Morgan Calderini and Arley Torsone are the owners and operators of the beloved Ladyfingers Letterpress — an acclaimed stationery store in downtown Colorado Springs. However, the couple did not anticipate living near Pikes Peak.
“I grew up here, but as a teen, I did not want to live here,” says Calderini. “One summer, I got away to California and signed up for a printmaking class in Pasadena. I set type, did letterpress and loved it so much, but I also thought, ‘This is a class you take, not a job.’ I wrote it off and decided to do the responsible thing: become a graphic designer.”
Betting on Dreams
Eventually, Calderini got as far away from Colorado Springs as she could: Rhode Island, where she met Torsone.
The New England state is also where Calderini met a life-changing question: How would a client feel about your work? “It was one of those points in life where it’s clear,” Calderini says. “I couldn’t spend my life answering that question. I was drawn to printmaking — this joyful thing I was so happy doing.”
“I wanted to be a printmaker, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be able to do it on a daily basis,” Calderini continues. Against all odds, she bet on her dreams.
She married Torsone, who Calderini describes as “the heart and voice of Ladyfingers Letterpress.” They designed their own wedding invitation which went viral, setting a course towards becoming printmakers — and unexpectedly, their compass also pointed to Pikes Peak.
Finding Community in Colorado Springs
“My parents’ house in Black Forest, the house I grew up in, burned down,” says Calderini. “Also, Arley and I knew we wanted a change.” Arriving in the Springs, the two quickly found community, as Calderini describes as the “wonderful welcome wagon.”
They opened Ladyfingers Letterpress in 2016 with machinery from the 1980s, ‘40s, and an antique 1892 Chandler & Price press. Together, they design and print over 250 products on-site and stock goods from small businesses owned by underrepresented people. Included in their vision statement is: …the things we make and the spaces we create are here to do and make good in the world. Our aim is for people to feel safe, seen and celebrated. Together, Calderini and Torsone use the “power of the press" to support social causes.
“In a world that can feel isolating and insane, we provide the opportunity for people to see themselves reflected in the items we carry,” says Torsone. “Seeing yourself represented and acknowledged creates connectedness.”
“We’re so lucky to have a terrific community here, from fellow business owners to regular customers,” Torsone adds. “The people we see daily remind us of the good in the world.”
Facebook and Instagram: @LadyfingersLetterpress
Flagship location: 113 East Bijou St.
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center store: 30 West Dale St.