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Custom invitation, stationery business growing through referrals, partnerships

Small Business Week 2013

Forever is a long time, but it’s a goal Melissa Miller sets for herself every time she creates a new piece of handmade wedding stationery or other custom-printed designs.

Owner of the aptly named Made to Keep, a small graphic design firm in Harrisburg, Miller strives to produce personalized items that her clients will want to save to remember their special events.

“It’s definitely a niche and completely different from other graphic design,” said Miller, one of the area’s leaders in custom wedding invitations and related materials. “It’s not boring, it’s not static.”

The 28-year-old Hampden Township resident got her start creating custom greeting cards while still in college.

“I was in awe with these stores,” Miller said, referring to boutique retailers such as Details in Rittenhouse Square.

She sold some cards in Philadelphia and thought retail would be the route to go.

But with one-of-a-kind designs and strong local demand for her invitations and other stationery products, Miller opted to focus more on client-driven work and hold off on plans for a retail store.

“I’ve always had a yearning to own a store, to say, ‘This is mine,'” Miller said. “I’ve always seen myself with a cute little store.”

She said she feels a retail component would further legitimize her business — an online store is in the works — but she is staying plenty busy in the meantime growing business connections and piling up the referrals.

Partnerships

Last year, Miller hired a part-time office manager to help her with billing. At the beginning of this year, she leased a small office space from her primary printer, David A. Smith Printing Inc., on South 22nd Street.

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