By Enon Avital, January 11th, 2021
Today marks the fifth anniversary of me selling my very first handmade pocket notebook. It was when the first one sold, but not the first one made. I'm going to walk through some highlights of this very rewarding journey and celebrate with you all in a special way (you can skip to the end if you'd like). So buckle in for the ride. But first, let's talk about why I'm celebrating today.
Marking calendar dates and celebrating them with extra significance is not something I'm super into. Every notebook release is a special moment for me, more than the date it all began. I prefer to celebrate the present and what's next, but today I am going out of my way to mark five years because it is a pretty big deal.
Right when I started making Dapper Notes, Diane Gibbs told me something very important that she learned from a professor of hers. She told me that if I want to really stick with something for the long run, I need to commit to it for five years. Then, once I set my mind to doing it for that long, I'd be able to stick to it no matter what challenges I faced along the way because I knew I'd have to make it to the five year mark. Five years is a long time to be making something, especially if it's just one thing that also has to compete for short attention spans, both yours and mine.
I knew I'd somehow have to coerce myself to stick to the long-term plan. A five year promise seemed pretty daunting, to be honest, which is why I came up with the Bookhead Club. Having a subscription service where I'd owe you a new notebook design every other month was my surefire plan for sticking to the five years, and I'm happy to report that it worked out splendidly.
And now, without further ado, here's a condensed history of Dapper Notes:
It's safe to say that had I not taken two courses titled "Artists' Books: Bookworks (I and II)" while enrolled at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Dapper Notes would not exist. Thanks to book artist Benjamin Rinehart I learned all about working with paper and book making, and I am forever grateful for everything he taught me.
While working on Flatirony with a friend, we decide to create products beyond t-shirts and posters. Since I have experience with bookmaking, we buy a bunch of materials and equipment, and experiment with early versions of what eventually would become Dapper Notes. We call these experiments "implausibooks."
After getting attention for my Hebrew typography artwork, I open up a shop to sell prints of that work. Once again, I'm filled with a desire to create something more tangible than art prints, and decide to dust off my bookmaking equipment for a new round of experiments.
I’m pretty happy with the product of my experimentation this time around, and realize that fabric-covered notebooks really speak to me. I enjoy making them, and it seems like something others might like too. I design a few small batches using a couple of different materials, and put them up in my shop to see if other people do in fact like my pocket notebooks. Since this is only an experimental add-on to my Hebrew artwork store, I call the notebooks "Hebrew Type Books."
Leading up to January 11th, I announce a new email list along with a note that the one-of-a-kind A Fly Went By edition will be given to one lucky subscriber.
Then for four days straight I launch a new design every single day. On Monday, January 11th 2016, the very first notebooks go up for sale with the Pinot Gwar and Corkcupine duo (both cork covered, but with different colors inside). Tuesday sees the release of a faux leather Sleeping Tirana, followed on Wednesday with the bright yellow Queen Vespa and King Dart, and closing the launch week on Thursday with the Gardiners Bay and Island pair.
I don't remember the exact numbers, but each day between three and 15 notebooks go up for sale, and every single day they sell out right away. I am a nervous wreck all week, but after mailing everything out that Thursday, I remember realizing that I'm finally on to something.
The Bookhead Club is announced, thanks to the sound advice of Diane Gibbs, and ensures that I'll be making notebooks for at least the next five years.
The first Bookhead Club edition comes out, and is delivered ahead of time to a handful of early subscribers.
My friend Jason is running the Creative South podcast (now Feasting on Design), and offers to give me an ad on one of the episodes leading up to my interview on that show. I'm pressed for time, so after a night of brainstorming I pick the name "Dapper Notes." It sounds right, the dot com is available, as are the social handles. And so on December 12th 2016, I register the domain name dappernotes.com, I open up a dedicated Facebook page, an Instagram, and a Twitter account, and finally start calling these notebooks by the name you know today.
Many people ask me why Dapper Notes cost $15 for a single notebook, so I make the very first BTS video to show the materials and how every single one is handmade.
I also release the first three-pack Craft Series of paper-cover notebooks. The idea is to introduce more people to Dapper Notes paper, with three simpler notebooks for only $15.
I collaborate with another artist for the very first time. Eric Friedensohn (also known as @efdot) designs the first Summer of Sketching edition. Eric also films the behind-the-scenes and edits a beautiful video that shows how the edition was made.
Monster Noa is released as a Black Friday special, with a pre-order of the fuzziest pocket notebook I've ever seen or made.
I make the very first alternate-size notebook with J. Sugar Cube. This becomes a tradition where if an edition has excess fabric that is large enough, I make either miniature or junior-sized versions that help prevent waste.
USPS discontinues their affordable international package rates, so I partner up with Nero's Notes in the UK to deliver a better experience to European stationery lovers.
The website is redesigned with a major overhaul. I write up an article that outlines what was done and why.
I also post the first game where you're asked to guess the edition name ahead of its release.
I spend a few months experimenting with hardcover notebooks, and release ten different designs that I call Monograph Journals.
Billfold Wallet Covers also make their debut as the first threadless notebook covers, using a design that took me years to master.
Dapper Pads make an appearance as well, and quickly become my most-used Dapper Notes item.
I also realize that (thanks to an automation error) for almost three years I've been sending seven editions to Bookhead Club subscribers instead of six. This mishap was shared publicly and we all have a little laugh.
The Dapper Notes podcast is launched, and begins to chronicle the stories of every single Dapper Notes item ever made.
The @goodtype inspiration account reaches 1 million followers, and to help them celebrate we partner up with a special edition and a lettering challenge.
The website is redesigned once again, and I finally launch a proper brand for Dapper Notes.
I get COVID, put everything on hiatus, post occasional updates, spend thirty days spotlighting other creatives, and focus on recovering and adjusting to our new reality.
I chat with Stuart from Nero's and ask for your help to figure out what should happen next.
Thanks to your help, I make the decision to start back up again, and catch up on lost time by releasing two editions at once.
I release the first editions that are made for someone else and aren't sold on this website: One Eye Open for Notegeist, and Crema of the Crop for Gustavo Jaimes.
Dapper Masks are released, my first major non-stationery Dapper Notes item. They become the top selling product of 2020, and I look forward to the day when that will no longer be the case.
I close off a tumultuous year with the most collaborations in a twelve-month period.
My infinity ampersand design is complete after a multi-year design process. To celebrate I release a one-of-a-kind ampersand-shaped journal, a bunch of accessories, and a mystery edition that contains the history of my infinity ampersand along with original sketches.
Which brings us to the end of this very brief timeline, the fifth anniversary and a special giveaway for you.
When I started Dapper Notes five years ago, I knew I'd be making pocket notebooks, but I never predicted it would become what it is today. I have you all to thank for supporting me from the very start. I still find it strange to think about how many of you own a thing that I've made, how many of you transformed the paper that passed through my hands into your own, how many stories and plans and drawings made their way onto the 70-pound smooth white pages. It's pretty surreal and I am tremendously thankful for every single one of you.
This is open to anyone who has a Dapper Notes item. Be it a notebook, cover, mask, pencil, you name it.
I'd love to see photos of you using your Dapper Notes goods.
Share your photos this week anywhere I can publicly see them (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Pinterest, etc). Use the hashtag #dappernotes, and if you'd like, tell me a bit about how you're using your Dapper Notes things.
Three winners will receive their very own one-of-a-kind Dapper Notes edition. I will make a unique notebook for each of the winners that only you will ever have.
Open worldwide. Tag your photos until Sunday January 17th, 2021 at 23:59 EST. Winners will be selected randomly using archive.org, and announced Monday January 18th, 2021.
Thank you so much to every single one of you for supporting me these past five years. I could not and would not be making any of this without you, and I appreciate your support, comments, ideas, emails, and cheers from the bottom of my heart.
Here's to five more years, and who knows how many more.
♥︎ — Enon.
The following is a guest post by Gary Varner, proprietor at Notegeist.com
The world of cool stationery goodies has never been better. There are limited editions throughout many types of items, but most notably in pencils, pens, and notebooks. Creating limited availability goods has both makers and consumers happy, unless you are a consumer who missed getting one before they sold out! FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out, is a new emotion now firmly rooted in our stationery loving souls.
Back in 2000, the first paper – written by a marketing strategist – appeared on the broader aspect of this cultural phenomenon. FOMO in the stationery world is a small part of an overall, more serious condition. A study estimated about 70% of adults in developing countries feel the creeping, often consuming feeling that something is happening and they are not involved. Further studies showed mostly young people (and more so in males) experienced FOMO. If you’d like to read deeper on the subject, start with The History of FOMO.
Back to our beloved stationery world. From the Field Notes Quarterly Limited Editions to the Blackwing Volumes series to Retro 51 Poppers to Dapper Notes artisan single notebooks, Log+Jotter monthly releases, and many others, we who love these products have a veritable feast of FOMO-inducing treats to enjoy.
My personal experience with rare offerings and tiny windows of availability occurred in the Field Notes world with the release of the alphabet soup editions like Landland and Mondocon, or Aaron Draplin’s DDC releases such as EEEK, Union, and others. Taking part in the frenzy when the virtual doors opened was both fun and slightly unnerving to watch. Most of the time, the rush either took down the server or the item sold out in minutes. Some walked away in brief nirvana, while others (most) felt the bitter taste of FOMO realized.
The challenge can become like that well-known Pokemon phrase, can you catch them all? Putting aside the ethical and pragmatic question of “should you even try?” or the mantra of the anti-FOMOite “they’re only paper (or pencils, or pens),” FOMO seems to be about the chase and acquisition, and not about need or use. Not saying that SABLE (stationery acquisition beyond life expectancy) is good or bad, and acquiring stationery goods may be both therapeutic and less harmful than other habits. Yet all the marketing voodoo and consumer impulse psychology can be where FOMO lurks for the unwary.
So what is a stationery lover to do when they miss out? That’s where the secondary marketplace, with its happy mantra of “Give FOMOs a chance” (all due respect to John Lennon and apologies to readers for that ear worm), comes to the rescue.
Options to find missed limiteds range from reasonable prices to floating, higher market prices, and from working trades in various focused Facebook Groups, e.g., Erasables (Blackwings) and Field Nuts (Field Notes limiteds). The most well-known site is eBay, which is the secondary market price setter, or at least, typically sets the high-water mark on pricing. Other places such as Amazon, Tophatter, Bonanza, etc., may offer items but they typically are not the best hunting grounds. Regardless of where, you can expect to pay more than original price when you find what you are missing. But at least you have a second chance.
