Beth Snyder turned her hobby of printmaking into a career when she started 1canoe2, a print and illustration studio. Her passion for creating prints began when her husband, then-fiancé, bought her a press for about $700 on eBay, for Christmas in 2007. She had wanted to print her wedding invitations using a traditional method.
“I got obsessed with printmaking, and I started making prints into art and recipe cards,” she said.
Synder uses a technique called letterpress for her prints. Letterpresses use traditional moveable type and engravings to transfer ink onto paper.
Snyder started selling her creations directly to customers through Etsy in 2008, and she and her then-business partner, Carrie Shryock, bought a full-size letterpress in 2009.
“Carrie and I both had full-time jobs, and my husband and I would ship our products for two hours each night for three years,” Snyder said. “It was the ultimate creative project, and it did not seem like extra work because it was a hobby to me.”
1canoe2 eventually expanded its business to sell goods to retailers. Anthropologie, a national clothing store chain, placed an order for 2,000 recipe cards from 1canoe2 in summer 2010.
“My business started out as 100 percent retail, but it has evolved to be 75 percent wholesale, 20 percent retail and 5 percent licensing, which is when we sell the rights to our artwork to another company,” she said.
Now, 1,400 stores — ranging from larger retailers like Anthropologie to boutiques such as Poppy in downtown Columbia — sell 1canoe2’s products.
In 2011, Snyder and Shryock added another business partner, Shryock’s sister-in-law, Karen Shryock, to assist with the company’s administrative operations.
In May 2012, Snyder decided to quit her day job as a graphic designer for what was then “Columbia Home” magazine to focus on running 1canoe2 full time. At the time, she had been running the business out of the basement of her home in Fulton.
“1canoe2 ate my house,” she said. “I had full-time employees coming in, and semi-trucks arriving to pick up and distribute our products every day.”
Snyder has enjoyed the freedom that has come along with running her own business, and she attests that she has funneled much hard work into learning about entrepreneurship.
“I’m a super-curious person; I meet people and think, ‘I wonder what questions I could ask them,’” she said. “I read a ton of business books and listen to podcasts, and when I get to a point where I don’t know what I’m doing, I take a class or a workshop.”
In 2013, Snyder and Shryock moved their company into a red barn outside of Columbia near Millersburg. Snyder bought out her business partners’ ownership of the company in late 2015, and she decided her startup needed more space for its operations.
Snyder purchased an abandoned 114-year-old building on Court Street in the Brick District of downtown Fulton in March for $73,000, and she has renovated it to serve as the hub for her company’s printing and distribution. The 500-square-foot front portion of the building features 1canoe2 Paperie, the business’ first brick-and-mortar store, which opened Nov. 11.
“Our shop will be a showpiece, and we hope it will generate sales tax revenue for our town,” Snyder said. “We also want to have a place where we can show off our stuff so that we can market to other retail shops and can have a place for our fans to visit.”