After working in the fashion industry for years, navigating her way through the world of color and style, Silvana Misantone combined her passion for fine papers and her knack for designing handmade invitations for parties. The combination resulted in the creation of her own line of unique, fair trade greeting cards, Signature Invitation, a company creating custom handmade invitation cards for the wedding and event industry throughout North America. Fifteen years later, Silvana has decided to use her skills to create a new and unique line of fair trade greeting cards for all occasions to the general public, under a brand new banner and company called Carta Dolce. Based out of Montreal, Carta Dolce sources materials from around the world, from European mill papers to handmade papers from India, to organza from Asia. When it comes to running her own business, Silvana loves a challenge. “I love making the tough decisions and although there is never any absolute certainty of success in what I do, the passion to create something different and unique is a huge driving force,” she says.
Here, Silvana Misantone talks personal style, the best advice she’s ever received, and what’s next for Carta Dolce.
What inspired you to be a designer and how did you get started?
I have always had a love fine papers and design in general; I’ve also worked in the fashion industry for a few years with the great appreciation for color and style. For as long as I can remember whenever I used to go to events or parties I would try to make my own special invitations, so I guess at some point the two just merged together.
Where were you born, where have you lived most of your life, and how has this influenced your brand?
I was born in Montreal Canada, and I have lived here all my life. Montreal is a very multi cultural city with a huge European influence. Montreal is also home to many talented artists. I guess working with so many creative people most of my life including my husband has definitely been an influence on me. Also, I studied Communication, Marketing and Film at the University level, which also gave me some useful insights into what I do in design.
What is the first thing you do in the morning? What websites do you visit?
Most mornings I usually wake up early and do some yoga and meditation exercises helps to put me in the right frame of mind before starting my day as far as websites are concerned it really is not part of my routine I will occasionally go online to source different suppliers from around the world when I’m looking to create or incorporate some new ideas into my work and also look for new trends in design and fashion in general. I enjoy studying art from different cultures and I have always tried to look at the big picture.
What materials do you use and from where do you source them?
I use various materials from around the world, European mill papers, handmade papers from India and organza from various places in Asia. Incorporating different materials is what makes that big difference.
What gets your creative juices flowing? Are you an early-bird or a night owl? What songs are you listening to, what munchies are you snacking on?
I am definitely an early-bird; I get my creative juices flowing in listening to different music such as classic music, 70 and 80’s rock and beautiful new age music, depending on the mood and state of mind I’m in. I have a European base diet, fruits and vegetables as the base, with some lean meats and fish. I love to snack on various nuts and organic popcorn, and fig bars. My guilty pleasure is hazelnut chocolate, but only in moderation. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind.
Describe the first piece you ever designed…
I think the first card that I had ever designed was for my parents for Mother and Father’s day when I was in my early teens primarily because of my love for my parents, but also my appreciation for paper and art, I remember that I was totally amazed initially with Japanese paper and art.
Who is your mentor?
Mentors: Andy Warhol, David Bowie, Audrey Hepburn. They were all unique artists in their own right, they did not follow, they just created and the world took notice.
How would you describe your personal style, both wardrobe and home decor?
I love dressing in black and accenting it with different colors. I follow fashion very closely, but I never like overdoing it. I like subtle, simple elegance. My home is very spacious. I hate clutter and love mixing different pieces from different time periods giving the home a very contemporary look.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned about running your own business?
I’ve been running my own business for over 15 years now, I guess I’ve become a serial entrepreneur. I love the challenge. I love making the tough decisions and although there is never any absolute certainty of success in what I do, the passion to create something different and unique is a huge driving force.
What was the best piece of advice you were ever given?
The best piece of advice probably that I was ever given had come from my parents, but it was probably what they did most of their life and their work ethic that I would probably consider being one of the biggest motivational factors in my life, work hard and be honest with people in the long run it’s always pays off.
What’s next for you?
This new card line that I’m putting out is the first of many new kind of greeting cards that I would like to introduce to the world, something that is fresh and different and something that would appeal to the masses. There are many ideas that I would like to introduce to the marketplace, only time will tell how successful they will all be, but I’m pretty confident and determined. All I need to do is follow my parents’ work ethic.
Favorite color: Deep red