How Will You Know If Your Project Is Successful?

This question helps our client realize what they're hoping to get out of working with us, and makes sure our partnership starts off with us all aiming for the same successful project.

Let’s talk about your best step to plan for a successful project, whether it be a web design project, your brand identity or product packaging, exhibiting at a trade show, or any other high stakes project for your creative business.

We made a change to what we ask our new clients a few years ago. It was one of those changes that seems small, but turned out to be huge. Just one question:

How will you know if this project has been successful?

This question helps our client realize what they’re hoping to get out of working with us, and makes sure our partnership starts off with us all aiming for the same objective. Sometimes it causes people to see that now might not be the right time to start on the project. And that’s great.

Aiming for a successful project from the beginning

We ask all of our brand identity and custom website design clients for their goals and how they will know they’ve been successful. I want to see a real answer here, something we can look back on 6, 12, or 18 months down the road and answer with a yes or a no. Did we accomplish this?

Here are some real life goals and responses to the focusing question:

I want people to feel a spa experience when using our product and be inspired by nature and lovely details with the look of our product. I also wanted people to feel like they were making a difference by supporting our charity when purchasing our full size product. Retailers we hope to partner up with is Anthropologie, Whole Foods, Green Spas and Specialty Boutiques.

I’ll know if I’ve achieved what I was hoping for if I’m recognized by industry professionals such as press, retailers and have a strong following of loyal customers.

 

I would like to get up to 5 product lines before the holiday season. I believe this could turn into a $3-5 million revenue company within 3 years. If branded properly I think 2000 active wholesale clients is not an unreasonable number.

 

We would like to add e-commerce to our website and have that bring in revenue. We will know if our website is better at clarifying the various aspects of our business if we have less questions about it and fewer confused customers.

 

I would like to break $100,000 in revenue within a year’s time of launching the new website. I would like to get into at least 50 stores through wholesale. I would also like to have over a 4% conversion rate on the website–5% if possible, although I realize that is a big deal. I want to have at least 10 press write ups, one of them being a “big” name.

On a personal level…I would like to be able to actually pay myself for the work I have been doing as well as finish the year well in the black.

 

Yes! I know exactly what this question is asking, and you’re right–I definitely am looking for a shift in perception. I would love to have the style-savvy of a brand that would be carried in Land of Nod while still being taken seriously by educational companies. I do NOT want to look cheap or like I could ever be sold in Wal-Mart, but I don’t want the brand to be stuffy either.

It has to appeal to both the kids that will use it (girls ages 6-16) and the moms/aunts/friends that would BUY it. When I pitched Land of Nod and Clementine at Etsy Open Call, they both seemed to really like the product but were both vocal about the fact that the packaging and branding just wasn’t good.

I want to create a brand where I feel confident to go back to them and pitch again, saying, “Look! I listened!” I want a cohesive brand that makes SENSE across the board–and that clearly stands for empowering young women but is also stylish, fun, and smart.

Create a solid outcome for your project

Too often, particularly for us creative types, we jump into projects and ideas and just want to see how things turn out. It seems too difficult to measure, analyze, predict.

What if you made one tiny change before starting any project, doing any promotion, making any leap? Just ask yourself:

How will I know if this project has been successful?

Revisit your answer throughout the project, to be sure you’re on target. Is the step you’re about to take in line with this outcome? Your answer will guide your decisions and influence your work for the better.

Ready to take informed steps toward your goals with us?

We help creative businesses meet their objectives for selling online. If you could use help with your logo and brand identity, your product packaging, or your website, let’s talk. We have a questionnaire for you to fill out, so we can get to know you, and then we can discuss options for working together to knock down what’s holding you back from reaching your potential. Get in touch today – our summer schedule (for pre-Christmas launch) is filling up quickly!

How to Print Custom Ballpoint Pens With Your Logo

What I learned creating and packaging a set of ballpoint pens with our logo on them. People are always asking me for print and packaging sources, and this is proving to be a popular series!

We wanted an unexpected but useful thank you gift for our design clients, and we decided to put together a set of Aeolidia-branded ballpoint pens with our logo, our merman mascot, and a seahorse. With three pens, we couldn’t resist doing three colors, so Mr. Merman assists you with all your redlining.

We wanted to design nice packaging that wasn’t an instant throwaway, so we made the paper backing into a lovely gold foil die cut design with a quote from our manifesto, to be used as a bookmark (or taped to your inspiration board!).

pens

Custom printed ballpoint pens with our logo

bookmarks

A good idea becomes a great idea when you let it out bookmark

pens-packed

All packed up and ready to send!

These would make great trade show booth gifts, thank you gifts, unboxing freebies, or products to sell.

Want to make your own business materials beautiful?

I’m sending out an email tomorrow with design tips and tricks, decisions we made, and my print sources for:

  • Custom logo ballpoint pens
  • Custom printed bookmark/pen backing
  • Clear bags with sticky flap
  • Sticker/label for package
  • How I secured the pens to the packaging
  • How I made the bookmark re-usable and how I explained it

Sign up to get this info

Sourcing printers and packaging suppliers

I would like to share which printers and manufacturers we worked with to produce our marketing materials and packaging. In this many-part series, I am also going to tell you about:

  • any problems I had with printers
  • how we saved money when we could
  • where and why we splurged.
  • what I learned through the process (there were some mistakes!),
  • what I would do differently

People are always asking me for print and packaging sources, and this is proving to be a popular series! This information is going out to my newsletter subscribers only, and I will write once a month throughout 2016 about each part of our packages in detail.

Sign up for our print series here or below! The most recent post went out last month and is about our custom thank you cards and envelope liners – you’ll get a link to that post in tomorrow’s email, which will have all the details about our ballpoint pen sets. I’ll be sharing the problem we had with pen colors and printing in gold, and how we solved it.

P.S. if you’re already on the list, you will get this series of emails automatically! You’re all set.

Are you ready to make your brand beautiful?

Tired of doing this yourself, and want to leave the work to professionals? We design brands and logos that are meant to last, and we never cut corners. When you sign on with us, your designer will relate all her design decisions back to your objectives, and you will end up with everything you need to successfully grow your business.

We tailor design packages specifically to your type of business, and we do business stationery, product design, customer experience design, and online presentation design. This means that you’ll have the business cards, postcards, and other brand materials, product packaging if you’re a product creator or designer, retail store signage if you have a brick and mortar shop, and all you need to help your business shine online.

View our portfolio here, and please contact us today as a first step to taking your business to the next level.

We were used to doing everything ourselves. Letting go and trusting was not easy. But we could not be more happy with the results. The site looks so great. The project was completed right on schedule. The branding work has proved very useful. Shopify itself exceeded our expectations.

— Chris Morris, Island Thyme

A Bohemian Logo & Brand For a New Business

Creating a name, logo, and brand identity for a boho boutique of thoughtfully curated styles and handcrafted clothing and accessories made especially for kids.

Sarah Yasukochi is a successful franchise owner and marketer with more than 20 years of experience, so when it came time to start her new online business, she was prepared to do what it takes to help her brand grow. Starting from scratch, however, presents a surprising set of challenges (coincidentally, the kind of challenges we LOVE taking on)—and so Sarah recruited us for assistance in developing the brand from day one: for its name, tagline, logo, identity, style guide and beyond.

From the beginning, we were inspired by Sarah’s vision for a boho boutique of thoughtfully curated styles and handcrafted clothing and accessories made especially for kids. Integral to the brand was its spirit of community and adventure, its emphasis on artisan stories, and its mission to support projects for social good. It is essential to have a strong understanding of your unique selling proposition when creating a brand for a new business.

We began by brainstorming names for her new business. Though her line would cater to kids, Sarah wanted a name that could potentially branch out in the future. Initial concepts explored variations on Sarah’s grandmothers’ names, plays on elements of nature, and names that were inspired by summery things. Also in our first round of concepts were names that included the word “wander,” tied to the idea of exploration and discovery.

Blaze + Wander emerged as the winner. Paired with the tagline we created—Found Along the Fringes—it’s a call to be bold, wild, free and expressive. It ties in perfectly with one of Sarah’s core values, that “we can do more together – have more fun, do more good, experience more adventures,” as a group.

blaze-wander-logo

With the first seedling of her brand identity planted, we moved on to the logo design phase, which is where the visual aspects begin to bloom. True to her new name, Sarah had her sights set on a logo that would take her business far. “I want to start off on the right foot and step out into the world knowing I’ve done my research and developed the best—something that not only represents the company but allows for timeless recognition, appeal, and long-term success.”

Christine set out focused on creating a mark that would achieve Sarah’s goals: cater to the cool and carefree kid in search of adventure, appeal to adults that share a love of the boho lifestyle, and stand the test of time. Her first concepts reflected a variety of approaches, from a simple, elegant landscape illustration to a vintage-inspired sun and typography pairing. But it was a play on constellation drawings that most stood out.

“I imagined your carefree kids gazing upward, charting their adventures via the stars in the sky. The B+W constellation is paired with a fun, retro script.”

With the first seedling of her brand identity planted, we moved on to the logo design phase, which is where the visual aspects begin to bloom. True to her new name, Sarah had her sights set on a logo that would take her business far. “I want to start off on the right foot and step out into the world knowing I’ve done my research and developed the best—something that not only represents the company but allows for timeless recognition, appeal, and long-term success.”

Further iterations of this design involved refining the hand-drawn feel of the constellations and marrying the adventure-inspired icons of a previous concept with this one. Christine shared her vision for how these elements could come together: “the icons can work in a constellation graphic and the tree+sun+moon pattern make fantastic packaging tape. The Aztec pattern is a fun contrast that can be used in print or on the web.”

blaze-and-wander-business-cards

Branding results

It is still early days for Blaze + Wander, and we are glad to have provided a solid foundation for Sarah’s brand. Having her business cards, packing tapes, pins, and stickers all ready and on-brand makes it so easy for her to wow her customers. Sarah told us:

“When we first started our journey, we searched high and low for the right partner to help bring our ideas to life. Aeolidia captured the spirit behind our brand and gave us even more than we dreamed of! I’m SO happy with everything. I love it all!

