New Release Step 1: Creative Process

Hi guys, we are so excited to kick off our blog series which gives a segmented, in-depth look at all the steps we do at Steel Petal Press to create a “New Release”.

To start off, we first want to clarify what a “New Release” is for us. It’s the term we use to describe when we create, produce, and then sell new styles of products for Steel Petal Press. Our goal is to design new items in every category we offer (cards, mugs, bookmarks, magnets, gift wrap, gift bags). For example, in this New Release we are actively working on, there are 41 new items being made – WOW!

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s discuss the portion of the New Release process that comes first (and we actually just wrapped up the other day!): The Creative Process. As you could probably guess from the title, we use this time to think of fresh new ideas and Shayna then designs them either by hand or using Photoshop. This is by far our favorite part of the New Release journey because it involves a lot of laughter, fun, and thoughtful artistic discussions.

Brainstorming is a huge part of the Creative Process of a New Release. We are constantly writing down ideas and discussing how things do or don’t work. It’s a constant discussion where small ideas are reworked and grown into final salable, on-brand product! This whole process, from thought to final design, can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks.

A close-up shot of some ideas for our current New Release

Next up, we use our weekly staff meetings as the forum for those aforementioned thoughtful artistic discussions. The input from our entire team is CRUCIAL in designing amazing products for SPP. The melting pot of different perspectives allow for us to see things in new and different ways as well as build upon each other’s ideas. Here’s a couple photos of what this looks like:

Pictured (From Left To Right): Shayna, Dan, and Matt discussing card ideas
Pictured: Shayna discussing a potential new mug idea

Last, but not least, staff feedback and discussion is not only used to invent new ideas but it’s also an important tool to see what ideas AREN’T working. While it may seem like everything we create kicks ass (because it does, duh), behind the scenes is not as simple. We are often tabling ideas for another time because we aren’t able to make a solid final idea out of it. Other times, an idea is presented that someone LOVES but, with more input, we recognize that the idea just doesn’t translate to a product or to our brand.

Thanks for joining us on this first leg of this current journey to a New Release for Steel Petal Press. Stay tuned next month to see Step 2!!

February Retailer Shout Outs!

We absolutely love when our wholesale accounts tag our products on display in their stores! It really makes us feel connected with others through our designs which is what we are all about here at Steel Petal Press.

Enjoy a few of our favorites we saw in the month of February:

The Ballog – Palmetto, GA
Hucklebeary – Duluth, MN
Ellie Bauman & Co. – San Francisco, CA
Milton And Margie’s – Chicago, IL

We absolutely love sharing Steel Petal Press with the world so keep’um coming!

Follow us on instagram for more behind the scenes.

Steel Petal Press Instagram

February Month Rewind!

February is finally over and we couldn’t be happier! If you’re in Chicago (or at least understand its’ weather), you’ll know it’s been a rough one. In general, things have been pretty quiet but that doesn’t mean we’ve slowed down! For now, enjoy our February Month Rewind:

Kick Off To Hiring:
Phew, this has been a long time coming! The start of the hiring process (and the entire process in general) requires a lot of effort and moving parts. From deciding the specific job needs, to creating and posting a job listing, to actually interviewing, it just take a lot. However, we are actually happy that business is doing so well that we NEED extra help! Stay tuned for the outcome of our employee hunt and hopefully we’ll have an extra addition to the SPP family next month 🙂

Feb 2019 NYNow Buying Trip:
If you follow SPP at all, you’ll know we kicked off NYNow Aug 2018 by showing our wholesale line for the first time in years. However, our owner Shayna also travels to additional NYNow shows for the sole intention of buying cool products from other vendors to carry in our retail store. This is a very tedious, but necessary, task since there is SO MUCH to see at these shows and VERY LITTLE time to do it! But, it’s the best way to keep up with new and fresh items which is very important for our brick & mortar business.

Valentine’s Day:
Being a stationery and gift company, Valentine’s Day can be a very busy time in terms of sales. In the 1 or 2 months leading up to V-Day, our wholesale accounts are placing orders to get those love-themed items shipped and received in time to be purchased! For our brick and mortar, the week to couple days before the holiday are our busiest! (Nothing like last minute shopping, eh?!) Either way, we love being a place that people turn to for the perfect way to say they care!

