a shiny new shop. just in time for the holidays!

Posted in holiday shopping, meant to be sent at 8:20 pm by meant to be sent

Meant to be Seant Holiday 0224-X3brtr

time sure is flying! can you believe the holiday season is right around the corner! um, me either!

i loooove the holidays but i’m even more excited this year…why, you ask? because i’m getting an early christmas present!! i am FINALLY (seriously. if i could make this bold times a million, i would!!!) about to launch my shiny new shop!!


if you have followed along for a while, you know that this shop has been FOREVER in the making, perpetually almost ready and a major labor of love. i cannot WAIT to get this shop opened up for you all to see ….. and just in time for holiday shopping! eek! which is perfect, because we’ll even have a gift-wrapping option for most items!

the shop will have the full line of mtbs paper goodies — notepads with shiny gold gilded edges, note sets and notebooks, gift wrap, holiday cards (including new photo cards!!) and everyday greetings — and accessories like iphone cases and more…all with tons of fun color and shiny gold foil (of course!). plus, we’ll be adding our whole wedding line in time for wedding season! yippee!!



we’ll also be doing some giveaways, so make sure to follow us on facebook, twitter and instagram and sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know about the launch and to get a superfun deal! you can sign up here and it’s super easy to share with your friends, too. which we’d super appreciate! :)

stay tuned for more and sign up to stay in the loop!


all holiday photos by caroline and evan photography



custom couture // seaside simplicity

Posted in custom invitations, meant to be sent, wedding invites tagged , , , , , , , at 10:43 pm by meant to be sent

hi there. i’m epically behind on blogging and sharing what’s new in general. so, this week, i’ll be catching up and sharing lots of newness from oh the last year or two :)

to kick it off, let’s start back at the beginning of the year….

i’ve been so excited to share a new custom design done in collaboration with my super-talented pal robyn at designs by robyn love calligraphy.

calligraphy by designs by robyn love.

the wedding took place in key west and the bride was looking for a super simple yet elegant sea-inspired design…and watercolor was a must. i’ve sooo been missing painting and drawing so i was super excited to take this on. especially since i was working on these in january and loved looking at pics of the sea for inspiration!

i created the design and robyn helped with watercolor calligraphy accents. LOVE! we went around a few times on the calligraphy font and getting the colors juuussst right and eventually landed on what you see here. i just LOVE the way it turned out.

there were tons of pieces for this event…we started with the invitation — a simple, typographical design that had an subtle ombre look, capturing shades of blue found within the sea.



the enclosure cards followed the same simple look and the envelopes were lined with watercolor striped liners, which i so loved hand-painting then editing to strategically give them refined, straight edges for a more modern look, while the inside of the stripes remained a fabulous watercolor texture.

the look carried through the day-of accessories which included table cards and signs, place cards, menus, thank you and welcome notes, all flat-printed on luxe cotton stock. we even doubled up the stock on some pieces to get an uber luxe double-thick feel. swoon.



we’d love to work together to create a custom couture design for you, too! drop us a line and let’s get started!




Posted in meant to be sent, NSS national stationery show, paper goodies, shopping, wholesale tagged , , , , , at 1:47 pm by meant to be sent


oh, hello!

just checking in here! is it seriously the end of august?! sheesh. time just keeps flying by and posts (i mean to write) keep piling up. (like, remember that stationery show in NY. yea. that was 3 months ago. i’ll post about it someday!) but it’s all for good reason…lots of growth in the past few months. which is super awesome and tough all at the same time.

we are literally buried in boxes of new inventory (somewhere in the neighborhood of 60+ boxes at the moment in a-not-so-big-space) so things have been busy around here, filling orders from said stationery show and getting my perpetually-almost-done shop ready to launch.

oh, the shop.

you know, the one i’ve been talking about for, oh…EVER.

i just keep reminding myself that it’s all going to be sooo worth it to have a shop that is super custom to fill with all the new goodies, that works the way i want it to and to have all my products under one virtual roof. it. will. be. awesome. ahh. i feel better just thinking about it all being streamlined and integrated with some awesome organizational tools for shipping, inventory, taxes (ewwww), marketing and more. but that’s just all the  behind-the-scenes stuff that’ll make my life easier! :)

but the stuff that will make it superfun to shop at the new mtbs…all the shiny new goodies and a super-clean design…not to mention an online customizing tool (phase 2) that will make it really fun to shop for invitations and photo cards so you can see a preview of what your order will look like — even before i do! (um side note, this part has actually been in the works on paper/in my head since ohh, 2009?! omg.)

we’re going to be launching in phases  — the main shop with all the new goodies first and then add on the customizer and some other functionality updates in the next phase. can’t. wait. (<—understatement!)

i’ve also got a fun “studio” makeover plan brewing that definitely calls for a blog post (or three). right now everything is in complete disarray as things grow and inventory piles in box after box. (i’ve resorted to begging my printers to keep some stuff for me. yea.) so it’s high-time to get creative with this limited space, ikea-style and see how that goes.

one part i do know about this “studio” plan is there will be something like this in front of my work table (ehem read: dining room table that we never eat at!). there’s a perfect nook for it, and i’ve already got it mapped out what will go where — i am definitely thinking of something like this for all my greetings and note card inventory…seems like a nice visual system for sure! (totally check out the whole blog post for a look at the swoon-worthy hello! lucky studio). and then envelopes will be stacked neatly in their boxes with an envelope stuck to the front for easy color searching.

gift wrap sheets will be stored flat on wide shelves, and all my packaging and shipping stuff will be within easy reach (hopefully on a super-wide shelf integrated into the shelving system at about table height. perfect for easy order picking and packing in one spot.) ooo and would LOVE to have this integrated in this area too…how handy for printing packing slips and shipping labels!? seriously genius.

if you want to check out some really dreamy spaces, i’ve collected lots of fun studio and organizational inspiration on pinterest. love.

i’ll be sure to share as i DIY my organizational disaster into a hopefully super-streamlined inventory system and workspace. and also will keep you posted on the shop progress. promise. and be sure follow along on instagram for all the latest snaps of new products and goodies heading out the door!

in the meantime i’m going to try to get some posts up highlighting some of the fun new products and all the new shops that have been added. i hope there’s one nearby and you’ll stop in to have a peek at all the new stuff!

anywho, that’s the scoop for now! stay tuned for more soon!



the big ta-do™

Posted in meant to be sent, NSS national stationery show, wholesale tagged , , , , , , at 6:08 pm by meant to be sent


oh, hello! just another quick post to introduce one of my fave new products that launched at nss last month…

leading up to nss i was virtually swimming around in endless to-do lists. i’m not the most structured person on the planet, but i still think it can be super overwhelming if there’s no structure and just epic lists everywhere.

that’s where this shiny new product comes in…

enter: the big ta-do™! it’s an oversized list pad with 52 sheets, one for each (work) week of the year, sectioned into manageable mini-lists. the end result might still be a long list, but filling out action items for each day makes it all seem a bit more doable. and, each day is perforated so you can tear off that mini list to keep handy on the go, or keep it all together for an overview of your work-week! (better pics coming soon… above: an iphone snap at nss)

and, there’s nothing better than a superluxe notepad sitting on your desk to inspire you to get ‘er done. so we made big ta-do™  kind of a big deal :) with 52,  7 x 14″ perforated cover weight pages wrapped in one of four fun colors (aqua, raspberry, papaya or lime juice) and finished with shiny gold edges. *swoooooooon*

these lovelies will be available in tons of new stores around the country in just a couple weeks and in the shiny new mtbs shop when that’s done, too!

let me know if you are interested in pre-ordering to get your hands on one hot off the press or if you have a retail store and are interested in carrying these in your shop!



it’s been waaaayy too long!

