As usual, my plate is overflowing with projects, and some pretty big changes are in the works. In effort to keep it all together, I’m trying to remember this advice my dad (Don Firm) gave me when he was teaching me to drive: accelerate through the turn.Pin It
Tag Archives: advice
For the record, when referring to paper goods, the correct spelling is ‘stationery’ … and when referring to something standing still, like an exercise bike or a parked car, the correct spelling is ‘stationary.’
Writing “please r.s.v.p.” is like writing “please respond if it pleases you.” Which is silly.
Merci for listening. I will step down from the soap box now.
Now is a good time to stock up on those Forever stamps! And remember if you are sending out invitations with reply envelopes you expect to receive after January 22nd to put an extra penny stamp on them to ensure delivery back to you.
Here’s a quick guide to 2012 USPS rates as they apply to most wedding invitations:
- Save the date, Reply Envelope (with single reply card inside), Single card/invitation: 45 cents
- Invitation set (invitation, reply card, reply envelope, and another card or two, up to 2 oz.): 65 cents
- Response postcard: 32 cents
Keep in mind: square envelopes/postcards, non-bendable envelopes, and extra thick envelopes don’t fit through the USPS machines, so there is an additional fee for being non-machinable — check with local post office for rates or use the usps’s handy postage price calculator.
Besides buying stamps at your local post office, you can buy official USPS stamps online at USPS.com. There are lots of pretty ones to choose from. If you’re looking for something a bit more custom, check out Delphine’s Zazzle shop with stamps to match most of our invitation designs. If you don’t see what you’d like, or need the colors/monogram switched out just let us know and we’ll whip something up for you.
Nike CEO Matt Parker discusses the importance of design and innovation to the success of his company. (via Fast Company).
For the past few days I’ve been reading adman (and maybe one day NYC mayor) Donny Deutsch‘s book, “Often Wrong, Never in Doubt.” Not that it’s a surprise (you have seen his fantastic CNBC show, The Big Idea, right?), but the book is stellar. Every chapter I find myself learning something, nodding in agreement, annoying John by reading something aloud. So many things in the book are quotable, but a few I just read are really sticking with me
On putting clients first: “‘What would I do if this was my business?’ How going over to the other side will better your own bottom line.”
And on fear: “You can’t be crippled by the fear of failure; that truly is in the definition of not succeeding. If you do nothing, your failure is guaranteed.”
And one more, because I can’t resist: on women and “The doctrine of female superiority”: “Women are superior beings. It’s that simple. Give me a choice between a woman and a man with the same talents, I’ll take the woman every time.”
On it’s face, this book is about a simple question: “Why not me.” But it’s really about going beyond believing in yourself, and doing something about it. It’s about action. It’s also about the crazy ad world (the behind the scenes insight is entertaining and enlightening, to say the least). It’s about how to be a great boss. How to deal with clients. How to deal, period. It’s about facing fear, not backing down, being bold. Being authentic. Yes, it’s inspiring, but beyod that, it’s motivating. It’s a call to action. Oh yes, and it’s about branding, too. I highly recommend this book to anyone in business, not just creative types.
By the way, sorry, Donny, that your face is covered up by a sticker … silly librarian. What were you thinking?
left + center photo ©Peden+Munk; right photo ©delphine
Yes, that’s right. Ask me anything. I signed up with Formspring quietly last week. Almost daily I get emails asking for advice or my thoughts or my suggestions on lots of stuff (mostly about running a design-centric business). Now I can answer questions in a public forum. It’s like a public FAQ. Awesome.
So go ahead … ask me anything. (Well, not anything. I mean, lets keep it decent, okay).
Here at Delphine we are truly honored to have been chosen as a featured vendor on Abe’s Market. Besides being a great concept (eco-friendly goods all in one spot!) and having one of the cutest logos around (a shopping bear!), Abe’s Market is run by a super team (smart and nice!), determined to help each of their vendors rise. Last week John and I tuned into a webinar hosted by Abe’s Market during a lunch break from the NYIGF floor. The speaker, Perry Abbenante, is the former lead buyer at Whole Foods Market. He had lots of great stuff to say, but I am so thankful that he threw out this gem:
“It’s simple: spend the money on great packaging. You won’t regret it.” I wish I could put that little snippet on tape and play it at the beginning, middle and end of every meeting with a design client!