Another new and growing option is at a small, focused online stationery shops. To my knowledge, there are very few such shops offering secondary market limited items, like my online shop, Notegeist. I specialize in finding and selling at fair prices limiteds such as Field Notes, Blackwing Volumes, and Dapper Notes. I built my shop around this model so stationery lovers can build their collections affordably.
Today’s secondary marketplace offers some help to avoid suffering from stationery FOMO. Whether searching the depths of eBay, hunting via Google Search, or finding independent online shops, you can eventually find that notebook, pen or pencil you missed out on. But next time, maybe get there a little earlier when the virtual line forms for the release of the next limited stationery thing. Just don’t stand too close to the virtual door when the frenzy begins. ◾️
In the past, I wrote a recap on how to get your hands on sold out Dapper Notes. One of the ways I listed was to simply ask me, and if I had materials to make a new copy for you, I'd happily make it. At this point, I'm mostly out of old materials. I've also come to realize that I end up spending multiple hours on creating one-offs, time I'd rather use for experimenting on new things.
Starting now I'm no longer offering to create on-offs; older Dapper Notes editions can be found on Nero's Notes for European shoppers, and at Notegeist for those in North America.
Thank you Gary for creating a trustworthy space in the secondary stationery market, and for writing this article to provide very helpful context.
It's now September 2020, and it feels kinda late to start making masks. We've been in need of protective coverings when out in public for a while now, and sure, we have a long way to go before we can see each other's smiles IRL. But masks are available just about everywhere now, so why did I decide to create my own?
Here's the full story: From March till June I wasn't making or selling anything, so the last thing on my mind was figuring out how to create some sort of masks for Dapper Notes.
But when I recovered and released a mountain of stationery stuff, I decided it was time for me to start researching mask making.
What I found out is that aside from not being able to sew on my own (I tried my best), pretty much every mass-produced custom mask I looked at was either just fine or complete garbage. I know this sounds very harsh, but the reality is that a lot of the samples I got were completely useless as protective face coverings, poorly constructed, made of strange materials, or otherwise underwhelming.
The "just fine" masks were, well, fine for everyday use, but I realized that if I'm to make something that'll have "Dapper" in its name, it couldn't be just fine. And of course the poor-quality masks were completely out of the running.
I was actually surprised to have found so many masks that are ineffective or poorly made. It's disheartening to know that in the frenzy to create as many masks as possible, many people ended up spending their hard-earned money on face coverings that won't protect them properly and won't last. This in itself left me wanting to discover masks that are well-made and protective. But I got nothing. Well, almost.
I was pretty much ready to give up on the idea of Dapper Notes masks, when a friend of mine told me about the ones he's been making. Fun fact: This friend was also my boss for four years in the early 2000s, and we still work together from time-to-time. As it turns out, the masks he creates are [drumroll please] exactly what I've been looking for. Here's why:
First and foremost the masks are handmade, which is in the heart and soul of Dapper Notes. They have custom fabric and designs on the outside, which is very much in line with all of the Dapper Notes notebooks I've made lately. More importantly: they are well-made, AND they provide good protective filtering.
The masks are very comfortable to wear for hours at a time. They have three (breathable) layers, and an extra disposable filter that goes into a special pocket for more filtration. They're adjustable (by both the ears and nose), they don't press up against your mouth, and they are 100% exactly the kind of mask I would proudly call Dapper. I was sold.
We ended up making nine different designs - some bold, many understated, all dapper. There are a variety of materials and prints, with some specifically made for more formal settings.
To sum it all up: I looked, I gave up, but then it found me and here we are.
Watch the video below for a 3-minute walkthrough on what makes a Dapper Notes mask. And for a limited time, buy 4 masks or more and get 10% off.
A short while ago I sent out an email where I inquired if anyone would like to get updated with some sneak peeks, and see the process of upcoming editions as they're being made.
I thought it would be a nice way for me to share what's happening behind-the-scenes, and give you a look into what's cooking, so to speak.
And what do you know, most of the responses I got were a "no, thank you, we love surprises." Which in itself surprised me. I mostly expected to hear an enthusiastic affirmative.
I still want to bring you into the process so that I'm not working in a silo. I want to share my excitement about new work as it happens, in real time.
There's something that always gnaws at me when I work on new editions, not knowing if it would resonate with anyone. I feel like sharing the process with you would be a good way to gather feedback, share my ups and downs, and in general be super transparent about what it takes to run a small craft business.
That being said, if you are the kind of person who enjoys spoilers, is curious about the process of creating notebooks, or just want to follow along for the ride, I set up a brand new email list that you can subscribe to right now. It is completely separate from the general Dapper Notes emails you get, and I will only share updates and spoilers if you sign up to this new list.
Last month John Morris posted a poll on two stationery Facebook groups. He was curious about everyone's paper preferences, and asked what pattern everyone enjoyed having on their pocket notebooks, if at all.
As a pocket notebook maker I was naturally curious to see the results, and was happy to learn that opinion was pretty much in line with what I knew all along.
I ran a poll myself a year or two ago, but it was on a much smaller scale. This time around John garnered a total of 942 responses with the following results:
Most people clearly prefer seeing something on their notebook pages. This makes sense because having a guide for writing and sketching helps keep things neater on the page. Creatively speaking, it's also nice to start with a page that isn't literally blank. Still, roughly ten percent prefer blank pages, which is a good thing for me to keep in mind.
A large majority strongly prefer dot grid and graph. I personally fall into the camp of dot grid: It has enough structure to work for writing, wireframing, lettering, and even drawing without imposing a rigid grid structure like graph paper does.
I was surprised to see so many voting for lined. Past comments and conversations impressed upon me that even journaling users don't love lined paper. I'm happy to see that there's still a sizable number of you who enjoy using it.
Seeing these two polls had me wondering how my own notebooks measured up against your preferences. So I tallied up all of the Bookhead Club editions and came up with the following:
These results were a little surprising to me. I'd honestly thought that many more dot grid editions were created than the tally shows. I think this is in part due to the fact that the first few runs were made only using graph paper. It wasn't until the Summer of Sketching edition with Eric Friedensohn that I started using dot grid and other paper styles. That was a year-and-a-half into making Dapper Notes, so the high bias towards graph makes perfect sense.
There were also a few editions that used half graph and half blank (and also half dot grid and half blank), so for each of those I marked the edition as ½ of each, as opposed to "other". This brought up the percentage for both graph and blank papers used.
I'm happy to see that my use of lined paper lines up (pun intended) with John's poll results.
That first chart was only for Bookhead Club editions, which are not the only notebooks I've ever made. So I made a second count of all standard-sized Dapper Notes. This includes the Bookhead Club editions, the Little Monsters, Craft 3-packs, and all other notebooks that are sized 3.5 by 5.5 inches. The count does not include the large and smaller editions, since those are mostly offshoots of regular-sized notebook editions.
Here's what the final tally looked like:
As you can see, the total count is nearly identical to the first chart, which means that I'm pretty consistent with my paper selections.
What does this breakdown mean for future Dapper Notes?
I will keep on prioritizing both graph and dot grid paper for future releases, with a slight preference towards dot grid.
You will occasionally see lined paper editions, and I'll probably create a handful in lined as part of an edition, and not necessarily for the entire run. For example: the upcoming 28th Bookhead Club edition (not yet released at time of publication) is largely made using dot grid paper, but about 20% of them were made with lined paper. So if lined is your jam, you'll have a chance to stock up.
Blank editions will make an appearance, but with less frequency. I may go with the lined paper approach and create a subset of some future editions with blank paper. TBD.
Do you feel strongly about your paper type one way or another? I'd love to hear about it. Send me a message, and let's chat.
References: Poll 1, and Poll 2
A short while ago I recorded a podcast episode with Stuart from Nero's Notes, where I explained that I had covid, I fully recovered, tested negative, and then asked for your feedback. I was hoping to hear from you how comfortable you were with me making notebooks again.
I'm happy to report that over three-dozen of you responded to my anonymous survey, with all but two saying that I can start making Dapper Notes right away, or that you had no preference. Two of you said you'd rather wait and explained:
Person number one said they're rather I wait so that I can take a break. While I appreciate the sentiment, I've been itching to make notebooks again, so thank you but we're all good. Person number two said that if I have "any reservation, please wait; take your best precautions, so will I." Well, I have absolutely no reservations about starting up again, and rest assured I'm taking several precautions.
The CDC recently advised that covid-19 does not spread easily from surfaces, so with all of the above precautions, by the time your Dapper Notes package arrives there should be no concerns about the safety of opening it right away.
I'm already busy making the 26th Bookhead Club edition, along with some other surprises. I hope to release everything by the end of the month.
More details in this podcast episode. Have a listen:
Thank you so much to every single one of you who took the time to send in thoughtful and deeply personal feedback. I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart, and could not be doing what I do without you.
Hi, friend. I'm glad you're here. I am Enon Avital, the sole creator behind Dapper Notes, and this is where I stand both personally and as a stationery brand.
This isn't even a stance. It's a reality, and I'm voicing this here to be clear that if you don't agree with this, you may kindly bow out.
If you are hoping to learn, there are so many places to get started. I'll link two that lead to so many avenues of learning:
Black Coffee with White Friends is run by Marcie whose mission is to provide a space for learning and re-learning. Join her Mockingbird History Lessons for Adults, or the Cream & Sugar book club, or just follow her blog and insta and listen, and listen, and learn.
Rachel Elizabeth Cargle also provides tons of avenues for learning. Just follow her insta and listen, and listen, and learn.
(special thanks to Andy Welfle who allowed me to use his words from the Erasables facebook group)
Towards the end of March I shared the news that covid-19 hit my household. I wrote a blog post where I've also continuously posted updates whenever there was something new to share.
While everything was on hold, I spent the month of April recovering, and sharing other artists to support: one creator each day.
It is now May 22nd, and I have lots of updates to share. I am fully recovered, and I want to start making and shipping Dapper Notes once again. But I need to hear from you: I'd like to know how you feel about all of this. Which is why I brought on Stuart Lennon as the first guest on the Dapper Notes podcast (ever) to help me talk through what's happened to Dapper Notes and how I could possibly get back up and running again.
(or through your favorite podcast app)
After you've listened to the episode, kindly send in your feedback through this form:
Update: thank you all for your responses. I'll be posting an update shortly
Thank you for your support and patience during this time. I hope you're doing well and I wish you all the best.
