Treasa Ewing, Owner of In Haus Press
Inside an apartment in the outer Richmond sits In Haus Press. Treasa Ewing is the owner, founder and only employee of the small letterpress studio.
But small doesn’t mean insignificant. This fall, after just two years in business, Ewing caught the eye of a very significant player in the world of home design – Martha Stewart. In Haus Press is a finalist in Stewart’s “American Made Awards” that looks for “rising stars in a new generation of small-business owners.”
Ewing has made it to the cut of 100 finalists, but says she can’t compete with some of the larger businesses who have been able to drive more votes for the contest. As they like to note in Hollywood, Ewing says that it’s just an honor to be nominated.
Ewing started In Haus Press in 2010, after leaving her job as a pastry chef, where she says, “I was more interested in the packaging than in what I was baking.” Her letterpress obsession started when her boyfriend, James, surprised her with an Adana Eight-Five press.
From her living room, Ewing began her adventures in letterpress, experimenting with designs, different types, and materials. She used her computer to create designs inspired by the American West and her Native American ancestry, and then used the small press to create stationary, business cards – anything that could fit and be pressed on the 8×5 surface of the Adana. From there, a business was born.
“I wrote the business plan in one night,” Ewing recalls. She had the website up soon after and received her first “hand-fed letterpress” orders via etsy.com, where she still hosts her In Haus Press online store.
A design blog spotted her work and after a writeup, business increased. James soon lost his tiny man cave/office in their outer Richmond apartment, as Ewing, her small hand presses and her computer, took it over.
Ewing creates all of her products by hand – with her own two hands to be precise. All of the presses are manual, and don’t use any electricity. Everything is cut by hand.
“I like to take my time with things,” Ewing says. It shows – her products are high quality, attractive and undeniably hand-crafted.
The business is the perfect blend of old world and new world. Ewing relies on her Mac to create her designs, then uses her hand presses to produce, and finally uses the internet to market and sell her goods.
The shelves in her studio display the breadth of products that In Haus Press sells, ranging from hang tags to cork coasters to custom stationary.
She also does limited edition prints in small runs with inspirational sayings like “When My Ship Comes In” or “Let’s Move the Mountains”, where the mountains are depicted in a southwestern, geometric design.
One of her favorite products are her book plates, which can be a hard sell in the age of Kindles and e-books. But she says book lovers are especially fond of them.
Most people think about presses and of course paper comes to mind. But Ewing has branched out to other materials since starting the business. She offers holiday tags printed on a flexible birch veneer, and presses her “Mojave” design into cork coaster sets.
One thing she doesn’t make: wedding invitations. She’s not a fan of large print runs and says the hand-holding needed to help a customer with something as critical as wedding invitations just doesn’t appeal to her.
However, In Haus Press does do custom work. When you order stationary, business cards, calling cards or other personalized items, you can provide your information and Ewing prints them on demand.
Unlike typical letterpress designs which tend to be intricate and “scripty”, Ewing strives for a more modern and clean look to her items.
“I wanted to incorporate a look and feel for letterpress that hasn’t been done before,” she says. That has led to acquiring a collection of type faces, including one from India that is nearly 50 years old. In the living room of her apartment is a very large type cabinet that she acquired through Craigslist – with the drawers all still full of different typeface pieces.
Ewing says her main motivation other than design is to offer people a bit of the old-fashioned pleasure that comes from notes and personal correspondence.
“If you get a handwritten note in the mail, you notice it right away and you instantly feel better,” Ewing says. She recalls one customer who received her order of In Haus Press notecards, and then sent one back with a message to Ewing: “Thank you – I felt like Audrey Hepburn when I opened it!”
Ewing is always thinking up new ideas, and is working hard to get her holiday line designed and ready for printing – all while fulfilling the orders that come in every day from her online store. Ewing says not working is the hardest challenge when it comes to running her own business from her home.
“I do everything myself, and I have a hard time letting that go,” she says.
She manages all aspects of the In Haus Press business, be it marketing, design or updating the website. Even taking new product shots for her online store can be challenging, given the Richmond District weather patterns.
“I have to wait for it to be sunny in my living room to take product shots,” Ewing says with a laugh.
But she does lean on James, her boyfriend / tech guru / business partner for help and new ideas. Together, they started another business line called Engineer Brand shirts, which incorporates her design sense and James’ techy humor with slogans like “Your Mom friended me on Facebook.”
In Haus Press will remain an online only store for the time being, but Ewing says she can envision opening a storefront in the future. On occasion she sells at local shows and events. You can also find In Haus Press products at local retails stores, including Curiosity in the Mission and the General Store in the outer Sunset.
She’s still looking for a shop in the Richmond District where she can sell. Japonica, Foggy Notion, Kumquat and Thidwick Books – are you listening?
Two of Ewing’s letterpresses surrounded by In Haus products
The press, plate and resulting set of “Mojave” coasters that In Haus Press sells
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