I am a huge (please note the bold, italic AND underline) fan of the work of today’s Plucky Pioneer and I have a feeling you probably are too! Breck Hostetter is the woman behind the brilliant work of Sesame Letterpress in Brooklyn, New York. Perhaps you’ve seen their beautiful creations for sale in John Derian’s shop or in magazines like Martha Stewart Living…? Breck founded the company with her husband, Matt Heindl, and together they’ve met great success designing and printing custom stationery, invitations and so much more. Breck is also the co-owner of Brooklyn Social Cards (yes, ladies, she’s a double Plucky Pioneer!) the maker of the chicest calling cards on earth. I am personally thankful to Breck because she printed the most beautiful custom stationary for John and me (an engagement gift from Miss Jane Warren) that I just adore! Jane also recently took a letterpress class taught by Breck and Matt at their studio and said it was AMAZING. How much fun would that be? I want to move back to New York just to sign up! Read on for words of wisdom from the lovely and oh-so-talented Breck Hostetter…
Five words used to describe yourself.
quirky, dedicated, sentimental, hard-working (I am counting this as 1 word), kind (I hope I am). [Above, Breck at work on a press in Sesame’s Brooklyn studio.]
What inspires you creatively?
Victorian-era graphic design and book design, vintage wallpaper, fabric, children’s books, plants and animals…
How would you describe your personal design aesthetic?
Our letterpresses are circa 1880’s and I love using these presses to print work with vintage inspired elements in bright, contemporary colors. All of the prints we do, from invitations to business cards, greeting cards etc… have elements of this aesthetic. [Above, ridiculously cool letterpress zebra coasters currently available for purchase in Sesame’s online shop.]
What propelled you to found your own company?
I have always made things to give or sell. For years, I did this on the side while working daylight hours at full time jobs. It was always my hope that one day I could eventually dedicate my full attention to my own business. I ran my print shop during the evenings and weekends for about 4 years before I finally calculated that I was working 41 hours at the studio and 40 at my regular job so I quickly quit the day job and became a full time printer.
Most glamourous part of owning your own company?
Hmmm. I’m not sure how glamorous owning my own company is on a day to basis but there are definitely some perks. One time I traded services for a really nice dress. I’d say that being able to meet and work with really interesting people is one of the best parts of my job. [Above, the Brooklyn studio.]
Least glamourous part of owning your own company?
Working all of the time, doing bookkeeping, juggling many deadlines, always trying to please custom clients and making sure there is enough work to support my staff.
Best business advice you’ve been given?
I’m constantly accepting advice. [Above, whimsical business cards printed by Breck.]
Creative businesswoman you admire?
I admire every businesswoman who juggles running a business, having a family and trying to be creative. I am constantly working at this balance and welcome tips from anyone else in the same boat!
What keeps you organized and on task?
My gmail account with lists and labels and calendar. There is no way I could run my business without this. [Above, very possibly the most beautiful wedding invitation I’ve ever seen—printed by Sesame.]
Moment you knew you’d “made it”?
I had a couple silly goals of printing projects for people I admired and having my goods in a couple stores I loved. When I was eventually given these opportunities I felt like I had made it. Really, anytime people tell me that they like my work, it feels validating. Right now I think that being able to take weekends or even just Sundays off and not turn on my computer would really mean I had made it.
Describe your typical work day…
Wake up and dress and feed my daughter. When the babysitter arrives, head to my studio. Stop on the way to buy a chocolate croissant and a coffee. Work with my assistant on printing projects. Leave in the afternoon to pick up my daughter from school. Play with her until she goes to bed. Then turn on my computer and tackle admin and design work in the evenings. [Above, a colorful ink palette at Sesame.]
Your dream project?
I’m lucky to feel like I do my dream projects regularly. These would be the ones I get to design and print for myself (without tight deadlines) or give to friends such as party invitations for my daughter and niece, wedding invitations for my sister, coasters for a friend’s surprise birthday party…
What goals do you have for your business in the future?
My dream would be to move the business to a town by the sea, open a small storefront and be able to take a break mid-day to go for a swim. I think this is more “my fantasy for my business in the future” but it is good to aim high. [Above, a vignette from Breck’s desk.]
Advice to other budding creative entrepreneurs?
Do what you really love. Try to schedule time to see things and do things to cultivate your creative thinking. [Below, more cool coasters by Sesame. If only I were hip enough to live in Brooklyn…]
Stationary is a total weakness of mine and being that I live in Brooklyn, I’m extra pumped. And Kate, you are TOTALLY hip enough to live in Brooklyn!
I agree, that wedding invitation is gorgeous and for personal reasons I love that it is an interracial Indian marriage ;) (same reason I’m totally obsessed with Rickshaw Designs’ Indian block print baby bedding!)
Have a wonderful week!
These are always so inspiring! Her work is beautiful! Now I know where i want to get my wedding announcements when that day comes!
Stephanie @ La Dolce Vita says
I love that there are people keeping these old arts alive and kicking! I am such a pushover for stationery, and especially letterpress. Great find, Kate!
a lovely being says
Sesame letterpress is such a fun company– that’s so cool that they offer letterpress classes!! I would love to take one. AND, I don’t know what I would do without my gmail account, either. It’s the best.
Design Darling says
this post just made my day. such beautiful work and so inspiring. i love affirmation that the written word is not going out of style but very much alive and well. thank you for a wonderful feature.
I just might need to buy those zebra coasters!
the NEO-traditionalist says
I’m with you Jane! Aren’t they amazing??? They’re really just perfection.
rikshaw design says
ohh i am such a mad fan of sesame! just last week i bought those adorable peacock coasters for a friends bday! i think i know where i am going for my next round of business cards! those above i am swooning for!
love it love it!
style chronicle says
I have an obsession with paper! Breck has serious talent!!
such a gorgeous way to make a living. Great interview.
Lauren (pen.ny) says
I am ALSO obsesseddddddd with Sesame Letterpress. I am so so so delighted to see as the Plucky Pioneer!! What a great interview, thanks so much for sharing.
I also desperately want those zebra letterpress coasters. Does it get any better than those?
The Prippy Handbook says
I’m a crazed letterpress junkie! When I lived in the West Village, I would stop by Greenwich Letterpress multiple times a week (after watching puppies in the window at Le Petite Puppy!).
I’ve got to say – I’m blown away by Sesame Letterpress. Thank you for introducing me to such a talent!