Stay safe, stay smart, and stay strong!
More coming daily. Check back tomorrow, and follow Dapper Notes on Instagram and twitter for updates
Posted March 25th, 2020 (updates at the end)
It's hard to know what to say at a time when we're overwhelmed with news and updates. It seems like every day there's another company we haven't thought about for years that sends an update on how they're responding to COVID-19, and frankly: we're tired. I'm tired.
I'm tired of the noise. And I'm tired of worrying. I'm tired of my four walls. I'm just tired.
But the world doesn't stop just because I want it to. And I owe you all an update because you're expecting a new notebook as part of your subscription. And I can't deliver that in time this April, so here I am, writing my update and a bit about what's happening with Dapper Notes.
I have the materials and designs all ready to make the twenty-sixth Bookhead Club edition. But I have confirmed COVID in my household, and it seems I may have it as well. Dapper Notes are handmade, and it would be reckless for me to make and distribute notebooks right now.
All of my materials are being kept aside, sealed, and untouched. I have no idea when it would be safe and sensible for me to make more notebooks. So in the meantime, everything is on pause.
I will keep you posted when I'm able to responsibly continue making Dapper Notes. I pray and wish that comes soon, and I'm sorry (for both me and you) that I am unable to continue right now.
For the same reasons mentioned above, all orders for items that I ship myself (that's nearly everything in the store) will not be mailed until it is safe for me to do so. If you've placed an order in the past few days, thank you for that. I'll send it out super soon (fingers crossed).
Note: both apparel and prints are made to order by a partner/manufacturer, so if you buy one of those, they'll be made and sent to you right away straight from the source.
If you'd like to support me in the meantime, consider signing up for the Bookhead Club or purchasing something that's shipped straight from the manufacturer.
That's all for now. I'll be posting updates to this page and on all social channels.
Stay safe, stay home, and keep on washing your hands.
Update March 31st, 2020
For the month of April (and perhaps beyond), I've decided to share other independent creators to support right now. Read more
Update April 3rd, 2020
I'm happy to report that I continue to feel the same. No improvements, but not getting worse either. I'll continue to post updates, but in the meantime, have a safe weekend and send virtual hugs to your loved ones.
Update April 5th, 2020
As of today I'm feeling almost back to normal. If in three days' time I'm still okay, then we have a 14-day countdown to when I can start doing things again.
Update April 17th, 2020
Everyone in my household has recovered. When possible, we'll be getting tested to confirm that all has passed. Once that is done, I'll keep you posted.
Update April 26th, 2020
I have a prescription in hand to get tested for COVID-19. Now on to finding a place to get that test done.
Update May 5th, 2020
Still no way for me to get tested, which I may not be able to do after all. I will consult with my doctor and continue to keep you posted.
Update May 22nd, 2020
This is the final update for this post. I recorded a podcast episode with Stuart Lennon, and I'm seeking your feedback. Details here
15 min read
The last podcast episode of 2019 ended with a promise: that I'll return in the new year with an episode that chronicled changes I made in February 2018. After making that announcement, I started thinking about the current state of the website, and how I can make further improvements.
There were two questions that kept on resurfacing and gnawed at me over time, begging to be answered. These questions usually arrived from those who discovered Dapper Notes for the very first time, wondering: "Why are so many editions sold out?", and "What's the difference between 'latest releases' and 'special editions'?". I did my best to answer these questions directly, but they kept on arriving at a steady pace, and I knew it was time I addressed them at the core.
It was clearly time to yet again make some changes on the website. Dapper Notes grew from a temporary shop on Storenvy, to a quickly-built store on Shopify, and aside from a few minor improvements I'd made in 2018, it largely remained a mess of readily-available elements from a Shopify template. To make things worse, the styles on the website were not consistent, creating visual confusion as you'd navigate from one page to page. Needless to say it was about time I gave birth to a consistent brand voice that would guide me toward a clearer vision for Dapper Notes online.
So I put on my UX hat and got to work. What came out the other end was a fantastic style guide, with a brand that has a true voice of its own, new colors that work well for a stationery company, and brand new way of organizing information on the website. I shared the wireframes in an email that was sent out mid-January, and compiled a public checklist of everything that needed get done.
Until now, the website used a mishmosh of colors, with an odd green and a bright blue that were oftentimes supplemented with a variety of mismatched tones. Starting today, Dapper Notes is always presented with a fixed palette of gold, dark blue, and gray. You'll find the new color palette prominently used throughout the website, creating a consistency that was previously lacking.
To address the two burning questions, I started by revisiting the taxonomy, which refers to the way one organizes items on a website. Instead of having several confusing categories for Dapper Notes, everything now falls into one of three places: notebooks, objects, or experiments. This change is immediately visible on the homepage and the main menu, and explains at a glance what Dapper Notes is all about. Each of the three categories is accompanied by a short description, and leads to a brand new page with all of the items relevant to that section:
To help explain why so many editions are sold out, I added an explanation on every page that lists notebooks. This appears prominently at the bottom of those pages, and should help alleviate the frequency of that question.
Who loves carousels? Well, It turns out almost no-one appreciates a banner of auto-rotating images, and according to a Nielsen study (and other researchers), fewer than 1% of people find them useful. They're a sign of lazy design (whoops!), and since I decided to be more purposeful with telling the story of Dapper Notes, I replaced the ol' homepage carousel with a ten-second looping video. So instead of something useless that existed for no good reason, the homepage tells the story of my notebooks, shows that they're a handmade item, and provides a meaningful entry into my little world.
Out of all the changes I made, this one has the potential to be the most impactful, and I'm already finding myself staring at that looping video for minutes at a time whenever I open up the website.
Beyond the new opening video, instead of jumping right into the products, the homepage now features categories, so that it's easier to ingest the variety of items that make up everything on this website.
Use the slider on the image below to compare the before and after:
There are few things as powerful as confirmation from other people. To showcase that Dapper Notes isn't a fly-by-night operation, I added a brand new set of testimonials from you that appear on the homepage, and accompany an entire page of their own. (If you have something you'd like to add there, send me a message).
Every product listing page has been updated with a better view. The styles conform to the new branding, of course, but are also easier to scroll through when you're on a desktop browser. The images are no longer enormous, and each page contains 16 items (instead of 12) before you have to click onto the next listing page:
The product detail page was another artifact of the vanilla Shopify template that I picked. The images on desktop were displayed as a giant wall that took up half a screen and felt disconnected from the information surrounding it. I also didn't tell the story of Dapper Notes well enough, and for those who arrived on the website for the very first time and directly into a product page, there was no proper introduction.
All of this changed with a better photos gallery, a special section for talking about Dapper Notes, and an updated design for edition notes. Though I attached a screenshot below, you'll definitely get a better sense of the changes by checking out a live page.
The Bookhead Club is my shining star and at the heart of everything I do. I started the subscription as a way to keep me making Dapper Notes, and it is without question the only reason why a new edition continues to arrive every other month. It stands to reason then that the subscription should receive some special treatment, which is something I actually did back in 2018 by creating a nice landing page for the Bookhead Club. That treatment worked well for two years, but as time passed, the page felt more and more like it was overdone, and I needed to take a step back so that it looked like it was part of the website but remained more special than any other product page.
Enter the new design, which echos a lot of the visual treatments you'll spot on the regular product pages, with a few extra polishes. Beyond the top area that you see in this screenshot, I improved the Q&A interactions, designed a few new icons, and added a list of every Bookhead Club edition that was ever made.
The pricing model for the Bookhead Club has also changed. Instead of being $75 with $10 shipping, it is now $85 with free shipping for all U.S. subscribers. The cost of shipping to Canada and elsewhere is also lower now. In short, the actual cost for the Bookhead Club remains the same, it's just displayed differently now. (Check out this spreadsheet that shows how much you save by subscribing.)
The blog (AKA "My Journal") also got an update. The page you're reading right now was tweaked for a more refined reading experience, with changes in how the images and text are displayed.
Go up a page, and you'll see a bright new layout where all the articles are listed. Every page on the website is now in line with the new branding, and the blog is no exception.
The account center on this website left much to be desired. For years it remained the only space that got no TLC. When one creates a website on which they themselves do not shop, it's easy to forget that the shopping experience does not end after an order is placed. Receiving email notifications, checking the account center for previous orders, updating addresses, and reviewing rewards points are all an integral part of the shopping experience. Yet, I'd left them in a sorry state for far too long.
Which is why I made it a priority to create thoughtfully designed emails, and an account center that feels like it's truly a part of Dapper Notes. If you've placed an order here before, go check out the fresh new look in your account, and go into an order to see how much clearer the information is presented for all of you order's details.
Beyond everything that I listed so far, I improved the mobile experience, fixed some issues in the cart drawer, replaced the entire set of icons that are used throughout the website, updated the "about" page, cleaned up the podcast logo, and tweaked every little thing I saw that appeared out of place or in need of refinement. I won't list them all, but I'll close with the following:
If you see anything weird or out-of-place, please let me know. And if you're still reading, thank you for following along.
You may also be interested in the latest podcast episode, where I talk about all the latest changes, and reflect on how far Dapper Notes has come.
The purpose of this post is to show that the work around a product is just as important as the product itself. Dapper Notes could not exist in a bubble, and the packaging of a proper experience around my notebooks requires ongoing updates and as much TLC as creating the notebooks themselves.
This update is by no means the end of my improvements, but rather a fresh new start to help carry Dapper Notes into an exciting future. I can't wait to see where we go!
Thank you for your support. I appreciate it more than you know.
❤ - Enon
My favorite companions for when I'm making notebooks, the 1857 Podcast, were kind enough to have me on for a chat.
The conversation went in MANY directions, and I gave some behind-the-scenes into Dapper Notes, a list of things I like (and some that I enjoyed less this year), plus lots of other fun tidbits.
That's right. I created the program in the first place because I wanted to have a chance to reward you for being my best hand in spreading the word on what I'm doing. I want to continue rewarding you, and so I've decided to make some changes that allow for rewards to meet my original vision, and also give you better rewards faster.
From now on you don't need to create an account to earn referral rewards. After you complete a purchase, you'll see a window that prompts you to give 10, and get 15.
What does that mean? Instead of earning points for each referral, you'll get a 15% coupon you can use right away on any item in the shop (including the Bookhead Club). People you refer will continue to receive $10 off their first purchase of $25 or more.
