Written by Lauren Meir
I have a notebook problem.
I also have a shoe problem (you can’t have too many combat boots!) but that’s another post.
Writing has always been a big part of my life, and apparently so has buying notebooks that I have no need for: hardcover, leather, paperback or pebbled, blank or lined – I just can’t resist. I write almost daily, for both personal and professional reasons. like to think I’m buying these notebooks to write moving essays on the meaning of life, or at the very least, take really good notes during meetings. I’m responsible for creating content and supporting creative strategy on the Rocket Community Fund and Gilbert Family Foundation, so I need to jot down ideas and take notes on programs for context. I’m a faster typist, but there’s something – I don’t know – more authentic about writing by hand. It inspires me. But I’ve come to realize over the years that using “the right kind” of notebook is almost as important as the notes themselves – at least for me.
The Packaging is Just as Important as the Contents
I received a mermaid sequin journal for my birthday last year. You know what I mean – it’s the ones that flip when you run your hand across it. My daughter loves it. She is eight.
I tried using this super sparkly journal to take notes during a meeting once, but people were actually distracted by the shimmering sequins. Unfortunately, so was I. That’s when I felt the full force of the ISM, “the packaging is just as important as the contents.” This packaging was gaudy, a little too flashy to be writing about content strategy and our philanthropic investments. It felt fake. Much to my daughter’s delight, I ended up giving her the mermaid notebook. I just couldn’t produce any work-related content in it. I needed something understated. Something classy. Something that reminded me of not only Detroit, but the people who inspired me every day to rise above and meet them with creative solutions to their needs.
Simplicity Is Genius: Shinola x Rocket
When it comes to writing great content, I’ve found that simplicity is genius. That’s why I like the moleskin notebooks the best. Those are the plain, soft-cover journals that are commonly black and have a pocket in the back and a band around the front to hold it together. Clean. Simple. Dare I say, professional. But they’re a little too plain, so I have a hard time justifying the purchase. They sell knockoffs on Amazon for way cheaper, but those don’t feel special. When it comes to writing, it needs to mean something for me.
And then I discovered the Rocket x Shinola notebook, and all my notebook-obsessed dreams came true. For all you word nerds out there (or okay, master grocery list makers and doodlers), it’s like a moleskin, but better because it’s authentically Detroit. The Rocket X Shinola notebook is a handmade black linen ruled notebook with a back pocket and a band, emblazoned with the Rocket logo. It’s the perfect marriage between the Rocket Brand and Shinola. It’s like an upgraded, branded version of the classic moleskin.
Rocket is known for simplifying the complex for a truly superior experience, and Shinola is known for building high-quality manufactured goods. Both organizations “arrived” in Detroit around the same time. Both created jobs. Both are unique. And while not everyone gets the warm and fuzzies when thinking of the Rocket brand, I do, because it’s the place where I was encouraged to be authentically myself. Perhaps even more importantly, I know the people behind the brand. This notebook felt personal. It felt like a friend. It felt like the right space to creatively tell stories to highlight programs supported by the people I work with, programs that are building equity and opportunity in the city we all call home.
More Than Just A Notebook
This notebook is an example of complicated history. It has integrity. It’s handmade. It’s durable, honest, and unpretentious. It’s a product of Detroit. It makes me think of all that this city is, and all that it aspires to be.
I know, I know. You’re thinking. It’s just a notebook. But if the books we love can inspire us to think differently, to change our worldview, imagine what the blank pages of a handcrafted, made-in-Detroit journal can do? Maybe it’s not just a notebook. Maybe it’s a platform to meaningfully tell our story. To create better versions of the selves we hope to become. This little unassuming notebook does that for me. And maybe it can do the same for you, too.