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Local Favorite – Shelby Made It

For Couples

March 15, 2018

So excited to bring you a new edition of my Local Favorites! I first met Shelby of Shelby Made It at one of our Tuesdays Together meetings a few years ago, since then, it’s been amazing to watch her business flourish! I love her creative approach to wedding invitations, decor and watercolor design. She and her husband Zak are always coming up with incredible ways combine calligraphy + wood working (seriously check out her instagram stories!).


Welcome Shelby! When did you first develop an interest in calligraphy?

I became interested in calligraphy in 2014, coincidentally right before my husband proposed! Once we got engaged, I was really determined to master it. I started out learning hand-lettering which is the art of drawing letters. I watched Skillshare classes and went to local workshops and eventually started trying my hand at calligraphy. Calligraphy, as opposed to hand lettering is the art of writing beautifully. It wasn’t until about two years later that I felt confident enough with my calligraphy to sell my services.

What inspired you to start Shelby Made It?

I have worked for several local Milwaukee wedding vendors since 2011, and I’ve always dreamed of having my own business in this industry. It took me quite a while to decide what I wanted to do. With my degree in graphic design and hobby of calligraphy, wedding invitations seemed like the perfect fit! I quit my job and decided to devote myself to this new business and haven’t looked back since!

What is the biggest piece of advice you’ve found yourself giving clients?

One thing I really try and share with my clients is to not get too caught up in what your wedding “should” or “shouldn’t” look like. Some of the most exciting and fun weddings I’ve worked on have been with brides who dared to think outside the box in terms of their wedding aesthetic. I love when couples are able to instead focus on what they love, and their unique personalities and let that shine through on the wedding day. If you want an intimate wedding of 30 people, that’s awesome! If you love nature and want to get married at a campground, perfect! It’s the authenticity of the day that makes the creation process so much more meaningful and fun.

Besides invitations, how can couples incorporate the art of calligraphy into their wedding decor? 

There are so many ways to incorporate calligraphy! Think of anything for your wedding day that has text, we can make it pretty! This could be ceremony programs, welcome signs, seating charts, place cards, menus, dessert flavor signs – the list is endless! My goal is to make all of the stationery pieces cohesive so they fit the couple’s unique design aesthetic from the invitations to the wedding day. One thing I really love is designing pieces for the wedding day that can be used as home decor following the wedding. With so many possibilities, why not create things that you can display in your home?

What is your preferred paper to work with?

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of watercolor paintings for invitations. I love printing those designs on 100% cotton paper. It looks like watercolor paper, so the illustrations really look hand-painted and it gives a nice soft texture.

How much time should a couple reserve for calligraphy?

A lot of couples misjudge how far in advance is best to start designing invitations. Invitations need to be mailed 6-8 weeks prior to the wedding date, then we need time for the design process, printing turnaround and envelope calligraphy. I suggest booking no later than 4-5 months prior to your wedding. Once the invitations are mailed, then we have a little over a month to finish all the day-of wedding pieces.

Do you have a favorite script?

I think it depends on my mood! Overall, I’d say a simple mono-line script is really fun and can be so versatile from whimsical to sharp.

Which project have you loved the most so far?

Last year I worked with a bride getting married in Colorado. She decided to get married in a big cabin home they rented in Breckenridge and had a total guest count of 27 people. She had so many fun ideas  and her main goal was to create things she could use in her home. Instead of table numbers, each table had a mountain name. So, we made wooden engraved signs for each table that said “Telluride”, “Aspen”, etc. For the welcome sign, I wrote in calligraphy “Together is a beautiful place to be” with their names and wedding date below. After the wedding, she sent me pictures of all the pieces in her home and it made me so happy to see my work have a second life.

What is your favorite part about being a calligrapher?

I love creating! I love the endless possibilities. Between watercolor painting, calligraphy, and graphic design, there’s a million things to be made! It’s so exciting to see all the pieces come together on the wedding day.

How do you stay inspired?

Taking time to rest! I love what I do so much that it can be really hard to pull myself away. I know that if I work through the weekend, I will be burnt out by Monday. Also, making sure to take trips away from home. Because I work from home, being in the same place for weeks on end can be really draining. When I travel and see different cities, I soak up their aesthetic and come home feeling inspired to put that into my designs.

What are two fun facts about you?

Along with studying graphic design in college, I also have a degree in Dance & Choreography! I’ve been dancing since 7 years old. How the body moves and functions is fascinating to me. My goal this year is to take more classes in aerial dance. Also, one day I hope to become a certified yoga instructor.

I’m allergic to all animals with fur, so I grew up with parrots! As a kid, I would spend hours in pet stores petting and holding all the birds. My parents keep our two birds at their home. My husband and I don’t own birds – he’s not a fan. My dream is to have a Cockatoo when I’m an old widowed lady. 

Thanks so much, Shelby, for joining me here on the blog! To see more of Shelby’s work and get in touch with her, visit her at the links below:

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