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Meet Andria Sato of Lilikoi Design + Letterpress in Venice

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andria Sato.

Andria, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started 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.

We stay connected to the community by participating in collaborative photo shoots, offering workshops in our San Francisco studio and participating in wedding industry events. In 2014, we reached out to a new audience by launching our retail line (in addition to our custom offerings) to share the cherished experience of giving and receiving a handwritten note. We have worked hard to carry along our efforts to build personal relationships along with our brand.

Creating something by hand with such a labor-intensive process has so much love and soul—and I get to share that story.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There have been many struggles. I don’t think anyone that owns a business can say it’s easy; if it wasn’t challenging, if I didn’t love what I was doing and I didn’t experience both personal and career growth, it wouldn’t be worth it.

I make plans, have big dreams and set goals, but I’ve never been a where will you be in 5 years kind of person. I’ve always felt like that question is a setup for major disappointment. Instead, I’ve focused on problem solving and adapting because you never know what will happen. The struggles I have encountered have been very personal. I think it’s difficult to avoid that getting in the way while owning your own business because it’s such a big part of your life.

Struggles along the way—About a year and a half after I started Lilikoi, I had 3 surgeries within 1 year, all around my busiest time of year. I didn’t have employees back then so for a couple months (after each surgery) my incredibly supportive husband spent his weekends doing everything for me, including shipping and delivering local orders.

In 2012, we moved to San Francisco for my husband’s career. I contemplated going back to work for someone else and putting Lilikoi on hold until we moved back home to LA but instead decided to open a second studio and share my time between the Los Angeles and San Francisco studios. I also launched the retail line which was like starting a second business.

My greatest struggle was at the end of 2015. My husband’s career brought us back to Los Angeles during the busiest time of year for Lilikoi; I left my new employee in San Francisco and I was 32 weeks pregnant. Becoming a mother and balancing work and a new, unknown life at home has by far been the biggest struggle because it has been so emotional. My work is what I’ve been wholeheartedly dedicated to for years but I had just accomplished the most amazing, empowering experience of my life—both were tearing me in different directions. I struggled with taking time off and slowing down my work so I could focus on healing, resting and getting to know my tiny baby.

All of my challenges throughout the years have been rewarding in the end, so I’m very optimistic to see what comes after this most recent event. I have a feeling it will encourage me to make a major change in my plans for Lilikoi and whatever that may be, it will bring happiness, creativity and success in a new light.

Lilikoi Design + Letterpress – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Lilikoi Design + Letterpress is a graphic design and letterpress printing studio based in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. The studio was founded by Andria Sato in 2007 out of a love for the handmade and tactile beauty of letterpress printing.

Lilikoi offers both custom projects and a retail collection of cards, stationery, gift tags and art prints created using hand operated presses and the finest materials. We also offer workshops, private lessons and press rental to anyone who is interested in learning how to run a letterpress.

We also created the prefect desk accessory—A solid brass letter opener made by hand in Los Angeles in collaboration with my father that is available for sale on our website. It includes a black silk tassel and is beautifully packaged.

I’m proud to run a sustainable business with intimate customer service; we are known for our high quality, handmade products using the finest materials that are modern, whimsical and celebrate every day.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Opening our second studio, located in San Francisco and getting to know the community. It felt like such a risk at the time because it was expensive and I was new to San Francisco so I wasn’t sure how the community would respond or how well we would do. It also put my plans of starting a retail collection on hold which was a little disappointing, but it is the proudest moment of my career so far.

The community is so supportive of letterpress and appreciate of the combination of cotton paper and the impression the printing makes in the paper—they love its tactile, unique qualities. I also connected with so many other inspiring lady entrepreneurs that I now call my friends.

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Andria Sato

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