Biz Tip Tuesday | The First Few Years (2012-2014)

Biz Tip Tuesday | The First Few Years (2012-2014)

I am excited you are here. I am thrilled you even want to consider reading the story of Thimblepress®. The next bajillion words are my account of the first few years (2012 - 2014) of my baby, Thimblepress®. It’s not a story that's all about business; It is my personal account, personal words and memories. You may get halfway through reading this and realize this was not your cup of tea, but I wanted to put it out there for anyone to read. Please note, I know that I am not including ALL the details. If I included ALL the details, I would have never finished this post. I want to share my story, the meat of the story. We get so many questions about how we started, how we manufacturer products, how press and public relations work, etc. that we decided to start Biz Tip Tuesday on our blog, The Thread, right here, every single week. Once a week we will be discussing things people want to know more about & subjects in business that are important to us that we feel like we need to share! I hope if anything it encourages you as a business owner and makes you feel less alone on this crazy ride of life!

Ok, here we go...

I have wanted to be an artist my whole life. The earliest photo I have of myself drawing was around the age of 18 months old. In kindergarten I dressed up as an artist for career day; white washed jeans, apron, French beret, artist palette and a paint brush. I love creating things with my hands, putting things together and taking them apart. I went to Mississippi State University and majored in Graphic Design, as I figured that would be a good career for me to be creative, but allow me to make a living for myself. When I graduated college I immediately jumped into the world of advertising and marketing by starting a design firm in Charleston, SC with one of my best friends who was also a designer. We loved it, and when I was living there I signed up for a letterpress and screen printing class at Redux Contemporary Art Center and really fell in love. Once you discover something that you truly love it is hard to go back to everything else in life knowing about it.

I ended up moving back to Jackson, Mississippi in 2010 and maintained half of our design firm in Jackson until I got offered a full time job at Jackson Academy doing marketing and design for them. I honestly was at a place in my life where working for someone else and not working 247 was exactly what I needed. My business partner at the time ended up getting offered a full time job with a non-profit in South Carolina, so it made closing the design firm a little easy for the both of us. Right before I started working at JA I had it in my head, and quite possibly my heart, that I needed to purchase a letterpress. Talk about a God thing, I ended up really turning to Him before I purchased the press as I did not want to start something again and it not be what I was supposed to do. A letterpress is an investment and not to mention a huge piece of equipment. Well not two days later, I found a 1925 Chandler + Price letterpress in Lexington, KY. It was in perfect working condition and she was asking $800...I could not believe my eyes or my laptop screen. I knew then, God had ordained that. No question. It was hard enough to find a good press, but not only did I get the press, she gave me all of her inks, tools, and a ton of sample paper. That trip to Kentucky is for sure one that I will never forget. My sweet friend, Katy Braden Robertson, rode with me, my dads truck, and a trailer there to pick it up. Upon return to Jackson, I basically stared at it for 4 months until I could work up the courage to learn this new to me press I had invested in. I started work for Jackson Academy in June 2011. It was so much fun, I would go to work from 8-4, and then come home and draw. From June of 2011-December of that year I had no real plans to open a business making stationery or letterpress goods. Heck, all I wanted to do was make stuff, paint, draw, build... get my hands dirty. I can not believe I failed to mention my sidekick Willow... she is totally my heart. In all of this and before the letterpress came Willow, my sweet golden doodle child. She came into my life on December 24, 2010 and has been at my side through it all since. She is such a trooper, especially when I have to pull late nights at the studio printing on the press.

Ok, back to the story... Back in 2006 when I was a student at Mississippi State University I created art prints for the Student Association to sell to raise money for The Junction. And boy did they sell a lot of them...Well, when I started thinking about making stuff I decided to reprint these art prints and sell them to make a little capital. I ended up making a greeting card set of them as well. My roommate at the time, who also made art prints, and I decided to do a holiday show at our house. By the way, her name is Kate Whitley, and you should totally check out her work it is great! We thought we could show off the letterpress (that at this point I did not know how to use) and sell some of our work. For fun I had created a collection of drawings based around my love of It's A Small Small World and made some art prints and cards and of course I had the MSU collection. The show was great and we had a lot of friends come out to see my letterpress demo. Looking back on that now I am horrified as it was truly the first time I had really run the press and I was a total flub... but those are the memories I hold dear. I ended up getting a lot of great feedback from the show and people started wanting to purchase the MSU collection online, so in January 2012 I got a Tax ID and formed Kristen Ley LLC. Having had a business before this one really helped in the business formation aspect of things. I opened my Etsy shop January 18, 2012 and a whole new world was opened up to me. I had to learn how to take product photos, ship, etc. Reminder, this was all while maintaining my full time position at Jackson Academy. I would go to work and come home at four and that is when I would start Thimblepress until about midnight every day. I was not necessarily shipping orders, maybe two a week at first, but that was enough excitement for me to make me want to make more stuff. It is such a high having an online shop or Etsy. It's that feeling of, "People want to buy my art and hang it on their walls? What? That's crazy cool!" Within the first few months of 2012 I dug in deep with my knowledge of my letterpress and really got going creating and printing.