I’ve always appreciated Aeolidia’s attention to detail and the thoughtfulness and care that you put into every project. I hoped for the same for my brand – and your team did not disappoint.

I can’t wait to share these goodies with our friends online. And I can’t wait to check in with all of you from time to time – to share our Blaze + Wander milestones.”

We couldn’t be more pleased with the results. Working with Sarah was a dream—her deep marketing knowledge helped us understand her vision from the beginning so we could take it to exciting new heights. We can’t wait to see what’s in the stars for Blaze + Wander next!

See this project in our portfolio.

Ready to discover your brand’s true identity? We love helping to set new businesses on the path to success—contact us to get started!

Aeolidia is Hiring Brand and Web Designers

Aeolidia is hiring two brand identity and ecommerce web designers. Spread the word!

Aeolidia is a web and graphic design studio that works exclusively for creative businesses with a penchant for design. Whether it be brick and mortar shops who curate collections by independent designers, or the indie designers themselves, we know how to create an effective ecommerce experience, and have been doing so for over a decade.

We are looking to hire two designers to join our busy team. We want people who are equally talented at creating a solid brand identity and extending it to a powerful, highly converting custom ecommerce website design.

Our process is almost certainly quite different than what you do with your own clients. It will take some practice to shape your process to match what we demand for our clients – come ready to learn and stretch out of your comfort zone, and we will support you every step of the way.

Is this you, or someone you know? We are a demanding, exacting group, and are pretty much incapable of doing less than our best. You should be, too.

You should be:

  • An authoritative and enthusiastic guide for clients.
  • Punctual to an extreme.
  • Excited to keep growing and learning best practices and new processes.
  • A champion of creative, design-oriented businesses.

You should know:

  • How to design a thorough, cohesive brand identity that speaks to a target customer.
  • What makes a user-friendly, high-converting ecommerce experience.

You can:

  • Live and work from anywhere in the world.
  • Have your own design methods, tools, and techniques.
  • Set your own schedule (as long as you hit our milestones).
  • Continue freelance work with your own clients as you work with us.

What we do:

  • Design brands that sell and are meant to last.
  • Design custom ecommerce sites from scratch.

We are looking for friendly people who would welcome doing their best work cooperatively with the remote (but never distant) team at Aeolidia. This is a 1099 contractor position, with flexibility on amount of work given.

Sounding perfect?

We’d love to hear more about you. Please fill out our preliminary interest form, and we’ll get in touch with follow up questions if you look like a good fit:

Apply for the designer job

How to Deal With Copyright Infringement

Dealing with copycats: what to do when someone copies your design, plus advice from an attorney
What to do when someone copies your design? Aeolidia serves creative businesses, and many of our readers and our clients are designing, if not creating and hand-making, the products they sell. Since they are often creating original works of art to sell, they find social media and marketplaces like Etsy to be both a blessing and a curse. It’s easier than ever for you to get your products in front of your customers’ eyes, but it also means your competitors can be hot on your heels, and in some cases, designers will find that their work is being copied and sold. It’s practically inevitable if you reach any level of success.

This is a topic with widespread reach in the creative community, and I gathered together some established design-oriented businesses to tell you their stories.

Two things prompted this post. One was a discussion with a brand new client who had been using some popular phrases in her work. I approached her with my concerns about differentiating her business for a successful project. It turned out she was with me all the way and part of her plan for her project with us was to change her design direction and start working in her unique style. I share some of my advice to her towards the end of this post.

The second thing that got me thinking about copying was when Amanda of Three Bad seeds emailed me about her situation, explained below:

Etsy sellers have copied Three Bad Seeds’ original, flagship product

The original mountain pillow, photo © Three Bad Seeds

The original mountain pillow, photo © Three Bad Seeds

Amanda Weiss
Three Bad Seeds

Amanda emailed me this spring to ask about a technical solution to her copying problem. Over five years ago, she was the only person on the internet selling mountain shaped pillows, but ever since she got some visibility for her product, she sees more and more Etsy sellers copying her original idea; sometimes putting their own spin on it, and sometimes not. She wanted to find a way to corner the market for anyone searching for a “mountain pillow.” She wanted to show up first in the search and be established as the originator.

We talked about options for getting more Google credibility for “mountain pillow,” but also discussed whether it was worth the time and effort it would take to support and defend that particular product. I told Amanda that it’s aggravating when others start copying your work. From an outside perspective, though, that tells me a business has made it! The designer has created something unique and lovable that people want. For Amanda’s mountain pillow, she can improve it, add to it, stick with it, or come up with her next “mountain pillow” type achievement.

Big box sellers have copied AHeirloom’s original product

The original state shaped cutting boards. Photo © AHeirloom

The original state shaped cutting boards. Photo © AHeirloom

Amy Stringer-Mowat
AHeirloom

Amanda’s concern reminded me of an interview we did with one of our clients, AHeirloom. They created the original state shaped cutting boards, and they got copied so much that they aren’t unique anymore.

Amy tells us:

Honestly, when we started making state shaped cutting boards it was a bit of an internet sensation and an amazingly lucky break after many years of making and learning our craft. When were we first copied, I set out to find out how we could stop the copying. It was immediately eye opening for me from a direct sales and wholesale perspective. Not only were small business owners taking part, but larger retailers who already had strong distribution with big box retailers were chipping away at our market share. The only way out of what felt like a nightmare was to push ourselves up.   

I had to take a moment and remind myself that… we’re designers, we spent years in architecture school. They’re boot camps for creating original work, defending your ideas and for learning how to be resourceful. The goal of our professional training was to create functional, thoughtful new designs and to master our tools. The only way forward was to stay true to a combination of knowing how our work can be made and creating a strong brand vision, collection by collection. While you might be able to copy our style, you aren’t going to be able to master the level of skill that goes into the quality of our work.

There is definitely a diluted marketplace out there, but staying ahead of issues around brand confusion and copycats comes down to quality for us. We are simply creating a better product in the end. The state shaped cutting boards you might see outside of our shop aren’t better than ours, they’re just less expensive. I feel satisfied that our board is going to last, it’s a true American made heirloom. It’s always helpful to remember that people can’t copy your attention to detail or your experience with your craft. Mastering your tool kit can set you and your work apart; it takes time, effort and missteps. The copycat never has time for this level of professionalism, they are onto the next trend.

While quality and skill is certainly one way of working around copycats, I also always put myself in the place of our customers. I tend to think of our “best customer” a lot, review feedback or custom requests we might have had and ask myself, “what would they love to add NEXT to their table top collection?” or,  “What can we make NOW to get them really excited about giving gifts from our online store and not another?” You truly have to be ahead of the curve to create that sense of excitement. The internet is easy to cruise for ideas, but generating brand loyalty online nurtures enthusiasm and encouragement for new work.

Rifle Paper Co. started a stationery trend and shaped the design landscape of an entire industry

Beautiful full color illustrated stationery. Photo © Rifle Paper Co.

Beautiful full color illustrated stationery. Photo © Rifle Paper Co.

Nathan Bond
Rifle Paper Co.

Anna and Nathan Bond launched their company in 2009, bypassing Etsy and hiring Aeolidia to create their own standalone ecommerce site. They became one of the fastest growing companies in the United States, Nathan was featured on Forbes’ 2015 30 Under 30 list, and suddenly companies sprouted up all over with business names ending in “Paper Co.” and with designs that were clearly striving to look like Anna’s.

We interviewed Nathan over the phone for his take on this, and he told us that from the beginning, there wasn’t anything quite like what Anna was designing, which was one of the main reasons they started Rifle. They were developing a style around full color illustrated designs, while back then, the more creative and design-focused brands were mostly letterpress.

The full color design work they began using was, at the time, relegated to the mass-market brands, and was not very design focused. There was nothing really “cool” out there in that style, and Anna and Nathan felt that there was a great opportunity for them to jump in and do something different and fresh.

It wasn’t long after Rifle hit the scene that people started to notice, and the Rifle style began to be a trend in the industry. Nathan says they expected this, but were surprised by how far it went:

It wasn’t just people saying, “let’s do high end full color beautifully illustrated stationery,” it was, “let’s do that and make it look like it’s Rifle.”

That’s something we dealt with very early on, and continue to deal with today, but I think our perspective has changed. […] We always knew there would be copycats, but it took us off guard that there would be that many people that willing to just take and not do their own style. It surprised us, because it didn’t seem like a very smart thing or a good strategy, and it was annoying. You know: find your own voice.

I think it bothered us, and Anna particularly, at first, because she was trying to pour her identity into it. So it felt like that was off limits. […] It didn’t take too long before we just stopped caring at all, to be frank. Just realizing that it’s not a good business strategy to copy other people, because you’re always going to be one step behind them, first off. It’s not really good business and even today it really doesn’t have any impact on us. We’re trying to create a brand and a voice and there’s a lot more to it than just our products. There are lots of people biting on things and copying things here and there, but at the end of the day, they’re getting the crumbs and we’re getting the meal.

I think that’s always how it’s been and [we started] realizing none of this stuff really matters. Now, we’re not going to let people copy our stuff exactly. We’re not going to let people literally take our stuff and print it. That’s off limits. But as far as people doing that, “heavily influenced by Rifle” thing… I don’t think it’s great. It’s kind of annoying. It’s not good business on their part, and it’s a little bit odd. At the end of the day, we don’t sit around thinking about it.

We asked Nathan if they have purposefully shifted their business to innovate, and he told us,

Absolutely. That’s a big part of it, too. You have to stay ahead. You know this sort of stuff is going to happen. Some of it isn’t even bad, some of it is we’ve started a trend. Even for people that aren’t really taking our look, they’re still going to be jumping off a trend that we might have kickstarted. That’s a real possibility, and that’s totally legit. But our job is to keep pushing the trend and keep starting new trends and keep ahead of them and really honestly be beyond trend. Outside of trend. Transcend trend, you might even say.

