Q & A: Our Brands: Doc Milo
Recently we were able to take a few moments to ask Sarah from Doc Milo a few questions in hopes that our readers would understand a little bit more about these oh-so-fabulous products, and the inspiration behind the brand too. Doc Milo is known for its stylish stationery items including collections for baby, bridal, party, kids, holiday and notes. The brand, which is always as glamorous as could be, is also proud to be “green.” The Doc Milo team members are hikers and climbers and nature lovers who manufacture paper from Forest Stewardship Council certified mills and print their designs using an FSC certified printing house. So read on, and enjoy learning more about Doc Milo, in the designer’s own words!
- How would you describe your brand’s personality and what makes it unique? For over 10 years now, our tagline has been “Simply Fabulous Papers for Simply Fabulous People,” and I still think it sums up my approach to our business pretty thoroughly (even though the word fabulous has become frighteningly overused in the past few years!) One of our earliest greeting card designs featured a girl in a sexy sequin dress, huge smile on her face, arms up over her head waving a giant feather boa. I always think of her as our mascot, our very own Little Miss Fabulous, if you will. And mostly, all I’m ever trying to do is capture her personality. That sense of YES! YES! YES! Pure unadulterated glee. That’s we’re about. Because whether it was back in the day when we made mostly greeting cards, or now when we’re so focused on showers and holiday parties, at the core, Doc Milo has always been about celebrations, about making the absolute most of the good times. I don’t know if it’s what makes us unique, but I definitely think that part of why we’re so successful is that even with something as simple as a flat 5” x 7” invitation design, we tap into something more than just “pretty” or “cute” or “cool…” we tap into the basic human desire for joy.
- How long have you been working with Polka Dot Design? I’ll never forget the first time Aaron called us, I don’t know, 2001? 2002? Whenever it was, you guys were just getting started and he was so sweet and polite. No one had ever asked to carry our line before. People just called, placed orders, and that was it. He actually asked permission. I can’t explain it, but it was just so charming. We’ve kind of had a mush spot for Polka Dot in our hearts ever since.
- What do you like most about working with Polka Dot Design? Polka Dot was not only one of the very first online invitation shops, but also a huge influence on the shape of things to come and very definitely one to watch going forward. The site always looks gorgeous, products are easy to find and show up looking great, and functionality is always spot on. To say nothing of their constant innovation. But at the end of the day what I think sets PDD.com apart from the rest is their amazing commitment to customer service. Of course the corporate culture comes through on the backend when we deal with the staff in our collective day-to-day, and everyone there just couldn’t be more delightful to work with. But the fact that we’ve worked together for almost 10 years now and have never ONCE received anything but positive feedback from Doc Milo fans about their experiences with Polka Dot Design says more than anything else. Honestly, it’s a HUGE source of comfort and inspiration for us to know that there are other companies out there that still believe – as we do – in those basic old school values. Especially now, with the world growing ever more automated and removed, how you treat people matters more than ever. It’s a great feeling knowing our customers are in such good hands.
- What sources of inspiration do you seek when designing? When I was little, all I wanted to do was become a fashion designer. Looking back, I guess there was a decent amount of retail fabulosity happening in our town, but I was a kid and my mom wasn’t the “fancy mom” type, so I never really had entrée into that whole boutique world. What I did have were fashion magazines, and I absolutely lived for them. I had giant collages all over my room – basic teenage girl obsessive stuff, I guess – except instead of Teen Beat or whatever else my friends were into, I obsessed with shoes and gowns. Glossy fashion magazines were the link for me to all that was beautiful and glamorous and fabulous. To some extent they still are, and all that deliciousness factors in. But these days it’s for slightly different reasons. With our company constantly growing and expanding, free time is at an absolute premium for me, and trips to the boutiques and gift shows just don’t happen nearly as much as I might like. But magazines are easy. I can keep a stack of 25 in the car or on the corner of my desk and wade in and out whenever I find I’ve got 10 free minutes. Of course, it’s as much for relaxation as anything else. The real answer is that when it comes to inspiration, ultimately, the work itself is the inspiration. I get pretty much ALL my best ideas while drawing, not before.
- What are your favorite Doc Milo items? A good friend of mine is a very talented stained glass artist. I used to ask him occasionally which of his pieces was his favorite. He’d always answer: “the next one.” It used to make me crazy…it’s such a non-answer! But right at this moment, I have to say that I am so in love with and excited about our upcoming fall release I can’t even think about anything else.
- What current trends are you incorporating into your new products? It’s so funny that you bring that up. We just got back from the National Stationery Show where we attended a seminar on trends. The whole time I kept thinking “wow, I’m so out of it…I never even THINK about this stuff.” I mean, I live in the same world as everybody else and of course I keep my eyes open to visual inspiration, but for me, all that stuff goes into some kind of subconscious soup that bubbles back up in whatever way it wants to. So you might see a color scheme that’s particularly “in” or some reference to a new pair of dreamy shoes that recently hit the runway, but in general those are the yummy little details of what we do rather than the driving force behind it. When it comes to designing, I’m never trying to control it to the point of thinking “this is hot right now, we have to do this.” I think what makes our products so popular isn’t some “of the moment” quality…it’s the fact that they address the true spirit of celebration and joy, and to me, that stuff, that come-from-the-gut sense of happiness and fun, that stuff is timeless. That’s where I try to live creatively. Besides which, let’s face it, if you’re worrying too much about following the trends, you lose the creative free space to set them.
- We were very excited to see your summer designs, including multi-ethnic and blonde additions to the collection. What exciting products should we look forward to seeing in the near future? Ah! You want to know what’s under the magic blanket? No can do. My rule is that until we are actually AT press, no one gets to know what’s coming next. I like to reserve the right to keep improving the collection until the very last possible second. However, I will say this: the very minute the new release is ready, fans will be able to find it all, right here at Polka Dot Design first. That much I can promise.