The Dawn of Time
The first Borealis Press product was a poster called To Catch A Lobster, printed in 1984. It was a critical success: The National Zoo's invertebrate exhibit in Washington DC actually used one of the posters in the permanent display. But you can't run a company with one product, so for the next five years designer Mark Baldwin kept building bathtubs and houses.
The Borealis Press goes full bore in an old brick building in Ellsworth, Maine, with Mark, Dee Knisley doing the books, and David Ball in charge of the press and production. Ten years later we moved to Willard Kane's old general store in Surry, one village away but still on the same bay. In April 2010 we moved to Dr. Tyler's old offices in Blue Hill, another village away and still with a view of the same bay. With a fast boat you could go from our first office to our present one before you finish a big cup of coffee.
Our lives change when Rudolph deHarak walks in the door to get some typesetting and printing done. Rudy hijacks Mark's graphic vision.
Rudy was one of the seminal graphic designers of the twentieth century. He won the AIGA gold medal for life achievement. He is easy to Google. Rudy took a liking to Mark and became a close friend and constant mentor. Everything done since has had a deep touch of Rudy (sadly, the late Rudy) and his wife, Carol.
The first Quote UnQuote cards, which quickly became our best-selling product and eventually, as one old-timer said, "changed the look of the card industry" because so many others started copying the photograph-plus-quote idea.
Years Go By
The Borealis Press card line has grown and grown. Recycled and chlorine-free papers (which we used from the get-go) got better and better. (See Borealis and the environment.) Our customer service software, inventory management, and fulfillment went from, well, primitive to totally up-to-date, though a live person still does, and always will answer the phone. In 2007 we lost our first card customer who, 15 years after her first Borealis order, became Mark's wife. We’ve added magnets and jotter books, and other items from time to time, and there more new products in the works.
We welcome anything you have to say or send us. One of our customers sent a picture of herself and her sister (now card 354). Others, like Linda Given of Joie de Vivre, regularly give detailed feedback on what we do. ("Don't change a good thing" is Linda's favorite line.)
||So you can picture who you're talking to when you call the magic number (800 669 6845), here are Leora, Linda, Dede, Doris, Jeff, Mali, and Mark. David is off walking in the woods, as usual.
Mark Baldwin, who started The Borealis Press, had a fair amount of experience in journalism, design, building houses, and operating a saw mill. One of his wooden bathtubs is owned by the Smithsonian Institution. He designed a "honeylog" that was credited with keeping captive bears from going crazy. But he knew nothing, zero, about greeting cards. Mark originated the photograph and quote card design, and runs the company, with a whole lot of help.
Doris Webb, aka “Curly,” came on as our national sales director in early 2008. Doris is the rocket booster, the space program for The Borealis Press. Even Doris’ son Isaac (born 1999) is part of the act. Isaac declared “I’m going to write a card,” and he did. See card 531. Whether you’re a mom and pop or an evil mega conglomerate, if you need anything from Borealis, Doris will make it work.
Dede Johnson is all over customer information, sales, catalog layout, and any computer thing that stumps the rest of us. As important as she is to Borealis, Dede is more important for having guided a number of children from hard luck beginnings into much better lives. Good soprano, too, and an international (no fooling) Gilbert & Sullivan champion.
David Williams is a master cabinetmaker in the old school and an expert on aspects of American antique furniture. Mark and David choose photos and quotes for the Quote UnQuote line.
Leora Mitchell runs that part of the business called money. She is Mde. Accounts Payable and Mde. Accounts Receivable and who we ask when there’s a ? after the $.
Linda Carter runs our order-entry department. Linda worked at our local bank, and when we asked people at the bank who would be REALLY GOOD for heading this department, LC was the unanimous reply. They were right.
Jeff Grenier Keeps Track. He keeps track of the millions of cards in our inventory. He keeps track of customers’ needs. If he kept track of any more we’d call him Big Brother.