The Beauty of Letter Writing: An Interview with Founders Kate and Isabel
Just over a year ago we had the pleasure of meeting Eva Deitch at the Basilica Farm and Flea. She bought our "I'm here" card as a grounding gift for herself and we were smitten. "What an incredible way to use that card," we thought to ourselves.
A bit later she asked us to do an interview for a new venture of hers, but life got in the way, and the venture has been tabled for now. We so loved the questions she asked us that we've decided to share the interview here. Eva asks the questions and we, Kate and Isabel, both answer.
We hope you will enjoy!
Before you begin, can you share three things you are feeling and/or seeing in this moment?
“This moment is magical and perhaps why I have chosen to sit down and answer these questions. It is 2.5.16 and a quiet snowy morning. From my window, I can see snow quickly falling and collecting on the tree branches. We have about 3 inches now and all is calm. I feel grateful, relaxed, and inspired.” –K.K.
“In this very moment, 2.6.16, I am sitting quietly with Kate at the Boston Public Library. It is nice and calm in here for what seems to be a busy Saturday afternoon outside. I am by the window that looks out to Boylston St. where I can see some of the snow that is still on the ground from yesterday’s storm. I am currently feeling very relaxed, listening to the quiet whispers of other library visitors, some keyboard typing, and mainly the sound of the heating system in the background.” –I.B.
What is the most interesting, important or emotive letter you’ve received or written?
“I have a tremendously hard time picking just one because I have been lucky enough to receive many important and emotive letters, but one that I have returned to often is my 25th birthday card from my younger sister. In this letter she so wonderfully caught me off guard with her ability to both read my pain and call out, in an empowering way, what I have to offer the world. It was what I needed at the time and I am deeply grateful to have the message in her hand-writing to keep forever and re-read as necessary.” –K.K.
“One of the most valuable letters I’ve received in the past is from my husband Chris for our 2nd anniversary. It came at a time when I was feeling insecure about my professional future and quite frankly, I wasn’t expecting a letter from him. While he is an incredibly thoughtful gift giver, and gives me cards that remind him of us, he rarely writes in them. I was very surprised to read the encouraging and powerful message he expressed that day. He also stenciled the card with some vintage initial stencils he had found for me. It is the only card I keep leaning against the mirror in my closet.” –I.B.
If you were to share some insight into the art of letter writing, what wisdom would you bestow?
“Don’t make the letter writing process bigger than it is. A letter can be something deep and emotional, but it can also be a way to share something simple in a different way. What I love about letter writing is that it creates slower moments for both the writer and the recipient. In writing the letter the writer is slowing down, and in receiving the letter the recipient is pausing in his/her day, engaging tactilely while opening the letter, and reading your handwritten words. Each letter you send is a gift, a gift of time, a gift of reflection, and perhaps a gift of a smile.” –K.K.
“To get a letter, write a letter. Sometimes, it takes writing a couple to receive one in return, but there is nothing more rewarding than coming home to a handwritten note in the mailbox. Whether it comes from a friend, a family member, or a pen pal, there is something magical about sharing your thoughts in writing. One of the my penpals is actually a really good friend from college. She currently lives in NYC and although we exchange text messages and phone calls occasionally, I feel like I have gotten to know her more deeply through her letters. This medium allows us to connect in a different way; perhaps it’s the state of mind we find ourselves in while writing. Whatever it may be, I know that there is extreme value in strengthening a friendship through the handwritten word.” –I.B.
"Each letter you send is a gift, a gift of time, a gift of reflection, and perhaps a gift of a smile."
What does it look like when you sit down to write a letter?
“My ideal scenario changes with the seasons. At the moment it is in the morning at my dining room table just after breakfast, with my cup of tea, before the hustle of the day begins. At this point I have already selected the note paper or card I am going to use, selected specifically for the recipient or sentiment of the note. I am writing with a kikkerland ballpoint pen and most probably I am smiling.” –K.K.
“I typically sit at the dining room table in my apartment and pull out my stationery, pens, and rubber stamps from the drawer. I prefer the dining room table because I can really spread out and think about who I am going to write to and what I am going to say. I prefer to write on a weekend day, either Saturday or Sunday, so that I don’t feel rushed and I can take advantage of the warm morning light.
Ideally though, I would have a small round table near a south facing window where I could sit down, drink some tea, and alternate writing and reading throughout the morning. ” –I.B.
If you could begin a life-long correspondence with anyone currently living, who would it be?
“Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work who studies vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. You may know her from her 2010 Ted Talk or the three books she has published: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong. I could listen to her stories and the wisdom she draws from them forever.” –K.K.
“Amanda Jane Jones, founding designer of Kinfolk magazine. Amanda has an incredible design aesthetic and a carefully curated Instagram account where she shares snapshots of her personal life. I would love to discuss all things typography, graphic design, community, family, and life in the city. I also imagine she has extraordinary hand writing and an exquisite taste for stationery.” –I.B.
What correlations do you find between writing a letter and “being present”?
“For me, being present means being aware of your physical and personal surroundings and engaging wholeheartedly with those surroundings. Distractions have been cleared, namely technology, and my attention is on those moments.
As our society has become more and more comfortable with technology it has become harder and harder to be fully present even in a social setting. Your phone is always at arm’s length. Letter writing is a slowing down ritual for me where I am encouraged to, and choose to, be present.
In the moment of letter writing I am holding space for my thoughts and my recipient. I am engaging solely with those entities. I must admit that at times the focus is so intense that it feels like an actual conversation has occurred. I like to think that that present moment of engaging without distractions is created for the recipient when he or she opens the note.
I am working on bringing this presence back to other areas of my life, particularly when in person with people. Isabel and I designed an art print so that we have a constant reminder to be present with others. ” –K.K.
“When I sit down to write, I first need to think about what I am about to say. When I am finally ready to put pen to paper, I focus my attention on how I am holding my pen so that my handwriting comes out the way I want it to. I have to be present so that the execution of my writing is successful, so that it is clean, clear, and free of mistakes.” –I.B.
What is your preferred way to sign-off on a note?
“Until the next note” –K.K
“Warmest Regards” –I.B.