As we approach the New Year, I thought it would be apt of me to remind myself of my favorite planners for handmade businesses, entrepreneurs, makers, and, well anyone trying to take that side-hustle from a daydream to reality.
It was about five years ago now. I had just returned from work after my surgery and I was meeting someone I didn't know at a coffee shop near the Verizon Center in DC. (This was one of those this I didn't tell my mom about, but she's probably reading this....) Outside of some strange connections online, we didn't have a ton in common at the time, except for one glaringly obvious similarity.
We both survived brain surgeries.
I remember meeting Lauree like it was yesterday. She had just started her hug tour and we were meeting up because I'd never met someone who had survived something similar to what I'd been going through.
I don't remember everything we spoke about, but earlier today, I had a flash back to something she said.
See, at this point, Lauree was at the 5 year post surgery mark and had stopped celebrating different milestones because they weren't as important anymore.
I realized, I'm nearly to that same milestone. I'm about to hit my five year mark and I nearly forgot. Lauree was right.
Even though we suffer through MRIs, never ending doctors appointments, and, for me, a sizable amount of medication to counteract the spinal cord damage, it's ok. I'm ok. I finally feel calm.
For that, I say thank you Lauree. I don't think I could have gotten to this point without you.
I think the hardest part of making our trade show booth was figuring out the feel I wanted to project. I knew I wanted hard walls, that was a given (thank you trade show background). But, how do I want to display all of my
Thank goodness for pinterest. First off, there are hardly any soap trade show booths on there. What is plentiful are the stationary show booths. That, my friends, became my starting point. How do different handmade printers make themselves standout? How do they differentiate themselves from their neighbor? How do they stay true to their identity and still wow everyone who walks by? Luckily, when you are turning into an insomniac, these answers come quickly. Sidebar: my best ideas come between the house of 11pm and 3 am.
Old Town Suds makes 80% of its products out of beer, wine and/or chocolate. Three things that I love to partake in! We are located in the Virginia vineyard region so I am always among the grapes and that is basis of our booth design; plus it flows naturally from our farmers' market display.
The semi-gloss black hard walls took 5 coats and 2 gallons of paint. (Honestly, they probably could use a few more coats.) Then came the handmade shelves. These were constructed from cheap lumber we found at the lumber yard and some molding to provide a raised edge. They are wide enough to hold a beer bottle and a bar of soap laying down. Wide enough to create soap pyramids but not wide enough for much more than that. A lesson learned is, for our next trade show, we'll make some shelves for the corners and make a few wider shelves.
Next up are the lights. We used the clip lights from home depot. Originally, I thought they would provide enough spot light to highlight a few products and help draw eyes into the booth. Well, it was a good try. For the next go, we'll be investing in a different set of lights.
The sign was laser cut out of wood and held on with velcro. I really think it added a needed dimension to the booth. Also, we put a copy of our Washington Post coverage plus a few photos up of me making soap. They were to add color to the booth, plus add that little touch of showing just how handmade our products are.
Here it is! The finished product. Our first trade show booth. For my first one, I am extremely happy with the outcome. It's the first booth I've built having less than a $20,000 budget for JUST the build. It's the first booth I've built where I've been selling my own product and everything that was made by me. For those reasons alone, it's my favorite trade show booth to date.
Up next, some more lessons learned and what I want to approve on before our next trade show this summer. I can't wait to make this an even better display for our wholesale customers.
Getting my office under control has been something I've seriously struggled with. It slows down my shipping, all over productivity and my motivation. In December (or was it November) I decided to try to get puppy to a better state. I mean look at this mess! It's only half of my desk too!
I got a filing cabinet from Poppin to help keep all of those pesky records filed and a bunch of the paperwork that piles up off of my desk. (Now I just have to actually use the filing system I created. Details...)
To make shipping easier, quicker and less painful I asked santa for the Demo 4XL printer. My in-laws beat santa to the gift and they got my super easy and quick printer! It will be so nice when I ship out all of out new orders today! It will be a 1 click print instead of finding my shipping labels, making sure they are right side up in the printer, printing those first; then printing the invoices and then remembering to use the other half of the shipping label (2 are on a sheet) when the next order comes in.
I feel like she (he?) needs a name. Right now I am just calling her my precious.
What are you doing differently in 2015 to get your business organized?