The reason we’ve been able to continue to be successful is because we’ve been pushing the envelope since day one. We’ve never gotten comfortable. We really really really want to push the design forward at all times and continue to grow the idea that is Rifle. I think we’ve done a really good job of that. We’ve definitely worked really hard at it.

Emily McDowell creates highly original work which sparks a fire of copycat businesses

Honest and humorous cards that say just what you mean. Photo © Emily McDowell

Honest and humorous cards that say just what you mean. Photo © Emily McDowell

Emily McDowell
Emily McDowell Studio

Emily McDowell didn’t just fall accidentally into her business. In 2012, she saw an opportunity to create a new kind of greeting card that reflected the relationships we actually have, not the ones we wish we had. This concept felt fresh, and her honest copywriting combined with her signature hand-lettering style helped to inspire a shift in the greeting card industry away from saccharine messaging. Emily strategically established her brand before launching another original idea in 2015: Empathy Cards™ for serious illness, grief, and loss. Emily worked to apply her genuine communication style to the staid “sympathy card” category, and the resulting Empathy Cards™ were wildly successful. No one had really seen anything like them: bluntly and humorously honest about some of life’s most difficult situations, while being adamantly on the recipient’s side.

We asked Emily for her thoughts on copying:

Copying used to REALLY upset me, and it still doesn’t feel great, but I’ve learned to deal with it. I come from a long career in advertising, where the absolute worst thing you can do as a creative is copy someone else’s idea– you get branded a hack, people don’t want to work with you, and you won’t get hired. So the transition from that world to the very different world of creating products to sell was a really tough one for me. I wasn’t really prepared for the fact that in this business, when you do something new that people turn out to really like, it becomes a “trend,” and it’s considered normal for other designers to adopt it.

As a result, I did some things in my first couple of years in business that I’m not proud of, like calling people out on social media, which isn’t appropriate. (Never publicly comment or accuse someone of copying, no matter how blatant it is or how pissed you are. Send them an email privately.) If you’re being copied, depending on the circumstances, you can sometimes take legal action. For example, if someone copies your original text or artwork and puts it on a product to sell, that violates IP law and you can work with an IP attorney to send them a cease and desist or DMCA takedown notice. But the tougher cases to deal with are the gray areas, when you’ve worked hard to build your brand and popularize a certain style, and another brand comes along and creates things that are very closely “inspired” by your work, but aren’t direct copies.

I have personally come to the conclusion that for me, it’s generally not worth pursuing those cases legally, even though it feels really shitty when it happens to you. When another brand dilutes your brand and causes brand confusion (i.e, people look at their work and think it’s yours), that’s technically something you can take legal action on, but the reality is that those cases are very expensive and difficult. At this point, I choose to focus on just continuing to evolve and make better work. A copycat can do what you did last year, but they don’t know what you’re going to do next year.

How do you make sure you’re not copying? I can tell you what I do, which is: any time I come up with an idea for a piece of writing, I google extensively to see if it’s been done before. If it has, I don’t do it. (This happens all the time.) I also look critically at my work and think, “Would someone who saw this think it was from another stationery designer?” If the look and feel are too close to another designer’s work, I kill or change the idea.

Even though I always come up with ideas independently, I really pride myself on creating original work, which also means not making things that already exist. The best way to build a brand is to be a creative leader; following a trend may mean sales, but the more your work is derivative of things that are already out there, the harder it will be to build a meaningful brand.

A brand new business, Handmaid Embroidery, shares her perspective on a “stalker” type copycat

Embroidery design and studio. Photo © Handmaid Embroidery.

Embroidery design and studio. Photo © Handmaid Embroidery.

Cristina Trinidad
Handmaid Embroidery

Cristina is new to making and selling, but has already experienced a problem with copying, and oddly enough, her “copycat” is a more established business. She decided to look inward rather than lash outward, and she shares her philosophy with us:

I am not a long established online shop owner, or maker, for that matter. I taught myself to embroider last August (yes, 2015). My 8 year old son, then 7, loved my stitches and suggested that I sell them in a lemonade stand in front of our house, that we could work together. I thought it was a sweet idea, but the notion stuck. I opened an Etsy shop in October and have been stitching every day.

I recently had someone steal my idea – and it was infuriating. I felt violated, sad and betrayed. I knew this person in Facebook groups I had participated in, often shared thoughts, my opinions and inspiration in. At first, I couldn’t believe it, much like when someone blatantly and publicly insults you. You freeze and don’t know what to say wondering, “did he/she really say that?!” I asked a trusted friend I knew wouldn’t pull punches to compare the work and let me know if what I was seeing was real, or if I was just scrutinizing a little too closely. My friend confirmed my hunches.

I didn’t know what to do. I knew that approaching this person would only make me look crazy. How so? Well the copycat is more well known, has been in business longer. Why would they choose to copy the work of a newbie? Also, what was I hoping to accomplish? Had I asked this person to “take it down” and they did, or didn’t, what then? I work hard to focus on changing myself rather than others and went to my craft room. I began to doodle and draw and design until I wasn’t upset anymore. I created this hoop. I felt the way I was treated was akin to something out of Mean Girls, or the way one is treated in high school. It’s so immature, really. That’s where the high school doodles came in.

Always wanting to share experiences with others in an effort to help them, I wrote a post about it, 7 Ways to Conquer A Creative Copycat.

I still run into this person in those Facebook groups that I am a part of and I never mentioned a word. Now that I’ve “gotten out my frustration” with stitches and words, seeing this person “around” doesn’t sting nearly as much as it did initially.

And that person? Well, they are still trying to keep up ;) and that’s flattery, no?

Committed LLC pushes back against copyright infringers

Dry erase newborn feeding tracker. Photo © Committed LLC.

Dry erase newborn feeding tracker. Photo © Committed LLC.

Jennifer Vickers
Committed LLC

Jennifer came up with a new idea, and quickly saw it being copied and sold, sometimes with her exact same design or wording. She spent some time trying to stop the infringement, and finally settled into using her energy to improve her business instead, a common theme. Jennifer tells us:

I created the Dry Erase Newborn Feeding Tracker when my first daughter was born in 2011, and just sold it to friends. It was popular, so I started on Etsy, then Pinterest came along, then it was a nicely-humming machine. Then came the copycats. They used my copy, my design elements, some used my photos. All were bad, heartbreaking, and frustrating.

I’d go on Cease & Desist benders, contacting each shop owner, compiling evidence of their infringements. Most people would apologize and remove their listings. A few pushed back and refused, but slightly changed their wording. Worse, they were licensing their designs for pennies to other sellers, so I had to contact those people too. It was so much time, so much energy, and really made me hate my business.

Then it dawned on me. I started this. I can stay on top of it. My initial solution was to up my SEO game. Take new photos, populate social media with MY product, Pin the hell out of it and make mine show up at the top. That was great for a while, but I was burning out. So I started to come up with new products. My creativity and design are what makes my products unique and nobody can take that away. So now I have a small website with more products: onesies, shirts, cards, pregnancy announcements, and I’m spending my time getting more products out there.

Pinterest is a blessing and a curse. So is Etsy. I get loads of traffic, but more eyeballs means more copycats. At least I can rest assured that their designs aren’t as good, their copy isn’t well thought-out (since they didn’t come up with the idea), and they’ll go out of business because they’re WAY underpricing the product.

Skinny laMinx takes on the fashion world

Storefront and fabric pattern. Photo © Skinny laMinx.

Storefront and fabric pattern. Photo © Skinny laMinx.

Heather Moore
Skinny laMinx

In the world of fashion, it seems like there are no rules. Knockoffs of every designer garment appear immediately, and no recourse can be taken, since fashion designs aren’t protected by copyright. So what do you do if a fashion designer, or someone else outside your industry uses your pattern in their clothing or other product?

Skinny laMinx was started by Heather in 2007, and consistently creates pattern after beautiful pattern, and product after beautiful product. They license their designs to companies like Chronicle Books, and Cloud9 Fabrics, but sometimes people just grab and use those designs. I asked Heather for her strategy around this, and she shared:

Over the years, I’ve seen various copies and imitations of Skinny laMinx. There are the ‘inspired by’ designs that are pretty much a copy of my idea, but just using a different version of my motif (for instance, there’s another designer who has a design with cows in repeating rows, awfully like my “Herds” design, albeit a different breed of cattle), which seems a little cheeky, but it does fall into that category of flattery that people suggest one ought to appreciate. I just don’t like it when people mistake that design for mine, which does happen occasionally.

The actual note-for-note rip offs are frustrating, and I’ve seen fashion, shoes, stationery and cushions that have made unauthorised use of my designs. Again, the worst part about these is that often these items are quite poor quality, and I would hate for anyone to think that we could produce a substandard item. Often, a sternly-worded letter to the ripper-off with a threat of social media shame has, at least most of the time, seen images of these removed from the internet.

But although I might threaten social media shame, I don’t feel that loud complaining on social media is a good branding position, as it positions my business as the ‘little guy’ (which is not very chic). A more positive approach, especially when the people who have ripped you off have a high brand profile, is to mine the ‘collaboration’ for all it’s worth, splashing the news of this fabulous ‘collaboration.’ It’s something of a jiu jitsu-style approach, making lemons from lemonade!

On a more positive note around this topic: not long ago a Japanese publishing company who had unknowingly used one of my papercut designs reproduced in another material by a designer, made immediate and heartfelt apologies, amends and payment after I’d pointed out the issue.

I don’t feel that rip offs hinder my business, and their existence has not caused me to make any changes to how I do things. The only change I’ve made is to spend less energy on feeling annoyed, and instead to concentrate on the enormous gratitude I feel to Skinny laMinx fans who let me know about these things on email and Instagram. I’m so touched to know that people like my designs enough to get upset on my behalf!

