Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Kiva Loan - Reyna Isabel Martinez

It was actually a few days too early for us to make another Kiva loan, but we had a pretty big credit burning a hole in our pocket. Our newest loan is to a crafty entrepreneur in León City, Nicaragua. Good luck, Ms. Martinez!

Here are the Kiva stats:

Name: Reyna Isabel Martinez
Location: León, Nicaragua
Primary Activity: Crafts
Loan Amount: $1000
Repayment Term: 14 months
Loan Use: Buy handicrafts

"Mrs. Reyna Martínez has sold handicrafts for ten years in the Telica municipality of León City. Every day she sells in her community. She does this because she wants to provide sustenance to her daughter who needs her support so much. She now comes to Ceprodel to ask for a loan to buy handicrafts. She will sell them in her community. She needs income to maintain her family." Translated from Spanish by Ginny Kalish, Kiva Volunteer

Please join our Kiva Lending Team

Friday, April 24, 2009

Find us this weekend in Tacoma!

Uncommon Envelope will be participating in Tacoma is for Lovers, a local artist craft fair at Blackwater Cafe on historic St. Helen's Avenue in downtown Tacoma. Come visit us at the table we will be sharing with fellow letterpress artist and friend kc potter de haan!

Read more about the event in the Weekly Volcano.

Monday, April 20, 2009

PROcess: Timeline

A standard part of the design process for me is the development of a timeline for your stationery. Some might call this overly-thorough but having a background in the planning of events I just can't help but think in terms of timeline.

First of all, I think it is important that both you, the client, and me, the designer, are on the same page in terms of expectations. I need to let you know, realistically and based on the design of your stationery, what you should expect for turn-around. And you need to have the opportunity to let me know if you need a rush on certain items, or if the proposed timeline looks good.

Also, we don't expect for you to know what the proper timing is in terms of Save The Date mailing (6-12 months prior to the event), stationery delivery date (depending on whether you are addressing and mailing or you would like UE to calligraphy and mail your invitations), mail date (6-8 weeks prior to rsvp date), and rsvp date (3-6 weeks prior to the event). The timeline actually becomes especially important when you plan on having UE produce event stationery for you such as escort cards, placards, menus, etc. These things are time-sensitive and require final responses from the guests, opportunity for you to establish table and seat assignments, and then deliver that final list to us with enough time for us to produce and ship before the event... I think you are beginning to understand why having a client-approved stationery timeline is so important to us.

We know there is a lot to think about here so rest assured that UE will help alleviate at least this small part of the planning process! It is just another uncommon part of our service that sets Uncommon Envelope apart from other designers.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Etsian: Week of Apr 10 - Apr 16

Monday was a big day for UE on Etsy. Not only did we launch Uncommon Envelope's Facebook page, but our Hello. Collection 4 Card Set was featured on Etsy's front page for the first time! How exciting!

The results: 146 hits to our shop.
Sales: 0

Next step is to figure out why we are not converting visits into sales. In total since we opened our shop in December we have made only 16 sales. Here are some ideas on what we can do:

New photography.
I am in desperate need of new photos for our products - ones that are more compelling and attractive. Ours feel SO stale. I need to work on that. It is on my unofficial to do list and will most likely be bumped up to priority this weekend.

New products.
Again, on my list and in the works. Now that Naomi is almost 4 months old (a big girl!) I am thinking it is going to be a lot easier to bring her to the studio now. She is very active with her toys and pretty independant. I'll just need to figure out how to get her to nap while there!

I think once I am feeling a little more confident in my line I need to start submitting my work to other blogs in hopes for a feature. Maybe I'll do a little promotional giveaway...

Playing the game.
I suppose I could be more diligent about re-listing items everyday and making edits to push us back to the top of the local listings but something about spending the time on that kind of "chasing" feels weird. I need to think about that more - or hire an intern!

I am going to try to get to the photography thing this weekend so maybe I'll have updates by my next Etsian posting. I have been taking a look at other shops' photography style that I like. Here are some ideas - I might come up with some sort of combination of styles...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

G&T: CardObserver

My new favorite blog. By far.

