Best pals turned business partners Samantha Finigan and Whitney Swaffield design custom invitations that make a lasting impression.
Samantha Finigan and Whitney Swaffield, a third-generation letterpress printer, first met while working at a New Hampshire ad agency in 2007. Although they initially bonded over a love for their respective pups, Gus and Ruby, they soon discovered they had something else in common: the desire to start their own business. At the time, Swaffield was creating invitations for her own wedding, and she and Finigan had started printing stationery for friends and family, too. Opening their own paper-goods shop, then, just seemed to make sense. “We realized that we both had a passion and a skillset that wasn’t being offered here,” Finigan says.
And so, in 2009, Gus & Ruby Letterpress was born. Specializing in handmade, one-of-a-kind event invitations, the Portsmouth-based company has grown to include three brick-and-mortar locations, including a brand-new shop that opened in October 2020 on Beacon Hill. “Neither of us ever imagined how this little [operation] would evolve into the joyful business that it is now,” Finigan says. “It’s not lost on us how lucky we are to do what we love day in and day out.”
Why bring Gus & Ruby to Boston?
SF: Boston was actually the number one place [we had in mind] for our third store. Anywhere from 60 to 70 percent of our clients on any given year were already coming up from Boston to visit us in Portsmouth [and Portland], so we knew that there was a market for people who wanted the [custom-stationery] experience. We bring a lot of new ideas to Boston because our design sense and aesthetic are different from other [local] stationers. And we truly do it all in our own shop: We are the designers, the printers, and the people who put the wax seals on the back of your invitations. There’s something really nice about being able to say that you know who [touched the] pieces that are so important in your lives.
Why should couples opt for custom paper invitations rather than digital ones or announcements from an e-commerce site?
SF: When you’re working with real people, they have the clients’ best interests at heart. No online stationer is going to email you and say, “Hey, that’s not the correct way to word something” or “These two colors are probably not going to look great together.” Having somebody who knows what your vision is and who wants you to feel like everything came out perfect in the end is invaluable.
WS: Also, paper is one of the few pieces that will last more than a lifetime if you take care of it. Being able to look back at your parents’, grandparents’, or great grandparents’ wedding invitations and learn more about what