Today we are creeping along beside Kristen Ley as she gives us a peek of operations at Thimblepress, a lifestyle brand she started in her garage on an antique letterpress in 2012, and is now operating within 6000 square feet (and growing!) in the heart of downtown Jackson, MS in one of the city’s oldest commercial buildings. Thimblepress® creates unique and colorful paper goods, letterpress and hand painted greeting cards, Push-Pop Confetti®, party items, wall art, gift wrap and much more!
I came to be friends with Kristen kind of all over the place. As a baby stationery buyer (like, I was new. Not that I was buying stationery for babies…), I was lucky to fall in with a Girl Gang of seasoned pros. I like to think I was the Ty to their Cher and Dionne. One of them organized a get-together at The Jane Hotel after day one of NSS in 2015 and I went, BY MYSELF (and by “by myself” I mean my husband walked me over) and had no idea where I was or what to do. I don’t do cool things like “drinks at trendy hotels in New York City.” I’m more of a “let’s get pizza and find a Law & Order SVU marathon” kind of gal.
A couple minutes later, Kristen, her sister, and a couple others came in and I recognized her from the show right away because of an amazing statement necklace she was wearing. She was so warm and friendly and introduced me to everyone with her and we chatted until everyone else arrived.
This past year at NSS, I found her double-wide, bright and cheery booth right away, I got a grand tour of the bunker hide-out she built into the center (complete with a bar and fridge!!) and she gushed about how proud she was of me and my new shop and there were about a thousand hugs. She is so thoughtful and just fun to be around! She also feels so strongly about what she makes and you can feel her enthusiasm for her work in everything that comes out of Thimblepress. You guys are totally going to love what she has in store in these photos. Have fun!
Hey friends! Kristen Ley here of Thimblepress! I am so excited to share some behind the scenes photos of Thimblepress operations and, well, my life! I started Thimblepress out of my garage in 2012 never realizing I would have a team, more than 1000 square feet to operate out of (we operate out of 6000 now!) and live above the studio like a good ole shop girl. I really love it though. With my life and where I’m at right now, living above the studio is quite perfect. Plus, our studio and my upstairs apartment are some of the oldest buildings in Jackson, Mississippi so it has a lot of character and charm (and a lot of things that need to be fixed).
If you know me, you know I am obsessed with my two dogs, Henry Albert Ley (dude on left) and Willow Ley (my main gal on the right). They are my children and I am literally THAT CRAZY DOG LADY. But if we want to get real for a minute… as a business owner they truly keep me from ever feeling lonely. As a business owner, we spend a lot of time in our heads alone and even physically alone. These two furry monsters are always here by my side. As a business owner, you are constantly looking out for others, making sure everything is ok, running numbers, working nights and weekends, coming up with ideas, chasing dreams, solving problems and doing so much more than people realize you do. So my @thimblepets, God, painting & flea-marketing for fun stuff like some of the décor you see in this photo. Those are my sanity makers. I look sane in this photo, right?! 😉
This has to be my favorite room at Thimblepress. It is colorful, filled with shelves of props and there are always fun DIYs, flat lays, and fun shoots happening in this room. I especially love the massive fringe backdrop we made to look like a giant woven wall hanging out of fringe metallic backdrops.
This is what my desk currently looks like. I usually work with gouache, but recently I have wanted to create a lot of large scale paintings. Again, painting is one of my favorite things to do. If I could do that all day every day, that would be amazing! I mix a lot of paint and I use kitchen Tupperware or glass jam or baby food jars to hold custom mixed paint or ink colors. Everything happens on this desk from meetings with team members, conference calls with collaborators, bill paying, etc. Mostly, it is covered in paint and my creative space.
A lot of people think we have a huge fulfillment house to ship out all of our customer and wholesale orders. NOPE! We ship EVERYTHING from our Jackson, MS studio. Every box is packed by a #thimbleteam member and lots of love goes into it. As you can see, most days we can build a fort with all the boxes!
This is a photo of one of our inventory rooms. This inventory room houses all of the labels that we use to package our products with, envelopes, greeting cards, clear bags, clear boxes, etc. We package each of our products. I take a lot of pride in how a product is packaged. I want it to be as perfect as it can be and have great design. Having a graphic design and marketing background, I bring some of those skills from my past life to use every single day.
(Editor’s note: I want to live in here…)
This is one of our team members packaging our confetti cards. We hand stuff each bag of confetti and adhere it to the card by hand, place an envelope with it, slide it into a clear bag and seal it, and then finally stick an “extra postage required” sticker on the back. It’s crazy how many steps it takes to create just one product. We love showing our customers how much love goes into each product.
This is one of my favorite places in our studio. This GIANT 4’ x 8’ bulletin board is filled with hand-written letters, beautiful mail we have received, and a few inspirational pieces we have picked up at shows. Mostly it is filled with wonderful hand-written letters from our amazing customers and retailers. Reading how much they love our product, team & how much our products make them smile is EVERYTHING to me. That is why I cherish the letters and add them to this wall. THIS. IS. WHY. I. DO. WHAT. I. DO. If I could give all my products away just to see the smile on someone’s face I would, but then I would be broke and not able to make more product 😉
(Ed. Note: I do the same thing! I save all that stuff and hang it up everywhere!)
This is the other half of my office. This is the area where fun conversations & meetings happen, where Willow likes to sleep, and the pups step ladder to get out of the window and onto the roof where they love to play.
This is the view from the window directly outside of my office. This is my rooftop. This is the only way I would be able to live where I live with these crazy dogs. It is about 1200 square feet and like a giant play pen with walls on all four sides. The pups love to chase the ball out here, and now with the cooler weather coming in, I love to sit on my hammock and lose myself in the stars at night!
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Ok well, that roof deck looks so amazing and the Thimblepress HQ seems like stationery HEAVEN! I hope you guys loved following Kristen around as much as I did! And thanks to Kristen for taking time to show us around! You’re a busy lady!
Until next month!