Behind the Scenes – Photo Friday

I know I missed last week’s Behind the Scenes post. I totally meant to write something, but Friday ended up an all-day sprint, and by the time I had a second to catch my breath it was already late at night, and I was done working.  So then I meant to write something earlier this week, but then I caught a stomach bug (it was either that, or bad guacamole) and I was out all day Monday and Tuesday. Man, have I had bad luck with health recently or what?  Either way, I’m feeling better now and I will post a recap of the last two weeks to make up for it.

I have so much new inventory for the National Stationery Show (booth #2256), I had to buy more shelves to hold it all! Below you can view my third set of Uline shelves, still being filled with new card designs (I’m still not finished printing everything, but getting closer!)

letterpress print shop stationery storage

I also placed my order for the Steel Petal Press Spring 2014 Wholesale catalog.  (crossing things off the NSS to-do list)  Below you can see my hard copy proof that came in the mail earlier this week.  The final run will be printed and ship to me sometime next week. If you’re in Chicago I highly recommend Prism Printers. They have excellent customer service and do beautiful work.

letterpress wholesale catalog

Below are new “Arrows and Mountains” letterpress gift tags that will premier at the show this May.

arrows and mountains letterpress gift tags

Lisa has been coming into the studio to help out two days a week for the last month or so.  She helps with packing, shipping, fulfillment, etsy orders, wholesale orders, printing and just about anything that needs to get done. You can see her here working away, surrounded by paper.

Lisa Working

I also LOVE that I’ve been able to finally use some of my lead type for my production work.  I used the “hello” below to print this hello stationery set in my shop.

photo5  

And the lock up below was to print personalized stationery for a customer last week.  She customized this listing with her initials and custom color choices. 

initials - personalized letterpress stationery

And that’s my abbreviated recap of the last two weeks. For more behind the scenes follow me on Instagram.

I’ve still been chugging through my NSS to-do list.  I plan on working tomorrow to make up for the time I missed Monday and Tuesday. In fact, I will probably end up working most weekends from now until NSS. It’s just one month away!

The sun is finally out in Chicago. Enjoy the weather this weekend – xo – shayna

Updates on NSS Prep 2014

NSS prep updates

The photo above is kinda how I feel about my NSS Prep; almost there, but not quite yet.. (photo credit is of my friend Debbie‘s half built booth from last year – read her recap here.)

I have been plugging away at my NSS prep, crossing things off the list, getting closer to the end goal.  I leave for NYC in exactly 36 days and right now I feel like I’m in pretty good shape to get everything done in time.  This year prep has been a much different experience last year. Having already gone through one year at the National Stationery Show, I feel much more confident and prepared for  what needs to get done. Last year there were so many things I had to figure out from scratch (like product numbers, catalog, order forms… more) and so much I didn’t know what to expect.  This year although there is still tons of work to get done, I feel much more relaxed about the whole thing.

So, for the past two weeks I’ve been working on:
- Getting my lighting down: which means buying clamp lights, returning clamp lights, going back to home depot for  different clamp lights. And also getting several bulbs, testing them, returning bulbs and buying more. I think I finally have my lighting down
- Working on my pre-show mailer: I have two parts, 1 letterpress printed card plus a digitally printed card with images of my work (and my studio) I ordered the digitally printed card and am still waiting for the plates to arrive so I can print the letterpress card. Then I plan on attempting to hand address each envelope, but I may scrap that idea and just print address labels.
- All my new products are designed! 50 new items. They have been assigned product numbers and entered into my inventory system. And 3/4 of them have been printed. 1/2 of them have been photographed.
- Catalog is designed. I’m just proof reading it a few more times before it goes to press.
- Vinyl has been ordered for my booth display
- Furniture and shelving for the booth has been purchased.
- Order form has been ordered

Here’s what still needs to get done:
- order catalog
- print, package and mail pre-show mailer
- design and print press kit (last year it included burning 50 cds with images)
- enter best new product
- finish printing all new designs
- photograph all new designs
- add new products to website and etsy (to go live while I’m in NYC)
- figure out booth giveaway (I’m thinking coasters.. would love something more original, still need to think about this..)
- last minute errands and shopping (booth snacks, step stool, swiffer to clean booth, folders for order forms)
- buy new outfit?

I feel like I’m in the home stretch!  Also, after last year, I feel much more confident in my line and how it will be received by the wholesale buyers. I felt like I got a good amount of orders last year at the show, plus orders after the show, and re-orders throughout the year have given me even more confidence in my line.

