Ahhh! I am so excited to bring this interview to you today. Not only is it about one of my favourite parts of a wedding (the stationery!), but you’ll also get to hear all about how Annette McIntosh of Danger + Moon brings her stunning work to life. Danger + Moon is the Geelong region’s go-to wedding stationer, and they’re also self-professed stationery geeks. They offer a personalised consulting service and create custom jaw-dropping wedding stationery, including save-the-dates and on-the-day items. Whatever your style, they’ve got you covered. Below, Annette shares the story of her business, what she loves about creating stationery and why beautiful stationery is so important to a wedding.
Hi Annette! Tell us about your business. How long have you been around? Great name – how did you decide on it?
Danger + Moon started as a side hustle as I returned to my full-time gig as a trend forecaster in the word of fashion back in 2015, and celebrated six years in April just passed. It has been my full-time job for four years. Initially I wasn’t sure exactly how the business would evolve and wanted a meaningful name to me, whilst standing out from the crowd yet somewhat ambiguous so it’d allow for that evolution. I had thought it may turn into homewares (I have extensive textile design experience) but started out with humble write-on party invites for kids – not a wedding in sight. Danger is my son’s middle name and I love him to the ‘moon’. Somewhat sappy but it sure sticks in people’s brains!
Even though we’re talking with you about Danger + Moon, how does the sister brand Confetti Edition fit into your business portfolio?
Starting in the kids party space, all things birthdays and baptism quickly became my bread and butter, with wedding stationery the ‘cherry on top’ I was striving for. As both areas began to expand and grow over the years I noticed a distinct divide in my demographic and audience – those a little younger and on their wedding journey and mostly pre-kids, and those slightly older, with younger children already married. Confetti Edition was born to address the former clientele. Funnily, in the last couple of years the business has now swung to be primarily weddings with a side of parties and other celebrations.
Why did you decide to become a stationer rather than follow your original career path?
I have created invitations for as long as I can remember. I may be showing my age here, but as a kid I used to print out little invites and party banners on my dad’s PC and printer (where the paper used to connect with perforated lines!). I honestly don’t think my parents or sister have ever had to buy an invite in their life because I insisted on creating them. I (obviously) created my own wedding invites and was frustrated about all the cookie cutter designs I couldn’t customise, or get someone to assemble for me. When our guests received our wedding invites we got so many calls with ‘oooohs’ and ‘aaaaahs’ and comments of, “If you guys were an invite this would be you”. I saw a niche and decided to go for it. After I had my first babe, the fashion industry began to feel meaningless. All stress, no fun. The world would seemingly end if we didn’t get the ‘exact’ shade of blue all the while creating fast fashion land fill. What’s most important to me as a stationer in contrast to the rag trade, is I am celebrating day in and out. Parties, weddings or any other happy occasion in life. And I often continue the celebrations with the same clients after their wedding, as they celebrate baby showers, milestone birthday’s and then their children’s birthday’s. Being able to do that brings actual sunshine to my soul.
Image: Corinna & Dylan
What sets you apart? How would you describe your style?
My style is a bit of a chameleon and ever evolving. As all my wedding invites are custom, I’m working from client briefs. I do consider my super power is to be able to ‘read between the lines’ and really get into the heads of my clients to know what they need when they have trouble articulating it. I can often pick up on subtle details and continuity in style that they didn’t. I quickly formulate an overall vibe and impression of their big day and capture it, as well as who they are as a couple, on paper. All my briefings are face-to-face – or in these days and times, Zoom (even the international ones). That means I can get a real feel for them rather than over email. I get lots of commentary after a briefing around, “Wow I had no idea there was so much to an invite or how involved that would be”. I also have a really strong ability to remain calm with stressed clients as is often the case when it comes to weddings and especially so during the pandemic and postponements. The fashion industry was a really good apprenticeship for that. I know firsthand how a wedding can quickly create overwhelm. To me, it’s a giant celebration and sometimes we need to take a step back and remember the joy in that.
