Laura Hooper of Laura Hooper Calligraphy

The art of calligraphy is something that, in today’s technology-driven world, is becoming all too rare. We are excited to introduce you to Laura Hooper, who has not only perfected calligraphy but has made it her business. Read on to learn about this talented woman’s journey toward making her craft her profession, what her top pieces of advice are for making your own calligraphy pro-status, and how to grow your small business to be an industry leader. 

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Photo by Sweet Root Village

The Elevator Pitch

I’m Laura, the owner & calligrapher for Laura Hooper Calligraphy. I started my business over 12 years ago, but have been practicing the art of calligraphy for over 20 years. In addition to wedding envelope & reception calligraphy & stationery, we also sell a calligraphy starter kit plus a variety of pens, inks, notepads and more for practicing the art in addition to teaching workshops around the US with a few in Canada. We also sell party supplies {coasters, napkins, stir sticks, greeting cards, gift wrap, etc} featuring my lettering.

I run Laura Hooper Calligraphy as well as teach our workshops with my sister even though we live on opposite coasts {she’s in Redondo Beach, CA & I’m in Alexandria, VA}. We one time calculated a low estimate on how many envelopes I might address in any given year and the estimate was around 20-25k.

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Photo by Abby Jiu

Who or what inspires you?

In terms of my personal art and aesthetic, I am inspired by nature. I love painting and drawing and it’s usually critters, florals & other living subjects. For work, I have a somewhat classic/traditional style and I’m very much guided by what the clients ask for from me.

Your calligraphy is stunning! How did you learn your craft? 

Thank you! My mom taught me when I was about 12 years old. I started out with a broad tip pen and have always been fairly artistic. My best friend got married when we were about 22 and I penned her envelopes. I’m fully self-taught from there using a pointed nib + straight pen. There were no workshops, no Instagram – it was also trial & error, internet searches, etc.

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From your perspective, what do you feel calligraphy brings to the world of art?

I truly believe that hand written work adds a unique touch to any event, and now more than ever I think that it’s important to keep the art thriving especially since cursive is no longer taught in schools. People often can’t even read what I write because they can’t read cursive! It’s sad, but I get excited to see the amount of interest in learning the art.

What are your top tricks + tips of the trade? For those who are interested in learning calligraphy, what’s your advice on where to start?

I definitely recommend purchasing a starter kit or taking an in-person workshop from a seasoned professional {there are many others aside from me as well}. We hear a lot of stories from customers that have purchased multiple starter kits that are “cheaper” but they ultimately don’t include any instructions on how to use the tools provided. They are just a pen, nib, ink + alphabet without any guidance on how to actually get started. In our workshops specifically, we share more proprietary information than we do online as well, so you are truly investing in your skill when you take a course from someone with experience.

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Photo by Sugar and Cloth

What are some of your favorite projects to date?

There are so many that it’s really difficult to pick favorites! It’s wonderful to work with fellow industry creatives who come up with really fun ideas that we get to execute. I think one of my favorites was writing on so many macarons this year! Our friends at Buttercream Bakeshop in the DC area have supplied hundreds of macs this year for various projects. Also with Karson Butler Events, I wrote on over 100 chargers on site at a wedding and also did chair decals on ghost chairs. Both of those were very time consuming but turned out beautifully!

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Photo by Jenna Kutcher

You run your own workshops in addition to producing calligraphy work for clients. What has your journey as a small business owner been like? Any tips for growing a business from the ground-up?

I think there is a misconception that when you own your own business you get to work less, take more vacations, etc. While that can sometimes be true, the flip side is that I am almost always working. I literally have to “schedule” breaks in my day, days off, etc because it’s really common for me to get lost in an order and not get up from my desk for 8 hours. And more often than not, even with time scheduled off, I still end up working even if it’s not sitting at my desk writing. There are always emails to be answered, vendors to be contacted, orders to be packed, social media posts to be shared, etc.

My advice for anyone starting a business would just be to keep going. Keep moving forward. There will be setbacks, but just stay true to yourself, troubleshoot when problems arise, Google things online that you need help with. There are so many resources today, too. Tradeshow Bootcamp is an amazing resource for stationers & business owners & Modern Calligraphy Summit is wonderful for aspiring or existing calligraphers.

I would also advise anyone starting out to do their best not to compare themselves to others in their field. It’s so easy to see what other artists/entrepreneurs are doing “better” than you are, but the reality is that everyone has insecurities & nothing is as perfect as it might seem on social media.

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Photo by Jenna Kutcher

You’re doing amazing on social media. What’s that journey been like? What has been the most rewarding aspect of that growth?

It’s been pretty surprising actually! I still remember when I hit 1,000 followers on Instagram – I was in my office on Pier Avenue {when I lived & worked in Hermosa Beach a few years ago} with my mom & sister, who didn’t yet work with me full time. We got so excited I took a photo with a handwritten sign & posted it. The most rewarding aspect is seeing how many people love the art of calligraphy and are choosing to follow along with my business & adventures. It has also brought about new business opportunities as well as new friendships, both online and in real life, too. Social media is hands down our number one marketing avenue, so it’s important to me that I am intentional in my sharing while also squeezing in some personal details, too.

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Photo by Jodi Miller

What drives you?

Being able to make a living doing something that I love. I truly enjoy working, and I don’t ever want to go back to a 9-5 office job! I am continuously motivated to keep growing, developing new ideas, new sources of income using my art, so that I can continue to be my own boss.Laura Hooper Calligraphy_Calligraphy services-10

Photo by Jana Williams

What does being creative mean to you?

I have always considered myself artistic, but I never realized that I could build a business around my art. It’s an honor to be part of the creative community of entrepreneurs & I hope that I can continue to grow my business as well as teach others the beautiful art of pointed-pen calligraphy.

Laura Hooper Links to Follow: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

Header photos by Jenna Kutcher 

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