This individual is the perfect start to this new series, The Bright Blog, highlighting brands and companies that are trying to bring brightness to the world. Annie Lang was referred through a mutual friend 4 years ago when I was desperate to find a new manager for my shop. What I got when we met was much much more. Annie came with a graphic design background and an understanding that she would likely wear many hats. That is an understatement. She has changed roles so many times, and is now scaled back to also pursue these two businesses, which we are so proud to share with you. It has been a total joy to watch this brand evolve from what started in black and white to a whole new quirky world celebrating life's adventures. Annie is still sharing her talents with us, and balances out her week with laser focus on her brand and still makes time for embroidery, being a dog mom to Rufio, wife to Matt and pursuing any outdoor activity. Annie is the ultimate renaissance woman, and we know this is just the start of where these designs will take her.
Name: Annie Lang Hartman
Business: Compass Paper Co
Music - I have yet to get tired of “Feel It Still” by Portugal the Man. How can you not jiggle around when you hear this song??
Book - Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Uggggggghhhh! So good. Easily on of the top 5 nonfiction books I have ever read. If you are into nature, ecology or Native American history, this book is for you.
Movie - The last movie that I was just wowed by was “Arrival.” Not going to lie, I cried at the end hard enough for my husband to be minorly concerned. I am not a sci-fi person but loved the anthropologic aspect of this movie. Plus Jeremy Renner is in it and I love him which my husband may also be minorly concerned about as well…
Cocktail - Always and forever, a good gin and tonic. Lots of lime. And if I’m feeling super fancy, I might just muddle in some blueberries.
Seasonal Activity - Hiking. Every single season. And if it is too snowy, I strap on those snowshoes!
Favorite creative pastime?
I have been lucky enough to explore a lot of different art mediums but I will always go back to embroidery and just drawing with pencil and paper. I’m a simple lady like that. On days I need some serious instant gratification, I turn to drawing but I do get a lot out of the slow art of embroidery as well. It’s so amazing to chip away at something and watch it evolve slowly.
How has your upbringing influenced your creativity?
I grew up in Leelanau County in an old farmhouse and spent most of my time outside in our big yard or the woods behind our house when I was younger. I really didn’t realize how big of an impact that had on me or how atypical that was to other’s experiences until I moved away from that to go to college. I also watched my mom as she was constantly creating things and because of that, I was always surrounded by supplies and creative projects. Growing up in Northern Michigan in that farmhouse was straight up magic. There will ever be a time where I don’t find inspiration from that.
Compass Paper Co is an outdoor stationery brand. It might seem like a weird combination - stationery and the outdoors - but to me, it works because of how my relationship to both of those things center around connection. With Compass Paper Co, I am really working towards being able to give back to things I really believe in. I want to help women who might not have the resources to experience the outdoors to get outside and I want to help protect the places I love. When my products are under $5, it’s a slow process to building up enough capital to feel comfortable doing that, but it’s always on my mind and something I will always be working towards and be an advocate for.
What does a normal day look like for you?
It really does change daily but it always starts with coffee. No matter what, I have to start the day with a hot drink. I work best when I get my least favorite things, like boring administrative stuff, out of the way early in my day. From there I get to pack orders, write notes to customers, reach out to wholesale accounts, work on new product releases and then I end my work day with embroidery. After that, anything goes. Maybe it’s a short hike in Sleeping Bear or just hanging in the backyard with the hubs and our dog but spending time outside is a must for me.
What are your favorite + least favorite parts about what you do?
Besides getting to turn my doodles into fun products, I love being a part of helping people connect to their friends and family. Whenever I am having a bad day or get down about things going on in the world, I always go back to my business. As long as people keep sending cards, it’s hard to get really negative about things when there is so much love and kindness being sent through the mail. It’s refreshing to see that daily.
Being a one woman show seems super fun to a lot of people but it’s not all puppy cuddle breaks, working in pajamas and long walks whenever I want. It’s hard work. Sometimes I don’t change out of my pajamas because some days I literally don’t have time to! It’s a lot of late nights and long hours because everything falls on me - I do everything. I pack every order. I design every product. I deal with every issue. But I wouldn’t trade the craziness and the hard work for a boring cubicle job ever.
How are you "making light" in your everyday life?
It’s a total clique but finding the good in everything - even the worst things. The past 4 years I’ve dealt with an undiagnosed autoimmune disease. It left me on the couch for months at a time and it was a low point; but without those low points I wouldn’t have found the time to design products, build a business or embroider. I would not have these awesome things in my life that are very fulfilling to me without having to go through what I did. So now the time I get to spend outside moving, mornings just enjoying a cup of coffee with my husband and all those gin and tonics poured in my house don’t go overlooked like they did before. All those moments are so much more special and meaningful and I try to spend a little time each day acknowledging that fact.
What is your favorite dance move?
Oh no… I’m so awkward. Like really awkward. It’s what I call “the caddyshack.” My go to move really would be best described as the little shimmy the gopher from Caddyshack does at the end of the movie. I am self aware enough to know I will never be able to move like Beyonce no matter how many drinks I have.