The Stationers Behind Gus & Ruby Do It All for the Love of Letters

The success of Gus & Ruby, Samantha Finigan and Whitney Swaffield’s letterpress print studio, can be attributed to their hands-on, completely custom approach.

Portrait by Joyelle West

How did Gus & Ruby come to be?

The idea for Gus & Ruby came to us during our afternoon dog walks (Sam’s Brussels griffon, Gus, and Whitney’s hound mix, Ruby) when we worked together at an advertising agency in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. While chatting on those walks, we realized that our individual skills and desires—Samantha wanted to be an entrepreneur, and Whitney had an incredible family-shared skill of letterpress printing—combined to make something special. We quit our jobs during the height of the 2009 recession and set out on the adventure of a lifetime, opening our little studio and our first tiny store.

What is it that you do that is different from other stationers?

Perhaps our biggest differentiating factor is that we truly do produce everything in-house. From design (including hand illustration and watercolor painting) to letterpress and foil printing to final assembly (from hand-stitching fabric sleeves to assembling laser-cut belly bands), we do it all as a team in our New Hampshire studio. We feel this element of our business model really allows us to flex our creative muscles and always act in the best interest of our clients. We’ve been known to tweak color on press as things are printing to ensure that a shade is exactly as we know a client might want it—it’s total creative control over the process and final product.

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How has your business grown over the years?

We started out in 2009 as a two-person team working seven days a week to
produce beautiful work for our clients while also running our small retail store. Since then, we’ve grown to a team of nine full-time employees on the wedding side of our business and another 20 or so people in our ever-expanding retail stores! While we have grown, we have remained committed to our mission of providing exceptional bespoke design and printing through a personal, attentive experience. We are conscious of not becoming too big to serve our clients with the same love and high-touch process and limit the number of clients we serve to ensure that these standards are met.

What do you enjoy most about working with engaged couples?

We really are suckers for a good love story! It’s such a joy to hear people talk about how they met and where their stories have taken them. It’s not lost on us how lucky we are to get to play a small part in one of the biggest experiences of a couple’s life together. So many of our couples work with us for over a year and really do become friends by the end.

What is something new and exciting happening (or soon to happen) for Gus & Ruby?

The opening of our private design studio on Charles Street in Beacon Hill last spring is exciting for us. Because we were fully booked for 2022 clients by the time we opened our studio, we didn’t promote it very much this past year and are just now starting to truly spread the word. We are so excited to welcome clients and planners into the space. It’s such an inspiring and lovely location, and we are so glad to be getting back to our roots of in-person meetings. We’re firm believers in celebrating every part of the wedding planning process, so couples should expect and delight in enjoying some bubbly and treats during appointments with us!

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