Archive for the ‘Behind the Scenes’ Category

October Rewind – Gettin’ Spooky at SPP

Goodbye October Hello November Banner Month Rewind From Steel Petal Press

October went by SCARY fast but we had plenty going on to keep as busy as bees! Check out what we did this past month in our October Rewind.

Quarterly Inventory:
Every business quarter, so roughly 4x a year, we conduct a inventory of all of our warehouse items. A majority of these items are the SPP products such as cards, magnets, gift bags, etc. that are waiting to be shipped for online/wholesale orders OR to be placed/sold in our retail store.

Letterpress Greeting Cards Counting Inventory
Here’s Shelby counting some of our cards but this is an ALL HANDS ON DECK task so every member of SPP is scheduled to help until the task is complete!

Once everything is counted (BY HAND!), our Shipping Manager Rachel compares the hand counted numbers to the ones found in our inventory management system. The ultimate goal is to have everything match…but of course that’s highly unlikely due to human error. So, she does her best to reconcile and account for the any differences and we start fresh with accurate numbers for next quarter. The best part of inventory? THE TACOS THAT SHAYNA BUYS US!

Finalized/Printed New 2020 Release:
YOU READ THAT RIGHT – We finished our first release for 2020. All of our new cards were printed in house (per usual) but we also created some really cool new stickers, mugs, mental health trackers, and even funny little desk notepads! In total, there’s roughly 27 new items coming your way. To learn more about these new styles, be sure to check out Part II of our New Release Journey blog series that’ll be dropping in the next week or 2.

In the mean time, here’s a sneak peek at some of those new items:

Letterpress Greeting Cards Small Women Owned Business Gift Shop New Items Chicago
Cards, and stickers, and notepads – OH MY!

HALLOWEEN:
We freakin’ love Halloween. There’s nothing much more to say than that…so enjoy a few photos from Halloween 2019 at Steel Petal Press:

Steel Petal Press Chicago Stationery And Gift Store Shop Local Shop Small Business
The scariest thing about Halloween this year?
IT FUCKING SNOWED.
Halloween 2019 At Steel Petal Press DIY Pop Culture Costumes
Here’s a few of Team SPP’s costumes: (left to right)
1. Rachel as Count Rach-ula
2. Shayna as Billie Eilish
3. Shelby as 1980’s Eleven (Season 3 of Stranger Things)
Halloween 2019 Mario Toad Toddler Baby Costume
Adorable trick-or-treater dressed as Toad from Mario

Planning for America’s Mart AND NYNow 2020:
For the first time in Steel Petal Press history, we are doing back-to-back shows starting in 2020. To kick off the new year, we’ll be attending America’s Mart (ATL) in mid-January and then heading off to NYNow (NYC) the first of February. We’ve finalized our booth locations (ATL: #7-2509/ NYC: #7215) but in the coming months we’ll be planning EVERYTHING else. Stay tuned for more updates…

Thanks for checking out our October Rewind. We have so much more exciting news to fill you in on as the busiest months approach so be sure to come back and read all about it 🙂

XOXO,
Steel Petal Press

Follow Steel Petal Press On Instagram
Follow us on Instagram for more cool gift guides and
behind-the-scenes of our daily shenanigans!

Spring 2020 New Release – Part I

Can you believe we already have to start thinking and planning for our 2020 NEW RELEASE?! It’s bonkers…but true. It’s a time that’s full of mixed emotions: stress, excitement, frustration, happiness, and many more! However, the process of creating a New Release is integral in moving the brand forward in creative and compelling ways. It reminds our current shoppers why they love us and creates another opportunity to “woo” new customers.

To kick off a New Release, it’s allllll about creativity! We begin brainstorming and sharing ideas for cards and other gift items we make such as stickers, mugs, or even bookmarks. For this release, we are focusing on Mom, Dad, Grad, and Love cards as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Graduation, and Valentine’s Day will be the biggest upcoming holidays people will need cards for! For our gift items, we have a little more design freedom since these items aren’t geared towards a specific holiday.

Steel Petal Press New Release Letterpress Greeting Cards for Every Occasion Mother Day Fathers Day Valentines Birthday
Here we see initial ideas being presented for
further comments, questions, and critiques.