I will keep you posted as I continue to plug away! xo, shayna

New Home

New Home Chicago

So, the big news is: A few weeks ago, hubby and I put an offer in on a home! After over six months of searching we finally found the perfect home for us.  Our new home is just one mile south of our current apartment in Logan Square, the Chicago neighborhood where we have lived since we moved here almost 6 years ago. Having lived in the same apartment for the last six years, we’ve gotten quite comfortable where we are.  Moving will certainly be a pain in the butt. Exciting, but also a lot of work.

I waited this long to officially post about it because we’re still going through the loan process.  Even though they’ve excepted our offer, our loan isn’t locked down yet, so the deal is not yet 100% finalized.   Once our loan comes through our closing date is May 7th. Almost exactly one month away! Our plan is to get through the National Stationery Show first (hubby will be joining me for the first few days in NYC to help me set up) and then move at the end of May / early June.

In the meantime I’ve been spending my  free time between my NNS prep pinning interior design ideas (HERE) and researching  furniture ideas for our new home (HERE.) After apartment living for the last 15+ years its exciting to think about making substantial purchases on furniture that will live with us for a very long time.

I’ve been loving the sectionals at Room and Board:

York Sectional

Industrial Wood Furniture from Etsy, Dot and Bo and Urban Wood Goods (in Chicago!)

Industrial coffee table dot and bo Wood Table

Mid century modern chairs:

Accent Chairs

Some of my favorites are from Overstock.com (here and here), Room and Board and Crate and Barrel.

And Vintage Kilim Turkish Rugs on Ebay and Etsy:

Kilim Turkish Rug Kilim Rub

 

Not to say that none of our current furniture will make it to our new home, but we are desperately in need of some upgrades.  I will keep you updated!

xo, shayna

Hot Off the Press | Letterpress Mothers Day Cards

Mother’s Day is a month away, Sunday May 11th (mark your calendar) Here are the newest designs I’ve added to my letterpress mother’s day card collection. I was inspired by not-too-sappy messages I would want to say myself.

All cards are available for purchase in my SHOP.

Mother's Day Card Newest #letterpress Mother's Day Card handmade in Chicago by Steel Petal Press. Mother's Day Card Letterpress mothers day card

Enjoy!

Behind the Scenes – Photo Friday

Man, it’s been a while since I’ve posted a behind the scenes photo! Sorry, my bad. The last month has been busy! Getting back from my 2 week trip to South America I hit the ground running.  I battled several consecutive colds and was real low on energy for almost three weeks. (ouch!)  But I’ve been feeling healthy all week and almost caught up. Here’s a little of what I’ve been up to:

This is my DIY product photography set up. I’ve been busy getting ready for the National Stationery Show, and have been taking lots of photos of all my new products (almost 50 new cards!) to be included in my new catalog.

product photography photo shoot

Aside from getting my butt in gear for the National Stationery Show (booth 2256 in May!) I’ve also been busy getting wedding invitations out to my 2014 brides. These lovely lace letterpress wedding invitations went out this week, along with three other wedding invitation orders.  Like I said, I’ve been busy! :)

Lace Wedding Invitation

And that’s all for now.  Have a lovely weekend y’all!

xo, shayna

Interview Series | Saya Hillman of Mac & Cheese Productions

The next interview in my series is of Saya Hillman, a woman who has always impressed me with her passion for her business and her ability to just make it work.   Her company Mac & Cheese productions creates unique experiences for adults; where people connect, face their fears, create community, participate and grow.   She is the master of networking and social media, and has been written up publications such as Huffington Post and Forbes. Read her story and hear some of her marketing, business and social media tips below:

Fear Experiment Show Saya

1 – Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
Grew up in Evanston, IL, majored in English and Sociology at Boston College, and have been in Chicago my adult-life.

2 – How did Mac & Cheese productions get started? Can you explain a little bit more about what you offer?
Got fired from my last 9 to 5 job. Decided I never wanted a boss again. Nine years later, haven’t looked back!