Where do you find your design inspiration?
My clients. I’m working 100% off their briefings. Within this, would be their venues, florists and wedding attire. Being able to use that as the base to create designs that suit the style of their day. I love seeing what is new at my suppliers and keep case working relationships with them to find out if crazy ideas are possible. I also keep my eyes on social media and other little secret places I won’t divulge to keep on top of where consumer attitudes are heading and what to watch for.
What do you love most about creating wedding invitations?
The excitement of two people in love (I love a love story), knocking the socks of the guests when they get an invite in the mail and clients then emailing or messaging me to share their excitement at the comments, and surprising myself when I can push and grow my own design skills. I’ve been known to triumphantly come out the studio with a design in hand and exclaim to my husband, “I can’t believe this design came out of me!” (He does not share the sentiment and isn’t easily impressed!).
How important is it to you to use local businesses (who produce the specialty prints for you)?
It is the entire crux of my supply chain. All my stock is purchased 100% from Australian businesses as is the speciality printing. Most of my suppliers are within 100km of the studio. I often pick up the phone to talk with them or drop into their factories. It allows me to build great working relationships and keep things home grown, plus it keeps turnarounds quick and allows great reflexivity. I started in the ragtrade when we still produced almost everything in Australia and watched its demise as it moved off shore. There is exceptional talent and knowledge within our community and country.
Are there any trends you’re noticing at the moment?
I would talk more to trends in attitudes in how couples are approaching their weddings. There’s a greater wish to personalise and customise a day that truly represents them and not like the weddings of say the 70s and 80s where they were all cookie cutter same-same. With the ongoing pandemic, many are also reconsidering what their original plans were and if it was really them. Many of my clients have come back saying they lost sight of the bigger picture and their first planned wedding was really not what they thought it would be. Postponing allowed them to refine and reconsider what was truly important to them. To that point, I’m also seeing more donations to charities in lieu of favours and a greater emphasis on a wedding as a huge party and celebrations as couples are so relieved to finally make it down the aisle.
What other items do you offer for weddings?
Almost anything that involves paper and signage! I love when clients show me crazy ideas and ask, “Can we do this?”. I always say, “Well, we can give it crack!”. Outside of the main stationery suite, I do a plethora of welcome signs and seating charts, and have produced my fair share of menu’s, ceremony booklets, tables numbers and fun little signs from the bar to the wishing well.
Image: Evan Bailey
What is the process of ordering stationery or other items from you?
First port of call is to complete a quote form via my website. With all my wedding work custom designed, this gives me a great top line view of each wedding and a rough overview of which of my packages may work the best for them. I then arrange a quick 15 minute chat with a potential client to drill down on the details on the form. I promise it’s never as straight forward as the form, and this is also a great chance to take people through my service and who I am. It’s really important when choosing a studio, couples don’t just go for who fits their budget but who sounds like their ‘people’, understands their needs and can capture their style. Following the call I compile a comprehensive email with all the details and a tailored quote married to the right package. Once a quote is accepted and we lock in the love, I complete a detailed artwork briefing with the couple so we can get the ball rolling on design and production.
What do you do in your business that fits into your eco philosophy?
There’s quite a few initiatives I take on for the environment. I never purchase plastic packaging. Ever. The only plastic that is used on an order is reused from packaging from stock orders I receive in. My in-house printer uses soy-based inks, which are great for recycling, compost and worm farms. I shred all my offcuts and use them as bedding in the studio worm farm, or use the shredding in packaging to keep invites nice and safe during shipping. What doesn’t go in the shredder goes into recycling, and other soft plastics are also recycled. All in all, I would throw something in the bin for landfill maybe once a week. And I mean, literally, one thing. I try, where possible, to purchase cardstock that is sustainable, contains recycled components or FSC certified, which many of them are. And of course in creating my stationery I’m aiming for them to be keepsakes that don’t go in the bin (sacrilege to the people that say invites go in the bin!)
Do you offer stationery packages?
