Brand Friend Spotlight: Brett Braley-Palko

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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 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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Learn more about being a Dempsey & Carroll Brand Friend!

Brand Friend Spotlight: Danielle Murdock

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’re thrilled to introduce you to Danielle Murdock as part of our Brand Friend Spotlight series. Based in Connecticut, Danielle just completed her Masters in Education at the University of Hartford and is an avid blogger, traveler, and fashion aficionado.

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How did you learn about Dempsey & Carroll? Are there any particular collections that stood out to you?

I originally learned about Dempsey & Carroll through Instagram. I knew that there was something innately charming about the Dempsey & Carroll “look,” and once I experienced the quality of the paper myself, I was sold!

I was first intrigued by your beautiful holiday card collections because I love classic stationery and Christmas is extremely important to me. There are so many family traditions around the holidays, and handwritten Christmas cards are always an essential part of the season. A handwritten holiday card is a personal well wish to a loved one to let them know that you’re thinking of them during that magical time of year.

 

 We’d love to hear more about your love of letter writing! How do you make traditions modern during the age of instant communication?

I have always been a paper person, particularly when it comes to handwritten correspondence and journaling. There’s something refreshing about writing a letter; it provides a more personal touch than an email or text. My boyfriend and I write thoughtful cards for every birthday, anniversary, or “just because,” and each one is really special to me. It’s far more romantic and meaningful, and it serves as a reminder of what we mean to each other.

 

Can you recall the most memorable letter that you’ve received (or sent)?

One of the most memorable letters that I received was my acceptance letter to New York University (my dream school) back in 2013. It was a stressful time as I was in the process of transferring schools, but I will never forget the shock and happiness I felt when I saw the word “Congratulations” on the page. Receiving that piece of mail changed my entire life and it gave me the opportunity to fall in love with New York City. Although it wasn’t the most personal letter I’ve received, it certainly had the most impact!

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Where is your favorite place to write and catch up on correspondence?

My favorite place to write is my vintage desk that was given to me by my boyfriend’s mom. She’s an expert on all things vintage, and this piece was such a special find for a history-obsessed girl like me. It’s the perfect area to store my pens, stationery, and journals; it’s my go-to spot for letter writing, blogging, and more. The desk is in such pristine condition, and it makes me feel like I’m in a different time period.

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 What are a few of your favorite things to do in your spare time?

I really am a writer at heart–I love to blog and read in my spare time. Fashion is important to me, and my joy in clothes was actually the basis for starting my blog, The Minty Pink. Trends come and go, but classic pieces never go out of style!

I spend a lot of time hanging out with my family and friends; I’m quite social and seeing people I care about is a must! My friends and I have a lot of game and movie nights and we take weekend trips in the warmer weather. Just like everyone else, I enjoy my fair share of TV in my downtime – Game of Thrones, The Crown, Crime Documentaries—the staples, of course.

 

We’ve heard that you’re planning moving closer to New York City (our home)! What are a few of your favorite things about New York and what made you want to move back?

I’m head over heels for New York City. Having gone to NYU for undergrad, I really was able to take in a lot of different parts of the city during those years. I consider it my “second home” and have yet to find anything that comes close. For starters, the food is unbelievable! I have a handful of favorites, like Patsy’s in Harlem for pizza, and the Union Square Greenmarket for fresh produce and local goods.

One of my favorite things about New York is being able to take long walks from the east side to the west side to take in the history and beauty. Exploring the streets of NYC is such a fun activity because it changes so much from neighborhood to neighborhood. Although I don’t know where I’ll be moving, being closer to the city is an absolute must in my book!

 

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Danielle! Keep up with Danielle on Instagram @danimurd, Twitter @themintypink, and The Minty Pink blog!

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Learn more about being a Dempsey & Carroll Brand Friend!

Brand Friend Spotlight: Jon Prince

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!

It is our pleasure to introduce you to Jon Prince as part of our Brand Friend Spotlight series. Based in Pittsburgh, Jon is a world traveler, candy expert, long-time Dempsey & Carroll fan, and more!IMG_4912

How did you learn about Dempsey & Carroll? 

While attending boarding school in the early 80’s, I took a trip to Washington, D.C. and stumbled upon Dempsey & Carroll (Editor’s note – Our only Dempsey & Carroll store is in New York City, though we used to have a Washington, D.C store as well).  Ever the fan of the written word, I treated myself to a few boxes of beautifully made stationery – I still remember that it had a Jockey motif – and the brand has remained a favorite ever since.

