Sara’s day starts with coffee and the mixed sounds of her animals and child’s laughter as she makes her way to the basement to start her daily operation as a one-woman run letterpress greeting card company in Seattle, Washington. For the past six years she operates a unique stationery store that looks out at the serene view of Fisherman Terminal where fishermen would stop by to buy a gift for the family after a long time away at sea. Since the pandemic began, she quickly adapted to the changes of the environment and brought all the operation home, including three heavy antique letterpress machines. Today, she creates beautifully themed stationery and translates her love for nature and words into meaningful messages on the greeting cards she designs. Sara is the owner of Constellation & Co, a snail mail enthusiast, plant lady, and an avid TRAVELER’S notebook user.
Sara bought her first TRAVELER’S notebook far away from home in 2019. On a trip to Amsterdam, she was persuaded by friends to try TRAVELER’S notebook. In the gift store Miscellaneous, she fell in love with TRAVELER’S notebook Blue Edition at first sight. She loves the way natural leather can securely hold the inserts, but also having the flexibility to switch out notebooks as needed. Since she returned to Seattle, she has taken TRAVELER’S notebook on more local adventures: hiking trails, paths in the wood, parks, beaches, and even to the grocery store. As the city moved into lockdown during the pandemic in 2020, Sara turned to TRAVELER’S notebook for more than travel logs such as journaling, reflections, musings, and ideation for her business.
“I take my TRAVELER’S notebook everywhere, and it still looks beautiful. The leather and the brass have this character, the more you use them, the more you take them places, they get their own personality. Not all notebooks do that!”
Sara graduated with a degree in graphic design. She soon found herself on the path of letterpress and fell in love with the process of creating meaningful greeting cards and handling the entire production from beginning to end. The culture of sending greeting cards in the United States is not unusual, but sometimes feels obligatory. We’re curious how Sara sets herself apart when it comes to designing her greeting cards. Sara’s greeting cards are simple and individually printed through arranging letter types and even carving out the stencils with wood blocks. Aside from the cheerful messages that she weaves on the design, she also writes unique cards that help the sender pass on feelings and emotions that can be hard to express to the receiver.
“I want to make things that speaks to grief, disappointment, or loss in a way that feels honest. I feel like words are my superpower, so often in those situations or something difficult, I can give people the words that they might not have come up with themselves, and not just a greeting card that rhymes. At heart, I’m a writer. I write greeting cards, poems, short stories, and that’s mostly what I use my TRAVELER’S notebook for.”
Flipping through Sara’s TRAVELER’S notebook, you’ll see a variety of things that are recorded from her life. You would see a list of shop product ideas on one page and musings about her childhood home on another page. Throughout the difficult times of the pandemic, she pours her heart and feelings into the pages to help her process anxiety and complex thoughts, like a security blanket. Chronicling her daily life helps her get her worries out on paper so she can think clearly. As she finishes each insert, she archives them in order using the Refill Binder. The notebooks also carry important milestones in her life that she enjoys revisiting from time to time. To make sure she is always ready for the next book, she also has a few empty refills waiting to be filled.
There are also scrappy but beautiful drawings in Sara’s TRAVELER’S notebook. Her upcoming products always start with a list of ideas, accompanied by drafts and sketches. She transforms those sketches into larger paintings, which are then turned into patterns for her stationery products. Sara starts from the blank canvas of TRAVELER’S notebook Kraft and Blank refills to realizing products and collections for her online greeting card business.
“I’m a messy, big handwriting, get all my ideas out kind of person. This is my brain. Everything that’s in there, goes in (TRAVELER’S notebook). However, when I re-read them, I see them as an actual piece of my life. It’s not very organized, it’s not very beautiful, but I love that.”
Sara loves collecting ephemera and tipping them into her TRAVELER’S notebook. She also loves exploring different trails in the Puget Sound area and writes about the hikes. Sara discovered the concept of “forest bathing” through some Japanese literature and has been enjoying the way she can think and ideate freely in those environments. Sitting on a log, she would write in her TRAVELER’S notebook in ways that are honest and real. Speaking of TRAVELER’S notebook with exciting adventures, Sara also took it with her to a special lighthouse keeper’s cottage at Point Robinson Lighthouse, where she spent a magical weekend writing and creating art.
We asked Sara to describe TRAVELER’S notebook in a few words. She chose the words “cohesive” and “continuity”. Independently, each insert serves its own purpose. However, it is when you put the notebooks together with either the leather cover or archiving it in the binders that make sense of the story and journey of her life. There is also flexibility in switching notebooks out and starting fresh when the previous one isn’t what you want. TRAVELER’S notebook is a system that can suit and change with you.
“Instead of jumping from journal to journal, or notebook to notebook, like I used to, my TRAVELER’S notebook is a friend that stays with me over the years. It’s the system I’ve been looking for my whole life, and I’m just so grateful to have found it! Don’t be scared to start. Write every day, even if it’s something you feel stupid about. Let go of whatever feelings of anxiety or guilt around how you want to use it. Keep doing it until it becomes comforting.”
Sara’s journey of creativity and establishing her small business is very motivating. We hope you also find inspiration from the way she utilizes TRAVELER’S notebook to preserve sparks of ideas and turning them into next big things. Take TRAVELER’S notebook to your local park and natural trails to document scenes and stories that are comforting to you and your thoughts.
Have a nice trip!
Sara McNally – Stationery Designer, artist, writer
Sara runs a greeting card company based out of Seattle, Washington, creating cards and stationery with inspiring and encouraging words for her customers. Her creations are a mix of traditional letterpress, poetry, and patterns from her watercolor and gouache painting. Sara is also a lover of snail mail and has been advocating for the movement of letter writing and sending meaningful notes to loved ones in your life. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the natural beauty of Puget Sound area and documenting them through drawings and words, as well as taking care of her plants at home. You can find her greeting cards and stationery on www.constellationco.com and follow her on Instagram @snailmailsuperstar