Stray at Home 2012 Stray at Home 2012

In May 2012 I did my first craft show, Stray at Home, with a small number of products and it was a success. By August of 2012 I had come out with an Oxford, Mississippi Collection, Jackson, Mississippi Collection, 10 Small World Collection art prints and greeting card boxed sets, original pattern pillows, original pattern dopp kip fabric bags, 7 notepad designs, screen printed pullovers, screen printed and hand sewn circle scarves, tea towels, screen printed tanks, letterpress coasters, ceramic coasters, letterpress gift tags, letterpress greeting cards & stationery, and I was seven states in to my State Flower Collection. I was on a serious roll and nothing could stop me. It was work at JA then all Thimblepress, and the best thing about it was that I loved every minute of it. As August of 2012 was coming to an end I did my first local craft show and also applied for Renegade Chicago (like the mamma jamma of craft shows, that quite frankly I did not think I would get into). The local craft show was at the Mississippi Trade Mart and it was such a whirlwind. I had to get a banner with my logo made, get some nicer table cloths, and make sure my square card reader was running correctly. Working shows was such a rush. I love meeting people and talking to them, so a show environment was like my candy-land. I still remember the day I got the email in my inbox stating I had been accepted to Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012!!! I remember jumping for joy and doing my happy dance (one that should never be shown to anyone). That show was such a big step for Thimblepress. I was using every sick day and vacation day I could to attend this show and the holiday shows I later attended. JA was so supportive of my efforts, which was the best part about it. My co-workers had become my focus group for new product ideas, and they always knew I would bring them new work or samples. They will always be a big part of me and Thimblepress; such amazing friends and co-workers. I decided to make the drive to Chicago for Renegade versus flying because I had so much product.

Renegade Chicago 2012 Renegade Chicago 2012

My friend Mary Kathryn Sharpe went with me and I totally went all professional and even was able to pay her way for the trip. I told my friends if they would

Mary Kathryn helping me at Renegade Chicago 2012 Mary Kathryn helping me at Renegade Chicago 2012

help and come with me to shows that I would pay their room & board and food during the trip. Renegade was a huge success and I was living on cloud nine!! The coolest things about Renegade was meeting and shopping all these other handmade vendors and the show! When I returned back from Chicago I immediately went and signed up for FOUR holiday shows. Crazy? Maybe, but I had a drive in me like I had never had before in my life. I was so incredibly fired up about what I was doing and I then knew, this is what I was destined to do all this time. God was opening door after door. I was getting nods from local magazines, newspapers, and even some national blogs. December 2012, I was in Nashville, TN, Colombia, SC, Austin, Texas, and Atlanta, GA all for shows. It was majorly exhausting and I told myself I could not do that many shows within a month again, but it really helped get the word out about the brand and our products. Etsy sells were growing and a lot of the sales were from cities where I had exhibited. Coming home each time got tricky.

My garage studio in jackson, oh, and Willow! My garage studio in jackson, oh, and Willow!

As Thimblepress was growing, my personal space in my house was shrinking. I was operating and creating out of one half of a garage for my letterpress and my bedroom. My night stand quickly became a stack of uline boxes and my perfume tray was replaced with my paint palette, brushes and other art supplies. Thimblepress was growing and the ONLY explanation for it was God. Yes, I was working very hard, but I swear He was shooting down beams of energy or something! He kept me going, and being in prayer with him the whole way made it clear this is what He had in mind for me. In November of 2012 I was contacted by a girl I met in Chicago who worked for the Chicago Gift Market. She was wanting me to participate in the Gift Market that would take place in January 2013. Chicago + January = cold. She informed me that she had an emerging artist section that she wanted me to participate in. The booth was only 5 feet wide by 3 feet deep. Super small, but I was okay with that since I would have to bring furniture and other items for set up from Mississippi. I told her I needed some time to think, but after praying about it I really thought it could be fun and flights to Chicago during the dead of winter were really affordable. This was a whole new ballgame... THIS WAS WHOLESALE. So what I was currently doing was selling directly to the customer. Wholesale meant that I would be selling my products at a discounted price to store owners to then resale to customers. WHOA!!! I had to hit the ground running on a catalog and basically learned what I could about the world of wholesale in one month. Luckily my graphic design skills really came in handy when I had to design the catalog. I worked on that catalog every day after work for two weeks straight. I never thought I would be done with it. I used the money I made from the holiday shows to pay for the printing of the catalog.

