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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

MOVERS and SHAKERS: Sarah Schwartz, @MsSarahSchwartz Editor-in-Chief, Stationery Trends Magazine @StationeryTrend Trends Editor, Gift Shop Magazine @giftshopmag Editor, The Paper Chronicles; Editor, Editor Trend of the Month Club Our Coverage Sponsored by Cosmopolitan Dental, Official Dentist of Whom You Know @GaroNazarianDDS #cosmopolitandental #loveyoursmile

Sarah Schwartz

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Dr. Garo Nazarian is a Mover and Shaker, and was the first featured:

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Sarah Schwartz began her career with a passion for writing, but it has turned into one with a focus on fostering personal connections through written correspondence. Growing up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, she always knew she wanted to be a writer. Books were her haven and escape, and the characters in them often seemed more real than the actual people in her life. Sarah will never forget when she fell in love with New York City during a family visit there in 1976. They stayed in The Plaza, saw a Broadway show, visited the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty — she was hooked!

Sarah’s college years at NYU (note our purple color choice, and our endorsement of Loretta)  were transformative on many levels and shaped the person she has become. Having the opportunity to study journalism with so many professionals gave her the tools and inspiration to navigate her own career in the field. Notable professors included Patricia Lyndon, who was among those women who sued Newsweek Magazine in 1970 for gender discrimination, inspiring the recent Amazon series. Jay Rosen also helped her approach journalism critically. Meanwhile, the marvelous city provided an incomparable backdrop to come of age.

Sarah graduated in 1991 — not a great time to land an entry-level job in publishing, and tried living in San Francisco before returning to NYC in the mid-90s. A stint at a gift book packager led to an assistant editor position at HarperCollins’ then-illustrated book division, Collins. When it closed, she answered a NY Times classified job listing to be a market editor covering stationery and several other gift markets at Gifts & Decorative Accessories, then in the famed NY Life Building. She got the job in 1997 and hasn’t looked back since.

Since then, Sarah’s had the pleasure of traveling to trade shows around the world to cover the stationery industry, renowned for its tight-knit, welcoming quality. She has visited paper mills, converting facilities and envelope plants. Many makers have become dear friends, and visiting a market often feels more like Homecoming Week than a work event. At the heart of the industry lies a shared passion for great design and corresponding via the hand-written word. A card or letter transmits more than the written message, it connects the human touch and transcends time and space in a way that can’t duplicated digitally. Sarah finds it especially heartwarming to see millennials embracing stationery!

Professionally, her career has prospered. Sarah is the Founding Editor of the award-winning, design-driven publication Stationery Trends, which was founded in 2008 as magazines floundered — and redefined the boring trade magazine category. It celebrates its 10th anniversary this year! She is also Trends Editor at Gift Shop magazine, and edits The Trend of The Month Club, which hits 10,000+ in-boxes a month. She also blogs at, whose mission is to keep letter-writing, card-sending and invitation-using alive. Her consulting business is also growing as she partners with companies to help their businesses prosper — truly one of the most rewarding aspects of what she does. 

Sarah is on several Greeting Card Association Committees and is a veteral LOUIE Award (the greeting card’s Academy Awards!) judge and presenter. She also has been a judge of the Best New Product Awards at least a half-dozen editions of National Stationery Show (held at Javits Center each May; in 2019 it will be co-locaed with NY NOW). Sarah always gives a seminar there to standing crowd only!

On a personal level, she now lives in Beachwood, Ohio (one town over from Shaker Heights), with her husband, Rick, daughter, Veronica, and dog, Scout. Sarah works from home — she likes to say she is “always and never working” — which enables her to meet daughter every day after school. She is a proud skate mom and active in her community.  We are so happy to present Sarah Schwartz as our newest Mover and Shaker.  Peachy Deegan interviewed Sarah for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan:
What does writing as an art form mean to you and why?
Sarah Schwartz:

It took me years of covering creatives to realize that I was a creative too. Being a creative to me means that I have to express myself, and if I don’t, I’m miserable. So on an existential level, I need to do it. I breathe in all that is around me, and that’s the way I breathe it out.

