In February we marked three years since formerly establishing Story Supply Co. as a thing. When we launched our Kickstarter in 2015, we really had no idea where things were going to go. We had a plan, or something that partly resembled a plan. Mostly, we had a sense that Story Supply Co. was going to be bigger than the original Pocket Staple Notebook we launched. We couldn’t begin to tell you how, or why, but we did have one central driving force—to create analog tools for storytellers and support communities like our own.
In the past three years some unexpected things occurred; we purchased a screen print shop and started making our own shirts. Then, we started making shirts for other people, like nonprofit orgs, and construction companies, even some of our favorite magazines. We got hired to create logos and brand identities for microbreweries and robotics startups. And suddenly we started making a lot of custom products.
We made Pocket Staple Notebooks for our friends at SCRIBEdeliver, Karas Pen Co., and the Tiny House Jamboree in Dallas, Texas. Then we started making them for startups, small businesses, and artists, and we have a bunch more in the pipeline. We bought more equipment, and things were going in different directions.
At some point, okay at many points, we tried to stop and ask ourselves, “what even is Story Supply Co.?”
The short answer, it’s exactly the kind of company we’d hoped to build from the start. Even though, of course, we didn’t quite know it then. What’s weird and cool is that even with all the shapeshifting in how we approached SSC, we managed to stay true to our main mission. We get to make and share stuff we love, and we get to help people tell their stories.
Moving forward, we want to provide a clearer vision and better path for growth, so you can see how we plan to continue to write our own story and help others tell theirs.
Story Supply Co. in three parts:
Our online store and ongoing retail experience has been part of our growth from the beginning. We our relationships with customers seriously. It’s why you get email responses from one of the founders, and why we pack up our cars and travel to pen and trade shows. We love meeting and getting to know people.
You may have noticed, we recently started adding pens and other accessories to our online store. As we grow our retail experience, we plan to continue partnering with and promoting brands we love—like Karas Pen Co., Rickshaw Bagworks, Retro 51, and Metal Shop.
Part of our retail strategy also includes adding more pen shows and live events, so we can meet more of you in person. This year, in addition to Baltimore, Atlanta, and Washington D.C., we’re also heading to the San Francisco Pen Show. The goal is to add one or two more shows to the list for 2019. Chicago? Los Angeles? Long Island?
And because we want you to support your own communities, we plan to continue our efforts to get branded products on local shelves at stationery, book, candy, barber, or variety shops in your town.
MAKING AND DESIGNING or also known as the Custom Shop
While retail is the part of Story Supply Co. that gets seen the most, our backend has been growing exponentially since 2015 😉. Sorry.
Since our launch, we’ve added a full 6-color screen print shop, a saddle stitcher, an offset printing press, a heat press, corner rounders, and a vinyl cutter to our studio. Some of this stuff hasn’t even gotten put to use yet! We’ve been helping other brands tell their stories with custom designed logos, posters, screen printed shirts, flyers, pocket notebooks, larger notebooks, and custom branded leather notebooks. We even made one of our favorite York restaurants custom leather covers for their cocktail menus.
It has been a weird and wild run, and there is no end in sight. We get requests for custom products daily, and we love collaborating on those projects. In the near future, we’ll be working to cultivate even more relationships with brands and individuals interested in making stuff with us. From custom products and Kickstarter add-ons, to T-Shirt fundraising programs, or killer merch for your band’s upcoming show, we can’t wait to help you tell your story.
Supporting our community, and communities like our own, is still really why we do this thing. Here’s how we define what it means to be a community-driven brand.
The Supply Kit Program
- The offer still stands. Every time you buy one of our notebook products, a Story Supply Kit goes to a kid with a story to tell. With your help, we’re continually supplying kids with notebooks in schools and afterschool programs across the country—like Girls Write Pittsburgh, for example, or The Spot Youth Center in Oakland. Our ability to make stuff in our custom shop is now allowing us to approach the Supply Kit Program in new and exciting ways. For instance, we’re currently working on custom Supply Kit notebooks for our friends at 826LA, which will help them spread the word on all the amazing work they do in their neighborhood, while putting writing supplies in kids’ hands.
- We think supporting communities goes beyond simply giving notebooks. We work hard to manufacture our products in ways that are socially responsible because we know that every decision we make as a business affects other people, somewhere. The hope is that when we make it here, we’ll set off a chain reaction that helps others be successful too. When we make it, others make it too.
- Sometimes that means we literally make things here in downtown York, Pennsylvania, in our studio.
- Sometimes that means we sell things manufactured by other business local to our community and other places like Mesa, Arizona, San Francisco, or Shelbyville, Tennessee.
- Sometimes, that means sourcing fabrics and materials from companies who prioritize ethical and sustainable manufacturing processes in other countries. Ensuring workers in those places are getting fair wages in safe conditions means they’re “making” it too!
We can’t wait to write the next chapter of Story Supply Co. with all of you.
Vito and Gabe
Story Supply Co.