Today we have the real treat of meeting not just one, but two lovely Minted ladies: the Sweet Street Gals. They’ve been a part of the Minted community for two full years now and they’ve contributed a great deal of wonderful work. We know you are just as excited as we were to learn more about Alison and Jessie and how they work so obviously well together.
At age nine, what did you both want to be?
Alison: A veterinarian. I have always loved animals. Now I have a yellow lab, Riley. He is my baby (and quite the artist himself!). Here is one of his “paw paintings”.
Jessie: A pilot.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a designer?
Alison: I always knew I wanted to do something creative as a career. As a child, I loved painting, drawing, craft projects and homemade creations. But it really wasn’t until I was a senior in high school that I got more serious about design. I had a very inspiring art teacher that really helped me develop as a designer.
Jessie: I saw my friend Arielle between classes in college and she was carrying a portfolio of paintings and I had a big stack of English books. I told her I wanted to draw and design all day, so I tagged along to a recruiting session of the visual communications program.
How did you two meet and decide to open Sweet Street?
We met in college, in the Visual Communications program at the University of Delaware. Through all of our design classes, long nights in the studio and working on our portfolio we had many conversations about our dreams to design announcements and invitations for the most important days in people’s lives. We just loved the idea of being a part of a person’s (or couple’s) happiest moments, be it their wedding day, birth of a child or a special birthday celebration. So in 2008, we decided to open Sweet Street Gals.
Do you have any formal design training?
Yes. We graduated from the University of Delaware with a BFA in Visual Communications. There were 4 concentrations we studied in the competitive VC (visual communications) program, advertising, graphic design, illustration and photography. Before starting our senior years, we each declared one concentration. Alison chose Advertising Design and Jessie decided on Graphic Design. Our professors taught us the importance of ideas and strong concepts behind good work.
In the summer of 2004, our VC class studied abroad in London, England. Our professors planned an amazing itinerary. We visited agencies such as BBH, DDB, Pentagram, Baseline Magazine, and The Mill. Our favorite moment was a playful afternoon with Alan Fletcher at his studio.
We were lucky enough to witness a sunrise at Stonehenge and we camped out on the street in the queue for front row seats at Wimbledon. We spent a week in Rome and Florence, Italy and took an eye-opening weekend trip to Amsterdam (our hostel was in the red-light district)! It was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime trip that truly shaped us as designers and further solidified our dreams for Sweet Street Gals.
How would you describe both your styles and your combined style?
We love to experiment with different art styles, but our favorite is modern vector art. Our combined style is to pair a strong concept and copywriting with a simple, whimsy illustration.
What is it like working as a pair? Can you describe your normal collaboration or work flow process?
We find that the best work is born from collaboration. With a team, you can bounce ideas off each other and weed out what works and what doesn’t quickly without the sea of self-doubt. We usually start any project together, brainstorming and talking through our ideas. Next, we usually work on some witty copywriting and then divide and conquer and get into designing. We each love to whip up illustrations that pair well with our ideas. We love working together, it’s a nice balance.
For custom jobs, we’ll look at our schedules to see who has more time and then we generally divvy up every other job that comes in. If one of us is too busy at our full time jobs we’ll pass off to the other. For example, when Alison was planning her wedding, Jessie took on more of the work load. Of course, Alison will reciprocate when it’s Jessie time for wedding planning next summer. It’s great to have the support of each other.
How many iterations does it take for a design to become final?
We’ll always get feedback from one another a few times before we proceed with calling something final. We have trust in each other and it’s great to send variations over email or Instant Messenger. Since we’re on opposite sides of the country, we’re always sending screen grabs and files back and forth, thank goodness for that transfer feature on IM!
What I like the most about your designs is that they are almost always based on this incredibly creative idea… Is one of you the “ideas” person? Do you do a lot of collaborative brainstorming?
Thanks! It means so much to us! We love ideas! We think smart, simple, fun illustrations paired with strong concepts and copywriting always lead to good work. We always work together to come up with the “ideas” behind all of our designs. We just love brainstorming and stretching our thinking for every project that comes along.
Do you have a favorite font?
Alison: I know it’s a pretty popular choice among designers these days, but I just love Burgues Script. It’s just such an elegant typeface. I used this font on my own wedding invitations.
Jessie: I love Buttermilk by Jessica Hische.
Favorite color? Or favorite color right now?
Alison: Sunshine yellow
Jessie: Ladybug Red or Chartreuse
Embroidered Snail by Midori Japan.
What was your wedding invitation like?
Alison: To reflect our personalities, my husband and I wanted our wedding invitations to be fun and whimsical. Also, since our reception was in a barn, we wanted to add a sense of rustic elegance to the suite. I fell in love with the woodgrain embossed Glowing Makassar paper from the Savanna collection by Gmund. I used a combination of offset and copper foiling to print the invitations. Then, to hold all of the pieces together, I had laser cut “XOXO” belly bands made. Instead of inner envelopes, I created tags with each guest’s name that I tied through the counter of one of the “O’s”. They were so fun to make!
Jessie: I’m getting married next fall at a vineyard on Long Island, NY. I’d love to design a series of letterpress mini-books of a story of how my fiancé, Marco, and I met, our wedding details and area attractions.
