Over a year and half ago I wrote a blog post about starting a card line. It was kind of scary, but I was going to throw it all out there and see if my card designs could resonate with other people.
I had every intention to write about the process, but I spent the next year working every free minute I had to develop over 50 cards and other products. Needless to say, blogging didn’t happen.
So, this post is that update. Better late than never, right? Here we go (first with an infographic):
June, 2015 – CARD LINE CONCEPTION
I had been looking for a new way to transition my business from freelance graphic design into something more flexible since my son had started giving up his naps.
Plus, I was uber ready to spend the little design time I had working on pieces that I had total design control over.
I had several card designs for sale on Etsy already at this point, but it hadn’t clicked yet that I should design more cards and I had no idea that independent artists could own their own card lines AND sell them to awesome shops (big and small) all over the country.
I realized the possibility of this on a girls’ trip to Waco when I noticed a number of other small businesses had their goods for sale in a store there. CLICK! The light turned on and I came home ready to figure this thing out.
July & August, 2015 – CARD DESIGNING LIKE A MADWOMAN
I spent the rest of that summer brainstorming and trying out new ideas. I wasn’t sure which direction to go visually and working on different sentiments for cards was a completely new mind stretch.
I’d say at least 60% of this time was spent looking at blank paper. It takes a while for things to start flowing and one card at a time, that’s what it started to do.
By the end of that summer I had a mini line ready to launch – 16 cards total. Let me tell you, those first cards took some serious brain sweat to design.
My first release included 16 greeting card designs in the Fall of 2015.
I had done some research and figured out what range of cards I needed to offer and tried to design something for each category.
I also made a ridiculously rudimentary chart to keep track of my cards. Seriously, it’s just shy of being scribbled on a legal pad.
Fall, 2015 – GET GOING
I sent my son to preschool three days a week and that opened up big blocks of time that I could work; and work I did.
I photographed my cards (you guys, I’m terrible at photography), edited pics and put my cards up for sale on Etsy.
After they were up it wasn’t long before they actually started selling. Whaaaat?! I was so encouraged that I decided to invest in an e-course for stationery designers entering the wholesale market.
I knew the next step was to keep designing and get as much information into my hands before I wanted to reach out to wholesale buyers. Tradeshow Bootcamp changed my business.
I learned what kind of goals to set and what steps I needed to take in pursuing them. My main goals for the year were:
- Develop 48 products for my business
- Enter the wholesale market by Summer of 2016
Winter, 2016 – GOAL!
In February (a whole 5 months early) I was approached about my first wholesale order. I couldn’t believe it!
I scrambled to get everything ready from getting my terms & conditions in order to figuring out packaging & shipping.
After the emotional high of my first wholesale order, I hunkered down and worked on another 22 designs (I had also made 7 holiday designs in the fall).
Here are some process pics from one of the birthday cards I released that Spring:
Also in February, I joined the Etsy Dallas team to connect with other makers in my area.
I decided to set another goal of doing craft shows to be able to sell alongside other creatives and to connect with customers face to face.
Let me tell you, this team has some of the most awesome and generous creatives I have ever known and I am so grateful for meeting and working alongside them.
Spring, 2016 – YEP, I’M PREGNANT!
In April I had been working crazily on finishing up my new designs (including 2 notepads, 1 calendar and 8 art prints) and building a booth for the Etsy Dallas Spring Bash show.
A week before the show I found out I was pregnant. Yep! It was sort of the most awesome surprise and I wasn’t exactly sure how I would navigate pregnancy, a four year old and a business, but I just kind of went with the flow and pushed forward.
I sold at my first show at the end of April and had a blast.
I loved getting to put my designs out there and getting to watch people read my cards. That was the best. They would stop at my booth, look down in silence as they read my cards and then let out a good laugh.
My heart was happy and I suffered a harsh case of perma-grin that whole day. I knew that I was finally making something that connected me to other people.
Summer, 2016 – NO ROOM
I had joined Etsy Wholesale late spring and had started getting more wholesale orders. Woohoo! This meant that my studio was increasingly full of boxes, mailers, cards, and more boxes.
We also didn’t have another bedroom for a new baby, so we began entertaining the idea of selling our house and finding something bigger.
Jump ahead three months and we had sold our house and moved to an entirely different town. I was excited to have a larger studio space in our new house (plus an additional room to put a crib. Score.), but I was also really starting to feel pregnancy to its maximum yuck.
I was basically forced to slow down and just manage orders on current designs.
Fall, 2016 – TRUCKING ALONG
While I did manage to design 3 new holiday cards and show at the Etsy Dallas Jingle Bash, I really didn’t get much more than that done.
I basically maintained my shop and got wholesale orders out. That was it and then baby girl was born right after Christmas.
Winter, 2017 – BACK IN THE SWING
I am now feeling more normal again as baby girl is sliding into a routine.
After several months of absolutely zero design inspiration I was hit with 7 new design ideas. I’ve been working when I can (naps and nights) to get these cards ready.
As I am about to launch this spring collection, I am ready to set some new goals for my business:
- Connect with my customers more – I really love hearing about and seeing customers exchanging my cards and I hope to connect more online and in person this next year.
- Organize my wholesale goals. So, this goal is like a ton of goals wrapped up into one. I have a lot that I want to do to improve my wholesale process and relationships. I am carried in 9 awesome stores now across the country and Canada and I want to be able to broaden my reach over the next year.
So, there’s the long and short of it (more long than anything). Launching a card line has been such a blessing. I have gotten to do things I never thought I would and I have been able to meet amazingly talented people along the way.
Are you in a similar place with one of your passions? What are your goals (short or long term)?