While this process can be fun, it can also be very tiring. It takes anywhere from 4-6 weeks from start to finish although we are ALWAYS thinking of new ideas so it never really stops. Additionally, it can be difficult to look at the same thing for so long and to constantly be listening to a pool of different opinions (but we truly value hearing them!).

Steel Petal Press New Release Letterpress Greeting Cards for Every Occasion Mother Day Fathers Day Valentines Birthday
Here we have Rachel (left), Dan (middle), and Shayna (right) discussing some of the
ideas and any necessary changes needed to make it stronger…
PLUS COFFEE (also a very important component of the design process, LOL!)

However for this release, the creative portion went a lot smoother than normal . At the end of only 2.5 weeks, we have a solid 27 NEW ITEMS that are completed and ready to move onto the next part of the process. That’s absolutely incredible, and to make it even better, we couldn’t be happier with the products we’ve created.

Steel Petal Press New Release Letterpress Greeting Cards for Every Occasion Mother Day Fathers Day Valentines Birthday Stickers Prince Pizza Yoda
A little teaser of a few of the finalized designs for the
Spring 2020 New Release from Steel Petal Press.

That’s a wrap…of this portion! In Part II, we’ll show a behind-the-scenes look into how these products are produced, including in-house and out-source creation. Stay tuned.
XOXO

Steel Petal Press Letterpress Handmade Stationery Greeting Cards Instagram
Stay up to date with our daily shenanigans and other important
SPP info by following us on Instagram!

September Rewind – Fast Forward to Fall

We didn’t so much “fall” into Fall as it fast forwarded and smacked us right on our heads! These seasons are changing so quickly but we’re staying as busy as ever which is a good thing… we think. Find out what we were up to in September by reading our September Rewind!

Goodbye September Hello October Steel Petal Press Month Rewind Recap Blog

Renegade Craft Fair
Steel Petal Press is no stranger to Renegade Craft Fair as we show it every time it’s in Chicago! We always do really well at this show because it draws a huge crowd of people who are interested in small, creative businesses. However, it is a big time commitment. There’s a lot of organizing, packing, and set up involved which also means 1-2 bodies are required to be there and away from the studio. It can be a very stressful situation but we do our best to have fun with it, too!

People Shopping Greeting Cards From Steel Petal Press Renegade Craft Fair September 2019 Chicago

This year we were blessed with fairly good weather which will make or break an outdoor event. It rained a little bit overnight and into Saturday morning but it cleared up by the time people were out shopping! In the end, the 2019 September show did BETTER than 2018’s with more transactions and an overall higher sales revenue total – YAY! We love seeing progress like that being made year to year and helps us gauge what events are worth doing and which ones might not be worth the investment. It’s safe to say you’ll be seeing at Renegade Craft Fairs for a long time 🙂

Handmade Letterpress Greeting Cards From Steel Petal Press

Spooktacular Window Display
We change our window with each change of the season, so once Fall hit, it meant it was time for us to update our window display! Typically, we do something Fall-related but this year we went a different direction: A Halloween Window! Halloween is one of our staff’s favorite holidays so it was weird we had never done a window inspired by it! Without further ado, here’s Steel Petal Press’s new retail window (ps, we’re totally batty over it!):

Steel Petal Press Retail Window Display Halloween Bats Spooktacular Brick And Mortar Store
Here’s a photo of it from the day time.
Come check it out at our brick + mortar store located at 2321 N Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago!

BUT, not everything is as it appears in the day time photo…there’s one small detail that isn’t visible but “ups” the spook factor. Check out the night time photo:

Steel Petal Press Retail Window Display Halloween Bats Spooktacular Brick And Mortar Store
Look at those spooky purple lights! It’s the perfect touch for the Halloween season.
Come check it out at our brick + mortar store located at 2321 N Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago!

Staff Picture Day
Shayna’s super talented friend, Jenn, is a photographer so she came in to take some new, updated photos of the store and staff! These photos are used for EVERYTHING including social media and marketing material. It can definitely be a little awkward getting our pictures taken because it feels so unnatural but we have a honestly BLAST with it. We’re so happy with how they turned out, and while we can’t share them ALL on the blog, here’s a great group portrait, LOL:

Cute Funny Group Photo Steel Petal Press Team
Look how cute we ARE!
Wanna see more hilarious/awesome photos?
Click the Instagram photo at the end of the blog post and follow us!