Note: A total of twenty-five dollars can be met by purchasing a Dapper Notes notebook ($15) and an enamel pin ($10), essentially allowing your friend to earn a free pin with their first Dapper Notes purchase.
There are three ways to earn points: creating an account (100 points), celebrating a birthday (also 100 points), and making a purchase (2 point for every $1 spent). As you accumulate points, you can redeem them for money to be used in the shop. I now lowered the amount of points you need to earn 💸💸💸. Here are the new amounts:
If you followed the numbers closely, you'll notice that the points are now valued at 3% back (or more) on your purchases. Setting the points up this way allows you to always know that whenever you shop at Dapper Notes, as long as you have an account set up you'll always get 3% back.
Thank you so much for always providing me feedback, and always giving me the drive to experiment and create better work. I'd love to hear what you think about the changes, and if you have any suggestions to further improve meaningful rewards.
Take a look at the Rewards page, where you can sign up if you're not yet a member, and read more the program that is explained in great detail (including an extensive TOC section).
Great question! I'm so glad you asked.
This is one of the first questions that comes up when folk learn that I make Dapper Notes by hand, one-by-one, from scratch. It's a very good question, and until today I always answered with a vague range of "I don't know, like ten-to-twenty minutes…I guess…?"
As I set out to make the Start Today edition, I decided to time every single step of the notebook-making process. Almost every step, actually, but more on that later.
My approach was simple: I used an app called Toggl timer that ran every time I was doing something related to making the new edition. Here's a full (and very long) list of every single step in order from start-to-finish. Feel free to skip the list and check out the results. You may also find it helpful to watch the well-paced YouTube video that showcases the entire process visually:
For the edition where all of this was measured, I made a total of 350 notebooks. This is a bit more than I normally make, and I know that some of the bulk steps (like cutting the fabric) take roughly the same amount of time no matter the edition size. Which means that in timing such a large release, I came up with the a number that is the actually the minimum speed for making Dapper Notes.
Anywho, I put all of the numbers into a spreadsheet, and much to my surprise it took me roughly seven minutes to make each notebook from start to finish. Feel free to check out the spreadsheet, make your own copy, and play with the data.
Seeing all the numbers like this confirmed some assumptions, but also taught me a few new things.
Sewing the notebooks takes the most amount of time. This is something I already knew. It is also one of my favorite parts of making Dapper Notes. When I'm sewing, I sit by my desk, listen to one of my favorite podcasts, and get into a pretty meditative state.
The steps that are done in batches take less time than things that need to be done individually for every notebook. For example, I cut all 350 threads in a mere fifteen minutes, but signing each notebook took almost two-and-a-half hours.
I was pretty surprised to see how much time I spent shooting and editing photos. This took up almost seven hours.
The chart below shows a breakdown of all the steps I timed. You can see the source data in this spreadsheet.
The Start Today edition was made with a fabric I purchased online that turned out to be thinner than usual. This meant that the fabric edges frayed a lot more than normal Dapper Notes covers, and I had to spend some time trimming them all with small scissors. Doing so added an extra seven hours of work time (1m 10s per notebook). Since this step is very unusual, I did not include it in the final tally for how long it takes me to make the average notebook.
I did not time how long it takes me to shop for materials. This probably adds 3 to 5 hours to the total, but is not actually part of physically making the notebooks. So I left that out of the count.
I also didn't time how long it takes me to write notes, pack your orders, and drop them off at the post office. This adds a few more minutes per notebook, but is also not part of actually the making process. So I left that out as well.
Finally, I record a podcast episode for each edition, and also spend time preparing images for an email announcement and for posting on social media. These steps were not timed either.
The parts that involve me actually making notebooks (and photographing them) take a minimum of seven minutes and eighteen seconds per notebook.
It's safe to say that once you add up everything else, I dedicate roughly ten-to-fifteen minutes of my time for every single Dapper Notes. This means that my rate equals about one dollar per minute of work.
And there you have it. I still don't know precisely how much time I spend making Dapper Notes, but I can at least give a more informed answer the next time I'm asked. More importantly, Dapper Notes are a labor of love, and measuring everything was a matter of curiosity more than anything else.
If you decide to play around with the spreadsheet data, let me know what interesting thoughts you discover.
I hope this breakdown was interesting and informative. Feel free to send me your questions and observations, and of course check out the Start Today edition that has a cover designed by Lisa Congdon.
Before writing this post, I shared a few Instagram stories (and a Twitter thread) asking you to make some related guesses. This is how you responded:
You answered: "8 minutes" (right on the money!), "3 days", "seven Gilmore Girls episodes" (solid guess), "40 minutes", "1.5 hours", "12 minutes", "one week", "35 minutes", "3 days", "48.25 hours" (oddly specific and very close), "11h 15m".
There were a few more guesses, but just like myself before I timed everything, the estimates were all over the place.
You answered: "Making the cover", "pressing", "gluing", "alignment", and "folding paper".
I don't actually fold the papers individually, and none of you guessed the correct answer: "sewing".
Several of you guessed "sewing" and "gluing", along with "cutting paper" and "tying the knot".
The correct answer is collating papers. It's the least creative step, and a bit annoying to do ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
You answered: "tying the knot", "binding the books" (is that sewing?), and "screen printing" (I only did that for one edition). But many of you guessed correctly that I enjoy the final shear and corner rounding best, when the notebook is finally done and I get to see it complete and neat.
Thanks for playing along, and congrats to @andr3writchie who had the closest time guesstimate.
I had the pleasure of telling the story of Dapper Notes, and lots of other tales on the Art Supply Posse podcast. It was a blast talking stationery and going off on many tangents.
As of January 2018, USPS changed things up and made it much harder to ship orders affordably. Shortly thereafter, I partnered up with Nero's Notes to make shipping to the UK and Europe both faster and more affordable.
Purchase Dapper Notes singles (or a Bookhead Club subscription) straight from nerosnotes.co.uk. All orders at Nero's Notes over £15 ship free in the United Kingdom.
You have several options to save on shipping:
Similar to US savings:
If you live in Europe, order Dapper Notes directly from nerosnotes.co.uk for affordable (and fast) shipping.
I hope this helps in making your shopping experience a little more affordable. And as always, let me know if you have any questions. I'm here to help.
I'm happy to announce a new partnership with QuadPay, where you can split any order into 4 interest-free payments.
Your linked payment card will be charged in 4 installments over 6 weeks, with zero interest and NO APR.
Add a minimum of $35 to your shopping cart, and select "QuadPay" as your payment method during checkout for instant approval.
🎉🎉CONGRATS🎉🎉 to all the challenge winners, and thank you to every single one of you who joined #GoodtypeXDapperNotes this week.
I couldn’t just stop there, because OMG so much goodness. So five more of you are getting the Live Dapper Kit, which has the latest Dapper Notes pin, patch, magnet, window cling, and bookmark.
Go check out everyone's lovely work and give them a follow.
With $5 from each Goodtype Tuesday edition going towards Brooke's #StandWithGoodtype campaign, we raised a total of $170! Thank you!
Have a dapper weekend!
Two years ago, I collaborated with Eric Friedensohn on the Summer of Sketching Dapper Notes. We met through @goodtype, and decided to give back: $1 per book towards the Goodtype Stay Sharp Scholarship fund.
It's the only community account on Instagram that not only shares lettering and typography, but also fosters an actual community. Brooke, the founder, creates weekly challenges, where prompts are given to help fuel creativity. (I've found myself using these prompts as a lifeboat during many creative dry spells). Goodtype also has weekly takeovers, where artwork beyond lettering is often featured. They share behind-the-scenes into artists studios, run a scholarship fund, and so much more.
I've been a fan of Goodtype's work since I discovered the community in 2016, and after having donated proceeds from the Summer of Sketching edition, I always itched to make a full Dapper Notes collaboration.
After recently hitting the 1M mark on Instagram, Goodtype starting using the weekly #GoodtypeTuesday prompts to share gifts with the community.
This Tuesday, July 9th, 2019, my collaboration dreams have come true, and I'm joining forces with Goodtype for a special Tuesday prompt, alongside a new limited edition.
On a very short timeline, I created a limited edition Dapper Notes, in Goodtype red, and with the Goodtype "g" printed onto the cover fabric.
Listen to this podcast episode to hear all the details of how this edition came to be.
Join the July 9th, 2019 prompt by lettering the words "Live Dapper".
To live dapper is not only about externalities, but taking care to surround ourselves with great people, to be good to one another, and strive to be our kindest selves. "Live Dapper" is a small token of a reminder to that end: are we making ourselves and those around us feel dapper today?
To officially enter your artwork for eligibility to win one of three Goodtype X Dapper Notes notebooks you must:
Check out all of the winners in this journal post.
Every Dapper Notes has the same 70lb smooth paper inside, and while it always worked well for my penciling needs, I often get asked about how they perform with fountain pens and other inks. I'm not exactly a fountain pen user, but thankfully Justin from Write eXperience offered to test, photograph, and review how Dapper Notes work with fountain pen nibs and inks.
Special thanks to Justin for his remarks and photographs. Go check out his blog for stationary reviews, and follow @writeexperience on Instagram as well.
Good paper thickness - not a lot of bleed through, appropriate for the 70lb weight.
No sheening properties.
Reasonable dry time - not great for lefties, but fountain pens can be problematic in general.
Some bleed at the edges - became more prevalent with thicker nibs and wetter inks. However, for a non-coated fountain pen friendly paper, this is actually good. Not as fountain pen proof as Tomoe River and Rhodia / Clairfontaine, but for a pocket notebook - pretty good!
Photos below show front and back of each sheet from Justin's tests, photographed by @writeexperience
If you have questions about Dapper Notes paper or anything to add, let me know.
Over the last few months I've experimented with a variety of styles to fine-tune a journal that feels just right. There are ten new designs launching December 2018, all inspired by my generous friend Maggie Enterrios, who is also the designer of the lovely fabrics on all ten releases.
Note: two of the Monograph editions are exclusives, and are only available through Nero's Notes over in the UK.
Before I started selling Dapper Notes (which were then called Hebrew Type Books), I was already experimenting with making notebook covers. No, not the kind that are hand-sewn into Dapper Notes notebooks, but rather covers that can hold a craft-covered notebook and can be used time and time again.
My first attempt was working with a manufacturer who prints, sews, and finishes all types of products. I had samples made to my specifications, and after a few back-and-forths I decided that effort was futile. They just weren't able to pull off the kind of quality I was hoping to see.
