Stationery Business: Tips For Getting Quotes

Stationery Business: Tips For Getting Quotes | Sycamore

Once you’ve found a list of suppliers and manufacturers to look into, you’ll want to start asking for quotes. I’ll be honest, it’s quite a tedious process, but it’s just necessary. If you do it well, it can really help your business!

MY TIPS FOR GETTING QUOTES:

  • When you’re starting out with smaller quantities, you may not need a custom quote. If you’re ordering lower quantities of envelopes, for example, you might just order directly from a website. Of if you only need 50 promotional postcards or flyers printed, you may be able to get an automatic quote by just plugging in your information on the manufacturer’s website.
  • Get multiple quotes. Don’t make the mistake of going with the first quote you get! Get at least 3. The more the better, although you do of course have to stop at some point.
  • Ask for a quote in writing. I do think it’s often a good idea to call first (before you ask for a quote) to get a general idea of what they can offer you and how they might be to work with. But when it comes to the actual quote, I recommend emailing it in so that it’s clearly written out.
  • Be clear and concise. Don’t write it all in one big paragraph where details tend to get lost. Instead, make bullet points or even a chart.
  • Don’t forget the details. You have to list out every little detail in your quote requests. For example, with printing, you should specify
    • Quantities: It’s common to ask for a few different quantities, to see the price breakdown. For example, 250, 500, and 1000.
    • Size: both the size of the paper you will print on (press sheet) and size of finished product.
    • Colors: How many, for methods other than digital.
    • Paper Stock: Will you provide it or will they? If they will, do you know which kind you want them to get? If not, you should at least know the weight and paper type. 60lb text? 120 lb cover? Coated? Uncoated? Matte?
    • Other finishes required after printing: Trimming, die cutting (cutting into a non-rectangular or square shape), scoring, folding, etc…
    • Delivery: Will the items need to be shipped? If local, will you pick them up or do you want them to deliver?
    • Turnaround Time: How long will it take them to finish the job?
    • Proofs/Press Checks: What kind would you like? Is a digital PDF proof over email enough? Do you prefer a high res proof? Would you like to be present at the printshop for press check?
  • Follow up. As we all know, it’s a busy world, and sometimes email doesn’t get answered. Don’t be afraid to follow up and be persistent to get the quotes you need.
  • Ask for revisions, if necessary. It’s not uncommon for there to be errors in the quotes you receive. Maybe they quoted the wrong paper or the wrong quantities. If you write a very organized and detailed quote request, that will help cut down on some error, but it’s still pretty common to find errors. Just let them know, and politely ask for a revised quote. Again, don’t be afraid to follow up.
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate. If you know you’d like to work with a certain manufacturer or supplier but their prices are a bit high, don’t be afraid to ask if they have any wiggle room or if they can match a lower priced quote from a competitor.

 

You can learn more about the stationery business by taking my online courses on atly.com: Stationery Business 100: Start Strong and Stationery Business 200: Wholesale. Thanks! – Eva

You might also like: Inventory Resources & Tips, Tips For Finding Stationery Suppliers & Manufacturers, & Tips For Sending Mailers.

Due to popular demand, we’re working on a brand new class called Shop Biz 100: Online, Pop-Ups + Bricks and Mortar. To stay in the loop, sign up for our Creative Business newsletter here.

Sycamore Q&A: Janneke Luursema, Photographer | Amsterdam, Netherlands

Everything we do at Sycamore Street Press is with the goal of living a simple, beautiful & creative life, and in helping others do the same. There are so many people who have inspired us on this path, and we’d love to learn more from them! So we decided to start an interview series on the topic. Today we’ll hear from Janneke Luursema, a Dutch photographer based in Amsterdam.

Sycamore Q&A: Janneke Luursema, Photographer | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Sycamore

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started doing photography.

Hi, my name is Janneke Luursema, I’m an Amsterdam based photographer, mother of three, and plant enthusiast. You can see my work on www.botanicstilllife.com.

I started photography after working a few years as an editor at a publishing house after getting my master’s degree in psychology. After which I realized studying psychology is one thing, but working as a psychologist requires totally different capabilities. Which I had not. So. At one point, I asked myself what I really wanted to do with my life (I did not have kids back then). What was my passion? I love to explore, I love to learn new things, and I decided to go back to school again. Photography. Turned out it was a good choice, I really love to take pictures, everyday since then. It helps me relax and fuels my battery. It keeps me sane.

Read More…

Gifts For Baby/Kid

Gifts For Baby/Kid | Sycamore

 

Christmas is so much more fun when there are little ones around, right?