Takeaways from this article

What should you do to differentiate your business and make a solid foundation for its longevity? You can push yourself to make your business completely unique. If you’re following the popular trends in stationery and you think “my unique handwriting” is your differentiator, think again.

At Aeolidia, we want to be sure we’re capturing the heart of a business when we design for them. That’s why we scrutinize the information we get from our clients, and dig deeper when we feel we’ve been given an answer that doesn’t show the strengths of a business. For instance, I asked the new client I mentioned at the start of this article what’s unique about her business, and she shared:

It’s quirky, fun, and colorful! We offer great, vivid envelopes in addition to fun greeting cards, adding pops of color (teals, yellows, mints, and corals – with a little bit of grey) everywhere! Our designs are quirky – and my handwriting/sketching is unique to the brand. I feel like my handwriting and my voice go hand-in-hand – a bit off-the-wall, casual, and approachable. Friendly, but witty (we’re known to use a bit of snark every now and then)!

I asked her to go further. She was describing her business, but nothing was standing out as special or memorable. “Quirky, fun, colorful, vivid, pops of color…” these are all things that many stationery businesses do. “Friendly but witty” is pretty much the name of the game in stationery at this moment. I suggested to her,

“Your handwriting and sketching is where you should explore further. Almost every stationery brand does their own handwriting and sketching, so doing it yourself isn’t what makes you special. It’s the way you do it, your own personal style, that matters most.

To nail your own personal style, you need to avoid following trends, and instead, MAKE trends. Following trends will let you hitch a ride and get a few extra sales, but won’t serve you well for the future of your business. You want to define a style that people can spot from across the room, before they pick up the card. Think of your favorite stationery businesses – how do you know it’s their work when you come across it in a shop? What do you like about it?”

Your Unique Selling Proposition (or USP), is what makes you different from every other company out there. You should be able to immediately tell someone what makes you different from even your closest competitors.

I’ve written about this before, and I go into detail here: Make Marketing Easy With a Unique Selling Proposition

So, if you feel that you haven’t found your voice or style, I want to push you on what makes your brand unique. It will benefit your business as a whole, and in the long run.

Thoughts From an Attorney

I pulled in our friendly colleague, Kiffanie Stahle, of The Artist’s JD, to share her thoughts from a legal perspective. Kiffanie tells us,

Several times a month I talk to creative business owners upset about a copycat. Before we even dive in, the first step is making sure what’s being copied is protected by copyright. And that’s because ideas, facts, and functional items don’t have copyright protection.

If we decide that what’s being copied does have copyright protection, then we turn to if you should act.

The law doesn’t have a grey area. Someone either:

  • has permission to use your work
  • is committing copyright infringement
  • is okay because their use is fair use

But the law doesn’t account for the practicalities of running a creative business. Which is why over the years, I’ve developed a series of four questions. By answering these questions, we can decide when you can, can’t, and maybe shouldn’t act. These questions are:

  1. Did you give permission either through a contract or terms of service? Are they acting within the scope of that permission?
  2. Is this helping your business?
  3. Is this someone you wanna rumble with?
  4. Is their use fair use?

And your answers to these questions lands you in one of three buckets: can’t act, can act, or act with caution. (You can grab a PDF workbook that I walk you through these four questions here. The PDF also contains a graphic that guides you to deciding what bucket you fall in.)

If you end up in the “can act” bucket, the most common action steps are:

  • sending DMCA takedown notice
  • sending an email
  • sending a cease and desist letter yourself
  • having an attorney send a cease and desist letter

Even if the law is on your side it’s ultimately your decision on how to respond to copycats.

But understanding where the law will and won’t support you in stopping a copycat is important. Because you’ll end up with egg on your face if you threaten legal action over email, and then learn that you don’t have a case. (Because I would never recommend calling a copycat out on social media.)

Kiffanie is a valuable legal resource to the creative community, and she has some more on this topic to share with you. Along with the PDF workbook she mentioned, she is sharing some related articles to give you further info here: The Artist’s JD for Aeolidia

P.S. I don’t usually do a P.S. on blog posts, but if you’d like to hear pretty much the polar opposite perspective on this situation, listen to this fascinating interview with artist Jeral Tidwell, who for a time, made more money from copyright infringement cases than from his art. He is gleeful when big retailers copy and sell his work, because then he gets to work with his lawyers collecting evidence, and making big money off of their profits from his work.

If your ears are delicate, be warned that the F-bomb is dropped rather lavishly throughout: How to affordably copyright your art & how to deal with copyright infringement with Jeral Tidwell (“Hear how you can spend less than $500 to protect yourself and possibly walk away with a six figure payday!”).

Answering The Door When Opportunity Knocks With Arianne Foulks

Arianne Foulks of Aeolidia

This is an interview with Arianne for Life + Business on Design*Sponge.

Why did you decide to start your own business, versus work for someone else?

In high school, I started writing and glue-sticking a zine called Kickstand. I covered wide-ranging topics from “Taste Test of Red Drinks” to “Ants! Ants! Ants! A Tale of Spine Tingling Horror.”

When I got to college, I met my husband Chris, who runs a record label. I also had a lot of connections in the music world from running my zine. It was the late 90s, and everyone wanted a website! I began helping our friends create sites for their bands and record labels.

So, I didn’t have a grand plan at the start! It was just a hobby, that would soon become something more.

The tipping point happened when a friend with an actual moneymaking business asked me to help make her ecommerce shop pretty. I knew nothing about ecommerce (and it barely existed for small businesses at that point), but dove right in and started figuring it out. The project went well and she introduced me to her entrepreneurial friends. When I started helping craft businesses with their sites, my work became an investment for my clients and it began to seem like something that could become my job.

Nora Gray by Aeolidia

Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was and how you knew it was what you wanted to do?

Oh yes! Computer lab, UC Santa Cruz. Due to overcrowding in the dorms, I was given not one but three roommates in a room that used to be a lounge. There was not a lot of quiet time to be had with all four of us in one small room (and the occasional unwelcome “beer bong” party), so I found myself spending a lot of time in the computer labs around campus.

I started off with my very own Geocities website for my zine. Geocities was one of the first ways to have a personal website, and the default site style was a crazy ugly mess. I wanted my site to look like my zine, so I learned to use the scanners and get my favorite 50s clip art up on my site. I redesigned that website very regularly.

This was in the very early days of the web: anyone who knew how to make a site was automatically an expert. Chris worked for the city of Santa Cruz, and his boss hired us to redesign the city’s waste management site. They paid us $1000, and we felt like kings!

What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?

I didn’t get much business advice at the start, though I have spent years reading anything that might make me better at what I do. I blazed my own trail, not knowing anyone who had a service-based business. Instead of looking for help from peers or mentors, I gleaned what I needed to know from my clients’ feedback and frustrations.

I am a born problem solver, which makes my business a joy to me. There are always problems to solve. We like to solve clients’ problems with our work, but my favorite are Aeolidia’s own problems. I take every bit of feedback I get and consider whether there is any improvement I can make to our process based on it. If a current client tells me something that will make things smoother and easier for my next client, that is gold, and I always act on it.

Aeolidia marketing materials

What was the most difficult part of starting your business?

When I started Aeolidia in 2004, the tools I use now didn’t exist. Project management was a big hurdle. When things got busy with multiple projects, it was a lot to juggle, and I kept most of it in my head. I’m thankful for the tools and software we use now, which allow us to keep on top of dozens of projects without missing a beat.

Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?

Success for a client-based business all boils down to communication. This is particularly true when you work remotely, like my team and I do. There are 15 Aeolidians right now, many clients, and each project tends to have at least four people on it. That is a lot of people, mostly communicating over the internet. There are a lot of opportunities to miscommunicate!

I spend much of my time making it easier for our clients to share what they need and easier for my team to share their process and ideas.

People come to Aeolidia because of our unique voice and viewpoint, and it’s important that everyone who works for me shares this viewpoint and is able to communicate it effectively. I’m glad to say that our tight team right now are completely behind the Aeolidia mission of transforming little businesses into “big little” businesses and that’s showing in all the work we’ve done recently.

Can you name a moment of failure in your business experiences that you learned from or that helped you improve your business or the way you work?

We have had some big shifts over the years as our skills and experience have grown, and whenever we’ve upped our game, I’ve felt concerned about leaving our old market and entering into a new one. Aeolidia began a year before Etsy did, and the crafters that Etsy catered to were our original clients: people with a hobby that they were interested in turning into a business. Over time, our work got so detailed, time-consuming, and valuable that we weren’t able to keep the low prices we started out with, and our client base began to change.

Leaving our beloved beginner crafters was scary and a bit sad. These were the people that I felt comfortable with and I was still such a champion of their businesses! It felt weird that our work no longer fit their budget.

I just hate turning away a feisty business that I admire, so for many years, we tried to find ways to accommodate everyone. We would try to work within a client’s budget by doing less for them than they really needed. I was breaking all my own rules about never cutting corners on a project.

Sadly, we found that in trying to please everyone we weren’t pleasing anyone. By investing less than we normally would in a project, we weren’t meeting our clients’ expectations. Clients started getting upset and my team was beginning to feel burnt out.

We were diluting our brand trying to cater to everyone. I knew something had to change. I had to get realistic about where our area of expertise was: helping businesses at the tipping point who need a push away from their DIY efforts and over to where they can make much bigger sales.

This is such rewarding work for us, because it’s a partnership. Our clients have used their strengths and skills to create a great product and grow a loyal following. We can then use our strengths and skills to push them past whatever has been holding them back. After working with us, our clients are ready for whatever opportunities knock at their door.

Instead of trying to have something for everyone, we’re now focusing on being everything to someone.

Harvest Paper Co by Aeolidia

If you were magically given 3 more hours per day, what would you do with them?

Take a pottery class! For sure. My phone is going to buzz me to remind me about this in spring, when I think I’ll have a bit more free time. I may just do it without those extra hours. I’ve been watching potters throw clay on a wheel in little videos on Instagram, and it’s so mesmerizing. I need to get my hands into some clay.

