Leather journals for wanderers and dreamers by In Blue
Mary Lynn Schroeder, 29, from central Illinois, studied Liberal Studies and Epistemology at the University of Illinois and she created her In Blue brand five years ago when she made her move from the city to the country. She uses print designs from 100 Proof Press which is run by Sara Vukson, and the rest is designed and put together by her much loved In Blue team.
How did you first get into leather printing? What was the process behind this?
Mary: I have always been interested in printing. When I started making leather journals, I wanted to add an element to the product that was unique, that would make the journal special and personal. I started to explore the options for rubber stamps and found that the amount of availability for unique, detailed images was vast, which was very exciting. It definitely took some tweaking and practice to get the process down, but once I had the materials dialed in, everything fell into place.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The highlight of my career so far was my ability to quit my night job and focus on crafting and designing. There is no greater feeling than having such a demand for the product we are creating. I am one lucky lady!
Which of your current designs is your favourite?
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Right now I am drooling over the gorgeous metal work of Jeri Sos, another Asheville, NC artist. Her creations are stunning. I have on one of her rings right now. I also love, love, love Hollie Chastain. I have ten of her art prints and I think they would be amazing on a book cover.
What are your favourite things about your job? Any negatives?
I love my day. I love the team that I work with every day as well. I get excited about going to work every day and I think I am a very lucky lady to get to feel that way. The negatives involve the stress of running my own business and the amount of pressure I will put on myself with each item. When a customer is unhappy with a piece that I make, I take it very seriously and it tends to shake up my confidence…
Have you any plans for the future? When can we expect your next collection and where do you hope to be in five years?
Get ready for more accessories. Laptop bags, purses, wallets and…guitar straps. I never stop sketching and we have been waiting for 2013 to release a few new collections that I am so very excited about.
Have you ever produced bespoke items for Etsy customers?
That’s pretty much all we do. We can print up to ten extra words on any item in our shop, allowing all of our customers to personalise their In Blue item. I think it is a huge part of the success of the company, the ability to make each piece special and specific to the customer.
Please tell me about the creative process that went into your current collection.
What you are seeing now on our Etsy site is definitely a collection of change and transition. I feel like I focus so much on making the journals right now, because I believe so deeply in what you can do just by writing things down. I think my creative process is an emotional and nostalgic one.
Where did you get inspiration for the various types of products and for the different imagery? I adore the natural theme that threads through a lot of the pieces via trees, nature, etc. Any reason for this?
First, I lived in the middle of a huge city, then I lived on a farm in flat land and now I live in a house that I have just purchased with full mountain views out both the front and back of the property. It definitely shows in the designs where I am located!
How would you describe your personality and is this reflected in your work?
I hope so! I love my family, friends, animals, music, nature and fashion. You can tell by the designs that I pick a lot about me. I think all of the items read as a picture book of what I dig.
Do you have a team working with you to help manage the brand?
What is your advice for others wanting to go down the home business retail path?
Think very hard about what you are getting into, decide if you want it badly enough to go after it, pick a soundtrack for late night order filling and go for the gold. I have never been so proud, stressed, happy, full, scared, excited, apprehensive and satisfied all at once. Above all, own it. Own your work and stand beside it. Do not be afraid to let yourself shine through and take the chance; you will never know if you don’t leap.
Photos: Courtesy of In Blue
To visit Mary Lynn’s Etsy shop, click here to check out the rest of her beautiful pieces.