Creativity & Hospitality: Waco welcomes January Letterpress

by Andi Risk | December 5, 2019

Everyone has a box of keepsakes.

Sweet notes. Old pictures. Sentimental cards.

Baylor graduates Jon Mark and Michelle Buckner aim to take the sentiment one step further withopening their stationary store and custom letterpress studio.

Upon returning to Waco in 2018, the couple opened shop on a quaint little corner off Franklin Avenue. The bright and airy space, known as “January Letterpress,” invites customers to browse a variety of greeting cards, calendars, planners and any other trinket you could need for a friendly office space.

“A big reason we moved back to Waco is because we believe in the city,” Jon Mark said. “Waco is so friendly to entrepreneurs and to Baylor students who want to do things, so why not start something here?”

Both celebrating birthdays in January, the Buckner’s decided to name their store January Letterpress in hopes that it would represent the peaceful feeling of a new year.

“January represents the start of new things – ideas and dreams and goals,” Michelle said. “That’s what this is for us. We’re not business people, so this was kind of a risk and a dream.”

Deciding to take the risk and chase their dream, the Buckner’s added a unique twist to the average card shop. Combining their love for the people and city of Waco with their creative drive and entrepreneurial spirit, the couple brought an antiquated printing method back to life.

“Digital printing was invented in the late 50s, early 60s, so letterpress was basically the go-to form of printing prior to that,” Jon Mark said. “Modern letterpressing uses either type or stamps which can put an indentation in the paper.”

This type of quality does not come without effort. With a background in graphic design, Michelle creates each custom design on her computer and sends it off to be printed into a 3D plastic plate, which can then be used in the letterpress.

“Digital printing is just flat, but letterpress creates a really beautiful indentation that takes it a step above the rest,” Jon Mark said.

The thick, 100% cotton sheets of paper are hand cut and individually inserted into the press. The ink is also hand mixed and applied one color at a time. Though the printing process can be lengthy, it’s intentional – and the carefully crafted result is well worth the wait.

“I think one of our goals for this space is just that it’s a place of creativity and hospitality, so when you come in you feel welcomed and at home and like it’s a peaceful, enjoyable environment to be in,” Michelle said.

Learning to print in the garage of their home, the Buckner’s vision for January Letterpress has evolved over time. While Jon Mark manages the business side of shop, Michelle handles the creative decisions.

This season, the store will carry its own line of holiday cards and is also working on a signature candle. In addition, January Letterpress hosts various creative workshops, partnering with other local businesses to share the wealth of creativity and hospitality.

“I think our intention is very simple – we just want to make beautiful things,” Jon Mark said. “At first it felt a little vain, but the more we thought about it, we were like, ‘Actually, there’s a lot of purpose in quality. It’s worthwhile to make beautiful things.’ So we hope that by doing something beautiful in Waco, it will bless the city.”