What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting your business?

Like every business owner, I’ve sacrificed weekends and time with my family and feelings of security and stability – even my health. I spent two months between project managers once, juggling everything myself, and tooth sensitivity showed me I’d been clenching my jaw at night. Luckily, every sacrifice I’ve chosen to make has been for a good reason and has been manageable.

Talking about business sacrifices feels like talking about parenting sacrifices. Counting sacrifices is kind of beside the point, right? Of course it is hard and scary and challenging to do either thing, but it’s also impossible to imagine life without your business once it’s become your lifestyle.

Can you name your greatest success (or something you’re most proud of) in your business experiences?

Aeolidia’s greatest success is when the collaboration between our client and our team exceeds the goals and objectives we all had at the start of the project. We have launched some brands that we are especially proud of. It’s such a pleasure to have given them that kickstart and then to sit back and watch them rocket towards their own success.

Rifle Paper Co., who didn’t have a site. Now they have a breathtakingly huge list of stockists. Emily McDowell, who started small and now is in the national news and has her own warehouse. June & January, who went from DIY to 3x as many wholesale requests on launching the new brand.

Having our greatest success being our clients’ great success is the virtuous cycle that keeps us in business after a decade.

product packaging and photography

What business books/resources (if any) would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?

If you’re at all like me, and you’re always following new ideas and plans and projects down their various bunny trails, you’ll find The ONE Thing a truly helpful and motivating book as far as focusing your days, weeks, months and years to only pursuing the thing that’s going to make everything else easier or unnecessary.

Has failing at something or quitting ever lead to success for you? Walk us through that.

I never consider anything a failure. There’s always progress gained, and things that don’t go as planned are usually a learning experience. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and it’s easy to look back and wish you had done something differently. I like to give myself credit for doing the best I could with the information that I had at the time, even if the outcome isn’t ideal.

This is probably the crazy mindset that makes starting your own business seem like a good idea, and I think it’s something a lot of us biz owners have in common!

In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?

You want to be prepared by understanding the core values of your business:

  1. Why do you want to start a business? If you don’t have a compelling reason for starting your business, you’re going to have a hard time convincing people to be interested.
  2. What is truly unique about what you do, and how are you telling your story? It really is all about the story, and I break this down in detail here: Make Magic For Your Biz With a Strong Brand Story
  3. Finally, what goals and ambitions will keep you excited about your business? Don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s going to be easy (at least not at first)! You’ll work more than you ever have before, and to keep your heart in it, you need ambitions. As you meet them, you can expand them, and keep your job interesting.

What’s the first app, website or thing you open/do in the morning?

My email. I don’t tend to answer it first thing, but I like to see who we’re talking to and whether any interesting opportunities have come up. On the best of days, I jump right into WordPress and knock out a blog post, but that’s only when I’m at the top of my game. Of course, all this comes after scooting my boys (kindergartener and second grader) out the door with breakfast in their tummies and lunch in their backpacks.

What’s the hardest thing about being your own boss that isn’t obvious?

To be successful you often have to push yourself to do things you would never have thought you wanted to do when you signed up for the job. For me, this ranges from bad feeling things like letting an employee go who I personally like but isn’t the right fit, to good feeling things, like mustering the bravery to speak or teach at an event.

Thank you, Design*Sponge team, for having me on the blog today! I admire the effort you put into supporting creative business.

Thank you, readers, for taking a moment to peek into what I do. I’d love to get to know you creative business owners better. Please say hello to me in the comments or subscribe to my newsletter to get my best tips for your business – reply to my first email to tell me where your business is at. I’d love to know!

Originally posted on Design*Sponge »

Meet 20 Inspiring Creative Businesses That Are Aiming High

We are continually inspired by the businesses we work with. We love to see their unique products, share in their excitement, and work together with them to take practical steps to reach their current objectives and long term goals.

We will write about these products in more detail in the upcoming weeks, but for now, I wanted to give you the rundown of what work we’ve just finished and what we’re beginning now.s

Aeolidia project launches

Aeolidia’s project block 2 just ended and we’re moving to block 3. Some of our logo clients from block 2 are having a website built, and the others are new to us this block. I’d like to show off the inspiring brands that are ready to put their plans into action and achieve their goals now! Here are the projects we’ve recently completed:

Blaze + Wander

blaze-wander-feature

Project: Brand Identity and Customer Experience Design, business name brainstorming, Shopify setup
Website: Blaze + Wander, coming soon

Sarah Yasukochi is starting a boho boutique of thoughtfully curated styles and uniquely handcrafted clothing and accessories made especially for kids. She wants to inspire her customers to buy one of a kind products, follow artisan stories, and support projects for social good.

Sarah is a great example of a prepared business person. Though this particular project is new, she has close to 20 years of branding and marketing experience under her belt and has owned a small franchise business in the past. She quickly discovered the unique challenges of starting a business from scratch and came to Aeolidia to ensure she had a solid branding strategy in place before revealing it to potential customers.

The business name, brand, and simple Shopify theme will allow Sarah to go out there and make a name for Blaze + Wander. Once she sees success, it will make sense for her to work on a custom website design with us, and we will be glad to jump back in at that point.

Beloved Paper

beloved-paper-print

Project: Business Brand Identity Designmarketing consultation
Website: Beloved Paper (new logo to be revealed soon!)

Beloved Paper is owned and run by Sarah Coats, selling wedding invitations and personalized watercolor maps, as well as art/quote prints as well. Sarah told us:

My passion as an individual and business is to celebrate life and the blessings that come our way, and to turn those blessing around and use them to love others. Although, I am honestly having a hard time conveying that in my business along with my artwork/designs without seeming like two separate businesses.

I would like people to see my logo and see a luxury and established brand; not necessarily shine and bling but be comfortable with entrusting me with their wedding stationery. I would like to eventually create a wedding stationery catalog so the branding needs to be professional enough for stores to pick up.

Christine designed a logo to meet Sarah’s goals, and then Sarah worked closely with Jena, our marketing consultant, on perfecting a pitch that is going to get press for her business. We can’t wait to see Sarah’s work all over the most popular wedding publications soon!

See this one on our blog

See Beloved Paper in our portfolio

Handcrafted HoneyBee

Handcrafted HoneyBee - brand identity design for a skin care company

Project: Brand Identity and Product Presentation Designcopywriting, styled product photography. The custom Shopify website is coming in block 3!
Website: Handcrafted HoneyBee (temporary while we work on a custom design)

Can a DIY skin care kit empower girls to become leaders, scientists, and entrepreneurs? Stacia and Robert Guzzo believe passionately that it can, and it has been a joy to work with them to completely rebrand their company from the ground up. They shared with us:

Mission: At Handcrafted Honey Bee, we build bridges between creative expression and scientific exploration through hands-on, innovative & playful adventures in skin care.

Vision: We strive to foster the next generation of young women to be leaders and influencers that can think both creatively and analytically to solve problems in the world.

We completed the brand in block one, designed the website in block two, and will be able to unveil the entire online experience for Handcrafted HoneyBee at the end of block three.

I am so fascinated by the trajectory Stacia and Robert Guzzo are on with their business! They just totally “get it” – they understand their brand, they understand when and what to invest in, and they put in the work a business needs to do to take their ideas from thought to successful reality. I honestly don’t see how they could fail with the foundation they’ve built.

Stacia and Robert took the new design and packaging that we’ve created for them and run with it! Before we even finished the project, the dauntless duo walked Toy Fair to research, networked, allied their business with a specialty toy association, and have already had toy stores contacting them due to their own outreach efforts. We are so excited to see where they take this!

See this one on our blog

Sticky Hugs

The Sticky Hugs logo is a happy octopus, ready to hug you

Project: Business Brand Identity Designcopywriting
Website: coming soon!

We got all the way into product design with this project, designing the logo and brand identity, and then illustrating a huge set of icons to be featured on the stickers that Jacqueline Bak is selling. She told us:

We sell personalized waterproof stickers or name labels that adhere to clothing, backpacks, lunch bags, sneakers, baby bottles, sports gear and just about anything else cloth, plastic or other materials.

Our labels are washable, eco-friendly, cute, fun, stylish and available in combinations of colors, designs and fonts. Our durable labels will help customers avoid their children’s things getting lost, mixed up and leaving home never to return.

How the labels look is a critical part of our company strategy. Our labels are classic, simple, stylish, modern, cute, and fun. The labels are much more stylish and modern than what is available out there in the market.

It’s great to be able to get in at the start of a project with a client, making sure the logo, products, and packaging are all in tune and targeted toward the right customer. We’re looking forward to seeing what Jacqueline does with her new business!

See this one on our blog

June Ruby

june-ruby-feature

Project: Custom Shopify websitecopywritingmarketing consultation
Website: June Ruby

June Ruby is a women’s apparel business, with an online store as well as a brick and mortar in Colorado (with a goal to open more). They cater to busy women who may not have the time or desire to shop but care about how they look and being fashionable. Michelle Rotter, proprietor, told us:

We launched JuneRuby.com in 2010 but didn’t focus much on it until we opened the brick and mortar in July 2015. We need to encourage more browsing while on the site as well as a better way to sort through products – by brand, price, color. Overall, we need a site that positions us as a national brand not a small boutique.

We would like to double our sales over the next year and the majority of the growth will likely need to come from our online business. In addition to a new site, we are also investing more in inventory, photography, and social media efforts to grow the business.

We took their existing logo and redesigned their Shopify site based on their objectives. To make sure we gave them a great start in building their business and doubling sales, we worked on some copywriting for their site, and an in-depth marketing consultation about customer rewards, promotions, personal shopping, and blogging. They are off to a good start revitalizing their web presence.

Euphoric Herbals

Euphoric Herbals brand redesign

Project: Business Brand Identity Designcopywriting, custom Shopify website
Website: Euphoric Herbals

Cindy Collins creates and sells herbal teas and salves to support pregnancy and new mothers. She told us that her business personality is relatable, small, and like a friend. She talks to her customers and interacts with them regularly.

