We first met Alma & Mike in Salt Lake City, at the Altitude Summit conference for bloggers – we were table-buddies at one of the meals. Their business cards were keepers for sure, and we were pleased to see them every time we crossed paths. They were at Alt again this year, this time passing out little bags full of wonderful stuff- a Match That Monkey game, Alt Summit themed “Olliblocks” magnets, prints, and cards.
Mike was working as a director of post-production at a high-end photo retouching in the stock photography industry. Alma was working as an editor and designer at a time management company. They both loved their careers but they really wanted to find TRUE LOVE. Then one day, Mike randomly found Alma’s blog and he thought, “This is the girl for me.” So he emailed her and then they got married and combined their talents to create a super incredible art and design team. And every project they work on is blessed not only by their skills but also by that extra special ounce of pure, wonderful, true love.
We just love everything that Mike & Alma do, and wanted to let you know more about them.
What is your best seller at Caravan? Have you been surprised by what’s taken off and what hasn’t, or is all going according to plan?
Our Ollibllocks are our best seller at Caravan, so much so that we have launched a project on Kickstarter to see if people are interested in having them as a fully-produced toy that can be sold in stores. It has been fun to get people’s feedback and build more sets in this collection. So much of our day-to-day work tends to be the business maintenance side of things that it’s so nice and refreshing when I get a week to just focus on creating new Olliblocks!
As for surprises? Nothing ever goes according to plan, right? As for the Olliblocks, we only were hoping that they’d be able to pay off the camera that we bought to take pictures of them with. They continue to outperform our expectations. Then there are some projects that don’t sell as well as we might like. Like, we spend 60 hours of work on the artwork, and after sales come in, realize that we’re getting the equivalent of about $2/hr for our work on that one. Ha! But we don’t ever see our work as wasted. When you’re in business for yourself, you take risks, and some of them pay out while others don’t. Also, when you consider that what it really comes down to is that we are spending our days creating art, doing what we love AND it pays the bills? It feels like we’re living the dream.
How are your kid(s) involved in your work? I assume they are great inspiration and enthusiastic toy testers!
Absolutely! It’s been really fun to see what our kids react to. When we were working on Make It Pop, Oliver was our very first tester! It was funny to see him enjoy the activities even before they were designed. He was on the iPad, interacting with black and white lines and shapes with no sound, no color, no design, and he still was enjoying the game play. That’s how we knew that once all the pieces came together, it was sure to be a hit. He continues to play with the app now, almost 2 years later.
Oliver and Joan also both LOVE the Match that Monkey game that Mike made. It’s a simple memory game, but both kids go CRAZY when we pull it out! It’s one of their favorite toys period, which is both validating and encouraging.
Your gift bags at Alt Summit were just perfect. What is your strategy for marketing your business, and what have you found to be effective?
Thanks! Maybe we can break down our marketing strategy to this:
- Do good work. We always need to make sure we’re putting our best foot forward. We try to make sure that our personalities get into our work so that people get a sense of who we are from what they see.
- Meet great people. At the very least, we go to Alt every year, which lets us make connections with so many fantastic and interesting people. Because of the friendships that we have made over the years of attending conferences, we have connections to a lot of people who can help us spread the word when we’ve launched something we’re really excited about.
- Choose your social media and be consistent. Instagram is the social media platform that I (Alma) like the most. I feel like it connects me more with people than any other form. I am currently doing a #365patterns challenge on Instagram where I create a new pattern every day and share it on Instagram. This has been a very good challenge for me, but is also something that my followers are consistently interested in.
How does the blog help you with Caravan? Do you share blogging duties, or do you have one person as your dedicated blogger?
We hired a great blog manager who keeps everything organized, and a few contributors who create amazing content! Our focus for our blog is to help support our customers by giving them crafting tips or ideas of what they can do with our products. One of the great things about our printables is that they could be used for the project that we intend, or they can be used in alternate ways. We have challenged our regular blog contributors to come up with new ideas of how to use our products. A recent example is a mobile made out of our bicycle prints.
I’d love to hear more about how you collaborate with other artists: from Caravan to Nicole’s Classes to your 365 Patterns project. Any tips for collaborations?
Our best tip is simply to collaborate! Don’t compete. We believe in abundance. There is enough work to go around, and we can get farther by working together than by shutting ourselves off. When we meet other designers and artists, instead of feeling threatened, we get to know them. We can learn so much from others, and we can contribute and help them as needed as well!
Fund Mixmates on Kickstarter!
I finally created a Kickstarter account to fund a project, and it was Mixmates! You have until August 3rd to claim your Mixmates and support this great idea. Go check out their premium funding rewards – really creative stuff! Mixmates on Kickstarter »