Spring Display Window:
We love ushering in the new Spring season with a new window display at our brick and mortar location! It’s truly special how much freedom we have to have to get creative with the displays and we do our best to take full advantage of that 🙂 This year we found ourselves inspired by crystals and their formations in nature. We honestly couldn’t be happier with how it turned out, in fact, it might be our favorite window to date:

The Path To A New Release Begins:
As we’ve made mention in previous blog posts, Steel Petal Press really wants to share a more in depth look at how we create new releases for our brand. BUT, to touch on it briefly as we look back this month, the creative portion of this process began as we started to share some preliminary ideas for new cards and gifts. We are looking forward to sharing more details on this but for now enjoy some photo evidence of what this looks like for us:


(Left to Right) Shayna, Dan, Matt looking at potential card ideas!

Thanks for reading through our February Month Rewind. We can’t wait to share all the exciting things that unfolding for Steel Petal Press in 2019! Until next time, buh bye!

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

Do You Like Funny, New Shit? Cool, We Made Some!

Let’s be honest: who doesn’t like funny, new shit? Steel Petal Press certainly does! One of our favorite things to do is to create new and funny additions to our product line. As we always say, our mission is to create products that help people celebrate and connect through life’s important moments. What better way to do that than with a little humor and sass? 😉 Check out all the funny, new shit we made for our most recent product release:

Cards:
In case it wasn’t clear, we LOVE cards. Our new releases are comprised mostly of cards which are perfect for a variety of occasions. Check out these great new Steel Petal Press original designs we made for this latest release:

For The Birthdays: Old Fart (left) / Just One Drink (middle) / You Were Born (right)
For The Parents: Bad Dad Jokes (left) / Take It Easy (right)

Gift Bags:
Steel Petal Press isn’t just a one-trick pony… we also design and create other items such as gift bags! We think that sass shouldn’t just be limited to the cards you give but gifts, too. Check out these newest styles:

For The Gift Bags: Best Gift Ever (left) / Goddamn Happy Birthday (right)

Coffee Mug:
We sure do love our mugs at Steel Petal Press! No matter how you take your coffee (cream and/or sugar) it never hurts to have a little snark with it! Check out our newest mug style:

For Coffee Mugs: Fresh Fucks

Bookmarks:
Steel Petal Press also has an extensive line of bookmarks because books rule! Do we really need anymore reasons than that? Check out this great new style we just released:

For The Bookmarks: Big Books

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!

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!

Shout out to our Retailers!

Popping in to do a quick shout out to all our awesome retail partners!  Wholesale business is about half of the work we do.  Steel Petal Press products are carried in over 250+ wonderful stores around the country.  We love peeping all the beautifully curated shops on instagram.  It’s always a joy to see our products in out in the wild.  Below are a few shots from some of our favorite shops!

ClTCH in Charlotte, NC

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Fetch in Kansas City, MO

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Modern Legend in Wilmington, NC

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The Paper Studio, Grand Rapid MI

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Wordshop, Denver CO

And please be sure to follow us on instagram for all our pretty new products and promotions!

Steel Petal Press Instagram

January Rewind – A Kickass Start To 2019!

We know we say this every month but where does the time go?! SERIOUSLY, THOUGH!? We couldn’t be more excited with how the first month of 2019 has gone! January was definitely a strange month with lots going on so please enjoy our January Rewind!

Year-End Inventory:
As you could probably guess, the year-end inventory isn’t the most fun task to do here at Steel Petal Press but it is totally necessary! To sum it up, a year-end inventory means we count every single item we have in stock from the back to the front. This includes everything from envelopes and sleeves to the candles and tea towels on the sales floor. We then reconcile any differences between what we counted versus what our computer count says we have. This allows us to accurately account for inventory so we know what/when to order things, identify any theft patterns, and let us know how much dollar amount in inventory we have on hand! The team totally killed it and this was by far the most seamless inventory count we’ve had! WOOHOO!

Karaoke Room:
Steel Petal Press likes to do an “employee fun time” once every quarter as a reward for all the hard work our team gives! This quarter’s fun time happened to land right at the end of inventory so everyone was ready to blow off some steam! We collectively decided to rent a karaoke room in Lincoln Park and sing our little hearts out…and boy, did we! 🙂

(Our favorite pic of the night goes to Dan, one of our retail employees/printer and his gf, Anna!)

America’s Mart (ATL):
We had been working tirelessly to prepare for our very first time attending America’s Mart as a vendor and all the hard work paid off! The set-up and tear down were pretty much seamless…we even got to enjoy a “free” day around Atlanta!

We were very happy with how the booth turned out – bright, colorful, and welcoming (which is everything Steel Petal Press is about!) One more special thing about our booth at America’s Mart was that we were in the “On Trend” section which is juried. This means a panel voted that our products “Juried” means that a met their criteria to be considered “On Trend”. It’s very important in a huge show such as this because it sets us apart from the VERY  large pool of additional vendors.