After taking a long break from the idea (during which I started selling Dapper Notes), I followed up with more attempts at two other manufacturers. While what they were producing was certainly acceptable, the final product just didn't feel like something I'd want to put my name on.
Seeing no success through partnerships, I decided to try my own hand at making notebook covers. Mind you, up until this point I never used a sewing machine, and since the design I came up with required sewing along a straight edge, I had no idea if I could pull it off.
I was right to be doubtful. As it turns out, my machine sewing skills are better left unmentioned. Pictured above is one of my better attempts at rounding a corner, and needless to say it would take years before I'd be able to work it out.
Ah, yes, the mantra of failing knowing you'll eventually succeed. Not to put false hopes in the hands of the incapable (I'm speaking to myself and my own hopes of one day being able to machine-sew a straight line. Never gonna happen), but sometimes failing enough at one thing helps you discover a new way that actually works.
I was near the point of giving up on the cover idea altogether when I realized I was approaching it all wrong. All of the samples, and attempts, and designs, and whatever I tried in between, all of them would have potentially made a fine notebook cover. The reason none of them were working was that they were just the same old cover you've seen a million times before. I was mimicking an existing concept, with the only difference being the fabric patterns.
I needed to find the thing that made mine Dapper Notes covers. Not just...covers.
So I took it back to the basics, considering the three ingredients that make Dapper Notes unique: fabric, book cloth, and glue. It took me several more rounds of experimenting and tweaking my measurements, but I'm delighted to announce that I'm in the middle of creating my very first batch of thread-less craft book covers. I think they look amazing; they fit 3.5x5.5" pocket notebooks like a glove, there are pockets for holding credit cards, and most importantly: the truly feel like a Dapper Notes item and deserving of the name.
I have seven different designs in the works, all of which are going to be available early December 2018 when the holiday gift shop opens.
Newsletter subscribers will get the first heads up when the cover lineup is up for sale. I also recommend reading this post to plan for your holiday shopping.
I'm super excited about the new covers, and cannot wait to hear what y'all think of the final product.
UPDATE: The new line of Billfold wallet covers is now available
Over the past few months I've been tirelessly creating stationery products for the Dapper Notes lineup. This holiday season I'm releasing several new products, notebooks, accessories, and other exciting things.
Since I won't be dropping all items at once, I wanted to give you a heads up of my plans, and make sure you don't waste money on shipping.
For those not counting, there will be a total of ten different days where new products are being released, which leads to an interesting problem. Most of these items will be a limited quantity release (some with only 2-4 of that product), and holding reservations on the Shopify platform is a rather complicated if not impossible task.
I'd hate to see those who supports my work waste more money on shipping costs. To that end, here's how you'll be able to shop all season long and not worry about shipping:
1. Place your order as usual.
2. Leave a note during checkout with a request to hold your items. (e.g. "Please hold my holiday orders")
3. Once Edition #18 is live, I will combine all your orders into a single package, and refund you for all the extra shipping you paid on each separate order.
Questions? Get in touch.
Happy holidays, and thank you for your support.
p.s. Shout out to James for the idea! You're the real MVP.
In a recent Instagram stories poll I found out that about one out of five people knew.
Prior to running the above poll, I've noticed two things happening with the program. 1) Fewer and fewer people were making use of rewards, and 2) most people who signed up were using some of the earning methods in a less-than-meaningful way.
The original program would let you earn points for sharing a link on your social accounts and for following Dapper Notes online. With few exceptions, every social share and follow was being immediately retracted as soon as points were earned. I don't mind that people were earning points in the ways that I made available, but I felt like the point of the whole program (excuse the pun) was missed. It no longer served as the meaningful experience I'd set out for it to be.
In addition to finding out how many people actually knew about the rewards program, I also asked two more questions to gauge how useful it was to people, and whether I should get rid of the program altogether.
The final tally indicated that roughly a quarter of the members used or plan to use points:
And it looked like less than a third of you wanted rewards to still be a thing around here:
I cannot say why a large majority don't seem to care about loyalty programs. Maybe they don't like stuffing their feeds with links, or perhaps they prefer to compensate independent creators the full amount for their efforts. (I know at least one of you is in camp with the latter group. Thank you for your kind message; you know who you are.) But what I do know is that I care a lot about forging a meaningful relationship with those of you who truly appreciate my craft, and are rooting me on at any given opportunity.
The loyalty program is not going away.
That's right. I created the program in the first place because I wanted to have a chance to reward you for being my best hand in spreading the word on what I'm doing. I want to continue rewarding you, and so I've decided to make some changes that allow for rewards to meet my original vision.
I'm so glad you asked!
I changed the name from "Loyalty Program" to "Rewards". I honestly don't have a great reason for the name change, other than: it just sounds right.
I removed the earning opportunities that were being gamed. I'm no longer awarding points for social sharing or for following. I'd love it of course if you followed my accounts and shared the website with your friends, but you do you and what's comfortable for you.
I adjusted the earning and Rewards values, and added new redemption possibilities up to $150!
You can now redeem your Rewards points with no minimum purchase amount.
I made the referral coupon better. Previously when you referred a friend they'd get $5 off their first purchase of $20 or more. I now doubled the coupon to $10 off their first purchase of $25 or more. I picked this value with care, knowing that a larger discount is more valuable, and that your friend can actually make a nice purchase. A total of twenty-five dollars can be met by adding a Dapper Notes ($15) and an enamel pin ($10), essentially allowing your friend to earn a free pin with their first Dapper Notes purchase.
Thank you so much for always providing me feedback, and always giving me the drive to experiment and create better work. I'd love to hear what you think about the changes, and if you have any suggestions to further improve meaningful rewards.
Take a look at the brand-new Rewards page, where you can sign up if you're not yet a member, and everything about the program is explained in great detail (including a newly-added TOC section).
The sixteenth edition of Dapper Notes is for subscribers only. Here's Why.
Every design I create is a brand new experiment. I try to find an interesting combination of cover materials - usually fabric and book cloth - and the best way to turn them into a nice looking, durable cover. The thread and decorative endsheet are then picked to match the design, but creating a great cover always comes first.
My usual process will include perusing fabric shops where I purchase a variety of samplings. When I shop, I'm not only looking for nice designs, but also consider the thickness and threading. Super thin fabrics will make for flappy unusable covers, and thicker ones end up too stiff and won't be fun to use in notebook form.
Once I pick a few fabrics, I try to find the best way to bind them onto another material to transform each one into a working cover. For most fabrics, archival glue and a book cloth backing will suffice. Thinner fabrics might require fusing with a Pellon material. I also make sample notebooks to carry around with me in my back pocket for a few days to see how they hold up.
When a notebook passes my preliminary testing, it gets added to my list of potential upcoming editions. As you may already know, I release a new Bookhead Club Dapper Notes every other month, which gives me time to experiment, and also to take a break between editions to do other things. At about three weeks before every release I go through my test notebooks and pick one that matches a befitting theme (like time of year, people in my life, or whatever feels like the right one to come out next).
In all of my videos you see a single notebook being made from start to finish. In reality, however, I perform many of the steps in batches. When it comes to covers for example, I bind big sheets of the selected materials and only then cut them to notebook size. This process ends up saving me a lot of time, but is also a lot harder to do than first cutting to size and only then binding.
Why is it harder to bind larger sheets? Several reasons: I need to deal with precise measurements of multiple notebooks. If I'm using glue I need to work FAST. Placing two large things together, one of which is slathered with wet glue, is really hard to do precisely, especially while working alone. Plus: after the binding is all done, I need to wait for the cover to dry just enough, but not completely because I then iron each cover individually, and then press the entire [nearly-dry] stack so that you don't end up with notebook corners that curl up.
Sounds like a lot, and it is, but the challenge is half the fun.
The pattern I picked for edition #16 looks a lot like a dive flag, and the fabric it's made of is a relatively thin flag-like material. My preliminary testing yielded a really nice notebook, but when I made the production cover batch I made a big booboo.
As usual, I trimmed the large sheets (into strips this time because I had to transform the parallel line design into an angled one), added glue, connected the sky-blue book cloth, cut the strips to notebook size, and ironed each cover. So far so good. What I didn't pay attention to is the fact that some of the covers didn't get to the almost-dry-but-not-completely point, and I put them into my press in a wetter-than-they-should-have-been condition for an overnight flattening.
When I opened the press the next day to run a QA inspection, I was disheartened to discover my big mistake. Many of the covers were glued to one another on both sides, so instead of notebooks covers I ended up with an unusable paperweight.
Thankfully there were a handful more-than-enough covers to make notebooks for all Bookhead Club subscribers, so I made the decision to go ahead and create the Coral edition with the covers that were dry enough before pressing.
Every new notebook has taught me to pay attention to yet another detail of the bookmaking process. While a Dapper Notes might appear on the surface to be just...a notebook, there are dozens of little considerations that go into every step.
This edition taught me one big lesson, perhaps bigger than what new things I usually learn to pay attention to, but now I know to be more careful about getting to the right drying point before pressing my covers.
If you're a subscriber, you're all good! Your notebook is already on its way, and likely already delivered by the time you're reading this.
If you're not yet a subscriber, you might be able to score a trade for Coral with a subscriber, but there won't be any made for general sale on dappernotes.com
To not leave you empty handed on launch day, I created new variations of the Summer of Sketching edition. Coral introduced the very first lined Dapper Notes, and with the rest of the materials I had on hand for Summer of Sketching I made a few lined, graph, and blank notebooks. At the time of writing there are about a dozen of each type, but take note that since I'm now out of some of the Summer of Sketching materials, once these are gone from the site, that's it for this summer.
And if you read this far, thank you for caring about my notebooks and supporting the work that brings lots of joy (and occasional anguish) into my life.
If you ever wondered what goes into making Dapper Notes, I filmed and edited a look into the full step-by-step process, from fabric roll to packaged notebook.
Every edition is made a little differently, and I normally do some parts in bulk (like gluing the covers), but this behind-the-scenes should give you a good idea of the details that are considered for each and every Dapper Notes I make.
Edition shown: Summer of Sketching 2018, a collaboration with Eric Friedensohn (@efdot)
This is a special edition, and the 19th installment of #enonspiration, where I celebrate a few creatives who inspire me. Coinciding today with #GoodtypeTuesday, where the prompt is to letter their names. So I did both, carving the usual hashraa (השראה) “inspiration” in a kiwi, and lettering four artist’s names on the outside (scroll through this post to see them all). Go check them out and show them some well-deserved love:
Some of my favorite illustrations are those that inspire whimsy, but can tell a whole story in one frame. Chen’s (חן) metaphors are always on point.