My entire wedding service is structured in packages which does seem straight forward, but incredibly rare to find in the stationery sector. There are three different types starting at three items and finishing at eight items. These allow couples to mix and match options from save the dates to RSVPs and place cards, with speciality printing and signage layered on top. This allows couples to book all their stationery at once, often from their engagement party all the way through to wedding menu’s. The best part of my packages is the inclusions from unlimited revisions to envelope printing, guest personalisation and most importantly assembly. Show me a person that wants their kitchen table covered for a week with wedding invites they are assembling themselves! Clients invites arrive to their door all packed into addressed envelopes for each guest. Absolute time and life saver! As my packages cover so much, I work with many couples for a year or more. This is the reason I’m often booked out months in advance. I take on a limited quantity of weddings to be held each month to ensure sustainable workload and quality of work, and often have a years worth of work on the books, locked and loaded to go.
Why is beautiful stationery so important to a wedding?
It is the very first part of your wedding all your guests see. It sets the scene and it gets them excited! My goal is for guests to open their invite from the letterbox and get straight on the phone to compliment couples on the amazing invites and create joy together about the upcoming big day. It’s the ultimate pump up! On the day, stationery informs guests where to sit, leaving gifts and cards, what’s to eat and drink. And with clever design and witty wording enhances styling and creates atmosphere. Many a couple has told me afterwards guests have come up to them on the day to compliment them on signage and menus.
Favourite wedding invite or decoration you’ve created?
Oooo, this is a hard one as I’ll have a fave for a few months and then up my own ante and crush hard on something new. When I submit first round drafts of invites to couples based on their briefings, I often give three design options of full main invites suites. I have a running joke that my fave is never the one the couple chooses and that I’m the ‘kiss of death’. So some of my most favourite designs ever have actually never seen the light of day in terms of actually getting physically produced! Between you and I though, there’s a little save the date I recently created with a hand drawn palm tree in gold foil that I am mighty proud of. There’s also a main invite suite currently in a few hundred pieces around the studio in assembly, that I am absolutely dying for the colour palette and the way in which it comes together.
Are you a creative person outside of design and illustration? Do you have other hidden talents?
I’ve held some sort of a creative role for the better part of 20+ years. I’m the sort of person that throws myself wholeheartedly into my work. I don’t have creative hobbies, as to me my hobby is my business and vice versa. As for other talents, I like to think I’m a fairly good cook and have a knack for creating ‘pot luck’ with a set of random ingredients of seemingly nothing in the cupboard. In complete contrast to everything else, I love data. Like really love it. As well as research and analytics which is definitely from my trend forecasting days. I’m so fascinated by crunching the numbers to discover trends and consumer attitudes. I spend a serious amount of time in my social media and website insights. And all for fun. I’m studying at uni currently, majoring in Sociology and Gender Studies. Sociology plays right into my data obsession and I’ve discovered this, coupled with my love of writing and fiery Aries star sign, has unearthed a real knack and talent for constructing a well-rounded argumentative essay. Oh… and I can do the moon walk… really well 😉
Image via Danger + Moon
You’re based in Geelong. What do you love about living there?
I grew up down the coast in Ocean Grove. I love that I’m only 20 minutes from my childhood beach (that I strongly consider to be the best in the region and will fight you on it), 35 minutes from killer wineries and 50 minutes to one of my favourite cities on earth, Melbourne. Everything is so accessible. In the last decade the foodie scene here has really come into its own, as has the creative community. There are some serious restaurants, cafes and creative talents to reckon with in this town! There are many other advantages like house prices, short peak hour traffic, schools plus my beloved Cats but what I love most is this town is it’s still offering me up surprises. With lockdowns we’ve been fortunate as a regional city to escape the heaviest restrictions like those imposed on metro Melbourne, but it’s forced me to get out far more in my own ‘backyard’. I’ve discovered architecture, waterfalls, walking trails, mineral springs and true beauty in the nature of this town I never knew existed, just in the last year alone.
Featured image by Katie Wheeler Photography