Ladybug Press’ Angela Stewart
by Amy Story Larson, photos by Mark Dyrud
When a former neighbor’s collection of vintage letterpresses sparked Angela Stewart’s curiosity, she was smitten. As a corporate designer, burnout potential was high. She was ready for something else.
Stewart searched for a letterpress. Instead, one found her, and the vintage machine found a borrowed space in a cold, unheated structure, next to a John Deere tractor. Traveling miles to work amidst a slew of old textbooks, Stewart gradually learned the machine’s rhythm. She thought it might be fun to make wedding invitations.
After purchasing a new home, her husband, aware of her desire to have the press closer, casually asked, “Why don’t you build a studio here?”
Within the week, Stewart had one all planned out.
She was once asked, “Someone would really pay you to do this?”
Stewart spent time wondering the same thing but continued to move forward. When others jumped on the trendy letterpress train, then jumped back off, Stewart stayed true.
“If you love something and are willing to try hard enough, you can make a living. People are excited over handmade creations.”
After starting a family, Stewart worried things would slow down. Then a friend told her, “You should sell on Etsy. What do you have to lose?”
She listed her products and waited. Thirty days passed before the first Etsy sale, followed by multiple sales.
“It was addictive,” she says. “Then Martha Stewart’s team found our beer coaster designs and offered a spot in the magazine and at their Grand Central popup shop. If not for Etsy, I might just be doing wedding invitations and corporate design.”
Stewart made a decision. If she was going to make stationery, she was going to make a living at it.
Ladybug Press cards are blank inside.
“We’re all for saying whatever you want to say,” Stewart shares.
She’s the creative behind the line of cards, coasters, notebooks, and other products. You may have seen Ladybug Press’s “Hello!”, “Love from Idaho”, and “Hello from McCall”.
Inspired by travel and life’s simple things like old-school cheese graters, coffee mugs, and colanders, Stewart pushes the letterpress envelope, recently incorporating watercolor washes and rainbow-colored ink, produced individually on the vintage Chandler & Price letterpress that Stewart affectionately calls the “blue beast.”
“We get ideas from clients, too,” shares Stewart, who’s currently working on pet sympathy cards, calendars, and larger notebooks. The calendar was a huge hit, so another is being planned for next year.
Keeping it close to the craft is what sets Ladybug Press apart, as does the commitment to recycling, using leftover cotton fiber paper and salvaged ink, and reusing packing materials.
“We’re not Hallmark,” Stewart says. “We’re exclusive, not found everywhere. People seek our products. When buying them, they’re supporting real people and a small business.”
Moments later, Stewart’s phone makes the “ka-ching” sound of a sale.
“My favorite sound in the world,” she smiles, “I make things I like, and thankfully others like them too. Surprisingly enough, someone would pay me to do this.”
For more information about Ladybug Press, visit ladybugpress.com or call 208.433.8481.