There are two people that have brought the forever-talkeed-about ‘art of the handwritten note’ into the 21st century. They are Alexa and James Hirschfeld; founders of Paperless Post, and another family sibling duo (just like us)! Paperless Post serves up stationery of both the digital and print persuasion, basically serving the needs of everyone from Internet-only teens to adults nostalgic for – well – the US Postal Service. We like to think we fall somewhere in between, and it’s our appreciation for both that made these two a must-feature for TNP. See the two speak on everything from black cherries, to postcards to why balancing form and function in digital is crucial…
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
Every summer growing up we would take a trip to the island of Paros in Greece. We would have fresh black cherries from the market for breakfast, grilled octopus and salad for lunch at a taverna by the beach near our house, and the best lamb chops in the world for dinner in the mountains.
How does food and hospitality play into stationery and communication?
A big part of gracious entertaining is feeding people well—it’s something that people love about entertaining. The majority of the events that people turn to Paperless Post for involve food, and it’s a theme we’re especially fond of.
What made you choose to do both online and paper stationery? Why not just online?
From the beginning, we set out to elevate people’s ability to communicate beautifully. Helping our users create expressive designs has always been what we truly care about—regardless of the medium.
What do you think when people say that a handwritten note is still more special than sending notes online?
Everyone has their own threshold and opinion about when it’s right to communicate digitally or on paper. It’s a personal stylistic decision, and we think either can be as thoughtful and meaningful as you make it.
What’s it like working with a sibling? Does your family have a history of family-run businesses?
It’s wonderful—when it works, it really works. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses really well, and the lines of communication are very open. You can get a message across in one sentence that would take other people months. We come from a family that is half Greek and half Jewish. On our mother’s side, our Greek immigrants ran a number of family businesses. Funnily enough, we don’t, in any way, think of this as a family business, but the history is there.
How do you constantly divide and conquer?
One of the advantages of working with someone you’ve known your entire life is that you really understand each others strengths and weaknesses. It’s never unclear how we should divide a challenge; there are many things that only one of us can do well.
Do you think more platforms online should focus as much on aesthetic as they do on technology/function?
Yes! The Internet has traditionally favored function over form, but we believe that the two can and should go hand-in-hand. Wonderful things happen when design and technology work together. We’ve tried to make Paperless Post an example of that, and think it’s an ethos that should be applied across the consumer web.
What old historical/style icons can you imagine sent letters to one another? What would they have looked like?
There are two kinds of interesting letters: ones about work and ones about love. Perhaps the best, then, are letters about work between people in love, like the letters between Virginia and Leonard Woolf or Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning.
What non-occasions call for a card?
There’s nothing quite like sending a postcard on vacation. It’s a unique way to share an experience with someone that is easy and fun.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Everywhere, but first and foremost the beauty and craftsmanship of the non-digital world.
What are your favorite cities for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?
In the same vein as ‘what is the new black’ in fashion, what is ‘the new potato’ of letter-writing?
*James and Alexa Hirshfeld, photographed in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann