This week, we celebrated our 2 year anniversary of officially launching R&B Printery!
We’ve had highs and we’ve had lows, but through it all we are able to celebrate this wonderful journey together! It’s been a test of patience and of faith, but God continues to provide in ways that we couldn’t have orchestrated on our own, so we begin this new year with grateful hearts.
We thought we’d dedicate some time this month to share a little about what we’ve learned so far and where we see God leading us.
5 Things We Learned the Hard Way...
...and how they are shaping our future.
1. There’s a lot more to work on than just your craft.
It’s easy to get distracted by social media, product photography, inventory management, local market applications and just general business logistics. These can be just as time consuming as the making of the actual product you are selling! The art of letterpress can get lost in all the hustle!
It used to feel like we weren’t being productive because we spent so much time on the “other”. We’ve had to redefine the term productivity to include working towards bigger - and sometimes less tangible - goals.
2. You don’t have to do it alone.
Asking for help is part of the process. We stayed pretty isolated at first and thought we should just be able to figure stuff out. Of course, that only led to frustration when we realized that we couldn’t! It’s important to be plugged in with a community of other makers so that you can learn from each other.
We’ve overcome a lot of hurdles (hello, product photography!) by reaching out to others in our circle who do it well.
And we've recently engaged the help of other paper artists that are farther along in the process of growing their brand and business. We're excited to see how the help and wisdom of other seasoned veterans will help us establish and grow our own business.
We’re now working to expand our brand and wholesale reach.
Maybe we’ll show up on the shelves of an independent gift shop near you! Let us know if you have a favorite shop near you that we should check out and share our cards with!
3. There will be utter failures.
But just because an idea fails, it doesn’t mean YOU are a failure. It’s so difficult to separate yourself from your product when you are the one making it. We've created greeting card designs that we simply loved, but that just didn’t sell. It’s disappointing for sure. But instead of thinking about how bad of a response those had, we try to focus on what is creating a positive response.
But we're getting better!
We’re proud to say that we believe we have found a consistent design aesthetic. We do big and colorful designs that can be used for multiple occasions. We do cute. We do sweet sentiments. Coupled with a line of paper and envelopes - all 100% post consumer recycled content, of course - our designs now capture a consistent look and feel.
Learn more about this card in our Etsy Shop.
We absolutely love it when people’s response to our cards are to immediately think of a person the saying or image reminds them of. When you see a friend or loved one in your mind’s eye when you see our cards, we know we’ve done our job. Then, it becomes your job to actually write a note and share it!
4. Scheduling is critical.
There will be periods of feast and there will be periods of famine. And it seems that there’s no way to plan for when each will occur or how long they will last. Instead, we have adopted a system of “big picture” work to do when the orders aren’t just rolling in.
And we’ve set a list of priorities for when we are overwhelmed. It’s all on a huge dry erase board in the office so we never lose sight of what we are doing.
5. Creating margins is even more critical.
We tend to overschedule!
We have a backup plan for every backup plan. Always feeling the need to work on something sets you up for burn out.
Now, we're trying to say “we already have something scheduled” for when other things try to creep into our schedule. Even if the thing we have scheduled is an afternoon nap or a date night out!
Creating space to simply breathe, enjoy life, experience the world around you and appreciate how far you've come is all just as important as the hard work.
While it’s been a learning process for sure, it’s also been an evolution in terms of finding our voice.
And finally, a special thanks to you!
With your help, we've accomplished much. But, we've still got more work to do. We also keep in mind that the more successful our brand and our cards become, the more we are able to give back to our community in the form of grants and support for literacy programs in and around Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Please feel free to contact us and let us know how we are doing.
See you online, at a local market, or maybe soon in a retail store near you.