Bearden’s The Happy Envelope expands to centralized digs

Tracy Haun OwensOn the Grow, West Knox

It’s almost business as usual at Bearden’s The Happy Envelope, even though the stationer and graphic-design business is between retail spaces for a couple of months. Having moved out of their Homberg Drive location a couple of weeks ago, owners Sarah and Ty Pattison are waiting for a larger space to be built out at 5605 Kingston Pike. Their new spot, which is expected to be open sometime in August, is between Grow Salon and Firestone, two doors down from the fashion boutique Est8te.


The new spot will have significant retail space and room for the company’s antique letterpress. There will even be a window for watching the press run (the way Beardenites used to watch the doughnuts on the conveyor line at the neighborhood Krispy Kreme).

In the meantime, The Happy Envelope is selling its city prints, wall art and customizable stationery from its website and at the Market Square Farmers Market. Sarah is consulting with wedding clients both through technology and by appointment in person. (Castleton Events in Bearden has loaned her as-needed space.) The Happy Envelope’s antique letterpress, a centerpiece of the business, is running in an off-site location. The staff is answering emails and checking voice messages regularly, taking on new work and delivering proofs to clients as needed.

“There are a lot of different revenue streams that we’re grateful for, especially when the doors are closed,” Sarah says. “All the cogs in the wheel are still going.”

It was the desire to bring the printing and the retail/design parts of the business back together that pushed this move forward.

Until two and a half years ago, The Happy Envelope was on West Jackson Avenue. Then the city told the couple they would have to relocate the business to make way for impending construction. They hurriedly found a space in Bearden – “where many of our clients are,” Sarah says.

But the space they found didn’t have room for the letterpress itself, so Ty has been in borrowed quarters off Sutherland Avenue. When it looked like the building where the letterpress is might be sold, the pair decided to take the leap to the bigger space on Kingston Pike.

“To have that kind of visibility is incredible,” Sarah says. “We can have everything back together again – our staff will be under one roof.”

Currently The Happy Envelope has a staff of five, including Sarah and Ty, and she expects to hire a few customer-service representatives for the bigger place.

The Pattisons have three daughters, two middle-schoolers and a 2-year-old. The family is enjoying more together time than usual for the summer while looking forward to reopening the retail space.

Ty grew up in Farragut, and Sarah is from Rhode Island. She came to Knoxville to study graphic design at the University of Tennessee. After working at a design firm following graduation, she struck out on her own in 2003.

“I thought I’d try it and see how it worked,” she says. Entrepreneurship was a good fit. “We have wonderful clients who come back again and again,” she says.

Recently The Happy Envelope designed and launched a selection of flat-print wedding invitations, as elegantly designed as the signature letterpress ones but more cost-conscious. Sarah and the staff are also working on designing a collection of new journals, new wall art, tote bags, tea towels and more.

“It will all be in time for holiday gift-buying,” she says.

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