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By Invitation Only

Lauren Essl’s custom invitations—with graphic prints and upscale textures—elegantly summon guests.

Lauren Essl’s custom wedding stationery suites start at $900.

In the summer of 2010, Lauren Essl left her full-time advertising job, purchased a letterpress and was working part time at Anthropologie while selling hand-embroidered cards on Etsy under the name Blue Eye Brown Eye ( In 2011, Anthropologie buyers ironically called to order four of her greeting cards—enough for all of their stores and online shop. “I spent an entire year stitching while watching shows on Netflix,” she says.

Though successful, Essl decided she wanted to trade mass-market production for collaborating one-on-one with brides to create custom invitations while also pursuing her love for calligraphy. Today, Plano-raised Essl calls Fort Worth home (where she lives with her husband, Travis, and three dogs, including company namesake whippet mix Olive, who has dual-colored eyes). She has a satellite office at The Bell Jar, where she consults with brides to create personal wedding-day stationery suites. “I love getting brides who want something more creative or different,” she says. “I love thinking of all the details and putting together something really cool that’s like a present when they receive it.”

resent is an apt description: Her sets range from whimsical to elegant, and can be packaged in pretty boxes or wrapped in ribbons. One might detail a bride and groom’s encounter through courtship; another simple with deep-set letterpress. “It’s about making a custom invitation that no one else has,” she says.

She also teaches calligraphy classes—launched due to high demand—nationwide. “I get to design for a living and teach for a living and impact people in a different way,” she says. “I’m thankful.”