Who are your favorite authors of books historically and why?

I am a big fan of mid-20th-century Southern writers (Carson McCullers, Harper Lee) and those “new journalists” who integrated fictional devices into their writing, from Tom Wolfe (who founded the term) to Norman Mailer. Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” is a mastery of this (and as a Southern writer, he fits both of my favorite categories), but then so is nearly anything by Hunter S. Thompson. 

Who are your favorite current fellow magazine publishers, and what do they publish?

Conde Nast is a huge source of inspiration to me. Vanity Fair is a must-read, while The New Yorker lets me pretend I still live in Manhattan. And House Beautiful from Hearst is the ultimate shelter magazine.

Why do you believe they are among the best?

They bring together those in the top of their field — writers, makers, graphic designers — and cover what is most pertinent in their respective domains. 

What are your top five regular writing instruments and why?

1. Le Pen — it comes in every imaginable color and is experiencing a well-earned resurgence in popularity.

2. Pencils — I am only allowed to use these (and very lightly at that) when making marks on my daughter’s school essays.

3. My “lucky pen” from the now defunct Rebecca Moss. Years ago I profiled them and was gifted with a beautiful portfolio of pens from the famed Madison Avenue shop. My favorite is a pen with a yellow wooden case that I carry in whatever purse I’m using. I have left it a few times, but thankfully I always track it down!

4. Any pen that doesn’t smudge this left-hander’s already-messy handwriting.

5. Felt tips. These are my favorite for envelopes and writing in thick letterpress cards (my favorite).

In third grade, Peachy was among those that finished her math the quickest so her math teacher taught her calligraphy while the other kids were still doing their math. What brands today command the most attention in the calligraphy market?

Brands calligraphers swoon for include Uniball, Sakura and Tombow. 

If you were stranded on a desert island with only five types of stationery, what would they be and why?

Personalized correspondence cards — these suit every occasion and have enough room to make a point without feeling the need to editorialize endlessly. Mine would have to be letterpressed on thick paper.

Washi Tape — to seal my letters and make them stand out in the mailbox.

Pretty Stamps — preferably 2018’s Love Stamps by Rifle Paper Co.’s Anna Bond.

Crane Letter Sheets — in case I have more to say (a list of things to send?).

My Lucky Pen — almost goes without saying.

We are sticklers for grammar and spelling and would not have seen the light of day past tenth grade English class at Miss Porter’s if we were not up to snuff. Please share with the world the difference between stationary and stationery and tell us what you like about our column, English Errors
Yes — I love it & admire your dedication to classic grammar. Please keep spreading the good word!

Stationary means something is not going anywhere, e.g. a stationary bicycle.

Stationery is the industry I cover — and it’s even misspelled by makers who submit their work to me. It’s an understandable mistake, we are all human after all, but honestly, I would rather you spell my name wrong than misspell that word!

We are pro-monogram: see Monogrammed Peachy, a column. What are your favorite brands that monogram and what do you like about what they do?

Crane has to top the list. It is to monograms what Chanel is to suits.

There are so many makers creating remarkable work. These days I’m swooning for Haute Papier, Lou’s Letterpress, Pickett’s Press (which is right in your neighborhood).

Chez Peachy incorporates all home items on Whom You Know, including stationery. What other home décor are you excited about?

I have really enjoyed seeing pillows come to the forefront. They are an affordable splurge but can really personalize and even update any space. I am a sucker for a good candle — I just got a honeysuckle sample K. Hall’s Lorna Lu range and hope it lasts and lasts because I am so, so enamored with the scent. It’s also in available in room diffusers and soaps thankfully. Bath & Body, or Personal Care as we call it in the trade, is another all-time favorite. Sylvia Plath said there is nothing a hot bath can’t cure, to which I would amend, especially with a great soap! 

