2018 In Review

First of all, I can’t believe I’ve been doing yearly reviews since 2012 (meaning my first review recapped 2011).  That’s just crazy! This is my seventh year and it’s so interesting to look back on each year and how Steel Petal Press has changed. It’s also so interesting to look at my goals for the year including short term and long term goals. Especially now that I’m at the 5 year point of some of my 5 year goals from 2011.  After years of goal setting, I do firmly believe that writing things down and saying them out loud makes you more accountable

(You can see past year reviews here: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

Anyways! On to the highlights of the year.

Custom Work

At the beginning of 2018 I started really slowing down taking on new custom and wedding invitation clients.  It was something I had been thinking about for some time (and had even stated in my goals at the end of last year.)   I love working with custom clients, but since the opening of the retail shop I felt like I was getting pulled in too many directions. Ultimately I feel more fulfilled creating my own designs for Steel Petal Press and curating the retail shop, so I decided to stop custom wedding invitations all together.  It’s interesting looking back on the years, at how much time I spent developing the wedding invitation line.  It was what helped grow the business while I was just starting out and still finding my voice.  In the end, I am thankful for what I was able to accomplish and I know the time was right for me to move on.

Employees

Staffing has continued to be a challenge at the shop.  This year I was particularly sad to see Kat leave after working for me for three years almost exactly to the day.  The good news it brought us Rachel our second full time employee to take her place as Studio Manager.   Now Steel Petal Press employs two full time-ers (not including myself) Plus a great part time staff of 3, including Matt (who has been with us since 2016) and Dan our newest printing assistant.

Steel Petal Press Team

Tradeshows

With custom work on the back burner, I had more time to focus on growing the wholesale line again (a goal from 2017). I signed up to exhibit at NYNow in August as my first Tradeshow since NSS 2015.  Shelby helped work the booth while I was able to walk the show and place orders for the retail shop.  We wrote 25 orders at the show and picked up some exciting new accounts.  Overall a successful show!   We plan on going back to exhibit next year NYNow’s summer show.  We are also heading out to Atlanta the first week in January 2019 to exhibit at America’sMart, a brand new show for us! Hopefully that goes well.

NYNow Tradeshow Booth

Sales Reps / FAIRE (formerly Indigo Fair)

We reached another goal for the year by reaching out to several more sales rep groups. We got picked up by a rep in the South East, a Rep Group in LA, and another in San Francisco.  They have also really helped up grow our wholesale presence around the country.   After much pursuing, FAIRE finally accepted us to sell wholesale on their platform, which gave us exposure to even more small independent retailers around the country.

Wholesale Overall

Our focus on growing our wholesale reach really paid off.  Combining our new accounts from Tradeshows, Sales Reps and Indigo Fair, we were able to add over 100 new wholesale accounts to our roster.  Our wholesale business is up 20% over last year.  It definitely has made up for the missing income from wedding invitations.

Windmill

To make a long story short, I finally was able to acquire a Heidelberg Windmill Press over the summer.  You can read the blog post of how it came to be here.   This was a long term goal of mine since 2011 which finally came to fruition.  It is a total game changer, especially with the increase in bulk orders from wholesale.

Heidelberg Windmill Press Steel Petal Press

New Products

We had three big releases this year with 60+ new products. Greeting cards are our biggest seller, and many of our newest designs have already garnered themselves as best sellers. In addition, we added new mug, magnet, gift wrap and bookmark styles.  After much research I was most excited about our newest line of Gift Bags.

foil printed funny gift bags

Press

I didn’t get as much press this year as in year’s past, but the highlight came at the very end of the year. I was quoted as an expert for this article for the Chicago Tribune about Christmas cards. After 10 years making greeting cards, I guess I am finally an expert of sorts 🙂

Giving Back

We were able to continue giving back to organizations we believe in.   Steel Petal Press donated money to Direct Relief, Trevor Project, Every Town and Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Goals for 2019

– re-do the website! It’s 5 years old and in need of a major overhaul
– continue on the tradeshow circuit and expanding wholesale reach
– really what refine what we are looking for and hire another permanent part time employee with the ultimate goal to find stable staffing at the shop
– have more freedom to travel to more offsite events (like conferences, tradeshows, craft fairs, pop up shops etc)

Other than that, it’s hard to think of any more real reach goals.  So many things changed this past year, the goal is to keep going with what we’re doing.

2-3 year goals

I would still eventually love to open a second retail location in Chicago, and then think about expanding to other cities like San Francisco or NYC. The logistics of a second location alone (finding space, purchasing, hiring staff, training etc is enough to make my head spin.  So I think that one goal is big enough to shoot for.

Thanks for reading this far, and happy new year!

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