Start at the Beginning

I have decided to get back to those New Year’s Resolutions, I know, I know, that was six months ago, it will be time to think about 2014 resolutions soon… Anyhow back to the blog post, I want to start sharing more of my story, a bit more about my journey so far, so where else to start but at the beginning?

Why did I start my business in the first place?

Two little girls raced each other home from school, anticipation shining in their eyes, so excited were they by the afternoon ahead.

Pink cheeked and breathless they dove into cool shadows beneath the veranda, and the hunt for perfectly shaped rocks began once again. By dinner time they had a line of freshly painted pet rocks arrayed before them.

These two little entrepreneurs were determined to go into the business of selling pet rocks with the lofty goal of saving enough money to buy a kitten.

I guess you could say my entrepreneurial journey started early, though it has been on hold until more recently. Caught up in the global zeitgeist that is the handmade movement, I have rediscovered my love of art and craft in a big way.

Rediscovering my love of art and craft especially print making lit a flame in my belly that I have only been able to control by immersing myself in the handmade movement. Not content to watch from the sidelines I decided the best way to get involved was to start my own business.

Being a part of the handmade movement makes my heart sing with joy, I love the idea of someone working from a home studio crafting an item that will end up a treasured belonging in someone else’s home. I love that hand made harks back to an earlier time when you know the person who grew your food, made your bread and yes your gifts, cards and homewares- a time of hand crafted goodness.

Advertisements

Introducing My New Press

My 7x11 Challenge

About a month ago, after many long months of searching, I was lucky enough to win an eBay bidding war for my beautiful new letterpress. Its a 7 x 11 Craftsman, its hand operated makes beautiful music when in action and I am in love with all its shiny brightness.

Hmmm, but I hear some of you ask, what is letterpress?

Letterpress is a traditional printmaking method that harks back to a time of handmade, when things were done slowly with love and care. It is a technique of relief printing using a printing press, where the printmaker composes and locks moveable type into the bed of the press, inks it and presses paper against it to transfer ink from the type to create an impression in the paper. Though I have a substantial collection of moveable type and can print text invitations and business ephemera in this method I usually print in a modern letterpress method that employs the use of custom made photopolymer printing plates.

I had a wonderful weekend experimenting with my press and wanted to share some action shots with you.

Letterpress Craftsman

This is a view of the rollers and the inking plate coated in sexy silver ink.

Letterpress craftsmanA view from above, you can see the photopolymer plate, the rollers and a printed card on the right.

Letterpress Craftsman

This is another view into the press, you can see the inked up photopolymer plate ready to be printed.

Vintage Letterpress Cards

I’m really enjoying the challenge of expanding my range of Letterpress Cards. I have learnt so much about letterpress in the last year and I think it’s starting to reflect in my work. I am starting to probe the boundaries of my design capabilities, experimenting with how much detail I can incorporate, learning to mix ink colours and all sorts of other fun printery things.

radio

 

Pineapple

 

caravanI hope you enjoy this peek at the new additions to my Letterpress Cards and as always they are available at my Made it Shop, my etsy Shop and if you are in Brisbane or Melbourne you can find my work at in.cube8r.

What Can You Achieve in 10 Minutes?

Amelie HelpingThe other day I was chatting with the other mums at mothers group, yes I do things like that now and surprisingly I really enjoy them. Many of my friends would laugh to hear me admit that, but ho hum, that’s life we grow, we change and we live it! Anyway back to chatting with the other mums, I mentioned that I was doing a local craft market on the weekend, this sparked the usual questions about what I make, but now there was a new added dimension to the questioning, how do I find the time to do that?

Valid point, everyone out there with kids knows how hard it is to find time to make dinner, let alone get creative.

These questions have made me think about how much my work style has changed, gone are the days when I could spend long hours meandering down creative pathways of my choice. Now I am happy to carve out ten minutes of uninterrupted time. I feel that I am slightly more organised and focussed than before, I make more lists that I actually refer back to and work through. Having said that I also make many lists that I never finish…

I try to involve my little girl in my work; I give her safe things to investigate, I try to make a game of it and of course I let myself get distracted by her all the time, I try to make my work time fun for her as well as me.

