Business: Inkwell Modern Handmade Boutique & Letterpress Studio
Location: Halifax, NS
Owner: Andrea Rahal

AE: Describe your business:
AR: Inkwell carries local, Canadian and International work handmade by artists with a focus on printed ephemera. The majority of the work is paper based, such as art prints, greeting cards and handmade books. In addition, we have printed textiles like tea towels, jewellery and pottery and a small selection of books that complement the products in store. Inkwell also offers small scale, small batch letterpress printing and custom design services – social stationery like greeting cards, business / calling cards and invitations. We also work with graphic designers to print work for their clients.

AE: Where did the idea for the store come from?
AR: It had been in my mind for a long time and I thought one day, down the road - opportunity came knocking and I decided to go for it because it just felt right. The idea evolved with my interests and the business has become something of which I am very proud.

AE: What were your biggest challenges and successes?
AR: There were many unforeseen obstacles that delayed the opening, but I learned to roll with them. It’s certainly a good exercise in problem solving! As for successes - return customers, customer compliments and comments, and support from neighbouring businesses and the local Halifax area come to mind […] my highlight to date would be the Open House where we launched the printing services and which also served as the unofficial grand opening where all of the above was present exponentially.

AE: What has reception been like from the public?
AR: There are a lot of folks in Halifax and neighbouring areas, as well as tourists who state things like it’s “Letterpress Heaven”, or that “Halifax has needed a shop like this for a long time”, or that “it’s a great place to escape and get away for awhile”. Those kinds of comments make me smile and are really encouraging.

AE: What sets your business apart from others?
AR: A high percentage of the products carried in the shop can’t be found elsewhere locally. In almost all cases I deal with the artists themselves, when placing an order. Items which people only see online in shops or on blogs, they can now physically hold. Not only are you supporting local, you’re supporting artists to continue to make their art – and in some cases that artist is me!

AE: What do you envision for the future with Inkwell?
AR: Inkwell will become a mainstay downtown and a destination for even more Haligonians and tourists. There’s definitely potential for growth. I plan to offer workshops and I also want to collaborate with other local artists, shops and businesses. It’s hard to say, because the shop is still so new, but certainly lots of fun and exciting things! Definitely stay tuned!

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