New Year, New Look – New Packaging for The Parcel


For Parse & Parcel, 2016 was a year filled with inspiration, experimentation, collaboration – and change.

We hosted three events in the sample studio, complete with three large-scale paper installations. Added a new intern to our team. We traveled back and forth to NYC, first to judge the Louie Awards, then later for the National Stationery Show. Connected with design and paper peeps in Atlanta for How Design Live. We got to be a sponsor for AIGA’s Get Out the Vote campaign. We revamped the delivery for our flagship product, The Parcel – shipping four times a year (winter, spring, summer, fall). Learned all about digital metallic inks, tried our hands at letterpress and wrote articles for some of our fave online, and print, publications.

You would think this would be enough to do for one year but not quite…

Designing the perfect packaging solution for start-ups

Designing the Perfect Packaging Solution for a Start-Up

Image via Studio of Christine Wisnieski

Starting a business is hard. Really hard. I can’t tell you the countless hours I’ve spent developing the concept behind Parse & Parcel. There are so many details and a ton of planning involved. And no matter how much you plan, things are always changing. The tough part is how to plan for change without knowing exactly how things will change. This is a problem every business faces, but it’s especially difficult when you’ve got a physical product and you’re trying to find the perfect packaging solution – and you’re a start-up.

You Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Oh, really? Tell that to Jessica Hische. She’s built a pretty fab career designing book covers (among other things) for Penguin and Chronicle Books, with the sole purpose of being judged.

The reality is our work is being evaluated all the time. And I can think of no other profession where judgment is more intense than in graphic design. When someone is paying you to literally make their brand look good, you can believe they’re judging you and your work long before you ever meet them.

The Secret to Producing Memorable Print


Most people think great design is the key to producing amazing print.

Great design is only half the battle. In my opinion, the reason many print projects fail isn’t because of the design. It’s because of a lack of detail.

Designers who are known for creating amazing print design, are involved in every aspect of the process – from concept through to production. And that includes specifying and sometimes even sourcing the paper.

For some of you, this may seem like a no brainer. But I’d ask you, how often are you settling for the printer’s house sheet on your work? Be honest. When was the last time you actually had work produced on the paper you envisioned using and specified for the job?

You can blame it on a lack of budget, availability issues, or a tight deadline. Those are just excuses. Every print project faces those same challenges.

The truly memorable, award winning work excels not in spite of, but because of those challenges.

Attract the Client Work You Dream of in 2016

It’s that time of year again, after the binging of the holidays comes the cleansing of, well, everything. It’s always during this time of purging that I think about how much I want to accomplish, especially with work. I think about what I could have done differently this year that would have long lasting benefits for the future. For creatives this can be challenging, especially when you’re constantly comparing your work to that of your peers, and with the constant reminder of it all over social media, there’s no escaping it. *Sigh* If only I had those clients…Why not make this the year you finally attract the client work you dream of?


Gilded Gift Wrap – A Collaboration

One of the things I love about having my own business is the fact that I can create the kind of projects I like. There are a few types of paper promos I adore, and gift wrap is at the very TOP of my list. So when it came time to think about the holiday promotion for The Parcel this year, I knew what I wanted to do. As luck would have it, literally the day I started planning the project, my friend Christine Wisnieski, sent me an email about paper recommendations for a new product line for her shop, gilded gift wrap, and a collaboration was born.

Spec Rep Secrets: Where Have All the Paper Reps Gone?

where-have-all-the-spec-reps-gone-parse-and-parcelAs a paper spec rep I worked with all types of creatives from art directors and production managers in big agencies, to designers in small to mid size studios, to students and freelancers venturing out on their own. A spec rep has one objective, to make sure their company gets the paper spec resulting in an order from the printer. It sounds easy enough but it’s not – especially if you’re the spec rep trying to justify the cost of your role within the company.

One reason is a lack of communication. Many spec reps never explain to their customer how the process works. They assume the designer knows to tell the printer to buy the paper from them. So when this doesn’t happen, eventually the rep stops calling on the designer. I have to say, I never experienced this. I figured if I was working with the designer on the job, supplying samples or securing special pricing, I should be clear about asking the designer to specify me on the print job. Most customers appreciate knowing this info up front – plus it usually opens the door for an honest conversation about the type of work they do and who they print with.

Paper Inspiration: Samples Delivered to Your Doorstep


Is it any wonder creatives are frustrated when it comes to print? Designers love print, yet convincing clients to invest in it can be difficult – especially when budgets are tight. Samples are a great way to show clients how print creates brand value, but accessing them is another story. Relying on sales reps only gives you a small idea of what’s available and limits you to one company’s capabilities. We know what it’s like to see all these incredible print projects being produced but have no idea how to find the resources to produce work featured in your favorite industry magazine and online publications.  Paper inspiration starts with access – how can you spec it if you don’t know it exists?


