Nancy Smith has loved stationery since she was a child. She established her business, Walton Street Stationers, in 1999 and named it after her favorite street in London filled with charming bespoke shops. Today Nancy is on a mission to help preserve the fine art of letter writing. “The joy of sitting down and writing a note on wonderful paper is one of the simple joys in life, to thank a friend or simply let them know you are thinking of them,” she says. “A letter is never an interruption and can be savored again and again.” I am delighted to welcome Nancy to The Glam Pad for a Q&A and a peek inside her beautiful home in Alexandria, Virginia!
Q: What inspired you to establish Walton Street Stationers?
A: I alway loved stationery, even as a little girl, and I loved to play ‘store’. After years of being in retail, I knew I wanted to start my own business, so Walton Street Stationers was born! I enjoy the creative outlet, working with design, color and texture. There is something so lovely about having beautiful stationery on which to write a note, or having the perfect invitation to set the tone for an event. The icing on the cake, for me, is that working from a home office, my dogs get to ‘come to work’ with me!
Q: What advice would you give to someone looking to create a stationery wardrobe?
A: A stationery wardrobe is as essential as a clothing wardrobe, as far as I am concerned. If you are just starting out, I would recommend a correspondence card with a classic color ink and typestyle or monogram that could carry you through thank you notes, sympathy notes and everything in between. One of my letterpress vendors, Haute Papier, has created a silk box of 100 letterpress cards with 4 sets of 25 cards each, so you can mix it up and do a family name, individual name, monogram, motif, whatever works best, plus have an attractive box in which to store your stationery. (I personally think this makes a fabulous wedding gift.) If you wanted to branch out, it is fun to then do something in a different size, with a different typestyle, monogram, and ink color. Your stationery is a reflection of you!
Q: What are your favorite tips for writing the perfect thank you note?
A: The perfect thank you note includes thanking the person for the specific item and telling them how you will enjoy using it, wearing it, whatever it may be. If it is a dinner, mention the food, the flowers, the home, the conversation…make it personal and heartfelt and you cannot go wrong!
Q: Please tell me more about your engraving line from Arzberger and Wren Press and its connection to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
A: I carry two fantastic engraving lines. Arzberger from North Carolina and Wren Press from London. They both do the most beautiful engraving. Arzberger was the very first line I carried when I started my business in 1999. Wren Press carries the Royal Warrant for Her Majesty the Queen, as well as the Prince of Wales. In addition to creating stationery for the British Royal Family, they have supplied stationery for many royal households in Europe…as well as Walton Street Stationers!
Q: I understand you have unveiled an exclusive new line of engraved stationery featuring various breeds of dogs. Can you please tell me more, and what was your inspiration?
A: I have recently launched my own line of engraved stationery with dog images on them, called Walton Street Dogs. It came from my love of dogs, as well as the fact that I couldn’t find stationery with engraved dogs on them that I liked. So, I worked with an artist and we came up with four breeds for starters: Westies (since I have two), Jack Russells (the artist’s dog), Labradors and Golden Retrievers. We have added elegant, hand edged gift tags, and pocket notepads. We will be adding new breeds over time, and can do your very own dog as a bespoke project, as well.
Q: I love that you named your company after your favorite street in London. Please tell me more about your passion for England.
A: I just love England…there is something about the craftsmanship, the gardens, and the civility. Things there are still bespoke…there are wonderful independent shops, just like on Walton Street, which is why I named my business Walton Street Stationers. Walton Street in London is filled with the most adorable, enchanting, and inviting shops. So, this was my way of bringing that atmosphere to my business.
Q: How would you describe your style when it comes your home, and do you have any professional experience in interior design?
A: My style is classic and traditional with surprises every now and then. Our home is classic, cozy, and comfortable, with an English feel, from the fabrics to the garden. I like to update the classic with contemporary art, pillows, and accessories that you can change or just move around. My husband also has a very good and detailed eye. We both love to read books about design, interiors and gardens. (I think we have every English garden book ever published)! While I do not have any professional experience in interior design, I think the same things that make good stationery make good interiors…putting together the right colors and textures that reflect you.
Q: What are your favorite hobbies and greatest interests?
A: My hobbies and interests include needlepoint, reading, travel, watching tennis (especially Roger Federer), spending time with family and friends, walking the dogs, learning more about art and going to art exhibits. On my list of things I would like to add: taking a painting class and a photography class.
Q: As a fellow needlepointer and letter writer, why is it important that we continue “old fashioned” traditions in a world full of digitization and 24/7 immediacy?
A: Letter writing is a wonderful way to slow down and enjoy the moment. It is so different than sending an email that you can just cross off your list. It truly has a therapeutic effect on the mind. It is such a pleasure to sit down with paper that makes you happy, and a pen, and put thoughts into a note. And, it is such a pleasure for the person receiving it, to enjoy reading it at their leisure. They can save it and re-read it again. A friend of mine saves notes and puts them in books and when she pulls out the book again, she can enjoy the thoughtfulness of the note all over again.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: I love what I do. I feel like I have become a curator of beautiful stationery as well as other wonderful gifts that I have added to the mix over the years. I work by appointment and do pop up shops, as well as shows, and am still having so much fun!
Thank you Nancy for joining us today! Walton Street Stationers is located in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia and available online, by appointment, or phone. Nancy’s exclusive Walton Street Dogs collection will also be available in Palm Beach via Leta Austin Foster‘s boutique on Worth Avenue beginning this fall.
The Walton Street Dogs collection currently includes Westies, Jack Russels, Labradors, and Golden Retrievers with Poodles and Dachshunds on the way. Custom orders are available for all other breeds. Mention “The Glam Pad” you will receive 25% off any of the Walton Street Dogs products through May 31! For further inspiration and updates, please follow @waltonstreetstationers on Instagram.