About Kevin

Since 1995 Of The Earth has been making paper by hand in their Seattle studio.

Family Photography – Photobomb, or how to take a bad family photo – tips from a product photographer

As a dad I love to look back at photos I took of my children. I enjoy seeing both my children and skills as a photographer grow with time. One thing I have been very grateful for is how my kids have tolerated my sometimes intrusive camera. I am not a fan of the staged photograph preferring to catch my kids ignoring the camera. I spent so many years snapping away gently asking them not to hide their faces, not to react to me at all that eventually they listened. They no longer mug for the camera, they just continue about their business, letting me get the shots that they enjoy flipping through on the annual family calender.

One down side to having a camera in your hands so often is that I am commonly the one asked to snap the family portrait. That is too much responsibility for me. I am always disappointed with the result, not happy with the light or angle or staging, never pleased. I always feel rushed, inadequate and unprepared. I don’t like the spotlight and holding the camera with everyone looking into the lens makes me uncomfortable.

I just received an email from family we visited in December. They sent a pair of the shots I took the last time they handed me the camera. We had just spent the last several days visiting their wonderful new home and were getting everyone into the car to head back to Seattle. They handed me their camera and asked for a quick shot of the cousins together and then one of their family.

Not happy with the camera glare, I should have stepped a little closer to get out of the direct sunlight. I don’t have the skills or knowledge to make that kind of automatic adjustment. I could have been better positioned, I could have taken a few more just to be safe but I wanted out of the spotlight quickly.

I guess not everything is passed down from father to son.

Kevin
farris2farris

 

Walking the New York Now Wholesale Gift Show 2015

Feb 3 2014

As I left the hotel this morning the brisk morning air quickly bit through my open buttons and found its way under my scarf, undoing the work of the hot shower in seconds. I saw a line of bundled up hotel guests entering the shuttle bus headed to the convention center, eight blocks away. I was momentarily drawn into line with them, eying the dirty slushy snow piled against the curb. But the sidewalk was clear, freshly salted and dry and I could not resist another walk to the Javits Center for day three of the gift show. I find walking to be very rewarding and cannot understand how more people do not celebrate their health in this simple way.

By the time I reached the convention center my body and mind were both ready to face another day of telling people about my work. I am a very private person by nature and have found this part of my job to be the most difficult. I do not value the work I do as highly as I am commonly told I should. I am very self deprecating, knowing that there are folks far more talented than me. Spending day after day, telling people why they should have our goods in their store is not my favorite. However, traveling to New York, walking the streets of this city, is a reward very worth the cost of being here.

Kevin Graham

Seattle Bride Feature – A question of etiquette for the modern couple

Seattle Bride Magazine Cover

As a wedding professional with 20 years experience, I am regularly consulted on proper etiquette.  I always reply with two things in mind; what I already know about the event in question and what would kindness dictate?

In most answers I attempt to influence my customer with kindness as the guiding principal.  Should we include everyone’s name on the invitation or just the bride’s parents if they are issuing the invitation?  If you risk hurting someone’s feelings, choose kindness.  Should we send thank you notes to every guest that attended or only ones that brought gifts?  Were you happy that they attended?  Send them a note to express your thanks.  Choose kindness.  Should we include information about our gift registry on our invitation?  Do you want your guest to feel like a gift is their admission ticket to your wedding?  Don’t mention gifts with your invitation.  Having your family and friends witness your wedding vows has nothing to do with loot and everything to do with supporting the new couple from the very beginning of the sometimes rocky journey that is a marriage.  Choose kindness.  Don’t cheapen your ceremony with the slightest impression of greed.

If someone is asking their invitation guy for advice; they are either trying to find out quickly without doing their own research or they are checking to see if their mom is really right.  In most cases, mom is right so listen to her first.  She represents half of the invited guests and knows what is common or appropriate for those guests.  You may need to temper what mom offers up as there are two families being joined and they may have different ideas of what is proper.  This can be based on cultural or regional etiquette that is best to work out with the families involved.  What this becomes is a learning moment for the bride and groom, one of many in the planning of the event.  You need to ask the question of each other “Is it important to you that we are formal or casual in our planning and execution for our event?  Once you agree on the tone you can ensure that you follow the etiquette that represents the proper level of formality.

