Ephemora is the new independent stationery studio ready to change the world of wedding invitations and paper goods.
Molly Cichy and Natalie Shaw are two designers who want to see a change in the wedding industry. The two met while working together as designers for Brooklyn Brewery, and one night over a rousing game of Dungeons & Dragons they decided that they could use their extensive creative skills and desire for social change to create a more thoughtful option for wedding invitations and paper goods. Natalie started marbling paper in the kitchen, and at this moment, Ephemora was born.
Despite only being in business since January of 2019, the duo has already made a strong name for themselves by focusing on gender inclusivity, breaking down heteropatriarchal wedding industry norms, and working to reduce the negative impact that weddings have on our planet.
Gender-Inclusive Wedding Invitations That Don’t Only Cater to Brides
Molly and Natalie know that the bride-centric marketing tactics of the wedding industry aren’t for everyone. “We recognize that many people still don’t see themselves represented in modern wedding marketing,” reads their site, and it has become a core focus of their business to create a socially-conscious set of designs that was truly inclusive.
“We wanted to present our clients with something different,” says Molly. Design elements like soft florals and pastels have been utilized repeatedly for decades to target brides and represent what much of the wedding industry has characterized as traditionally “feminine” design elements — as if all womxn have the same taste and design aesthetic.
“We specifically set out to make designs that press the boundaries and don’t fall into the trap of only marketing to brides. We don’t think our clients fall into traditional roles where only a bride does wedding planning or cares about designs or picks out invitations,” says Molly. That doesn’t mean that Ephemora has decided to present a set of “masculine” designs. Instead, they have worked to create beautiful design suites that ditch gendered design stereotypes altogether. They also hope to be welcoming of all clients by asking for and respecting client pronouns, and being upfront about their own. “We wanted to be intentional and make sure that our designs and business processes really resonate with queer and trans communities.”
Molly and Natalie also know there is a lot of ingrained white supremacy in the wedding industry, and so they wanted to avoid creating any white-centric designs, which are unfortunately are all too common. That’s why they have avoided designs with representations of people, and instead have used gender and race neutral designs like the Hands Suite.
An Ethical & Eco-Friendly Approach to Wedding Paper Goods
It’s no secret that weddings generate a large amount of waste, and wedding paper goods are often a significant contributor to this. As environmentally-conscious designers, Natalie and Molly simply saw this as another challenge to solve. When you add up the number of invitations sent each year, and the fuel costs for shipping these invitations out to all your guests, the environmental costs are quite high.
Thankfully, after years of working in an eco-friendly print shop in Brooklyn Molly was familiar with some of the methods and steps that could be taken to reduce waste. She felt it was past time that these methods be applied to wedding invitations, as well, and she had a clear vision for how to build such a studio.
“This looks like using post-consumer recycled paper or paper made from properly managed forests, using eco-friendly print methods like digital printing, shipping using carbon offset credits, and printing locally to minimize the waste of shipping,” said Molly in a past interview with Catalyst. “I literally bike to the print shop to pick up our customers' orders.”
At no point do Molly and Natalie want their clients do feel like they have to compromise on quality in order to reduce waste around their wedding paper goods, and many of their steps to reduce waste in the overall process have also allowed them to continue to create high quality print goods at an affordable price point.
A Collaborative Design Studio that Puts the Focus on Customer Service & Customization
As a collaborative studio, Natalie and Molly love that they each get to play to their strengths. Molly loves to focus on their photography and their invitation suites that more heavily incorporate typography and graphic design. Natalie creates stunning custom illustrations and experiments with patterns and mediums. The result is an eclectic set of designs that are unique, beautiful, and forward-thinking.
While Natalie and Molly have married their skills with Ephemora, their real joy is in providing an excellent design process and experience for their clients and customers. They know that invitations are a part of the larger wedding planning process, and they strive to always provide couples with a seamless design experience and have created suites that can be easily customized to meet every client need, but at a price point that is more affordable than fully custom alternatives. “We created this studio to give customers the ease and simplicity of semi-custom, with all the information they need to make a decision available at their fingertips,” says Molly. “We love the collaborative process of customizing a suite for each client and seeing it come to life anew.”
At the end of the day, Molly and Natalie know that much of customer service, especially when working with marginalized communities, is all about trust. “We know it’s important to instill a large amount of trust in our clients,” says Molly. “People need to trust that they are taken care of when it comes to something as important as their wedding invites.”
The semi-custom nature of Ephemora’s designs means that colors can be altered and text and other elements can be rearranged to include your desired wording and information. Unlike most big box custom invitation stores, Ephemora gives every client a careful design review to ensure everything looks perfect before it goes to print. You can also save your text and details so you can complete your design process over a number of sessions, which is rare with online invitation ordering.
“We want to ensure that kerning and leading is right, that there’s the right amount of white space, and that each invitation has the highest level of polish,” says Natalie. They’ll even send you a sample printed version of your entire suite so you can hold it in your hands before you make a final approval. Natalie and Molly know that things like getting the right color can be important to your overall wedding day design, so they want to ensure that you feel confident in what you’ll receive before your invitations go to print.
Limited Editions Mean Your Wedding Invitations Will Be Truly Unique
One of the things we love most about Ephemora is that they have chosen to make all of their designs limited editions. That means that they will only create designs for each suite for 10 events before they retire the suite, so if you’re loving the designs you see in this post, then you’re going to want to act fast as they are likely to only be available for the next 6 months or so. It also means that the likelihood of your friends ending up with the same invitations designs at their wedding is next to zero.
“We know this isn’t the standard, but we wanted Ephemora to be a creative outlet where we can play with trends without worrying about our designs becoming blasé,” says Natalie. “Also, I think it will light a fire under our butts to keep creating!”
We love that there is some mystery as to what will come next from Ephemora! But in the meantime we asked for some hints into what inspires them as designers. Natalie loves Japanese design, Art Deco, the work of Louise Fili, and unexpected pops of color. She also loves the work of fellow illustrators Rose Wong, Betsy Peterschmidt, and Hannah Xenakis.
Molly wants to see them incorporate more hints of sexuality into their designs because those outdated ideas of purity just don’t sit right with them. Also, let’s be real, your wedding should be a sexy time. “We want to acknowledge that not everyone is inviting their grandmas to their events, so sexuality isn’t always something that needs to be hidden away,” says Molly.
Want to follow along with what’s inspiring Ephemora? Follow them on Instagram to see more of their work and some of the inspiration behind their designs.
Ready to Design Your Wedding Invitations with Ephemora?
Head to their site to fully explore their full collection of invitation suites and to start designing your custom wedding invitations today! And until May 27th, they’re running a giveaway for a full set of their thank you cards. Just sign up to enter.
Jen Siomacco is the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Catalyst Wedding Co. She works to mesh together her love of feminism, love stories, accessibility, equality, and design into the Catalyst brand. When she’s not traveling the country working to make the wedding industry a more inclusive place, she’s writing on her couch and snuggled up with her husband and SUPER lazy cats.
Photo by Tiffany Josephs Photography