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Meet Catherine Sullivan of The Charm Studio in Wilmette

Today we’d like to introduce you to Catherine Sullivan.

Catherine, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
When I was growing up, my mother’s mantra was “you can make that.” Her mantra covered lots of different things, but especially greeting cards. In my family, we were never allowed to buy cards. Cards were always handmade. I drew all of my birthday party invitations and our Christmas cards were all uniquely hand illustrated by my mom. My mother was and is my biggest inspiration. A teacher by trade, she is a talented self- taught artist and I grew up wanting to draw and write just like her.

At an early age, I fell in love with paper and pattern design. In high school, I worked in a local stationery shop selling classic invitations and stationery products. My dream was to one day have my own line of stationery designs. After I graduated, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, I began my career working as an art director at large advertising agency. However, I never lost my passion for pattern and paper. I left the agency world and continued to follow my stationery dream, designing custom invitations for event planners and stationery shops. For a number of years, I scrimped and saved up enough money to be able to open up my own business. My mother’s “you can make that” mantra, gave me the confidence to open The Charm Studio in 2013.

The Charm Studio was featured on Martha Stewart Weddings List of “The Loveliest Watercolor Wedding Invitations” and in publications such as Style Me Pretty, The Knot, Carats and Cake, Inside Weddings, Chicago Splash, Grey Likes Weddings and Wedding Chicks.  The Charm Studio’s designs and products can be found in select retailers, Domino and Minted.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There are lots of challenges in running a small business, but the rewards outweigh them.

As a small business owner, I am responsible for all aspects of the business: billing, product sourcing, client meetings just to name a few as well as the actual design work and production! It has been a challenge teaching myself the business side of things.

However, one of my favorite parts of my job is that I am always doing something different and no day is ever the same.

Building relationships and getting to know the bride and groom and their families are special aspects of my job. We work as a team to meet deadlines and execute their dream weddings. Their weddings are once-in a-lifetime events and I feel lucky to be able to work with them at such a happy time in their lives.

The Charm Studio – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The Charm Studio is a custom illustration wedding invitation company. Our approach gives our clients their own unique personalized wedding design. We specialize in watercolor and ink illustrations for wedding logos, maps, crests, icons and monograms.

We offer a curated selection of the highest quality paper available and a wide range of printing methods. Our team coordinates paper goods and products for a truly customized look.

Our wedding invitation services include any or all of the following items:

Custom Illustrations:
Venue Buildings

Pre-Wedding Items:

Thank You Note Stationery
Save the Dates
Wedding Invitations
Rehearsal Dinner Invitations
Bridal Brunch Invitations and Items​
Engagement Party Invitations and Items​
Bachelorette Party Invitations and Items​
Digital Calligraphy (guest addresses printed on the envelopes)

Day of Wedding Items:

Ceremony Programs
Event Signage
Table Numbers
​Escort Cards
Place Cards
Cocktail/Food Signage
Drink Stirrers
Cocktail Napkins
Guest Towels
Hotel Welcome Gift Box Notes
Welcome Gift Bags/Boxes​
​Indoor/Outdoor ​Flags
Water Bottles
​W​raps for the event or welcome bags​
Bridesmaid Tote Bags
​Bridesmaid Robes​
Throw Pillows
Table Runners
Wrapping paper
​Vase Wraps​
Bottle Labels
and more!!

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Opening The Charm Studio was a long-time goal for me. Even though there may be more challenges and obstacles on the horizon, I feel successful because I followed my dream and mother’s “you can make that” mantra! It is huge honor to be featured on Martha Stewart Weddings List of “The Loveliest Watercolor Wedding Invitations” and in other publications such as Style Me Pretty, but my true measure of success is when my clients are happy.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Christy Tyler Photography
The McCartneys Photography
Patricia Lyons Photography
Britta Marie Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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