When it comes to paper crafts, there are few who are able to balance both lifelike dimensions and smooth lines, count amongst them Nyssa’s (ניסה) work.
Collages can oftentime be eccentric, yet Hagar (הגר) pulls off work that is magical, and eccentric in the most delightful way.
David (דוד) is a fellow #hebrewtype artist, with a focus on precise, thin-stroked, uplifting calligraphy.
Join my Hebrew type adventures on Instagram, and follow my curated feed for other Hebrew letterers.
This past January, new USPS rules went into effect that limited the use of their most affordable international shipping option. Instead of being weight-based like all their other offerings, one could only use that service to send actual letters. The rates for all merchandise shipments were tripled, leaving small businesses like my own in a tough spot.
I used to be able to ship internationally for about $3–$6, but after the change, shipping a single Dapper Notes to anyone outside of the US (and Canada) costs almost as much as the notebook itself. (Note for Canadians: USPS rates went up for you too, but not nearly as high as for the rest of the world)
The @USPS changes to international mail rules are absolutely terrible for small businesses. They effectively halted all sales overseas by tripling the lowest shipping rates.— Enon (@e_known) January 18, 2018
Interestingly enough, these changes happened at a time when I noticed a major slow down in international transit times. Packages used to be delivered within a week or so to most destinations, and I'm now seeing some Dapper Notes spend over a month in limbo with no updates whatsoever.
I am very grateful to have a friend like Stuart at Nero's Notes, thanks to whom I was able to turn this frustration into something good.
We're both happy to announce that starting with the 2018 Spring edition (that's #14 for those counting), you'll be able to get every official Bookhead Club release faster, and with free UK shipping. If you live anywhere in the EU, you can already subscribe to the Bookhead Club directly through the Nero's Notes website.
Ahead of every release, a FedEx shipment full of the newest Dapper Notes edition will be making it's way over to NN. Yes, FedEx comes at a slight premium, but their packages arrive with no delays to the other side of the pond. When you subscribe to the European Bookhead Club, your order will be completely handled by the fine folk over at NN and without having to wait for USPS to play catch up.
If you live anywhere in the UK or EU, signing up for the Bookhead Club through Nero's Notes will always be a better option for you. And yes, there will also be singles of each edition available for sale at NN.
Stuart and I set up this service because sharing the love of pocket notebooks is what we care about most. We want you to be able to nerd out with us without feeling left out, without waiting for that dreaded tracking status update, or having to spend upwards of $40 on USPS to get your items to you more reliably.
If you have any questions about the new options, send me a message or say hello (and thank you) to Stuart over at Nero's Notes.
It was time. Over a year in the making but for the most part not being made at all. Until now.
This site was overdue for a makeover, and what you're looking at is the fresh coat of paint. I made a few changes while taking my break after the holiday shopping rush. Here's what I changed and why I did it:
When I moved to Shopify in November 2016, I needed to get something up. Quickly. I picked the pre-made template that most closely suited my needs, added products, tidied up some settings, and launched the Shopify site without veering far from the template I chose. For the most part everything was working great, but seeing that I'm a UX designer by trade, and as they say this shoemaker's shoes needed a better fitting, I had some work to do.
Let's run with the shoemaker metaphor for a second: I was using a pair of roomy and cozy slippers every day, indoors and out. It was comfortable, but not right for where I wanted to go. What I really needed was a great pair of sneakers, shoes that could take me farther and fit my feet just so. But I didn't make a new pair from scratch. Shoes and websites aren't apples-to-apples after all. Instead I shaped, cut, sewed, and retooled my pair of slippers, turning them into the right shoes for me.
The first thing I changed was the font. At first there were two typefaces being used: a serif for headlines and body text, and a sans-serif for buttons and menu links. I liked those fonts just fine, but they never felt quite right. Plus: this website contains both Hebrew and English and when Hebrew was displayed, the previous fonts showed a fallback typeface that looked so different it was jarring (see photo below).
Over the holiday season at work, a co-worker of mine turned me on to a lovely font family hosted by Google (always a plus for websites) called Rubik. It's a robust typeface with many weights, works great on headlines and body text, and best of all fully supports Hebrew characters. When I discovered that last part, I tested Rubik on the site and was hooked.
Making the switch was a no brainer. Everything on the site now uses the Rubik family, with a 900 weight for headlines, 500 for buttons and subtitles, and 400 for everything else.
When it comes to ecommerce, there are defined design patterns that have taken shape over the years and are now the de-facto experience on the web. Try opening up the last three websites you bought something on, and you'll notice how certain things always fall into the same place and page position. This makes sense, of course - when people are used to seeing something in a certain position, that's where you should place it.
It might sound like innovation is lost, but the opposite holds true. There's always something that can make a site unique, like using stylistic touches to bring a visual voice to a brand, and that's exactly what I did. I won't list every little design tweak I've made, but one feature of note is the rounded product photos on all item listings.
First impressions matter. What a revelation, I know, but the previous homepage of this site was a wreck. All I had was basically a long list of mixed items from all product categories, and it wasn't easy to tell what this site was about, and what you'd find on it.
The new homepage not only has highlights on the top, but now includes a better description of what the site is about (with a direct link to read more), smaller product listings grouped by category(!), and the latest posts from my journal.
Beyond the homepage I also updated the main navigation links and reorganized all of the typographic items into new categories, giving as clear an impression as I can on what you'll find on this site.
In the last year, over 50% of visitors that came to the site were using a mobile device. Sure, the design was always made to be responsive (resizing content for all screens), but the mobile version was plain terrible.
The main menu was hard to open, and once you did, you'd have to tap this tiny plus/minus area to get to specific pages. To address that, the very first thing I did was change the [controversial] hamburger icon to the word "menu," and expose all of the categories inside right away, making mobile exploration a breeze.
Phone screens are pretty small, and the difference between using space well and a free-for-all layout will make or break an experience. Previously there was a TON of white-space and unnecessary padding. Opening up any page on your phone meant way more scrolling than necessary; everything just felt a wee bit...sloppy. So I dug into the stylesheets, and tightened up the spacing on every single page to make the site feel just right.
Many years ago a big online retailer discovered that when their pages loaded 100 milliseconds faster, people were less likely to leave by a significant margin. The web took note, and faster-loading pages have since become a primary concern for people developing websites. I'm lucky to be using the Shopify platform, where sites are always up and load super fast. But there's always room for improvement.
You probably won't notice it, and that's exactly the idea. If you're on a smaller screen, you'll be seeing a smaller version of every product image, and of course larger screens load a much bigger one. This matters because the larger the image, the slower it is to load. Smaller screens don't need the biggest size possible, so I made the pages a bit smarter, and as a byproduct faster too.
Taking this idea further, every product image that isn't the main one on the page will now load a few milliseconds later. This effect is known as "lazyloading," whereby things wait in a queue until the page shows all of the important stuff, and only then brings in the rest. I won't bore you with technical detail, but the idea is that everything that isn't on your screen space right away can wait a second behind the scenes, letting the important stuff show up faster for you.
One of the two main categories of items you'll find here is Dapper Notes, my handmade notebooks. Every other month I make a new batch with a new design, which is available for sale but also automatically delivered for members of the Bookhead Club. Up until now, the page for the Bookhead Club looked like any other item listing. But it's so much more than just an item, and deserved a much better presentation.
Which is exactly what I did with a completely revised page. The Bookhead Club listing no longer looks like all the other product pages, it clearly describes what the subscription is all about, has better information about Dapper Notes, and finally got the treatment it deserves.
TL;DR The website was ok, and I made it better.
If you spot anything on the site out of line or have ideas for improvements, I'm always up for a chat. I'm also happy to go into detail on anything here that might interest you.
Special thanks to the Forefathers Group and Mark Brickey from Adventures in Design for being an inspiration to finally put that U in my URL (listen to this episode for an explanation).
Starting up February with the 18th installment of #enonspiration, and celebrating a few black creatives who inspire me. Go check them out and show them some well-deserved love:
Jarrett’s mantra “anything is possible” happens to be one of my favorite pins too. If I keep on saying it, wearing it on my heart, really believing it, and trying my damn hardest to make it true, things can seem just a bit more possible.
When one takes a spin on something all the way, like Leanne’s fauxligraphy, that’s when real magic starts to happen. Also: any fan of Dapper Notes gets endless high fives from me forever.
Remember when in design school you had to like arrange words to convey a feeling, and it was always “meh?” Well, Danielle’s lettering is bold, deceptively simple, and radiate with feeling. She’s a master of matching character to mood.
Lydia (Wahito)’s photography is the kind of stuff I could only dream to capture, but totally never will. With a bonkers good eye for vibrant colors and movement, this is hashtag in my dreams.
This blog was just started by Marcie, and every page on it is gold. Her writing captures so so much, and I can’t help but swallow up every word, and listen.
A master of typography, Adé’s flexibility is nothing short of astounding. Visit his profile for a highlight story with many more talented black letterers to follow. And special thank you, Adé, for helping us poke small holes in all our bubbles.
Join my Hebrew type adventures on Instagram, and follow my curated feed for other Hebrew letterers.
On January 11th, 2016 I sold the very first Dapper Notes. Two years later I'm able to continue experimenting and making these products I love, thanks to you.
To celebrate, I partnered with two good friends to give away two prize packages. That means two winners, with three gifts for each of you, including:
Each winner will get a notebook from the first edition I made: Pinot Gwar.
You'll also receive a gift from the best craft blade company around. Excel Blades have been in production for well over a century, just a town over from where Dapper Notes are now made. They are without question the reigning champion of quality long-lasting blades.
My good friend Eric Friednesohn (with whom I collaborated on the Summer of Sketching edition) is joining the celebration by giving away two prints, one for each lucky winner.
All you need to do to enter the celebration and giveaway is subscribe to my list below, and make sure to check the "Yes" box.
Winners were chosen using random.org on January 21st, 2018.
Starting the year right with the 17th installment of #enonspiration, where I share people who inspire me. Go check them out and show them some well-deserved love:
Kayla creates deceptively simple illustrations with oh-so-nice textures. Whimsical ftw!
The things that Reina does with paper and light are mind bogglingly insane, and I still can’t figure out her curved edge trick. HOW DO YOU DO IT!?
