Monday, September 17, 2012

Interview: Yvonne Leung of Cardtorial

The delightful card maker herself, Yvonne Leung

Dear readers, you may have noticed that I have not published an actual street style post in quite a while. Sure, I gave away some movie tickets and bragged about kind of being featured on a popular website, but that’s really been it since the end of June. Well, it’s mid-September now and I fortunately have a great excuse for my absence. Dun, dun, dunnn… I’ve been preparing for a Total Site Revamp (flashing lights). Okay, not exactly. The blog design and layout will stay the same (for now), but I have been racking my brain on how to improve the blog. I decided to make the blog more localized and include content relevant to fellow residents of the East Bay (and a little bit of SF). In the next few weeks, be prepared to be bombarded with super ah-mah-zing (“Happy Endings,” anyone?) posts featuring awesome people, food, and places right in your neighborhood. 

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Yvonne Leung. Yvonne likes long walks on the beach and sipping fancy pants wine in the moonlight… just kidding. She’s an OC transplant who now calls SF home and started her own line of cleverly-designed, laser-cut wood cards called Cardtorial. Some of the local topics of interest that are featured on her cards include bicycles, ice cream scoops, and a gay couple. She is currently raising money to buy a laser cutter and continue making her line of SF-made cards on Kickstarter. She’s only $3000 shy of her goal with only three weeks left to go, so get out your checkbooks and forget about rent this month. Before determining if you should invest in her wooden card empire however, take a peek at our interview below where you’ll learn about everything there is to know about her super-cute cards and, most importantly, her favorite restaurants in the city worth a $6.50 roundtrip BART ticket.

Brittany: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Yvonne: Sure, I grew up in Orange County, went to UCLA, moved to SF to work four years ago and have been completely loving the Bay. I have always worked at corporate jobs, and now I’m finally making the leap and trying to grow a business crafting and designing wood cards! I love to dance, eat, cook, and be silly. I'm an indie SF card maker trying to quit her day job and pursue my card-making dreams!

Brittany: Have you always been interested in pursuing a creative field?

Yvonne: No, I wouldn’t say so at all. I majored in business economics and studied art history in college. I've always been drawn to being an entrepreneur more than owning a creative business oddly enough. So the world of craft, design, hand-made, etc. is all pretty new to me! But I'm working really hard to learn everything I can and create a product / business that people really enjoy.

Brittany: How did you become involved with woodwork?

Yvonne: Well, I'd say the product is more rooted in stationery and cards and I wanted to make really awesome cards with the ability to last and be elevated to something more special than just paper (not that paper is not completely wonderful and inspirational) so I wanted to use wood! My friend was making wood skateboards at the time so he introduced me to the laser cutter and TechShop, which is where it all got started! I've always loved stationery, giving and receiving cards, and years later looking back at them. Hopefully, by making this product so special, it'll encourage others to do the same thing, save cards and reminisce years later.

Brittany: What inspired you to start Cardtorial?

Yvonne: I guess I pursued it because I wasn't passionate about my day job. It was a wonderful job and I loved the people I was working with, but I wasn't inspired by the day-to-day work and wanted to fill my life with something I cared about. I've always brainstormed and tossed around crazy ideas, but given where I was in my life, maybe it was just good timing. I took the bull by the horns and just decided to figure out how to make these cards and do it!

Brittany: Who’s your ideal customer?

Yvonne: Hmm… anybody that loves the product, I guess. I'm not really discriminatory. I'm excited to share it with people if it makes them smile when they see it.

Yvonne’s “Plenty of Fish in the Sea” and “Killer Birthday” cards

Brittany: Can you describe the process of coming up with a new card?

Yvonne: There are a million sayings I want to put down onto a card but just haven't had the time to yet! One of the bestsellers is the “Plenty of Fish in the Sea” card, which came out of wanting to make up after a fight with my boyfriend. This one was because I wanted to make a card that would be perfect for my dear friend Lisa. I have a history of making her special cards. She posts cards on her fridge and I joke that my goal is always to make it onto her fridge and stand out! (Oh, she's also obsessed with killer whales.) It's nice when it's so obvious what to make for a friend. Since starting Cardtorial no matter where I am, I'm always on the lookout for inspiration, cheesy sayings, fun t-shirts, and note down the things that make me happy.

