Creativity has always been vital for Jackie Garson Howard, founder of Paces Papers, Inc., a fine stationery store in Buckhead.
Howard, who was one of the first graduates of The Lovett School in 1962, started Paces Papers as a graphic design company in 1974, creating logos, stationery and commercial advertisements for clients from her kitchen table. The company was the culmination of a lifetime of creative pursuits, dating back to Howard’s childhood when her grandmother taught her to sew. The idea for the specialty paper store began in 1972 when Howard visited the Sam Flax art supply store on Peachtree Road. She met a store clerk who introduced her to pressed down type, a manual typesetting technique. The process enthralled her. “I would go in every week and buy materials to make presents or do designs for nonprofits. And eventually I said, ‘There’s more out there than I know,’” Howard says. Howard attended Georgia State University for a brief time, moving on in 1974 to Atlanta Technical College where she learned graphic design. “This was before computers. So I learned graphic design with pen and ink, T-squares and rulers,” she says. “I carved out my own world there.” She also began designing logos, starting with one for her parents’ showroom, Howard Unlimited. Soon she was receiving requests from all kinds of organizations for her work. In the mid-1980s, she opened Paces Papers’ first brick and mortar shop on East Paces Ferry Road, which moved to its current location on East Andrews Drive a few years later. Since then, the shop has become a hallmark for the area, offering the largest selection of handmade papers from around the world, custom-designed invitations, stationery and much more to generations of clients.
How did you go from working at home to owning a shop in Buckhead?
I did corporate identity stationery and worked with a Crane Stationery representative for years. But I’ve always loved social stationery. So I created my own line that Crane produced for me and sold across the country. Atlanta never had a fine stationery store, and I always felt like it deserved one. So that was my dream.
What is your goal when custom designing stationery for a client?
I’m very intuitive. When I meet you, I have a sense of the way you present yourself, from the way you dress to the way your hair is. Then I will discuss what you like and what your favorite things are. When I design your stationery, my goal is that when your stationery hits someone’s mailbox, it looks like you. You’re not there, and yet you’re there because it looks like you. It should feel like your soul.
What is your favorite printing technique or design element?
I am a passionate lover of engraving. It gives the cleanest, most beautiful image on a piece of paper. I’m also a big believer that, when it comes to stationery or a wedding invitation, you need to have an envelope lining. I think that when you open an envelope and see a pretty lining, it’s part of the whole beautiful design.
You’re also a philanthropist and activist who works with organizations such as the Bettie Brand Mothers’ Empowerment Fund and CHRIS 180. Why is this work so important to you?
Each of us has been given a gift from God. If we can give the gift that God gave us, the world would be a completely different place. That’s what’s important in life.
15 Minutes With columnist at Simply Buckhead. Freelance feature writer, children’s book author and President of Green Meadows Communications, LLC.