Holiday Hiring – Welcome Christina!
As you may have seen on our social media or in our previous blog post, we began the journey of hiring holiday help. The entire hiring process can be a really stressful one. It’s A LOT of time and repetition, add that into preparing for the busiest time of the year, and it can be very draining. We were a little worried at first because we seemed to have fewer applicants than previous years, however – QUALITY OVER QUANTITY. We are so happy to announce the addition of Christina to our team for the season. Be sure to stop by the store in the upcoming months and say “Hi!”

Thank you so much for tuning into our September Rewind.
Until next month, XOXO!

Steel Petal Press Instagram
Click here and follow us on Instagram for lots of
LOLs, curse words, and general shenanigans!

New Release – Mental Health Trackers

Notepads to track your mental health on a daily or weekly basis

The last (but definitely not least) of our newest release is our Mental Health Trackers! These notepads a new product category for Steel Petal Press. They also mark the beginning of me talking more openly about Mental Health.

Mental Health is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. Having Steel Petal Press as a public company I wanted to be able to use this platform as a way to share my story and to help others feel less alone.

There was quite a bit of discussion about what would be constructive way to use Steel Petal Press as a platform. Would I just share my story on Social Media? Take the form of written blog posts? Be a product I created? What would that product look like?

I wanted more than an inspirational quote or words of encouragement. When someone is suffering from mental health issues inspirational seem trite and hopeless. (For me they actually made me feel worse.) I wanted to create a product that would actually be helpful, while also help me tell my story. My goal is to help others feel less alone. After much thinking, and overthinking, I decided to create these notepads.

I designed these Mental Health Trackers as a tool to aid anyone looking to improve their emotional well-being. The simple act of writing down your emotions on paper can often help us see the causes – and therefore – solutions more clearly.

It was a difficult decision for me to talk about my mental health issues publicly, but it’s a conversation that needs to be had. As vulnerable and uncomfortable as sharing my story makes me feel, the thought that it could help someone far outweighs the negatives.

Not only do I want to destigmatize the public opinion of what it means to struggle with mental illness but shed light on how isolating, painful and dangerous it can be.

I want to share my story but also the stories of others, because no one experience is the same. The more we talk about mental health the better we can understand each other, maybe together we can lessen the stigma and shame by sharing our experiences. I hope that through story telling, it can help others who are suffering can help feel a little less alone.

April Month Rewind!

The month of April was busy, busy, busy! We love how fast time flies (it means we are having fun, right?!) Take a peek inside what the Steel Petal Press team has been up to in our April Month Rewind.

Employee Fun Time: Wine Candle Making
Every quarter Steel Petal Press sponsors an Employee Fun Time Event so the team can bond outside of the work environment. The team is really one of the best parts of Steel Petal Press so we always have a great time. We chose to do a Wine Candle Making class which walks us through how to make our own wine bottle candle! We chose everything from the bottle, the color, and the scent to make our very own custom candle!

Steel Petal Press Group Picture
Steel Petal Press group photo!
Group Wine Candle Making
We’re cutting the tops off our wine glasses so we can pour our candle wax inside!
Group Wine Candle Making
Goofin’ and learnin’ how to make wine glass candles!
Just sniffin’ out some scents to use!

OOAK Prep – SO MUCH PROCESSING:
In case you weren’t aware, one of the many things that make Steel Petal Press items so special is that they are prepared and packaged all by hand. This is what we can “processing”. It can be an incredibly overwhelming task during busy times like the end of a New Release and/or prepping for a retail market show like One Of A Kind. Well, lucky for us, both of these events happened this past April which made for a huge amount of processing to get done.

Steel Petal Press Handmade Cards
Every single individual card page was folded, enveloped, and sleeved by the Steel Petal Press staff! Be sure to think of that every time you pick up one of our products! 🙂

One Of A Kind (OOAK) April 2019 Show:
We kicked off the first of our two OOAK shows for the year (the second being a holiday one!). These retail market shows are a lot of effort and time which means it’s important for us to constantly evaluate what the cost/benefit is as a small business. This year’s Spring/Summer show was a bit slower than all the previous years so we aren’t sure if we will be returning to this particular one. However, Steel Petal Press does amazing at the holiday OOAK so we will definitely be back for that one! Here’s a few photos from our show in April:

Left = booth setup and right = finished booth
Look at all the pretty Steel Petal Press cards at OOAK!