To ensure that you follow proper etiquette for your event you really have to have a conversation (or several) with your parents, with your bride or groom to be, with your wedding planner, and even with your invitation guy.  Once you have gathered the myriad opinions I suggest you make your decision based on kindness.  There really are a million ways you can plan your special day and once you have decided what is proper for your event, there will be opinions contrary to yours.  If you do choose kindness, it will never be the wrong answer.

Kevin Graham

January 14, 2015

Of The Earth

A quote from this article was published on page 50 in the January 2015 edition of the Seattle Bride Magazine.

 

 

 

End of the year recap – Looking forward to 2015

This time of year always has us scrambling; rushing to pack and ship orders in time for the holidays, rushing to get gifts wrapped for friends and family, rushing to complete our end of year inventory, rushing up and down I-5 to visit our loved ones.

Now that the new year has begun the next rush is on.  Our annual local bridal show begins next weekend at the Washington State Convention center which was built right over I-5 where it passes through the center of downtown Seattle.  We have new designs to add to our existing line of plantable invitations.  We have new equipment going into this bridal season that we bought at last year’s Stationery Show in NY.  We have just 7 more days to put the finishing touches on the invitations that we hope resonate with our Seattle customers.

Once that show is over we begin building a new (sturdier) crate for the NY Gift Show that runs Jan 31 – Feb 4 at the Javits center.  At the end of February we are excited to be participating for the first time in the largest show of its kind in the nation: The SewExpo http://www.sewexpo.com/.  We are excited to be part of the show and look forward to meeting many of you there.

We are excited to see what these next few months bring but want to give a quick shout out to a couple of our 2014 customers who shared their photos with us.

Here is a photo of our Earth Silk ribbon that Heather Edgar sent.

customer photo2

She runs her own business: Evergreen Flower Co. of Columbus, Ohio and was kind enough to send these beautiful photographs.  Thanks Heather!

Earth Silk ribbon on a flower bouquet.

Earth Silk ribbon on a flower bouquet.

One thing we love about the Seattle Wedding Show is the special connections we make with our local brides.  We met Rebecca and Thomas at last year’s wedding show along with Rebecca’s mom.  They were that couple you meet who you can see married forever, their shared energy and enthusiasm were infectious.  We had a great time working with them on all of their wedding plans, this pair was doing it all!  They loved that we offered so many do it yourself options as they were planning to do just as much as they could (including making their own rings).  After their event they shared their wedding web site with us (which is where this photo is from).  You should take a look!

Seattle couple assembles Of The Earth invitations at home.

Seattle couple assembles Of The Earth invitations at home.

Lastly we were excited to work on these holiday cards with a great creative team from Darien, Connecticut.  Thanks for letting us share your project Jim!  GW Hoffman

Front of seed paper holiday card.

Inside of seed paper holiday card.

Inside of seed paper holiday card.

 

Earth Silk Hand Dyed Sash Wedding Gown Success!

We are so fortunate to have such wonderful customers!  We recently were contacted by a customer who celebrated a fall 2014 wedding who just wanted to say “Thanks” for our contribution to her wedding day.  We had worked with her to find the right silk color for her wedding, not realizing until receiving the photos just how prominent our Earth Silk ribbon would be on display on her big day.  It was so wonderful to have a window into her event and see the happiness on display.  Thank you so much for sharing!  We love how beautiful you made our silk ribbon look!

Earth Silk ribbon in beautiful fall tones.

The beautiful bride wearing a hand dyed Earth Silk ribbon sash of her own construction.

Hand dyed silk ribbon ties bride and wedding together

Earth Silk sash ties autumn wedding details together.

Wedding gown with an Earth Silk Sash

Earth Silk hand dyed ribbon sash on a wedding gown.