 

Do you remember the first letter that you sent on your new stationery?

I recall I sent my parents a letter on my new equestrian emblazoned stationery, thanking them for letting me put the purchase on their charge. Kidding aside, if memory serves me, it was to a woman in Pittsburgh that I had a crush on who always commented that I used “beautiful stationery.”

What’s the most memorable handwritten note you’ve received? 

As a young man, I received a note from Gary Trudeau, author of Doonesbury. I also received a handwritten note from Walter Annenberg which I treasure and is tucked into the desk blotter in my office.

Where is your favorite place to catch up on correspondence?  

I enjoy catching up on correspondence at home in my study, often in the early morning hours. There is something cathartic about putting pen to paper while the house is quiet and life is at a temporary standstill

Pictured below, I have the Annenberg letter along with a letter from the chef of Tailevant Restaurant in Paris wishing me a happy 40th birthday (amazing meal). The wine vintage chart given to me by a dear friend and mentor who is deceased.

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Some of the coolest mementos on my desk include the actual diploma given to JFK when he got his honorary degree in 1963 from University of Galway, Ireland as well as a picture of my dad in basic training in the 50’s.

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We know that you have a pretty sweet job! What is your role at Candy Favorites and what are your main goals at work?

I am the President of CandyFavorites.com, the first online candy store. I am also the Vice-President of McKeesport Candy Co., which is the oldest wholesale candy company in the nation!

Robert Rauschenberg once said that his role was to “work in the gap between art and life.” I wear many hats, but my job is to bridge the gap between old world customer service and the impersonal nature of the internet to create an online experience that goes beyond selling a commodity.

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An insider look at the Candy Favorites warehouse

What does “making traditions modern” mean to you?  

Much like running my business, I love finding ways to keep old world traditions alive while embracing changes in social mores and technology. I loving sending handwritten notes to customers, and I always send notes to friends the day after a party or special meal.

Where business is concerned, most transactions occur on the “great electronic divide” and you can’t imagine the response when someone receives a well-written, witty note. It is a personal connection and bridge to a bygone era when saying “thank you” was the norm and not an exception.

I also have a stationery travel set and nothing is better, or less expected, than slipping a note under a friend or family member’s hotel room door or sharing your appreciation to a hotel, restaurant, or venue where you had a special experience.

I have received a few “thank you” notes via text and consider it a faux pas as it lacks effort or permanence. There is something intimate about choosing appropriate stationery, finding an elegant stamp, and making the effort to find a mail box.  Often, effort is as much appreciated as outcome.

What are a few of your favorite things that you do in your spare time?

I collect art and wine and I love to exercise, read, travel, and keep up with my two boys (aged 9 and 15).

My wife and I recently traveled to Cuba which we adored. It was akin to taking a step back in time and is a place where even the most mundane subjects make for beautiful photography. The colors are breathtaking and the people charming and hospitable!

Most summers, we take a family trip to Villefranche-sur-Mer in the South of France and were thrilled to see our favorite beaches emblazoned on the lining of the envelopes of your Cote D’Azur stationery.

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As an avid swimmer, I sent a note from this collection to a friend and drew a line showing where I swam across the bay! This, along with your baseball motif cards, served as a call to action for our boys to get into the habit of putting pen to paper!

 

Brand Friend Spotlight: Tadd Casner

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’re thrilled to introduce you to Tadd Casner as part of our new Brand Friend Spotlight series. Based in Reading, Pennsylvania, Tadd is a Gilded Age historian, architecture enthusiast, writer, and more!IMG_4333

 

How did you learn about Dempsey & Carroll?  Were there any particular products that drew you in?

I actually found your firm a couple years ago while looking for a proper engraved calling card.  I used my Emily Post etiquette book (1924 edition) as my guide!

When ordering my calling cards I knew that I only wanted my full name centered in the middle and my street address only (not city & state) in smaller font size in the lower right corner.  Very old fashioned!  I live in a city, albeit much smaller than New York!  The font style and card stock thickness were very important to me.  The calling cards that Dempsey & Carroll produced for me are perfect in every way!

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How do you make traditions modern? We’d love to hear more about the work that you do in your historic neighborhood!

