Taryn Sutherland Gross has a way with a pen. This calligrapher and designer occupies a space in the wedding planning process that is both as intimate as it is unique: her one-of-a-kind, custom invitations ensure that you and your fiancé walk away with a design that is 100% inspired by your love and wedding.
If that isn’t enough to seal the deal for you, this San Diego based calligrapher loves a brave and daring bride when it comes to stepping outside of that traditional zone.
Interviewing Taryn brought about a sense of artisanship and craftsmanship doubled with whimsical inspiration. Read on to learn how Taryn became a go-to calligrapher and how she manages the ins-and-outs of running her own wedding business.
1. How did you get into calligraphy, stationary, and invitations?
I’ve always been an artist and have practiced painting and hand lettering since I was young. I studied Art & Art History in undergrad and discovered the world of weddings right around graduation. I was lucky enough to start working with a wedding planner around then. I thought that was what I wanted to pursue until I learned more about the individual trades in the wedding industry. I truly hit my stride discovering calligraphy and was hooked ever since. It felt like the perfect fit for me.
2. At what point did you want to pursue Twinkle and Toast as a business?
It started as a side hustle that grew while working another full time job. Once I found myself lucrative and too busy to pursue both jobs, I took the plunge in 2014 to fully commit and go fulltime and haven’t looked back since. It was the scariest but most rewarding leap of faith decision I have ever made!
3. What has been the most rewarding aspect of starting your own business?
After a lot of hustle, free work and doing work I felt I couldn’t really get behind, slowly but surely my work really started reflecting me. I started getting the clients I loved and doing work I was passionate about. I have the freedom to add or remove services as I go and as I find different niche passions within my business. I can take on as little or as much work as I like. Getting to a point where I can confidently say “no” to projects without feeling guilty has been empowering. Ultimately, I love being in control of the direction of my business and career.
4. What is the best piece of advice you can give a bride-to-be and her fiancé about choosing their invitations and calligrapher?
There are so many talented individuals out there, but make sure you select someone that is professional and can explain what you should include, what to expect for timeline, how you should word your invite, what printing process is right for you and most importantly what you haven’t thought about yet. Stationery particulars can be very overwhelming so your designer should have the patience and knowledge to guide you through the process. Above all, make sure you feel excited and comfortable with your designer!
5. What is your favorite trend in invitations right now?
I love that wax seals are making a comeback in a fun and modern way. Blind deboss process (which is letterpress on a paper with no ink) is a super hot element. Semi translucent vellum has been a total eye catcher to incorporate this year. I’m also very excited about holographic foil – it’s an unexpected choice for wedding, but hope to see more brave and funky brides come in and run with it!
6. How did you master the art of calligraphy?
Practice, practice practice. I am still always learning and educating myself and taking courses and researching tools and tips. I think it’s key to never think you “mastered” your craft and stay a perpetual student.
7. What is the biggest PRO to running your own business?
To get to do what I love, to put my talents to use, to connect with so many amazing women – both fellow industry babes and fierce brides. I have a hard time letting go of the relationships I make with my couples. It is so rewarding to see a design you’ve worked so hard on come into your hands and feel it complete!
8. What is the biggest CON to running your own business?
That I never stop working but can never seem to get it all done. It’s not just about the design process – it’s also bookkeeping, lead management, advertising, emails, proposals, etc. It’s challenging to stay on top of it all and cut yourself some slack sometimes. I might be my own boss, but that’s not necessarily the case – I have several bosses at any given time (my clients) and I never want to let them down.
9. What is your favorite calligraphy style?
Modern and minimalistic. I am currently not huge on overdone flourishes, but like to make simple and beautiful statement pieces.
10. What is something about Twinkle and Toast that most people would not know?
That I’m a pretty good mix of left brain and right brain! You have to be a talented artist to make a good design, but you have to be a good business person to run a successful company. I have more Excel spreadsheets to track my leads, ROI, accounting, etc. than I’d like to admit. Sometimes I wish there was two of me to do the two different roles in this business of mine!
11. What is your creative process?
All of my invitation suites are fully custom designed from start to finish. When developing a suite I like to draw inspiration from who you are as a couple, your venue, your color palette, your moods, etc. I rarely like to be shown a past invitation suite for inspiration – whether its mine or another designer. I like to really try to come up with something unique and draw inspiration from all over.
12. What is your favorite invitation you have created to date?
Oh I hate to pick favorites! Really! But if you made me, I might have to go with our Palm Springs invite suite with copper foil, burgundy edge and cactus liner. Not only was this a killer invitation suite that achieved exactly what we wanted, but this bride and groom were just the best! They were so fun and trusting and they are lucky I didn’t crash their wedding!
Interviewed by scout