Dempsey & Carroll have created hand-engraved stationery since 1878. Purveyors of this elegant paperie, the company has established itself as one of the top stationery companies in the nation for its unparalleled attention to detail and the quality of its products.
I am thrilled to share an interview with the Creative Director of Dempsey & Carroll himself, Leo Mascotte. In this exchange, you will learn about Leo’s path to his current role, a day-in-the-life of Mr. Mascotte, the inspiration behind his work – in particular the California gift sets – plus the essentials you need in your stationery wardrobe. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
PatriciaParisienne (PP): You’ve worked with some remarkable brands throughout your career, Dempsey & Carroll (D&C) being at the forefront of them. What aspects of D&C drew you to the company?
Leo Mascotte (LM): Most kind of you, it has been a pleasure to be associated with such wonderful brands. Dempsey & Carroll has always been a favorite; a global meeting in New York called for a special gift for La Mer affiliates gathered here from far and wide. Working with Dempsey & Carroll we pulled a range of engraved motifs from seashells to exotic fish. We presented a set of personalized correspondence cards to each attendee. This is just the sort of gift that I love – unique, thoughtful, and tied to the place from which it comes. These same things can be said of Dempsey & Carroll.
2. What does a day in the life as creative director look like, and what do you love about your job?
LM: Thriving on an ever-changing menu of projects, I am most happy in a setting that allows me to jump from one task to another. From merchandising the store, to developing new products, to managing photo shoots. I love the fact that my day rarely feels typical and always keeps me a few minutes away from the next thing.
3. When designing new collections, do you have a particular ritual or artistic process?
LM: If there is a common thread these days it may very well be Pinterest. I use it to stash a never-ending trove of images, and find it to be an excellent source of inspiration and imagery. These are used to articulate first thoughts and new directions for each collection.
4. The remarkable history of Dempsey & Carroll not only sets it apart from other stationery brands but also serves as the heart of the brand. How do you marry the old (history) with the new (fresh designs)?
LM: There are so many ways that we try to make this marriage work. The Dempsey & Carroll archives are remarkable. I am an absolute sucker for a leather bound album titled simply “Yachting Stationery”. Dating from the late 1800’s it is a time machine to a world with timeless appeal. It served as the starting point for a storewide restyling last summer as well as new product, our Knot Tide correspondence cards for example. Keeping it fresh by asking ourselves constantly, would I want to have this, or would I want to give it as a gift?
5. Let’s dive into the gorgeous Californian-inspired gift sets. I adore them – especially the La Jolla (yay for my hometown!). The variety of towns and cities that you chose piqued my interest. Why did you choose these particular eight places, and how are they represented in the sets?
LM: The idea for the California sets came as we were christening another group of products. Place names are a favorite way to give voice to visual ideas. California came to mind as perhaps the only American location big and varied enough to support a large seasonal assortment. Some towns demanded sets, other sets went looking for and easily found the places from which they came. They are all places that have intrigued me over the years, and where I would love to visit over and over.
6. Which is your favorite gift set at the moment, and why?
LM: If I had to choose just one set, it would be Belvedere. So many people had never heard of this magical town before we named the collection. Introducing something unexpected is such a pleasure. It allows one the chance to re-experience the process and joy of discovery.
7. Would you mind sharing some of the pieces or collections that you think represent Dempsey & Carroll best?
LM: The La Jolla and Nob Hill sets have been strong sellers, thanks in part to their notebooks, both from our most recent Schumacher collection. It was such a treat to work with Schumacher Creative Director Dara Caponigro; we have known each other for sometime, having been introduced by Thomas O’Brien while I was at Aero Studios. Dara has taken this esteemed house to such fresh and wonderful new places, we hope the paper collection has pulled off a similar trick for Dempsey & Carroll.
8. Despite the advanced technology that we now have at our fingers, stationery is still so popular. Nothing can beat the feeling of taking a pen to paper, can it? What items can you recommend as must-haves in a stationery wardrobe?
LM: Could not agree more, a piece of hand written correspondence always finds itself at the top of any pile of mail. For me the blue blazer (aka first and most essential foundation piece) of any stationery wardrobe is the bespoke correspondence card. Like the navy number you reach for in your closet time and again, I recommend buying the best quality card that your budget allows. Do so and you will discover the limitless ways that you will be able to use it. From the exuberance of a gift enclosure to the support offered in a condolence note, there is no substitute for the timeless appeal of effortlessly impeccable engraved cotton stock.
Many thanks to Leo for sharing a bit of your Dempsey & Carroll life with us!
Head to Dempsey & Carroll’s website to see all of the gorgeous gift sets – and more!