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the most covetable handwriting (+ a giveaway)

October 7, 2014

Love Leesie 4

When gorgeously whimsical handwriting and your favorite quotes get together, the result is Love Leesie. (You might remember the lovely penmanship from this post.) Browsing the shop stocked with everything from Charles Bukowski quotes to rap lyrics, it’s hard not do drop a small fortune on a very wordy gallery wall – all written out in that covetable Elise handwriting. I’d try to pick a favorite, but there’s no use. They are kind of like Pokemon in that I’m on a mission to collect them all.

Playing stylist to this set of prints was a real good time. In fact, it was such a good time, i’m sharing the fun. Keep scrolling for a chance to win your own Love Leesie print.

Love Leesie 1

Love Leesie 5

Love Leesie 6

Love Leesie 2

Love Leesie 7

Love Leesie 8

Here’s how to win…

First, follow @loveleesie on instagram.

Then, leave a comment below letting me know which print you’d love to have!

One winner will be chosen on Tuesday, October 14th at 10am CST. Good luck – can’t wait to hear about which prints you like best. UPDATE! The winner (thanks to picking the number 11) is Emily Salshutz. Congrats – you can email to claim your print.

[All photos by Abby Gillardi.]

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a desktop wallpaper fit for fall.

October 7, 2014

October Desktop Background

It’s fall! Your desktop could probably use a sweater or at the very least, a change of scenery. The super talented Mercedes Armstrong thinks so too. Mercedes is an illustrator based in St. Louis, whose work was recommended to me by this rad dude. Her patterns are fun, bold, and bursting with color. And for you lucky City in a Jar readers, Mercedes has turned one of her patterns into a desktop wallpaper. Keep scrolling for the download.

Mercedes Armstrong October 2014 Desktop

Click to download the OCTOBER WALLPAPER by Mercedes Armstrong.

Jess Signature

say it with a box, on a box, in a box.

October 3, 2014

Greetabl 1

A conversation with Zoë Scharf about her role at greetabl, gift giving, and her love of St. Louis.

Stemming from the idea to deliver a message in a more meaningful way, greetabl was thought up by Joe Fischer. In the early stages of greetabl, Joe was creating prototypes out of cereal boxes and attempting to send them through the mail. Zoë jumped on board at greetabl as a contract designer at first. Now, Zoë boasts the title of co-founder and creative director with a background in graphic design and an education from the Sam Fox School at Washington University.

Greetabl 2

What’s your favorite part about greetabl?

I love seeing other people interact with greetabl. Usually people are really excited by it because it’s new and different and interesting. That’s really cool. Seeing other people actually get genuine happiness from something you’ve been working on so hard, there’s nothing more rewarding.

Also, I’m learning a thousand things every single day. I’m 24 – there’s a lot of expereince yet to be had in my life and working on something like this, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t learn something new or meet somone new. Especially here in St. Louis. Everyone is willing to help you out, everyone is willing to connect you and give you the name of someone else who can really help you.

What have been some of your favorite partnerships or collaborations?

Working with Strange Donuts was a blast. No one belived that it was going to be possible to ship donuts in the mail, and it totally was. We had no idea what to expect. Corey and Jason from Strange Donuts were not sure if we were ordering too many by getting 400, and we were pretty sure that we were going to sell 200 max. Halfway through the day we had to order more, and ended up selling out of 1000! It was cool because we really only did local promotion, but St. Louis took it so far. We sent donuts to 39 states, plus Peurto Rico and D.C. We hand wrote 1,000 messages and loved reading the excuses people used to send a donut to friends.

You’re not from St. Louis…

No, I am from upstate New York. Not the cool part of New York. It’s like Albany and total suburbia.

I came out to St. Louis on a whim. I’d never heard of Washington University, but applied to the Sam Fox School of Design anyway. Even when I got in, I didn’t really expect to go. I feel like I’ve created my own family in St. Louis. It wasn’t really ever a place I wanted to live, but here I am. I’ve become the biggest cheerleader for the Midwest, and St. Louis specifically. Everyone back home is so confused by it.

Which is your favorite greetabl design?

Maybe not for design reasons, but I really like the St. Louis greetabl. Partly because our product is made in St. Louis. Also, it’s the one we’ve sold out of the most consistently. I also really like Retro Luggage.

What has been the most challanging thing about bringing greetabl to life?

I guess… I get really emotional about things. I just care so much about this product. When we were manifacturing it, we had a problem initially with the tape on the boxes not being strong enough to hold the greetabl together. It was so incredibly frustrating to me, because this is my baby and it’s not doing what I want it to do. I didn’t feel comfortable telling people to buy it. If you don’t have the perfect product, you don’t want to put it out there. It was really hard feeling out of control. It was also a learning experience, especially in sourcing stronger tape.

There are things we’ve improved upon, like the template or the messaging, and i’ll feel uncomfortable having an old one. That’s just me being a perfectionist.