Another trick is to make the most of the moment, I don’t pack up too much, that way when she plays I can pull my work out and snatch a few more minutes.

She often naps in my arms, I know, I know, its a bad habit, this is when I work on my laptop, editing photos, sketching, writing product descriptions, listing items, watching The Walking Dead, you know all the important stuff. In-fact this how I am writing this post one hand under her head and one hand typing while she snoozes peacefully in my arms.

Of course there are days that I don’t get anything at all done, but that’s ok, I’m learning to relax and roll with the baby sized punches, to slow down and enjoy the little moments more.

I shouldn’t complain as my babies first birthday draws ever nearer and she gets better at independent play its getting easier to get work done… and you know it’s amazing what you can achieve in ten minutes.

9 Inspirational Reads

Lately I seem to be consumed with a thirst for knowledge, from somewhere deep within I have dredged up even more passion and fire for my fledgling printmaking business. I have been seeking out advice, inspiration and motivation wherever I can find it.

In between looking after my beautiful baby girl, did I tell you she took her first steps yesterday, and creating a business I don’t have a great deal of spare time but somehow I always manage to squeeze in a little reading here and there. In the spirit of sharing and nurturing, after all isn’t that one of the things that draws us to the creative handmade community, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite reads.

Who knows maybe they will inspire and motivate you too and on the flip side if you are reading anything great please tell me all about it and I will follow you down the information rabbit hole!

So in no particular order:

The War of Art – Steven Pressman

The Skool of Life blog – Srinivas Rao

Create and Thrive blog – Jess Van Den

Forbes blog

The Purple Cow – Seth Godin

Build a Little Biz blog – Karen Gunton

The TMF Project blog– Ash Ambirge

Betty Means Business blog- Kate Byrne

The Small Army Strategy – Srinivas Rao

Please note I was in part inspired to write this post by the wonderful lady behind the great blog Create and Thrive, Jess Van Den, she has a regular post full of great ideas for more reading, called Sunday Reading, you should check it out!

7 Tips for selling Success with In.cube8r

incube8r shelfI thought I would resurrect some of my more popular posts from my first blog, this one is an oldie but a goodie, I hope you find some humble words of wisdom here…

I cant quiet remember how I first found out about in.cube8r, Googling probably, that’s seems to be how all my best discoveries are made…

I could hardly contain my excitement, that here was something happening in Brisbane. The very next day (a Monday) I walked to the Valley on my lunch break, ever so excited to see the shop and more importantly find out how I could become a part of it all. You can imagine my dismay when I discovered in.cube8r is closed on Mondays! So there I was with my nose pressed up against the window trying to see everything I could. I was back the next day to fill out my application to become a cube (in my case 2D space) holder.

Whoa! This was scary stuff, I had never put myself or my art out there like this before…having always been a crafty type (yes I was one of those kids obsessed with pipe cleaners and pom poms) I had only recently started print making again. Until this point I had only shared my art with family and friends and entered one or two art competitions with little success. I knew I wanted more from my art, I had plans to open online shops with Etsy and madeit.com but knew the opportunity to be part of in.cube8r was to good to pass up.

So I did it! I signed my application and paid my first month’s fee. I had about two weeks to get myself ready to create enough stock, to decide upon a business name, to print business cards, work out a pricing structure, how I was going to hang my prints…too many things to accomplish in just too weeks or so it seemed. In the end I did I was ready in time. Phew!

I remember telling my boyfriend as we were driving home from that first stock day at in.cube8r, that I would be happy if I didn’t sell anything, it just felt like the biggest achievement getting to this point.

Success! Much to my surprise I did sell prints, in my first month I had heaps of sales…Wow! How thrilling who would have though that someone and not just one someone would want to buy my art.

