Do I say this every spring? and is it just because my eyes are so tired of the gray and white of winter? But, seriously, this spring is SO lovely! The magnolias seem to be lasting longer than usual and I've found several trees that I didn't even know about. And now the crab apples are starting to burst into bloom - on the way to work this morning, I kept exclaiming over the profuse blooms. And then will be the lilacs. and the various acid green shades of new leaves. I think a girl could be excused for being giddy.
To top it all off... I suppose every year there is some new trend or direction or product to be excited about, but it feels like this year is particularly strong. Sometimes there's a bit of a lag from winter but this year we have several projects in the works that make for a promising summer tourist season. I'm really excited about working with a new t-shirt artist - and I'm sorry to tease you, but you'll just have to wait 'til we have them in store. The serendipity of some of these happenings is quite fun. For example, a Madison College student picked us for a graphics design project and now we've got an awesome image for our next set of advertising postcards and gift cards. Didn't she do an amazing job?!
In the line of new arrivals with some level of customization at our request: we have a new Madison food map (and these same artists are working on a Wisconsin patch for us). I'm getting better at finding people who might do custom work, not to mention describing what I'm actually looking for. The ideal is to find someone whose work you like and who would hopefully just need minor tweaking in order to add to our Wisco/Midwest collection.
Or just have someone stop in the store with something that is a perfect fit, like our restock of the Wisconsin notepads.
So, despite that fact that every year I am slightly caught off guard by graduation (I don't know what it is - am I focusing too much on Mother's Day? skipping over to summer? focused on June high school graduation?), I feel like we are in good shape: plenty of Wisco charm necklaces, graduation cards, and, of course, prints.
Meanwhile, Mother's Day is upon us. For once this year, I am not worried about running out of cards, but only after a marathon session in Photoshop on Monday making a few last minute cards. Thank goodness for local printers.
We have a great collection of cards and the simple sign in the window is doing the trick. My former boss was the one who first told me to just keep it simple... and it is amazing how many people walk by and exclaim: "Mother's Day is May 10!"
In other news: Our discussion with our landlord has finally been settled to everyone's satisfaction so that is a load off our minds. The original letter was for $18,000 for a year's worth of utilities - we can only laugh about it now because it has been reduced to match the usage on our 1000 square feet of space (instead of the 9000 of the entire building). I don't know what kind of revenue people think small businesses take in, but we'd have to sell about 8000 note cards to pay that bill.
On a good note, it has been a week full of birthday celebrations of our fellow small businesses. We wish a happiest of 25th birthdays to Little Luxuries, with special thanks to Janice Durand, the founder, who taught us so much about running a business. And we also send a happy 40th birthday to A Room of One's Own and Orange Tree Imports. We feel fortunate to have such strong women role models for successful retail careers in this community.
We had a really great experience with UW-Madison School of Business students who worked on some marketing ideas for us. In these times of budget cuts and assorted attacks on public schools, it felt like we were living the best of the Wisconsin Idea: a small business partnering with the University to benefit from the knowledge of that body. In the course of our lifetime, we have benefited so much from public schools from elementary to graduate levels; we definitely feel that we owe our success to so much of what Scott Walker is trying to undermine. So I guess that means we all have to step up to shore it all up. Sachi's been volunteering at Lily's elementary school and I've been trying to figure out how I can be most helpful. I do love reading children's books so I could happily sit for hours and do that but I'm not sure that any child wants to sit for hours. I'm starting to think maybe volunteering in the art classes? I mean, surely the art teachers could use some help cutting paper and wiping up paint? I was so inspired by the art in the hallway at the elementary school, it seems like it would be fun to witness more such work.
Meanwhile at the shop, our dressers have filled up as if they were never gone. I'm having some ongoing challenges with photographing this store - it never looks as charming as the places in the Mary Engelbriet or Martha Stewart magazines! But I'm so happy with the dressers themselves and super excited for Lovely Retro Renos to redo more for us.
For one brief moment, we had this hot new coloring book in stock. That lasted less than a day. There are more on order, but I would also like to mention that there's a Wisconsin artist who I would consider on par with this UK artist: Kim Geiser - in fact, her doodles have some stronger components of whimsy and inspiration, in my opinion. We'll be getting her coloring books next week so stay tuned!
Oh, and one big reason for our giddiness? The National Stationery Show is only a few weeks away! We'll be heading out to New York City for a sister trip. Whoo hoo! No one raising their eyebrow at the fact that we are going into a paper store even though we've just spent 8 hours looking at paper goods! The lead up to the show is always fun as we receive postcards and announcements/invitations from our various papergoods vendors - and, boy, do some of them go all out! What a thrill to get real mail. I really need to send more letters. If you haven't yet checked us out on Instagram, that's where you can keep track of all the mail we've been getting, and perhaps find inspiration in stationery design and/or lettering. I'm still trying to adjust to the iPad/camera/computer interface, not to mention finding WiFI and also trying not to double post too much between Facebook, this blog and Instagram. If you are visual as I am, you might enjoy the pictures on Instagram without all the narration, but I will try not to be too neglectful of this blog, either.
And I think that's it for now. I'm not expecting too many new arrivals this coming week but I will be sure to share any new goings-on. I'm in the process of reorganizing my studio and I'm embarrassed to say that there's no way I can share any "before" pictures with you. There's just too much. But I'm making progress on some winnowing so I think I might actually be able to consolidate my sewing studio (in my parents' basement) with the rest of the sewing + paper crafts. Maybe even in time to avoid having to put that on next year's New Year resolution list.