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While walking my dog on a heated day in Harlem, I was on the phone with a friend in Savannah who brought up this magical woman he works with for all of his family's invitations and stationary. When he mentioned by-gone era illustrations of animals sporting royal crowns and her incredible way with monograms, my heart began to race.
As soon as I looked up Alexa Pulitzer I was smitten. She has made stationary cool again making e-cards and Facebook invites seem terribly trashy. Let’s just say her work would get the thumbs up by everyone from F. Scott to the Dowager Countess of Grantham. Bergdorf Goodman, Tory Burch and Anthropologie have all called upon her for exclusive collections.
We caught up with her in ‘Nawlins’ to find out about her love of animals, Southern etiquette and what makes her feel like a failure.
How has New Orleans inspired your illustrations?
Here in (my native) New Orleans we have celebration and theatricality in our blood and my design work reflects that. I often use animals in my work because they project a deep inner strength and personality we humans often identify with. I place crowns on their heads to add a little whimsy, regality and decadence to the mix. I created my first crowned animal ten years ago, my “king gator” and this best selling motif has become a signature of mine.
I know you love Florence as well. Any comparisons between the two cities?
Food, beauty, a joie de vivre lifestyle and culture reign supreme in both cities! I absolutely love Florence. My husband married me there and it is my third home. One day, it will again be my home.
How did you get so many impressive exclusive contracts? Word of mouth or are you a social person?
I would describe myself as being a social person. I love to cultivate relationships with interesting people from variant cultures, especially other creative types: artists, musicians, chefs, foodies! Professionally, I prefer to be a hidden gem for others to discover. The genesis of each business relationship is different and I have yet to advertise or make a “sales call.” The exception was when I mailed a hand written introductory letter to the ex-chairman of Bergdorf Goodman, to arrive on Thanksgiving Day. This personal touch resulted in my creating three proprietary collections for Bergdorf Goodman stationery department.
I hear rave reviews from a private client. Is this a big part of your business?
Thank you. That is so lovely to hear, for I try. Yes, I spend 75% of my day creating one- of-a-kind projects (logos and personal requests) and this is the most rewarding part of my business and day. If I do not create something beautiful every day, I feel like a failure.
Being Southern we are always scolded if a thank you card hasn’t been sent out in 24 hours. Do you see letters, thank you’s and such becoming popular again?
It’s hard to say if I see the note being popular because I am in the stationery business and I’m a Southerner. I hope that they are and from my perspective they never went out of style! I receive hand written notes daily because I constantly entertain, but mostly from happy clients. I too write thank notes, however I am not hard on myself if it takes a week (or three) to pen my heartfelt thoughts. Truth be told, I loathe a thank you in email form but I receive them often. Being raised in the South, being gracious and genteel is not only an attribute, but an absolute must. There is a vast cultural difference between us Southerners and the rest of the nation. Our cultural etiquette tends to be more hospitable, congenial and courteous.
Would you ever design graphics for a web stationary/invitation company?
I would love to!
I see you have photography on your site as well. Is this a part of your business you are working on growing? Or just fun?
Photography was my first art medium and I learned it from my maternal grandmother, who was a successful photojournalist. For my seventh birthday, my father gifted me with a 35mm camera, 10 rolls of film and a request “to visually and creatively document my world.” Today photography is a major inspiration but sadly, still only a hobby. If I could start over, I would be a film-maker or photographer.
Any exciting projects coming up?
I am most excited about my new luxe collection of engraved notes and elegant sketchbooks/journals; as well as a bespoke private label collection I am creating for a international brand that I really admire.