Published February 28th, 2012

In 2009, friends Samantha Finigan and Whitney Swaffield launched Gus & Ruby Letterpress in Portsmouth, N.H. Gus and Ruby designs hand-bound journals, birthday cards, and other event stationary but specializes in — you guessed it — one-of-a-kind wedding stationary. The idea for the company came out of conversations Samantha and Whitney had while walking their dogs Gus and Ruby.

French’s Point recently chatted with Samantha, Gus & Ruby co-owner and director of client services, to find out more about this eclectic and talented company.

How do you describe your business?
We are a custom-designed letterpress print shop and paper boutique. We have a letterpress in a separate print shop so we can do all of the design in house. We’ve done everything from very custom illustrated pieces that have illustrations of the [wedding] venue down to something that’s more traditional with hand calligraphy and typesetting. The range is huge — everything from very traditional to very, very wild and custom. We’ve done things that have fabric-lined backing. We’ve done a custom sail-cloth belly band, the cloth that’s wrapped around the middle of the invitation.

How did you come up with the idea for the business?
We’re both trained graphic designers and we met working in advertising together.  We really just realized that we have a similar aesthetic and interest in consumer design for weddings. Whitney is a third-generation letterpress printer and we’re both interested in reinvigorating letterpress in this area. We print on her grandfather’s letterpress from 1896.

How has your company grown since you launched three years ago?
We started out solely as a custom design shop designing one-on-one for clients. Everything we had done had never been done before. But now we have a 1,400 square-foot retail space in Portsmouth with albums from 16 different designers from all across the country. The real focus is on artisanal and specialized design and printing. The biggest portion of our business is wedding invitations.

How is your service different from the competition?
We’re very committed to the experience, so couples come in and sit with us for private consultation lasting anywhere from one hour to two-and-a-half hours. We provide Champagne. We want to know all about the couple — how they met, how they proposed. We want to get a sense of their personal style so that we can infuse that into the invitations.

What’s hot right now in the wedding invite world?
Calligraphy has always been popular but the variety of calligraphy is interesting now. We also do a lot of custom illustrations of venues. We’re also seeing a lot of neutrals and blush and gold. But the general trend is for the invitations to be personal. Customers want them to have very special details. So we want not just the closest to what they’re envisioning, we want them to have exactly what they’re envisioning. Most of our clients are all really different. We don’t have too many people coming in doing the same thing.