417 Press is a seriously witty letterpress greeting card line designed by Michelle Secondi out of Montreal, Canada. Combining cheeky sentiments, real talk, contemporary fonts and bright inks and envelopes, this line is unique and continues to be one of my favourites. Michelle recently added a new collection to the line – a series of infertility cards – with sentiments like “Infertility is a f*cking rollercoaster – If you need me to hold your hand I’m right there”. In other words, cards that get to the heart of the issue and show support and love. Like the rest of the 417 Press line, they’re pretty much perfect. I had the opportunity to ask Michelle about the new line and about how 417 Press came to be.
Conversations with friends! We talk about everything. Also driving in the car, especially long drives with my favourite songs. I have a ton of notes that I made using Siri while driving. Unfortunately Siri’s translation garbled a few of them, and I’m pretty sure those ones were complete genius!
Please tell me a bit about your creative journey. What appealed to you about stationery and greeting cards?
I have loved stationery for as long as I can remember, even as a kid. I was always making my own birthday and holiday cards, and then our wedding invitations and before long was doing it for other people. After a decade of creating and designing for others, it seemed like the next step to put my own mark on something, something that I wasn’t seeing out there and wanted to buy.
Oddly enough, I started out designing cards I thought people would want to buy. They were pretty and sweet, but still weren’t the cards I wanted to buy in the stores. So I began experimenting and that’s when I realized that there were others who wanted something fresh as well. I realize now I’m far from the first one to bring snark to the greeting card world, but isn’t it great to finally see something for everyone out there?
Everything! Well, except country (sorry!). My oldest and most favourite playlist is called Boots or Hearts (named after a Tragically Hip classic) with everything from R.E.M to Dire Straits to Fleetwood Mac to Arrested Development. Lots and lots of good memories in there… although I’m probably dating myself!
I love that you love colour and neon – your cards are paired with bright envelopes and your inks are super vibrant. What colour palettes appeal to you most? How does colour factor into your text-based designs?
I used to consider myself a colour-phobe and still have a penchant for white and white space. Then I fell hard for fluorescents and brights, they seem to pair well with everything and were such a welcome departure from the heavier palettes of the 2000s. Now, I’m loving how softer colours work so well in that mix as well. The colour also has to convey the sentiment as well. When you have a card that says, “Merry F- Christmas” it just has to be in a shimmery metallic and fun font with a super bright envelope- a card like that can’t take itself seriously after all.
You are a mom of twins and a successful entrepreneur. Any tips for work-life balance?
A year ago I wrote a blog post saying that work-life balance is totally possible, and I really did have it all together. A lot has changed in the last 12 months though, and it has been more of struggle. Just this morning I was joking with my best friend that I have to take care of myself in parts – one day I get to wash my hair, the next I can shave half my legs, and if things are going really well I can get to the school bus stop in real clothes instead of pyjamas. I’m making my way back to a more sane life and learning to say no, but it’s a perpetual journey.
Speaking of motherhood and babies, you recently created a new line of infertility cards. They are spot on, and will surely resonate with any woman who has struggled with infertility. What made you design these cards?
When a friend miscarried two years ago I wanted to let her know that I totally understood, but I didn’t have a card that precisely expressed that. I wanted to say, “Me too.” I wanted to say, “This sucks and there isn’t much I can do, but I’m here for you.” I’ve been thinking about it ever since and knew that I had to create a series of cards that deal with infertility head on.
There are many things we don’t talk about openly in society, and truly that we don’t know how to support friends and family through. These cards are a show of solidarity, with just the right amount of empathy and humour. What is your hope for these cards?
I heard on the radio that 1 in 9 women suffer from breast cancer, but infertility affects as many as 1 in 6 couples! Yet, infertility is still taboo. No one wants to wear that scarlet letter or talk about their most intimate parts, it simply isn’t… sexy. Worse, a lot of people don’t know what to say or say things that may be well-intentioned, but are actually quite insensitive. If we could shed just a little bit of light, let those suffering know that they’re not alone, maybe we can do away with the shame and silence the whispers.