Photographer: R.T. Photography, Louisville, KY
Alterationist: Heather Brown Alteration, Louisville, KY
Flowers: By the Bride, Erin Tims

Earth Silk Sample Cards – At long last; longer lengths!

Silk ribbon sample set

Hand dyed silk ribbon sample set

Since we started our silk dying studio in 2010, we have known there was a need for this, now we have finally made it happen.  The Earth Silk Sample Set gives you a look at our 90 blends in a new way.  The 1 inch wide lengths will let you see how the dyes interact with the material in a more informative way than our 5/8″ swatches can.  The eight yard lengths allow you to see how the patterns that form on some of our blends, repeat.  Unlike the swatch card where the silk is grouped in numerical order, on the silk sample cards we have arranged them by color.

Earth silk sample sets

Hand dyed silk ribbon sample cards

You can find these sets on our samples page here  custompaper.com/samplesets.

We have numbered them on both sides, with the silk overlapping by a half inch.  You will notice that the ribbon’s number is centered on the correct color.  You can also use the web site as a quick reference if you are unsure.

 

Hand dyed earth silk flower pin – Seattle Bridal magazine feature

Featured in a Seattle Bridal magazine our Earth Silk ribbon adorns the model's dress.

Earth Silk flower pin by Sashaco

Earlier this year we mentioned our involvement with Sachaco, a Kirkland, Washington small business that uses our hand dyed Earth Silk line of ribbon to create stunning silk flowers used as pins and hair decorations. This great shot was from the Seattle Bride magazine where you can see our silk on the model’s hip.

Soon we will have images from Sashaco’s newest design – a Seattle Seahawks inspired flower so you can show your team spirit at work without a bulky sweatshirt.

The trouble with online reviews – How do you decide who to listen to?

A close friend of mine just had one of the worst weeks a small business owner can have. There are many challenges we face and overcome from every angle you can imagine but one of the toughest is from difficult people. He had to fire an employee this week that may end up dragging out into much drama over the next several months (or even years if it goes all courtroom). I think the hardest part for him were the very personal attacks that this employee threw around like so many dangerous, virulent seeds. These squeaky wheels get so much more attention than they deserve and as the one under attack, we often feel that there must be some truth to their accusations, otherwise they wouldn’t be saying those hurtful things right? Not so. Some people are only happy when they are stepping on other people. We need to be able to filter those people out.

With that in mind I have found a way to address an unhappy individual that I dealt with last November. I wanted to respond to her Yelp review, I wanted to find her own Yelp business page and leave her a few choice comments, I wanted to scream and throw a tantrum, but I chose to not dignify her comments with a response. And then today we received a lovely email from a customer and this is how I have decided to address the issue; by speaking about it here on our own blog.

Thanks for reading and understand that in our very connected world your every action has the ability to ripple into far greater lengths than ever before, so be nice!

Hi Kevin!

I happened to go on Yelp today and noticed that you have two Of The Earth pages on Yelp…and the more current one has only one review, a repeat of the one negative review from your original page. I wrote my own review with five stars, but combined with that other one you still only have a 3-star average.

If you didn’t create that Yelp page you can probably claim it and delete it — it’s better not to have two, so you should be able to just update the address on your original one, I’m not sure about that though. Let me know if you do delete that one and I’ll be happy to put my review on your other page.

Thanks again for the invitations — they are amazing!
Anna

Anna,

Thank you for your message. I am very glad that you are happy with your invitations.

Thanks for the gift of your time in leaving a public review for us. We really do appreciate it. I think Yelp can be a helpful tool (I have used it to find out about yoga studios close to home) but I have a bit of a beef with them (as you might guess) for more than just the Of The Earth listing but also from our many business owner friends who have spoken of their feelings of extortion when dealing with Yelp sales people.