Steel Petal Press New Release – FINISHED:
We are so happy to report that we finished our New Release!! If you’ve been following us at all in the previous months, it’s been obvious what a huge task this is. With all our new products completed, we were able to make them available at our retail location and soon to be available for wholesale and retail (online) orders!

Happy Birthday Bitch Steel Petal Press New Release Card
A photo showing “plates” for new designs for this current New Release.
Steel Petal Press Letterpress Handmade Cards
A quick snapshot of Shayna printing some of the New Release styles!
Handmade Letterpress Funny Snarky Birthday Cards Steel Petal Press
Styled photo of some of our new birthday cards!
Funny Snarky Coffee Mugs By Steel Petal Pres
Don’t forget, we design our own gift items too! Check out these 3 new mug styles we created!

That’s it for our April Month Rewind here at Steel Petal Press. Thanks so much for checking in with us month to month and be sure to stay tuned for what we’re up to in May!

Steel Petal Press Instagram

Mental Health Awareness Month | One

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

I’ve been sitting here at my computer running through my mind all the things I want to say about my personal mental health struggles:
“What is my story?”
“Why is it important?”
“What do I want to say?”  

The truth is, there are so many reasons to share my personal history with mental health. It has been challenging to organize my thoughts.  

For me, it all starts with understanding what I can control and what I cannot.  Mental illness, depression and anxiety runs in my family. It’s a genetic disease that has been passed down, not through actions and habits of my family, but through brain chemistry.  It took me a really long time to understand that feeling depressed and anxious is actually NOT something I can control. I struggled through many years trying to contain my emotions and then beating myself up when I couldn’t, it only made me feel worse. The tricky thing about mental illness (specifically anxiety in my case) is that sometimes an emotional reaction cannot be regulated by reason.  After years and years of ups and downs I met with the right psychiatrist. He helped me understand that some things are beyond my control. I was finally able to let go of trying. Rather than fighting an impossible battle with my brain chemistry, I was able to focus on the things I actually could control, like lifestyle, surroundings, situations and triggers that lead those feelings to surface.

So, What is my story?
It’s over 20 years of struggling with anxiety and resulting depression. Within those 20 years I experienced five episodes that completely debilitated me from functioning in everyday life.  HOWEVER, I want to reiterate, this is *not* a sob story. This is a story of someone who struggled and prevailed, and then fell and got back up again. I write this now from a positive, productive and rational place. In those moments of despair it’s the absolute worst. It feels hopeless and helpless and isolating and completely alone. But it has always gotten better.

So, why share my story? Why now?
I’m finally at a place where I feel like I have a much better understanding of myself and my illness.  With better perspective of my own story, I feel much better sharing what I know. Anyone else who feels similarly, I want you to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

The more we talk about mental health the better we can understand each other, maybe together we can lessen the stigma and shame by sharing our experiences. I hope this blog series can help add to the conversation.

New Release Step 2: Printing Process

Steel Petal Press is back at it again with Step 2 of our New Release journey which we call the “Printing Process”. Now, I’m sure it’s obvious what a majority of this portion consists of (printing, duh!) but this time in our process also involves some steps you might not be aware of! Without further ado here’s a look at our Step 2: the Printing Process.

Before we can begin actually printing, we must order things called “plates” which takes about a week or so to come in. Plates are pieces of plastic which have the images of each specific design we created on it. The design has golden raised edges which is what the machine “presses” into the paper to create the images you see on our final products (hence the term letterpress!). It is also interesting to note that each color in a single design must use its own plate. Therefore, a single design may be comprised of 2 or 3 smaller, individual plates depending on how many colors are used – pretty cool, huh?!

Here’s a photo of a variety of plates we ordered for this current release!
A close up photo of a plate (left) and it’s intended final design (right)!