The techniques that Erin Lorraine employs are what my dream work is made of. I’ll never get there, but I’ll definitely keep trying.
I discovered Lorna’s work through @aidpodcast (give that episode a listen!), and been awed by her architectural recreations ever since.
Bringing bright colors and solid shapes to life is no easy task, and Shani makes it look way too easy.
Join my Hebrew type adventures on Instagram, and follow my curated feed for other Hebrew letterers.
2017 was a wild year in many respects. Before it began I decided to make Dapper Notes my main focus, and at years' end I'm happy to say that all my efforts have paid off. I:
Apart from Dapper Notes, spending time with my family, and doing my full-time day job, I spent a wee bit of my extra time toying with Hebrew typography, and some other artistic pursuits. I:
Following is a one-minute recap of the destructions I remembered to capture throughout the year. (links to each of the pieces that made an appearance after the jump).
Enjoy, and happy new year!
Original posts, in order of appearance:
When you need to gift a pocket notebook or few, all you need is: standard-sized printer paper, scissors, and tape. That's it!
Watch the step-by-step video to wrap your notebooks perfectly every time, and use these templates as your guide.
You don't have to stick to white paper. Get creative, draw on it, make it dapper.
This website started out as a place for me to sell prints of my Hebrew typography work. I eventually added notebooks (originally dubbed "Hebrew Type Books," more on that here), and now have two main categories that aren't super-related to one another, aside from the fact that it's all my handiwork.
I don't plan on separating the site into two right now, especially because it's infinitely easier for me to manage everything in one place. After all, this is a one-man operation and I'd rather focus on the work than technical maintenance. But I am doing some cleanup right now, updating things like the about page to help clarify what Hebrew Type and Dapper Notes are all about.
Here's the story behind the two circular logos you've seen on this site:
This mark was first created in May 2011, as part of my design services rebrand. My name is Enon Avital, and I realized that the lowercase letters of my initials are almost identical to one another (in the same way the numbers 6 and 9 are). This idea is better explained visually, so here's a gif I created way back then:
I still use this ambigram on my personal website, and now on Dapper Notes too. Here's why: When I made the first batch of notebooks for sale in January 2016, I needed something to put on the belly band for packaging. Since they were called "Hebrew Type Books", I knew I wanted to photograph them in the right-to-left position. I also knew that most - if not all - people using these notebooks would be doing so left-to-right. Turns out I was right, with some folk known to be using Dapper Notes horizontally and up-to-down.
Regardless, I had my "ea" ambigram, and as ambigrams go, flipping it upside-down is the same as right-side-up. So I added a grid onto the mark to indicate what paper you'll find inside, and voila! The Dapper Notes logo was born.
I'm especially happy that I chose to use this mark because I literally make every single Dapper Notes on my own, by hand. In a way these notebooks are an extension of me, and I love that I get to reflect that in the logo you see on every single belly band.
The story behind this mark is similar to the ambigram's. Back in February 2015 I started exploring Hebrew lettering. I didn't know anyone else who did the same, nor did I know that there was a resurgence of interest in the Hebrew letter form. After a few months of creating stuff, I started meeting other people who were also doing #hebrewtype. Thanks to Instagram, I discovered a large community of letterers, designers, and fontographers.
On January 19, 2016 (right around the time the first Dapper Notes went up for sale) I opened up the @hebrewtype Instagram community account. I wanted to create an opportunity for better discovery, so that someone like myself who's starting out doesn't have to wait long to find the Hebrew typography scene well and booming.
The new account needed an avatar, so I made a simple-but-unique version of the script letter alef א, the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet.
Since this website first started out as a place for me to sell my Hebrew type prints, I chose the same alef logo to adorn the shop, and the rest is history.
I'm happy to announce that my good friends over at Pocket Notebooks UK are the very first stockists of Dapper Notes. As you already know, each edition is made in very small quantities, and I'm now making a few extras to ease shipping costs and delivery times for European Dapper Notes fans.
Here's what Stuart from pocketnotebooks.co.uk had to say:
“OK. These notebooks are going to challenge you. They are stunning. We are very lucky to be the first, and as I write, the only international vendor for Dapper Notes. The only way to guarantee your quarterly supply of these extraordinary notebooks is to subscribe directly from Enon at dappernotes.com, as I do.
“I reached out to Enon about how painful international subscriptions can be and twisted his arm to let me have an allowance this side of the Atlantic. The starting price will make your eyes water.
“These are not your run of the mill pocket notebooks. In the US, they are at the top of the price spectrum. Take small amounts and fly them over here and they get higher on that spectrum. However, they are truly limited edition, lovingly handmade and frankly, really cool.”
Check out the current stock over at
The ninth edition of Dapper Notes was made in collaboration with Eric Friedensohn, to celebrate Summer of Sketching. While constructing the notebooks, Eric shot a lot of behind-the-scenes footage, and compiled it all into this one-minute, delightful video.
If you were ever curious about how much love and care went into each and every single notebook, here's your answer.
Summer of Sketching notebooks are available exclusively via summerofsketching.com, while supplies last.
The first batch of Summer of Sketching Dapper Notes sold out very quickly. Unlike previous editions, this one is not a limited release but rather a timed edition. That means they'll be available through early August, at which point no new notebooks will be made.
As soon as the initial release was selling out, I started ordering materials to make a new batch. I hoped to have more ready by July 6th, but it took a little longer than I expected for the second batch of custom fabric to arrive. The new fabric was finally delivered on the 11th, and I started binding the cloth right away. I expect to have the first notebooks ready by July 14th, and will fulfill all pre-orders asap in the order they were received.
To thank you all for your patience, all preorders and new orders placed by the end of this week will also get a FREE notebook enamel pin.
To get your free pin, place your order via summerofsketching.com by
Saturday July 15th Sunday July 16th at midnight EST. No codes required. Available while supplies last.
Regardless of whether you're already familiar with Dapper Notes, or coming across them for the first time, one thing you'll notice right away is that a majority of the editions (if not all) are sold out.
Once every other month I create a new edition of pocket notebooks. Each one is made from a unique combination of a fabric on the outside, a colored bookcloth inside, a fancy endsheet, and a colored thread to accent the cover design. I make one large batch before each release with enough for all Bookhead Club subscribers, and then some for general sale.
Most of the time I'll use the entirety of the fabric to make as many notebooks as possible, other times I'll have some left over. If you're looking to get a sold-out Dapper Notes
, and I have enough materials to make you one... Yup! That's it. Just send me a message, and if I still have materials to make the one you want, get in touch and I'll be happy to create it for you. Edit (September 2020): I'm no longer creating one-off editions. Please read this guest post for context.
Gary at Notegeist created a trustworthy space for the secondary stationery market, and regularly purchases and re-sells older Dapper Notes at very reasonable prices. Notegeist.com should be your first stop.
There are several paper, pen, and notebook communities online where people trade a variety of brands including Field Notes, Word., Baron Fig, Log+Jotter, and Dapper Notes. If the edition you like is both sold out and I'm out of materials to make you a custom one, there's high chance you'll be able to get your Dapper Notes by asking some friends.
Every so often on a random Tuesday I'll announce a special release of a handful of Dapper Notes for sale. These are small batches of sold out notebooks for which I still have materials to make new ones. These announcements are made on Instagram, so follow @dappernotes (and turn on notification alerts if that's a thing you don't mind doing).
This won't help you with finding previous editions, but newsletter subscribers get first dibs on each Dapper Notes, so if you sign up you can get yours when a new one is announced. Better yet:
Also only helpful for future releases, but signing up for a six-notebook subscription will guarantee that you'll get every single Bookhead Club edition ahead of the its release. With a discounted price and free U.S. shipping, the Bookhead Club subscription is certainly the best way to join me in my stationery adventures and never miss out.
This is the 16th installment of #enonspiration, where I share people who inspire me. Go check them out and show them some well-deserved love:
Lan’s illustrations appear simple at first glance, but theres oh so much depth in every single frame. I can’t get enough of these little stories.
Alia turned quiling into an incredible and incredibly unique paper lettering style. So freaking good.
Scroll back past Alea’s fab illustrations, and you’ll discover what first got me hooked on her work: absolutely insane still life patterns.
Speaking of flowers, Maggie - a fellow web designer - inked her way into near mind blowing indtricacies. So much swoon
Join my Hebrew type adventures on Instagram, and follow my curated feed for other Hebrew letterers.
When I make my pocket notebooks, if they don't come out flawless, I won't put them up for sale, which leaves me with a handful of slightly-less-than-perfect notebooks.
What does “a little off” mean? Most of the time it’s an imperfectly-placed sewing station (that’s the hole where the needle goes in), and the final threaded notebook doesn’t have the spine line up perfectly. Other notebooks are pressed a little softer than I’d like, and some may have a slightly angled cut on the edge. All in all, these are things you may or may not notice, but they scream out to me enough that I don’t sell them as my regular line of products.
Talk about quality control.
The latest Tab XVII edition sold out rather quickly (many of you really loved the early summer vibes), leaving a few people asking if there is any way they can still get one. So I've decided to take a few of the imperfect Tab XVII notebooks and do a little giveaway. They're not the Dapper Notes you'd normally get, but they're free and there's only one way to get one.
The giveaway will close Sunday April 30th, and winner will be announced along with an announcement on the next day's newsletter.
Every Dapper Notes has the same 70lb smooth paper inside, and while it always worked well for my penciling needs, I often get asked about how they perform with fountain pens and other inks. I'm not exactly a fountain pen user, and since heard great things from both Gary Varner and Keith M., I enlisted three Dapper Notes users to test, photograph, and review their paper experiences.
Following are three lovely reviews by Keith M., Demolished Man, and Michelle Crespo (who also took the cover photo for this blog post).
"I've just recently discovered Dapper Notes a hand made pocket notebook made in New Jersey. Enon Avital make these books, and I'm really enjoying them.
"The innards are a really nice thick white paper with light grey graph (friendly to everything I've thrown at it so far: fountain pens, markers, gel, and pencil), but it's the outside that's the star. Cloth exteriors backed with book cloth, and a inner leaf of contrasting paper (the two editions I have seen to be a Japanese? Rice paper. They're hand stitched. They're released in limited batches. I have a denim and a cork version, and also managed to snag the last of his craft series. I'm impressed. These are definitely pretty, and more labor intensive than machine made book, and the price reflects that extra work, but they've been quite worth it so far.
