Happy Humpday Friends!
I hope you are all having a great week! I am so excited today to bring you another Vendor Spotlight post with one of my favorite graphic designers, Kendra Meany, of Whole Weddings.
I was first introduced to Kendra and her work back in June 2018 when we had a mutual wedding client. I was blown away by the level of detail, the creativity and the "unique-ness" of her designs (seriously, the welcome letter was a map of the property the wedding was hosted on. How cool is that?!). I never got to meet her in-person for that wedding but I knew she was someone I wanted to work with again!
Fast forward to later that same year and our "mutual client" aka the lovely Deana Merola of Christopher Michael Salon invited all of us to collaborate on a fall styled shoot. Kendra was in attendance working her flatlay magic on a gorgeous eco-friendly, plantable invitation suite she put together for the shoot (scroll to the bottom for pictures!). It was so great to finally meet her and she was just as friendly and personable as she was over email.
Kendra is truly a wonderful human being that loves her work and her clients. Her concept is so different than a lot of what is out there for wedding stationery. As much as I love this industry, it's true that weddings often product a ton of waste (between all of the stationery that guests receive and throw away to the food waste at the end of the event and all the packaging your rentals arrive in, it all adds up). It's great that more and more vendors (and couples!) are going the direction of zero waste weddings and doing their part to help the environment. Kendra is one of those vendors. So let's get to know more about her, shall we?
Hey Kendra! So I just gave everyone a bit of background on you but in your own words, tell us a little about who you are and what you do in the wedding industry?
"I’m a graphic designer based in rural Connecticut. I spent most of my early career working in corporate jobs for manufacturing, retail and sign companies. And when I got married in 2012, I designed my own wedding stationery. I saw that a hairstylist, makeup artist friend was doing a styled shoot a few years later and I asked to be a part of it. It was a great experience and gave me the idea to pursue a few projects outside of my job at the time. I really didn’t think I would take it as a career path, but a few years later I jumped into it and haven’t looked back."
That's amazing! So many of us in the industry worked in other sectors before finding our love for weddings, events and all things creative. So, where did your art and design background come from?
"I was interested in art from an early age. My Mom always encouraged creative exploration and urged me to take art classes throughout school. She always has a project going on at all times. She’s a hairdresser by profession but bakes and knits for fun. So that type of thinking was always around. My grandfather was involved in design and advertising so he was proud that I followed in his footsteps even though when I started, the career had changed drastically from his day."
That is so great to hear, Your family must be so proud of you for pursuing your passion! And it's so true, creativity comes in many different forms. I also use cooking and baking as a creative outlet! Plus then you get to eat your creation which is even better. Now that we know creativity runs in your family, tell us how you started to incorporate an eco-friendly lifestyle and why it's such a big part of you now:
"Early in our marriage we moved around the state a lot, and during every move I was confronted with the stuff we accumulated. So much of it I held on to but it didn’t serve a good purpose in my life. I started downsizing and heard about minimalism. It brought up so many questions about where our stuff goes when we throw it away and that was really my entry into a less waste lifestyle. It just kept going from there.
Originally when I started designing stationery, I was following what I saw everyone else doing but after a while, I struggled with using all of these materials that eventually got thrown out when I was trying to do the exact opposite at home. Somewhere in there I found out about plantable paper and started making greeting cards with it as a hobby to sell on the weekends. But it took a few years to make the connection to using seed paper in my wedding work. Once I did, there was no going back. It’s only furthered my interest in seeing what alternative materials I can use to design stationery with.
Eco-friendly material like seed paper was such an eye opener for me because it bridges the gap between keeping stationery traditions alive (which still hold a lot of meaning for most people) and acknowledging the fact that we can’t ignore how our environment is impacted by the resources we consume. I see it as an opportunity to educate on bigger concerns while not alienating an older generation. It meets people where they are at gives us a chance to grow together (no pun intended)."
So great. I am right there with you. My husband and I moved a few years back and even at that point we didn't have too much but still, packing it all up I was like "what even is half this stuff?!" I know many people reading this are interested in creating less waste, what are some tips you would give to someone just starting out?
"Personally, if you’re looking to make lifestyle changes at home, I encourage you to do a trash audit. Dump out a garbage pail after a week and see what’s in there. It will clue you into the waste created in your everyday habits. Maybe it’s grabbing a drive through coffee every morning or food packaging. Start small with a change to one of those. Find other people who want to make similar changes and talk to them about it. Ask questions, read about environmental issues. Spend a lot of time in nature and it will remind you that what you are doing matters.
As for wedding waste, first and foremost be realistic, you may not be able to tackle it all and that’s okay. Concentrate on the areas that are important to you, ones you’ll invest in and what’s the most wasteful. Here’s a few questions to consider: Can you lessen or eliminate plastic, at the bar or in food service? Use a caterer who sources from local farms? Limit transportation by having the wedding and reception in one place? Offer a shuttle? Use in-season local florals instead of shipping from other countries or potted plants guests can take home? Make stationery and decor serve multiple purposes? Ask a lot of questions of your vendors to know exactly where they source from and what practices they hold to. The more information you have the better choices you can make."
Great advice! This quarantine actually just motivated my husband and I to begin composting. I can't even tell you how much less waste we produce on a weekly basis. I do so much cooking that I wasn't even realizing a lot of what I put in the garbage was food waste! Things like my daily coffee grinds and banana peels were adding a lot of waste when we could have been composting those items. So it feels good to at least make that little step to lowering our footprint. Moving on though, when you start designing, what are you most inspired by?
"The best part is getting inspired by my couples' stories. Design is a way to communicate information through art so I love having the opportunity to share the things you love with the people you love. I get inspiration from your travels, favorite things to do, home decor, hobbies, career, past times and personalities. I’m able to use my abilities as an artist to create what resonates with you."
I love that "design is a way to communicate information through art." What a great way to word it! So now that everyone reading this is ready to hire you as a designer, tell us what they can expect when they start working with you?
"I have my clients give me a bit of information about themselves and their day in writing but I’m a verbal processor so before any design begins we have a good conversation to get to know each other. I get to know as much about them as needed to express their personality into the design. We tailor the invitation and other stationery needed to exactly what works for them.
I believe in functional design. It has to look nice but it also has to communicate well and have a purpose. The fun of custom design is the ability to make stationery that is not only unique but make sense for their day. After our consultation, I share my ideas in a sketchbook style with notes and illustrations so the couple can get a peek into my brain and make sure we are on the same page. I encourage feedback throughout the design and proofing!"
I could not agree more! Functional design is so important, especially on a wedding day! Of course aesthetics matter but if the tent layout doesn't make sense or invitation doesn't communicate pertinent information correctly, the "prettiness" of it would be wasted! Okay, let's do one fun question to: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
"My husband attended grad school in New Zealand and absolutely fell in love with the landscape, so it’s been a dream of mine to go back there with him. Besides being a gorgeous part of the world, I deeply admire the environmental values they hold as a country and what they are doing to encourage sustainability. I hope we can reach that level here someday."
Thank you Kendra for taking the time to tell us about yourself, your work and your passion for the environment. Below are some images of Kendra's work! You can find her on her website: https://www.wholewed.com/ and on Instagram @wholeweddings
Our Fall Styled Shoot:
June 2018 Mutual Client:
For more information on hosting a sustainable wedding day, check out this blog post: https://www.77diamonds.com/sustainable-weddings