Breaking the seal

A sampling of invitations at The Envelope.  Photo courtesy of Charity K Photography. A sampling of invitations at The Envelope. Photo courtesy of Charity K Photography.

Local stationery boutique, The Envelope, gives creative and custom options to Dayton-area paper lovers

By Emma Jarman

A sampling of invitations at The Envelope.  Photo courtesy of Charity K Photography.

A sampling of invitations at The Envelope. Photo courtesy of Charity K Photography.

Remember back in the good old days, before your grandparents were e-mail proficient and your kids knew more about touch screens and iPads than it took you years to discover? Those were the days when birthday parties were something for which you had to send paper invitations three weeks before the date rather than creating a Facebook event and clicking “add all” to a cyber invite list. Those were the days when you knew what your best friend’s handwriting looked like, not just what her  text signature was.

Annie Bowers, owner of The Envelope, a unique stationery boutique, remembers them, and is holding on with an iron fist.

“[Written messages] show that you put some thought into it,” said Bowers. “Anyone can send an e-mail while they’re sitting at a traffic light on their iPhone. It’s just a lot more meaningful to get something in the mail.”

At The Envelope, handwritten and custom-made invitations and greeting cards are not a thing of the past but a necessary way to stay genuinely connected to friends and family. Bowers reiterated that getting something in the mail, something you can touch, hold, feel and smell, is much more powerful than weeding through the junk of an inbox to receive a message. A large portion of the work at The Envelope goes toward wedding invitations. Would you even go to a wedding you got an e-vite to? But while weddings are obviously a niche market and don’t produce much repeat business, Bowers takes on lots of odd jobs including personalized stationery and thank-you notes.

Thank-you note etiquette, by the way, is much more fussy than I, or anyone that has sent me a thank-you note in the past, was aware. You should send a thank-you note anytime you receive a gift, anytime someone invites you to their home, if someone sends you something unexpectedly and, get this, even after a job interview. After a job interview, you should send a handwritten note (and not one with “Thank you!” splashed across the front) within a day or two; the sooner the better. For wedding gifts, however, you have up to six months, but within the first four weeks is classier.

“You want to do it in a reasonable amount of time so people don’t get to the point where they’re thinking, ‘I should have gotten a note from this person.’”

The Envelope offers solutions for all needs and inquiries. And if you need something not typically found on their, or any other shop’s shelves, Bowers and her team will make it for you.

With no design background or education in design aside from a job with a wedding planner before her store opening, Bowers is largely self-taught when it comes to design, and her eight years at the store have helped her hone her abilities and learn to make people’s cardstock dreams come to life.

“I think it’s really important and something people have noticed about me is that I have a lot of passion for what I do,” said Bowers. “I’m really connected to it and I have a personal stake in it. It’s not just something I do to make a living … it’s important to me to create things that people love and to help them put into practice what they can visualize.”

Whether it’s a custom designed, letterpress invitation on Elum stationery tied with a Midori ribbon or a 10-pack of children’s birthday invitations from the clearance basket (the ones I grabbed for my soon-to-be-2-year-old were $5), Bowers is always available to help make the first impression of your big day something special and unique, something guests will be excited to touch, hold, feel and smell. Wildly popular for wedding invitations are the metallic and sparkly pages The Envelope carries.

If you’re worried about the cost of a handheld invitation, don’t be. While wedding invitations average $800 for the final product, prices are always flexible and completely depend on what you decide to include; pocket folds cost more, as do thicker paper and graphic-heavy designs. But, as with the man who walked into the store the other day requesting them, simple stationery printed with a letterhead and addressed envelopes run only $1.50 a pop. The average invite, for a package of 20, costs about $30 to $40 with an additional 50 cents per card for printing, all of which is done in-house and by hand. Bowers is eager to sit down with anyone at the enormous design table that takes up a good quarter of her store space and work out details including pricing.

“We’ve gotten a reputation as a luxury store,” said Bowers. “People tend to expect to pay more. I think what a lot of people don’t know about us is we have everything in between. There is a lot of flex with price. I can do stuff really affordably.”

The Envelope also offers photo-printed seasonal cards and is loosely affiliated with the bakery at Dorothy Lane Market. The cakery there has taken invitations from The Envelope and created baked masterpieces to match. Matching cakes and invitations are displayed both in Dorothy Lane Market and at The Envelope.

Whether you’re looking to invite a party of hundreds to your unique wedding or just 10 kids to an ice cream social, whether you’re searching for the perfect way to thank an H.R. department for “giving you this opportunity” or the gift of stationery for your relatives who haven’t yet caught on to Google, much less Gmail or Yahoo!, The Envelope is the place to find a custom solution.

The Envelope is located at 6131 Far Hills Ave. in the courtyard down the strip from Dorothy Lane Market in Centerville. For more information call (937) 291-0850 or visit the website and blog at for great resources and a killer guacamole recipe. The Envelope is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Reach DCP freelance writer Emma Jarman at


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