Do you fancy yourself a good gift giver?

I think so. I’ve always prided myself on gifts, actually. I’m super crafty. If I really want to impress a friend, I spend a lot of time on it. For my roommates birthday, I made her a paper version of of a necklace featured in a book we both just read. It took me way to long to do, but was totally worth it. Making things personalized is great. For a while, I was book binding and giving those to people.

Getting creative with what I put into greetabls has been really fun too. I send my mom a giant scarf, and managed to fit it in a greetabl. I probably give greetabls the most of anyone in the world.

What are some of your dream collaborations?

I have so many. I really like the idea of putting a Lego set into a greetabl! I’d love it if there was some custom Lego/greetabl collaboration and you open it up and create something giant out of it.

I’d like to collaborate with….everyone. I get so excited when I talk to anyone who is excited about what they are doing. Anyone who is creative or doing cool things (that are 2.58 inches by 2.58 inches).

I also like to think greetabls make gift cards more sexy.

Who are some of the people in the biz that you look up to/draw inspiration from?

I have a small background in letterpress printing with Paper Boat Studios. The idea of going out of your way to give a better gift – that’s totally what letterpress is all about. That’s what I want greetabl to be all about.

A Mama’s Sauce collaboration would be amazing. I’ve always looked up to them. We actually connected through our mutual friend, Archie, and are working on a collaboration of making a letterpress greetabl. It’s just going to be so cool – the creativity and the aesthetic.

Rifle Paper Co. is always just so beautiful. Knock Knock is really interesting in that they are succesfully integrating something new into the market. They were like “we’re going to make check lists and sell them for money” and they’ve done it! Those lists are in every gift shop. I’m impressed by them.

Brad Woods! I met him at the Cherokee Print League sale. He’s an illustrator who created maginating. Just the way he talks about what he does is inspiring. He put his characters on greetabl and we went to the National Stationery Show with him. I respect him so much for how creative he is, and how he’s doing so well with his business. Fan girl, number one.

If you had a motto, it would be…

We help people make people smile. We just always want to be a resource for people when they want to go the extra mile. I just want to make people happy.

Greetabl 6

Greetabl 3


[All photos by Abby Gillardi.]

Jess Signature

it starts with HELLO.

October 1, 2014

Lindt HELLO Chocolate

Making friends as an adult is hard. In our younger days we were given a built in network of people to be friends with. Sure, you maybe didn’t get along with all your school mates, but there were some lucky ones that became your best friends. It was as simple as finding out you both liked to play on the monkey bars or ate homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch everyday. As an adult, the idea of making friends can be super daunting. There are so many more factors than monkey bars to consider.

But sometimes, you meet a girl in a fish fry line, and a year later she is one of your closest friends. At least, that’s what happened with Elise. Food is the ultimate people connector. Especially the fried kind. But sometimes a sweeter taste is needed, and for that, there is Lindt HELLO chocolate. Because nothing says “hi, be my friend” more than a bar of chocolate that literally says HELLO! I didn’t need the chocolate to spark our friendship, but in the spirit of sharing we sat on the couch and devoured a couple Cookies + Cream bars.

Lindt HELLO Chocolate

Spark a few conversations of your own using Lindt HELLO. Need a little push to be outgoing? Check out the series, “It Started with HELLO”. And if that doesn’t do it for you, maybe an incentive to win will?  Enter to win the Lindt HELLO Sweet Connections Sweepstakes!  You can enter the sweepstakes every day for the sweet experiences from Lindt Chocolate below.

In the mood to be pampered? ENTER HERE for a Sweet Staycation (contest runs 10/1 – 10/7).
Spend a day at the spa! ENTER HERE for the Bestie Reunion (contest runs 10/8 – 10/14).

Lindt HELLO Chocolate

Lindt HELLO Chocolate 2

Do you have a good meet-cute story? Tell me about it! 

Thank you to Lindt for sponsoring today’s post and inspiring me to try Lindt HELLO!

[All photos by Abby Gillardi.]

Jess Signature

permanent ink, and such.

September 29, 2014


I was 18 and naive when I got my first tattoo. It’s an outline of a dove on my foot. Yes, I put a bird on it. FOREVER.

Fast forward six years and i’ve added seven more tattoos, much to my fathers chagrin. Some are easily seen, others are hidden depending on the amount of clothing i’m wearing. I favor some to others, but I don’t dislike any of them. For me, each is a reminder of a certain time in my life. Not all of them have deep meaning, or really any meaning at all. My most recent tattoo is a cluster of hexagons I got simply because i’ve always loved the pattern the shape makes when repeated.

I’m curious – do you like tattoos? Will you ever get one?  Do you have tattoos? Is there meaning to each?



[All photos by Abby Gillardi.]

