A simple wish to have prettier stamps for special stationary was a life changing thought for former lawyer turned entrepreneur, Loly Orozco. She always had a creative bent, but several years back Orozco had an encounter in a post office that set her life on a different course.
“It really wasn’t that intentional,” she said. “I noticed another woman in the post office with her beautiful wedding invitations and realized there weren’t a lot of good complementary stamp options to go with them.”
That was back in 2016 and the moment that Orozco’s business, Little Postage House, was born. It wasn’t in her life plan, she was a busy lawyer working in New York City along with her husband, who is also a lawyer. What little spare time she had was devoted to her fledgling letterpress, stationary design and curated postage company.
And what, exactly is curated postage? It could come from Orozco’s monumental collection of vintage postage stamps in a variety of designs. Or, if by some chance she didn’t have a design to fit a request, say equestrian for example, she will get on the hunt to find them. It’s a whole new take on philately, and, no, she didn’t collect stamps when she was a kid. But, she said, she always liked the pretty ones.
“The standard stamps, like the forever flag stamps, just don’t make sense for some things,” she said. “They’re not a good fit for fancy invitations. I went down a rabbit hole and found all these beautiful stamps from decades before.”
Two years ago, her husband was offered a job here in Knoxville – “definitely a cool spot.” So, the couple moved here just in time to get a house before the real estate market went crazy and Covid-19 hit. It was after the move she found herself at a crossroads as regards her legal career, whether to pursue a partnership or pursue her business full time. The Little Postage House won. But her and her husband’s cars lost.
“Our joke is that we have a no car garage” she said of the place that houses her press and workshop at their home off Northshore Drive. “These presses are heavier than some small cars.”
Orozco said sha has had devoted clients from when she started the business five years ago. The orders started with wedding invitations, then birth announcements, then special holiday cards.
“In a little way, I’ve become a part of their family,” she said.
Though the Covid pandemic put a damper on events that would generate orders for her, it really didn’t slow her business.
“First, there were the ‘save the date’ for 2021 orders on postponed events. And a lot of people started sending letters more, more snail mail,” she said. “And with that they wanted nice ephemera. So, I was really fortunate. I have a wonderfully diverse group of clients.”
Orozco credits her parents for both her creative streak and her work ethic. She is originally from Florida, but both of her parents are immigrants, her mother from Costa Rica and her father from Cuba.
“I was raised in a household to appreciate the opportunities that we have here in America,” she said. “We were raised to set goals. I grew up with that mentality.”
That mentality earned her a Tory Burch Foundation Fellowship, awarded annually to 50 women entrepreneurs around the country. She is the only recipient in the state of Tennessee.