I read Tribes, by Seth Godin while I was in New York for NYIGF. It was the perfect book to read while attending a gift show. While on the surface the book is about leadership, it’s full of lots of super insights on marketing. The overarching themes I took away from the book are that it’s okay to question the status quo (“be a heretic”) and that change & innovation are keys to success.
I have to return my copy to the library, but I’m already planning a visit to my local bookshop to pick up my very own copy.
QUOTED is a new column that I’ll be posting from time to time, with quotes from business and graphic design books I’ve read.
I’m reading “The Game Changer,” by A. G. Lafley and Ram Charan. It’s an insider’s look at innovation can drive growth (Lafley is the chariman and ceo of Procter & Gamble; Charan is a leading business consultant). I particularly identified with the quote (above) about design. Just a few days ago I updated my portfolio and wrote that a major goal of good design is to create an experience. I was thinking particularly about design as it relates to branding retail stores, and I think that Lafley’s statement is exactly what I was trying to describe.
How would you define good design?
The just released “Craft Inc. Business Planner: the Ultimate Organizer for Turning Your Crafts into Cash,” by Meg Ilasco, is a must have for anyone thinking of starting a creative business. The original book, Craft Inc., offers tips from experts who successfully turned their creative hobbies into careers. This workbook is full of advice and worksheets to help guide creative entrepreneurs as they pursue their creative business dreams.
Here at the Delphine studio, we get dozens of inquiries every month for business advice. My first piece of advice: buy these books!
Shel Perkins spoke at the Y Conference a few days ago and he was just wonderful. For someone like me, who has a minor panic attack any time an Excel spreadsheet appears, it was nice to get some advice that addresses the practical side of running a business — all without scary charts full of numbers.
I was really pleased to hear that John Mireles, a fabulous local (San Diego) photographer and business coach, has a website, Photographer’s Toolkit, geared toward helping his fellow photographers with “business stuff.” Advice on marketing, sales, contracts, and business in general is aplenty on the site. He also lists free resources that are helpful to any creative, not just photographers.
My dear, talented friend Mel Lim gets questions all the time, too. She decided to start sharing the answers with the general public and founded BACE: Business and Creative Exchange along with her husband (also an artist), Joe Keylon. BACE’s mission is “to help other aspiring start ups and designers on how to get their products launched by offering them insights to challenges and day-to-day questions faced by creatives who have all the talent in the world but no clue to running a business or launching a line.”
BACE tackles issues like how to price your products, how to deal with rude buyers, how to decide if a trade show is right for you. Mel and Joe are always candid and honest, and I highly recommend BACE as required reading for anyone considering getting into the creative biz.
Describe your store:
Our shoppe is located in the quaint, seaside town of Laguna Beach, California, along a portion of Pacific Coast Highway that houses many other independent boutiques and art galleries. We are part of a wonderfully artistic community, and feel privileged to be here! Our store size is about 900 sq. feet (thanks to our recent expansion!) When we first opened in July 2007, we had about 400 sq ft.
We carry a variety of letterpress paper goods, including greeting cards, note sets and various accoutrements (journals, coasters, etc), along with fabulous textile goods, ceramics and a small sampling of artwork. In addition to the pre-packaged items we carry, we specialize in custom letterpress goods, including calling cards, social stationery, soirée and wedding invitations, announcements and holiday cards.
What makes your shop different from others?
We focus on carrying the best letterpress goods in the industry, in addition to lovely lifestyle accoutrements. And, because our shoppe is relatively small, it encourages us refine the number of lines we carry and the type of products we offer. It’s also wonderful being the only full-service stationer in town. The response we’ve received from local patrons over the past year has been overwhelming positive. Ultimately, we have been able to bring a new caliber of products to our community, and delight in the opportunity of exposing our clients to an array of extremely talented stationery designers, such as Deluce Design, Egg Press, Mr. Boddington’s Studio, Night Owl Paper Goods, Paper + Cup, Seraph and Snow & Graham, to name a few.