Posted in business, meant to be sent, NSS national stationery show tagged , , , , , , at 4:24 pm by meant to be sent


a big hello! and whoa. it’s been FORever! i’m still here and a super busy bee (hence the looong silence!). soooo much has happened in the past few months! i have lots of fun new stuff to share in the coming weeks!

for now a few quick things…

first. the mtbs brand got a little makeover!!! SO excited about it… it’s so me and (i think) the perfect evolution of my brand.

the updated logo incorporates a version of my “happy arrow” design (that i’ve been having so much fun using in a few new products too!)…it seemed like a perfect fit and the “mark” that my brand has been missing. i thought it was such a fun way to incorporate more of my full color palette into the logo, too! and it complements the candy stripes pattern i use as an accent graphic and in lots of products too!

oh, and the update also involves the touch of glam i’d always planned to incorporate — shiny gold of course! ahhhh. just right. all these little details add up to the “casual luxury” aesthetic behind my designs and the perfect look for mtbs. i hope you love it!

me and my shiny new brand went back to nss this year too, with over 100 new paper goodies and a shiny new booth design in tow! (we built it this year so lots more to come on that!) it was tons of work but the show was AMAZING. insane as always (especially the prep leading up to it topped off by a house fire the week before the show! we had to move out for over a month!!! :/ ) but, it all worked out and the show went better than i could have hoped for —  tons of awesome new stores added (updated list coming soon!), some super amazing new connections made and maybe the best part…catching up with old friends.

now, here i am (in nearly the middle of summer(??) seriously. where has the time gone?!) busy filling nss and wedding orders, working out details of some exciting new things (!) and definitely trying to take take in the summer while it lasts!

that’s the quick update for now! but the whole new line will be available in my new shop — which yes, is STILL in the works. *sigh* BUT is getting very close and am hoping for a launch still this summer.*fingers and toes crossed*!

BUT, you can still check out the paper goodies catalog and let me know if you’d like to order something! or if you have a retail store and would like to carry mtbs in your shop, drop me a line!

ok, that’s all for now! but stay tuned for lots more updates and an nss recap too!



10 designers to watch in 2013!

Posted in meant to be sent, press at 5:02 pm by meant to be sent



i got some amazing news a few months ago, and i’ve been waiting on the edge of my seat to be able to share the exciting news…well, here it is!!! i was selected as one of stationery trends magazine’s 10 designers to watch in 2013! i’m so honored and humbled to have been selected, and in great company no less! you can check out the full list here or order a copy of the magazine and see all the awesomeness that is stationery trends :)

here’s a look (below) at the cover and my feature page! eeeeeee!! (click to make it bigger so you can read)

thanks again stationery trends for the great honor!





all images via stationery trends.


shiny and new

Posted in holiday shopping, meant to be sent tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:38 pm by meant to be sent

just a few fun snaps of some of our shiny new holiday items and iphone cases!

checkout the new gift tags and holiday cards with shiny gold foil accents and our festive gift wrap sheets! and our new iphone cases are available for iphone 4 and 5!

get ’em all in our popup shop!










Posted in giveaway, meant to be sent, special event tagged , , , , , at 4:05 pm by meant to be sent

not only are we having a great sale on our iphone cases, but there’s an awesome GIVEAWAY in the works too! you can win any one of our 25 new iphone case designs!! head on over to my friend amanda’s awesome new blog Realistically Domestic and enter to win! good luck!!


black friday sale!!

Posted in meant to be sent, special event tagged , , , , at 3:13 pm by meant to be sent

black friday sale! 30% off iphone cases!

in case you missed our black friday email…take 30% off all iphone cases today only! use code COLORFULFRIDAY… OR use our popup shop discount shop-wide for a 20% discount off your whole purchase with code YAYHOORAY.

signup in the sidebar for our email updates to stay in the loop!

happy shopping!



holiday popup shop is open!

Posted in meant to be sent tagged , , , , , at 4:40 pm by meant to be sent


our full shop is still being polished up but in the meantime we’ve launched a popup shop just for the holidays!

it’s filled with superfun gift tags, holiday cards and gift wrap, and our brand new line of iphone cases! (psst…these are available in our etsy shop, too!) and more new products to come…

and because we’re so super excited, you get a discount!! use code YAYHOORAY for a 20% off your whole purchase! (through 11/30/12)

happy shopping!



new shop :: sign up for deals + steals

Posted in meant to be sent tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:59 am by meant to be sent

holy moly it’s been forever since i’ve posted!! so sorry for the quiet around here… but, i promise it’s all for good reason! i’ve been working super hard on tons of new products to fill up the shiny new shop that is nearing completion!!!!

there are SO many fun new products that i can barely contain my excitement! including the new line of paper goodies launching this fall! (eeeeee!) there’ll be notepads, notebooks, note card sets and a HOLIDAY line (!!) with gift wrap, gift tags and greeting cards and photo cards you can customize! it’s full of sweet treats for your paper cravings all in delicious new designs!!

hmmm what else. OH. also making a debut, will be some sweet accessories! iphone and ipad cases (double eeeeee!!!) and some treats for your home and office, too!

you don’t want to miss all that’s new, so be sure to check out our launch page and sign up to be the first to know about the grand opening and get a special deal!

share with all your pals and help me get the word out too! :)



yay hooray! my shiny new site is LIVE!!!

Posted in branding, business, meant to be sent tagged , , , , at 3:04 pm by meant to be sent

yay hooray!! it’s been a looooonng time coming, but it’s finally here!!! the shiny new meant to be sent website is live!

i am so beyond excited to announce the new site and can’t wait to hear what you all think of it!

the site is the result of a pretty epic design collaboration that started well over a year ago. (YES. a YEAR.) that’s when i realized that, as a designer, it’s pretty hard to design for yourself. so after much searching for the perfect partners, i finally enlisted the help of some fab designers to help bring my vision to life!

and some pretty big thank yous are in order…

first things first…
mtbs got a complete overhaul, so it started with branding. i had a LOT of ideas of what i wanted for my new look and kendra from hi design helped me sort it all out. we worked closely together to come up with the new design…it turned out that two heads were better than one and our collaboration was the perfect look. she also brought my pattern ideas to life and put together an amazing color and font palette. i can’t thank kendra enough for her patience, ideas and general awesomeness. major xo :D

then came the site…
once i had the general look nailed down, i collaborated with lauren at aeolidia on the site design. lauren was equally awesome and i loved working with her! she took my zillion ideas and plans and molded them into something amazing. and, was so patient! her willingness to collaborate made it so fun to bounce things back and forth until we came up with a look that was just right. huge thanks to lauren and aeolidia for all their help and guidance in this huge project!! thank you! thank you! thank you!!!

what took a year?! good question :) i wrapped up working with those fab girls quite a while ago, but launching a new site is a TON of work. i had all sorts of delays on my end and still had a few pages to design…then, the more time that passed the more my brand evolved as did the site design. so some tweaks here and refinement there and a TON of work in to styling the content areas to make it all flow in a cohesive but unique structure…and…then there was the photography debacle of 2011. it took forever to find just the right photographer and stylist (more on this in another post!!) enter caroline & evan photography and lauren from every last detail…these girls ROCK. they were just the combo i was looking for and the last piece of the puzzle…and then…

there was the coding. oh my the coding…i have a basic understanding of coding, but um..yea, no. i stay out of that! that was alllll joseph from the producer studio. and he did an amazing job. i can’t thank him enough for all his hard work, patience and insight. seriously awesome work!


tada! the new meant to be sent
so what’s shiny and new? everything!! the new site is a cozy new home for my designs with a focus on custom work. it’s alllll about the pretty pictures…of course there’s details and info and all that, but it’s really a place to show the work.

be sure and check out our readymade (style library and signature) and custom wedding + party invitations…and if you’re a retailer, be sure to check out our wholesale section! we’ve also got a list of stores where you can buy the new style library designs (with more coming soon!) and tons of details about ordering custom designs.

that’s not all…our new online shop is just around the corner, launching later this summer! it’ll be packed with all of the style library and signature collection designs along with a whole new line of paper goodies — notebooks, notepads, cards, giftwrap and more! i cannot wait to share it with you!

be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay in the loop and be the first to hear about all the deals and steals and when the new shop is open!

have a look around! i hope you love it!


