Growing up in Forest Park, Megan Nutley, also known as Megan Rose, made friendship bracelets. For fun, she folded paper into flowers. When she left town to attend Loyola University in Chicago, she continued her crafting, majoring in graphic design and making a line of homemade greeting cards that are now so popular Rose has devoted herself to creating them full-time.
Named “Silhouette Blue” — after the original line of 30 greeting cards that features silhouettes of people at parties and holiday events — her firm has now expanded to include custom stationery. Rose designs and crafts the cards from her home studio on the 600 block of Beloit Avenue — the same street she grew up on as the granddaughter of the owners of Ed’s Way — and Rose now processes more than 1,000 orders per year.
“Greeting cards are just such a small joy in your day,” she said. “Being able to go into the store, and picking it out and then knowing that the person is going to be so excited when they get it, I love that I can just contribute to those little everyday joys in people’s lives.”
Silhouette Blue started as a college class project. A gallery showing of Rose’s work was so well received that students sent Rose email requests for custom greeting cards for months after. She felt excited by the reception and continued making custom cards after graduation, crafting wedding invitations on the side for friends and family. But she didn’t quit her day job as a graphic designer with the state of Illinois.
“It wasn’t the most exciting job, especially once I got into making greeting cards and stationery,” Rose said. “Making brochures was not really my idea of a career.”
After about three years, Rose decided to take the leap and devote herself to Silhouette Blue full time. Online craft retailer Etsy had been taking off and, by listing her cards, Rose gained access to their large fanbase. She was also in her 20s and a lot of her friends were getting married — word of mouth drove a large portion of her initial business.
Rose decided to scale her collection as quickly as possible, reasoning that a wider variety of styles would attract a larger pool of customers. She started designing trendy, generic cards she believed everyone would want.
But after Christmas passed — her busiest time of year — and most customers continued to shop her older designs, Rose realized that more wasn’t necessarily more. She decided to focus Silhouette Blue’s style.
“When you’re looking at an artist, or you’re going into a store where they have too much of everything and it feels unfocused, you’re like, ‘I don’t know what your vision is,'” she said. “People will find you and people will recognize when you’re being genuine.”
Rose has since pared her collection down to about 85 cards reflective of her style, which she describes as timeless, simple and feminine. She still finds inspiration in interior design and fashion trends, but the flowers and natural patterns she’s seen around Forest Park also find their way onto her sketchpad.
The most popular card she ever produced features a tree and classic car, and reads “Jingle All The Way.”
But right now, cards with flowers, watercolors or hand-drawn doodles are popular. Sometimes she has a clear idea for a design and finishes the new project in 20 minutes. Most often, however, the design process takes about an hour.
To focus, she plays music, lights candles and reflects on the three people her stationery sets generally touch: the person ordering the stationery as a gift, the individual who will be receiving the set, and the final person whom the card reaches in the mail.
“I just want them to feel like they’re receiving something beautiful,” Rose said.