We moved our business last July (and five years prior to that move). When we moved in 2008, our one five star review (at the time) moved with us. When we moved in 2013 to our dismay we discovered that our Yelp page was not going to move with us. Yelp had changed their policies and we had to rebuild, with new images and data our Yelp page for our new location. None of our reviews moved with us.

In December of last year we received our first review on Yelp in our new location. In Yelp’s business plan it made sense to them to ensure that that review was posted on both locations. You see, if we pay Yelp $1000 a month (no joke I talked to them at length) they ensure that any bad reviews are pushed to the bottom of the stack, perhaps even get lost on a back page, as long as the payments keep coming.

In life you have to take a few lumps, so we have put pictures and data and our hours of operation on Yelp but we don’t have to pay them or support them in any way. We also don’t have to tolerate extortion from potential customers, even if that means facing an unpleasant public statement of questionable veracity.

I am excited to read your review and again thank you for taking your time to let folks (on the interwebs) know that you were happy with your experience with us.

Wishing you the best,
Kevin

Kevin Graham
kevin@custompaper.com
www.custompaper.com
Of The Earth
7706 Aurora Avenue North
Seattle WA 98103
1.888.294.1526

Seed Paper – how does it grow?

I just wanted to drop a quick note to those folks considering using seed paper for their wedding or promotional items. When was the last time you bought a seed packet and started a garden? For some of us the answer was just last season we pushed our seeds into the soil for our garden veggies. For many of us, we have not held a seed for years. When we wanted to add flowers to our window box we bought starts from the grocery store, when we wanted that indoor plant we bought a mature plant from the big box home store. Many of us have had sunflower seeds at a baseball game or pumpkin seeds from our Jack-o-Lantern but have not touched a live seed nor potting soil since elementary school.
As papermakers who embed our paper with seeds, we often are asked about how our paper grows. The easy answer is “that depends on the gardener”. We test our seed paper extensively as we understand that people need to know that when they tell their family there invitation will bloom – it has to bloom! The problem with this situation is not the viability of the seeds but rather the inexperience of the gardener. We would love to offer a guarantee that you will have a beautiful garden of flowers when you plant our paper goods however there are just too many factors out of our control to offer such a guarantee. We can guarantee that our papers contain viable seeds that have the potential to grow but as you supply the conditions under which those plants are starting their tender lives, we cannot guarantee your success.
Our seed papers do have live seeds that can sprout if you properly care for them. If you cut the paper into escort cards or business cards; you will find enough viable seeds in the trimmed pieces that have the potential to sprout. That being said we have heard from people over the years who stopped watering their seeds in frustration after just three weeks when nothing pushed through the soil. With our paper there are seeds that can take six weeks to germinate. These people who expect immediate results and tire of caring for the seeds, letting them dry out; effectively killing them before they have the opportunity to sprout are more often then not disappointed with the paper (rather than their gardening). For this reason we do not offer a guarantee. We would be happy to mail you a free sample that you can carefully test under your own gardening conditions before you decide to use seed paper for your wedding or business event. Most people these days are very removed from soil and seeds. Most of us buy our plants (and vegetables) that have been started (or fully grown) by professionals under optimal conditions. If you are considering offering your guest or client the opportunity to start a flower from the seeds you send them keep in mind the challenges they will face.

The bulk of our seed paper contains the following seeds:

Perennial
English Daisy

Perennial
Tussock Bellflower

Annual
Lilac Godetia

Annual
Monkeyflower

Biennial/Perennial
Foxglove

Annual
Dwarf Spurred Snapdragon

Perennial
Showy Evening Primrose

Annual
Red Corn Poppy

Biennial/Annual
Catchfly

Perennial
Creeping Thyme

Video from New York trade show –

Well we did it!  We battled Super Bowl hotel prices, a slushy snow storm that shut down parts of the city and empty propane tanks (burrrrr!) in our efforts to put our Earth Silk ribbon line in front of an East Coast audience.

Here is our latest effort at creative film making (video #3)

http://www.custompaper.com/Files/OfTheEarthEntersNY.wmv

We would love to hear your thoughts.

Kevin