Posts Tagged: pretty paper please

biz notes :: small business start ups

Pretty-Paper-Please-Melanie-KimmettMélanie from Pretty Paper Please is here today sharing her final installment on creating your own product line. In case you missed it, click here for her other posts: consignment vs. wholesale | approaching and the follow up | branding | creating a look book | line sheets + catalogues.

What I didn’t realize when I first imagined starting my own stationery line was the amount of time and work needed to create, produce and eventually market and sell my own pieces. And then there’s the business/financial side! If you’re like me – creative, but no real head for math – that part of running your own business can truly be scary! And if done wrong, could really get you into trouble!

A bookkeeper and/or an accountant can guide and help set you up with good working habits in terms of how to organize and separate all of your receipts. They’ll also help you understand which expenses and what percentages can be written off, as well as give you tips on how to save money month to month! In other words, hiring a business/number-minded person will help shape your business and force you to be responsible about your own finances. If your finances are in order, well, you’re on track for some real business growth.

I asked my bookkeeper if she could put together a list of things she’d encourage any new business to look into and these were her top recommendations:

Decide on whether you are going to Incorporate or be a Sole Proprietor
First understand what either classification means, then decide how either applies to your needs and what sort of business you see yourself being.

Register your business name with the Government
Every country has its own rules and process for Small Business, which is why it’s important to research your options wherever you happen to be. In Canada, you’re required to register your chosen business name (if its anything other than your own given name) with your Provincial Government.

Register your business number with the Government
In Canada, every business requires a business number. If you’re deemed a Small Supplier (your business is making less than $30K/year) you’re unlikely to need a GST number. Depending on which province you’re selling in, or the types of goods you’re selling you may also need to register for a PST number. Contact the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to understand where you fit in.

Find a good bookkeeper and tax accountant
Bookkeepers and/or accountants are a great source of information. Getting things set up and done correctly from the start will save you time and money in the long run.

Open a business bank account + Collect your business receipts
The idea here is to have a separate bank account for business transactions. Doing this will make your life easier when it comes to bookkeeping! There are countless items you can write off as a business expense, but it’s important to understand what those allowable purchases are. Always ensure to hold onto your receipts for your bookkeeping as well as for safekeeping. In the event you’re audited, having those receipts handy will save you from any additional stress.

Good luck! And happy making & selling!

Thanks so much to Mélanie for sharing her advice! Check out her links here: portfolio | shop

UPPERCASE magazine

UPPERCASE_image1UPPERCASE_image2UPPERCASE_image3UPPERCASE_image8UPPERCASE magazine is one of my favourite publications. I have been a loyal fan of their well curated articles, eye-catching images, and the overall quality of its pages ever since I purchased my first issue back in 2009.. As the newest issue (#17 Special Stationery Issue) is being shipped all over the world, we are pleased to announce that Got Craft? has teamed up with the fine folks at UPPERCASE magazine to bring you some amazing treats (scroll below) just in time for the upcoming spring event on Saturday, April 27th and Sunday, April 28th, 2013 from 10-5pm in the gym at Templeton Secondary School – 727 Templeton Drive, Vancouver (corner of Turner and Templeton).

This issue couldn’t have arrived at a better time! Full of paper goodness, it also features past and present Got Craft? vendors such as Draw Me a Lion, The Beautiful Project, Pretty Paper Please, Sam Bradd Designs, and think & ink studio.

If you don’t already subscribe to UPPERCASE, you can pick up a copy at these local shops:: Spruce Collective, Collage Collage, Paper-Ya, Vancouver Special, Vancouver Art Gallery Store, and Room 6.

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We are super excited to have UPPERCASE magazine support the upcoming Got Craft? spring event! To celebrate, we are giving away an UPPERCASE magazine book gift pack including one copy each of  Jen 11 book,  The Shatner Show, and Work / Life 2.

There are two ways to enter:

  • Leave a comment at the bottom of this post = 1 entry
  • Retweet “RT to enter to win an UPPERCASE book gift pack courtesy of #GotCraft @lotusevents and @uppercasemag – http://bit.ly/17eK25N = 1 entry

Prize will be available for pick up at Got Craft? (front desk). Winner will be notified by email. Contest closes Monday, April 22nd, 2013 at noon (PST). Good luck!

Use the code “gotcraft?” for 10% off at the UPPERCASE shop!

biz tips :: creating a look book

MelanieKimmett_LookBook_July2012_3Mélanie from Pretty Paper Please is back today as part of our wholesale and consignment series to talk about the ins and outs of having a “lookbook”, how to create one, as well as weighing its importance. Catch part one, two, and three by clicking the links!To those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept of a lookbook, Wikipedia describes it as a “…collection of photographs compiled to show off a model, a photographer, a style, or a clothing line.”

