On Saturday, I had the pleasure of meeting one of my inspirations, an idol, if I can go that far: Anna Bond, the creative genius behind my favorite stationery (and much more) brand Rifle Paper Co. I'm sure you've heard of it and if you haven't, I am positive you have at the very least seen Anna's beautiful illustrations even if you didn't know it. Rifle Paper Co. is everywhere. Even on classic novels! See, that was the reason behind our meeting. The Oxford Exchange in Tampa hosted a book signing with the celebrity stationer, who illustrated the covers and endpapers for the Puffin in Bloom book collection.
You may recall that I was supposed to attend this signing last month (my first trip to the gorgeous Oxford Exchange) but it was canceled due to a family emergency. So when I found out the event was rescheduled for Nov. 15 you can bet I RSVP'd stat and penned (not penciled) that date into my calendar immediately.
I can't quite remember how or when the love affair began, all I know is I am now obsessed with the brand (exhibit A and B) and just adore everything bearing the Rifle Paper Co. name. (It's a bit of a problem for my bank account.)
The signing was at 3 p.m. but we decided to make a day of it and headed over to Oxford Exchange early (if you count noon on a Saturday as early) for brunch. We already knew OE's restaurant is excellent, and it still delivered. Since it was afternoon, G opted for lunch: a Club piled with roasted turkey, avocado, bacon, tomato, bibb lettuce, Swiss cheese and garlic aioli, with slaw and sweet potato fries on the side. I on the other hand ordered breakfast: Pumpkin Pancakes sitting in a pool of a bacon maple glaze and topped with spicy pumpkin seeds. I never order sweet breakfasts, I always go for something savory (usually a Benedict) but I felt helpless to resist such a perfectly autumnal way to start the day. The cakes were delicious and dense, sweet and a little salty from the bacon, and stacked five to the plate! I couldn't finish but gave it a noble effort.
We lingered over our meals and morning cocktails yet still had about 30 minutes time to browse the shop. Given the occasion, I conceded to my urge to pick up a few new Rifle pretties: the Birds of a Feather Notebook Set and Rose Botanicals Journal (sold out online at Rifle, but available through OE's online shop). A girl, a writer, can never have too many pads of paper.
Soon enough a line was forming and we got in it. G was a happy camper when a server came around asking if anyone wanted a cocktail. Considering he doesn't care all that much about stationery, I think that gin and tonic made his day. Perhaps I should have had one, as I became very nervous, as I knew I would. I've never been to a book signing before and I'm not the fan girl type, so it felt a little odd to fawn over this person and get their autograph. And yet, the whole reason I came is because I do admire Anna Bond. I admire her creative talent but also her entrepreneurial spirit. The fact that she followed her passions, worked hard and, over the last five years, has grown a hugely successful business. Something that started in her garage apartment is now an international and beloved brand with a unique and distinct aesthetic. Anna is the epitome of "do what you love." That's why I consider her an inspiration and a creative's idol.
Now, did I tell her all that to her face? Haha, no. We only had a few minutes to talk. The fact that I had all the Puffin in Bloom books gave me a little more time than most. I opened with something like, "I know you get this all the time, but I love your work." Smooth. Anyway, I preceded to tell her how I used her "Will you be my...?" cards to ask my dear friends to be in my bridal party. And how my husband and I used the Botanicals Garland at our wedding reception. Anna asked if I was from "here" and I told her we are actually from California; that we came from San Diego but are originally from Simi Valley. She then told me her brother lives in California and that she would be visiting him for Christmas, to which I replied that I would be visiting next spring.
Yep, definitely not earth-shattering conversation. But the whole time she was just as sweet as could be. I asked if we could take a photo together, adding as I fanned myself, "even though I'm all red; I'm a little nervous." And she admitted she was nervous, too. See? Sweet as could be.
|[ A display of Rifle Paper Co. goodies in the Oxford Exchange shop. ]|
|[ Stacks of Puffin in Bloom books. ]|
|[ The view while waiting in line to meet Anna Bond. ]|
|[ The book signing took place on the mezzanine-level balcony at the Oxford Exchange. ]|
|[ Anna Bond was all smiles as she met fans and signed books. ]|
|[ Left: I'm pretty sure this photo was taken as I jokingly said, "I hope there is no limit to the things you can sign..." // Right: A slightly-blurry photo of Anna Bond and I. ]|
|[ My signed books, all stacked up. ]|
|[ The inside of "Heidi," with Anna Bond's signature on the endpapers. ]|
|[ A cute holiday card Anna Bond created specifically for Oxford Exchange, to sell at the event. Since only 50 were available, I decided I just had to snap one up. I had Anna sign the inside of the card and I plan to frame it as holiday decor. ]|
|[ Sweet Rifle Paper Co. notebooks. ]|
|[ We ended our OE visit with handcrafted lattes-- vanilla for me, mocha for him-- and a teeny-tiny Oreo cupcake. ]|
Do you love Rifle Paper Co. as much as I do? Is there anyone you look up to and would be excited-nervous to meet?