When cleaning out my cupboards in preparation for our imminent new family member recently, I stumbled upon a box of memories. Hundreds of handwritten cards, journals and photographs stuffed into a box.
Anyone who has opened an old file of memories will know that this type of discovery conjures up all of the emotions. Nostalgia, love, joy … It didn’t take long before tears were flowing and I’d made a pact to reach out to some long lost friends. Because there really is something about the tactile nature of a handwritten, heartfelt note or memory captured on paper that just can’t be recreated digitally. In today’s world of the Cloud, bulging inboxes and ever-present social media, we seem to have lost the art of sitting down to write to our loved ones, or even to ourselves.
That’s why Write To Me is one of our favourite 2019 discoveries at The Grace Tales. Their beautiful journals encourage us all to journal and make notes – in our own handwriting – to create heirlooms to pass down to the people we love the most. Their beautiful collection of journals have been created specifically with mothers in mind – to capture the moments and memories of our children’s lives. With gorgeous linen covers in soft colours, they’re truly a keepsake to treasure forever.
We spoke to the founders of Write To Me, sisters Anna and Nicoletta, about the art of journaling, the journey of their business and the importance of capturing memories. As Anna and Nicoletta say, “Handwriting keeps a piece of you alive long after you are gone with the ability to retell stories that are so important to capture.” With that, I’m off to do some writing.
We adore your beautiful journals, planners and calendars. Can you tell us a little about Write to Me and what your business is all about?
We create journals that capture life stories told in handwriting. When someone is gone and you can hold their handwriting in your hands, it is like a piece of them remains physically with you. You can run your hands over the letters they have created and memories will come flooding back with the ability to retell and relive stories that meant so much. Creating heirlooms that will live on in future generations.
We also believe in the power of handwriting for everyday sanity. Our planner brand My Organised Chaos works on the researched theory that if you just take the time every week to write out what you need to do, where you need to be then it eliminates stress and might even leave you with some me time.
Where did the inspiration come from to start your business?
Inspiration to begin our business came from two places. My husband lost his parents when he was 12 years old and a box of handwritten letters are some of his most precious possessions. When we moved out of home our mother gifted us with the baby journals she kept for us and had pulled a collection of our family recipes in a journal so we could cook in our own kitchens. We are both very sentimental and it’s the simple things in life that mean the most.
Can you tell us about your gorgeous Mama books?
We created our Mama journals as a place for mothers to write their hearts out. Journaling is such good therapy – just getting thoughts out or working through things you bounce around in your head. Sometimes it’s thoughts you don’t want to share with anyone, or sometimes it’s just to download your day. A place to read back on and reflect and perhaps share with your children when they are older as an insight into motherhood.
How do you personally carve out time to record memories?
We all lead such busy lives. You cannot get anything done without setting the intention and time aside to achieve things you want to do. We all have the same amount of time and how we use it is a choice. (I say to myself as I try to get to the gym with my “I have no time excuse”!) Night times with a cup of tea, when the house is quiet is when I like to journal. Just like everything though there is no harm in scheduling in this time – otherwise without scheduling I get nothing done. Many people say they find it hard to journal. If you keep post-it notes, or keep notes in your phone then you can transfer when you are not feeling time poor.
How do you practice being present and how do your books help to achieve this?
We try to be in the moment with everything we do. We take the kids to the park, we book weekends away with our parents, we take the dog to the park every day, we have conversations around the table, we cook together, we have family dinner weekly, we take the kids to the movies, plays, galleries, we try and inspire them so that they can live the lives they want. All this creates moments and memories that can be documented in our books. No moment is ordinary.
What does self-care look like for both of you?
We are all about this this year. We have worked so hard for many years neglecting ourselves and so this year is self-care. Going to bed early, baths, oils, looking after skin, hair, eating good food, making time to exercise and most importantly making time for the things that fuel our souls and creativity.
As business partners and sisters, what do you find is key to a healthy working relationship (while maintaining your personal relationship!)?
Communication and respect for each other’s thoughts and opinions. Without these two things, we would not be working together still.
What does a typical day look like for you both?
Breakfast, school lunches, childcare drop-offs, work work work work, school/childcare pick-ups, kids activities, make dinner, homework, bedtime, a cup of tea and Netflix (trying not to work at night).
Have you had any particularly testing moments in business, and how have you managed through them?
The really hard years were handmaking, the hours we would work long into the night most nights, the years without pay. They were testing but we had this belief that we were going to be able to work through it all and it kept us going and we got there.
What does the future look like for Write to Me?
The future to us is so exciting. Building our library of journals, selling all over the world and we are working on part of our business being social enterprise and giving back to our community. We are so excited about the concept we are working on in the background which will launch hopefully later this year.
What have been some of the highlights in your business to date?
Standout highlights include going from making our journals to outsourcing them. The support of so many stockists and the support of online customers.
Receiving images from our customers every day of our journals filled out with all their memories and photos – that’s the best highlight!
What legacy do you hope to leave with your life and your business?
The legacy for our business is that years from now people will own these precious journals with their loved ones’ handwriting and stories of their lives. Memories will live on in these cherished books. We also aim to leave a huge legacy with our social enterprise – this is very personal to both of us and it will be the legacy of our lives.
Finish this sentence … “Running a business is …”