NSS 2012

Posted in meant to be sent, NSS national stationery show, wholesale tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:26 pm by meant to be sent

it’s that time of year again…time for the biggest paper party around — the national stationery show! the party’s in NYC but this year, we’re doing something a little different…a VIRTUAL BOOTH! (a little preview of the site above!) we couldn’t make it to the show this year, but we  have a ton of fun things in the works and still wanted a way to for retailers, press, reps and the like to be able to see what we’re up to! the result: a virtual booth you can check out right from your computer!!

we’re working on a whole new line of paper goodies — sweet treats for your paper cravings — that includes notebooks, notepads, matchbook notes, giftwrap sheets + tags, and flat and folded notecards and greeting cards! the booth is just a preview of the new goodies that are shipping this fall, but you can pre-order now to be the first to carry these in your shop!

we’re really sad to miss the big show, but super excited about all that’s shiny and new at mtbs and hope you’ll check out our virtual booth! you need a password, so if you didn’t get our mailer and are a retailer, member of the press or rep, contact us to get the secret password!

also, launching in just a few days…the brand new meanttobesent.com!

stay tuned…so much going on around here! :D



2011 :: what. a. year!

Posted in meant to be sent, NSS national stationery show tagged , , , , , at 12:06 am by meant to be sent

ahhh! i can’t believe the new year is here! 2011 just flew by. and what a year it was…a crazy-amazing-beyond busy-scary-stressful-super exciting-fun-full-of-new-things year!

i had some big plans for mtbs this year, which took up pretty much every minute of every day of the first half of the year! from january til about june i was busy re-branding, designing a new line of invitations and getting ready for my very first national stationery show. pure insanity, but somehow it all came together and i went to new york in may with a collection of four new wedding albums filled with over 500 paper goodies, a small line of boxed invites…and a shiny new brand that evolved out of a super-fun collaboration with the kendra at hi design…just in time for the show!

me in my booth with one of my albums


my booth!

the show was awesome. a total whirlwind and an amazingly-exciting (and stressful!) experience that i learned SO much from…best of all, i made great connections and lots of new friends!!

chandra greer’s nss party! so fun!

whew. a quick sigh of relief after nss…then the epic assembly line began for most (ok, all) of my summer. at the end of summer, i had made 16 books from thousands of pieces and sent them off to their new homes at stores around the country. (eeeek!)

a look behind the scenes…

stacks of pages ready to have tons of invites stuck to ’em!


teeny tiny paper swatches stuck on a style board


16 feet of tables with stacks of collated pages ready to go in the binders!


the amelia collection pages in the binder and ready to go!


in the midst of that i was working on a super exciting project — my first celebrity wedding!!! specifically, deanna pappas from the bachelor and bachelorette!! i was SO thrilled to get to work with deanna and stephen on their wedding stationery—it is my favorite design to date! i did her save the dates, invites, escort cards, table numbers, treat bags, and thank you notes. i just looooved the way it all came together! (below are some behind the scenes pics…a big post on all the details coming soon!)

as if that wasn’t exciting enough, we were invited to the wedding!!!  it. was. awesome. such an neat experience and a truly amazing wedding. deanna and stephen are such fun and genuine people…as were all of the guests! really just a great crowd…i mean, how could it not be with the likes of leslie and earl (“mr frostings”) from fantasy frostings who made the cake (seriously amazing cake, you guys) and my twitter pal kelly! SUCH a fun girl!

to top it off, deanna wrote the sweetest post for wedzilla about working with me. you can see the inspiration board there that started it all! the wedding was shot by callaway gable and covered exclusively in Us Weekly (where you could kinda see the table numbers i did!) and is going to be on green wedding shoes in january! can’t wait!


and lastly, meant to be creative (my branding + design biz) was buzzing this year too! i plan to grow that more in 2012 and can’t wait to show the new brands and websites i’ve been working on as soon as my new site launches in january!

oh! speaking of which, the new site and shop where you can buy—and customize!! — all of the new collection and some old faves— has been another big project that has taken up a good part of the year. seeing as there are just not enough hours in the day (or year!) i’ve been working on the site in another fun design collaboration—this time with aeolidia!  they were a huge help. it’s almost ready…just designing away and putting the finishing touches on for the big launch! after that, this ol’ blog will get a facelift too!

such a great and eventful year that wouldn’t have been possible without the support from my friends and family. a huge thank you to all of them and especially to my boyfriend jon for all of his support and help thru all the craziness!  i’m so proud and grateful for all i’ve been able to do this year and can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store…
hopefully a vacation! :) oooo maybe here? that would do :)

i hope you all had a great year! here’s to an even better 2012! have a safe and super happy new year!
cheers! xo


sample packs!

Posted in business, meant to be sent, pocket folds, random tagged , , , , at 2:45 pm by meant to be sent

in the spirit of streamlining i’ve decided to clear out all of my random sample sheets, extra pocket folds, miscellaneous envelopes and liners and whatever other odds and ends i come across in the giant piles that are my studio(ish) area.

i thought it’d be a perfect opportunity to make up some sample packs, perfect for all you stationery designers and crafty types looking for fun little bits to make samples or scrapbook with! there is a decent quantity of a few items that will be sold as one lot (i.e. 75 envelopes in one color/size)… otherwise, the packs will be a mix of paper, pockets, envelopes, backing layers, belly bands, etc.

i anticipate having 20+ sample packs and they’ll probably cost around $10-20 each depending on how many goodies fit…and everything will be set up with a shopping cart so it’ll be easy breezy to just buy on the spot….stay tuned for the link to shop in the next week or two!


NSS recap :: part 6…showtime!

Posted in meant to be sent, NSS national stationery show, wholesale at 11:42 pm by meant to be sent

after months of planing and being up til about 3 am almost every night, things were finallllllly falling into place. was i still frantic? yep… pure madness…for sure. but, coming together? DEFINITELY! so lets get this show on the road! :)

so it was the night before leaving for the show (err morning of) at 4 am when i finally went to bed. our flight was supposed to be at 11 am on friday, but didn’t quite go that way…

i had gotten REALLY sick earlier that week with some kind of flu/stomach bug that knocked me on my butt for a good day and a half (which i reallllly couldn’t afford to lose!) and slowed me down bigtime the rest of the week… so being up til 4am the day of our flight out did not exactly help…

i woke up to get ready for the flight feeling HORRIBLE. i felt really queezy and was visibly shaking for about 45 minutes. i had kept pushing thinking i was ok. nope. so i made the executive decision to change our flight and went back to bed.

i couldn’t believe i did that or that i felt the way i did, but i knew i could not get on a plane. no way. normally i would just push thru, but i guess i knew i had pushed enough and i would still get there… just a few hours later.

soooo we changed our flight, got a couple more hours of sleep and woke up feeling better…at least enough to get it together and go. whew.

now onto the next minor issue… i had scheduled the labor guys to set up my walls on friday afternoon. of course with the flight change, we were not going to be there for it.

(tip: the union people will set up if you are not there, but you have to specify union supervision, as opposed to you supervising)

thing was, i said i would be supervising the union guys in my request for labor, months earlier. so i wasn’t sure they would do anything without me there. so i called from the airport to let them know that we had to change our flight and that i wanted them to supervise and still put the walls up so that they would be ready to go when we got there.

um. yea…no.

i called several different numbers from the contact list i had…no answer. at. all. anywhere. so i left a message that apparently didn’t matter, which we found out later.

so we finally got to our hotel until about 7pm and you have to be at javits by 5 pm to get in for set up…so we just took the night to rest up and grab some food.

ok total side note, but i have to share this…while out grabbing a bite we found the biggest salad bar i have ever seen! huge right?! this is in one of those teeny tiny little convenience stores that are all over the city. whoa.

and regarding the hotel…we managed to find one that was pretty glam, yet for the same price as most of the others (lobby below) although it was a bit misleading because the glam look pretty much ended at the elevator doors. lol…but the rooms were actually huge and just fine…they just did NOT go with the vibe of the rest of the place. still nice, though not quite what we thought. also, it said it was 4 blocks from javits…not so much. it was 4 AVENUE blocks, which are the looooong blocks plus about 3 more street blocks over.

