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Interview by Sarah Ann Hartzog
Photography by Lani Trock

Julie Van Daele is the creator behind stationery line, WELL RECEIVED. Which is being, well, just that. In large part due to her fresh aesthetic, which deviates from the often-cutesy world of stationery and favors a more minimal design with references to unique materials and textures. Van Daele draws from her former experience as a publicist to make her not only a designer but also a businesswoman.

Designing seems to always come from some nostalgic place, where does your passion for design come from?

My passion is best expressed through the design and art of WELL RECEIVED. Ever since I was little, my mom made us write thank you notes after every birthday party, holiday or any special occasion where we were given a gift. The simple thank you letters always were so appreciated and I have forever carried that with me throughout my life.

I also have to credit my years in New York City. Being there for four years were some of the most formative years of my life, opening my eyes to so many amazing and different people, places, ways of thinking, trials, failures, growing experiences and so much more. I think New York really helped further shape me into the person I am today. I wouldn’t trade those years! If anything, New York is the nostalgic place that has influences on my passion to create and take this risk with starting WELL RECEIVED.

It’s interesting to take a fine and somewhat delicate craft and juxtapose it with minimal finishes such as marble, concrete, leather, etc. Where do you draw most of your inspiration?

For the TEXTURED series with the marble, concrete, leather, etc., I drew a lot of inspiration from architecture and design, pulling from mid-century modern design, to Scandinavian, to other modern and minimal design. I have a ton of amazing coffee table books that I have collected over the years and I tended to reference them a lot for this series. I also drew inspiration for these type of cards simply because there is a void in the market place for sophisticated, modern and timeless stationery. Either cards are super cutesy or super sarcastic, both which are not my jam! With my designs, I like to say that I design for the ‘creative types’ of the world…designers, architects, artists, stylists, editors, etc.

Where are some places that you’ve been that visually inspire you?

Travel as a whole truly inspires me. I am dying to get to Tokyo and Scandinavia purely for their design, attention to detail and aesthetic.

You previously worked in PR, what is it like changing hats and being on the other side of the conversation? How does that change the process?

Ha this is a great question. It is funny because I have to credit my background in PR for the success that this company has seen in such a few short months. I have contacted a lot of people that I used to work with and re-established so many connections and in turn everyone has been so supportive and willing to help in every way. It truly has been one of the biggest blessings to see so many people from my past career come out and want to help! And, in a way, I’m not totally out of the PR world as I am a one-woman show and have to not only design and produce WELL RECEIVED, but also get the brand out into the press! Now, as for being on the other side, as in doing interviews, photo shoots, etc…it is so weird for me! Shooting for this magazine was my second photo shoot ever and I just kept telling the photographer “can you tell me if I look super lame, or have a ‘stone-cold bitch’ face or I am smiling too big?!” I have always placed other people in front of the camera, so for it to be my turn seems so foreign. I also am shocked at how many people are interested in what I’m doing and want to support me by featuring my work. I am TRULY so extremely GRATEFUL.

We live in such a disposable culture that I feel like we’ve all forgotten the rules of proper correspondence. Educate us! What are the rules for being timely in regards to thank you notes, etc?

I love that you use the word ‘disposable’…it couldn’t be truer. With technology today, everything is so short lived and fleeting. I look back at some of the letters I have from my parents, my husband, my best friends and so often they serve as such an encouragement to me in times of doubt. I can’t say enough about the power of a hand-written letter versus the act of a sending a text or quick email.

So…here are my tips:

  1. Pick a card that is reflective of you and the person you are sending to. Sending a note is personal, so make it personal.
  2. Did I mention, make it personal! – Don’t have your assistant write it! Write it yourself and mean it!
  3. Send a note for anything and everything! People really appreciate it! No matter who they are…they appreciate it!
  4. 4. Keep the ‘thank you’ timely. Send it within a week of receiving a gift attending a dinner, etc. I hate the rule for weddings that you have a year… COME ON PEOPLE…we are not that busy to sit down and write a thank you note within a week of receiving a gift! You took the time to sit down and open it, so take the time to say, “thank you!” Make sure you write more than just ‘thank you’…be specific for what you are grateful for, what you enjoyed, how you used the gift, etc.

I love the idea of your metal box sets because they have so many potential uses, is there any product expansion in the future for WELL RECEIVED?

I would love to get into designing cool, home/office items, but before I launch into anything else, I want to get the stationery and boxes up and running!