After moving our offices from NYC to ATL early in 2021, we're taking some time to get to know our new city. Who better to give us the scoop than our neighbors? Say hey to Robin and Carmelle, fellow ATL locals and owners of greeting card company Neighborly Paper. We chatted with the two about their favorite spots around town and the founding of the business.
Tell us a bit about yourselves and your journey to starting and running Neighborly Paper.
Robin: I always say that Neighborly Paper is what happens when you bring a writer and an illustrator together – who happen to always live down the street from each other. We were neighbors growing up, we were neighbors when we launched in Carmelle’s small Harlem apartment, and we’re neighbors now in Atlanta. We each took our unique talents and combined them to make a company that prides itself on being bold, witty, inclusive, and unapologetic. Carmelle was literally passing out postcards we made on the subway, and today we’re in over 50 stores around the country. Now, what happened in between is a story for another interview. Let’s just say, it wasn’t easy, but we kept at it!
What is your process for making cards?
Carmelle: Our card making process is pretty straightforward. We keep a running list of ideas in a joint document and we add to it often. Usually when it’s time for a new print run, we start from there and choose the ones that make us laugh the most.
Robin crafts the copy to make sure that the jokes hit just right and I draw a companion illustration to bring the copy to life. I try to do versions so we have options to choose from. Usually the right option will jump out at us but if not, we have a diverse focus group that we run our ideas by when we are stuck. Once we finalize the designs, we send them to our amazing printer in Atlanta and our card packagers to get them ready for stores.
Let's play favorites - do either of y'all have a favorite of all time design?
Carmelle: Right now I am loving our notepad designs. They are so cute and the phrase at the top of each page is daily motivation to get my shit together – which I need reminding of on a regular basis.
Robin: Our ‘Hang in There’ card brings me a lot of joy. My grandmother had a clothesline growing up so it’s a little nostalgic with the design. 2020 and 2021 have also been such hard years for so many so I like the uplifting copy. It’s important to have cards that can bring warmth even in difficult times.
You share a hometown with our co-founder, Lindsey (and Weezie HQ) - what's your favorite part of living in ATL?
Carmelle: My favorite part about living in Atlanta is that the city still feels big to me. It’s small enough that I can run into people I know around the city but still big enough to where I can have a running list of places I want to try. Atlanta is always changing so it keeps me on my toes. Once I feel like I have explored it all, then maybe I will move somewhere else but in the meantime, it still has my attention!
Robin: Atlanta has all the perks of a big city and all the charm of a small town. It is known as a city in the forest because you get the best of both worlds with nature and our buildings. It’s beautiful and so are the people. Atlanta has a rich history, a vibrant culture, and we really do influence the world through our businesses, our music, our politics, our colleges, sports…there is nothing Atlanta doesn’t do. And the best part is this – we’re still innovating.
Do you have any insider tips for visiting?
Carmelle: If you are headed somewhere in the city that is close to a Marta stop, taking the train will save you time in traffic and money on paying for parking. Another tip would be to not plan everything out ahead of time. Walking around and exploring on foot is the best way to stumble across the best adventures!
Robin: Ask friends and friends of friends what they enjoy doing. I still learn new things about my city every day by talking to new people. You have to remain curious and open to trying new things.
Walk us through your perfect weekend…
Carmelle: The perfect weekend for me would need to consist of relaxing, laughing with friends/fam and eating good food! I would wake up and play tennis with my tennis partner (new fave hobby), then hit up Barcelona for brunch with friends. After brunch, I would hit up an outdoor festival at the park before heading home to relax for a bit. In the evening, I would have a date night with my boyfriend at Bully Boy and then end the night at a friend’s house for gamenight and drinks.
Robin: I’m sleeping in then my husband, Cecil, and I are headed to Perc for coffee, then to Le Petit Marche for the best oatmeal ever (that’s actually what it’s called). If it’s early we’ll take a walk or ride bikes. After that I’m meeting my mom to shop around and have afternoon drinks and tapas at Eclipse Di Luna. I go home and relax in my Weezie robe while watching an old episode of Insecure, and then I’m off to meet girlfriends for dinner and drinks. I’ve been into trying hotel restaurants lately. Aerial Kitchen is next on my list!
Where to sleep?
Carmelle: Hotel Clermont (pictured below) is such a cute boutique hotel right in the heart of Atlanta. The rooms are so nice and the hotel has a fun rooftop bar. I highly suggest it for tourists coming into town. There is also a surprise for you in the basement :).
Robin: I recently did a staycation at the Sylvan hotel for a friend’s birthday. It could’ve been the plush bed, it could’ve been from card packaging fatigue…but I slept like a baby. I can’t vouch for it yet, but the Thompson Buckhead is next on my list. Plus, there’s an Italian restaurant in there that has my name on it.
Where to eat?
Carmelle: Let’s see, it’s so hard to narrow down all of my favorites! For breakfast, West Egg has a cute cafe vibe with lots of vegan options, Barcelona is a great spot too for a nicer vibe. For lunch I have to hit up Upbeet for a quick healthy kick. For dinner, I love the tapas at Bar Mercado or Bulla in midtown. I’m also a big fan of Korean so I love to hit up Buford Hwy for authentic cuisines such as Sokongdong Tofu House.
Robin: Lyla Lila (pictured below) has my heart right now because of its snapper in squash. If I’m getting something quick it’s the chicken flautas from Superica or the prosciutto baguette from Star Provisions. If I’m hosting a dinner and want southern food, I only order from Busy Bee.
Where to drink?
Robin: Estrella rooftop – get the house margarita and soak up the atmosphere.
Favorite touristy spot?
Carmelle: Piedmont park. If it’s the weekend, there is almost always a festival or event going on. I love to just go and see what surprise it has in store. If you are lucky you might catch the drum circle!
Robin: The beltline. I know I know, it gets crowded, but if you grew up in Atlanta you know how cool it is to have greenspace, bars, restaurants, and neighborhoods come together in this way.
Favorite home goods stores?
Carmelle: Highland Row Antiques. They have it all! Clothes, furniture, knick knacks etc. Anything you can think of, they have the cool, vintage version of it.
Robin: Absolute favorite is hard because I source from so many different spots. Press Shop (pictured below) in Grant Park is one I’ve found myself strolling through often. Plants, wine, cards, what more could you ask for?
Favorite clothing stores?
Carmelle: Anything thrift/vintage, I love. My favorites are Last Chance Thrift in Decatur and Smyrna Thrift but honestly, you put me in any thrift store I would have a ball.
Robin: I know this is lame, but I’m pretty mainstream when it comes to clothing. Zara, H&M, Shopbop. If I get jewelry it’s from one of my best friends from childhood, Rebecca Pinto and if I want to know what’s in style to wear I’m asking my girlfriend, Chanel Tyler (@buymechanel).