I can't tell you how many times I have seen an incredible business card and kept it for future inspiration. Now I can toss 'em because they are all stored on the web at CardObserver. CO (move over, Cute Overload) gives us daily bits of biz card greatness. You bet your butt I'll be submitting a couple of my own designs - just wait until you see the new cards I designed for Cheryl Griffin, TV producer. They will be completed in a week or two... stay tuned!

In the meantime, a couple of my favorites CO has posted recently to hold you over:

Monday, April 13, 2009

A milestone...

For the first time one of Uncommon Envelope's items was featured on the front page of Etsy! Our HELLO. Collection card set was posted to the treasury at 6:30pm EST today, Monday April 13. Yipee!

Check out an archive of the treasury at Craft Cult.

PROcess: The Consultation Call

Getting off to a late start on my first PROcess post here, but I couldn't think of what to write about. Then I decided to start from the beginning: the consultation call. What should you expect on your first phone call with Uncommon Envelope? Here are some points I am sure to touch on so you are prepared to answer our questions:

Personal Information
I like to get started with the obvious - Your name, your fiance's name, contact information, best way and time to contact you. I will also usually ask how you found Uncommon Envelope. If someone has referred you to UE, let us know so I can thank them properly! Or if you linked through another site, read about us in a magazine feature, or found us in an ad, we need to know how our marketing efforts are working. Even if we forget to ask, let me kn0w how you found UE!

Event Details
The next few question pertain to the event you need stationery for. The location will often give me a starting point for design. So much of the look and feel of your event will come from your location that this often has at least a minor bearing on your final design. The date of your event helps us set a timeline for your work. I will also get a feel for the size of your event, how many guests you are planning on inviting, and how many you are expecting to attend - sometimes two very different numbers! Through these two numbers we will be able to get a rough estimate of how many invitations you will need - a number we need for quoting purposes.

Design & Decor Details
You don't necessarily need to know exactly what your event will look like, but having a vague idea of color preferences and general design style is helpful! We will also discuss whether you have seen stationery suites you like on my site already. As a note, if you have seen stationery by another designer you like I will look at it for reference on style, but it is UE's policy to not copy another designer's work.

Stationery Suite Details & Budget
This is where we get to the nitty gritty of what exactly you need to have included in your stationery suite - Save The Dates, Invitations, Maps, RSVP options, Schedule of Events... we can do anything and will help you determine what you need, including items that you'll need for the event itself!

We also like to get a realistic budget targeted for you. We would hate to make design suggestions you can't afford, or omit ideas you can! You should know before we get started that our order minimum for custom designed invitation suites is $1,500. Starting price points for our upcoming signature invitation line will be lower and based on quantities, making UE designs accessible for almost any budget. Once these designs are ready to be unveiled, we'll post an announcement.

Usually our initial consultation call lasts 30-45 minutes. At the end of it we should have enough of an idea of what you are looking for to put together an initial quote. We always quote before starting to design so that there are no surprises for you and no wasted time and work for us!

If you are looking for stationery for your next event, give us a shout. We'd love to help!

New Marketing Developments

We have had some new developments in a very productive Monday morning!

New Ad

If you haven't already, please go see the new site, Pacific Wedding Guide. We are listed in their Hawaii stationery section now. Thanks, Tara!

Uncommon Envelope Facebook Page

It's official - we are now part of the biggest online networking community in the world. And to celebrate, we are holding our first event ever - an Etsy sale for our new fans! Find us on Facebook, become a fan, and get 25% off your UE Etsy order today only!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Kiva Loan - Jose de los Santos Duarte Colindres

Mmmmm...coffee. We aren't only wind powered here at UE, we are coffee powered! We start every day with a big pot of fresh brewed coffee. Nothing fancy, just decent quality grounds drip brewed with cream and sugar. That is why we are delighted to support this entrepreneur!

Here are the details from his lender page:

Name: Jose de los Santos Duarte Colindres
Location: Danli, Honduras
Primary Activity: Food Market
Loan Requested: $550.00
Repayment Term: 11 months
Loan Use: Purchase pergamino coffee and mantequilla coffee.