If you’ve ever watched Tyra Banks’ Next Top Model series, you might remember the contestants were building their lookbooks with every new photoshoot, episode to episode.

In the fashion world, this particular lookbook is then brought around to meetings with potential clients, such as fashion labels, photographers or model agencies. These photos provide the model with a story or some context, helping the client imagine them in their clothing, future photoshoots or a new face at the agency.

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No, there’s no disputing that the term “lookbook” is deeply rooted in the fashion world. But in the last several years many other industries have adopted its concept and applied it to their own needs. After all, we all have a story to tell. And in this crowded, advertised world we live in, it’s important those of us with our own product lines provide some context into what makes us special, and help us stand out amongst our competitors.

In any great story, the storyteller wants to create a feeling, a setting. They’ll have characters, scenes and some sort of dialogue. The storyteller may want to speak to their audience in a way that is relatable and real or maybe create a whole new dialogue instead – anything that demands attention and garners them an audience. Using the lookbook format to tell your story through pointed-visuals (and some text) invites your audience into a romanticized world that is unique to you and your product line.

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I planned, styled, photographed and designed my own lookbook last year and I’m currently working on this year’s new book as well. I’ve also been using Issuu.com (a digital publishing platform) to host my lookbook online. It’s much easier to email a link around then having to worry about the size of the attachment and risk having your email fall into a junk folder.

If you don’t feel as capable of designing, photographing or organizing your own lookbook, I’d advise approaching designers and/or photographers to help you in this area. If you’re going to invest your time in the development of a lookbook, you should probably be open to investing your money as well. Believe me, people appreciate and notice the effort when you’ve done it right.

As I’ve previously mentioned, it’s not imperative everyone with a product line create a lookbook, but it will certainly give you a professional edge when you finally approach prospective shops.

Context is key when you’re trying to reach a desired audience. You want your audience (including prospective shops) to imagine themselves in your world, and hopefully if all goes well, they’ll eventually invite you into theirs.

next week: Create your own Line Sheets + Product Catalogue

biz tips :: approaching shops + the follow up

prettypaperplease3Mélanie Kimmett from Pretty Paper Please is back to talk about how to approach prospective shops and the follow up. If you missed part one, find it here! – Andrea

Given that we live in such a digital world, you can really get to know a shop, their lifestyle and their customers from their online presence these days. Most have their own Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram accounts. Make a strong effort in getting to know these shops and their community through their social media touch-points. I say this because I believe it makes a significant difference when you finally approach them. It’s been important to me that I develop a relationship with every shop that carries my stationery line, so I make sure to personalize each and every email. There is a clear difference between being truly genuine, trying too hard or sounding too general as though you’ve sent a mass email. Keep things short and to the point, but make sure to charm them with what makes you and your product special.

Main points you should cover in that initial email is a brief introduction, link to your online shop (if you have one), mention real life stats on what has sold well for you, or if you’ve been featured on a prominent blog with the feature’s link. Some shop owners are specific about wanting to see photos of your product and in that case you should certainly attach one or a few. You’re ultimately selling your personal image and product in any of these communications, so it’s important that you’re as polished and professional as possible.

You should also include a line sheet and product catalogue in that initial email. The line sheet is typically your order sheet and the catalogue’s main purpose is to showcase all available products, as well as provide the shop with your wholesale price points. I’ll talk about how to best set those up in my ‘Create your own Line Sheets + Product Catalogue’ blog post in the next couple weeks.

I’ve been advised shops don’t really like being approached in person and I’ve noticed this to be true in some cases, but I’ve found when I’m traveling that it does help establish some sort of relationship that you can then follow up on later. Another option, if you can afford to do it, is to choose a few shops from outside your area every few months and mail them samples of your product. Same advice as above – write them a short note explaining who you are, and your product and why you chose to reach out to them.

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The Follow-Up
Eep. What to do with the dreaded follow-up email… Why haven’t you heard from them? How much time should you wait before emailing again? What should you say?

There are always several reasons why you may not have heard back from the shops you’ve reached out to. Shop owners are typically very busy people and can’t always respond in a timely manner. It’s important that you not take their silence personally though, as you’re likely NOT to be the only person emailing about your product, or they may have other shop-related priorities to handle first.

There’s no harm in a follow-up email if you haven’t heard from them after a couple of weeks. Please be cautioned to NEVER harass a prospective shop though, as you will likely alienate and create a strained relationship. Ultimately, shop owners know what’s best for their own stores, and it’s quite possible you’re just not the right fit for them. If you still haven’t heard from them after your follow-up email, maybe choose to move on for the time being. Try them again when you’ve got a new product to introduce.

next week’s topic :: How to Brand and Package Yourself