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06
16
3 Comments

Felix Doolittle and The Paper Mouse

Written by in Inspire, Profiles, Uncategorized

Felix Doolittle & The Paper Mouse:
The Convenience of Being True

“Felix Doolittle” is the nom de paintbrush of Chinese watercolorist and designer Felix Fu. Fu started going by Felix when he and his family moved to Canada from Hong Kong when he was a teen. He says that he selected Felix as his English name “because in Latin it means happiness and good luck.” Later, when he happened upon the name Doolittle, he felt it had “a cheerful ring to it and could be written beautifully in calligraphy—a matter of real importance when you are choosing a name!”

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The Felix Doolittle booth at the 2016 National Stationery Show in NYC. Felix Fu does many things very well.

I’d admired Fu’s work for years, but knew little of his background. When stationer Edie Frère introduced me to him and his wife Loren Sklar several months ago, I seized the chance to find out more. I discovered his delight in telling tales when Frère shared with me another version of the Doolittle derivation. She says Fu told her he chose Doolittle as an aspirational name, so he could “do as little as possible.” Fu hasn’t followed through on that, but he’s accomplished many other to-do’s.

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Delight in the details: Handsome packaging protects the contents.

To complement their wholesale business and custom commissions, Fu, Sklar, and business partners Victor Lee and wife Jenny Zhang have opened a retail shop in West Newton, Mass. They named it The Paper Mouse. As it happens, Zhang was born in the Year of the Mouse, not by design, of course, but it has the convenience of being true.

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The Paper Mouse is a place “to connect with our customers, to hear their stories, and to thank them.”

The Paper Mouse showcases the Felix Doolittle line of stationery products, from calling cards and note cards to moving announcements, custom invitations, and bookmarks. Most Felix Doolittle products are printed in-house on Neenah CLASSIC CREST® Avon Brilliant White heavy card stock with an eggshell finish.

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Felix Doolittle’s Delft-inspired letterforms are available on a range of delightful stationery products. (Delightful contains the letters to spell Delft. Vive the convenience of being true.)

I ask Fu about his choice of Avon Brilliant White, which is a classic creamy soft white rather than the brilliant white that’s become so popular. He replies with intention,  “From an artistic standpoint, I feel that off-white always has a quality of being connected, of being a good listener—and white-white is about being very clear, very defined, with a lack of emotional attribution, almost like making your own point. When we are trying to communicate something, off-white reminds me of listening, even while we are speaking our mind.”

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The Felix Doolittle team handles most printing in-house. Their Signature series is printed on an inkjet on 100# cover, which the team duplexes to create luscious, toothy cards.

“The inkjet is slower than our digital printers,” notes Sklar, “but the quality of the inkjet best approximates Felix’s watercolor illustration.” Adds Fu, “Digital print technology has improved, but I think of digital printing as a manufacturing process—and inkjet as more of an art process.”

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Fu loves to tell stories—and to hear them. His English is fluent, even lyrical. He describes exchanging stories as “a very human nature and important to me.” A retail shop, he says, is a place “to connect with our customers, hear their stories, and thank them. When people discover who I am, that I am a real person, it authenticates my work.”

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Sklar expands, “The shop doesn’t carry only Felix’s work. It is really about appreciating writing as a beautiful thing. We want to remind people that it is a gift to get a letter or card in the mail. It’s great fun to see kids come in to our pencil and pen bar. And we get to experience people’s spontaneous reactions to Felix’s work—which is so beautiful en masse.”

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The Felix Doolittle line debuted at the National Stationery Show in New York City in 2002. Several months later, Martha Stewart invited Felix Fu to appear on her TV show. More than one thousand emails quickly cascaded in from retailers, reps, and other fans. As for the 2016 show, Fu says, “It was really rewarding to meet so many independent booksellers and shop owners.” And Sklar adds, “This was my first time at the show as a buyer—for The Paper Mouse—rather than as an exhibitor. I was on the lookout for fun stationery accoutrements and desk accessories. We’ll look forward to having these in the shop!”

Felix Doolittle and The Paper Mouse have a Zen Thing going on. They invite everyone to come to their shop and share in it. And, as Martha would say, “That’s a good thing.”

  1. 06
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    19
    12:04pm
    Matt Porter said:

    This is a nice story about a talented team. Wish I lived near their paper store!

  2. 06
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    4:45pm
    Edie Frere said:

    What a wonderful article! Thank you, Alyson, and thank you Felix and Loren, for the inspiration! As you know, we love you here in Los Angeles.
    Here’s to more picnics when I visit my grandchildren in Massachusetts!

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    26
    7:39am

    good writing.