From left to right, top to bottom.

  1. Super-soft, organic cotton pilot hat for the newborn or little aviator in your life.
  2. Jeanne the duck is the perfect nap-time companion.
  3. A baby poster that doesn’t look too much like a baby poster. :)
  4. This radish necklace is made from soft, baby alpaca wool. Plus, it’s super cute.
  5. A pair of grinning alligator temporary tattoos for the cool kid.
  6. Fun Fact: Spinning tops are the oldest known toy.
  7. Not only are these booties the cutest, the cloth bags they come in turn into adorable hand puppets.
  8. For walking dolly, of course.
  9. A wonderful wall hanging printed on heavy linen.
  10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a children’s classic.
  11. This rattan play chair is just their size.
  12. A beloved children’s travel series.

 

Gifts For Her

Gifts For Her | Sycamore

Holiday gifts for your sister, your mother, your bestie, yourself… Dunzo!

From left to right, top to bottom.

  1. This fruity fragrance begins with a black pepper note enhanced by bergamot and black currant.
  2. Love these minimal hoop earrings.
  3. How fun are these fringe mittens?!
  4. This marbled notebook will look gorgeous on her desk.
  5. A simple moon hair brooch.
  6. This starry-night navy nail polish is the perfect shade for winter.
  7. These stoneware tumblers are simple, distinct looking, and durable.
  8. A handsome whale for the paper lover.
  9. A vegetarian cookbook that is sure to become a staple in her kitchen.
  10. If you’re lucky, she’ll share the pesto she makes with this marble mortar and pestle.
  11. This soap is almost better than Horchata itself. Almost.
  12. Black leather Chelsea boots are a timeless choice.

 

Gifts For Him

Gifts For Him | Sycamore

Finding gifts for the men in your life can be tricky, right? We’ve got a cheat sheet right here…

From left to right, top to bottom.

  1. This pencil set contains four individual pencils crafted out of four rare woods.
  2. Chopper mitts for the outdoorsman.
  3. These notebooks are perfect for a guy who likes to take notes on the fly.
  4. Because we’ve all fallen into a cooking rut before.
  5. As a general rule, bears are a crowd favorite. 😉
  6. He’ll learn how to chop, stack, and dry wood the Scandinavian way.
  7. An iPhone case and a pocket square in one by none other than Jimmy Fallon.
  8. So he never loses his keys again.
  9. He’ll enjoy looking at this collection of photographs of mid-century interiors.
  10. An insulated bottle that will keep his drink hot or cold for 24 hours.
  11. The Hinterland Soy Wax Candle has a mix of pine, spruce, oak moss, and cedar — with a hint of last night’s campfire.
  12. Leather sneakers in concrete that are understatedly cool.

 

6 DIY Projects We Want To Try

Happy Thanksgiving! Between the turkey and pumpkin pie, here are some DIY projects we want to try over the holiday weekend.

6 DIY Projects We Want To Try | Sycamore

DIY Marble and Granite Tassel Necklace by Fall For DIY

6 DIY Projects We Want To Try | Sycamore

DIY Giant Macramé Rope Lights Tutorial by Vintage Revivals

6 DIY Projects We Want To Try | Sycamore

DIY Moon Phase Wall Mobile by The Merry Thought

6 DIY Projects We Want To Try | Sycamore

DIY Mini Mountain Photo Holders by Sugar & Cloth

6 DIY Projects We Want To Try | Sycamore

DIY Block Printed Napkins by Almost Makes Perfect

6 DIY Projects We Want To Try | Sycamore

DIY Hanging Clay Planters by Paper & Stitch (featuring our Indigo Spots Gift Wrap!)

You might also like: Minimal Bohemian DIYGift Wrap Series: DIY Macrame, & Gift Wrap Series: DIY Gold Dipped Tag.

New Curated Goods

You guys!!! We officially launched curated goods in our online shop! Kirk and I have been dreaming about having a shop of curated goods for years… It’s a HUGE step and risk for us, but we are so excited and love it and we think you will, too. Please go check out the shop and let us know what you think!

New Curated Goods | Sycamore

New Curated Goods | Sycamore

New Curated Goods | Sycamore

New Curated Goods | Sycamore

We have gifts for babies, kids, mothers, fathers, sisters, friends — hopefully pretty much everyone on your list, to make it easy on you. :) I hand picked every single item, and every one is either something I have already or would LOVE to have. Thanks so much to everyone for your support over the years and helping us make this dream come alive!