Now, it’s time to get printing! This is definitely the part of the process people are most curious about here at Steel Petal Press. We are always happy to share details about printing and letterpress but keep in mind, this blog is giving a fairly condensed version of how it works. Printing is a very time consuming process that takes days to weeks depending on the amount that is being printed. For example, this specific New Release has taken about 2-3 weeks to print and that’s with 2 people printing and 1-2 presses being used at different times. Check out some photos and informational captions about the printing process at SPP:

Color is everything.
It’s important to take the time to mix everything appropriately in order
to achieve a correct and consistent match for each color!
This photo is of a chase. It is the part of the machine which holds the plate in place so it’s very important that it’s aligned properly . The correct alignment allows for the design
(on the plate) to be pressed into the paper in the right places.
This is Shayna and she is placing the chase (pictured above) into the press so that
she can begin printing!
The image above shows incomplete cards that are waiting to have a different color used on the remaining plate to finalize the entire design!
While printing, it’s also important to pause to double-check alignments and troubleshoot any issues to ensure the best quality of each and every product!

In the midst of our printing marathon, we are also receiving shipments of our other newly design items that have to be outsourced. While every one of Steel Petal Press products are designed here in our Chicago, IL studio, non-paper items such as mugs, magnets, gift wrap, etc. have to be manufactured elsewhere. However, they are all still produced by companies in the US (pretty cool, huh?!).

We snapped these cute little sneak peek photos as soon as we got the new items in!

Lastly, we have to send out all the new products to a photographer so they can snap the product photos we use on our sales websites and marketing materials. This can take anywhere from 1-2 weeks but it’s a very important step. Additionally, we use the photos to make our wholesale and retail item listings so they can be properly purchased by consumers!

Thanks for staying tuned for Step 2 of our New Release. We are in the home stretch so be sure to check out Step 3 which will be the conclusion of our journey…until the next release, of course!

In the mean time, for more behind the scenes follow us on Instagram:

Chicago Print Crawl

Chicago Print Crawl

Steel Petal Press is thrilled to be participating in this year’s Chicago Print Crawl organized by Spudnik Press.

Spudnik Press is a community print shop located in West Town Chicago. They offer classes, workshops, private lessons and field trip tours for novices. For more intermediate printers, Spudnik rents studio space, and offers residencies and fellowships. Our very own printing assistant, Dan, recently went through their studio fellowship program.

The print crawl takes place on Saturday May 11th from 11am – 5pm. Steel Petal Press will be hosting an Open House of sorts. The presses will be running all day. Visitors coming into the shop will have a chance to ask questions while Dan prints. While we always have the presses on display at Steel Petal Press, this will be a unique chance to delve in and ask questions as we demo while we work.

How Does It Get Made?: The SPP Edition.

How does it get made? Is this a question we ask too much?…or not enough?

When we live in such a consumer-driven culture, it can be easy to forget the journey an item makes before we purchase it. For us here at SPP, it’s more than just making a commodity. It’s about creating high quality, handmade items that connect all of us through fun and meaningful life moments. With that in mind, we want to begin a series of blog posts that detail specific portions of the design process for our upcoming release – from start to finish! However, we thought to give it a bit more context that we should layout a brief overview of the entire process derived from our last release which just happened in January (Spring)!  Without further ado, enjoy How does It Get Made?: The SPP Edition.

The “Thinking” Process:
While this isn’t an official title or anything, it’s a great umbrella concept for the creative thoughts process that must happen first. Essentially, we can’t produce new items if we don’t know what ideas we want to create! As I mentioned above, we just did a Spring Release this January but its development began way back in August of last year (2018)! The entire staff joins in on the brainstorming process which means we are constantly jotting down and joking around with ideas. From that pool of ideas, Shayna starts designing rough sketches which can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks.

As the sketching process continues, Shayna will present them to the entire staff during weekly meetings in which positive and negative feedback is given and adjustments are made to create final designs or table  unfinished ideas (possibly for another release).

The “Printing” Process:
Next up, printing! Since we create cards using the letterpress process, we must order the plates which “stamp” (or press) our design onto paper. Therefore, absolutely no printing can occur until we receive them. The plates usually come in 1-2 weeks and then we print all the new card designs for another 2-3 weeks.

However here at SPP, we don’t just design cards! We also design gift items like magnets, mugs, gift bags, and gift wrap which can’t be made using letterpress so we outsource them during this time to other printing services in the US.