She has been in business for about five years, and has had shops on Etsy, Storenvy and BigCommerce. Among her goals for this project were to bring clarity to her website for her customers, end up with an easier checkout process, and find ways to engage her customers beyond the purchase. She had an existing logo mark, but needed to bring in typography to help make her name memorable.

With the clarified brand in place and the smooth-running Shopify website, she’s ready to push her business to new levels.

Flutterbye Prints

Flutterbye fingerprints

Project: Custom Shopify website, styled product photographycopywriting
Website: Flutterbye Prints

Amie Jones started out selling note cards geared toward teachers, and branched out with customizable artwork created using fingerprints. When we asked her about her business challenges, she told us:

My main frustration with selling on Etsy is that I need more flexibility. My customers are shopping at my shop because they want to control the color, the font, the size, the text, everything. I spend way too much of my time answering emails about details that I know would be more readily apparent if they didn’t have to read through the product description.

I really don’t like the disorganized feel of my shop. In order to get seen on Etsy, I have lots of listings of the same exact thing. This confuses shoppers who aren’t familiar with Etsy. To be honest, I really want to move off of Etsy. I got spooked last fall when something was amiss and my sales tanked, virtually disappeared. I need more control of my shop and my future. However, I feel like I’m kind of looking into the internet abyss when it comes to promoting a website off of Etsy. It’s totally new for me and kinda scary.

It was a delight to be able to set up a custom shopping experience for Amie’s customers, and she’s now set up to be able to boost her sales and build her brand.

See this one on our blog

See Flutterbye Prints in our portfolio

Bebitza

bebitza-feature

Project: Custom Shopify websitecopywriting
Website: Bebitza

Kelvin Lee and Bree Tinecheff of Bebitza told us this about their company:

We are a small business based in Perth, Australia offering baby and parenting goods. The business first began in 2006 when founder Bree, was looking for a modest solution to breastfeed her first baby in public. Having found none available in the Australia market, she decided to create her own nursing cover – The Breastfeeding Blanket.

It is with the creation of “The Breastfeeding Blanket” that we pioneered the nursing cover category in Australia.

They had been in business for eight years, and it was time for a new brand and website. They wanted something visually appealing, sharp, crisp, and clean. We moved them from their clunky WooCommerce site on WordPress with no mobile solution to a customer-friendly site on Shopify that works well on desktop and mobile, and communicates their brand vision and values.

See Bebitza in our portfolio

Hip Hip Yay

Hip Hip Yay brand identity design

Project: Brand Identity and Product Presentation Designcustom Shopify websitecopywriting
Website: Paper Confetti

Charlotte Callaghan runs an online boutique party store in Australia, with a cute selection of party goods sourced from around the world. She came to us wanting a strong logo that won’t seem dated after a short amount of time. She asked to pair the logo project with a new custom Shopify website that caters to her ideal customer. She told us she would like to see a large increase in pageviews, email signups, and sales.

Charlotte came up with a new name for her company, and we designed a fun logo that is perfect for celebrations. We’re hard at work now on her new site, and getting prepared for a full relaunch.

Wishbird

Wishbird logo

Project: Brand Identity and Product Presentation Design, product and packaging design
Website: coming soon

Christine Burns had an idea and direction for her business, but was having a hard time getting it off the ground. Two designers later, she ended up in her inbox, and we were able to create a brand identity for Wishbird that will help her fledgling business take flight.

Christine told us:

I need a complete redo that includes logo, brand identity and packaging. I want people to feel special and cared for when they get a Wishbird box. I do like my previous logo but the designer dropped the ball on the complete package and I heard from other customers of hers that the same happened to them. I’m just ready for a fresh start and for something to be seen thru to completion. I want my boxes to have a modern thoughtful feel that is both simple and smart. I want it to look and feel… expensive it isn’t the right word but maybe tasteful and higher end.

Aeolidia to the rescue! We helped Christine define her target customer and then used that information to hone in on a logo and brand that would appeal to them and draw their eye to her product in the shops. From there, Christine on our team began designing the look of the product and box that they come in. That work will be completed in block 3.

Fox + Clover

trendy feminine business card design

Project: Brand Identity and Product Presentation Design
Website: Fox & Clover

Tara Dowling creates and designs gift products that are fun, friendly, a little bit cheeky and pretty girlie. She came to us to finally settle on a brand identity for her business.

My project goal is to completely rebrand my business and have branding/packaging that will be well received by customers and retailers. Right now, my wholesale orders are fairly unbranded because I’ve been struggling with packaging design. I want to keep what is good and expand on that. I would like to new branding to be something I’m really excited to share with others.

Tara’s claim to Aeolidia fame is proving that our sharpened system is really working – this project finished one month early! Her project was meant to take two months, and we breezed through in half the time. Being focused on her customers and objectives instead of her preferences and feelings made our process laser focused, and we didn’t have to bother with unnecessary revisions or explorations. Bam!

Tara is ready to take on the world now, and we’ll be glad to warm up our trackpads again when she’s ready for a custom website experience for her shoppers.

See this one on our blog

Aeolidia’s new projects

Looking forward to block 3, I’m thrilled to introduce you to these inspiring businesses. See where they’re at now, and check back with us in a couple of months to see their transformations!

Pango Productions

Client: Cindy Pang
Project: Custom Shopify website design
Current site: Pango Productions

We have been publishing greeting cards for many years here in London and are in need of a website which gives a more cohesive feel of the catalogue of work we do. Currently, it is old and just cobbled together and does not really reflect the fun nature of the actual product.

One of the main functions it needs is a trade only wholesale area with login where orders can be placed by our numerous stockists.

Sushi & Queso

Client: Katy Sensenig Schilthuis
Project: Renaming, Brand Identity and Product Presentation Design
Current site: Sushi & Queso

Sushi & Queso Designs is a Paper Goods and Home Goods store that currently offers greeting cards, art prints and coffee mugs. I’m in the process of refreshing my entire line at the moment – but want the new vibe to be colorful, feminine, and quirky.

I want those who see my new branding to feel joy – my ultimate goal in creating my work is to make people smile and laugh, and have fun. It’s supposed to brighten up someone’s day – and brighten up their walls/home. I’d love to be sold in stores like Urban Outfitters, Paper Source, and Anthropologie.

JillianMaddie Paperie

Client: Holly Hutton
Project: Brand Identity and Customer Experience Design
Current site: JillianMaddie on Facebook

I am starting a paper, packaging and party supply business. I have always had an obsession or love affair with beautiful wrappings, printed papers, and all things party related! I started out crafting and making cards, but felt I wanted to expand into selling amazing products and craft.

I don’t have a website right now because I feel I haven’t found any web designers that will be able to portray myself and my product in the way that I want. We will be retail ecommerce store for now. I would love to have a brick and mortar in the next 2-3 years.

BigLittle

Client: Lisa Spearman
Project: Business name brainstorming, Brand Identity and Customer Experience Design
Current site: BigLittle on Etsy

I design and sell delightful woodland inspired children’s clothing and doll pdf patterns which can be made from recycled materials.

Big Little is all about handmade, love, nature and imaginary play – featuring classic enduring styles with just a touch of whimsy. I encourage the use of recycled and natural materials and every pattern I make can be sewn from such.

The four things I am wishing my brand to become known for are:
1) “The” brand for recycling fabrics.
2) Beautiful, clear patterns that work every time, and are delightful to use.
3) Fun designs for boys (not exclusively for boys, but you can find fun boys things here!)
4) Great patterns to encourage imaginative outdoor play.

How will I know if I have achieved what I had hoped? My logo and branding will match the image in my head and the feeling of the garments/pdf patterns I create. There is a cohesive look to my entire online presence from social media, shop, blog and everything in-between. A sense of pride as I hit publish on anything online that it will look unmistakably “Big Little.”

Miss Rose Sister Violet

Client: Yasmin Kerkez
Project: Custom Shopify website, copywriting, marketing consultation
Current site: Miss Rose Sister Violet

We are an Australian family owned business, consisting of my parents and my older sister. The four of us design and manufacture giftware, children’s clothing and accessories and women’s clothing and accessories. We also design and manufacture a vintage inspired sewing and craft range, with beautiful velvet millinery flowers.

Our next important step is to create a fantastic website. We are serious about taking the next step and growing from a small family business towards a branded company. And we would love your help. We operate mostly as a wholesale company and sell our product to stores nationwide. But we would also like to grow our online retail sales. Our aim is to create a website that has both retail and wholesale options for our customer, with also access to an online wholesale catalog for customers to order from.

PaperWand

Client: Neesha Merani
Project: Brand Identity and Product Presentation Design, Custom Shopify design
Current site: PaperWand

I started my small biz through Shopify, and I’m not sure where on the design, marketing, identity spectrum I fall. I know I’ve pretty much gotten as far as I can on my own and now I really need help with some of the more tech-y issues, and also taking my biz to the next level. For example I’d like customizable products and also the option to offer workshops and a section that is just for licensing and wholesale. I want to re-brand and re-design the website. I’d like to get the e-commerce side up and running smoothly and its needs a clear brand identity voice throughout the images and copy… Even though I have a design/art background I’m still swamped trying to do everything to run my biz. I’m finding that I have less and less time to actually focus on the creative parts, like designing and creating the products and I’m spending way too much time on the building of the website. Its very overwhelming. I’d love to hand off parts of this so I can focus on my art & illustrations more ! :)

Sunshine Parties

Client: Louise Sanders
Project: Custom Shopify site, copywriting
Current site: Sunshine Parties

I’m at that point now though where I know I need to create my own online shop (still keep Etsy) and have more control over my brand. I’m aware you guys create custom shopify themes. I’m at a crossroad at the moment where I could purchase a Shopify theme, then battle my way through trying to customize it, then bash my head on the keyboard trying to make sure my domain points to Shopify correctly then cry trying to make sure my blog posts have been imported properly with the existing URLS…..I might go a liiiiiiitle crazzzzzzy….or I could use your team of geniuses!!