ok back to the show…

so while i had gotten everything wrapped up as much as possible before leaving for NY, there were still things to be done once we got to the hotel…like packaging my imprintables! which, fyi, were not in my hands until we checked in because of a printing issue causing a last minute reprint and overnight shipping to the hotel! yikes! same with my final color palettes for the books, which i found out on the way to NY that they would be coming in a separate shipment on SATURDAY because they didn’t make it in the box sent for friday delivery! sheesh. what next!?

after getting those packaged up, we called it a night, got some sleep and woke up feeling a lot better. saturday in the late morning we made our way over to javits to start setting up….hoping…PRAYING…that the walls were up. NOPE.

we walked in to a pile-o-stuff in the middle of the booth. the good news? everything that i shipped actually made it to my booth, despite my fear that the boxes wouldn’t get sorted in time or worse, go missing completely. woohoo! small victories are key :)

below :: checking in at javits

finding the booth space…with nothing up

the picture above definitely sparked a moment of panic, but i managed to pull it together, found the labor desk and was able to get a great labor guy to help us put it all together!

my boyfriend jon and andre the labor guy putting down the floor tiles (which ended up being the PERFECT color!!!)

below :: the cabinet i designed — it turned out great and looked just like my sketch :D

below :: the flooring is done and walls unpacked and leaned up against the frame ready to be installed! (such a relief to see the walls turned out just right!) p.s. see that strip of white foam board? jon had the brilliant idea to use them as baseboard! what a fab idea!! and it worked great…(see finished booth below)

the walls up and cabinet in place along with the mess of other stuff to be put up, including the shelves jon is working on!

next step was to get the lights up!

below :: lights attached…oddly enough, the booth looks darker with more lights! not the case at all..it was actually really bright! so strange!

speaking of lighting…though i thought i did not need one, i added a big, bright spotlight (called a parcan) at the last minute. once i was on site and saw the lighting in person and that lots of booths around me were using one, i was worried my booth might look too dark if i didn’t.

{ tip: this was an almost $600 game-time decision (ouch!)…it is way cheaper if you request it before the show. }

i’m still on the fence about if i reallllly needed it or not, but it definitely didn’t hurt (well, except my budget and that it was really hot if you stood right under it!!)

now, time to take a break to drop off my press kits! there they are on the rack in the press room!

and now…time to get my samples stuck to the walls!

i designed the booth to highlight each of the four books i was launching at the show…so there were two frames on each of the side walls, one for each book, and a cabinet and table to hold the books and boxed imprintables, which were also attached to the wall just above the cabinet/below the logo.

though i had a pretty good idea of how i wanted to layout the samples on the panels, it was completely eyeballed! i just didn’t have time to layout a plan before hand, but it worked out fine.

{ tip: eyeballing the layout worked pretty well, but it’s a good idea to layout your panels at home and snap a picture and/or make a map of it to use as a guide }

below :: me (looking soooo sleepy!!!) putting up the perfectly preppy collection!

annndd….the preppy panel is done!

on to the rest of the panels!

somewhere between the completely classic and very vintage panels, i had a surprise visit from one of my friends that happened to be in NYC at the same time! she squeezed in some time to come by and check out the booth…a super fun surprise and much needed break! thanks denise :D

after my little break, i finished the walls, added some baseboard (such a fun, unplanned detail!) and tidied up the booth before leaving for the night.

below :: the booth, all shinny and ready for the big show! (check out the baseboard!)

the next morning we made our way over to javits for the first day of the show! i was finally feeling better, definitely nervous and even more excited. i had no idea what to expect, but couldn’t wait to see how the booth and new collection were received, after all that work.

below :: the booth all set up ready for buyers!!

some detail shots of the booth and albums

the 2100 aisle where i lived for the show (as you can see this is the “low ceiling area”)

and finally me with my collection…

so there it is! whew. i did it!!! and i couldn’t be happier with the outcome. my booth and new line were really well received, i got a bunch of great contacts, met lots of new friends and caught up with some old ones…and am going to be in some amazing shops! (the only thing i wish is that i had better pictures! i was stuck with my iphone and regular ol camera. definitely time to invest in a good one! :)

i am so excited about the whole experience and now working on filling orders from the show! so keep an eye out for my collection that will be in stores later this summer…hopefully one near you! and stay tuned for my new site (coming soon!) with the whole collection and a list of retailers!

and don’t worry…there’s still more!

next up :: part 7…the inside scoop


NSS recap :: part 5…pulling it all together

Posted in meant to be sent, NSS national stationery show, wholesale tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 10:58 pm by meant to be sent

though the researching phase never realllllly ended, (actually is STILL going on for a few minor things) i did finally get to a point where i had gathered a ton of info, vendors and ideas (TOO much!) and it was time to make some decisions and begin to pull it all together.

like i mentioned, my branding was TBD for most of the planning process…which made it a bit more difficult to decide on anything, but it finally started coming together just in time to pick out and finalize all the fun stuff!

also, i had been testing several printers to use for my new collection, but had pretty much narrowed it down…and just in time because the it was finally coming together plus i had some super fun ideas for my catalog/mailer (one piece would double as both) and press kits to do. so now, to just execute it all and make some FINAL DECISIONS. but honestly, making decisions and moving on was one of the hardest parts…because every decision feels so monumental. but, once they are made…it is the. best. feeling. ever!

there was a ton to pull together, so where to start…lets see…how about…

the line…
as my line started to come together, the concept for the collection did too and it was feeling more like a real line. i had decided on four styles (perfectly preppy, completely classic, well traveled and very vintage) to launch with and the designs were really starting to feel like a cohesive collection. so i finally got everything together (all four books!) and sent it off to the printer (which i finally picked too!!)…and a few days later i had a TON of paper goodness delivered to my door!!! this made it all so real…i actually screamed out loud (and may have jumped up and down) when opened it! eeeek! it was like christmas at my house for a good week or two with everything arriving…

below :: the shipment of alllllllll my new designs :D

SO. with the designs all figured out, i was super excited, but felt like i still was missing just a little something for my line…

the basic premise of my collection is “something for everyone”…hence the different styles…soooo to build on that even more, i decided to offer several types of printing —digital, offset/thermography, letterpress—for all of the designs in all books. this worked well since most designs lend themselves to all types of printing, so it seemed like a plan! and something for every budget too! and that was the missing little something…check!

even tho my designs were all printed, i was still having a zillion convos with my printer about using special papers to help set my line apart even more, at least for digital printing (actually STILL finalizing this, but should know this week!). so along with the different printing came different pricing…to help keep it super simple, i decided to offer pricing based on printing and type of piece across the board instead of different pricing per suite. easy-breezy.

to even further expand on the something for everyone idea, i took six designs from the preppy collection and turned them into a line of boxed imprintables…those REALLY came together at the last minute as there was a printing mistake and had to have them redone and shipped to my HOTEL! ahhh! so i literally packaged them up in our hotel room right before the show started! yep. that’s them below in a horrible iphone picture on the bed at the hotel! :)

while i was finalizing the collection, i started to realize that i was essentially creating a library of style books…so i started referring to it as the “style library”…and bam! it all started to fall into place. (well, at least conceptually :D)

along with my new style library concept came all sorts of fun ways to tie everything together and really have things feel cohesive. i was SO excited to have a bigger idea to wrap everything around…

and it all started with…

the albums
even before the name came to me (and maybe this actually sparked the whole idea!) i knew i loved the idea of a library spine on my books, as well as the idea of a thick chipboard cover….just something about the mix of the textures that spoke to my aesthetic and what i typically do with my custom work (i.e. tons of layers and texture whenever possible!!)

so i asked some of the album vendors i had found to price these out, and ultimately, i picked a vendor that had awesome fabrics and allowed me to do just the number of albums i needed to do for the show. (that was a HUGE relief since a lot of places require you to do 50 or 100 as a minimum and couldn’t fathom that at the time)

at one point, i thought i might want to do a different color spine per book…but i couldn’t decide which colors!! i had gotten hung up on enough of these kind of decisions and was running out of time…plus it felt right to keep them consistent, airy and neutral like the booth, and let my designs bring in the bold colors and pop out of the books. so i found an awesome shimmery whitish cream color that was perfect against the greyish chipboard. yay!

