WORDS’ WORTH: Arley-Rose Torsone and Morgan Calderini, co-owners of Ladyfingers Letterpress, founded the Pawtucket company in 2011. The company makes custom-designed invitations and greeting cards that personalize the message with old-fashioned hand lettering.
Custom-invitation maker Ladyfingers Letterpress is poised for rapid growth.
By spring, the Pawtucket company will be selling a Heritage Baby Album, interactive greeting cards and a new line of greeting-card designs that incorporate photos. It’s a tall order for a firm that’s not yet 3 years old.
The boost in production and exposure is expected to flip the company’s revenue stream from 80 percent individual custom work and 20 percent wholesale and retail to the reverse.
“It’s going to be a big year,” predicted Morgan Calderini, project manager, letterpress operator and co-owner, with designer and wife, Arley-Rose Torsone.
Revenue doubled in 2013 to $350,000 from the year prior, said Calderini. The owners began working on the company right before they got married in September 2011 and officially formed the S corporation the following March.
Ladyfingers Letterpress makes custom-designed invitations and greeting cards that personalize the message from the sender using old-fashioned hand-lettering, custom-design work and letterpress printing. Use of the letterpress technique is what makes the company’s product stand out, Calderini said.
“People are really hungry for the tactile feeling of pressed paper,” she said.
Instead of using lead type to print words, a hand-drawn design is exposed to film, which is then exposed to a printing plate made of polymer. Then, through a light table, the image hardens and is raised anywhere the light hits the plate, Calderini said. The printing plate is used to press the image and ink into the paper, leaving a deep impression.
The business materialized after the couple made their own wedding invitations – an oversized, hand-lettered poster printed in neon inks. They both left jobs with nonprofits to launch the company with no more than commitment and a credit card.
“We started out with no money,” Calderini said. “Everything I’d ever read [said], ‘Be sure you have enough cash for one year.’ We were well-aware no bank would give us money to start our business, but we didn’t have anything to lose. If we had waited ’til we had more money, we never would have started.”
One of their favorite creations is a wedding invitation for a couple named Jeremy and Joe, who invited 30 close relatives and friends to their wedding on a mountaintop in Mexico. The invitation features mini piñatas that the recipient breaks open to reveal a poster invite and candies.