3 – What has been the most effective way for you to market such a unique business? What have tried that didn’t work as well?
Word of mouth, word of mouth, word of mouth. I haven’t spent any money on marketing or advertising. 100% referrals and WOM.
These happen in various ways –
- Someone tells someone about me/my business/my website verbally
- Someone shares a link I post/tweet, whether it’s about my business or not, doesn’t matter; when people see the name of my company or read my twitter bio, they’re intrigued and seek out more info
- I go to tons of events and usually go solo. By events, I don’t mean traditional networking events. I loathe those. I mean storytelling fests, board game nights, gallery walks, conferences, underground supper clubs. Someone will ask what I do, I give them a few sentences and then 45 mins later, they’re still asking me questions and totally into what I’m saying; then they’ll ask for my card and eventually sign up for my various offerings.
- Someone goes to my website for one thing and ends up looking at/signing up for other things.
- Someone comes to an event of mine and ends up loving it and thus signing up for other events.
- I send out a twice-monthly newsletter, about 85% not about my business. Just random goodness I stumble upon or that’s shared with me, such as job openings, activity suggestions, referrals, grant opportunities, health tips, frugality tips, travel tips, etc. Two key things — it doesn’t come across as me self-promoting myself (even though I am) and people forward it to others all the time, getting me new sign-ups all the time.
- Having a business that’s different, that sticks out, and that resonates. The fact that I require you come solo to many of my offerings and the fact that I do many of them out of my home is different and attractive. I liken what I do to “adult summer camp” which elicits uber-positive vibes from folks. And what I focus on are issues that are universal — wanting to belong, finding authentic relationships (romantic, social, professional), challenging oneself in a stretching yet comfortable way, injecting more play and laughter into life, spending your time doing what you love.
- Creating strategic partnerships with others who have similar yet different networks than mine. Similar in that they want the same thing, have the same type of personality, but different in that there’s not a lot of overlap of clientele. Doing cross-promotion and/or collaboration with these partners.
Put your website and perhaps something a bit more about your business in your signature; such an easy non-obtrusive way to market yourself

4 – You’re quite vocal of your love of social media. What is your favorite social media outlet, and do you have any social media tips, tricks or etiquette advice?
All good for different purposes. Facebook is more personal (at least my personal account is; I don’t become friends with people who aren’t actually my friends). Twitter is more business.
Ones I use regularly: Facebook business page and personal page, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
Though that’s kind of a lie. I don’t go on LinkedIn or Twitter much but it LOOKS like I do. This is because I use Hootsuite to send out most of my social media, where you can send out one post to multiple outlets. Huge time-saver!

I also post a Cheese-It Break every day at the same time. It’s just a quote, usually inspirational or funny. The amount of likes and shares this gets me is huge. And the more of those you get, the more exposure you get.

Etiquette: if you ask someone to promote something of yours, make it as easy as possible. Send them all the copy they need, including handles, hashtags, websites, etc. If you want them to tweet, send them a tweet, and make sure it’s 140 characters or less. Can’t tell you how many people ask me to promote something, send me a PDF that I have to download and then pick out the pertinent info, create the material and then share. If you make me work, chances are I won’t.

Saya Hillman

4 – You’ve also had quite a bit of impressive press from Huffington Post to Forbes. How do you find all these press opportunities? Where do you hope to be featured next?
When you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, you become a magnet for goodness! Almost all of my press has fallen in my lap. Sunday NYT, Crain’s, Forbes, Tribune — word of mouth. A few press items came out the more traditional way of a press release or me emailing an editor/producer, but I’d say 95% of it came knocking on my door. Have something that’s unique and fun and inspiring, press will find you!

5 – What would you consider your biggest accomplishment to date?
I took a non-traditional route to self-employment – no MBA, no capital, no connections, no specific skills – and have managed to cobble together a life I wouldn’t change for the world, where I spend the majority of my time doing what I want to do, I wake up via the sun not an alarm, and I get to go to Trader Joe’s, yoga, and the post-office Tuesday 10AM.

6 – What are your goals for the future?
Expansion. More of what I do here in Chicago and also taking what I already offer to other cities. My husband does Workplace Improv and Improv for Non-Improvisers, and we collaborate well together. The dream is for both of us to take the show on the road, to workshift, which we can do because nothing of what we offer is location-based. Move to another city for three months, six months. Then return back to Chicago for a bit. Then back on the road.

Figure out passive income streams so we can make money while we’re not working.
Many have asked me about a book over the years. I think I’m finally ready to start writing.

New Website!!!!!!!

This has literally been months in the making, thousands of dollars and so many hours.  I finally have my brand spankin’ new e-commerce site. Not only can you purchase cards and stationery here you can also place deposits for wedding invitations!

I had been wanting to update my website for almost a year before I finally decided to go for it last August. (Yes, I’ve been working on it for over 6 months now)  I hired Aeolidia because I felt like they understood my aesthetic and had a ton of experience working with my type of business: small, creative, visual.  I had seen their work on other sites I loved: Renegade Craft Fair, 1canoe2, Rifle Paper Co, and more.  Even though it was very expensive, I rationalized that I would rather do something right the first time, and do it just once, then have to redo my website again down the line.

