Since I began my creative entrepreneurial journey seven years ago, my business has changed and evolved in many ways. One of the most significant ways is how I produce and fulfill Winnie Jean shop orders. A little over two years ago I started toying with outsourcing production and fulfillment (packaging and shipping) and as of today, 90% of the shop is manufactured and shipped outside of my home studio.
This was not a decision I made lightly, or one that happened over night. There are definitely pros and cons to each scenario but I'm going to share with you where I have the majority of my products printed now and how I outsource almost the entire shop operations.
After many Google searches (something along the lines of, "how to produce lifestyle products without the burden of overhead costs and inventory storage") and quite a few tears, I stumbled across the answer to my prayers. The Printful is an on demand, product printing and fulfillment company. Thanks to them, my shop has almost become a "passive profits" revenue stream for me. By outsourcing production and fulfillment, I am able to spend more time doing what I love: hand lettering, designing and creating more products.
Because the items are made to order (one at a time), your margins do go down a bit. For me, this isn't really an issue because I didn't want to purchase products in bulk (generally quantities of 100 or more) and it also allows me to offer multiple designs in each product category without having to invest my money. My overhead is much lower and my studio is much tidier (... sort of). On top of that, my profits have actually grown 3x since I started outsourcing production. Now I'm able to focus more on social media and other forms of marketing that I wasn't able to do when I was stuck packaging up hundreds of orders!
There are a few other options out there for on demand printing and fulfillment, (some even have lower pricing) but I have been most happy with Printful's quality, customer service and ease of use. Some other reasons I love outsourcing with them:
- They offer a number of product categories and are consistently adding more options. (Phone cases coming this year!)
- They let you order samples (limited to 5 sample orders per month) at 20% off with free shipping.
- You control your profit. Want to make more money? Raise your pricing.
- The website has a mock-up generator where you can easily make product photos for your website.
- They sync with Shopify and many other e-commerce platforms making your life 10x easier.
- There is a FREE option to add a branded sticker to each package sent out from your store.
I've recommended Printful to countless other creatives who use them for production and fulfillment in their shop. If you're one of them I'd love for you to chime in with a comment to share your experience with those who are just now hearing about them!
I highly recommend setting up an account and seeing for yourself. If you have any questions at all just holler! I'm here to help!
In today's creative world, it seems there are an infinite amount of workshops and conferences with new ones popping up every day. If you're new to the game, it can be so hard to decide what will benefit you and your business. Pretty pictures and buzz words can make it hard to weed out the best from the fluff.
If you've followed me for any amount of time, you know I am a huge supporter of Stationery Academy. It has greatly shaped me as a business owner and has transformed my business in ways I never thought possible. (You can read about my experiences as a speaker at my second and third Stat Acad!) If you've been on the fence about attending, I cannot recommend it enough! (Registration is open until January 15th!) If you have any questions at all I'm more than happy to answer them! Following your dreams can be scary but I promise, if you step out off the ledge you will wonder why you didn't do it sooner. I took my business full-time two and a half years ago and it has been one of the biggest challenges yet greatest blessings in my life.
With just a few registrations left, I thought I would share my top 5 reasons why you need to attend.
01. JENNIFER FAUGHT
Jennifer is the President of Stationery Academy and she is also one of the kindest and most genuine people I have ever met in my seven years in the industry. I am so thankful I met her back in 2012 and I value her friendship and mentorship more than I could ever say. She is so passionate about helping other creative women business owners. She shares helpful and honest content (FOR FREE) through newsletters, blog posts and social media and will be part of your support system long after the conference is over.
02. IT'S MORE THAN "FLUFF"
The content at Stationery Academy is incredible. I have all of my worksheets and notes on my desk every day. I go back to them frequently and if I walked away from SA with those alone, it would have been worth it, 100%.
At the last conference in Phoenix, Jennifer made a comment during one of the sessions. She said, "Just because it's pink, doesn't mean it's stupid." That couldn't be more true. A lot of conferences out there ARE all fluff. With Stationery Academy you get education, action steps, community AND all the fluff. (And the swag at Stationery Academy is pretty fabulous. You WILL squeal multiple times throughout the conference.) It truly is a one of a kind experience.
03. THE SPEAKERS
Often times, conferences use big names to promote their event. The women who speak at Stationery Academy are absolutely mind blowing and pioneers in their fields. They run successful, profitable businesses that bring in much more than a large Instagram following. Jennifer does an amazing job, not only having speakers with big names and large followings, but who are also incredibly smart and innovative. (And for the record, I'm not talking about myself! Ha! I am amazed and humbled by the women I've been able to learn from at each conference!)
Another thing I love about this conference is that the speakers are not separated from the attendees. As a speaker we sit through the sessions and take notes just like everyone else. They will be accessible to you at meals and breakouts and while they're there to teach, they will be learning and asking questions right beside you.
04. THE FACEBOOK GROUP
Business Facebook groups are another thing that seems to have exploded. Every day I come across a new one and it can be overwhelming to say the least. At the beginning of this year, I hid all business groups from my timelines except for the Stationery Academy Alums group. It is invaluable and such a great resource for information. There are so many talented women from different fields who have attended Stationery Academy (invitation designers, photographers, bloggers, product designers, calligraphers) so you get advice from all different angles. It's also a place where we lift each other up when a goal has been accomplished. Just launched your new website? Tell your SA friends. They will be your biggest cheerleaders. Just to have the support from other creative entrepreneurs is worth attending.
