Editor's Note: I am working on a series that takes a look at the shops and restaurants that make up Libertyville's vibrant downtown. If you would like to see your business included in this series—or you'd like to suggest that we feature your favorite shop or restaurant—contact me, editor Korrina Grom, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It has been almost 10 years since Kristine Knutson launched her own business, How Impressive!, out of her home. She started an online-only letter-pressing business after getting an enthusiastic response to the cards she'd made for her daughter's First Communion.
It's no surprise, then, that there are lots of cards to be found in her downtown Libertyville shop, located at 326 N. Milwaukee Ave. Aside from having great success making custom wedding invitations, she also sells a variety of unique cards that can't be found at a typical card shop or big box store.
But there's more. Like the vintage customizable signs. Or the Ribbonwick candles that burn all the way across the top of the wax. And the Nail Candy polish pens that make nail art easier.
"I try to be unique at an affordable price," said Knutson. She wants customers to be able to find unique items "that you wouldn't find anywhere else."
Jan. 25, 2013 will mark the official 10th anniversary of How Impressive!, which started as just the How Impressive! website. Knutson said when she made those aforementioned cards for her daughter's First Communion and showed them to other parents, 65 percent of those people ordered cards from her.
The business' name came from a man who saw the items she'd made for a Super Bowl party and said, "how impressive!"
She opened the How Impressive! shop seven years ago, with five years being at a different Libertyville location.
"I just love what I do, and I love the community," said Knutson, a Libertyville resident for 18 years. "I wouldn't have my shop anyplace else."
One popular aspect of her business, of course, is the customizable cards. She creates personalized wedding invitations, place cards, save-the-date cards and other items. She has 25 wedding albums for couples to peruse.
She also creates lots of personalized stationery holiday cards. Samples of previous cards are displayed on a holiday card "Wall of Fame" for client inspiration.
There are plenty of other cards to be found at How Impressive! for all occasions. The shop carries a full line of Crane & Co. products. United States currency is printed on the 100 percent cotton paper.
More than Paper
One of the most popular items at How Impressive! is the Nora Fleming platter.
"It's like the black dress of platters," said Knutson, noting that the white platters can be dressed up for any occasion using the small, decorative Nora Fleming "minis."
The plastic Tervis tumbler cups are also popular and can be customized. One of the tumblers at How Impressive! has a Libertyville High School Wildcats patch in it.
The shop also carries Scout Bags, which are made of sailboat material and can be monogrammed. There are also the Lafco soy-based candles that were featured on Oprah's "O List."
Knutson also enjoys working on projects with the Libertyville business community. She's working with SchoolStreet to make the cast-iron signs for the development's homes. She also works with Petranek's to create the vinyl lettering for their front window.
"I just love making people happy … and sharing the great milestones of their lives," said Knutson.
How Impressive! is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The store is open on Sundays by appointment.