In a vanilla cupcake world, Melinda Jones’ choice of dessert – a gluten-free, triple-layer chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing – reflects her personality: sweet and a little bit extra. That’s because she never does things the vanilla way. When everyone else says “Happy Birthday,” Melinda prefers to send a card that says, “I Love You and Cake” or “Celebrating You is My Fave.” In fact, she enjoys quirky, honest sentiments so much that she opened her own stationery and gift shop called Read Between the Lines (RBTL) that sells a mix of curated and original greeting cards, candles and fragrances, journals, pens, leather accessories, coffee table books, home décor, apparel and gifts for adults and children.
As founder and creative director of RBTL, which opened its second location at Legacy West in January, Melinda gets to do what she loves most every day: writing and helping people. “I love playing with language and the challenge of getting to the heart of a matter in just a few words,” she explained.
Melinda grew up working in her parents’ convenience stores where she says she developed “an epic love for customer service and for the impact the right card or gift can have in a life.” Later she earned a degree in retail merchandising at Southern Methodist University and worked various industries, including ad agencies and a tech start-up. But in her free time her head was always in the cards, and she visited stationery stores every chance she got.
After she took up a friend’s suggestion to start a blog in 2012, Melinda’s life was forever changed. She said, “Ideas for my own line of cards began to come and didn’t stop. I took that as a sign from God to start my own line.” One year later she launched RBTL at the National Stationery Show in New York, and her products went from being sold in three stores to 300 stores in a year. In March 2015 she leased a space in Dallas’ Victory Park that doubled as her first retail store, where she decided to also sell things from other artists she admired.
Step into RBTL at Legacy West located next door to Sprinkles Cupcakes and you’ll instantly feel at home. Sip water while browsing the collection of heartfelt, fun, gender-neutral and aesthetically-pleasing cards or sit down at the old-fashioned writing desk to try out unique pens. Everything is intended to be simultaneously functional and beautiful, made with modern design and expert craftmanship. And in an effort to support fellow small businesses, all the RBTL line of cards and art prints are printed by hand on vintage letterpress machines in Dallas, with the paper sourced by a local, family-owned merchant, Clampitt Paper.
It’s more than just a store; RBTL is a break from the stresses of life. “I want to ensure Read Between the Lines is a fulfilling, happy, beneficial experience for customers,” said Melinda. “I hope they find our stores as a respite from the world, a place to mentally reset or celebrate a win. I hope they leave feeling even better than when they came in.”
There are so many one-of-a-kind pieces at RBTL that you may want to buy everything. One of these delightful finds is a beautiful ivory, Texas-shaped ceramic wall hanging with a cactus pattern from LemonGlaze, which was formed, stamped and glazed by hand and made to display a small air plant. Another treasure is the Moon Milk Crystal Candle by Tiny Bandit, which is as lovely to look at as it is to smell. The candle (with a beachy fragrance of coconut milk, tanning oil, sandalwood, amber resin and essential oils) contains amazonite, citrine and clear quartz crystals sticking out of the wax, which were cleaned with Himalayan Sea Salt and charged in the California sunshine – perfect for use in meditation or as decoration. As a bonus, a portion of every RBTL purchase benefits MANA Nutrition’s mission to help severe cases of childhood malnutrition and Rolling Dog Farm’s safe home for disabled dogs and horses.
“In this age of email, text, FaceTime and chat, a real card in your hands from someone you care about, written in their own hand, provides a lift and a gift like no other,” says Melinda. “I’m honored to write the expressions for our products and love to see customers light up, laugh or connect at a heart level with something they are holding in their hands and want to share.”
How we feel about Read Between the Lines can be summed up with a sentiment from one of its own greeting cards: “Everyone is obsessed with you. Including me.”
Read Between the Lines >