05. THE COMMUNITY & OPPORTUNITIES
I can't say enough about this. I do not know what I would do without the connections and relationships I have made through Stationery Academy. I've been able to co-host a couple of webinars with Stationery Academy and connect with other creatives. I've also been able to exhibit at the National Stationery Show twice in the SA booth. That alone opened too many doors to count.
I really could go on and on and each reason I listed above, if it were the only thing I got out of attending Stationery Academy it would have been worth it. Hands down, no question. It has been an important part of my journey and will continue to be part of my life for years to come. Head on over and register now! You won't regret it! ;)
Now that our Save the Dates have finally started to arrive in our loved one's mailboxes I wanted to share them with y'all! I am so happy with how they turned out - every detail! I know I'm biased, (since they're for our wedding and I designed them) but from the floral liners to the love story timeline, I love it all! A special thank you to Tara Lewis Photography for our engagement photos. I love how they turned out and think they work perfectly with the vision I had for these paper goods!
Because I needed a sample envelope for these photos as well as a keepsake, I decided to address one to my favorite couple ever - Chip and Joanna Gaines. If I wasn't marrying Jeremy I would want to marry them. Ha! I had a (day)dream that they accepted our invitation, showed up at the wedding and gifted us their help with remodeling our new house. (Spoiler alert - we're moving to Loveland, Ohio in a couple months!) How awesome would that be? :)
I love the white ink (I used Sakura Gelly Rolls, Metallica Silver. I don't know why they call it that, it's totally white) paired with the navy euro flap envelopes. These took much longer to address than I had expected but I took my time. Because this is the first look at our wedding festivities, and we're having a destination wedding, I wanted them to be fabulous and scream, "YOU HAVE TO BE THERE".
I printed the floral detail (I purchased the watercolor artwork on Creative Market) on an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper and then we hand traced, cut them out and glued them down with a glue stick. (Thanks to my mom and wonderful fiance for taking care of this part of the process for me!) The envelopes were secured with round stickers sporting our secondary wedding logo (more on those later).
Here's a look at some of the actual envelopes that went out to our guests! It truly was a labor of love!
Since it's what I do for a living, I knew that I wanted to hand letter all of the elements. I love seeing our names paired together and I can't wait to be Mrs. Capan! I absolutely love the illustrated love story timeline on the back! Because we met in a kind of unconventional way (hello, Tinder!) I wanted to share that with any guests who may not know yet. It's strange and kind of funny but I'm so thankful for it because without it I probably would never have met this amazing man!
OK - now that I've said "I love" about 230 times, I think I'm done swooning over our own Save the Dates. Sorry y'all! Ha! I'm just SO excited! I'll be back in a day or so to share the rest of our engagement photos and our wedding website. If you're interested in more of the wedding planning process you can read the other Capan Wedding posts! :)
I cannot believe today is the last Monday of 2015. This year has absolutely flown by (I know I say that every year). While I hope you've been able to take some time to step away from your business and recharge, I also hope you've spent some time planning and preparing for next year! I'm going to share with you the things that help me really get focused and organized in order to plan productively! I'd love to hear what y'all do too, so if you have some other suggestions leave them in the comments!
I mean this in more ways than one. First, literally clean house. Clear the clutter in your living space and get rid of/donate all the things you don't use. Tackle your office. Make sure you're ready to take on 2016 with a clean, organized and inspirational workspace. I'm not sure why we hang on to things but you'll be surprised how great you feel when you let it all go.
After your home and workspace are tidy, clear your online life. First up, social media. Throughout the course of a year, you pick up lots of new "inspirations". Go through your social media and blog feeds and clear out what isn't serving you best. Don't follow people who bring you down or make you second guess your own abilities. This even includes the brands you admire. If you are constantly playing the comparison game and they make you feel less worthy, get rid of 'em. You've heard it before - comparison is the thief of joy, my friends. Follow people who inspire and life you up. We spend so much time online we should be careful who we let influence our lives. Then, clear the clutter in your Inbox, on your desktop and on your cellphone. Unsubscribe from pointless newsletters and delete unnecessary, unused or unwanted apps, software and photos.
WHAT WORKED IN 2015?
It's always good to take a look at the things that DID work so you can continue to make those things happen. Celebrate your successes and figure out how to do it again. Rinse and repeat.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK IN 2015?
While it's helpful to pay attention to what DID work this last year, I think it's even more important to take a look at what DID NOT work. Say no to things that aren't bringing you joy. If it's not something you can stop right away because it's supporting you financially, than put a plan in place to help you reach your goal. Also, say no to things that aren't making you money. Remember you are running a business and you should be turning a profit. If you're not, reevaluate.
I'm a big believer in naming your dreams and ambitions. Be as specific as possible. If there is something you want, put it out there and make it happen. YOU are in control of your life and you can't wait around for something else to make your dreams come true.
Don't be afraid to take a look at your goals to edit or nix them. You shouldn't be afraid to put an idea or project on hold either. Sometimes the timing is just not right. As creatives we want to do all the things, and knowing when is extremely important. You are (hopefully) constantly changing and evolving so your game plan should too. Don't be too hard on yourself and let your goals grow with you.
What is one thing you'll be doing in 2016 to improve your business?
So many doodles go unseen and unused but I loved this one too much not share! :)
For shop owners, this time of year is one of the busiest. In order to be the most successful you can be, it's important to plan for the important dates that fill 4Q. Have you thought about which days you will participate in? What deals you will offer? How you will advertise them? Having a plan in action will not only make your job easier, but you more than likely will make more sales.