Sugar & Type and Everything Nice. Meet Ilana Griffo of Sugar and Type

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(photography by Olya Myers by Olya Myers Photography)

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
I’m Ilana Griffo, and my design shop is called Sugar & Type. I’m a Designer and Letterer. I love working with brands to tell their unique stories, but I also totally geek out over paper goods. Sugar & Type is a collection of playful, sweet yet sassy paper goods.

Tell us what you’re passionate about. What makes you tick?
I love the challenge of creating. I love stretching my mind and creative problem solving. I love that I get to work with such a variety of clients and build relationships with them. Each day brings something new.

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How did you get started? What were some of the difficulties you faced in starting?
I went to school for Graphic Design, and immediately fell in love with Typography, and even went on to teach it at RIT. I started Sugar & Type as a student, sitting in a dorm room, looking for a different creative outlet. It gave me a place to explore things outside of my classwork, and it evolved with me as I grew as a Designer. When you run your own business, you wear a lot of hats. At the end of the day, you’re responsible, and that can be challenging, but ultimately, is very rewarding. Finding the right people to work with is critical, from clients, manufacturers, and industry friends, those relationships are invaluable.

What is your biggest regret?
Honestly, it may sound cliche, but I try to be wary about living with regrets. Every experience has been part of my journey. I’ve learned so much along the way that brought me so much value, even when it was really hard. 

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What is your best advice to someone just starting out? What advice do you wish someone had said to you?
This is the hardest question! My answer changes daily depending on where I am, and what I’m working on. Right now, as I’m refining my style, I’m really trying to let my weirdness rise to the surface, and embrace it. Show what makes you, YOU! Also, don’t anything without passion, even taxes :) (but seriously, get an accountant).

What your favorite part of what you do?
I love that my business can grow and change with me. Right now I’m exploring illustration and I’m so glad my business and clients allow me to do that. I’m the boss, so I get to decide when the dance parties happen…which is every day. And community, I’ve met so many other people in my field, and they rock my socks.

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(hand lettering by Cara Livermore of Chickpea Magazine, see more of her work)

Who is your favorite local creative that you really admire?
I really love Amy Rau of greengirlpress. Amy and I have really different business models, and we collaborate a lot. Amy’s passion for her art is so loud, and it shows through every piece she does; every time she works with a client, they immediately feel her excitement for her craft. While we have overlapping skills, we help each other out, we work together, and we make each other better designers for doing so. She’s been an incredible mentor to me and I’m forever grateful for her friendship and craftsmanship.

My sister, Danielle has been an influential artist in my life. I love that we can collaborate and bounce ideas off of each other. It is like having a full time sounding board who is honest and who brings a fresh perspective.  Not to mention that she provides me with an unlimited supply of jewelry to match any and all my get ups.

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