meet: cara herchenrother of print stich & paste

this week we are sooo lucky to have the so sweet, inspiring and hustling cara of print stitch & paste share with us! cara is the brains behind all of the products in her successful etsy shop. now based out of maryland, she is going to take 2016 by storm and i am excited that we could meet up her early to see the magic unfold this year. 

what is your background?
my background in design starts with my parents - my dad is a painter and sculptor and my mom is an interior designer so art and design has always been a part of my life. i started focusing on graphic design in high school through working on the school newspaper and then went on to earn my bachelor's in fine arts in graphic design at vcu's school of the arts in richmond, virginia. i originally thought i would end up in publication or web design, but neither of them felt 100% right. i always loved illustration and as i brought more of that into my designs, things started to click.

how did you get started selling?
i opened print stitch & paste on a total whim in the summer before my last semester of school. i was moving to washington state for the summer, where my husband is from, and in a lot of ways it felt like my last opportunity to do something a bit impractical before graduation. i worked on a tiny collection of notepads, journals, and gift tags to start and built that up piece by piece. my husband, jeremy, is an incredible artist and was producing his own publications at the time so we worked together a lot to improve equipment, production methods, and experiment with materials. one of my priorities in the shop has always been to offer affordable design so keeping everything in house, hands on, and experimenting with new production techniques has made that possible. i was so lucky to be able to dedicate 100% of my time to the shop from the very beginning, and by the time i had to go back to school in august there was enough potential in print stitch & paste that i cancelled my flight home and put off my last semester for a year so i could put everything i had into my work. it was terrifying but ended up being a great decision!

what inspires your collections?
i don't often work in collections, but if i'm working with a few different pieces together, i'm most often inspired by a mood or the person i imagine using them. i'm, of course, inspired by botanicals and florals but i'll usually imagine the color palette i want to work with first, even if i'm starting with pen and ink. as the shop evolves, i've found myself working more in collections than i have in the past because it allows me to build on an individual concept and i love working a motif into different products and uses. i've also noticed that my customers really enjoy being able to choose different items from the same collection or theme and pairing the styles to each of the recipient's personalities, or to mix and match items to make their own sets.

what has been the best thing you’ve done for your company?
i'd say the best thing that i've done for print stitch & paste is learning not to settle. it's overwhelming to redo or rework something, whether it's a specific product or your entire branding, but it's also been how the shop has grown and improved over time. almost every design from the shop in the first year has been redone or replaced and entire lines of products have been added that i never imagined i could do. it's also easy to get stuck in one vein of work just because it has been popular and well received, so continuing to push my skill and get out of my comfort zone has been tough but really important.

what are you most looking forward to this next year?
i like to say that 2015 was a year of improvements and that 2016 will be a year of changes. last year i focused a great deal on refining and improving every little detail, and this year i'm dying to experiment more and tackle brand new types of products that i've been playing with. i used to be much more of a painter than illustrator, but have never brought painting into the shop so that's something i'm really excited to evolve that more in my process for new designs. i also have a goal this year to share more of my process rather than just the final product. looking through instagram is tough because everyone's sketchbook pages look like beautiful finished pieces of art and mine is often a jumble of different (mostly failed) ideas, but i'm learning that it's a completely valid part of the process and worth sharing!


what advice would you give to makers who are just getting started?
produce ten times more work than you think you need, and then keep going! it doesn't have to be (and won't be) all perfectly executed work but it's the easiest way to stumble upon something that you wouldn't have found otherwise. i try to remind myself to design for yourself first because your personal tastes and preferences are an amazing guidance when you're questioning something and you'll always end up with work that speaks to your personality and shapes you as an artist.


cara is kindly offering everglow handmade readers a 20% coupon to her etsy with the code 'EVERGLOW'. code is good through march 16th, 2016.

thanks so much for sharing, cara! it is so inspiring to hear about your process, see a little bit on instagram and see the final products on your etsy. i can't wait for everything the rest of 2016 has to offer for you!