Brittany: Can you give us a sneak peek of some of the cards you have yet to create?

Yvonne: I don't have anything in process yet. I've been brainstorming for the holidays so I can add that as an option for Kickstarter backers, but I don't have any images to share yet. There are a number of series I want to do but have been so overwhelmed with business basics that I just haven't had the time to devote to new lines.

The card that was conceived at a Quinn Deveaux concert

Brittany: Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

Yvonne: Maybe this is generic, but kind of everywhere. On a t-shirt. Graffiti on the sidewalks. For me, it's oftentimes more about the words than the design. Like the two bicycle cards are very popular and the bicycle is simply clip art redrawn and altered so it's detailed and clean once laser cut and those are definitely more about the message than the image I'd say. One of them I was inspired to make because I was at a Quinn Deveaux concert at Club Deluxe and he had a guest singer / friend on stage. She belted out, “Let the Good Times Roll,” and as I was sitting there watching how she was able to get the crowd going I thought, “That'd be a fun card. I need to think of something that rolls, so I can use this inspiration.”

Yvonne’s favorite quote from The Little Prince and her signature line

Brittany: How is your own identity represented in your work?

Yvonne: A lot of the cards come out of stories and identifiable moments for me. I think they're reflective of my personality. Some are a bit cheesy. Some are simply sweet. This is my favorite quote. This is something I always say. When my friends see the cards, they know it's me. I would like to think my personality shows through in these.

Brittany: Are there any materials you’d like to work with that you haven’t already?

Yvonne: Yeah! All of them! I've been working incredibly hard trying to figure out how to make this one product work and get it off the ground. I'm trying to focus on one thing at a time, but it would be awesome to begin branching out into steel, a product with color, more customizable cards. There are a million things I want to do but the day-to-day of trying to get a business off the ground takes focus and patience. I would like to spend more time on customizable and wedding invitations probably prior to branching out into other mediums.

Brittany: You recently participated in the Renegade Craft Fair in Los Angeles. What did you get the most out of this experience?

Yvonne: Renegade was my second show, so each experience is new and interesting and gives me more data points and more feedback. I just started doing this in 2012, and I love every opportunity I have to learn, talk to customers, and connect with people that feel a connection with what I'm making.

Brittany: How has living in San Francisco influenced your work?

Yvonne: If I wasn't in SF, this never would have happened. I never would have had the tools, community, or support to even embark on making these cards. Without TechShop, there would have been no laser. Without the community of people doing their own thang, I wouldn't have had the courage to do it. Pretty clear and distinct for me!

Brittany: When you’re not working, how do you spend your time?

Yvonne: OMG, I wish there was more not working time! I'm working on getting a little more balance. This has truly taken over my life a bit the past couple months. I love to eat cheap eats in the Tenderloin and the Mission. I wander around the Ferry Building on weekends, go to dance class, jog Lyon Steps. I travel quite a bit as well (for my previous job) and to make a point of seeing friends all over and in LA with family. I love to go to the oyster farm, perhaps my favorite place up here, cooking Sunday dinners with the ladies.

Brittany: Where are some of your favorite places to eat in the city?

Yvonne: Seriously? I love Saigon Sandwich, Bob's Donuts (make sure they're fresh), PPQ, Roli Roti (porchetta!), pho, Bi-Rite Creamery, San Tung, Baker & Banker (for a special treat, love the cod), Swan Oyster Depot, Universal for brunch and Bloody Mary’s, John's Snack and Deli for kimbap (sometimes I'll have that every day for a couple weeks).

Brittany: What can we expect to see from you in the future?

Yvonne: Bigger line of wood cards, wood card minis (a little less formal), boxed sets, wedding suites. I have a plan now but I'm totally open to change and opportunity. I guess you'll just have to stay posted! Whatever it is, I'm excited for the journey.

Watch Yvonne’s plea for cash on Kickstarter:

Keep up with Cardtorial: 
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Etsy

All of the product photography is used with Yvonne’s permission and was taken by the talented Chung Nguyen.

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