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December 2014
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February 2015

progress

We finished inventory and all the number-crunching that goes after early this week and slowly the fog is clearing from my brain. Just a few more tax prep things to deal with and then I can put 2014 behind me and really focus on the coming year. That said, I did take time to deal with the most pressing concerns: namely, the fact that we have run out of so many different styles and sizes of t-shirts. I placed a few orders and nagged a few artists so we should be getting closer to fully stocked in the next couple weeks. I must have had more Wi/Mn hugging t-shirts last year in January: I can always see an instant bump in sales when those are in stock. Next week, I think. I went through the first cut of budgeting for the first half of the year so we are slowly placing orders. There's still a balance to strike - it is not as if we have to stock the store for pre-holiday levels just yet. But there are definitely some gaps to fill in.  At least now the washi tape has been restocked; those empty drawers were making me a little anxious.

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For some reason, tape has been a theme for me in these first few weeks. In addition to washi tape (including glitter! tape), I reordered the fun masking tape with messages and graphics. I really like using tape as the final touch in collage and cards. And to add a fun touch to brown paper packages...

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We are, of course, also thinking ahead already to the Stationery Show in May - always fun to wonder what we will find this year and to think back upon everything we found last May. I am hoping this year that Sachi will join me in Atlanta so we can get her spin on that particular buying trip.

Most of our Valentine orders have arrived so we have a nice array of supplies and cards. We'll be setting up the Valentine card-making table in about a week so you can also stop in and make your own cards.

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I tweaked the window for the first phase of Valentine's Day. I know, some people feel this is too early to discuss such things, but, really, it will be here before you know it. I'm enjoying the various new cards that arrived in the past few weeks. I think they come together for a fun window that's not overly sappy. As someone who is single, the holiday has always felt like something developed to make me feel bad about myself but I've heard from plenty of happy couples that it is not exactly a thrilling holiday on their end either. Still, it's a fun chance to haul out the doilies and red and pink glitter....  Speaking of, did you see that a company exists that will send glitter to your enemies? If I received glitter in the mail, I would assume that someone loved me a lot. Though I will admit to annoying lots of college friends when I went through a phase of sending glitter through the mail. But, really, I love the insidiousness of glitter. Like how you find little specks of it four weeks after you first came into contact?

But I digress. Here's the window:

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And more Valentine goodness:

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Sachi and I are taking some Wednesdays off in these slow days of winter to go on some field trips... well, busman's holidays is probably more like it. Don't worry, the store is still open 7 days a week as it always is. Now we have three part-timers so that eases our old 6 day work-week schedule from the early days and/or busy season of the shop. Last Wednesday we went down to Milwaukee and couldn't even finish all of our list. SO many great places to go to! The Waxwing, Le Reve Patisserie, Boswell Books, Mod Gen, Artist & Display, Fischberger's, Beans & Barley.

plus the ones we ran out of time and will have to go back to: Broadway Paper, Sparrow Collective, Milwaukee Public Market, Hometown Established, Hot Pop. We'll have to go back.

I did finally get to see my dear friend and her new baby, who was not at all interested in a photo shoot, despite the fact that I had provided, in my opinion, a lovely quilt for the backdrop. Ah well, there's still time.

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Finally, I apologize but I'm still trying to figure out all the links between Instagram, this blog, and Facebook, and also how to get my pictures off the iPad in whatever format I need them. I say this only because I have finally started some studio work that is store-related (not too late into the new year) and apparently only have the picture of the rough draft on Instagram. Here it is: one of my favorite quotations, from Howard Thurman, that was at the request of a friend, but something I've been meaning to work on just because I find it resonates with me personally. I have about a half-dozen other texts and while my initial thought was very much computerized (download some fun fonts and use PhotoShop to incorporate my own photos), I am leaning now towards a more hand-drawn look. But will probably use some computer fonts to work through spacing and font issues, hence this first draft of another one that I started this week:

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I have major difficulty with fonts, mostly in that I love all different kinds of fonts and can readily break the rule about not having too many different fonts in a single piece. So I'm using the computer to kind of work through the styling and such. Ultimately, I will be tracing/redrawing the piece..and then maybe scanning it and putting it back in the computer for printing? I don't know.  I liked my Christmas cards that were fake chalkboard/handwritten, but I could tell they were fake and want to have a more handdrawn look to everything. This is taking me a great deal of time and practice; meanwhile Sachi just stood at the counter on Saturday and whipped up a prototype for her next design. I'm only a little jealous.


let's see, where was I?

