Behind the Brand: Kelsey Monkey of H&SOME Paper Co.

kelsey_standing_dress_glasses_seriousWhen it comes to stationery, glitter and sarcasm are a winning combo. And no one does it better than Kelsey Monken and her hilarious H&SOME Paper cards. In honor of her cult classic ‘Eggplant and Peach‘ card coming back in stock and our in-store release of the new San Francisco series, we sat down with the reluctant businesswoman to find the source of her comic genius and steal her jokes.

As told to Jennifer Bastien.


Hi! We love your cards! Tell us about the lady behind the stationery. 

Why, hello there! I’m Kelsey and I created H&SOME Paper as an outlet for three of my favorite pastimes: crafting, doodling, and providing unsolicited social commentary on the world around me. I also love dogs, canceling plans, and complaining about cooking dinner for one. I currently reside in San Francisco, a beautiful city that I’ve had startlingly little trouble being cynical about.

Why “H&SOME”?

Handsome was the world through my grandmother Pearl’s eyes. Cute animals in particular, but she wasn’t too discerning. It became, in my family, the universally passable adjective for all things. The neighbor’s cat? Handsome. That guy’s watch? Handsome. That dilapidated bookshelf? Handsome. That decrepit pile of what we can only hope are animal feces on the streets of San Francisco? Definitely handsome.

And so it only seemed fair that my cards, too, could be handsome. Or in the case here, H&SOME. Because I love ampersands.

I’m sure you’ve made her proud. Have you always been crafty?

Yes, definitely. I would always save up all allowance and birthday money for splurges at Michaels (40% off coupon of 1 full-priced item in tow, of course!). In school I always spent more time on presentation than the content itself and watched ZOOM everyday after school in anticipation of their DIY segment (remember ZOOM? I wonder what those kids are up to now…). Whenever friends would ask “what do you wanna do?” I would respond “Art!”.  I once got a little carried away and doodled all over our craft table at home in pastels. When my mom asked how I thought that was remotely okay, I responded that I had thought it was paper. Let’s just say I was better at scraping pastels off  wood than I was at coming up with an exit strategy.

Now you can tell your mom all that practice paid off! Where do you source your materials?

All over, honestly. Some from Paper Source, which is conveniently spitting-distance from my apartment. Others from wholesalers online or in the Bay Area. For my other craft supplies, everywhere. Seriously, everywhere. Like, I have a problem. I love hunting around scrap places, Goodwill, discount supply stores, random hole-in-the-wall spots around SF, you name it, to add to my stockpile. My roommate always makes fun of me because she’ll say she needs some obscure thing like 3 different-sized clothespins, a scrap of dotted fabric or a dinosaur-shaped balloon and I’m like psshhhhhhh, child’s play. I gotchu covered, girl.

A human discount supply store… I think that’s what we’re all looking for in a roommate. Can you talk us through the cardmaking process, once all the necessary fabrics and glitters have been procured?

-The first step is coming up with the idea, which typically happens between the hours of 11PM and 3AM whilst binging on takeout and TLC’s latest series (as most great ideas do). [ editor’s note: AGREED. ]

-I then draw out the idea on a card, scan it in to digitize and clean it up on the computer.

-Next, I print the card on luxe cardstock, score it, and using a glue pen, draw out the areas that are to be glittered.

-After that, it’s time to sprinkle (read: generously pour) glitter onto the card, shake/tap/flick/pour it off, and viola, the card is complete!

-I then hand glue each liner to each envelope, pack the envelope and card into the fancy cellophane sleeve, slap my sticker on the back, and deliver it down to ANOMIE.

Is there anything more satisfying than shaking off excess glitter? You don’t have to answer that one. Which came first, the desire to make your own cards or the ideas for the designs and sayings? 

The latter. I love snail mail and got really into sending random things to friends near and far. Those recipients kept saying “Kels, you need to sell these things!”. I wasn’t super interested in starting a business per se, but I liked the idea of sharing my weird sense of humor and hobby with others. So with a bit of encouragement from friends, H&SOME Paper was born.

Thanks to your friends for sharing you! How did you come to the realization that making cards would be the right creative outlet for you?

Dang, that’s a fantastic question. I think my strength is in paper goods (although I enjoy so many other mediums, too) and card-making is a craft I’ve always admired and respected. I love paper, printing techniques, and sharing a message the ol’ fashioned way. While right now I’m just focusing on cards, I have many ideas stirring up about other things in H&SOME Paper’s future!

Can’t wait to see what’s up your sleeve. Do you have any cardmakers you particularly admire?

Tons! But I will blanket my admiration to anyone and everyone who is just putting themselves out there and having fun with what they do.

How do you balance it with your day job? Would you like it to become bigger?

When I figure out how to balance it, I’ll let you know! When I started H&SOME Paper I was feeling very creatively unfulfilled at work. I still liked my day job for the most part, and loved who I was working with, but something was missing and I consciously dedicated more time on the weekends to creative endeavors. I have since joined a new company with more humane hours, so the difficulty of balance isn’t as much with time but more with focusing my mind on Handsome as opposed to the learning curve of the new gig. I would like it to grow, but I need to figure out how to strike that balance, first.

That conscious dedication part is the struggle for a lot of us, so kudos to you. Do you have a running list of sentiments that’d be great on cards? 

Oh do I! I have lists in so many different places…back of random scraps of paper, organized on my computer, written on the back of my hand, in my head because “I totally swear I won’t forget this one—how could I? It’s so good!” (And I always do.) Before I began this endeavor, I was a bit intimidated by coming up with fresh and new ideas. But I quickly discovered it’s quite the opposite! The overwhelming part is actually picking my favorites and making sure they’d be something others would want to share with people they know. And then actually manufacturing them, of course.

Can you give us a preview of some cards that are coming soon, or any that you played around with that didn’t work?

I’m currently working on a few new series — the SF series, which is a play on those cutesy ‘Greetings from SF!’ cards. It illustrates the city as I (and I think many others) see it. I’m also working on a collaboration with comedian, writer, and fellow Oreo enthusiast Ryan Patricks (@ryan_patricks) where I will illustrate some of his favorite tweets. And I have a ton more for what I call the OG series, which features the iconic black + gold glitter combo.

One that I personally love but just didn’t work was a part of the 90s series. It’s a doodle of Mr. Sketch markers and reads “YOU’RE SO SKETCH.” After a limited poll, I found it to be too obscure of a reference, and those who got it said it would make way more sense if I glittered every single pen a different color…which ain’t gonna happen.

Not to mention the difficulty of finding a recipient worthy of being called sketch via snail mail. Ouch. And any that have been an unexpected hit?

‘Eggplant and Peach’ was the product of a late night conversation with Anomie Bo$$ lady, Chelsea, when I was dropping off an order to the store. We thought it’d be a great limited run for Valentine’s Day, but after the ‘holiday’ (a term I think we’re all okay using lightly) they kept getting requests, so I guess I can’t quite retire that one like I thought I could!

Add me to that list, please! And lastly, what’s your favorite thing about ANOMIE? 

How thoughtful it is, in every regard of the word. Everything in there is meticulously hand-selected for its uniqueness, style, design, aesthetic, creation, material, fit, and how the team thinks it’ll bring happiness to someone’s day. I’m so honored to be part of a collection of such inspired and talented designers.

Shop H&SOME Paper here.

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