From Concept to Commerce: russell+hazel

Christine Plantan, Founder and creative director of russell+hazel engaged the University of St. Thomas’ graduate business community in a Master’s Pub business conversation, I’d like to call, “Bringing Binders to Business.”

Founder and creative director of russell+hazel since it’s inception in 2002, Plantan has directed the world of russell+hazel, positioning the brand at the intersection of color, function and light-heartedness. Launched to the public in 2003, when file folders were manila, post-it® notes were canary yellow and binders were something to hide in the cabinet, russell+hazel achieved a new freshness with color and pattern, creating an instant appeal. Since then, that small collection of office and school tools she created has grown to include journals, note cards and totes.

Plantan shared a story about a back-to-school experience she had with her daughter.  A few years ago, her daughter was preparing to enter the 6th grade and needed to buy new school supplies.  While shopping, they noticed the very limited selection of 3-ring binders.  There was nothing that she liked and she could not bring herself to buy a Britney Spears or Nike binder for her daughter.  After returning home, Ms. Plantan decided to hammer out a creative design and formed a fun, fashion-friendly binder herself. The day school started her daughter came home with pockets full of money from her friends, clamoring for their own beautiful binder.  An architect by trade, Plantan had no idea that she was on the brink of taking a “cocktail napkin idea” to the marketplace.

A few years later, russell+hazel is taking the office supply industry by storm with a new freshness and color schemes that were at one-time unheard of.  Her philosophy is that good design is not over-design or design for design’s sake, rather pleasing design with loads of functionality. Clearly this philosophy has been the driving force behind “Bringing Binders to Business.”

Under her leadership, russell+hazel has an instantly recognizable style language, developed through colors and patterns that capture the essence of brand development, who they are and what they stand for. While fresh in spirit, the products represent a constant and complete dedication to quality. russell+hazel became a Love Mark brand, the prestigious award by Saatchi & Saatchi president Kevin Roberts. She is in good company: so was Nike, U2, Apple and Porsche. It’s this attention to detail that caught the eye of The Trend Central Intelligence Group which labeled it as “and up and coming company and brand to watch.”