Click here to see the online shop. Thanks again!  – Eva

Photography: Chaunté Vaughn, Styling: Meta Coleman

Sycamore Q&A: Kaity Farrell, Maker | Massachusetts, USA

Everything we do at Sycamore Street Press is with the goal of living a simple, beautiful & creative life, and in helping others do the same. There are so many people who have inspired us on this path, and we’d love to learn more from them! So we decided to start an interview series on the topic. Today we’ll hear from Kaity Farrell, founder of Fare Isle, a sustainable small business that focuses on farm to table pantry items, botanical skin care and wellness products all made by hand on her organic gardens 30 miles out at sea on the island of Nantucket.

Sycamore Q&A: Kaity Farrell, Maker | Massachusetts, USA | Sycamore

Tell us a little about how you started Fare Isle.

I planted this little seed of an idea I had for many years after I gave birth to my son, Iley, four years ago. I knew I wanted to spend most of my time with him, and be happy doing things I truly loved to do. I wanted to make and sell wholesome foods, and did so at our local farmers market. Along the way, I started to include our handmade botanical bath and skincare products in our offerings. Before I started selling my products, my husband and I had been cooking private dinners for years for vacationers on the island in the summer, which we still continue to do and have moved our focus to creating farm-to-table small gatherings for clients. Added to all of that now are my Nantucket landscape/nature photography and flower art prints. I am now wholesaling our products across the country and am so grateful to see people enjoying them in their daily lives. Beyond the business side of things, my other passion is sharing my plant-based recipes on the Fare Isle Blog, and my next (still far off) goal is to write a cookbook of wholesome seasonal recipes.

Read More…

Stationery Business: Tips for Sending Mailers

Stationery Business: Tips for Sending Mailers | Sycamore

As a stationery company, it only makes sense that you should be marketing through the mail. But unlike “direct mail” where you pay for a list that probably doesn’t fit your target demographic, you’ll get your addresses the old fashioned way, through research and hard work.

Timing:

January, May, and August are popular times to send wholesale mailers. These months coincide with the major trade shows* and are times when retailers are ready and wanting to buy. In January, their stock is depleted after the holidays. In May, they might be depleted once again and are looking forward to all the new stationery. In August, they are loading up on orders for the upcoming holidays.

You may also want to consider sending your mailers out at unexpected times of year, which could help you stand out more since stockists will be receiving fewer mailers.

*The gifts shows in January and August and the National Stationery Show in May. Find out the exact dates (they vary from year to year) and send out your mailers a week or two before the show, so that buyers are sure to see it before they go, but not so far in advance that they forget about it.

Stationery Business: Tips for Sending Mailers | Sycamore

Types of Marketing Material to Mail:

Keep reading for more information on the different types of marketing material…

Catalogs & Line Sheets

A digital catalog is fine if that’s all you can afford (and you aren’t working with reps), but if you are able, a printed catalog sent through the mail is a powerful tool. Shop owners and buyers love getting beautiful catalogs showcasing products that would look great on their shelves.

Angela Liguori and Moglea have an example of a beautiful online digital catalog here and here.

Postcard or Other Show Specific Mailer

Traditionally, manufacturers send out postcards to potential buyers to announce upcoming trade shows. As you can imagine, in the stationery industry, we’ve really upped the ante. Try to make your mailer as memorable as possible while remaining within budget.

For example, one year Kristin Ley of Thimblepress had the idea to fill push pop holders with confetti as her National Stationery Show mailer. They were such a hit that all the retailers asked if she was selling them, and now they are one of her best selling items and an iconic part of the industry.

But your mailer doesn’t have to be a completely new genre of stationery. A really fresh, well designed card should do the trick, too. At Sycamore Street Press, we often take one of our brand new greeting card designs and print a custom message/invitation to the show inside. It’s been simple and effective for us.

For more in depth information, you can find our Stationery Biz 200: Wholesale class here.

You might also like: Inventory Resources & TipsTips For Finding Stationery Suppliers & Manufacturers, & Tips For Assembling Stationery.

Due to popular demand, we’re working on a brand new class called Shop Biz 100: Online, Pop-Ups + Bricks and Mortar. To stay in the loop, sign up for our Creative Business newsletter here.

Photos by Jessica Peterson for Sycamore Street Press.

Southern Utah (With Kids, in the Heat of Summer)

Sometimes I get so caught up in my dreams of far off places that I forget what amazing things are on my very doorstep! Utah has such a striking landscape — from the forested mountains, to the red rock deserts, to the bleached white salt flats… Kirk and I have decided that we need to take more advantage of this and share these places with Ingrid and Lars. Whenever we can, we plan out a Saturday adventure to somewhere nearby.

