By Austin Wolfe
Story Supply Company: from an undergraduate’s passion to one of York’s top stationery supply companies.
Story Supply Co. is a craft stationery and lifestyle supply company focusing on analog tools—pocket notebooks, leather-bound journals, t-shirts, bullet pencils—for storytellers. Based out of York, Pennsylvania, Story Supply Company (SSC) utilizes a one-for-one business model; similar to companies like TOMS, SSC donates a notebook to young storytellers in need every time they sell a notebook.
In addition to philanthropic efforts, Story Supply Co. supports US based manufacturing by sourcing all their materials from US companies such as French Paper Company and Horween Leather. Their dedication to quality products and charitable efforts are in large part due to the vision of SSC cofounder, and York College Professor, Vito Grippi.
Grippi, a 2005 graduate of York College, claims the initial inspiration for Story Supply Co. started while he was completing his undergraduate studies as a nontraditional student.
“The idea behind Story Supply Co. is thanks to two things: my passion for storytelling and my nerdlike fascination with stationary objects—notebooks, paper, pens—that kind of stuff,” said Grippi.
Grippi’s path to owning and operating a company that provides storytellers with the tools they need wasn’t always clear. After a stint operating his parents pizza shop, where he enjoyed balancing the restaurant’s budget, Grippi enrolled at York College with plans of beginning a career in accounting.
“I kind of lost my passion for accounting when I found out it required calculus,” said Grippi. “Luckily, this was around the same time I took a writing class with Dr. Vause and became enamored with writing and telling good stories.”
After graduating, Grippi began working towards his MFA in grad school. It was during this time that he met with Delli Carpini with hopes of working as a tutor for the college.
“Dominc asked if I had plans to teach, and I said something like ‘yeah, eventually,” said Grippi. “Dominic shook his head no and asked me if I would be interested in teaching a communication class in the fall. They were short staffed and I came in at the right time.”
Grippi taught communication classes while completing graduate school. When he obtained his MFA in 2010, he began teaching creative writing classes, which furthered his passion for storytelling. When he wasn’t teaching writing, or publishing his own creative writing, Vito spent his time book binding.
“My wife noticed how much time I was spending handcrafting notebooks. She told me that I should start a company,” said Grippi. “Initially, I was tentative, but she kept asking what I had to lose from trying. Eventually, she convinced me to give it a shot. I called a lawyer to start the paperwork the next day.”
With the paperwork filed, Grippi partnered with graphic designer Gabriel Dunmire, whom he had worked with designing the literary Magazine STORY, and began a Kickstarter campaign. After its success, Grippi began developing the mission for Story Supply CO.
“I knew I didn’t want to just create another notebook company,” said Grippi. “If I was going to do this, I wanted it to have a social element, a larger purpose.”
Grippi found this larger purpose with 826, a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping underprivileged kids receive writing and tutoring attention that they need to succeed. Grippi partnered with 826 to supply notebooks to networks of underprivileged kids 826 had access to.
“When I work with these kids, I’m amazed of the progress they make once they realize that storytelling is something they can do,” said Grippi. “It’s a real inspiration to see them come alive and share their stories.”
Currently, Story Supply Co. has as strong online presence, offering a variety of products on their website. Products can also be found at a variety of local flea and trade shows. In the future, Grippi has plans to expand the company even further.
“I’ve fallen in love with product design. I spend hours in the MOMA industrial design exhibit in the Museum of Modern Art, just in fascination with the possibilities,” said Grippi. “We have a variety of notebook and lifestyle products in the works.”
To learn more about Story Supply Co., visit www.storysupplyco.com, and follow their social media accounts: @thestorysupplyco on Instagram and @storysupplyco on Facebook and Twitter.