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Hallmark, Schmallmark

Party Invitations for the Truly Hip Host

November 05, 2000|LESLEE KOMAIKO

Sisters Heidi and Susie Bauer understood in the early 1990s that it's not always what you say that counts, but how you say it. And so they began an invitation, greeting card and stationery design business that produces popular alternatives to off-the-rack products.

"It's shocking how old and mainstream the card market is," says 31-year-old Heidi. "Most invitations are pretty or fluffy or cute. And they don't appeal to men whatsoever."

"We found there was a hole," says Susie, 33. "If you didn't want balloons or teddy bears on an invitation, there wasn't something that fit."

The San Fernando Valley natives left their jobs in 1993--Heidi was working for the Roy Orbison estate, Susie managed an Esprit retail store--to start Rock Scissor Paper in San Fernando. (The hand game was a childhood favorite, often used to decide critical matters such as who would ride shotgun.)

Today their stuff is sold in more than 600 stores across the country, including Party On La Cienega near the Beverly Center, Noteworthy in Santa Monica and Paper Goose in Studio City. In addition, the sisters do a brisk custom invitation business. Unlike most partnerships, where one player handles the creative end while the other keeps the books, the Bauers do everything together. Disagreements, especially creative ones, are rare.

"We completely have the same aesthetic," says Susie. This includes an affinity for '50s Formica patterns, '60s stuffed animals, tiki ephemera, old cameras, vintage album art, cocktail ware, and, of all things, meat. Heidi explains: "We're not big meat eaters, just meat graphics: hot dogs, steaks, any sort of meat products."

"It's the hippest stuff around," says Sarah Tomassi, a 30-year-old television executive who has used Rock Scissor Paper invitations on several occasions. "The kinds of images they use, and the graphic style, you just can't find it anywhere else."

"We're for a modern man or woman," says Susie.

"Who is design-conscious ," adds Heidi.

"He or she might drive a new little Beetle," offers Susie, "and have an iMac."

They also, presumably, haven't figured out how to use their iMac to design and print custom invitations.

Rock Scissor Paper, San Fernando. by appointment only; (818) 361-1142.

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