The “Marketing to Sales” Process:
This final portion of the journey encompasses all aspects that have to do with marketing and getting our products to sale through either wholesale or retail. When we finish printing, the new samples are shipped out to be photographed which takes about another 1-2 weeks. These photographs are important because they can used for a variety of marketing purposes like Instagram, Facebook, newsletters, etc.

During this time, Shayna will also update our wholesale catalog while our wholesale manager, Rachel, works on updating our various selling websites. Rachel will also work on sending out the new samples to our sales rep groups across the country to ensure they have our entire current line available for accounts. Last on the wholesale front, we will send out catalogs and marketing fliers to all 300+ current retailers to let them know about our new release!

Once all of that is complete, we can begin selling our new items to the public through various retail channels such as our brick and mortar store and our website!

The finish of a release also sets us up to show at wholesale markets like AmericasMart and NYNow because we have new products to debut to current and potential accounts!

Whew – what a process, huh?! While it’s no small feat, it’s a large part of what we are constantly doing here at Steel Petal Press. We look forward to continuing this blog post series in real time alongside our next release. Until then, we hope you enjoyed How Does It Get Made?: The SPP Edition.

Be sure to stop by our brick & mortar store (and shop our Steel Petal Press products online) to browse all of our awesome products AND MORE!

And be sure to follow us on Instagram for more behind the scenes!

One of A Kind Show Chicago | 2018 Recap

We just finished up our 5th year exhibiting at One of a Kind Show Chicago.  It’s a four day sale located on the 7th floor of the Merchandise Mart in down town Chicago. There’s so many vendors a great handmade items from small nick knacks to beautiful (and pricey) works of art.

I’ve slowed down doing off site shows quite a bit since opening the SPP retail shop.  It’s not easy find staffing for outside events while also making sure the shop fully staffed (especially during the holidays).  But because the One of A Kind Show is in Chicago, it makes it easier to set up and man while still in Chicago.

The booth provided comes with hard walls and lights.  Tuesday and Wednesday before the show vendors bring in displays to showcase their work and make everything look pretty.  This is what our blank booth looked like before we started setting up:

We put up shelves, pegs and other table displays for all our product. Our white shelving is from Ikea, originally purchased for our first One of a Kind Show in 2014, which we have used every year since. We also have a table for boxed sets and home goods. Plus a little table to serve as our mini temporary cash wrap.

I always choose to power through set up on Tuesday so that if there are any last minute items I forgot or changes to the display, I can take care of those on Wednesday before the show opens. It also gives me some extra time to chill (if possible) before the show opens first thing on Thursday morning.  It’s a really long show, with 9-10 hour days for 4 days in a row. Any extra hours to rest are always helpful!

This year’s show was for the most part a success! We set up with enough time and have perfected our display (four years of practice, trial and error definitely help.)

The one major disappointment came on both Thursday and Friday mornings. Thursday morning I came into the show to find our singles and fives plus some rolls of quarters missing from our cash box.  Over $400 worth of change! 🙁

At the end of the first day of set up Tuesday evening I had accidentally left the cash box in sight.  It was at the back of my booth and on my bottom shelf, but still visible to passers by.  I didn’t realize it until I was already home for the night, but figured it would be OK. The Merchandise Mart has security and the seventh floor is closed to the public during when not show hours.  I got back in on Thursday morning I realized all my ones, fives and a few rolls of quarters were missing. It sucked.  I had Shelby to come in early to watch the booth while I ran to the bank to withdraw more change for the show. That night I made sure to take all the bills with me. I hid the cash box under the table and left the rolls of coins.

I arrived Friday morning to find that all my quarters were missing (again!!) .   Obviously someone targeting me the second time. Not only did they take my rolls of quarters, they also took our square reader so I couldn’t take any Credit Card payments for the first two hours of the show.  Luckily, my husband was able to drop off a backup square reader a few hours later.  It was stressful and unfortunate, but eventually resolved.

Aside from those two incidents, the show was really great! It was nice to see some familiar faces and repeat customers throughout the years. It’s always nice to hear laughter and see people connect with the work we make at Steel Petal Press.  In addition, we had our best year in sales.  So despite the thefts, overall I came out feeling really positive about the experience and have already signed up for next year.

Until then Chicago. Happy Holidays!!

 a