Baby Care Play Mats

Client: JungJoon Park
Project: Business name brainstorming, Brand Identity and Customer Experience Design, product photography, copywriting, marketing consultation
Current site: Baby Care Play Mats on Amazon

Above all, Baby Care Play Mats are the #1 selling kids’ play mats on Amazon.com with over 1300 five star reviews. As part of expanding our business beyond Amazon, we are interested in building a custom ecommerce website for the product.

As for a second option, I have had created a Amazon webstore a few years ago which sells both Baby Care Play Mats and another premium quality play mats called Dwinguler. Amazon Webstore is to be closed by July 2016 and I may need a replacement.

I am still thinking on whether to build a website solely for Baby Care Play Mats (which sells the most) or to build a more generic website that sells other play mats as well. It would be great to hear opinions from experts like you on this regard as well.

Emily McDowell Studio

Client: Emily McDowell
Project: Custom Shopify website
Current site: Emily McDowell Studio

We could not be more proud to work with Emily and her team again to freshen things up on their website after their recent announcement about partnering with The Madison Park Group on their wholesale portion of the business:

Working with Madison Park Group will give me the opportunity to create WAY more stuff, and also do things like writing, working with charities, speaking, and focusing on making our retail website awesome!

Do any of these motivated people sound like you?

If you’re feeling similarly ready to move forward with your business, and you’re ready to invest in some outside help, we would love to be your team. If you email today, we’ll work to squeeze you into block 4. Block 4, you ask?

Tell me more about this block system

In 2016, Aeolidia is trying out something new: doing projects in a block system. This means that we have set up discrete blocks throughout the year, and all projects start at the same time, and launch by the same time. When you work with us, the block system will mean these things to you:

  1. You will know exactly when you will launch, and your launch date is guaranteed
  2. Your launch date will be strategic, based on your business’ important sales season

Each block is two months long, and you will be working with either a designer or a developer during a single block.

  • A logo takes one block.
  • A website design takes one block.
  • Developing that website takes one block.

So each of our clients will need 1-3 blocks (2-6 months) to complete their project.

Here are our blocks for 2016:

  • Block 1: January 4 – March 4 – CHECK!
  • Block 2: March 7 – May 6 – CHECK!
  • Block 3: May 9 – July 8 – here we go!
  • Block 4: July 11 – September 16 – comin’ up
  • Block 5: September 19 – November 18 – the most coveted of blocks

Let’s say you’re doing a full re-branding and want a custom website. When should you get started? We’d be glad to discuss that with you in detail, but a rough guideline is:

Launching before Christmas shoppers get going? Or prepping for the NY NOW winter show? You will want your logo designed in block 3 (this block is full, but we can talk about a rush fee if you’re motivated), your website designed in block 4, and your website built in block 5. Then you can announce your new site right when your customers are most interested and ready to shop!

Need an impressive brand identity and compelling website for wholesalers to shop from by the National Stationery Show next year? Get your logo designed by block 5, your website designed in block 1, and we’ll build it for you in block 2, in time to head to New York in May.

We book up early, and are glad to book you up to 18 months in advance. If you have brand and/or website goals for next year, let’s talk! We want the best for your business, and can help you make a practical plan.

Wholesale Product Pricing For Your Creative Business

Get all your product pricing questions answered by Lela Barker, wholesale and pricing smartie!

Lela Barker is the owner of Lucky Break Consulting.  She joined us in the Aeolidia Facebook group for a Q&A about Product Pricing. Creative product-based businesses, come join us! We do these live typed chats once a month.

Lela launched Lucky Break to support her friends, colleagues, and the maker community. She fosters emerging creative brands by infusing their passion with the experience, critical thinking, and strategic tools needed to evolve the passion into a sustainable business.

Grab her 38 page PDF about pricing, and ALL of your questions about the subject will be put to rest. I’m serious, she covers it all, in an easy-to-understand and motivational way:

Download Lela’s FREE wholesale product pricing guide

We’ve tidied up the Facebook back and forth into something readable so we won’t lose this great info, and you can see Lela’s thoughts on product pricing for small business here. All quoted text below is from Lela, and all bold text is from our Facebook community.

I know keystone pricing is standard, but do retailers and sales reps want a larger margin than 50%? 

That’s a great question! Reps in the paper + gift industry (which is likely the category most of us here are in) will expect to earn a 15% commission on each sale. I don’t necessarily vote for mentally assigning it as a dip into your profit. Instead, I prefer to build that commission into the pricing structure from the very beginning.

If you know that reps are on your radar, plan for that and build the margin in. It will make for richer profits on each retail sale (hooray!) and will mean you’re still clearing respectable profits on your wholesale sales.

[When planning for sales reps from the start], it’s not your standard wholesale price + 15% for those accounts. It’s your wholesale price, which includes an accommodation for that 15% commission. It may sound like splitting hairs, but it’s an important distinction. I hope that’s clear!

Wholesale buyers will expect to keystone your pricing at a minimum… that means your wholesale price x 2 = their retail price. And they’ll want their retail price to be pretty on par with your retail price for that same product.

Really wanna rock their socks off? Give a x 2.2 margin. So…

Your wholesale price is $10

Your retail price for that product is $22, rather than $20

Think of it this way: shelf space is like real estate. If retailers can earn 55% on your product and they can earn 50% on your competitor’s product, then if they’re confident that both you + your competitor will do well in the store, why would they choose your competitor?

Corporate accounts (think big retailers like Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters,Target, etc.) will likely want preferential pricing, so less than your standard wholesale. But that’s based on their volume… they’re ordering more so they want better pricing based on that purchasing power.

I wrote a blog recently about when to offer volume discounts. It might prove helpful:
The Magical Mystery of Volume Discounts

I’m curious about how to announce a price increase. I currently sell digitally printed art prints, but will be switching over to screenprinting for those. It will be an increase from $12 (which I actually feel was too low anyway, and I’m glad to be increasing) to $20 since the screenprinting process is much higher cost & more labor intensive. How can I go about telling both retail & wholesale customers about the switch?

That’s a significant price adjustment (no shame in that!), but significant jumps necessitate a communication of the increased value. Make certain to communicate to your customers (wholesale and retail) that you’re using a new process. Blog or create a video to explore the intricacies of this new process, why you chose it and what it means for the customer.

I vote for giving wholesale buyers a heads up before a price increase. Ideally:

  1. Give them 30 days written notice… Try dispatching a newsletter to a wholesale-exclusive mailing list to streamline the notification process.
  2. Call it a price adjustment rather than a price increase. Avoid “loaded” language at all costs. See also: unfortunately, regret to inform you, costs are through the roof, I had to, we had no choice, I hope you understand, etc.
  3. Marry it with positive news about the brand: recent press, a new product launch, quicker turnaround times, more buyer-friendly wholesale policies, a promotion, a new website or product photographs, etc. Show them that you’re a brand-on-the-move and that you’re consistently “leveling up.”
  4. Frame everything in the positive and be careful not to project your anxieties into the communication.
  5. Make certain that you convey that you’re grateful for their support + you’re available if they need anything.

If you have key accounts that are of particular importance, give them a ring to follow up. I’m less sensitive about price adjustment announcements to retail consumers. Lovely to give them a 7-10 days heads up but they’re less dependent on you as a brand.

Just remember: this is all good news. Frame it in the positive and position it as a win. Good luck!

What if there is no value increase? What if the price increase is just because you weren’t charging the right amount to begin with?

If there’s no increase in value, then things are a bit trickier. In the long run, you must be profitable in order to be sustainable. So if you know that the pricing structure you’ve been working with isn’t serving you well, then I fully support abandoning it – with or without an increase in value.

You should be aware that a sudden increase in price without an commensurate increase in value will likely mean the defection of a certain percentage of your customer base. How much? I’m not sure. Those who love you and love your product will likely stay loyal, but those who are shopping based exclusively on price will likely defect to other brands. And that’s perfectly alright. Wish them well and let them go. You’ll need to rebuild a new base and that’s totally possible. In fact, it’s preferable to staying tethered to a base of customers who can’t support you.

These growing pains are tough, but worth it. Play the long game!

I’m struggling with the pricing of my pet beds that I’m about to release. What is the best formula, in your opinion, for setting wholesale and retail prices? I’ve tried the 2x cost (materials & labor) for wholesale and 2x wholesale = retail, but it gets pretty pricey then.

Thanks for being here! That’s a great question and I’m not a big fan of set pricing formulas (4x raw materials or 3x our labor etc.) I vote for getting down and dirty with the math.

Here’s my strategy for calculating your product costs:

Raw materials + labor + overhead = product costs, which are your base figure for pricing exercises.

Raw materials: Everything needed to create the finished product, including things which are consumed in the creation process and may not be part of the finished product. For example: if you’re a furniture maker: that’s the wood, staples, nails, stain, everything. See that sandpaper? Used in the process, but not part of the finished product. You must account for that. For apothecary product makers, that might be hair nets, gloves, paper towels, etc. For apparel + accessory designers, it might be scrap fabric, etc. Make sure it’s allllll in there.

Labor: All the energy needed to create a product. Not the energy needed to sell it, but definitely the energy needed to create it. I recommend that you stratify labor and assign appropriate labor rates. For example, if you make soap, then there are lots of tasks involved: measuring and mixing the oils (actually making the soap), lining the mold, cutting the soap, wrapping the soap, doing the dishes, etc. There’s likely one labor rate attached to the dishwashing task and a higher rate attached to the actual creation of the product. Assign labor rates based on what you’d have to pay someone else to do that exact task.

Overhead: All the regular bills you have to pay even if you don’t sell a thing. Think: mortgage or rent (add it in there, even if you don’t pay it), utilities, insurance, etc. These things are recurring and they need to be accounted for. There are various strategies for calculating and accounting for overhead. The simplest? Add up all your monthly overhead expenses, then divide by how many products you can create per month.