"Mr. José de los Santos Duarte Colindres has been harvesting and selling two types of coffee for more than 10 years, and during this time he has acquired much experience and good clients. This way he is moving ahead with his business and is successful in offering well-being to his family.

He is married with a 4 year-old daughter who attends a local kindergarten. With the income from his business he covers the family expenses and his financial obligations. He requests a loan as he needs work capital, to diversify his business, buy more products, and meet his clients' demands and thus increase his earnings."

Translated from Spanish by Lene Struck Christensen, Kiva Volunteer

Please join our Kiva Lending Team

Animated Masthead is LIVE!

The animation of the masthead on our main site has been a project that has been on the back burner for quite a while now. Today I am pleased to announce that it is complete and live! I am in love with it as it perfectly captures the quiet, nature driven tropical feel we have cultivated in our branding efforts. Check it out (and make sure your sound it on!).

Thank you to Joseph at Asmble for the great job he has done on all of our programming.

New Blog Editorial Schedule

This is a very exciting development for us! I am buckling down and committing to this blog. Let me re-phrase – I have always been committed, but time and energy have been scarce with a baby in the house! But here I am, with my new-found accountability via my monthly goal list (read more about this here).

Here are the details of our new blog editorial calendar. Mind you, I am keeping it light to start. Let me ease into the work!


ETSIAN: Here I will post updates on our Etsy shop progress. We are relatively new to Etsy so we are still learning the ins and outs of listing items, getting exposure, and making sales.

GIFTED&TALENTED: I am continually inspired by everything around me - other artists, my environment, non-paper goods, random pics from Flickr or the latest magazine to hit my mailbox. Here I will share what is on my mind and think about how these ideas will translate into my paper products!

PROcess: This is where I will discuss different subjects regarding process - how UE works with clients, printing methods, etc. Hear about all the ways we can help you!


COLOR CODE: The first of every month I will post a color trend palette based on color combinations I am inspired by. Some will be seasonal, some whimsical, and some will just make you scratch your head and wonder "why?"...

KIVA: We typically make one loan a month, so updates with be once monthly. Again, if you want to join our KIVA team, click here.


LINE UP: As new products are designed and produced, we will be sure to let our loyal readers know first!

NON-PROFIT WORK: We are involves in a couple different NP organizations that are near and dear to our hearts. As exciting things happen, we'll keep you posted so you can get involved if you want.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Pacific Wedding Guide

A big congratulations to my friend Tara who has launched what I am sure will be the premier wedding resource guide for weddings around the pacific rim! Pacific Wedding Guide is stylish and informative, which is nothing less than I would expect from Tara - the girl has impeccable taste and is smart as a whip! Make sure you check out her blog, too...

Monday, April 6, 2009


We now have a 3 month old in the house. Naomi is the most precious thing to happen to us, but I admit getting back into work mode is difficult when all I want to do is munch on her chubby little legs and sew cute hats and clothes for her! She has proven quite the distraction.

But, alas, the bank account calls! So, I need to get back to work. I recently started to follow a great blog by fellow northwesterner, Jena Coray, called Modish Biz Tips — a spin-off of her main blog, Modish, covering beautifully designed handmade goods. Modish Biz Tips has been a great source of inspiration in terms of keeping the fire going to run a small craft business, a not always easy feat. But on Friday I found a great post waiting for me in my Reader. Jena offered her followers a way to find some accountablility to kick our butts into gear - a Monthly Goal Meetup!

The idea: on the first Friday of every the month, post business goals to your own blog for that month, then post a comment on MBT with a link to the post. The following first Friday we will all check in and hopefully what we will find is a bunch of crossed off list items and fresh ones to take their place! I love it... This is just what I need.

SO, here it goes, I am committing. My TO DO LIST for APRIL 2009:
  1. Create a blog editorial schedule;
  2. Create an image template for blog posts;
  3. Start going to the studio every Monday to print (starting next week!);
  4. Create an annual product release schedule
  5. Flush out six new wedding suite designs.
OK, I think this is a good start! I am totally psyched up, and I have Jena to thank for it!