A New Generation of Wedding Stationary
We discovered the unexpected and sophisticated work of Goods Gang doing what all people currently planning a wedding do - scrolling around Pinterest. As a printmaker marrying a fellow printmaker, I knew wedding paper goods were very important to us. We were constantly noting how there was very little that broke from the norms of fancy cursive lettering and watercolor details. Enter Goods Gang. They're in the business of creating printed wedding products for the couple that is more Heath Ceramics than Wedgewood china. I recently chatted with their Founder, Katrina Mendoza about her story and how Goods Gang got so good.
What is your background? Graphic design? Wedding industry? Printmaking?
My educational background is in graphic design. I went to the University of Washington in Seattle, and I feel extremely fortunate to have studied under the design program there. I originally applied to UW because it’s a great medical school (I wanted to be a dentist—it’s a long story) and it was the perfect distance away from my hometown and my parents (a 5 hour drive from Spokane, Washington). After I very quickly discovered that medicine was absolutely not for me, I found the Visual Communication Design program. The education I received there was the best way to start my career, and I could not have asked for a better foundation for the rest of my professional life. I also met my husband in that program, so ... HUZZAH DOUBLE WHAMMY!
After graduating from UW, I spent almost 10 years working in tech as a UX Designer for agencies, start-ups, and corporations. I feel so lucky to have learned so much during that time, even though I was always missing graphic and print work. UX work is not forgiving and I had to design many complicated systems that accommodate unpredictable content. I really learned how to push my visual designs skills to make something look interesting and compelling (and also obviously user friendly), while making sure it could be implemented in a feasible and practical way. These lessons (along with maybe a million others I learned in the last decade in UX)—plus my graphic design training in college—made me a more efficient and skilled print designer, and I applied all that knowledge to what I do now for Goods Gang.
What made you want to start Goods Gang?
That’s a pretty perfect follow up question because after working in tech for almost a decade, I desperately wanted to get back to my passion of working in print. I would often fantasize about quitting my cushy job and opening my own stationery company, but I wasn’t really taking strides to make that dream come true. Then, 2 years ago, my husband and I moved to New York for an adventure. I’m forever grateful for that decision we made together for two main reasons. One—moving somewhere totally new is an experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. This was my first major move as an adult, and it forced me to grow more than I expected. Two—New York is an incredible city. The energy, the diversity, the people, the places ... everything is amazing and every cliche thing they say about it is true. These two facts showed me a refreshed perspective on my career and gave me the push I needed to take the risk and make Goods Gang a reality.
Whats on your desk right now?
Nothing at all! Is that a boring answer? I’m an actual minimalist, not just visually, but also very literally. I’m an insane neat freak and I hate owning stuff because more stuff means more clutter. And I absolutely cannot stand clutter, especially in my workspace (or anywhere for that matter), so I keep my desk completely empty and put everything away in a drawer or cabinet. And then in those drawers and cabinets are containers and containers of stuff, because I like everything organized and separated, and I don’t like my pens fraternizing with my pencils. Everything I have needs it’s own little home, or else I lose stuff or forget that I even own certain items.
What’s the paper product you can’t live without?
Post-its. I use them to write instructions when I drop off files at my printer. That’s probably another boring answer because considering how much I really do love paper, I don’t actually use paper products outside of the work I do for clients. Now that I’ve grown older, my insane minimalist tendencies overshadow my lust to own a bajillion cute notebooks, pads of paper, and other little stationery knick knacks (I used to collect that stuff like it was my job). But my minimalism (and tiny New York apartments with no room for said knick knacks) triumphs again! Is it a tad more interesting that I special order all white Post-it notes because I can’t stand the visual clutter of the colored ones? And by “more interesting,” I mean, “more crazy.”
What is the digital product you can’t live without?
My favorite digital product in the world is Things. I’m in love with it for real. It’s a to-do list app that I probably use about 200 times a day, every single day, 365 days a year. I have the memory capacity of an amoeba, so I have to write everything down if I expect to remember to do anything at all. I’ve tried so many other to-do list apps and the rest are absolute garbage. Things is probably the most expensive app I’ll ever buy, but it’s totally worth it and I’m weirdly obsessed with it. I could talk about it all day, but the boring answers seem to keep piling up?
Where/when was your love of print first cultivated?
Ever since I was young, maybe around five years old, I’ve had a lifelong love affair with print and design. Both my parents are also creative people, so it’s no surprise that it probably all started when my they first put crayons and paper in my hands. I remember being obsessed with doodling things with every color of marker I could find, making paper dolls and designing different outfits, and cutting up colored paper and making little notebooks for my Barbies. I remember feeling very meh about the toy store, but being in absolute love with any stationery store.
Throughout my adolescence, I used any and every excuse to design something with paper. If there was a school project, I asked my teachers if I could design a magazine publication instead of a book report. Even if I was forced to write a paper, I would decorate it with a cover and illustrate different chapters with colored paper, glitter, and handwritten titles. I always signed up for the school newspaper and yearbook, so that I could design all the layouts. At that time, computer software was really progressing and my papa was a software engineer who had a passion for gadgets and electronics, so I was fortunate to always have my own computer. By the time I was 11, I mastered Microsoft Publisher and QuarkXPress. I’ve loved design for as long as I can remember, and when I think back on the role it’s played in my life, I can’t help but think, HOT DANM! am I lucky to have found my passion at such a young age.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
Oh gosh, this list is long and never ending. I love collaborating with people with complementary skill sets, so we can offer each other something that we ourselves are not experts at. Seems kind of obvious right? I generally don’t collaborate with other graphic designers mostly because I struggle with sharing (only child syndrome) and also, why bother? Isn’t it more efficient and interesting if we each bring something unique to the table to make something new?