So I rushed to restock, not realising at the time that I was making a terrible mistake. Being a print maker I was able to quickly remake more of the same prints to replace those that had sold. I though to myself (dusting my hands together) well that is that, I can kick back and relax now and wait for my next lot of prints to sell, no worries, thank you very much.

Days and then weeks went by and I didn’t sell any more prints, this was a horrible feeling, I didn’t understand, why didn’t people want to buy my prints any more?

Simple, I didn’t keep it fresh I didn’t try anything new. Instead of giving up I reminded myself of why I started selling with in.cube8r in the first place- because I believed in the value of my prints.

Now, how was I going to fix this? How was I going to start selling again? I took some time out, I did some thinking, I did some reading and most importantly I started to experiment with my products at in.cube8r. I started changing my stock around more often, I tweaked my designs and I changed my packaging. I worked really hard, I used my experience over the past months as market research, to really nail what it was that my customers wanted. Now, I am please to report, I have a sale almost every other day and frankly I am only limited by how hard I chose to work at perfecting my art.

So good reader, I hear you ask, is she ever going to get to the point and share her tips? Well yes I am here are my top tips (in no particular order) for making your in.cube8r space a success:

  • Love your creations, its always evident in the finished product
  • Have practical packaging: your customers want to get their exciting new purchase home safely
  • Change your stock over regularly: I aim for once a fortnight (I know it can be hard to come up with new stock this often, sometimes I just rotate old stock back in)
  • Introduce new stock regularly: I aim to introduce 1 new print or card design every month
  • Research: what’s in trend right now? (You don’t need to compromise your artistic vision, maybe just tweak an existing product-like changing the colour of your bangles each season)
  • Promote yourself: have your contact details available
  • Offer products at a range of price points: this way your beautiful work is accessible to all budgets.

Most importantly don’t repeat my mistake of thinking all you have to do is put some products into your space and walk away. Instead remember that having products in your space is just the beginning …success and sales will eventuate from your hard work.

I would love to hear what has worked for you to overcome a slump in sales, at incube.8r, markets, Etsy or anywhere…

Writing Great Product Descriptions

thanks

As you know I’m working hard to grow my fledgling printmaking business and as you also know we can’t do these things all on our own and it takes a whole lot of work to turn our dreams into reality.

Lately I have been working hard to improve my online shops, I have two, Made it and etsy, I like them both for different reasons. But I also know they both need a lot of work to get them into tip top shape. I have decided to improve my tag words (in my etsy shop) and product descriptions (for both my shops). So, characteristically, I started doing some reading and looking at how other online shops write product descriptions and tag words.

So after some writing and re-writing I am now feeling pretty good about my new product descriptions, I think they are clearer, more informative and more uniform than before. What do you think, check out the before and after product description for my Letterpress Kraft Thank You card:

Before:

In the words of the immortal Mr Elvis Presley, thank you, thank you very much!

This is an original hand letterpress printed card, in black ink on kraft card.

Your card will arrive with a kraft envelope in plastic packaging for protection.

Card is square 15x15cm.

After:

In the words of the immortal Mr Elvis Presley, thank you, thank you very much! With design by Emmaline Lamond, head designer and printed by Coco Press. Printed in black  ink.

Size: 15x15cm (5.5×5.5inches)

Method: Letterpress printed on my Chandler and Price table top press by the seaside in Mornington, Victoria.

Paper: Kraft 240gsm card White 230gsm card

Packaging: Each card is packaged in a cello bag and posted with a card backing for protection.

About Letterpress: As my press is hand operated and due to the nature of letterpress printing variations in colour, impression and registration may occur. Rather than considering these things to be mistakes I think of them as part of the beauty of hand printing and ensures that you are getting a one of a kind piece. I do my best to accurately photograph and represent the piece you will receive.

What do you think? A bit of an improvement?

If you are interested these are some of the blogs/books I was reading when working on my new product descriptions.

Create and Thrive

The TMF Project

Etsypreneurship

I would love to know what you think and where you go for help when trying to improve your online shops.