$1200 in monthly overhead expenses/ 150 products you can create in a month = $8 per product in overhead

raw materials + labor + overhead = product costs

product costs + profit margin = wholesale price

wholesale price x 2 or 2.2 = retail price

Handmade products are expensive, no doubt. If the price you ultimately arrive at for those pet beds is intimidating you, gut check it. Are you your ideal customer? If not, then it doesn’t matter if you would or wouldn’t pay it, so long as they will. And if you’re uncertain that they will, how can you communicate the value of what you’re doing in a way that resonates with them? I hope that’s helpful.

I’m pricing my DIY craft kits at double my cost for the supplies. However, I’m still buying most of my supplies retail, as my quantities aren’t yet large enough to qualify for wholesale supply minimums. When I am able to hit those minimum orders my cost will drop significantly. Should I price my kits retail at my current cost or future cost? They’re a bit high now, I feel, but absolutely not out of range of other kits (and in some cases less!).

Are you adding in your labor? I really encourage you to include that in your costs, even if you’re not yet collecting a paycheck. Build those labor rates into the price from the very beginning- that’s imperative. If you’re bootstrapping and fail to add the labor into your pricing exercises, then as the brand grows, you’ll be backed into a corner.

When you do hire help, you’ll have to either a) Accept significantly lower profits (potentially erasing profits altogether) since you suddenly have labor that must be paid or b) you’ll need to suddenly and significantly raise your prices to cover that new labor piece. Significant price hikes really require a repositioning in the marketplace, and repositionings are a hell of a lot of work.

I vote for pricing well now, based on your current figures, so long as those figures don’t price you out of the market. If you can build an audience at those price points, then your profit margins will be especially delicious as you tap those economies of scale and your raw material costs drop.

Thanks! Yeah, NO, I’m not currently factoring in labor. I feel like I’m just trying to get a foothold in the market and keep my prices in line with others – as well as make wholesale sales. If my prices go any higher wholesale I’m not sure anyone will buy. So margins are tight with kits… makes me rethink the whole line, to be honest. I appreciate your input!

The economies of scale are a beautiful thing. Tap them as soon as possible. Pick one raw material or kit component and increase your purchase rate of it to get better pricing. Next month? Pick another. That’s bootstrapping at its finest, but it works. I bootstrapped a $500 investment into a seven-figure apothecary brand in 4 years doing exactly that. Good luck!

I would like to increase my prices, as my product has become significantly better (better materials, branding, packaging, and thus more expensive to produce) but I’m afraid of losing a lot of my customers who are used to a lower price. How can I do this gracefully? Right now the price is $38 and I would like to be in the $58-$60 range. It’s a bit of a jump, but I want to be set apart from similar products.

An increase of that scale is really more of a repositioning of your product in the marketplace. No shame in that game and many of the brands I work with enter the market low, realize they need to significantly raise prices and go through a brand repositioning in the first few years of business.

Rebranding is about changing the business name or the visual aesthetics. Repositioning is about altering the context of your product within the marketplace, which may or may not include a visual makeover and/ or new name.

When you raise prices on that scale, you will inevitably lose some customers. Make peace with that now and prepare for it. The goal is to clearly communicate the value of your work and ensure it’s properly priced moving forward. You will likely see an immediate drop in customers but you’ll be rebuilding a base of customers that can support you. Play the long game… it’s worth it. Promise. Good luck!

Do you think the profit added in to get to wholesale cost has to be greater than the actual product cost?

That really depends on the product category and your revenue goals. This number comes as a shock to many of the brands I work with, but a successful creative brand can bank on 10-15% of their annual sales in profit. And that’s if you’re running a lean business. So $400,000 in revenue = $40,000-60,000 in PROFIT after all expenses are paid at the end of the year. You can reinvest all or some of that profit back into the business to fuel growth or withdraw all or some of that profit as a reward for your work.

If that number is discouraging, then consider this: If you price correctly, you’ve covered your labor as part of product costs. So if you’re doing all of your own production creation, then you were paid a reasonable wage for that work, and your profits at the end of your business year are compensation for being an owner. If you scale your company and lift out of the role of product creation (by hiring people to create for you), then those people will collect the wages you’ve built into your product costs and you’ll collect the profits as the owner at the end of the year. But by hiring help and doing more brand development/ strategic growth steering, then your business will grow, increasing your “owner’s take” of the profit.

Free help finding the perfect price for your product

Lucky Girl's Guide to Product Pricing

Download the wholesale product pricing guide

Price with confidence, boost your bank account, and build your brand! Lela has graciously offered to share her extremely thorough pricing guide with you for free. I can’t overstate how hugely helpful this guide is. It’s 38 pages long, puts all the guides I’ve ever written to shame, and is infused with Lela’s no-nonsense, actionable advice. You will really understand the reasons behind the strategy and be able to make your own confident decision about how to price in a way that will help you move your business forward.

go get it I’m serious

Lela offers more advice about product pricing on her website, and can help you out with some of your other burning business questions too. Check her out at Lucky Break Consulting, and get on her mailing list!

Credibility For Your Business: Bespoke Verse

Rebranding a successful Not on the High Street Business. We just love watching that little fox go. Ready to leap into an exciting design for your business? Contact us about a new logo design!

One reason we love working with creative entrepreneurs is that they never cease to amaze us, both in their product offerings and their approach. When Joanna Miller came to us for a logo refresh and a complete site revamp for her company, Bespoke Verse, we knew were in for a fun project. Bespoke Verse is a UK-based poetry studio that crafts custom rhymes for life’s special occasions and sells poetry-themed gifts (like prints, homewares, and stationery), all created with original works written in-house.

As the first of this type of business in the UK, Bespoke Verse had already made a huge name for itself in just 3 short years, but Joanna was ready to take it to the next level:

“My goal is CREDIBILITY – to have a design-conscious and cool site (with blog and easy to navigate shop) that boosts our brand and establishes us and challenges our competitors. It would encourage more purchases directly from us rather than 90% going through our main online marketplace notonthehighstreet.com. It would encourage stockists who research us to take us seriously and be more likely to make an order.

I’d like the site, branding, photography, packaging etc., to be more in tune. I am happy to invest in this. To see this happen is my main goal – I know increased sales will follow.”

Take Your Brand to the Next Level By Starting from Scratch

We started at first with the Bespoke Verse logo, which had been from the company from the beginning. Joanna remarked that she liked it, but felt it could use improvement. In this case, we suggested a logo refresh—not starting from scratch, but instead taking the strengths of the current logo and expanding upon the design (using color and font selections, new patterns, and other graphics) to build a more cohesive identity.

Though the Bespoke Verse logo had a great nib design that Sarah reinterpreted in various ways, eventually it became clear that what Joanna truly craved was a complete redesign. She wanted something new and different, something she perhaps hadn’t thought of yet.

Embrace the Excitement of the Unexpected

Sarah was thrilled to start from scratch and let her creativity loose! Before getting to work, she asked Joanna if any symbols or icons come to mind when thinking of her business. Joanna listed things like nibs, pens, envelopes, and handwriting, all of which Sarah explored in her initial round of design concepts. But she also had a hunch about a completely different idea…

“This is a quick, brown fox jumping over your logo design.
When I started thinking about writing and type and everything in between, that pangram kept coming back to me so I thought, why fight it! haha

I just thought the jumping fox was such a cool icon and from what I could tell from a google around, nobody else is doing it!”

The Bespoke Verse logo has a leaping fox

The Bespoke Verse logo has a leaping fox

Sarah had a feeling Joanna would love it, and she was right:

“I’ve been daydreaming about the fox design so I know this is the one.

There are lots of very convincing reasons – the alphabet reference, it’s unique & quirky, it has a cool creative vibe but is also classy & clean, foxes are said to be clever and witty and that is what we are trying to convey, we even have a fox in our garden who sneaks around outside the studio sometimes, and… we have a lazy dog in residence already (see instagram feed).

… this just feels Bespoke Verse!”

Before finalizing the logo, Sarah made some tiny adjustments to the fox, like redrawing her feet so she looked more “pouncy” and making her eyes and ear stand out a bit more. She focused on clean, fun fonts and timeless colors that would accentuate the fox even when the colors were inverted. This worked out beautifully for Bespoke Verse’s additional brand elements, like the stamps, icons, stickers, business cards and more that were all part of the business’s new Big Brand Guide:

bespoke-verse-quick-brand

Credibility For Your Business

We just love watching that little fox go. Ready to leap into an exciting design for your business? Contact us about a new logo design!

See this project (including the new website design!) in our portfolio. 

Will We See You at the National Stationery Show?

sycamore street press nss

Sycamore Street Press’ booth at the National Stationery Show

The National Stationery Show (NSS) happens at Javits Center in New York every year, and it’s a big deal for stationery businesses! It’s a trade show that attracts stationery and gift shops, bookstores, boutiques, and big box stores alike.

Many shops make the bulk of their purchasing decisions at trade shows, and if you’re emailing retailers throughout the year (instead of exhibiting at trade shows), it can be harder to get attention. For instance, if you write to retailers about your new product line after they spent their budget for the season at the stationery show, your timing is going to put you at a disadvantage.

We went to the NY NOW show this winter, and this will be our first time at the NSS. Our clients and community have been attending and exhibiting at this show for years, and we’re excited to finally get a look ourselves!

What are your questions?

We’re attending as press this year, and I want to answer as many questions for people who are considering attending or exhibiting as I can. What do you want to know about the National Stationery Show? Are you wondering if it’s better to do the NSS or NY NOW? How you should prepare beforehand? How many catalogs/order forms to bring? What to do about lighting? Please ask away in the comments, and we’ll ask around for you and report back.

Meet Aeolidia at the NSS

Will you be walking the show or exhibiting? I’d like to meet up! Please email me, tweet me, tell me about it in our Facebook group, or send me a message on Instagram. I’d love to chat with you about your business and any questions you may have about online sales.