Jess Signature

totes ma goats

August 27, 2014

Totes Ma Goats West Elm Tote 1

I have a thing for totes. Like, ‘join a support group for tote addicts’ kinda thing. They seem so practical and useful. Until you’ve got so many that you couldn’t possibly use them all. And then I stumbled upon the tote that puts all other totes to shame. You can (and should!) get it at West Elm St. Louis. Because who doesn’t love goats. On a tote. Paired with a ridiculous phrase like ‘totes ma goats.’

West Elm Tote

Totes Ma Goats West Elm Tote 2

Are you a tote hoarder, or a one-bag kinda person? Do tell!

[All photos by Abby Gillardi.]

See the rest of the style column here.

Jess Signature

coffee, peace and justice for all.

August 1, 2014

Rise Coffee House

I sat down with Jessie Mueller to chat about her cozy spot on Manchester Ave.

Having opened a mere 10 months ago, Rise Coffee House has quickly become a community hub for The Grove neighborhood. Offering a place to work, meet, play, and relax, Rise’s inviting atmosphere is just that – inviting. A large chalkboard wall explains the pour over process for the coffee novice while, in a whimsical fashion, literary pages exposed in old books hang from the ceiling upstairs. You can get your caffeine fix in a variety of ways – espresso, chemex, cappuccino, etc. –  from roasters Blueprint Coffee and Goshen Coffee. For the snacking type, your drink can be paired with baked goods served at the counter from Whisk Bakeshop on Cherokee Street. Owner Jessie Mueller set out to create a community anchor in The Grove as part of her love for The Grove renaissance, and Rise Coffee House was the product.

Jessie at Rise Coffee House

Rise Coffee House

Tell me how Rise Coffee House came to be.

I was doing social work in the neighborhood and my boss at the time, who is actually responsible for a lot of the development of The Grove just kept talking about how the community needed an anchor and coffee houses tend to be that. Once a coffee house is embedded in a community, the community really grows. When people look to move into a neighborhood, they wonder what their local coffee shop will be. I came to the conclusion that I needed to go big or go home. I needed to get involved somehow or i’m just kind of going to piddle around in this and not really embed myself within a community.

I was falling in love with The Grove renassaince, not just everybody moving in, but the people that were here already. My husband and I started looking at properties and came up with a concept. We went to portland and learned coffee culture out there a little bit. I had no coffee background whatsoever. I didn’t even know how to make a pour over at the time – for real. It’s been a really insane, eye-opening, sort of awakening.

What has been the biggest hurdle in opening Rise?

There have been so many. Honestly, learning coffee. And learning how to make connections with other people in the coffee world so that we’re a respectable coffee house. Also, trusting your gut – trusting that your ideas will work. That is the hurdle. You’re so vulnerable to judgement, you just have to push through that and trust what you see and what you envision.

What is the best part of owning Rise?

Every day is an adventure. Every single day is something new. Either a new challenge or something that somebody says to me that I wasn’t expecting that encourages me to keep just working at it and chipping away at the dream of it.

Just recently we were featured on NPR for our partnership with Honey Masters, a group of teenagers in North City that started a honeybee farm. They just opened their storefront on the north side. They were huddled around a table one day when we first opened – I was just being friendly and chatting with them. They asked if I would have their honey at Rise and I said “yeah!” I was buying honey from Whole Foods and now Rise is the Honey Masters top wholesale account. That’s so exciting to me because it’s a group of teenagers from North City that are totally empowered. They are marketing their business, they have a bee farm, they are opening their own store, and have a model they hope to transfer to other cities.

The spur of the moment experiences in which I get to help people while promoting my business and my dream are the best part.

Where did the name Rise come from?

We got the name Rise from a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote that talks about letting go of your individuality and embracing the common good.

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tell me about Coffee for the People.

Essentially you buy a coffee to pay it forward. We give you a coffee sleeve to fill out, you decide who you want the coffee to be for and what it is, then tack it onto the Coffee for the People board. (A drip coffee for a City in a Jar reader!*). It’s a way to bridge a gap, so people can come in the door and know that there is coffee available to them, even if they can’t afford it that day. I just want everyone to feel they can use the space – that it is open and available. The idea is to foster community and diversity – everybody should pull coffee off the board.

What is your favorite thing about The Grove?

At first it started out as my freedom spot. I was a new mom and I would come out The Grove for a night of fun. Then I got an internship here and I had a purpose to come to The Grove for fun. Now it’s like home. I don’t live here, but I live here. I feel alive here. I come alive the minute I drive under The Grove sign. It’s still a freedom spot for me.

What is your favorite coffee style?

Gibraltar – also known as a cortado. Equal parts espresso and steamed milk. It does the trick.

What is your motto?

Coffee, peace and justice for all.


Rise Coffee House


Rise Coffee House

Rise Coffee House

Coffee for the People

*While I was at Rise, I put a couple sleeves on the Coffee for the People board. Need a caffeine fix? Stop by Rise and enjoy a drink on City in a Jar. 

[All photos by Abby Gillardi.]

Jess Signature


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