How do you decide what new products to take on?
We have lines that we continue to carry and buy from month after month, simply because they fit our aesthetic to a “T”, and because our clients adore their designs. When considering new lines, however, it’s typically pretty easy to decipher which lines will do well in our shoppe, and which won’t. At times, we purchase new products with very specific clients in mind – those who come in several times a month, and want something fresh and new with each and every visit. In the end, it comes down finding lines that have impeccable, unique designs, clever copywriting, flawless craftsmanship and printing, and reasonable price points. We love discovering a new line, purchasing it for the shoppe, and in the end, finding that the designer is equally as lovely to work with, as his/her products are to sell.
How do you find new, unique products? Do you attend trade shows? Which ones?
Yes, we attend one trade show yearly – the National Stationery Show in New York.
We always discover a handful (or more!) of new designers and products each year at NSS, and love bringing their lines into our shoppe. Outside of trade show discoveries, we find lots of local (and non-local) talent by scouring the web for new designers, reading our favorite blogs on a daily basis, and when we are contacted directly by new companies debuting their lines. All together, it’s a collaboration of many resources that bring our shoppe some of its best products!
Do you work with reps?
We work with local reps occasionally, but not on a regular basis. Often times, we find that neighboring stores in surrounding communities start to carry many of the same lines and goods as one other, particularly when they are purchased from sales reps. While reps do carry a wonderful variety of lines, we tend to work directly with our vendors when placing orders.
What do you look for in a vendor?
I must say, our industry has the most wonderful group of vendors! I can honestly say that I haven’t had one horrible experience with any of the lines I carry…we just love our vendors!
Overall, we look for vendors that are talented, customer-service oriented, communicative, reliable, and continue to deliver the exceptional products that our clients have come to expect.
Do you like when vendors approach you?
We welcome and encourage vendors to approach us, particularly when they have taken the time to research our shoppe and the products that we carry. After doing so, if they feel their products could be a good fit with our clientele and current products offerings, we love to hear from such vendors. Telephone, email and/or mail submissions are ideal, as it allows us the time to review their goods in full and at our convenience, versus unannounced, drop-by visits to the shoppe during business hours.
How do you stay on top of trends?
By staying alert to and aware of the design that surrounds me on a daily basis. Trends can be interpreted in so many ways, and found through numerous sources…in the observation of architecture, storefronts, window displays, home décor, clothing design, event and wedding design, magazines spreads, branding efforts, the use of color. It’s truly everywhere, and the best part about it, is that everyone interprets it in his or her own, unique way…so it has the potential to be translated in fresh, new ways each and every time.
What do you think the hot new colors will be for upcoming seasons?
I think the citrus hues (lime, orange and yellow) we’re seeing a lot of right now, will continue to show up in stationery designs in the upcoming seasons. I also love seeing gray appear in so many design-driven pieces, from paper and textile goods, to clothing and architecture. It’s fresh, contemporary and clean, and translates incredibly well into so many different products. From the lighter cement shades, to the deep charcoal hues – all in all, I love gray and hope that it’s here to stay.
What trend do you currently love? Hope will last? Hope will go away soon?
I think the only trend, or rather “icon,” that I wouldn’t mind seeing exit the market is the ever-popular skull motif. I know it will always have its niche amongst a small following of avid customers, but all in all, I think it’s been done one too many times, and no longer has much impact on new produc
What’s best part about having a store? Worst?
The highlights of being in this industry and owning a shoppe, would have to include:
–Being surrounded by design on a daily basis.
–Discovering new designers and developing relationships with our vendors – our vendors truly make running this business a joy.
–Helping to preserve the charm of handwritten correspondence.
–Being able to bring the best products, by the most talented designers, all together under one roof.
–Having happy customers. Producing quality, custom letterpress goods for our clients is one of the best parts about this business, because they always walk away happy, with a completely unique and exquisite product in hand.
–Letterpress – it’s absolutely beautiful. As a shoppe owner, I love supporting designers who commit their professional lives to producing such wonderful products by hand.
