a. favorite designs. Credit: a. favorite design

ALBANY PARK — For better or for worse, there’s no putting the digital communication genie back in the bottle. Email, texting and social media have become as vital as breathing.

But don’t count snail mail out just yet. 

Old school letters, notes and cards have a secret power, and that power is joy, according to designer Amber Favorite.

Favorite — whose Ravenswood-based a. favorite designs specializes in colorful, retro-kitschy, snark-free greeting cards — believes so strongly in the ability of snail mail to deliver “warm fuzzies” that she’s turning her business into a communal operation.

“I noticed every time visitors came into the studio, it’s always been so enjoyable and exciting,” Favorite said. “People are just so over the moon about it.”

The tight quarters on Ravenswood, coupled with accessibility issues, kept her from responding to requests for classes or team building exercises. When her current lease came up for renewal, Favorite decided the time was right to make a leap she’d be contemplating for years.

This fall, Favorite is moving to a much larger space in Albany Park, to create a community letterpress studio. (Letterpress is the oldest method of commercial printing, in which inked letters and images are transferred onto paper.)

In addition to designing and printing the greeting cards that form the core of her enterprise, she’ll now be sharing the experience with others through tutorials and hands-on workshops for everything from making holiday cards to relearning the art of letter writing.

Favorite even envisions “Thankful Thursdays” where she puts a design on press and anyone can pop in and print out a card.

“How amazing would it be if you could print your own thank-you note? I really want people to walk in and feel immediately creative,” she said. “I do feel the more creative people are, the more joy they have, and it’s contagious.”

Her concept also includes opening a small retail shop that will stock greeting cards, vintage office supplies and stationery goods, including a collection of vintage gift wrap Favorite has acquired over the years.

“There isn’t a lot of retail in Albany Park,” said Favorite, who lives in the neighborhood. “I’m hoping we’re kind of a pioneer.”

To achieve her full vision for the new studio at 4432 N. Kedzie Ave., Favorite has turned to Kickstarter to raise funds that will help defray hefty moving costs — you can’t pay your buddies in pizza when it comes to transporting two-ton printing presses — and necessary upgrades to the storefront.

“[Electric] is a substantial chunk. We have to hardwire these antique presses. It’s a big, big process,” Favorite explained.

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Originally, she had expected the move to take place in the spring, when she’s running in the black thanks to Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and graduation card orders. Instead, the delay to fall came at the worst time, Favorite said, with cash tied up in outlays for fourth quarter materials.

“Some of my friends had run Kickstarters. I thought, ‘Gosh, if I could get the community on board with this,'” Favorite said.

The move will happen regardless of whether she hits her Kickstarter target, but without the crowd-funded seed money, Favorite said she will have to hold off on launching workshops for eight to 12 months.

With slightly more than a week to go in the Kickstarter campaign, Favorite is nearing $10,000 of her $15,000 goal.

“People have been so kind and generous. I remember the first workshop that sold,” she said of one of the reward levels. “I was so excited. It means people are interested and want to be involved.”

If she does reach $15,000, Favorite will have a lot of thank-you notes to send to backers. Snail mail, of course. 

Storefront at 4432 N. Kedzie Ave., the new home of a. favorite design’s proposed community studio. (Kickstarter screen grab)

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