Photo courtesy of Susan Corbett Photography
It would be interesting to know whether the majority of small businesses in the U.S. are women-owned. It certainly seems to be the case in the CWE, and so it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to talented Jen Richmond, above, who opened Pretty Together, a wedding brand and stationery design business at 449 N. Euclid early last year.
The CWE was a natural location for Jen's business since she's had a connection to the neighborhood for as long as she can remember. Her father grew up here, Jen was baptized at the Cathedral, and her family would often visit the CWE from their home in Collinsville, IL. Following graduation from Washington University, Jen lived in the immediate neighborhood until her recent marriage to Chris Morrison (who works in IT at Panera Bread), when the couple moved a little further west to the Skinker-DeBaliviere Neighborhood.
It would seem that the jobs Jen has held over the years were all leading to exactly where she has wound up. She worked in the design department of an engineering firm, then wrote copy for an ad agency. Next, she and a fellow agency employee started a company, marketing and branding for small businesses. What held her interest during those years however, was the work she was doing "on the side" - freelance design and branding, especially designing invitations.
It was the invitation she created for own wedding that convinced her to open Pretty Together. The reaction from friends and on social media was so overwhelmingly positive that she decided to forge ahead.
Jen's sample wall is shown above.
Jen volunteered that starting her business has not been without some major learning curves. For one thing, she learned that potential clients expect to thumb through sample books when they visit, but that isn't how her "made from scratch" business works. Jen creates a unique "logo" for each couple, a "brand" that carries through from the save-the-date card to table decorations at the reception.
If the engaged couple has definite ideas of what they want in an invitation, it's easier to come up with a "brand." Jen added, "Even with the tiniest bit of information, I can still create a great product. In fact," she said, "I haven't had a client yet that I couldn't please."
When she started Pretty Together, Jen imagined she would be doing more modern, edgy designs, but most brides these days are requesting floral, old-fashioned invitations, see example above.
For a couple whose engagement took place on top of a mountain, and who happen to love craft beer, Jen worked their story into a "brand." She created a beer label, a coaster for the save-the-date card, and an invitation that features a heart with the word "yes" at the top of a mountain. Beer growlers, shown at top of photo, were decorated and filled with flowers for centerpieces at the reception.
Following an hour-long consultation with a client, Jen will put a proposal together in a low, mid-, and high-price range. Depending on what the client decides, she mocks-up the invitation, envelope, envelope liner, and address label, trying to get as close to the final product as possible.
Jen's mother, Anthea Richmond, her "intern," helps assemble the invitations, see example above. Pretty Together takes the invitation from start to finish, including printing, addressing (calligraphy software, if requested, is very close to the real thing), stamping and mailing.
Jen works for non-profits too. I spotted an invitation she designed for last year's gala sponsored by Park Central Development. Charitable organizations receive a 10% discount.
In order to stay competitive, when everything we need is just a "click away," Jen realizes she needs to sell her products online. So later this year, in addition to her custom business located in the CWE, she's creating a line of stationery, birthday cards, baby announcements, and wedding invitations that will be available on her website.
Jen Richmond, Pretty Together, 449 N. Euclid, (314) 497-5753, by appointment.