Southern Utah (With Kids, in the Heat of Summer) | Sycamore

We’re also trying to take little weekend trips when we can. This summer, we headed to Southern Utah to explore Canyonlands and more with our family and a visiting friend… Unfortunately, there was a huge heat wave while we were there. That, combined with the fact that we had our two small kids in tow, meant the normal recreational activity of tourists to the area — hiking  — wasn’t really an option. We still had so much fun, though, and I highly recommend a visit if you haven’t already been. Keep reading to see the places we discovered… Read More…

Sycamore Q&A: Tanika Reed, Fiber Artist | New South Wales, Australia

Everything we do at Sycamore Street Press is with the goal of living a simple, beautiful & creative life, and in helping others do the same. There are so many people who have inspired us on this path, and we’d love to learn more from them! So we decided to start an interview series on the topic. Today we’ll hear from Tanika Reed, an Australian fibre artist based in her small home studio on the South Coast, New South Wales.

Sycamore Q&A: Tanika Reed, Fiber Artist | New South Wales, Australia | Sycamore

Tell us a little about how you got started doing fibre art.

I fell in love with knotting early last year when my nan handed me her much-loved vintage macramé books. I have had an inherent desire to make and create from a young age, my creative family has influenced me a lot. I began to knot plant hangers and simple designs because for some reason I believed that’s all you could do with knotting rope and string. I felt unchallenged and grew bored of it pretty quickly, so I began experimenting with other mediums. (I thank God for my husband Ash’s strong support and encouragement as I trialled clay, weaving and abstract painting — spending A LOT of hard earned money on craft supplies…whoops!) Feeling unsatisfied and doubting my crafting ability, I decided to turn back to rope and string on Ash’s advice as he noticed I had picked it up so quickly (and it was also a “cleaner” hobby to have with little kids around!). As I lay in bed one night, I began thinking about my daughter’s love for colouring in between the lines in her colouring books and for some reason I could then imagine transferring the concept into knotting between the lines of rope. The next day I was eager to test out this weird idea and that is where my technique has evolved from. I knot large fibres and then use smaller fibres to knot in between the spaces, adding layers to create texture and a three-dimensional effect as the piece unfolds.
Read More…

Stationery Business: Inventory Resources & Tips

Stationery Business: Inventory Resources & Tips | Sycamore

How are you tracking your product? What is your best selling card? Do you have 60 of this item for a wholesale order? All of that information should be readily available. Set up a notification in your inventory system, if possible, when your inventory diminishes to a set quantity. I.E. Card “X” has 100 left in stock, time to reorder/print. Finding the right system for inventory is difficult, though, as I’ll explain…

Read More…

10 Textile Ideas to Obsess Over

10 Textile Ideas to Obsess Over | Sycamore

I have a dream that one day I’ll wander all over the world collecting beautiful textiles as I go. They’re beautiful, useful, full of history and culture, and easy to transport… and I’m obsessed. The image above is from Vogue Magazine — wouldn’t you die to have that terrace with its whitewashed walls, wooden beams, and of course, alluring textiles? – Eva

Click through to see 9 more creative ideas for textiles… Read More…

Adding Curated Goods to the Shop

Adding Curated Goods to the Shop | Sycamore

The Dream

For many years, Kirk and I dreamed about opening a brick and mortar shop. It would be filled not only with our own creations, but with a carefully curated mix of goods befitting a simple, yet beautiful life. But the dream didn’t come true. There were various reasons — the town we live in isn’t the best fit for a shop we’d want to open, we’ve been focused on growing our stationery brand, starting a family, etc…

But at the end of 2012, I decided it was time to take action. I knew the time wasn’t quite right to open a brick and mortar, but why not expand our online shop to include items made by other makers? We decided to go for it, so in January of 2013, I hopped a flight to New York to attend NYNow, one of the biggest gift trade shows in the country. I spent two entire days walking down every single aisle of the show, gathering catalogs and meeting vendors. I started to make a list of items I’d like to order for the shop.

And then some crazy stuff happened in our life and work — it was kind of like the perfect storm, you know? To be honest, it had been building for awhile, but I didn’t fully realize it until I got back from that trip. I went into survival mode and once again, the shop expansion got put on hold.

