My Town: The Paper Lover Suann Song’s Washington, D.C.

Meet the owner of Appointed, whose “notebook bar” is just one of the cool nooks she loves in the capital

Photo: Courtesy of Suann Song

Appointed's D.C. showroom.

For Suann Song, Washington, D.C. is not just the place she calls home, it’s an essential part of the DNA of her company, Appointed (which was one of G&G’s past Made in the South Awards winners).

photo: courtesy of Suann Song
Suann Song.

Song grew up in Seattle playing imaginary stationery store with her sister, and later carved out a career in marketing, PR, and graphic design. She conceived of the idea for Appointed when she couldn’t find the type of sleek, stylish, high-quality paper products at home that she loved picking up on her travels abroad. After a  successful crowd-funding campaign, Song launched Appointed in 2015 with a signature (and still cult favorite) product, The Notebook. Since then, the company and Song have remained committed to producing functional and beautiful pieces made from all American materials, designed and finished right in the heart of D.C.

With a sleek new showroom in the district’s Ivy City neighborhood, and seven years of fast-growing business success under her belt (Appointed products are sold in more than 700 retailers around the world), Song knows her way around the nation’s capital. In October 2021, she launched the Notebook Bar, a sleek, minimalist space in Ivy City that doubles as the brand’s brick and mortar shop and studio. We caught up with Song at the Appointed showroom and got her insider picks on where to eat, drink, shop, and run in the district.

District date nights and family pizza

Song’s tastes run from pizza spots that accommodate her four-year-old and fifteen-year-old to date-night venues. “My husband and I just recently tried Anju and that was really good,” she says. “We’re big fans of that chef, Danny Lee. We love all his restaurants—particularly Chiko and Anju. During the pandemic, especially, we did a lot of takeout from Chiko.” For the kids, they visit favorites including Little Beast or 2 Amys. “Two Amy’s is my favorite pizza. It’s a D.C. institution.” And for grabbing a drink after work, Song favors Other Half, the D.C. outpost of the Brooklyn brewery that’s just a stone’s throw from the Appointed showroom in Ivy City.

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Capital by foot

Song and her family take advantage of D.C.’s abundance of walking trails on the weekends. “We love the Georgetown C&O Canal,” she says. “Sometimes we’ll start near Bethesda and walk all the way down towards Georgetown.” And most mornings in the summer, when family life slows down slightly with the school break, she makes time for near-daily runs (she’s currently training for a half marathon) on the C&O Canal from Arlington to the National Mall. “From the Iwo Jima Memorial to the Capitol, it’s less than five miles. It’s the perfect run: flat.”

Playing tourist

Much of Song’s family exploration is kid oriented. “We’re members at the zoo,” she says, “And we’re really happy that the National Children’s Museum, which was under construction for years, reopened.” In good weather, they’ll also trek to the United States National Arboretum. Come fall, you’ll regularly find Song and her husband at the Kennedy Center or The Warner.

Made in D.C.
Song is quick to list off her favorite D.C. brands, including the lifestyle shop Salt & Sundry, the plant boutique Little Leaf, and jewelry shops Kicheko and Shelter. “You don’t think of D.C. as super creative like you do Brooklyn or parts of Los Angeles,” Song says, “but I think here there’s such a strong community of makers, and a lot of them are women and women entrepreneurs. We’re all very supportive of each other.” During the pandemic, Song joined other local women entrepreneurs on a Slack channel that crowdsourced and shared knowledge on navigating businesses during PPP loans and shelter-in-place measures. “It’s such a small community and D.C. in itself is a big market, so there’s room for a lot of different stores or independent makers. Instead of a competitiveness, it really breeds a spirit of collaboration.”

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At home in the capital

Song, who has called the D.C. area home for more than twenty years, can’t picture herself anywhere else. “It’s a very manageable city,” she says. “I love the mix of the politics, and you get a huge mix and diversity of people. There’s great art here. There’s great culture here.” She also credits the district as a key to her success. “For me, as a business owner, D.C. has allowed for a lot of opportunity because even though there aren’t very many consumer brands here, there’s a very knowledgeable, discerning customer base that’s open to buying and supporting local.”