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Meet Caroline Britton of Carciofi Design in Altadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Caroline Britton.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started designing invitations about 15 years ago. I was working at a big financial firm downtown. A couple of my colleagues were getting married and they weren’t happy with the invitations that were available on the market. I had always been a big lover of paper and letterpress so I volunteered to take it on and that’s how it all started. Pretty soon word spread and I was designing invitations as well as working my corporate job. It was a fun sideline to digital work. I got to indulge my love of working with tactile materials and working with my hands. When the recession hit I was laid off. By then I had amassed a decent portfolio so I took my severance pay and spent 3 months photographing everything and building my first website. I got my first online order a month later. It was perfect timing. Between the invitations and freelance corporate design jobs, I made it through the recession. I worked out of my converted garage studio for 7 years and in 2015 I opened my brick and mortar shop in Altadena.

When I was solely online I would rarely meet my clients face to face. I’m fortunate that the website has allowed me to have clients all over the world. I get a lot of east coast clients, but have had clients as far away as Singapore, London, Monaco, Australia, Kenya and Nigeria.

The shop is the culmination of many years of hard work. It’s great to be able to have the public walk in and see my designs. I’m also meeting a lot more locals and working on their weddings. I also carry papers for do-it- yourself types, some great stationery lines, gifts and handmade jewelry (another one of my passions that I sell). All this keeps me pretty busy, but I couldn’t do it all without help and I have some great people who have worked with me for many years.

Has it been a smooth road?
Dealing with multiple vendors to get a job done can be a logistical challenge. We do all our work in-house as much as possible for consistency and quality control. Certainly there have been some kinks along the way. When a client sees something they really want and the vendor has discontinued a paper or a color it can be quite frustrating. There’s a lot of juggling that goes on. Overall though I’d say I’ve been very fortunate. I haven’t really had a bridezilla and clients tend to trust my judgement.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Carciofi Design {Paper Boutique & Studio} story. Tell us more about the business.
Carciofi Design {Paper Boutique & Studio} specializes in custom luxury wedding invitations and stationery. We are known for our handmade bespoke designs and excellence in craftsmanship. There are no “invitation books” at our shop. We work with each client to design something unique to them and their event. Clients can either choose from one of our previous designs and customize them with different colors and design element or we can design something for them completely from scratch. The sky and their budget sets the limit. We also have a ready-to-order line for clients who need something faster and at a lower price point.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Letterpress, engraving and foil printing will always be “in” and doing an online invite for a big event such as a wedding will always be a big no-no. Right now I’m seeing a trend going for layering in invitations. Laser cut sleeves, fabrics, ribbons and embellishments. Watercolor combined with letterpress and/or foil is also big right now.

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All images by Carciofi Design

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