Steel Petal Press  had a few days that were a bit slow but in the end it was deemed a successful first time showing at America’s Mart! We walked away with 20 orders, most of which were new accounts for us! We are looking to get more reach in the south, so definitely a good start to expanding in this area.

We also measure a show’s success by  how many contacts were made even if they didn’t place an order. This is because it’s very possible they could place an order in the future! Once we arrived home, we counted about 30 new potential retail leads (which is very good) but they also felt like stronger leads than the one’s we compiled from New York Now in August. In fact, we’ve even had 2 new account open from those leads!

The show going well did not spare Shelby or Shayna from utter exhaustion which can best we summed up by this photo from the plane right home.

Justin Timberlake Concert:
Since Shelby and Shayna worked their asses off at Steel Petal Press’s first ever America’s Mart, they decided to treat themselves to something super fun while in ATL. They decided to go see Justin Timberlake who happened to be playing at the arena right down town…and it did NOT disappoint (not even a little). They were able to rock out and enjoy an incredible show despite all their drooling and swooning (because let’s be honest, he’s both cute AND sexy which isn’t an easy feat!)

Las Vegas Show:
For the first time, Steel Petal Press showed at a tradeshow in Las Vegas with our sales rep group: Lynn Mitchell Group. Shayna also decided to attend on behalf of SPP since we were sharing the space with other brands from LMG. It proved to be an interesting learning experience since we had never seen our sales reps in action!

Polar Vortex:
Last, but not least, for the first time ever Steel Petal Press’s flagship retail location in Chicago was closed for 2 days due to weather!

The temperature reached between -20 to -30 degrees both days. The entire staff working those days walk to work which was just too dangerous when it’s that cold! (Trust us, it was miserable out!)

February is already underway so stay tuned for next month’s recap!

2019 Valentine’s Day Gift Guide!

Valentine’s Day is almost upon us which means love is in the air…and in the cards and gifts here at Steel Petal Press! Whether you want to get something sexy, snarky, or just plain sweet, we’ve got what you need to show your special person how much you love them! Check out our 2019 Valentine’s Day Gift Guide below!

Valentine's Day Gift Guide 2019

“Kinky” and “Ladies Night” Truth or Dare Game ($14.95)
Who doesn’t love a good game of Truth or Dare? These fun (and sexy) versions of an old classic make the perfect Valentine’s (or Galentine’s) day gift!

“Horny For Food” Oven Mitt ($13)
This is more of a tongue-and-cheek gift.  Give it to a special person with a great sense of humor and an affinity for cooking! Because, let’s be honest, who out there doesn’t TOTALLY relate to this oven mitt? (No one, that’s who).

“Love and Happiness” Crystals and Stones Set ($20)
This beautifully packaged set contains Rose Quartz, Amethyst, and Quartz Crystal. It has an attached affirmation that states: “Happiness is my choice and love is abundant in my life”. What a perfect sentiment to share with whoever you love this Valentine’s Day!

The “Movie Kama Sutra” Book ($12.99)
This book makes an “sex”-cellent gift for those with an affinity for movies, pop culture, and boning in hilarious and weird ways!

“Junk Food” Tattoos and Love Notes ($20)
This set of 24 adorable Valentine’s cards in the shape of pizza, soda, popcorn, and french fries come with little temporary tattoos and cute-sy love notes! These work well as little V-day gifts in your office or in a child’s classroom!

Steel Petal Press Valentine’s Cards ($3.33-$6)
We’ve created a line of cards that are sure to make your Valentine smile; from laughing or sweetness, you choose! We have classic favorites, like “Hate You/Love You” and “Tinder Love” and new best sellers “Bear Lets Fuck” and “Cheesy Valentine Day“, you’ll find the perfect card here!

We hope you enjoyed our 2019 Valentine’s Day Gift Guide!
Be sure to stop by our brick & mortar store (and shop our Steel Petal Press products online) to browse these awesome products AND MORE!

Clearance Sale at Steel Petal Press!

clearance Sale at Steel Petal Press

It’s a new year and at Steel Petal Press we need to make room for all the new inventory coming in.
Come visit our brick and mortar and check out our clearance section.

Everything on clearance is 75% off!

We have everything from holiday stuff to mugs, desk accessories, fun gifts and more at MEGA DISCOUNTS.
Only at our retail location in Logan Square.

Steel Petal Press Shop location:
2321 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60647
M-F 11-7 | Sat 10-6 | Sun 11-4

We hope to see you soon!

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!