Keep reading to see how we are finally going to make this dream come true, along with the items we’ll be carrying… Read More…

Desert Dreaming

Desert Dreaming | Sycamore

Desert Dreaming | Sycamore

Desert Dreaming | Sycamore

Desert Dreaming | Sycamore

Desert Dreaming | Sycamore

Desert Dreaming | Sycamore

Desert Dreaming | Sycamore

Desert Dreaming | Sycamore

Desert Dreaming | Sycamore

Desert Dreaming | Sycamore

1) Anthropologie 2) Kevin Russ 3) Lisa Orgini 4) MessyNessy 5) Sarah Eisenlohr 6) Wilder California 7) Nicole Franzen 8) Nicole Franzen 9) Georgia O’Keeffe and Her Houses 10) Kevin Russ

The desert has always been a part of my life and my inspiration (find an example here). I feel a road trip coming on…

You might also like The Mountains Are Calling, Los Angeles: A Travel Guide, & Tropical Inspiration.

Stay Cool

For me, summer fashion is all about staying cool while still looking stylish. Here are some pieces to help get you started…

Stay Cool | Sycamore

Stay Cool | Sycamore

Stay Cool | Sycamore

Stay Cool | Sycamore

Stay Cool | Sycamore

1) Edith A. Miller 2) Ilana Kohn 3) New Balance 4) Aritzia 5) Clare V.

You might also like Minimal Bohemian Style, Stockholm Street Style, & 60’s Euro Beach Style.

10 Steps to Working Smarter (Not Harder) at Your Small Creative Business

10 Steps to Working Smarter (Not Harder) at Your Small Creative Business | Sycamore

During the first few years of running Sycamore Street Press, I usually worked 6 days a week and anywhere from 12 – 16 hours a day. I loved it, but it was crazy, and I knew it couldn’t last.

Then I had a baby. When she was tiny, I didn’t work very many hours at all, but by the time she was a year old, I was back on a regular schedule. As you can imagine, this new schedule entailed a lot fewer hours at work than the old one, though. Instead of 80 hour work weeks, I was usually working about 50 hours a week, with a good portion of those hours being at night after she was in bed.

The great part about working for yourself is that you have the flexibility to set your own schedule. You can just decide to cut 30 hours out of your weekly schedule, like I did, without having to ask permission. The not so great part about working for yourself is that if you drastically reduce the amount of hours you put into your business, your business could really suffer. And mine did.

As I said, the first few years we were in business, Sycamore Street Press was steadily growing. Then in 2012, the growth stopped. In fact, our revenue actually declined by 11%. With a young family to feed, that scared me.

To be fair, some of that was due to some big changes in our industry (the stationery industry). The overall market had shrunk, but the amount of independent stationery manufacturers (like ourselves) had skyrocketed. However, I also realized that I hadn’t been smart about the way I had transitioned into balancing a baby with my business. I had just cut my hours without being strategic about how I would make up for it. That needed to change.

And it did change. In the first quarter of 2015, we grew 33% from Q1 of 2014. Here’s my story about how we turned it around, with the 10 key steps that have helped us… Read More…

The Mountains Are Calling

During the summer, my family used to take road trips out west to Wyoming and Montana. The close quarters in the car were always worth it once the peaks came into view…but that didn’t mean the bickering between my brothers and I stopped (Sorry, Mom and Dad). These pictures have me dreaming about mountains near and far… – Annie

The Mountains Are Calling | Sycamore

The Mountains Are Calling | Sycamore

The Mountains Are Calling | Sycamore

The Mountains Are Calling | Sycamore

The Mountains Are Calling | Sycamore

The Mountains Are Calling | Sycamore

1) Alex Strohl 2) Pedalhead’71 3) Miss Moss 4) jedsundwall 5) Homecamp 6) Ashley Day

You might also like My Top 5 Mountain Movies, Motherhood & Mountains, & The Midway Ice Castles.

Stationery Business: Tips For Finding Stationery Suppliers & Manufacturers

tips-for-finding-suppliers-manufacturers

When you are first starting your stationery business, finding the right suppliers or manufacturers can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I remember when I first started (almost 8 years ago!) I had no idea whatsoever where to find envelopes, cello bags, paper — any of it! I was fortunate in that I worked at a paper boutique, and the people I worked with pointed out a couple of great suppliers that I use to this day. But I still had to figure out a lot of it on my own.

And we still do! If we’re adding new types of products, or become unhappy with a material or manufacturer we’ve been using, we have to start searching again. But where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Read More…

Stationery Business: Tips for Assembling Stationery

assembling-stationery-v4

As I go over in my online class, Stationery Business 100: Start Strong, assembly is the act of putting your products in packaging. I know it sounds super exciting (right up there with doing your taxes), but if you are thinking about starting a paper goods company, this is some vital information that you will be glad you read!

Click through to read the stationery assembly tips we’ve gathered over our almost 8 years in the business… Read More…