The Dawn of Time
The first Borealis Press product was a poster called To Catch A Lobster, printed in 1984. It was a critical success: The National Zoo's invertebrate exhibit in Washington DC actually used one of the posters in the permanent display. But you can't run a company with one product, so for the next five years designer Mark Baldwin kept building bathtubs and houses.
The Borealis Press goes full bore in an old brick building in Ellsworth, Maine, with Mark, Dee Knisley doing the books, and David Ball in charge of the press and production. Ten years later we moved to Willard Kane's old general store in Surry, one village away but still on the same bay. In April 2010 we moved to Dr. Tyler's old offices in Blue Hill, another village away and still with a view of the same bay. With a fast boat you could go from our first office to our present one before you finish a big cup of coffee.
Our lives change when Rudolph deHarak walks in the door to get some typesetting and printing done. Rudy hijacks Mark's graphic vision.
Rudy was one of the seminal graphic designers of the twentieth century. He won the AIGA gold medal for life achievement. He is easy to Google. Rudy took a liking to Mark and became a close friend and constant mentor. Everything done since has had a deep touch of Rudy (sadly, the late Rudy) and his wife, Carol.
The first Quote UnQuote cards, which quickly became our best-selling product and eventually, as one old-timer said, "changed the look of the card industry" because so many others started copying the photograph-plus-quote idea.
Years Go By
The Borealis Press card line has grown and grown. Recycled and chlorine-free papers (which we used from the get-go) got better and better. (See Borealis and the environment.) Our customer service software, inventory management, and fulfillment went from, well, primitive to totally up-to-date, though a live person still does, and always will answer the phone. In 2007 we lost our first card customer who, 15 years after her first Borealis order, became Mark's wife. We’ve added magnets and jotter books, and other items from time to time, and there more new products in the works.
We welcome anything you have to say or send us. One of our customers sent a picture of herself and her sister (now card 354). Others, like Linda Given of Joie de Vivre, regularly give detailed feedback on what we do. ("Don't change a good thing" is Linda's favorite line.)
Mark Baldwin, who started The Borealis Press, had a fair amount of experience in journalism, design, building houses, and operating a saw mill. One of his wooden bathtubs is owned by the Smithsonian Institution. He designed a "honeylog" that was credited with keeping captive bears from going crazy. But he knew nothing, zero, about greeting cards. Mark originated the photograph-and-quote card design, and runs the company, with a lot of help.
Jeff Grenier Keeps Track. He not only keeps track of the millions of cards in our inventory, and he not only keeps track of customers’ needs, he’s also a sharp wit coming up with photos and quotes. Cards 667HBa, 671a and 1041HBa are Jeff’s daughter Chloe.
Dede Johnson is all over retail sales, catalog layout, and any computer thing that stumps the rest of us. As important as she is to Borealis, Dede is more important for having guided a number of children from hard luck beginnings into much better lives. Good soprano, too, and an international (no fooling) Gilbert & Sullivan champion.
Heather Grenier (that’s Heather and Jeff on card 810) runs our order-entry department. Heather is super organized and will make sure your order is out the door in no time.
Leora Mitchell takes care of the part of the business called money. She is Mde. Accounts Payable and Mde. Accounts Receivable, and who we ask when there’s a ? after the $.
David Williams is a master cabinetmaker in the old school and an expert on aspects of American antique furniture. David helps choose photos and quotes for the Quote UnQuote line.