Program fans for the church.
Ribbon wands for when we left the church.
A ‘just married’ sign for the back of the vintage 1937 Ford.
Love the provided Dancin’ Shoes!
A giant paper mache piggy bank to hold the envelope gifts. We figured a pig in the barn was very appropriate!
We also wrapped candy bars with about 30 different pictures of us ranging from childhood to present day.
A thumbprint tree guest book. We asked each guest to “leaf” their thumbprint and sign their name on one of the empty branches. By the end of the night the whole tree was full of leaves and it looked great.
Any other fun designed elements in your wedding that you want to mention?
Sure! One of my favorites were our centerpieces/table numbers. Instead of table numbers and separate centerpieces, we combined them and made wheat grass number forms.
For escort cards, I strung seed packets from a clothesline. The different seeds corresponded with people’s meal choices.
But my all time favorite was the lighting. My dad is a lighting designer and he did all of the lighting for the wedding. The mason jar and wooden bucket lanterns were all his ideas! He did a truly incredible job!
Here is a slideshow of photos from the big day. My photographer, Heidi, from Our Labor of Love did an amazing job of capturing all of the details!
Did you send out a Christmas card? If so, what was it like?
Alison: My holiday card this past year featured my pup, Riley wishing everyone a “Happy Howliday!”
Jessie: I screen printed cards at Oblation Press holiday card workshop. We included this photo for some of our family since we got engaged right before Christmas.
Tell us about one of your favorite cards offered for sale on Minted and how you came up with the design.
Alison: Little Muffin Baby Shower Invitation. This was such a fun invitation to create. And why not celebrate while the little “bun is in the oven”!
Jessie: Willow Tree Wedding Invitation. It was an abstract idea of a gorgeous willow tree and its branches draping down as a soft texture down the invitation.
What was your favorite custom piece in the last year and why?
A Laser cut San Francisco bridge Save-the-Date that we created. We recently became very interested in the technique of laser cutting. We love how the paper becomes more of a sculptural object.
What was your favorite Minted design challenge and why?
Alison: The Holiday Party Quickfire. It was fun to generate as many ideas and designs as we could in such a short amount of time. It really captured the hustle, bustle of the holiday season!
Jessie: The Real Simple 10th Year Anniversary competition, we were so excited to win First Place with Sweet Success for one of our favorite brands.
Where do you go for design inspiration?
We try to find inspiration from everyday life and our families and friends. But some of our other go-to sources are Martha Stewart, NY Times Sunday edition, Multnomah Public Library, Ffffound , Powell’s books, bike rides, walks and hikes.
Where do you like to shop? What are your favorite stores?
Jessie: local farmers markets in Portland
What designers do you really admire?
Betsey Johnson, Deanne Cheuk, Alan Fletcher, Kate Spade, Jonathan Adler, Ray & Charles Eames
Is there a celebrity whose style or aesthetic you envy or want to mimic?
Martha Stewart, Kate Spade, Cheree Berry
Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
Alison: I went on my honeymoon to Kauai and I just fell in love with the island. The colors were incredible—from the lush green plant life to the crystal blue water to the fiery orange and red sunsets. A truly awe-inspiring place!
Jessie: Savannah Inn Bed & Breakfast in Lewes, Delaware. My fiance’s family owns a B&B in their hometown near Rehoboth/Dewey beaches and the Cape May ferry. Call Gina or Rosie (Marco’s sister and Mom) to book a luxury weekend, they’ll take great care of you!
Do you have any hobbies of note?
Jessie: Paper crafting – I founded a group with local Portland Artists called Portland Paper City: http://portlandpapercity.com/ We won an art show at a contemporary gallery, Disjecta early next year. We’re going to craft the city of Portland entirely out of paper–Mt. Hood, the bridges, people, cars, pets and it’s an open community call for entries. Any Portlander, of any age can download the blank templates we designed and craft themselves into the show.
What can’t you live without?
Well it’s not really what, but more who — our moms! We are both so blessed to have the most generous and caring role models as mothers. They have taught us so much. We wouldn’t be here today without all of their love and support.
Biggest self indulgence?
Alison: Chocolate chip cookies
Jessie: Fine Red Wine
Do you have a favorite time to design?
In school, we would always love to get up at the crack of dawn, get chai lattes and get a head start on all of our projects and art history studying. Now, we are full time art directors in advertising and design firms, so we work 9-6pm and then design late into the night or on weekends.
How did you come up with the name Sweet Street Gals?
Since we live on opposite coasts from Portland to Pittsburgh, we wished there was a street that could span across the states, where we could forever be neighbors. We could meet up and enjoy sweet treats at a bakery, sip mochas at a coffee shop, send out snail mail at the post office, hang out at a newsstand to gather inspiration and relax at a park and share ideas. We also always referred to ourselves as “the gals” so we combined both names.
What advice would you give a new designer?
Alison: Work hard and never give up on the power of your own dreams! There were certainly days where Jessie and I worried that our dream of opening Sweet Street Gals would never become a reality. But with patience and diligence (and tons of love and support from our friends and family) we kept striving and working towards our goal.
A big thank you to two beautiful ladies who create very beautiful things!
Find more of Natasha on her blog.21 COMMENTS