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The owners of Missoula’s Noteworthy Paper and Press got a pleasant surprise on the eve of the launch of their wholesale stationery line.

Working almost around the clock to prepare for the new venture, Taylor Barrett Valliant and Amy Zekos Dolan recently learned that their custom wedding invitation featuring a wistful mountain and river scene was chosen as a finalist for a Greeting Card Association LOUIE Award.

The Noteworthy invitation will compete against two other cards in the “wedding invitation between $3 and $10” category at the association’s 25th annual LOUIE Awards in New York City on May 19.

The awards gala will coincide with the National Stationery Show, where Noteworthy’s wholesale stationery line will debut.

Hundreds of companies from around the world submitted more than 1,000 entries in hopes of earning a LOUIE Award. Valliant entered Noteworthy’s “Mountain White Water” along with another Western-themed wedding invitation at the last minute.

“It was a surprise,” she said of the card’s selection as a finalist for the LOUIE.

The print’s depiction of the outdoor scene represents Montana, Valliant said, as well as years of hard work the pair put into opening, then preparing Noteworthy to launch the line.

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Valliant designed “Mountain White Water” as a wedding invitation for friends who were married at Marshall Mountain last summer. The “outdoorsy” scene includes an open sky dominated by a mountain range full of towering pines that run down to a rolling river and into a rocky river bed.

“Mountain White Water” has been reprinted at least six times in various versions, mostly for wedding invitations but for graduation announcements, too. Each version is slightly different, customized for each customer.

One key to Noteworthy’s success is the ability to adjust their pieces for any vision and any budget, Dolan said.

“We rarely say, ‘No we can’t do that.’ We have a lot of versions that embrace people’s visions,” Dolan said. “We can amend (invitations) for any budget.”

Dolan and Valliant opened Noteworthy five years ago at 101 S. Higgins Ave., in downtown Missoula. They do a lot of business designing invitation sets for brides, along with a host of other customized event announcements, as well as selling products at the shop.

Letterpress stationery has made a resurgence in recent years because, Dolan said, people have grown nostalgic for old-world printing products.

“It’s hands-on, and every one is unique,” Dolan said.

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The launch of the stationery line is an exciting progression for the business, Valliant said.

Valliant’s original stationery works are already scattered throughout other letterpress stationery on the shelves around Noteworthy. The designs include a set of cards featuring gold and fluorescent arrow patterns and a card featuring a hairless cat below the phrase “better ugly than stupid.”

The stationery line will allow the duo to more fully embrace their creative sides, which is what brought them to the business in the first place.

“We got caught up in the daily business (of running Noteworthy for five years) instead of doing what we are really good at, being creative,” Valliant said.

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Valliant has been working late nights in the back of the shop preparing the Noteworthy prints for the May trip. She needs to have enough finished to fulfill the orders they’re hoping to get while in front of the worldwide audience attending the show.

The process of designing the original works is special to Valliant, who has worked on presses for 10 years.

It allows for complete creative freedom.

“I’ve been in there having the time of my life,” she said.

It’s an expensive endeavor for small-business owners to travel to New York City and attend the National Stationery Show, but the exposure is high and many shop owners and fellow printers do their buying for the entire year while there, Valliant said.

Valliant and Dolan are still figuring out how they’ll stretch their budget to allow them to buy two $185 tickets to the gala where the LOUIE Award winners will be announced.

“I hope we can make it happen,” she said.

Even if “Mountain White Water” doesn’t come home a winner, Noteworthy already has joined impressive company, Valliant said.

“I admire a lot of the companies (that entered),” she said. “It feels really good to be in that crowd.”

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Reporter Jenna Cederberg can be reached at 523-5241 or at jenna.cederberg@missoulian.com.

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