Of course we are also pro-internet and must admit we physically write infrequently because of the massive amount of incoming emails we address and the volume of publishing we do. Why should everyone continue to use paper-based correspondence?

If you want to stand out, go with paper. That idea applies to many situations in life, but definitely to those seeking a job. What better way to get your resume to the top of the pack than with a personal thank-you for an interviewer’s time?

I am old-fashioned in that I think written thank-yous are essential. If someone has bestowed you with a special kindness, taking the few minutes it requires to sincerely thank that person will make their day. Don’t they deserve that?

If a friend is going through a difficult time – divorce, disease, you name it — there is no better way to let them know you are thinking of them than with a note. May I recommend anything from Emily McDowell’s series of Empathy Cards? The idea of the card traveling from hand to hand to spread warmth is very important here in my opinion, especially if that person lives a great distance from you.

What should everyone know about Ohio?

Hmmm, well in my corner of the state there are a lot of die-hard music fans (we’re the Home of Rock ‘n Roll!) as well as sports fans. It takes a special kind of person to have love for a team like the Browns, and LeBron is a demi-God around here. Other than that, while part of my heart will always be in NYC, Midwesterners have a certain honesty and sincerity that I’ve never found anywhere else.

What kind of skate mom are you – ice skate? – and if so do you love hockey?

Yes, my daughter figure skates — and at the Shaker Figure Skating Club (her home rink), we share ice (consecutively not concurrently thank goodness) with Shaker Ice Hockey players of all ages. I think that is the one sport having more equipment than ice skaters!

What do you think about the evolution of The Gift Fair to NY NOW and do you think it is accurately named?

When I first got in the business, New York International Gift Fair (NYIGF) took up not only the Javits, but several piers as well. It is leaner now, but stronger too in that it used to be nearly impossible to walk over its duration. It has a reputation as being cutting-edge in handmade and modern, and if you want to immerse yourself in those markets, it’s the place to go.

Ooh! I would love to check him out. I still remember staying at The Plaza at age 6 and being absolutely beguiled by the experience. We could look out our hotel window and see a billboard with a man blowing smoke rings if you can believe it! I could have looked at it all day. Later when I was at Gifts & Decorative Accessories, we had our Retailer Excellence Awards there — and more recently, I took my daughter for tea there, with a stop at Eloise’s portrait!

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?

I attended Hathaway Brown School for girls in Shaker Heights, and they really instilled a work ethic in me to not only get things done, but also to do them to the best of my ability. Almost every writing teacher or professor has helped me develop my voice.
I feel like I owe so much of what I have accomplished to my maternal grandmother Sylvia. While the other side of my family immigrated to America in the 19th century — I even have a civil war veteran amongst my paternal progenitors — my grandmother overcame and accomplished so much in her lifetime. She hid in her basement, scared for her life, from the White Army as a 6-year-old girl in Russia after her family lost everything in the Russian Revolution. She built her a life as a greenhorn in America, growing up to become a clothing store buyer in Philadelphia and then helped my grandfather run his upholstery shop there. She was very tough, and remains a constant inspiration to me. When I am faced with a difficult situation, I think of all she overcame and realize my problems are bupkas (Yiddish for nothing) in comparison.

What are you proudest of and why?

My daughter — she is the best of me and my husband, and she has got the world on a string (even if she doesn’t realize it yet!).

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
Go to Maison et Object in Paris or Top Drawer in London.

What honors and awards have you received in your profession?

Stationery Trends won an Ozzie Award for best new b-to-b publication the year of our founding — and we are a finalist for another for our recent redesign.

What one word best describes you and why?

Observant — I try to get clues from what is communicated in ways that are not obvious.

What do you take your sense of identity from?

I would say it’s a blend of my family and my profession.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan? 

Around NYU.

And Ohio? 

Walking my dog in the gorgeous park right by my house.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan? 

I enjoy winding my way through SoHo and discovering a new favorite!

And Ohio? 

Lately it’s been Nordstom …especially during their Annual Sale!

