The Nutshell: Nestled in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Gus & Ruby Letterpress was dreamed up by two women with a passion for letterpressed paper goods, fresh designs and hand-crafting memories for clients.
The dream to create customized designs for engaged couples laid the early foundations for Gus & Ruby Letterpress. When Samantha Finigan and Whitney Swaffield met at an advertising agency, they soon discovered they both loved all things paper, especially beautiful and unique designs.
Having a passion for design and old-school printing, the dynamic duo set out to open Gus & Ruby, a letterpress boutique. Using a 1894 Chandler and Price press first owned by Swaffield’s grandfather, each invitation and card has been hand-pressed with care since the first day they opened.
The letterpress printing process is one of the oldest printing styles and is an art in itself. Invented by Gutenberg, letterpress printing is a process of raising inked metal (now photopolymer) plates and depressing them into fibrous paper, creating a depression in the paper itself.
“We really feel that the client should have the chance to make something perfect for them,” said Samantha Finigan, Gus & Ruby’s co-owner and director of client services. “This could be one of the most important things that they ever send out.”
A Passion Project
In December 2008, Gus & Ruby (named after Finigan’s dog, Gus, and Swaffield’s dog, Ruby) was open for business online. The letterpress company gained so much business through the web that Finigan and Swaffield opened a boutique located in the quaint sea town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Inspired by happy couples and enjoying their love stories, Finigan and Swaffield specialized in creating handmade wedding invitations.
“Many clients become friends because it’s a personal process,” Finigan said. “We show people that we can take their story and distill it down to how they are as a couple.”
Instead of ordering invitations or announcements online, Finigan and Swaffield meet with clients at their store or via Skype to create the most fitting announcement or wedding invitation for the client.
Specializing in artisan-printed stationery, announcements and wedding invitations, Gus & Ruby offers clients an array of designs and styles to choose from. Each client’s order also undergoes a thorough process of inspection so each announcement or invitation is perfect.
“We really get to know the client,” Finigan said. “We try to get to know them and their love story, take that experience and turn it into paper.”
Swaffield, a third-generation letterpress printer, hand-presses every announcement and invitation. As the co-owner and creative director, Swaffield helps clients make their dream wedding invitations come to life.
Every paper good is unique and hand-crafted to perfection, and it is certainly not an easy process.
“It’’s a very tactile process that you can rub your fingers over to feel the indents,” Finigan said. “It’s very much a craft learning how to adjust impression, hand-mix inks on the press and create the most beautiful piece using both the machine and skill as the printer.”
From the designing process to the finished product, Finigan and Swaffield give great attention to detail. The process can take anywhere from two to eight weeks. Once the product is finished in-house, Finigan and Swaffield proudly deliver the invitations or announcements to the client.
Although the process is long and tedious, the owners believe it’s worth the extra effort.
“We take inspiration from everything (the clients) do,” Finigan said. “Those can become little details in the process and product.”
Crafted Paper Goods for Happy Clients
Nestled comfortably in their store off 29 Congress Street, Gus & Ruby continues to make a client’s wedding-invitation dreams come true. Having clients across the country and world, Finigan and Swaffield’s customized letterpress printing is truly one of a kind.
With their precious pups by their side, Finigan and Swaffield will continue to create beautiful and lasting memories, one hand-pressed invitation and announcement at a time.
“Our goal is to make really beautiful, crafted paper goods for happy clients,” Finigan said.
For more information on Gus & Ruby, call (603) 319-1717 or visit their website at gusandruby.com.
Besides awesome wedding invitations, you also can find other letterpressed products, including business cards. We’ve even found the 15 coolest letterpressed business cards for you!