I am very happy with the final result;  I worked with a team at Aeolidia that included a designer, a copy writer, a programer, a project manager and someone to help give marketing tips. Everyone was really great. I’ll be the first to admit I’m probably not the easiest customer. I’m super detail oriented, a perfectionist and very particular about how things should look / function.  There were a few hiccups along the process where information wasn’t communicated as clearly as it could have been, but those issues were quickly resolved and overall I’m in LOVE with the final result.

If you’re viewing this post in a reader please click over to view the new site HERE.  I would also love love LOVE to hear your comments and feedback (both good and bad) as I’ve been looking at it for so long, I’d love some fresh eyes. Please let me know your thoughts.

To Celebrate I’m offering a discount code in my brand new SHOP. 25% off EVERYTHING except wedding deposits Tuesday 3/25 and Wednesday 3/26.

A Panel Discussion on Consignment and Wholesale

Craft Mafia Panel Discussion Chicago

Sunday March 30th, I will be speaking on a panel discussion hosted by Chicago Craft Mafia on how to get your crafts sold in stores. I’m speaking along side some great Chicago crafters including Megan Lee Designs and Circa Ceramics. And some of my favorite local Chicago retailers: Wolfbait and B-Girls and Local Goods Chicago.

More info on the Craft Mafia Website - http://www.chicagocraftmafia.com/2014/03/coming-march-30th-get-it-on-the-shelf/

Event details:
The Chicago Craft Mafia presents:
Get It On the Shelf: A Panel Discussion on Consignment and Wholesale
March 30th 2014, 2pm-5pm
Lillstreet Loft, 4437 N Ravenswood Ave, 2nd Floor, Chicago, IL 60640
FREE

Countdown to the National Stationery Show 2014

National Stationery Show 2014

(image source here)

The National Stationery Show is officially two months away. HOLY COW.  (You can read last year’s journey here.)

This year I’ve decided to do a few things differently.
- building my own booth
- driving (instead of flying)
- bringing two helpers; my husband will be there for the first few days for set up. Lisa, my studio assistant, will fly in on Sunday to help with sales and drive home with me at the end of the show
- staying in a hotel (instead of with my cousin) which makes more sense since it won’t be just me staying in her one bedroom apartment

Last year I spent about $5k to exhibit. This year after working out my budget it’s looking more like $7-$8k (still TBD) I’m keeping a running tab and will definitely post my totals once the show is completed. The extra money is mostly going to the hotel room and bringing helpers; their flights, meals, pay etc.

Below is my TO-DO list; what I’ve already done, and what still needs to get done.
(THIS is my list from last year)

Product:
to do
- new designs (halfway done)
- printing and production (halfway done)
- product photography
- product numbers (halfway done)

Booth:
done
- build walls
- floors
to do
- paint walls
- lighting
- booth design
- booth furniture
- shelving
- vinyl for booth sign
- booth giveaway
- deck

Taking orders:
done
- order form
to-do
- catalog

Pre-Show:
done
- retailer list, names and addresses
to-do
- pre-show mailer design + printing
- mail out pre-show mailer
- press kit

Travel / Transport:
done
- flights purchased (Chad and Lisa)
- hotel booked
to-do
- parking in NYC for the week
- freight walls

There were a few options for walls. Ultimately I decided to go with building my own hard walls instead of paying thousands of dollars for disposable foam core walls from Manny Stone.  Of course “building my own” hard walls really means I paid a handy man, artist friend with a wood shop to build the walls for me. It only cost $325 in materials and $300 in labor plus freight is still saving me a lot of cash.

I’ve also been busy on Pinterest pinning other people’s NSS booth set ups like crazy. You can see my board HERE.

Clearly there is still lots to get done. Right now I’m focusing on finishing new designs and production; Booth design, painting and lighting; Pre-show mailer design and printing.  Once I’ve completed those I will move on to: product photography, catalog, booth give away, press kit, freight, and deck.

Sigh,,, time to start making my shopping lists!

Olive Box Giveaway

olive box giveaway

I am super excited to have my Unicorn Birthday card included in the Olive Box this month along with selections from: Happy Cactus Designs, Foxy and Winston, Fox Trot Press, Sugar and Type.

In conjunction with my inclusion in the box, I am also hosting an Olive Box Giveaway.  Please leave a comment with your email address below and one lucky winner will be selected to receive their very own shipment of this season’s box full of these amazing birthday cards!

This giveaway will close this Sunday 3/16 at midnight!

UPDATE: The Giveaway is closed. CONGRATULATIONS to the winner (selected randomly) Genevieve!! I will be sending you an email shortly for instructions on how to collect the Olive Box.  Thank you all for participating! :) – shayna