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September 2015
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November 2015

coloring page spin-offs

Well, it has been about a month since I finished up all the work on the Wisconsin coloring book. Well, not all of it, since I still have to set up a PayPal option here for mail orders. But, still. Once we sent the book to the printers, I dusted off my hands and said "That's it. I'm done for the year." Well, aside from all the selling. But I really felt like it was time to shift out of the thinking of new products mode and into selling what I have mode. Hard to turn the brain off.

In a happy turn of events, an artist we worked with previously sent me a postcard about custom ornaments, just when I was thinking about what else we could put our coloring page designs onto, and voila! some new Wisconsin ornaments for the holiday season! Perfect timing. We're still in design phase, but we'll have these in a few weeks.

We also met with some UW Madison digital marketing students so thoughts are rolling around in my head about ways to make this blog more user-friendly. Because of course what any shopgirl needs is a new project right before the holidays.

In more pressing news, tomorrow is the downtown Madison family Halloween event which involves a massive candy giveaway (last year it was about 39 pounds of candy from our store alone). I've got tubs of candy ready to go, as well as some stickers for food allergy issues. I was going to be lazy about my costume but at the last minute, both Komai girls have some work to do. Sachi is working on her Kragle hat (from the Lego Movie) and I had to do some repairs for my mermaid costume. That involved gluing sequins and scales yesterday and today means making a crown, which brings me to another distraction about a possible piece for an upcoming exhibit for the book arts group I belong to. So many new ideas!

Also, a friend in Minnesota works for the non profit Free Arts Minnesota which is a totally cool program. They are putting together a coloring page and even though I just found out about it three days before the deadline, I spent a couple nights drawing and working on a page for that book. The theme is breaking the mold: a celebration of self, so I made an autobiographical collage drawing, a spin off of some of my coloring pages. It was another fun and mostly frivolous project, which clearly I need more of. 

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life after coloring books

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Well, that's not really a thing. Because now my attention goes to what I call Janice Math (that's my old boss, who had a general formula for calculating how much you will need of a thing: how many you've sold in the past month, divided by four to get the per week quantity you need going forward, times the number of weeks you are ordering for, minus what is in stock, perhaps times two if you are doing holiday calculations) and making sure that we don't run out of coloring books.

But when I look at the sales figures between now and December 30, it is clear that much of my attention simply needs to be on helping customers and keeping the store stocked. Shifting away from the season of looking for/creating new items.

That said, one happy side effect of the two Komai sisters drawing lots of new designs is that we have been able to translate those designs into other products for the shop. The first step was making coloring postcards and folded notes. Of course, Sachi has already applied her designs to other t-shirts and mugs. One common request is for dish towels, I'm assuming in a large part because they can be easily packed and you don't have to worry about breakage when you take them to far away places. We're always on the lookout for nice Wisconsin towels and at various times have had various designs in stock, all of which sell well. I am also not above begging and have approached different artists about custom designs for the shop, with various degrees of success. However, it also occurred to me that some of our coloring book designs might translate well to tea towels so I sent those files off to our printers on Willy St. I am SO happy with the results! I really like the effect of two colors on a screen and am pleased to add yet another item to our collection of new regional items for this holiday season - even better, items that are designed and printed right here in Madison!

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arrivals for real

The last time I told you about anything other than coloring books was August 20th. I hate it when bloggers don't keep up. My apologies. If it is any consolation, I have been busy working on awesome things for the shop. I have overcome my feelings of exhaustion from about two years ago - I think it really hit me then that things weren't really going to "settle down" nor would it be less work to run a business than it was in the early years. I can't remember if I've shared me recent revelation but I've finally hit upon the analogy of being a small business owner. Those early years were like being dumped into the Pacific Ocean. Even though I thought I could swim, it turned out there was a lot to learn and mostly I was just trying to keep my head above water. Now we're 7 years into this and I've figured out, for the most part, how to swim, but I have the entire ocean to cross. I feel more confident and capable, but there's still a lot of work to do. But, as a friend said, every once in a while, a friendly sea mammal comes along and lets me rest for bit. In any event, my problems are the kind that many people would like to have: so many customers and new arrivals that I don't have time to catch up on the other tasks I should be doing.

So, let's see, where was I?

Our Wisconsin coloring books are still at the printers so I don't have an update for those, though I will set up some sort of online ordering option for those of you who are far away. Sachi has to go to the post office and figure out shipping costs.

But we did make coloring cards from Laura and Sachi illustrations:

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In the meantime, here are all the things that have arrived since late August:

an assortment of prints:

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lovely jewelry (which Sachi ordered and which came in while I was away so was brand new to me when a customer brought it up to the counter):

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earrings:

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journals, including Totoro (!), mini colored pencils:

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cut metal art from Haiti:

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tea towels (with more on their way), Wisconsin stickers, notepads:

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coloring books, of course:

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necklaces for babies to chew on, stylish office supplies, gift enclosure cards:

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Totoro wallets, boxed holiday notes, wrapping paper sheets:

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new buttons, including Bernie and Hillary campaign pins:

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note cards, note cards and more note cards:

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And, yes, Sachi has been busy making Wisconsin ornaments:

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And that should just about cover it. Of course, more things just arrived today.