Sustainable stationary goods support environmental and mental health causes

What began as a healthy way to cope with obsessive-compulsive disorder, combined with inspiration from Michigan’s beaches, Mt. Pleasant resident Victoria Kukla launched her sustainable stationary business this year, Byway Press. The Bay City transplant and Central Michigan University alumnus spends her 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. as CMU’s associate director of social media; her 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. is spent on her nostalgic designs. 

“I wasn’t sure I would ever find a place outside of my Polish neighborhood (in Bay City) that feels like home, but Mt. Pleasant has won my heart,” Kukla shares. “I’ve lived here for almost 15 years and have fallen in love with the community and the location.” 

“It was during my time in Mt. Pleasant that the idea for Byway Press started to take shape,” she continues. “I started drawing in 2014 as a healthy way to cope with my obsessive-compulsive disorder. While I enjoyed a career in communications and even licensed my art to big box stores, it was the limited travel opportunities during the pandemic that inspired me to focus on drawing Michigan's beaches, deepening my connection to the region.”

Epicenter talked with Kukla to learn more about Byway Press in this Q&A. 

Courtesy Sally Rudy / Byway Press

Epicenter: When and how did the idea for Byway Press come about?
Victoria Kukla: Byway Press was created from my love of Michigan and the Great Lakes region. I realized that the weekend road trips I took with my friends, family, and husband were the memories that kept me going. Nothing helps you get to know someone better than being in a car with them for an extended period of time. There’s something about the open road and finding those Michigan byways that makes you appreciate the present moment. Travel is exposure therapy for me, and I found the courage and strength to overcome anxiety on those byways.

During these travels, I always follow every outdoor adventure with a local craft beer and a handful of souvenirs. If you spend a significant amount of time along the Great Lakes coast, you’ll find a lot of the same types of souvenirs at every tourist destination. I hope to contribute something new to the tourist industry—products created with sustainability in mind. I manage Byway Press as my 5-9 job with the support of my husband and family.

Courtesy Lance Gascho / Byway Press

Epicenter: What do you define “stationery goods” as? Tell us more about your variety of products, and where their inspiration comes from? 
Kukla: Stationery goods are mainly products that you can use to write with or send to friends, but we also include souvenir goods in our product line. We offer a diverse range of items, including prints, postcards, stickers, greeting cards, keychains, and enamel pins. My creative process involves exploring different regions, capturing photos and videos for social media content, and using those visuals as the foundation for our product designs. Each illustration is crafted digitally on my iPad, with product collections tailored to showcase the unique culture and beauty of different Michigan areas.

The inspiration for our products comes from the natural landscapes and vibrant local cultures within our state. Every product we create is a reflection of the charm and character found throughout Michigan.

Courtesy Lance Gascho / Byway Press

Epicenter: Can you share with us more about your commitment to promoting environmental sustainability in the region?
Kukla: Our commitment to environmental sustainability is at the core of Byway Press. When developing a new product, I meticulously evaluate every aspect, from materials to production processes, to ensure they align with our values. For instance, we've made the conscious decision to discontinue the production of waterproof stickers, as they contribute to air and microplastic pollution. While vinyl stickers are popular in many tourist shops, we've recognized the lack of eco-friendly alternatives for conscious consumers, and our brand exists to provide those alternatives. Our stickers are made from wood pulp and do not contain PVC plastics.

Our commitment to sustainability goes beyond our products. We give back to environmental causes, annually supporting the Alliance for the Great Lakes and various environmental nonprofits in the Great Lakes region. Additionally, I've donated over $27,000 worth of consulting services for digital marketing and social media to numerous nonprofits, strengthening their efforts in environmental preservation and mental health initiatives. If you are a nonprofit in need of support, you can visit my website at to explore the services I offer and learn more about my projects and qualifications.

Courtesy Lance Gascho / Byway Press

Epicenter: In addition to a passion for sustainability, you also support mental health causes. In what ways do you do that?
Kukla: At Byway Press, we are committed to supporting mental health causes alongside our environmental efforts. We extend our contributions to organizations such as NAMI Michigan and The Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, which play vital roles in promoting mental health and wellness across our state. We understand that the intersection between mental health and our environment encompasses a wide range of factors, from access to mental health resources to addressing the housing crisis and food scarcity.

Our volunteer services are open to organizations that provide local support to alleviate these interconnected issues. By supporting mental health causes, we aim to foster a holistic approach to well-being that recognizes the multifaceted nature of the challenges people face.

Courtesy Sally Rudy / Byway Press

Epicenter: People can shop Byway Press on; what other retailers can people find your designs?
Kukla: Byway Press products can be found in over 30 retailers and counting across Michigan. You can find our unique designs at local shops such as Compass Rose Outpost in Traverse City, Seasons of Mackinaw in Mackinaw City, Crystal River Outfitters in Glen Arbor, The Secret Beach in Frankfort, and Flora Bae Home in Petoskey, among many others.

Courtesy Lance Gascho / Byway Press

Epicenter: Lastly, when people think of Byway Press, what is the one thing you want to be at the forefront of their minds—your main takeaway? 
Kukla: When people think of Byway Press, I want them to feel a deep connection to the beauty of Michigan's outdoors and an enduring curiosity to explore the Great Lakes region. Our products are more than just souvenirs; they are a gateway to reliving the joy of Michigan activities. It's been such a healing part of my anxiety recovery, and I want everyone to find that same happiness. When we connect with nature and each other, we become better stewards of our communities.
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Read more articles by Courtney Jerome.

With 15 years of professional media experience, Courtney Jerome has found a passion for storytelling and showcasing our region in a positive light. She's written stories for television broadcasts, numerous magazines, and digital publications. In addition, she owns a boutique creative marketing agency that focuses on social media, photo, and video storytelling for small businesses across Michigan and the country — Contact Courtney, the managing editor of Epicenter, at