Love letterpress as much as we do? Then get ready to fall head over heels for the next maker in our series presented by American Express. Meet Andria Sato, the founder of Lilikoi Design + Letterpress. She makes swoon-worthy (and sustainable!) paper goods in her San Francisco and Los Angeles studios. This nod to our HQ here in SF is one of our favorites.
If you want to check out all of Andria’s goods in person, you’ll be happy to hear that she’ll be joining us at Re:Make SF on September 13th! Alright, ready for more? Here’s her story.
First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a Los Angeles native, currently living in San Francisco. I draw upon my multi-cultural upbringing, diverse creative background and love of nature, fashion, travel and art to design and letterpress print custom work and now a retail collection.
Why did you decide to start Lilikoi Design + Letterpress?
I founded Lilikoi in 2007 out of my passion for graphic design, a love for ink on paper and an open heart for the cherished, handwritten note. After several years of experience with print media, a desire to own my own business, and my love for letterpress that started back in college, the opportunity to own a circa 1889 manual press presented itself and there was no turning back.
We have grown steadily creating and producing custom projects, running our studio with sustainable practices and using high quality, carefully chosen materials made in the USA. Custom projects include wedding invitations, stationery, business cards, hang tags, and baby announcements.
Tell us why you love to make.
Creating something by hand has so much love and soul—and I get to share that story.
What does the making process look like for you?
It’s very labor intensive! Our presses are run by hand, so we get quite a workout! Quality is really important to us, as well as where our items are sourced from because they are major factors in the outcome of our products. We want to make sure we use resources that will allow us to produce the best possible outcome.
We stay true to the traditional art of letterpress, which involves mixing inks and printing by hand with 100% cotton paper that is specifically made for letterpress. We believe the press will produce outstanding work with the best combination of design, materials, patience and a talented operator. This is also achieved with the love and attention to detail poured into our products and the amazing clients we get to know.
What’s your favorite thing about the art of letterpress?
All products are not only made by hand with a labor intensive, original technique on machines that date back to 1889—they are one of a kind and beautifully tactile. There’s no other printing technique that can produce the same outcome. I think my favorite thing about the art of letterpress is that the entire process is created by hand. Every piece that comes off the press is like magic—taking artwork from the computer and printing it in letterpress brings it to life.
We’re big fans of your stationery. Where do you get your inspiration?
Thank you so much! My inspiration comes from my travels and all the incredible people around me. I’m inspired by fashion, interior design and materials that are classic and timeless to create designs that are complimentary to the printing technique of letterpress and that are accessible to both men and women. But most importantly, I’m inspired by the art of the handwritten note.
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?
Know that constantly being challenged, scared and making mistakes are all ok—it’s learning from those hurdles and being able to grow and adapt is what’s going to help you maintain your integrity, stay connected to your creativity and be your best so you can achieve bigger goals.
The most valuable business advice I’ve received and want to pass along is to maintain a healthy work/life balance, which I think is important for a role that involves creativity on a regular basis. I also think it’s important to stay true and proud of the product you’re making and to not compare yourself to others. Stay inspired, work hard and be proud of what you’re doing by staying focused on being great and confident.
What other creative hobbies do you have?
I’m passionate about photography, yoga, spending time at the beach, cooking and painting.
Tell us how technology has changed and supported what you do.
Technology has allowed for us to expand our creative opportunities with the letterpress printing technique; because presses are no longer made, this limits the technological advances for letterpress, but it’s also why it’s incredibly special at the same time. Instead of hand setting type or carving a wood block, we can create a printing plate from artwork created on the computer.
What’s up next for you?
We recently launched our retail collection, so we are excited to work hard to partner with retailers to carry our products. We also just renovated and expanded our San Francisco studio, so we are looking forward to hosting workshops, classes and gatherings more often.
This series is a collaboration with American Express. Visit the Shop Small® website to learn about how you can take part in Shop Small, a movement to celebrate small business.