Please welcome our latest batch of Plucky Pioneers, sisters Beth Salvini and Amy Swanson of New York’s charming Greenwich Letterpress. When I lived back east their darling shop/studio in the West Village was one of my regular haunts and I just know you’ll adore them. Enjoy!
Five words used to describe yourself.
Beth: Sarcastic, sensitive, determined, confused, and creative.
Amy: Creative, cooperative, sarcastic, entertaining, and enthusiastic (aka sometimes unintentionally loud).
What inspires you creatively?
Beth: Television, humor, my cat, magazines, John Hughes, art and music.
Amy: Pop culture, photography, vintage illustrations, traveling, paper and fonts (I am a font geek).
Who were/are your design mentors?
Beth: My parents were the first people in my life that were always doing creative/artistic things—I’m positive it rubbed off on me.
Amy: Our parents were always supportive of any creative endeavor we wanted to pursue. We grew up in a creative household which I think made my sister and I go in the direction we did.
How would you describe your personal design aesthetic?
Beth: Yard sale chotsky chic with some Beverly Hills 90210 thrown in.
Amy: We use a mix of contemporary and vintage graphics which lend themselves well to the old-fashioned quality of letterpress printing.
What propelled you to found your own company?
Beth: The idea of working with my sister and getting to carry on the family tradition of being printing entrepreneurs.
Most glamourous part of owning your own company?
Beth: Getting to make most of the decisions, no matter how hard they might be & having creative control is pretty priceless.
Amy: Probably the most important perk to me is having complete creative control over your designs.
Least glamourous part of owning your own company?
Beth: You take work home at the end of the day. I tell my friends it’s like having a baby that never grows up.
Amy: Working constantly, blurring the lines between work and home.
Best business advice you’ve been given?
Beth: Take ownership of everything you do.
Amy: Do not take everything so personally.
Creative businesswoman you admire?
Beth: Martha Stewart, Chandra Greer and my mom.
Amy: My mom, she’s got the goods.
What keeps you organized and on task?
Beth: Owning a shop that is open to the public makes you realize how on point you need to be, it can feel like your mistakes are on display.
Moment you knew you’d “made it”?
Beth: Recently i’ve met some new people who I vaguely described the shop to and turns out they were already fans, after 5 years it still feels weird when someone says, “you mean Greenwich Letterpress is your shop!?”
Amy: Being featured in the TASCHEN’s New York book was an real honor for us.
Describe your typical work day…
Beth: coffee, emails, blogs, designing & finding and supporting new artists to carry in the shop. On a great work day all of my favorite customers come in to gossip.
Amy: Purchase a very large coffee, check emails, go over project list, design, figure out which lunch delivery we are getting, check out some favorite blogs, then back to work….
Your dream project?
Beth: Collaborating with other artists or companies. Projects that allow you to use your design aesthetic and apply it to something that might be outside of yourself or take you out of your comfort zone.
Amy: To have more time to work on products for the shop. Designing our card line has been a dream project for me.
What goals do you have for your business in the future?
Beth: We just renovated our space and I hope to continue to offer a unique and fun shopping experience for everyone that comes in. My sister and I also have big ideas for growing our own line of cards and gifts.
Advice to other budding creative entrepreneurs?
Beth: It’s hard work, so make sure you’re ready and try to keep your sense of humor when times get tough. If you can make it work, it’s a fun life.
Amy: As long as you love what you do and couldn’t imagine doing anything else all of the hard work is worth it.