i decided to add a pocket to the inside to hold “style boards” that would show all of my colors, papers and fonts for easy viewing while looking at a design in the book (rather than having to flip back and forth with these on pages in the binder). all about keeping it simple ;) oh and the pocket was also made of the shimmer fabric..it turned out sooooo neat!

below :: a picture of the chipboard and fabric swatch from my album vendor and the sketch of the pocket i added.

i got it all finalized and ordered soon after…the books came in and they were SO stinkin’ cool! it made it feel like everything was finally coming together…except you’ll notice the books are blank!

below :: the books when they arrived!

for the outside of the books, i had to improvise at the last minute because my original plan to screenprint each book title and my logo on each book was astronomical at such a small quantity. so, i had to kick researching into overdrive again and thought i had found a local vendor to pull it off (and for a great price), only for them to bail on me the week before the show. NICE. so i tried to think of any way i could to salvage the plan…i considered doing decals, iron ons, rub-off transfers, you name it. but ultimately i ended up doing a sticker on the spine and a raised plaque on the front with my chevron pattern and logo, both printed on shimmery paper to match the look of the spine. it turned out great and will be keeping the cover plaque but screenprinting the spines for the albums that were ordered at the show!

here’s how they turned out

{ tip: it is SUPER important, and might seem like a no-brainer…but you need to make sure that everything is consistent…from your website to your biz cards to your mailer to your products and booth to your catalog and press kits. it just makes everything feel like you have a strong brand and a solid business as well as a professional and pulled-together look. definitely something you want! :) }

to keep with the neutral, high-end look, i decided to use chipboard pages in the same greyish color. they seemed perfect since they were super substantial (1/16″ thick!) and of course matched perfectly with the books since it was chipboard. but to my surprise, even the super-thick board still tore during the show from all of the turning of the pages! which i guess is good because that meant a lot of traffic! but i was so not happy that happened…so i have since found another route that is super similar and even stronger, since it is not as soft as chipboard. more on that later….

the rest was in the details…
coming up with terms, pricing and process for ordering. finalizing the color palette (SO not easy if you heart color like me!) and font list for my style boards along with the paper swatch board…and finally laying out and sticking the printed samples to the chipboard pages. it was amazing how everything really came together when i added the fun envelope colors.

below :: pictures of the madness in progress!

this is the process of making the swatch boards. i xyroned my paper colors and used my handy-dandy accucut to cut out sticky-backed squares for the boards! brilliant! (or so it seemed at 2 am two nights before i left for the show!)

doesn’t this shot remind you of candyland!?

more candyland…and as you can see a big ol mess…running out of space too!

album pages in progress!

the booth…
for the walls, as my branding was finalized, i knew i wanted to use the all-over chevron pattern and i had a pretty solid idea of how i would layout the whole booth. from the start i knew i wanted frames of some kind (real, printed or decals) on the walls to represent each collection and that i would fill them with the different designs. and i knew i wanted the whole thing to be pretty neutral (so i could let the work stand out against what could be a crazy pattern!). though i felt really good about it, it just seemed SO scary to send the art over to be printed on a BIG scale and not see it first! yikes!

so i had asked the vendor i was almost positive i would use… A. if i could get a test print (aka chunk proof) so i could at least see the how the colors and pattern would print on the material and on their printer. and B. when is the last possible date i can get you the artwork (crucial to know this!!!) so i would know how much time i had to tweak.

they were AWESOME to work with and more than happy to send chunk proofs (and fast!).

so i did a quick mini mockup of one wall and some swatches of color and my logo to see how it would all print. i did a couple different navys and tested some different tints of the chevron pattern and frames. they came back and looked great, so i easily narrowed it down, but still somehow kept tweaking the design ever so slightly up until the last possible day i could send the art. ha!

below :: the chunk proof with swatches of materials for my albums

i had a few vendors in mind for the walls…but the pricing pretty much decided for me! so at least that part was easy and proved to be the right decision all around!!!

whew! what a RELIEF that was settled!!

on to the rest of the booth.

like i mentioned with the furniture, i had all sorts of scenarios and combinations of pieces in mind…and only one thing was constant—the ghost chairs!  i knew almost right away (though i very seriously considered using some fabulous louis chairs in a cool pattern or bold pop of color) that these were perfect and would add to the airy feel i was after, and not feel heavy in a super small space. all of the rental places i looked into had the ghost chairs too, so that wasn’t an issue. but, i was on the fence about the table i would use with the two ghost chairs, and was still deciding if i would move forward with the cabinet i had designed (see below).

instead of the cabinet, i was considering a buffet/console type table but it was all dependent on how much product i would have and was waiting to see if i would need the extra space or not. in the end, i did not end up having the extra product ready in time, but i still went with the big display cabinet and was glad i did because it gave me lots of extra space and a lockable cabinet!

below :: initial sketches of booth and cabinet design

again, i asked this vendor to give me a “MUST ORDER BY” date to help me keep everything straight and on track. (i work better with deadlines!) i pretty much made the decision on the walls, the cabinet, and the furniture all at once. then i just prayed it all looked good together when i got there!!! (thank god it did! pictures of everything in the next post!)

so now, the only big thing that was outstanding for the booth was flooring. i had finally decided to use interlocking foam carpet tiles, A. for comfort and B. cost was not bad. and TONS of places sell these, so i was able to find a spot that had good prices and would send me sample swatches of the colors.

i knew i wanted grey to go with the rest of the look, but as you can imagine, its hard to tell from the swatches online, so i eventually got the samples i requested (after like a week of wondering if they were even sent despite my urgent request) only to find they did not even send the lightest grey color swatch, which of course was what i realllllllly wanted! i found out there was an error on their website and that the light grey color was not available in the cheaper tiles! UGH. more money! but luckily not TOO much more…but now the problem was, i was out of time and couldn’t wait for another sample. but they assured me the color was MUCH MUCH lighter grey than the two swatches i had…and so again, i ordered and prayed it was right! (and it was!! whew!)

carpet settled!

{tip: request samples (early if you can!)…even if you have to pay for them…and, have your final order shipped direct to your booth or hotel! most stores i ordered from seemed open to that…just beware of extra handling charges that javits applies for sorting anything that is not part of a freight delivery)

then there was lighting…i hemmed and hawed over that for a while too, but kinda decided somewhere along the line that clip-on lights from home depot were jussssst fine. especially when i found out that to have them provided by javits was $99 PER LIGHT to RENT! yikes! so i bought the home depot ones a couple weeks before the show and, to keep it easy, shipped them as part of a bigger shipment direct to my booth, despite the extra handling fee. which meant that WE were installing them, (which you are allowed to do in a small booth space up to a certain number of lights). it was not difficult and worked out fine. but this was one of the things i compromised on from my original just-have-it-all-done-for-me-no-matter-the-cost plan.

so the booth was pretty much set (but we were about three weeks away from the show so it better be!! )

now on to the mailing!

i had a super fun idea for my mailing and was on the fence about doing a catalog since they would be another huge expense and take lots of time to design… so, instead i had planned to do a dual-purpose piece that would be used as a mailing and a catalog type handout at the show! it was one large sheet that would be mailed out folded, but as it unfolded, each panel revealed more information about my line. and finally unfolded to a 17×22″ poster showing 3-4 designs from each of the style library collections! was a fab idea, and totally would have worked but i was cutting it a bit too close with time and budget to print enough to cover both the mailing and handout quantities i needed.

so, i ended up doing it but printing a smaller quantity of the poster and designed a simple postcard to mail out instead. saved big-time on postage and printing going this route! and being down to the wire, totally needed a little savings!

below :: the postcard mailing ready to go out the door!

