During this time when handwritten letters are more of an exception than a rule, there are still plenty of folks who are working to preserve the dying art of putting an actual pen to paper. Sure, you can still get your hands on beautifully sophisticated thank-you notes, party invitations and personalized stationery, but paper has a place outside the mailbox as well. At Hester & Cook, customers are encouraged to create something beautiful through the use of paper, whether it be a handwritten letter or stunning tablescape. Esteemed for the boutique kitchen paper line they carry that features patterned table runners, napkins, placemats, place cards and stationery, Hester & Cook is a source for paper treasures. But the brand didn’t start with paper; it all began when Robbie and Angie Hester Cook were restoring their 1929 Tudor home in the Hillsboro-Belmont historic district in Nashville.
“We had just salvaged a beautiful, glass-paned door for the front of our home and were contemplating doorknob options (while drinking a bottle of wine, of course!),” explains Angie. “My husband, Robbie, grabbed one of the doorknobs and said, ‘This would make a really cool wine stopper.’ From that moment, our wheels started turning, and a year later, in 2005, we found ourselves at the wholesale market in Atlanta introducing our handcrafted stopper to buyers from all over the country. We were delighted that the stoppers were a huge hit. We quickly had to learn how to take this small-batch, handcrafted product and put it into larger production. By the end of that year, Robbie and I left our jobs and hired two more people to make it all happen,” Angie told us in an interview.
Over the course of 10 years, their business and product line expanded to include everything from the pencils to the paper goods we see today. “We design our items ourselves and also collaborate with several talented artists. The cornerstone of our brands is that we produce all products in the United States; over 80 percent are produced in our studio or locally in Nashville,” Angie explains in the interview. In 2009, Hester & Cook opened their first storefront in downtown Nashville, and in 2013, they moved their operation to a new home in Berry Hill. “We find operating a store in conjunction with wholesale gives us an opportunity to experiment, interact with customers and provides a laboratory of sorts,” Angie shares. “We love it!”
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More expansion to the brand was announced earlier this fall when Hester & Cook welcomed customers to their newest location on White Bridge Road. “This new location is actually just minutes from our own home. White Bridge is surrounded by great neighborhoods, and we wanted to be part of that,” Angie says. “We are bringing a great shopping experience that is very convenient to the area. In addition to a great product mix and the full line of our own products, we are really focusing on service. You can come in any day and buy a card or box of cards, fill them out and we will mail it for you … free of charge. We can ship your purchase to anywhere in the United States at a very good rate, and soon we will be offering a gift wrap service.”
The second location is a key component in Hester & Cook’s future strategy to grow their retail division. By expanding their new brick-and-mortar presence and launching a new website this year to support their brand, they are reaching more people than ever. Both store locations carry all of Hester & Cook’s product line, but the White Bridge location houses a broader range of other brands’ products. “We house many brands that fit both our ethos and aesthetic,” Angie explains.
Walls of colorful paper goods and tables set with artfully designed paper placemats and runners are displayed with gifts that range from children’s toys to lighting fixtures, and from dishes to tea. Particular brands to look out for include Hammerpress, Blackwing, Alexa Pulitzer, Mōglea, Farmhouse Pottery and Caravan, among many others. When asked what she is most excited about on the shelves right now, Angie is quick to mention holiday papers. “We have such a great offering of Hester & Cook paper items for the holiday table … our best yet! Also, one of my favorite items we have this year are paper dolls by Of Unusual Kind, out of NYC. These are the best paper dolls I have ever seen, and there is one for any girl in your life!” Sounds like we can mark another gift off of our shopping list!
See a few of these brands below:
Stop by the new Hester & Cook location and see what catches your eye!
Find the new Hester & Cook location at 84 White Bridge Road, Nashville, TN 37205. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
All photos courtesy of Hester & Cook.