With the launch of our Brand Friend program, we’ve been able to connect with others who love the art of the handwritten note, our products, and our brand. If this sounds interesting to you, learn more about how to be a Dempsey & Carroll Brand Friend on our website!
We are delighted to introduce you to Brett Braley-Palko as part of our Brand Friend Spotlight Series. Based in Pennsylvania, Brett works as a marketing manager while writing, baking, and tending to his farm and animals.
How did you learn about Dempsey & Carroll?
Actually, it was through an Instagram rabbit hole. I have always been a huge fan of stationery, but living in in a more rural setting, I rarely get exposed to brands outside of big box stores! Now that brands are more readily accessible online, I’m able to find ones I love and stick with them, including Dempsey & Carroll. It was love at first sight! The crisp designs, the craftsmanship that’s evident, the little bit of irreverence in some of the marketing. I really loved it all.
Do you have any favorite Dempsey & Carroll collections that helped to draw you in?
I think the collection that I first liked was the John Derian collaboration, particularly the Fly Fisher set. Derian has been a favorite store of mine (particularly the Papier-mâché animal heads and the collection of vintage Christmas ornaments they stock), and the collection was just right up my alley in classic and whimsical style. I also liked the mixed-media usage in the Lingua Franca Collection. So cute and innovative!
How do you make traditions modern?
I think about this a lot and I think, for me, it’s about injecting tradition into the small moments of the day. Whether it is writing a thank-you note to an old friend or taking a few hours to bake some bread instead of buying a loaf, I try to step back and appreciate what brings me joy in slow, intentional ways. I think that’s what tradition means to me these days.
Can you recall the most memorable letter that you’ve received (or sent)?
To be honest, I don’t receive as much exciting mail as I’d like (poor me). Hardly any of my family writes, and I notice that letters tend to not act like boomerangs in that they’re almost never returned automatically. I’m going to turn this question on its nose a bit and say the most memorable letter(s) I’ve received actually came by request. I’m currently working on a project of collecting letters from literary and aristocratic figures of Early 20th Century Britain — think Nancy Mitford, Deborah Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, Heywood Hill, James Lees-Milne. As it turns out, the most exciting letters being sent my way are archival scans from Yale, Oxford, and Princeton these days.
We’d love to hear more about how got involved with this interesting project! What inspired you to start collecting these letters?
It kind of came out of nowhere! For the last couple of years, I have read quite a few books regarding the Bright Young Things and aristocracy in early/mid-20th Century Britain. I just really love that time period. When I strayed away from biographies and started reading more letter compilations, many of the prefaces would thank specific archives.
Being a lover of stationery, I was extremely curious about what their stationery was like; the paper colors, fonts, sizes. I was especially curious about the heading conventions for aristocratic figures (do they have their official title on the top? Their birth names? Just a location?). My hope now is to work with a stationer to design my own stationery in this same vein – simple, but not performatively “retro” – just to the bare bones of quality and design. Further, I’ll be pitching some ideas I have brewing of how these design elements have changed and what has stayed the same, such as the beautiful collections Dempsey & Carroll has maintained for 140 years!
Where is your favorite place to write and catch up on correspondence?
Working from home means I’ve really carved a space for myself in our little house. My desk is an ancient and comically large work desk. It was my husband’s college desk and it kind of floated into our spare bedroom. It houses a scattering of iPhone cords, a typewriter, a thousand little notes to myself, and a few dozen library books that are surely overdue as I type this sentence. But it’s mine and once the door is shut, I’m able to get to get right to work while nursing my morning tea.
What are a few of your favorite things to do in your spare time?
Reading is a big pastime for me, so I aim to read at least a half hour before bed each night. I’m also trying to be fluent in French, so you’ll often hear Duolingo from my office. I live on a 5-acre farm in Pennsylvania, so much of my spare time goes to cleaning the house or taking care of our animals. We have 27 chickens and 3 spoiled dogs, so you can imagine most of my time goes to them. I’m also an avid baker, but just easing myself back into baking after a year hiatus (we got married in November, so most of 2018 was spent planning and staying busy with “life” things).
Tell us more about living on a farm! Is farming a main profession or just a hobby?
It’s just a hobby for now! After living in California for about five years, we were happy to move back and claim a piece of land for ourselves. My husband and I are both from this area of Pennsylvania, so once we maxed out a few credit cards and had a couple of nieces and nephews to meet, we decided it was time to return. A farm just seemed like the next step, being able to stretch ourselves out over the land versus being stuffed into another apartment (our landlord lived in our backyard at our last house).
With three dogs, I wanted them to have the freedom to run and play and exhaust themselves on the little plot that’s theirs as much as ours. I work full-time as a Marketing Manager from home, so my days are flexible enough I get to punctuate my breaks from conference calls between the barn and the yard with the dogs.
While farming for me will never be a large-scale operation, I’d love to transition into a more professional role with the farm. I’d like to write on the subject in more freelance work, and some of my work is actually being published this month in the Greenhorns Almanac. My goal is to carve out a space for myself in the farming community to speak of my experience and my philosophy behind animal rearing and stewardship.
But, alas, for now, the eggs we get are sold to librarians, my in-laws, and a select few neighbors!
Thank you so much for sharing with us, Brett! Keep up with Brett on Instagram @brettfbraley, Twitter @brettfbraley, and brettfbraley.com!
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