If you could hire anybody who would it be and why?

Funny you should ask … I just hired a very part-time assistant to help me deal with the huge volume of art I receive. He’s very good in Wordpress as well so that tops my list as he seems to actually understand it, not take the trial-and-error approach I do!

What is your favorite drink?

I am not very skilled at holding my liquor, so I usually try something enticing I haven’t tried before, and then nurse the one all night!

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a cocktail party?
Losing my voice over the course of several in an evening! Then I know it’s time to go home. 

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan? 
Oh my gosh, there are so many! I am always falling in love with whatever someone takes me to when I’m in town. My culinary relationship with New York City is complicated. As a young person on a budget at NYU, I remember loving Mamoun’s on McDougal Street. There you could get a $3 falafel that could tide you over until the next cafeteria meal. Later, as an editor, I feel like I went to parties at every NY hotspot — and still do when I come into town. I have gotten a bit jaded and spoiled as a result, such a long way from the penny-pinching NYU student!

And Ohio? 
That’s tough … we tend ot have more chains than mom and pops here. We got a Hello, Bistro a few months back and the salad place (where they chop it to your liking with a Mezzaluna!) is my new go-to!

What is your favorite Manhattan book or favorite character in Manhattan literature? 

Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

And Ohio? 

Unfortunately, I’ve yet to find one.

Who would you like to be for a day and why?

Anna Wintour, just for a glimpse of what she sees and does.

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be 

and why? 

A (short) street near NYU, as that’s where I spent some of my happiest times.

And Ohio? 

I would love to have maybe a bench in my favorite park so I could figuratively sit and mediate there forever!

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience? 

Hmmm … I can’t say I ever went to games. I have done a lot of walking and window shopping if that counts!

And Ohio? 

My family got to attend several games where the Cavaliers have been in the NBA finals, and it was unforgettable!

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else? 

The people watching is second to none.

And Ohio? 

The West Side Market is like nowhere eels in the world — and the Cleveland Museum of Art (one of the last free ones in the country) is a close second.

If you could have dinner with any person living or passed, who would it be and why?

I’ve just finished the Michelle Morgan biography of Marilyn Monroe so it’s got to be her. I think she was a trailblazing feminist if you can believe it. Plus, all the celebrity and JFK gossip. 

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience? 

It’s got to be going to National Stationery Show for all the great design! Greeting cards are the billboards of the current American psyche so they are always fascinating to me.

And Ohio? 

I just saw the Kusama exhibit with my daughter — it was beyond amazing!

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world?

Professionally, my favorite way of giving back is helping small makers succeed.

Personally, it is really hard to give to all the deserving charities out there, but I’ve always tried to give a little to each one that speaks to me. That has changed a lot however since this past Valentine’s Day when we lost a member of my extended family, Alex Schachter in the Parkland Massacre. His father, Max has become an advocate for safer schools and started Safe Schools for Alex ( and right now is calling for a safe school czar in Washington to oversee making schools around the nation safer. We have donated and will continue to support Max’s efforts any way we can.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated in Manhattan? And Ohio? 

Gentrification has really impacted Manhattan negatively — it is really expensive and as a result, losing much of the personality that made me fall in love with it in the first place. To hear that a Marshall’s is opening up by Katz Deli is sad to me. I have fallen in love with the Highline and can’t rave enough about it.

All of Cleveland is underrated (except its weather — you have to be tough to survive our winters!) and I rather like it that way. I always say, keep making jokes about ‘the mistake on the lake’ — it keeps our lines short, our traffic jams pretty much nonexistent, the cost of living low and the quality of life high! 

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite​ column and what do you like about it?

Ancient Antiques — there really is nothing new under the sun, and you do an excellent job of sharing beauties from the past! I grew up at house and estate sales (my mom was a huge fan), so I feel very at home in that domain.

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I am a great believer in not just etiquette, but civility. I never judge a person by where they are from, but who they are and how they treat others.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?

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