{tip: postcards are only 29¢ to mail vs 48¢ for a letter rate/1oz size. even the bigger companies do postcards, so don’t sweat it! though, if your time and budget allow DEFINITELY consider a more unique approach that will stand out in the mail…i design a LOT of direct mail stuff at work, so trust me on this ;)

poster images coming soon!

press kits
next up, i had to tackle the press kit.

i was super excited about these and had a fun way to tie them into my style library concept. i handmade custom chipboard folders that mimicked the look of my albums and added a library pocket and custom library cards to the inside front cover with information about my business and my line…on the right hand side i created slit pocket to hold the poster and added slits for my shiny new business cards! i lined the inside front cover with printed shimmer paper with the chevron pattern and of course my booth number! (you will hear about your booth number A TON as you look into exhibiting. it is pretty much as important as your SS#!) i finished them off with a shimmery library spine and a wrap label with a circle sticker that had my booth number stuck at the end of the label. i was SO happy with how they turned out. one of my favorite parts and really glad i stuck to my plan and was able to pull it together.

below :: the kits in progress

the cover with library spine

the library cards (the top card was set up to look like books had been checked out and those books….were from the style library of course, with the date checked out being the date of the show :)

the second card was some info about meant to be sent and the last two were blank cards for taking style notes!

the inside spread with folded poster, biz card and chevron panel!

the final inside spread with the library pocket in place

the front cover with wrap label

back cover wrap label and circle sticker

lots of kits piled up and ready to ship to javits!

aside from those i had one other thing to put together…i had been nominated for the best new product competition in two categories! yippie! so i had to put boards together super quick before we left for the show…here is one from the perfectly preppy line, entered in the “all things wedding category”! sadly, i did not win, but it is AMAZING exposure just to be entered. your boards are prominently displayed at the main entrance for all to see. DEFINITELY enter if you choose to exhibit!

so i think that about covers most of the pulling it together part…all up until just hours before we hopped a plane to JFK!

up next: PART 6—showtime!


NSS recap :: part 4…finding the end of the internet (aka researching)

Posted in meant to be sent, NSS national stationery show, wholesale tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 10:05 pm by meant to be sent

once my collection got under way and i had signed on the dotted line for my booth contract, i kicked my researching into overdrive…

researching for my booth, researching for vendors/printers/products to use for my collection—an ongoing process that is a big task in itself—and researching the (many) rules for the show. i can tell you i have done a lot of research for my business, but never have i ever done so much research in a six month period. ever. ever.

after a certain point (probably starting in about december) i literally spent every ounce of time i had (that i wasn’t designing or working) researching. and boy did i learn a LOT—about what i wanted/needed for my products, what would work and what wouldn’t and who i could depend on.

{ sidebar :: during this time i also may have gotten a bit sidetracked by wanting to expand my product line for the launch at the show. i went back and forth about this for a while…going to add stuff…not going to add stuff…ultimately i did end up introducing a line of boxed imprintable designs! though i kept trying to add more! cA-raZy! that’s what sleep deprivation does i guess! }

though i researched what seemed like a million and one little things, the two main things i researched like crazy were: potential vendors (for printing, albums, paper, packaging etc) and stuff for my booth.

when i decided to do this new line, i knew i did not want be my own printer any more. the time and energy it takes to prep files and do the actual printing and fulfillment was just not something i wanted to deal with. and in the spirit of simplifying and streamlining (the premise behind my collection) it made a lot of sense to shift the production outside to allow me to simplify things and focus on designing.

so the search was on. i knew i needed a great digital printer. but i also wanted to offer letterpress, offset and thermography as options in my books. again, trying to be a bit different.

my goal: find a one stop shop that could do it all and at wholesale prices. i needed a place that understood wedding stationery but that was flexible enough to be open to other sizes, products and papers. this. was. DAUNTING. and i can tell you i pretty much found the end of the internet in all my searching. seriously. i even started a petition in hopes of alerting printers that there is a need for what i was looking for…as i suspected, there are lots of other designers looking for a one-stop-shop, too! (feel free to sign it if you want! :D )

i’ll tell ya…finding a good printer is not easy. and it’s even harder to find one that offers multiple types of printing, is good at what they do, will offer wholesale pricing and not require you to run 1000 pieces as a minimum.

so after TONS and TONS of researching, asking around, tweeting and networking, i found a handful of good options (that are actually all still in play) and have landed on two printers that cover it all, and will be my go-to’s.

below :: a look at the first test run from one of the digital printers

so why did i choose these printers?
because of these key things that were super important to me:

1. pricing: obviously had to offer wholesale pricing
2. quality: obviously had to be great quality
3. response + turnaround time: so important to feel important! so if it takes weeks to (or worse never!) hear back from someone, it’s just not going to work out.
4. flexibility: i am trying to be a bit different so it was key that i find a printer open to that as well…someone willing to testing papers that did not have limited sizes/products

{ tips }
on top of the things listed above, make sure you can get test prints from your printer. if it is digital printing, find out what kind of digital press they are using and (attempt to) understand the capabilities and limitations of their equipment. ask them to push the limits if that is what is best for your product…all they can do is say no! also, make sure you are working with pantone colors from the start. good digital printers can match pms colors! (initially in my sleepless haze, i was just using cmyk colors and had to backtrack! no fun!) but DO A TEST. pick your colors and send a swatch sheet to them to run. find out what settings you should use in your file to get the closest to PMS colors as possible. then match up the test swatches to a pantone book and marvel at the results! :D (FYI most colors are pretty dead on, but not all, hence the testing!) starting with pantone colors (even when printing digitally) just makes it that much easier to A. get more consistent color in your orders and B. transition to other print methods that use PMS inks.

if you are using an offset or letterpress printer, find out if they have a house PMS inks and/or paper options. understand what the fees are to use colors outside of their house inks/paper and if paper is included in the pricing they are giving you. also, keep in mind if you are supplying paper, make sure you know how much overage they require (extra paper) per color or run.

fulfillment is something to consider as well when selecting a printer—and i am still thinking on this. but there are some vendors who will not only fulfill for you (ship printed orders direct to your customer), but will package orders just how you want them! using tissue paper,  a logo sticker or clear bags and a nice gift box and ribbon etc. talk about streamlining! definitely something i am considering.

paper, paper and more paper
beyond printers, there are paper and envelopes to consider…if you are only going to offer white/ecru as options, then you are likely not going to get hung up on this…but for me, color is a HUGE part of my collection and my style. i heart color! :) so just white was not going to cut it in the new collection. another thing i got hung up on was wanting to use euro flap envelopes. ahhh euroflap envelopes. can i just say that EVERY envelope in every color should be available as a euroflap?!

below the beginnings of my vast paper swatch book library (it’s about double this now)

oddly enough, the envelope thing was another huge sticking point for me…and, like the color palette, took waaaaay longer to finalize than i anticipated. i just sooooo wanted that extra touch of style in using color and euroflaps…but was having a hard time A. finding a printer who had them as part of their standard line-up even just in white/ecru, and B. finding all of the colors i wanted to use with that flap style. loooooonnng story short, i did not find what i was looking for. BUT i did land on a color and paper palette with lots of colors available in euro and some in both square and euroflap…which ties right into wanting to offer lots of options in the books. yay!

finding an album vendor can feel somewhat elusive. trust me they are out there, you just have to master your google skills and network and ask around. one thing i found to be a great way to search (for multiple things) was doing an image search instead of or in addition to a regular web search. i am a visual person, so it was easier for me to spot what i was looking for that way and quickly see if it was at all what i was looking for. however, there is some great stuff hiding in regular web search too, so don’t discount that entirely!

one of the things that was super tough was finding someone to do just a few albums for the show, so i could launch the line without having to purchase 50-100 albums up front. this was not easy and i had to do some improvising to put the finishing touches on them myself (which will be slightly improved for the final albums in stores!) but, i ended up finding a great source that was able to do just the quantity i needed for a decent price and they turned out great!!! more details on those up next!

the booth
when i first set out to exhibit, i knew i wanted to do whatever i possibly could to make the whole booth process an easy-breezy one…even if that meant it was more expensive. that probably sounds a bit strange, but when faced with something so big and unknown, there was comfort in just knowing it would be taken care of. at the time, totally was worth the extra cash for a tiny bit of sanity. so while i pretty much stuck to that thinking, i did make some compromises and eliminate things as it got closer to the show and charges started to pile up. more details on where i landed and what was left out a bit later….