–Having a client refer a friend to our shoppe – it’s such a wonderful compliment to meet someone that has been referred to us by a client. We’ve met so many wonderful people through our lovely and loyal patrons.
Some difficult aspects of owning a business include:
–Creating boundaries and a healthy separation between one’s personal life and professional/work life.
–Being able to creatively sustain a small, independent business in the midst of a soft and ever-changing economy.
–Staying inspired and continuing to create in the midst of day-to-day tasks that often demand immediate attention or priority (i.e. administrative work, accounting, etc.).
–Managing cash flow, while continuing to keep the store fresh with new merchandise.
–The occasional, unkind customer (which, undoubtedly, we all encounter).
Can you recommend a business book?
I’ve read a handful of great business books, but while I was in the beginning stages of starting Cotton, one of the resources most helpful to me was a website called Nolo. They have page upon page of invaluable information on starting a business, raising capital, ownership structures, human resources, etc. In addition to their website, they also publish a variety of business-related books, all of which can be found here.
How as the economic situation affected your business?
We, along with so many other retailers, certainly feel the affects of the current economic slowdown, but fortunately, we still have our core group of clients coming in on a regular basis. We’ve had a great first year in business, and now look at the current economic state as an opportunity to really refine what products we bring in to the shoppe, and refrain from purchasing new products that may sit on the shelves for too long. Custom goods are still our top sellers, even in the midst of a soft economy.
How are you compensating for a slowdown?
We’re buying less general boxed merchandise, and pushing more of our custom goods, including personal and business stationery, announcements and invitations.
What was biggest obstacle to opening your store? How did you overcome?
Retail space in our community is difficult to come by, particularly when parking is limited and many of the retail buildings are tired and rundown, and require significant tenant improvements. In the end, we compromised by settling for less square footage, and in a quieter end of Laguna Beach. In doing so, it allowed us to occupy a recently renovated building that kept our build-out costs to a minimum, and allowed us to spend a little more on furniture and opening merchandise. Our building also contains quite a bit of parking for customers, which is a rarity in our town…and we even have a lovely view of the ocean from our storefront windows. Ultimately, occupying an unconventional storefront location proved to be a blessing in disguise, as it allows us to maintain the intimacy of a quaint, boutique design studio with limited foot traffic, and in turn, we can focus more of our attention on our customers.
What makes a successful shop?
Keeping the merchandise new and fresh, but consistent, so customers know what to expect each time they make a visit to your shop. Another key component to having a successful shop is to hone in on what you want to specialize in, and then stick with it. The best thing we’ve done is limit the number of non-paper items we stock, so our shelves don’t turn into a hodgepodge of mismatched gift items that become overwhelming to the eye and take away from the focus of our business, which is carrying specialty letterpress paper goods.
Do you plan to launch an online store? If yes, when? If no, reason?
Our online shoppe (www.cottonideastudio.com) was launched in September 2007, and features many of our favorite in-store products and bestsellers. The majority of our business (80%) comes from our brick & mortar storefront, and the remainder from our online shoppe (20%).
What did you do before store?
As a little girl, many of my afternoons were spent frequenting the local party store near my home, where I spent nearly all of my babysitting earnings on stationery and party supplies. I’ve always loved paper, and over the years, developed a love for design and letterpress.
Upon graduating from college in Boston, I moved home to Orange County and worked for a local advertising design firm, while dabbling in stationery design part-time. After 3 years of working both full-time in advertising, and part-time in my paper endeavor, I finally decided to pursue my dream of opening a design studio and paper boutique. Cotton’s doors opened in July 2007, and thus far, it’s been a wonderful year!
What keeps you up at night re: your business?
Thinking up new designs, product development, to-do’s for the next day – all the usual stuff that consumes your thoughts when running a business…but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love what I do, and having my thoughts consumed by such things on a daily basis isn’t so much of a stress as it is part of thoroughly enjoying my job. Also, being constantly surrounded by design in expected places keeps my mind constantly brewing with new ideas…whether it translates itself into a new typeface or color combination, invitation design, merchandising idea or store display.
You can visit Mindy’s shop, Cotton Idea Studio, in Laguna Beach, California, or shop online here.