There’s something about this time of year that reminds us stationery lovers of going back to school and the excuse to indulge in some new stationery. That bite of cold air on your cheeks as you leave the house on a crisp September morning, making you feel ready to get stuck into new projects, and in need of just the right paper goods to make it happen.
For me the ritual September trip to Paperchase in Tottenham Court Road marked the end of summer and the moment I began to feel prepared for the start of the new school year. I’d get the bus down to central London and walk into that paper lover’s Mecca. Bearing left towards the notebook section, I would dedicate a good hour to examining each and every one — compare the covers, stroke the pages, check out the binding. I’d narrow it down to two or three, and then spend half an hour more deciding between them.
I still vividly remember specific notebooks I bought there and how they made me feel, the intense excitement, the anticipation. For me a new notebook is like a symbol of what lies ahead — within a few weeks or months, these pages will be filled with things. Somehow buying a good notebook has always made me feel optimistic about what those things might be.
Once I had settled on a notebook, I would turn my attention to pens, tried and tested on that pad of strangers’ scribbles in an eclectic rainbow of inks. First, a carefully chosen black ink pen, and to complete my haul, a palette of highlighters. Like many stationery lovers, I had invented my own note-taking system: asterisks (priorities), arrows (actions), bullets (general notes) and of course lots of colour-coded underlining.
Speaking to members of the Mark+Fold community this summer, I was struck by how often this came up — so many stationery lovers talk about how new stationery makes them feel. And many of these conversations led to the topic of preparation. Just as a mountain climber carefully researches, sources, acquires and packs the right equipment for the journey, helping them to feel mentally ready for the task ahead, so it is for stationery, for me. The ritual of getting the right tools together makes me feel more prepared, more confident and more optimistic.
One of our customers put it beautifully: “It sounds crazy, but having my new stationery really made me trust in the idea that 'this is going to go well’.”