My husband and I live in our 1908 Queen Anne twin townhouse here in the Centre Park Historic District here in Reading, PA.  The Centre Park Historic District, Inc. is a volunteer neighborhood organization that was established in 1982.  Its mission is “to promote architectural preservation and enhance neighborhood living.”  We have various events throughout the year including our annual Gourmet Garden Tour and Christmas House Tour.  We promote our events on our website as well as on our Facebook page.  In 2008, “This Old House Magazine” named Centre Park Historic District one of the top ten neighborhoods in America to purchase an historic fixer-upper.

I am now in my third year of serving as President of the Centre Park District. Truthfully, I became President because few people were interested in undertaking the task, though it has been a rewarding experience so far!

 

When did you know that you wanted to be a historian? Are there any particular time periods that interest you the most?

I’ve been fascinated by history and architecture since childhood. I suppose I was born with a talent for it!  My main focus is on The Gilded Age in America and Britain because I’ve always loved the style of that period. I can remember reading the same books over and over again and being obsessed with photographs taken during that era when I was young.IMG_0397

 

Are there any interesting projects that you’re working on now?

I am currently working on writing a Biography of J.H. Sternberg, a steel magnate here in Reading during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century.  He was a very important pioneer in the iron and steel industry, as he patented machinery to produce nuts and bolts.  For seven years,  I actually resided in the home he had constructed.  The home, “Stirling,” sits on a five-acre property in the Centre Park neighborhood.

I am the co-host for two live TV programs at our community television station. One of the shows covers the Centre Park Historic District events, and the other show, “The Passing Scene,” is focused on local history in general.

 

Where is your favorite place to write and catch up on correspondence?

As we are restoring our home, I’m limited to writing at a small built-in desk in one of our dressing rooms. I also use the dining table in our restored dining room, though I am currently looking for an Edwardian period writing desk. IMG_1989

I love writing letters and notes. In our modern era of texts and emails, a handwritten missive seems so much more special and permanent.

Brand Friend Spotlight: Kerrie Kelly

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!

Based in California, Kerrie Kelly is an award-winning interior designer, author and contributor, product designer and multi-media consultant, and more! On Kerrie’s trip to NYC last weekend, she paid us a visit at our flagship store on the Upper East Side to work on a bespoke stationery project and see our latest collections.

How did you learn about Dempsey & Carroll? Do you have plans for your next set of bespoke stationery with us?

I was born in California and my husband was born on New York’s Lower East Side. When we would come to visit New York (we live in California now), we would each share our version of the city. My husband would take me to his church, his school, and Katz’s Deli. Having worked for Ralph Lauren Home Collection, my version of the city was all about Park Avenue, the Polo Bar, and MoMA. While enjoying those neighborhoods, I came across Dempsey & Carroll and fell in love with the quality, history, and brand story. That translated into creating bespoke stationery for my husband, and ultimately for myself. I am currently putting together a bespoke collection that highlights my Blonde Fox accessory collection with GO Home, Ltd. It will be a flat card with a navy blue border and a side profile of a golden fox leaping.

 

How do you make traditions modern?

I believe traditions can be made modern by adding our own personal spin to family tradition along the way; add modern glassware to a china set, cover a family heirloom in a modern looking fabric, or use an updated font or stamp on a traditionally patterned card or note.

 

Tell us more about your love of history and how you incorporate vintage pieces into your work and own home!

When it comes to history, I love to celebrate my family’s heritage. Our dining room is painted a deep navy blue and has a wall of white shelving that features my great grandpa’s trumpet, my in-laws’ wedding photos, my grandma’s old encyclopedia set,  and my grandpa’s shaving kit and camera. Being surrounded by these pieces in a place where we entertain and enjoy friends and family is so comforting. We reminisce about so many good times while creating even more!

Where is your favorite place to write and catch up on correspondence?

I love to write in my home at a secretary that I designed for one of my furniture collections. It has several letters posted with special messages from dear friends and family. It also has my stamps, beloved pens and letter openers. To be surrounded by my favorite things always makes for better letter writing.

What are a few of your favorite things to do in your spare time?

As an interior designer and product developer, I appreciate unique designs, rich experiences, and quality goods. I love practicing yoga, visiting art museums, enjoying special dinners in the city with friends, and taking weekend trips to nearby Napa Valley. These experiences will always keep my creative juices flowing while providing the opportunity to meet new people (and send more correspondence!).

 

Thank you for sharing with us, Kerrie! Be sure to check out Kerrie’s Instagram (@kerrielkelly) and website to learn more about her work and travels. 

Learn more about being a Dempsey & Carroll Brand Friend!