photographed by natalie seeboth
Best friends and business partners Anna Boyer and Kate Wyman have a lot in common — including one set of grandparents! This sweetly Southern pair of first cousins opened their adorable print shop, Grove Street Press, in the warehouse district of New Orleans three years ago. But their friendship spans a lifetime: “I’m pretty sure I went to the hospital the day Anna was born,” laughs Kate. Since then the two have grown into true Southern ladies, and now spend their days together creating custom prints and cards that are delightfully preppy (if this card doesn’t give you a chuckle, you might as well have your Town & Country subscription revoked.) We spent an afternoon strolling the streets of the Big Easy with Anna and Kate to find out what makes their friendship tick, what to order at the Columns Hotel (an Old-Fashioned), and how they balance work and friendship with that certain “joie de vivre”.
First off, we love that you two are best friends and also cousins. It doesn’t get more Southern than that! How are you two related?
Anna: We like to call ourselves “frousins” —friend-cousins!
Kate: It’s true! Our moms are sisters and very close, so we were raised like sisters, too — with their tastes, sensibilities, and humor — our moms liked to hang out and travel together, and so we hung out and played together while they did.
Anna Boyer is pictured left, Kate Wyman to the right.
Have you been close your whole lives? Give us the dish on your friendship “story”!
Kate: Well, I’m pretty sure I went to the hospital the day Anna was born! So we’ve been friends as long as is possible, and we have all of the shared memories that come from being friends for so long.
Anna: Kate and I, along with my sister, Leigh, would spend every waking moment together on weekends and summer days — Kate would come over to our house first thing in the morning, we’d spend the entire afternoon swimming at our grandparents’ house, and we’d end the day with dinner all together on the porch.
Did you two grow up together in New Orleans? How long have you been there? What do you love about the city?
Anna: We’re actually from Lake Charles, Louisiana, which is just as much Southern, but on the opposite side of the state. I’ve been in New Orleans about 5 years, ever since I graduated from LSU, and I just love the people here so much. There’s a certain gentility practiced by New Orleanians, where no occasion is too big or small to be done with thought and charm.
Kate: I’ve been here three years, and couldn’t be happier with the city. New Orleans is serious about a lot of things — throwing a great party, being mannerly, preserving the city’s beauty — but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are world class restaurants tucked into normal residential neighborhoods, and you can take your nice cocktail to-go in a plastic cup. The good life is so accessible!
Tell us a bit about your company, Grove Street Press. What inspired you to go into business together?
Kate: GSP is a lifestyle brand, with a focus on letterpress printing. All of our products (cards, stationery, small prints, etc.) are printed one-by-one, by hand on antique printing presses in our shop in the Warehouse District of New Orleans. We have a little retail section in the front of our space, and it flows into our print shop in the back.
Anna: When we were following our moms around on shopping trips as kids, we used to entertain ourselves by saying “oh, we could run a shop like this!” and listing everything we’d sell. As we grew, and I got interested in design, and Kate in letterpress printing, the theme of our business / shop became obvious. So, when Kate moved back to Louisiana with the mind to put her letterpress experience to good use, I decided to jump on board with her.
This press seems like a major piece of machinery. How did you learn how to operate it? Do you both use it or just one of you?
Kate: The presses are beasts! The platen press I use most regularly is pure steel and weighs about 1200 lbs. Patsy, the first press I owned, was given to me, and I spent the summer after college teaching myself about its mechanics by refurbishing it. I apprenticed under a typesetter at a letterpress shop in Chicago for a while, where I really got a behind the scenes look at a successful print shop and got to learn more about printing under a master.
Anna: Kate is the main printer, even though I try my hand at it every now and then! We like to joke that I’m the digital and she’s the analog. Although every decision we make is mutual, I do most of the design work on a computer before it goes to the press.
Your work seems to have a distinctly “New Orleans” vibe. How does Louisiana inspire what you do?
Anna: New Orleans thrives on tradition — from the architecture, to the city-wide holidays, to recipes passed down for generations, there is a deep respect for the things that have come before. Our designs are almost all vintage-inspired (with a twist!) — which participates in this love of tradition. And of course, printing them on antique machinery really makes that love of tradition consistent across process and product.
Kate: Louisiana is unlike anywhere else. Our Parishes Print brags on the fact that we’re the only state with parishes, not counties. We’re proud of our state’s quirks and love to highlight them.
Kate, tell us about your role in the business. What do you love about what you do?
As we mentioned before, we don’t make any decision without consulting each other. There are often long text message conversations about options for Instagram, for example, if one of us isn’t around. I operate the presses, and also answer all of our emails / PR interactions. I love how interactive printing is. I use my hands to make a design come to life on a card (and it’s a little surprise every time a print comes off the press!), and then I get to sell them to people who use them to interact with others through writing letters.
And Anna, what’s your role at the Grove Street Press? What do you love about your job?
There are a ton of roles Kate and I share — packing orders, greeting customers, etc. — but I do most of the design work. I love how we get to call all of the shots in our daily work. We can set our working hours, design based on our fancies, and decide when it’s time to take an extended coffee break.
What would you say are some of the “shared values” you have with your bestie?
Anna: From the very start, part of the tagline of GSP has been ‘joie de vivre,’ and we both place deep importance on choosing joy every day, in the smallest things like a well-mixed ink (or drink!), or even in the midst of trials. There’s so much to be thankful for, and keeping a joyful attitude helps us not to forget that.