i am not gonna lie…there are a TON of things to consider and research regarding your booth. for me, on top of everything else, one HUGE thing was that i was re-branding during all of this, and my new look was not done until mid march! so a LOT was up in the air look-wise… BUT i knew the vibe i wanted for my new brand, so that helped steer me in a good direction from the start, even tho i had no idea what my logo would look like or the final color palette would be for most of the process! yikes!

i did know i was going for a preppy, modern, glam, sophisticated look. i picked out a handful of chairs/tables all with similar looks, some more glam than others, a FABULOUS chandelier (which i later found out due to my booth location and astronomical charges to install it, i could not do—but…maybe next year! :D) and a cabinet (i designed!) for product and albums.

below is a quick idea board i threw together with some of my finds that i was swooning over for my booth

really, i pretty much had the booth figured out very early on. however, i did not finalize and order it until the month before. yea, i know. crazy…started early again, but still so much to consider, plus things evolved along the way that made me reconsider a few things…like my product line for instance…i had hoped to have another new product ready for the show, but found out about a month before NSS that it wouldn’t be ready, so that was a big deciding factor on how much storage / display shelving etc i would need.

one thing i highly recommend when researching is pinterest. it. is. amazing! it is also a huge time sucker too, so beware of all the pretty pictures! :) but i used it a TON to gather inspiration for my line, my brand and my booth. follow me on pinterest to see more!

so it was ironic that the one thing i thought i had figured out way early on and just needed to “place the order” for, turned out to be just as chaotic as the rest of the preparation and still came down to the wire!

the furniture
like i said, i knew i wanted to keep things simple…with a glam, sophisticated look using stuff that would add to the booth, not overwhelm it or take away from the products. that coupled with the fact that the idea of freight terrified me with the cost and potentially having to assemble things on site and then having to store things after. don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine option and most people do that, but for me for the first go at it, simplicity felt better and just couldn’t wrap my head around the logistics of all that on top of everything else at that point.

so, very early on in my booth planning, it occurred to me to rent furniture…it was a perfect idea for me not only for simplicity’s sake but believe it or not, cost as well…at least given most of the furniture i was interested in. of course over time, it would eventually pay off to buy some bigger pieces and do the shipping, but i had a feeling i would also be changing things up from year to year and had already started racking up the bills for this year, so buying a pricey (though fabulous) statement piece was not on the table.

so i looked into lots and lots of boutique-y event rental spots around the city. of course, being in MI i had to rely on their websites for pictures and dimensions. some were super easy to work with and got back to me very quickly, others not so much. but most had pretty similar prices but, of course they get ya with the shipping/delivery charges too. and one of my favorite places that had SO much amazing stuff was way higher on the delivery charges.

so, i had to compromise a bit, but it all worked out and ended up with simple pieces that fit the booth perfectly and did not entirely break the bank.

FYI: with any shipping/delivery to a tradeshow they really get you on charges…more on that later.

the walls
i originally looked into both hard walls and foam…hard walls were thrown out the window pretty much right away…so i was considering foam walls with a flood of color and a wainscot along the bottom of the walls with one of my patterns. i still like the idea of this and just might go that route next year :) but i was having a tough time deciding on a color and pattern without my branding final.

but as my brand came to life, we decided to use a few signature patterns as part of my look…the main one was going to be a chevron pattern, and i had seen a tone-on-tone version on pinterest and fell in love. and so the quest began to find a way to get my chevron pattern on my walls.

again, i researched a TON…and just when i thought my dreams were crushed by the waaaay more expensive show recommended vendor, i found a source that was MUCH cheaper even though i had to have the walls freighted to javits. (lots of you asked about the walls so, more details on this later!)

below :: the inspiration for my booth walls that i was swoooooning over!
(click image for source)

and…all the other stuff
there are soooooooo many more things to look into…and for now, let’s just quickly skim the surface…
for the booth, as mentioned there’s of course the walls and furniture, then there’s lighting, flooring, shelving, electricity (yep, electricity is not included in your booth fee!), shipping/freight…and before the show (aside from any preparation for your products), there’s a preshow mailing (to design, print and mail) for which you need to gather a list of retailers (NSS supplies a list, but it is not targeted specifically for your audience, so you need to comb thru it for solid leads), and order forms, line sheets, catalogs, giveaways and best new product entries to prepare, as well as a press kit. then a bunch of general things like travel, hotel and planning for any kind of events or meet ups you might want to go to…

so if you are going to be exhibiting, or at all interested, research as much as possible. you’ll learn a ton and it is super important to do the leg work even if ultimately you get a great vendor referred to you…because only you can know what will work best for your brand and business PLUS you will stumble on some unexpected stuff and learn a lot along the way.

a great source was an amazing bootcamp put on by my pal katie from kelp designs along with other fabulous exhibitors, retailers and press peeps…you MUST check it out! NSS puts on seminars too, but there was something about the bootcamp that was so real and candid that really made a difference.

much much more details on the booth, albums and final collection coming up!

up next :: PART 5—pulling it all together

NSS recap :: part 3…what to show?

Posted in meant to be sent, NSS/national stationery show, wholesale tagged , , , , , at 9:17 pm by meant to be sent

so once i signed up, i turned my focus to my product line (between filling regular custom orders and working full time, that is!)

up until this point, i had been a custom designer…so whatever i was going to show was going to be pretty much brand spankin’ new…

i had actually started designing and concepting for my collection in late summer (before i officially signed up for NSS) but i still was not sure what i would debut with. so i started by designing patterns (I LOVE PATTERN!) and eventually started applying them to wedding designs but was also sprinkling in some holiday and baby stuff. that was fun, but i quickly turned my focus to just wedding for now. BUT i still wasn’t positive exactly what form these designs would take…a line of boxed designs? albums? both?

below: the very very early stages of the collection…wedding, holiday, baby including a few of the patterns
please excuse the horrible iphone pics!

now, to album or not to album?
that was the BIG question. honestly, i had the album idea in the back of my mind all along, but it was an overwhelming idea…even so, when i started designing, i got a little overzealous and wanted to launch with, well….a little of everything! luckily i reigned myself in and re-focused on one goal: launching a collection of wedding albums. (which i changed again later on!)

doing an album (or albumS) is no easy task. there are a million and one things that go into it, especially if you are starting from scratch with a whole new collection of designs, because you are not only designing the suites that go in the book, but you are designing the book itself…more on that later!

even though it seemed so overwhelming, i started leaning more and more toward a collection of albums (not just one) when i turned the focus to wedding.  given the customizable nature of albums + me coming from a custom design background, it seemed like a good way to go.

BUT i  knew it was a GINORMOUS undertaking and didn’t know how many albums i could get done or even how many designs would be in each…but i did know i wanted to take a different approach if i was going to do them, and for two reasons:

1. well, to be different and set myself apart!
2. to simplify what i found to be (i did a bunch of research!) a somewhat cumbersome and complicated process

that was settled. albums it is!

so once i got on board with the album idea, like i said, my idea was to create a collection of books that were simple yet full options. to accomplish that, i decided it might help if each book was based on its own style or theme. right away that felt right, so i started deciding on different styles to work with.

in my research, i considered what i had experienced with my own custom clients and what the trends and most popular styles were, i researched in stores and online to see what was already out there and also considered what i felt was lacking a presence in the marketplace.

maybe the most fun part in researching was snapping pics of stuff that inspired me! i took pictures of textures, patterns, clothes, furniture you name it! here are just a handful of the pics i took while out shopping, looking at houses etc.

even in this early stage, there were lots of ups and downs…a lot of maybe this or maybe that…a lot of things i thought i would for sure use were put on hold and some got nixed all together…some designs that i thought would be great for one style, were actually perfect for another…and so on. but i had a really good feeling about this idea of “books by style”, so it stuck. (though nothing was for sure until a few months later when i really solidified the concept for the collection…more on that later!)

so yay!  i had a direction to follow! now, to narrow down styles/themes to focus on for the initial launch at the show.

