Cjala Surratt is the creative designer and owner of Muslamb Letterpress Stationers where she creates beautiful, one of a kind letterpress products like Ramadhan and Eid greeting cards, buttons, stamps and much more at her online shop at Etsy www.muslamb.etsy.com. Ramadhan is right around the corner and Sister Cjala has generously offered the readers of Muslimahs Working at Home a 10% discount off all her products through August 31, 2011, insha’Allah (details at the end of this post).
A sister contacted me via our Facebook fan page and instisted that I visit sister Cjala’s Etsy page to take a look at her beautiful creations. I immediately contacted her to ask to profile her home business, masha’Allah. Sister Cjala explains more about her business and how she go started in her own words:
My name is Cjala Surratt I am a designer, printer and stationer of letterpress products. I worked for 10 years in marketing and public relations for various arts & cultural organizations. Feeling stifled by the confines of my client work, I started Muslamb as a means of exploring my creative voice. In 2009 I left my position as the Managing Director of an art gallery and shifted Muslamb from a side venture to full time focus.
Muslamb Letterpress Stationers produces greeting cards and stationery and are available to clients for custom and semi-custom work. We handle a diverse swath of customers but the primary thrust of the business remains production of goods for the Muslim community. When I established the online presence for Muslamb in 2005 the bulk of my orders came from the U.S, but I have seen a marked increase in orders from Canada and the U.K. I am also thrilled to have filled orders from Italy, Chile, Spain, Malaysia and Australia.
Early on I became enamored with the deep impression or “bite” of the letterpress printing process. Letterpress is one of the oldest and most beautiful printing techniques and dates back to the invention of the movable type by Johann Gutenberg in the 15th century. It began as an alternative to laborious hand-written calligraphy. Because the paper is run through an antique press dating back to the 1900s, each pieces is subtly unique. Designs appear crisp on the heavy cotton paper and you can feel the recessed texture around the type. This is a distinctive characteristic of letterpress.
Attracted to the intimacy of engaging the process of conceiving, creating, packaging and bringing goods to market on my terms, I set a goal of opening my own print shop.
December 2010, I opened the industrial orchestra that is my print shop; my refurbished press built in 1916 comes alive with a cacophony of clinking, clunking, and whooshing. I find the racket and scent of rubber base inks in my shop absolutely preferable to the whisper of recycled office air, impeccably carpeted cubed spaces, imagination quashing banal eggshell white walls and the constant pinging of incoming email alarms cuing me into yet another meeting. I am sure hindsight exaggerates this perspective and I know that without those years I would not have honed many of the skills that were imperative to moving my business forward.
The workhorse at the shop is Luzetta, the hand-fed 8×12 Chandler and Price, New Style, clamshell press. Luzetta’s unique characteristics are her plain cast body and heavy construction throughout, yep she weights in at approximately 1200lb (and proud of it!).
In today’s society where people simply “inbox” congratulations, condolences, greetings and words of adoration, I am proud to be part of a community of printers who continue this tactile and tangible tradition. I am still a novice in this craft, insha’Allah I will continue to learn and become a more skilled press operator and expand my understanding of all aspects of the process. My other goals include expanding my current retail line and pursuing more wholesale opportunities.
Al Hamdulillah I am most appreciative of my journey to-date and to the clients that have entrusted their business collateral, aqiqah, nikkanama, walimah and wedding invitations to my company. To get a gander of what’s new at Muslamb Letterpress Stationers visit our online shop at www.muslamb.etsy.com.
Attention Readers: Sister Cijala is providing the readers of Muslimahs Working at Home with a 10% discount off her products through the month of Ramadhan. Go to her online store to order your Ramadhan cards and “I’m Fasting” buttons at: www.muslamb.etsy.com and use the coupon code: MWAH10 at checkout, insha’Allah. Offer ends August 31, 2011.
Photo Credit: Muslamb Letterpress Stationers