I know, I know. It has been a while. And my reasons are terrible: I got an iPad! A mini, and no, not the latest. Please keep in mind that I still have a flip phone so this is like crazy amazing technology for me to have at my fingers. I may have been spending a wee bit too much time playing games on it. But I did manage to check out books from the library and listen to podcasts as well. And Anthology finally joined Instagram (anthology218) so I've been snapping pictures (and have some plans for new notecards thanks to various photo-manipulating programs). It's all been very fun... except for the minor inconvenience of not actually having WiFi in my home or at the shop.

I did manage to sew a case so I have that to count towards my productivity of the past two weeks. I used scraps of batik and just put some batting inbetween for padding. I just have to sew on a button.  But otherwise, things at home are a mess: so many different incomplete projects strewn around, supplies, notes, Christmas cards... and dust. I'm a little overwhelmed, even though I know that if I just buckle down, I could feel much better in a few hours. That said, the other big project in my mind is that eventually my sewing studio in my parents' basement needs to get integrated into my studio space at home so I really need to work on creating the space for all that fabric. Maybe spend some time sorting through it as well. A classically over-ambitious project for the New Year which already has much on its plate.DSCN5196 (800x600)

Besides that? Cleaning up at the shop, redoing the window, starting to plan for 2015, but mostly spending time summing up 2014. I'm itching to spend some time reorganizing and rearranging but the reality is that our focus right now really just needs to be on inventory. All that I need is a total dollar value of the contents of the store, but that means putting our hands on everything and tallying up the prices. Yeah.... I managed to fit quite a lot into this little space. We're making our way through all the backstock (Sachi is counting notecards today) and will be closed on Sunday the 11th so inventory the sales floor. It's not a difficult task, just not particularly interesting. Much more fun to buy stuff.

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Since the girl was off of school, there was a little extra time with her, including a day at the shop which we managed to fill with some tasks before we had to turn to the iPad. It's not getting any easier to take her picture.

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On top of everything else, on Christmas Eve, my body finally gave out and came down with a whopper of a cold so I spend three days limping around at about 30% of full capacity. Glad that I managed to wait until after the busy shopping season, but it was annoying nonetheless. Additionally, I am now in that time of year where all the things that I put off for the past 6 weeks are now due, the studio is a total mess, and I have to deal with inventory and taxes. So, even though the pace of customer service has slowed down substantially, the pace of work to be done has not at all. I know this question could easily be solved by checking the internet and a friend assures me it is "weary"; nonetheless, I spend a lot of time wondering if it is "no rest for the wicked" (and in which case, I was really wicked in a past life) or "no rest for the weary."

When I was trying to write my Christmas letter I was a little stumped because my overwhelming feeling... if I were to choose a word that is my theme right now? That word would be: work. It's not all bad: there is the work of the shop, of creating and promoting and building. In fact, I read a quotation from Brandon Stanton, the Humans of New York founder  recently: "There are so many people that use 'following your dreams' as an excuse to not work," he said. "When in reality, following your dreams, successfully, is nothing but work." I think a little part of me thought when we hit our fifth anniversary that the intensity would ease but as we continue to grow (and continue to work towards that growth: teaching more workshops at the libraries, and who knows what else), there are new tasks and new challenges. Chief among these is my difficulty with delegating; it's always so much easier just to do something myself but there are certain things that only I can do, and I need to learn to sort out what those are, and to get better and training other people to do the things that they can do. Everyone would be better off if I can master this skill.

My feeling overwhelming feeling of work is exaccerbated by my feelings about the current state of this state I love so much: my concerns for the direction the Governor is going to take it and general feeling that there is much work to be done when it comes to "liberty and justice for all" which I still believe in, not to mention the ideals of Jesus - you know, feeding the hungry? empowering the oppressed? So, there's that... Happy New Year?

Of course, some of that work involves buying and unpacking notecards and knee socks, our first few shipments of the new year.

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Not to mention, arranging our fun collection of prints in the window.

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(and planning for the awkward hipster Valentine window which is coming up next).

Work aside (or included), we are looking forward to an inspired and creative year ahead. We already booked our flights to the New York Stationery and can't wait to see, generally, what things people create this year. We hope your year is off to a fine start!