FYI: this development process literally went on until TWO WEEKS before the show!!! yikes!

to help me focus, once i had done a lot of researching, i made a big inspiration board (below) that hung in my studio area! this helped a lot to see what i was working toward every day.

the design process
after i decided to do albums and picked styles that i thought would be good to launch with, i started really designing. like i mentioned, i had some that i had started to mess around with over the summer, and a handful of patterns i had designed, but there was a TON more to do and hadn’t begun to scratch the surface of pulling it together.

to keep things as simple as possible (MUCH easier said than done!), i approached it much like i do my custom work—i always start with just the main invitation panel…and this was no different.

so to start out, i designed a bunch of random panels…just whatever came to me that seemed like it could fit somewhere, somehow in the collection. kinda like sketching and getting lots of ideas jotted down. this is a great exercise, by the way, and really helps to create lots of different approaches and design explorations that end up being really useful down the road!!

after i had a bunch (30-40) of these initial designs,  i started categorizing them by style and separated into different files named by style for that collection…and continued to create design after design all in one specific “style-file” so i could look at them all together as a collection, while i designed.

{TIP: indesign is GREAT for this. i know a lot of people design right in illustrator, but when you want to easily have multiple pages in a document, indesign is the way to go. plus it can do most things illustrator can do! though i use illustrator for lots of things, indesign is made for layout design)

above, printed designs spread out for review

i did this for each style i had in mind, noting where there were holes as i went, and going back to design more for those areas as i got new ideas. eventually, some designs made the cut, some did not. once i decided a particular design felt right, it was expanded on and more pieces were created based on that design (rsvp, details card, place card, save the date, thank you etc). the process was fairly smooth from here forward, but went on for MONTHS.

would you like fries with that?
another big thing to decide on for me was what add-ons to offer. so deciding what kind and how many pieces to include in each suite was another sticking point for me. i kept feeling like i had to offer everything under the sun…every accessory anyone could ever want. not true! it is so easy to get caught up in what other people are doing or the notion of what you think is the norm or standard for the industry…but while there might be a reason behind what is typically done with albums or other products, it is more important to design and produce your products how you want them to be. so, definitely ask around and research like crazy, but ultimately, you want your product to be a reflection of you. so take what you learn and put your own filter on it.

that being said, i got a bit hung up on that a lot with regard to how to structure my albums too…everything from pricing, to the order of the pages and number of designs, to the way swatches are shown. i realized though that my whole goal in this was to do something different and shake things up a bit. so the last thing i was going to do was to do it like all of the other books i had seen!

the collection was a true labor of love to create…and even though i started early, it still came down to the wire. no matter how early i thought i was starting, it is SO easy to get bogged down with details that will suck time out of your schedule…and in my case couple that with researching vendors, planning the booth, re-branding, redoing my site (still in progress) and working.

in hindsight, there are some things i could have finalized much sooner…and others things that took SO much time that i didn’t think would! (picking a color palette is hard!!!)

so one piece of advice to close out this post that really applies to the whole mega-post…i think the whole process is a little like planning a wedding. everything is an important detail that you will likely obsess over. BUT do your best to stay focused and pick your battles…figure out what you can do without, and what matters the most to you. make decisions and move on. you will get there and will realize that even regarding your products, some things can be finalized later on and even continue to evolve after the show. i.e. if you really want to add another shade of orange to your palette or switch out for a different PMS color for navy blue, you can totally do that after the show before the books ship. seriously.

next up :: PART 4 — finding the end of the internet (aka research)

NSS recap :: part 2…decision time!

Posted in meant to be sent, NSS national stationery show, wholesale tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 8:02 pm by meant to be sent

once i got back from my NSS whirlwind trip, i was SO excited and almost positive i was going to do it. i mean, i knew i wanted to, but it was a BIG decision both personally and financially…so i thought on it for pretty much the whole summer…

so how do you decide to exhibit?
for me, i knew i LOVED the custom work i had been doing, but the thing was, there is only one of me…and i can only do so many custom designs at a time. so i wanted a way to supplement that work with products that were turnkey and ready-to-order. this was originally sparked by my peacock and nautical invitations that i realized i was getting tons of orders for, pretty much just as they are. so i thought, what if i had a whole line of ready-to-order designs and maybe some boxed stuff?

i thought a LOT about what my line would be—probably the biggest thing i thought about! what would i debut with—an album? multiple albums? all wedding? mix in holiday and baby? just boxed stuff??

again, being a custom invitation designer up until this point, it wasn’t an easy decision…i took a lot of time thinking about it and once i felt like i had a good solid idea (though i waffled about it for a while still!!) that got me even more excited about the idea of exhibiting (more on this later)…so in early fall i contacted GLM and said sign me up! :D

side note : don’t hesitate to apply as soon as you decide you want to exhibit! i probably would have signed up a bit sooner, but part of the reason i didn’t was because when you apply, you submit your application and product photos…as i mentioned, i didn’t exactly HAVE products (yikes!)…so i kept holding off… BUT i knew i needed to sign up early to get a good/small space.

{ tip: corners and small spaces (6×10/8×10) go quick so sign up early!! }

so i finally contacted GLM in early fall and asked if i could apply even tho my new product line was not done so i didn’t miss out on the space i wanted…they said DEFINITELY! just send photos of the type of products you will be selling…i.e. photos of my custom work was fine. they just want to see what type of product you are selling/your style… so they can place you in the right area etc.

so, whew. that was a relief. i was in!

so what next?
after you apply and are accepted, they will send you a contract and at that time you provide the booth location you would like…now, they will try to accommodate you but it’s somewhat unlikely you will get exactly what you want….but you should definitely let GLM know where you prefer to be. i checked out the floorplan and tried to remember the flow of the show from walking it previously. plus i knew where some of my twitter pals were and tried to get near them! it worked :)

about booth space
when i originally requested my space, i tried to get the smallest space available (6×10), but even 8 months before the show those spaces were gone! so i ended up with an 8×10 booth, which worked out GREAT and was just a bit more than the smaller one, in the grand scheme of things!

originally, i was assigned a booth in the 1500 aisle, which is a fine space but had a feeling that i might want to move based on what i remembered from the layout of the show…so i requested to be moved

note: moving is based on availability, but you can move with no additional charge unless your booth size changes!! — and ended up pretty much right in the center of the show and next to a twitter pal, dingbat press! it was perfect!

now things were getting serious…i had a real space and my own address at NSS!! i actually pinned up the floorplan of the show on the wall in my office with my booth highlighted. total dork, i know, but it kept me motivated and focused as i designed and planned. keep your eye on the prize! ;)

here’s a quick run-down of the planning process so far…
1. first things first…consider exhibiting (is it right for you/your business?)
2. walk the show/network/gather information (i went twice, but i would at least try to go once to check it out)
3. check out the NSS website FAQs and exhibitor info and photos of past shows they have on the site—there is lots of info, but sometimes hard to navigate
4. make the decision to exhibit :: ask yourself…do i / will i have a product that can be sold wholesale and still make a profit without being way overpriced? what is that product? is it different from the competition? how? IMPORTANT :: set yourself apart one way or another!
5. research. research. research. (this will continue throughout the planning process! you will research until you have reached the end of the internet! )
6. sign up! contact one of the show reps listed on the NSS site prior to applying if you have any questions. they are SUPER helpful. kelly bristol was my rep, and she is fab!
7. decide on what size space you think you need. most first time exhibitors go with the smallest spaces. it makes sense financially and usually you are not debuting with a TON of products, so you don’t need a ton of space. but choose what is best for YOUR company and products. and keep in mind, that you are only paying for the space and need to fill this space with EVERYTHING ON YOUR OWN!!!
8. pay the deposit to reserve your space. yup. already time to fork over some cash! to give you an idea of the timing for payment…i reserved my space in mid october and my first payment (about 50% of the booth fee) was due about two weeks later. the final balance was due two months later. so be ready with the initial booth cost when you sign up!

one thing i will point out right from the get-go…if you are not sure about something…ASK. ask your rep, other exhibitors and designers (me if you want!)…most people are VERY willing to help! more on this later too…

next up :: PART 3 — what to show?

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