Each month subscribers of The Parcel receive a curated box of luxe paper, print and design samples. Meant to help educate and inspire, The Parcel showcases samples from your favorite paper mills like Neenah, French, Mohawk, Sappi and more.

Here’s how it works:

  • Choose from our monthly our yearly subscription packages
  • Each shipment includes 5 – 7 premium print + graphic design samples
  • Showcasing premium suppliers and paper options
  • 1-2 personalized samples for your design preferences (ex. Letterpress printing, identity, illustration, etc.)
  • Tutorials showing you print techniques, trends + tips from industry experts

Our experts personally curate the samples each month and include highlights on each piece we think are unique and interesting. Included in each shipment is an interactive tutorial – learn about the latest design trends and print techniques from your phone or tablet. In addition, each shipment of The Parcel includes detailed production notes, you’ll know exactly how something was produced so you can show your client (or printer) what to expect when using those techniques in your own design.

Who it can help:

  • Freelancers who don’t have anyone calling on them and don’t know where to turn for help
  • Junior designers and students looking to build a stellar library of samples that can assist them throughout their career
  • Creatives who feel their options are limited due to in-house print shop requirements – the proof is in the paper samples
  • Print sales reps looking to expand their customer base through great paper and print samples
  • Paper merchants who don’t have a dedicated specification sales force but still want to educate their market
  • Creatives looking to learn about the latest design trends and print techniques

THE PARCEL helps during the creative process by showing exactly how a project was produced, which also helps keep production costs in check – not to mention avoids disappointing clients later on.  Think of it as your own personal paper rep.



Hatch Show Print Giveaway

If you’re a fan of music, design and Americana then chances are you’re already familiar with the work of Hatch Show Print. Founded by Charles and Herbert Hatch in 1879, it’s one of the oldest working letterpress print shops in America. Located in Nashville, Hatch Show Print posters have featured a host of country music performers, ranging from Country Music Hall of Famers Hank Williams, Bill Monroe, and Johnny Cash to contemporary stars such as Garth Brooks and Wynonna.
Their technique, tried and true, has been to combine color, authenticity and a bold tactile design. According to their site they’ve “done it all without losing that irresistible appeal of turn-of-the-century Hatch posters, which were used to promote vaudeville, circus, and minstrel shows across the country. There’s a reason why music lovers, Americana buffs, graphic arts collectors and designers, and commercial advertisers of all persuasions continue to turn to Hatch for inspiration. We are, indeed, a tonic for the information age.”

To celebrate our launch, we’re excited to give away a limited edition Hatch Show Print (numbered and all) to the first 100 subscribers to The Parcel.

Introducing Parse & Parcel


I noticed the trend a few years ago, shortly after I transitioned from paper rep to eBusiness Manager at my former company, Millcraft. As I blogged about paper samples and mill promotions, designers started commenting about how they loved these new products. The more I wrote, the more requests I got asking how they could find these promotions. The thing was many of these samples weren’t necessarily new, in fact most had been out in the market for some time. As my conversations continued, I realized it’s not just paper promotions many designers were unfamiliar with, it was accessing the resources to help make the process easier. That’s when the switch flipped.

As a paper rep, my job was to help designers find solutions. On any given day, I’d meet with 4-5 different studios. Getting an appointment was never an issue, even at the busiest agencies – everyone made time to see the paper promotions. I’d bring them samples from their favorite paper mills, real jobs printed on papers designers loved. Some samples were over the top crazy, combining three or four different paper stocks with just as many techniques. They were always fun to share, you could see the wheels of creativity turn as designers ran their fingers over the pages, studying the various print techniques used. Other times, they’d ask for comps for project they were working on. I’d have our sample studio mock up dummies based on the specs they provided – even providing perfect binding if needed. I’d usually have these shipped out, sometimes I’d drop them off it was a really urgent request.

The problem is not every designer is able to get that kind of service. The perception is you need connections to score these kind of promotions, but here’s the truth – the services exist but local paper companies are selective about who they offer these types of services to. Paper companies tend to focus on businesses that print in large quantities because that’s where they make the most money. Jobs created by most design studios, freelancers and students don’t offer enough ROI to support servicing them. How do I know? Because I saw it happen first hand with my company, our competitors and our suppliers.

This is where Parse & Parcel comes in. From sourcing local product availability to comparing colors and textures to ordering swatch books and purchasing paper samples – I believe information and resources should be accessible to all designers regardless of size, quantity, location or client roster.

Throughout the site you’ll find valuable resources to help streamline the print process and assist with every phase of design – monthly curated collections of professionally designed print samples, a complete offering of swatchbooks neatly organized and beautifully packaged and a full service sample studio from which to choose paper and envelope samples or mock-ups. And you’ll want to join our mailing list so you never miss a thing and get the inside scoop on giveaways and promotions we’re offering.

Think of us as your own personal paper consultant. Because providing access to inspiration is just part and parcel for those who love working with the design community.

Welcome to Parse & Parcel, we’re so happy to have you here.