2016 in Review + Looking Forward


At the beginning of each new year, I like to do a summary of the year before.  It’s nice to look back at the bigger picture and take stock of what was accomplished. I spend so much of my time, heads down working on smaller projects it’s nice to take some time to get better perspective and set goals for the future.

(you can read all my past yearly recaps HERE)

Studio Move / Retail Show
By far, the biggest event of 2016 was our studio move and opening a retail shop. This was a huge and expensive endeavor that took months and months of planing and tens of thousands of dollars.  I started the process of looking for a new space in April of 2015.  We finally moved studios in March of 2016.  Our new studio is more than 2x the size of our previous shop at Lacuna, where we were busting out at the seems. It’s a storefront on the street level and open to the public.  The ten minute walk to work has made my commute so much more enjoyable. And the retail shop has really changed the game for Steel Petal Press. Scroll down to the bottom of our about page to view photos of the new space.

7-12-16 Steel Petal Press Studio Tour Chicago, IL ©2016 Jennifer Kathryn Photography

I hired two new employees this year: Matt is our shipping lead and Lindsay helps with retail and post production of our greeting cards.

7-12-16 Steel Petal Press Studio Tour Chicago, IL ©2016 Jennifer Kathryn Photography

7-12-16 Steel Petal Press Studio Tour Chicago, IL ©2016 Jennifer Kathryn Photography

New Products!
I released lots of new products this year including Gift Wrap, Fortune Cookie Pull out cards, bookmarks and more.

Birthday Fortune Cookie Card Funny Letterpress Birthday Card Fuck Mug Letterpress Bookmark Awesome People Read

I picked up lots of new retailers. And am excited to have Steel Petal Press carried in 38 states plus Paper Source who has 120+ locations around the country. View our full list of retailers here.

I hosted 3 amazing interns this year: Jane, Laura and Sarah.

Steel Petal Press internship

Opening the retail shop I got a lot of great press. I was featured in Chicago Magazine as the best stationery shop! Plus Chicago Style weddings, Logan Squarist, DNA Info and so many more.  You can view a mostly up-to-date list of recent press here.

Best of Chicago Magazine 2016

Renegade Craft Fair + One of Kind Show
I returned to sell at the summer Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago and also at the December One of a Kind Show. The shows are intense and busy, but a fun change of pace.

Steel Petal Press at One of a Kind Show

NSS and NYNow
This year I attended the National Stationery Show and NYNow on the other side of the field as a buyer for the retail shop. It’s fun and get overwhelming figuring out what to buy for the shop. It’s a task I’ve enjoyed learning and am still improving on regularly.

Giving Back
Something I’ve been wanting to do for a while is implement some sort of charitable donation program.  At the end of this 2016 I was able to give a sizable donation to NRDC to help protect the environment.  In 2017 I plan on giving quarterly donations to different organizations I believe in.

This year also came with some pretty big lows.  The election was pretty devastating to me and Trumps impending inauguration still makes me sick to my stomach.  Around the same time one of my employees got really sick and was out of work for almost two months. It not only put strain on me emotionally, but also stretched me and my staff thin covering her shifts, working the One of A Kind Show and dealing with our first holiday season as a retail gift shop.  I spent the end of the year doing what I could to survive and was forced to let a lot of things go.  It was a challenge for my type-A personality.  I am thankful for my husband and my team who all stepped up with support and helped me and Steel Petal Press get through the last two months.

I’m starting the new year with a new perspective: take better care of myself, let go of toxic feelings, let go of perfectionism and carve out more personal time for myself. I’m trying not to let the current political state get to me (which includes limiting my news) and I hope to give back where I can.

I usually end these posts with bigger professional goals for the upcoming year.  But this year, I don’t have many huge aspirations. I feel like I have my hands full with business as it is and my only hope is to keep building on what I’ve started:
– keep the retail shop running and improving
– keep releasing great product
– keep adding retailers to our list of vendors
– do more press out reach
– hire an additional person – right now if anyone gets sick or needs vacation time we all feel stretched thin
– maybe at the end of next year, I’ll consider heading back to exhibit at a tradeshow

Other than that I feel pretty good at where I’m at, and it definitely keeps me plenty busy.

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