Craftgasm brings some of our favorite quirky, fun and eco-friendly paper goods to the market that inspire us to return to that time before emails and text messages and find excuses to send our loved ones good old fashioned letters in the mail. Some people rescue animals, Melissa rescues paper… almost too much, which is why she shares her vintage paper obsession with the world. Find out more about her in this week’s vendor profile!
1. Who are you, where are you from and what do you sell? How are you known at the market?
My name is Melissa, and my shop is Craftgasm. I’m based out of a formerly tidy dining room in Dupont Circle in DC. I design and make Gocco screenprints, nerd-approved stationery and cards, and other fun bits, like pins, useable vintage postage, and little journals. All of my products are made from reclaimed and recycled materials. I also sell a sweet collection of vintage rolled National Geographic maps in amazing condition.
However, I’m usually recognized at the market as the girl who makes the “Bitch Set Me Up” prints by people who either love them or are really offended by them. Watching a man try to explain to his 8-year-old son why he was laughing at the print was the highlight of my market day once.
2. How did you get started in your business and what is your future vision?
I started making stationery for myself to write to my many (many, many) pen pals, and it got to the point where I couldn’t use it up as fast as I could make it. I gave it away as gifts to friends, and would be asked, “where did you get this?” all the time. I figured if they liked it that much, other people would too, so I started selling on Etsy in 2007.
Currently I’m designing a series of notecards based on vintage ephemera that I hope to have for sale soon. I’m starting to realize that I can’t personally save all the old pretty papers in the world (especially since my apartment’s limited capacity won’t allow it), and that I might need to rely more on modern reproduction methods (printed on recycled paper, of course) in the future. But! It will allow me to do things more on the designing end of the spectrum, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that adventure goes.
3. Tell us why you do what you do. What is so special about your business?
I love giving old, beautiful things a new life. I grew up as an only child of a DIY single mom near the hippie enclave of Woodstock, so all of those influences have made me someone who hates to just toss something into a landfill when I know it can be remade and appreciated. There are boxes and boxes of rescued old maps in our foyer, just waiting for me to make envelopes and other useable things from them. (Luckily, my husband is both a map-lover and a very patient man.)
I also strongly believe in writing letters (or quick notes or postcards) and connecting through the post. A handwritten missive is one of the least expensive presents you can give, takes so little effort, and yet brightens its recipient’s entire day. We don’t store a text message forever, but there’s a good chance that letters we receive from loved ones will be kept and treasured for a long time. I think encouraging those real-life, written-by-hand connections is so important, and I want to make it easy for my customers to do it in their own lives.
4. What is your favorite thing about FSM?
Fenton Street Market is such a fantastic community resource. It brings so much life and vibrancy into the neighborhood, and it’s fun to watch neighbors bump into each other, or have old friends and customers come by to visit. Plus getting to browse other vendors is a highlight for me, and makes my gift-giving so much easier.