"Simply the best paper I've come across. No bleed, no feather and almost no show through. And a little tooth to boot.
"This paper easily handles pencils and gel pens while also accommodating a firehose broad fountain pen. Other brands have their legends and gimmicks. You know who Im talking about. Dapper notes literally erases their relevance.
"Direction agnostic: words to live by, paper to die for.
"Browsing through Instagram last December, I came across something neoteric in the genre of pocket notebooks. Dapper Notes. Though I had a mountain of mostly unused pocket notebooks stashed away in my closet, I decided to visit the maker’s website for a quick browse. A cursory glance bespoke of quality goods, but not wanting to add to what I already had, I bookmarked the site, clicked-out and went on with my day. Why add to the stockpile? However, I found myself thinking about these handcrafted gems with its unique covers and--midway through January--I bought my first Dapper Notes Pocket Notebook.
"Oh! What an enjoyable addition Dapper Notes has been to my writing routine! With subsequent purchases and constant use, I’ve found the qualities that make Dapper Notes an exceptional brand are the very things lacking in other well-known pocket notebooks; character, quality and a warmth that handmade items always seem to be imbued with. Its excellence justifies its premium.
"The covers (durable yet fashionably handsome) inspires daily use and carry. The thread bound, 70lb paper is surprisingly smooth and much sturdier than what I’ve encountered in notebooks. And while the paper’s thickness seems to imply feathering, at most, I’ve only experienced a slight blume with very wet fountain pens--nothing noticeable. What's more, day-to-day use has shown that there is no ghosting and absolutely no bleed through, no matter the flow of the fountain pen or wetness of ink.
"Go ahead. Toss it in your backpack. Stuff it in your back or shirt pocket. Throw it in your briefcase or “everyday” purse. There’s absolutely no need to coddle it. The density of individual pages, the sturdy, pliable covers and the overall craftsmanship of Dapper Notes Pocket Notebooks insures that it will hold up over time. Still, for all its toughness, it’s the little details that pulls it all together for me: varied fabrics, the thread binding, a burst of hue behind the cover, the wisp of Onion Skin paper, the stamp and hand markings of its maker. What a delight.
"The novelty of Dapper Notes hooked me, but the make, artistry and practicality turned me into a repeat customer.
Thanks so much for the lovely reviews.
If you have questions about Dapper Notes paper or anything to add, let me know.
Out of all the things that make Dapper Notes special, one feature that stands out above the rest are the fabric covers. If you haven't seen my notebooks in person yet, let me explain:
When I decided to create a new kind of pocket notebook, I gravitated towards fabric right away. I'd stepped into my local fabric supplier to discover an endless supply of patterns, textures, and colors, and I knew I'd be able to create many special notebooks and never run out of new ideas.
But fabric alone does not make a good cover. Even the heaviest thread count isn't thick enough to create a notebook cover that isn't flimsy. After all fabric is just...fabric. Through trial and error I learned that binding the fabric to a book cloth material not only creates a strong cover, but also gives me an opportunity to add a pop of color.
Traditionally, hard cover books and spines are wrapped with a thin fabric-like material. Look closely at any bound book around you, and you'll notice that the wrapping material on the spine is super thin, but at the same time is really durable and withstands a lot of abuse. Curious what makes book cloth so strong? It's the backing!
Book cloth is manufactured using strong natural or synthetic fibers with a very tight weave, and has its own backing of either paper or glue. The backing is there for two purposes:
Creating a new Dapper Notes cover takes a little bit of time, and a lot a bit of experimentation. It's true that my local fabric shop has thousands of options, but not all can be used to make a Dapper Notes cover. The perfect material has to be not too thick (like canvas), not too thin (like silk), and woven well enough so that it doesn't fall apart (like satin).
When I find a material that seems promising in terms of its durability, and has a design or texture that makes me swoon, I create a notebook for myself to carry, use, and test. If the fabric works well and stands up to my daily use abuse, it gets made into the next Dapper Notes edition.
Next, I bind the fabric to book cloth using archival ph-neutral glue. Once each sheet has been glued, smoothed, pressed, and dried, I cut perfectly-sized covers for one-by-one assembly.
If you use pocket notebooks like I do — carrying them in your pocket, bending them, tossing into a bag, and using them every day — you're probably well versed in how they age. Traditional paper cover notebooks, for example, have a tendency to crease, and their covers fall off.
Dapper Notes stand the test of time in their own unique way. Fabric naturally doesn't crease like paper does, and the linen thread binding guarantees a cover that will always stay on. At the same time, fabrics fray, as do the edges of some Dapper Notes editions. The effect will vary greatly by material, but once you use you Dapper Notes for a while, some threads will wiggle their way out.
I intentionally don't seal the edges of Dapper Notes, because I have a fondness for the fraying as a sign of a well-loved notebook. You can, if you prefer, either seal your Dapper Notes ahead of time with this specialty liquid, or snip the longer frays using a small scissor.
Whichever way you use your Dapper Notes, know that they are made with love and attention, and will last you a long, long time.
This is the 15th, and a very special edition of #enonspiration, where I share people who inspire me. I normally talk about a handful of creatives, but today is dedicated to the one and only, my beautiful wife @elishevasa on our 10th wedding anniversary.
If anyone has ever inspired me, it’s Elisheva. She taught me how to think critically, empathize, get through the rough times, and laugh at even the craziest of situations. Plus: everything you see me post on here would never have happened without her support. She inspires me to create, and grow, and be a better person, father, and friend. Happy anniversary, my love. To ten, and many more!
Why the aluminum foil? The traditional tenth anniversary gift guides suggest something made of tin of aluminum. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
My last new Instagram post for 2016 is a sweet one. Bittersweet, actually, but let’s not get technical with the chocolate, shall we?
This is the 14th installment of #enonspiration, where I share people who inspire me. Go check them out and show them some well-deserved love:
A powerhouse of a shop, creating the most insane paper work and shadow play. Swoon.
Looks like this was a big year for miniatures and food, like Amy’s teeny weeny yummy little [non] edibles. So good.
I’ve been a huge fan of Kristen’s paper sweet for quite sometime. The stuff she does with a simple fold is just astounding. I’m astounded.
No one does swirly ink patterns as well as Dylan can, time and time again. Hashtag ink crush
Join my Hebrew type adventures on Instagram, and follow my curated feed for other Hebrew letterers.
"The Cadillac of notebooks"
"Elevating pocket notebooks to new heights"
"Bergdorf Goodman all the way"
These are some of the things Sarah of the famed Paper Chronicles called Dapper Notes, and I couldn't be more delighted. What a way to end 2016.
Go have a read, comment, share, spread the love, and receive my utmost appreciation.
Thank your for shopping small and for your support this holiday season.
Keep that just-opened gift-ey feeling all year long with The Bookhead Club: You get six editions of Dapper Notes, delivered every other month, and like one of our subscribers said, it's:
"a ray of sunshine in [your] mailbox."
Thank your for shopping small and for your support this holiday season.
P.S. Check out the new Facebook and Instagram accounts, dedicated to all things Dapper Notes
Well, this isn't the step-by-step how to make Dapper Notes from scratch.
For the sixth edition, The Runner, I filmed my process of putting together the notebooks from start to finish, and cut the clips into a sixty second video.
In real life, each notebook takes about a half an hour to cut, bind, sew, press, shear and package.
Dapper Notes weren't always named that way.
Back in 2013 I was working on a print and tee business with a good friend of mine. We had lots of clever copy, and some fab lettering to go with it, but we wanted more; to make more than just tees and prints. We wanted to create something unique that no one else had done.
Our experiments led us to pocket notebooks, and to the first iterations of what eventually became Dapper Notes. Back then we called them "Implausibooks." I'm not exactly sure what we though implausible about these notebooks, nevertheless, I still think that name has a sweet ring to it.
As some things go, that business wasn't destined to last. Life became, well, life-ey, and Implausibooks were put on hold, indefinitely. I guess you could say they were implausible, after all.
February of 2015 brought on the next chapter of my creative pursuits. I started lettering in Hebrew, and sharing my results on Instagram. The response was great, my account grew, and I found myself playing with #dimensionaltype more and more. People liked those Hebrew typography designs I'd made, and asked for prints to hang in their homes. That was when I first opened shop online.
After a while the same itch returned, that one to create more tangible goods beyond just prints and tees. Well, not tees, but you get the idea; it was time for something new. So I decided to revisit the Implausibooks formula, and see where it leads me.
Suffice to say, my experiments resulted in some of the finest, most giftable notebooks I've ever seen. I knew I was on to something, and put the first few batches online for sale.
Since I placed them in my Hebrew Type shop, I called them "Hebrew Type Books." All of the original designs sold out right away, and I found my non-print groove.
Hebrew Type Books were well-received, but over the first year of crafting them, the number one and two questions I was always asked were: “What about ‘Hebrew Type Books’ is 'Hebrew' or 'type'-related?” and “Do I have to use them right-to-left?”
Well, the answer is not exactly. You can use them in either direction, and there isn't anything particularly Hebrew nor type-esque about them.
So starting December 2016 I renamed my handmade pocket notebooks for good. They are now called Dapper Notes, the same great materials and construction as Hebrew Type Books, but with a name that everyone can understand. Basically:
"New package, same great taste."
First of all it's a pretty snappy name and fun names tend to be more memorable. So there's that. More importantly, though, I wanted to choose a name that reflects what my notebooks are about, and in one word can convey what's special about them. They are quite dapper, they make a great gift for dapper folk, and they can be paired with an outfit like a pocket square.
Plus: Dapper Notes aren't just a notebook but also an accessory, and the new name reflects exactly that.
You can share Dapper Notes with this handy url: dappernotes.com, follow the new Instagram account @dappernotes (there's a Facebook page and Twitter account too, if that's where you hang out), and tag your photos #dappernotes for a chance to win the secret fan edition.
I hope this change clears things up, and gives everyone the right, dapper feeling.
(I wish that were my quote)
Thank you for being a part of my Hebrew Type journey, I wouldn't be even close to where I am today without your support, cheering on, sharing my work with your friends, and just being awesome in general.
For ThanksGIVING, I'm doing just that: giving something away. Not just anything but a handmade lettering piece of whatever word (or name) you choose. In fact, I'm giving two of these, one to the drawn winner, and another to their tagged friend.
Check out my post on Instagram for details, and enjoy your day. I'll be back next week with really exciting announcements. Pinky swear.