Kate: Agreed! This joy originates in our love of our faith and our family, both of which we share. And, on the work side of things, we share the joy of a job well-executed. We’re both perfectionists to a certain degree and want things done just-so.
Tell us about this adorable dog! How is she a part of your friendship? Does she hang out with you two in the shop all day?
Anna: Mildred! She’s a parti labradoodle and a joy of a shop dog. She’s at the shop every day with us, and we both joke that we don’t know what we’d talk about if she weren’t here. She’s actually the real bestie – ha! We just share her as a bestie.
Kate: It’s true! Often work time will turn into playing with Mildred time. Our Mildred card line is meant to be funny, but Mildred herself is such a lady! We could really see her overpacking for weekend trips with her puppy friends, or putting on sunnies and a headscarf for an outdoor cocktail hour. (…or maybe we’re just imposing our own personalities and wishes onto hers….but still. She’s a great pal!)
What’s the most challenging thing about working with your best friend?
Anna: We get the giggles at inappropriate times too often! We’ve been in many meetings where we’ll catch each other’s eyes about something unrelated, and we can barely keep it together.
Kate: So true! And related: we’ll choose fun together (in the name of work) over the more mundane task we should be doing. We will, for example, take Mildred on a long walk around the neighborhood, stop for a treat and chat, and justify it because we get an Instagram shot while we’re out. We really should just buckle down and get the hard work over with.
Walk us through your typical day — are you working together in the shop all day and then hang out after? How do you balance work time and fun time in your friendship?
Anna: There’s really not too much of a conscious effort to balance work and fun; it just happens! Lots of days at the shop we’re both focused on our individual tasks, and we’ll let hours pass without speaking to each other, and other days we chat as we go.
Kate: We also seldom set aside fun time. A long day will turn into having wine at our desks while we talk business and, even though we have different sets of individual friends, our plans will end up overlapping on the weekends.
Give us the inside scoop: where do we need to go next time we’re in New Orleans?
Kate: If you’re going to splurge, the jazz brunch at Commander’s Palace or a full dinner at Galatoire’s are both such experiences. And totally worth it! Other favorites: Lunch at The Butcher or Company Burger. Cocktails at The Columns or The Sazerac. Dinner at Jacques – Imo’s. Live music after at d.b.a. on Frenchmen Street. And even though it seems touristy, Cafe du Monde really can’t be beat!
Anna: We enjoy The Columns especially because there is no place else in the world where you can have the experience that you have there — you’re sitting on a grand porch of a mansion under mossy oaks, watching the streetcar and the colorful NOLA life pass by.
How does your bestie inspire you?
Anna: Kate always seems to have the right answer. Whether it’s her grace in social interactions or knowing how to solve a customer service dilemma with calm command, she doesn’t clam up. I regularly rely on her to take the reins in chatting with customers or answering interview questions.
Kate: Anna is undaunted by how much trouble things are. She does; she doesn’t think. I’m quick to give up in the face of a tough task, and Anna meets it head-on. Not to mention, her natural humor and unflinching pleasant disposition make her the most unassuming genius I know!
How would you describe your bestie’s style?
Anna: Kate adds feminine touches to classic collegiate and heritage pieces. It’s not a stretch to picture her in tweed and plaid, wearing her signature stack of bangles, reading British literature. Or fox-hunting.
Kate: Ha! That is my dream life. Anna can mix highs and lows like no other. She adds a refined touch to classic / basic wardrobe staples, and she always seems to be dressed appropriately for any occasion because of it. One local antique dealer used to say, “Well that’s good for Schwegman’s (a local grocery) or the opera!” when she’d see a piece of clothing or jewelry she’d like. Anna really embodies that.
Is there anything style/music/pop-culture related that you disagree on?
Anna: It took us forever to come up with an answer to this question. There’s really very little we disagree on! The best we can come up with is that we both love Downton Abbey but disagree on major players. Sybil was my favorite daughter, and Kate thought she was annoying. I feel for Mr. Bates, and Kate thinks he is getting what he deserves…
Kate: Oh, there’s also sweet potatoes! French fries are a big part of our friendship — a shared favorite food. I love sweet potatoes fries, too, and wish Anna could enjoy them, but she just doesn’t… weird.
We’re kind of obsessed with your instagram account and the all the amazing “cheers” shots that you do. Is this a tradition?
Anna: Thank you! We love Instagram so much and really enjoy taking a shot each day for it. We were having a little bit of photographers’ block one day when we were just starting to gain momentum on the ‘gram, and I threw out the idea of the “cheers” shot. It was a hit, and Kate had the idea to turn it into a regular series.
Kate: It wasn’t a tradition before, but it’s become one! Even though we accidentally coordinate outfits all the time, we do purposefully discuss what we should wear the morning we’re going to take one. They’re obviously one of the most rewarding photos to take because we get to sip on whatever we’re holding during and after we get the shot!
How do you see your bestie in ten years?
Kate: I hope we’re both still enjoying days at Grove Street together, even if it has taken on a new form! I can see Anna using her keen eye for design and quick wit as Creative Director to GSP’s possible future employees. I can also see her spearheading the start of a spinoff kitchen and homeware line. It would be her dream to put our designs on Kitchenaid mixers and Smeg fridges.
Anna: I definitely see us still as business partners, even if GSP transforms a bit. Kate will probably be the one who writes our coffee table book and goes on an international book tour. Oh, and if we have them in ten years, I want our children to be besties, too!
Follow Anna and Kate on instagram here: @thegrovestreetpress