to know her.
Everyone, meet Kate!
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Kate Murray and I’ve lived in the same area of Brooklyn for most of my life. I live for all things letterpress and have over 500 books.
How did Quick Brown Fox get started?
I had been working for other letterpress studios for about 15 years and dreaming about opening my own shop when I finally found my press on Ebay and a friend who had a studio pushed me to get it by offering me space. Without her, I have no idea when I would have made the leap.
Tell us about restoring your presses. What was that process like?
I had been working on maintaining and doing small fixes on presses for the shops I worked for so when I bought my big press it was just using that knowledge on this one. It was soooooo broken! I leaned on a lot of friends and the letterpress community to get her up and running when I didn’t know how to fix something.
What makes you passionate about stationery/letterpress printing?
I was the kid who grew up making cards at holidays, birthdays, when people were sick, as thank you notes. I also studied printmaking in high school and college so the two just came naturally together. Being able to make people laugh or share an emotion through my work is something I treasure.
What is the hardest part of your job? The most rewarding?
The hardest part is definitely the day to day. Will there be enough work coming in? Will I be able to profit? Can I continue this? Happily the business grows every year so far but it’s something always in the back of my mind.
The most rewarding aspect of my job is just the reactions. I love helping a couple with some fun invites in a stress free environment. Selling a card to someone and having them say “this card is so perfect for ——”. Bringing a little happiness with such a small piece of paper.
How do you manage the analog nature of the business in the internet age of things?
I joke all the time I’m the most analog person you’ll meet. Most of my cards start as a sketch, I read real books, I love a good notebook and pencil. I think there’s a charm and a human aspect to handmade objects, especially stationery that you can’t find digitally. Getting a piece of mail that’s not a bill is always a treat. Especially now with everything going on and social distancing, sending a note or card is a lovely way to let people know you are thinking of them. A text is immediate but a card is something you can save and keep returning to.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Definitely have a safety net when you get started. I socked away money for at least a year to quit my job and start the business. I ran it as a side hustle for about a year before heading off on my own.
What inspires you?
I live for puns. I find puns in every day items all the time, I actually have a list in a notebook of puns I’m working on figuring out images of. I run them by my best friend and my husband all the time to see what works and what doesn’t. When they laugh (or groan) that’s when I know I have a good one.
How do you stay motivated and avoid burnout?
I love what I do and constantly can’t believe it’s what I get to do. That being said, I do get burnout, which is totally fine. I just focus on other things, other aspects of the business and the creative side works itself out. I take breaks and just work on what I can until I can get back to making.
The Fun Qs:
Your dessert island meal?
Shrimp with cocktail sauce.
Your favorite out-of-office activities?
Reading and walking. Sounds weird but I love really long walks in the city. It’s the best way to find all the small places you’d miss taking the bus or subway.
The song that’s currently stuck in your head?
“Here I Go Again.” Ugh, kinda ashamed of this one, it’s a joke between me and my husband but now it’s stuck.
This is totally fine.