Artist Francy Blumhagen of Salmonberry Studio, creates miniature works of art which are sold as notecards. She shares her story, and why collectors love her creations.
ABI: How did you get started with your business, and wholesaling?
FH: I got started in the business of handmade notecards in a fairly straightforward way. In 1995, I showed my paintings in about 12 galleries up and down the West coast. I had done a small simple image using a potato print and sent it out to these galleries (plus friends and family) as a New Year’s greeting. The galleries responded by saying they would love to have more to sell.
My husband Bob had just completed his MBA and we decided to launch a notecard business and see where it went. Salmonberry Studio was started in 1995 with 6 images we wholesaled to the various galleries and within a few years, we had expanded to many more designs and sales locations. At this time, I offer over 250 designs and sell throughout the U.S. and Canada, and occasionally in Europe. I wholesale to galleries, museum gift shops, aquariums, resorts and fly fishing stores among others, plus, of course, stationery stores.
ABI: You create mixed media collages. How do you sell them?
FH: My mixed media collages and large scale woodcuts are shown in galleries and offered, for the most part, to these galleries on consignment. I plan eventually to show my larger work on my website.
ABI: You have sold your line at the National Stationery Show, but you now exhibit at wholesale trade shows for handmade items. Why is this?
FH: I still exhibit at the gift shows and the National Stationery Show. However, I find that the wholesale trade shows for handmade items are usually a better marketplace for my handmade notecards. The buyers at the gift shows and Stationery Show are often looking for the lower prices they can find in mass produced imports, whereas the buyers at the wholesale trade shows for handmade items are looking for the quality they find in handmade art.
ABI: Do your handmade cards also work as wall décor?
FH: My handmade notecards use exactly the same materials I use in my large scale paintings, and are therefore archival and richly colorful to boot. I use a lot of metallic inks which is something I probably couldn’t do if I had my cards commercially printed. Most people who buy Salmonberry Studio notecards do frame them, realizing they are actually small pieces of art. I think this has been one of the most gratifying aspects of my business–hearing how folks have framed their cards and how much they enjoy them.