Photo by Sugar & Cloth
My name is Laura Hooper-Leader, and I’m the owner of Laura Hooper Calligraphy. I’ve been practicing calligraphy professionally for more than 12 years, and I sell everything from printed party goods and tote bags to DIY calligraphy kits. I currently reside in Alexandria, Virginia with my husband and our two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
When I was about twelve years old, my mom taught me the art of calligraphy. Then at 21, my best friend asked me to address the envelopes for her wedding. If I remember correctly, she “paid” me with a $50 Nordstrom gift card; I thought I had it made! After that, word spread that I was available to hand-letter envelopes for special occasions. The rest is history.
After a couple years of hand calligraphy (lettering envelopes, place cards and escort cards), I started getting a lot of requests for printed products. I didn’t have enough time (or the design background) to work on the technical elements to do that, so I brought on a designer; she has been working for me for nearly 10 years. Since our product sales have increased over the past few years, I’ve also hired a packing and shipping team, as well as a director of operations who handles all of our incoming orders, scheduling, workshop planning, and marketing.
Most of what I create is wedding-related, since that’s where I got my start. There’s something special about playing even the smallest role in a couple’s wedding celebration – it’s such an exciting time. As we’ve learned through working with engaged couples and wedding planners over the last decade, there is literally no detail too small.
In addition to our wedding products, we’ve recently branched into making party favors and home goods. It’s been exciting for us to continue expanding and dipping our toes into a new market; it feels like we are always adding new items to our Etsy shop. Coming soon, we will be adding watercolor designs to our wedding line, and later in the year, we’ve got some holiday gift wrap coming to the shop, which we’ve never sold before. Outside of Etsy, I teach calligraphy workshops around the United States, and we are going to be releasing an online version of my workshop very soon. All these new ventures keep my mind fresh and my work enjoyable.
Etsy was my very first storefront, and it has been vital in the success of my business. I’ve always had my own website, but being on Etsy allowed me to sell directly to my customers. For me, Etsy serves as the gateway to a community interested in supporting small businesses and handmade work. We never would have experienced the exponential growth that we’ve seen over the past eight years without Etsy!