Three weeks before the show I got a call from the girl I had been dealing with on the Chicago Gift Market details. She called to inform me that the South African Consulate had backed out of their space and they were going to move the emerging artists to that section and bump us up to a 10 x 12 space for free. Hello GOD!!! WHAT!! AMAZING! I ended up calling the girl who I met when I rented her place via Air-B-N-B for Chicago Renegade the year before. At the time, and actually just up until June 2015, ran a company with her friend Linsey in Chicago called INDO. They specialized in space and instillation design for retail stores and different environments... Hello God again. I hired them for a "special friend rate" to create the look of my booth and install it for me since I was not local. I had a very strong vision for it and I knew I wanted palette wood on the back. Luckily we found out that we had a hard wall backing so we could actually hammer wood up on it. They went over and above. INDO sourced a palette yard and had the palettes cut down. Once they had the individual pieces, they stained them 5 different shades of stain to give the wood dimension, and then painted my logo on a three piece board. They brought in vintage elements like a desk, lamp, wild boar head rug, spools, and I shipped a vintage ladder I found there. It was perfect; just what I wanted. Granted it took us a day to hammer in all that wood, but it was the homey, warm and inviting look I wanted. My sweet friend Constance Payne was in a job transition at the time and kindly offered to fly to Chicago to help me with my booth. She was such a pro from hammering in nails to selling the product.

Our booth at the Chicago Gift Market in January 2013 designed by INDO. Our booth at the Chicago Gift Market in January 2013 designed by INDO.

Always look and ask for help from friends. They want to see you do well. My friends have played an integral part in the success of Thimblepress. That show was a huge learning experience for me, from how to talk to retailers, how to take orders and give ship times, and basically how to do a trade show. I like to call that experience as me "dipping my toes into the wholesale pool." The Chicago Gift Market had a lot of high points though, so it is sad it no longer exists. We were picked up by Paper Source at that show, won best booth design (credit to INDO), and discovered by Daniel Richards Rep Group, who I later signed with as my rep group East of the Mississippi in April of 2013. Landing Paper Source (AGAIN, GOD!) was a huge moment for me. We celebrated with a big, fat Chicago style pizza. We also celebrated the fact that I just did my first wholesale show and came out alive! The great thing about being present at shows like this even if you do not write a million orders is that you there, showing off your brand and your products, getting your name out there, interacting with retailers and students that may have questions. I know some people say they only give time to talk to retailers and not design students that come to the show, but y'all, what comes around goes around, and you never know how far kindness can go. Also, I was totally in their shoes at many points in my life, and had great people give me the time of day and I will never forget them. Just like I will never forget my first two wholesale accounts: Caddywampus on Macinac Island in Michigan and Foursided in Chicago. I literally tear up every time I see them at shows now. ha ha. I left that show with a good amount of orders and a ton of new leads.

When I returned to Jackson from the show, it was evident that working two jobs was wearing on me mentally and physically. I began a small prayer chain between my mom, my aunt and uncle that God put me where He wanted me to be. If He wanted me to be at JA full time, then I would swallow the hard pill and end Thimblepress. If He wanted me to pursue Thimblepress, then I would quit JA. It became very clear after the Chicago Gift Market that I needed to pursue Thimblepress full time. The press on Thimblepress kicked-up and orders were flowing in like crazy. In February, I took a major leap of faith and signed up for the National Stationery Show in NYC. Yes, I signed up the February before. I know, I am nuts, but out of this is where Push-Pop Confetti™ was born. There were a few major hurdles to overcome, one being our booth number for NSS was changed a month before we were to be there exhibiting by the NSS offices. That meant, all the show invitations I letterpressed had to be chunked, redesigned and then reprinted. It ended up being a blessing in disguise as we were moved to a much better area of the show. They also gave us 20 more feet for free. From February - April 2013 I lived, breathed, and slept Thimblepress after 4:00 PM each day. I got my friend Neil Polen to help build wooden show walls for our booth, complete with shelves and ledges for product.

Neil and Dani helping build the walls for our booth at the 2013 National Stationery Show! Neil and Dani helping build the walls for our booth at the 2013 National Stationery Show!

The walls were beautiful! It was finally when Lesley Frascogna of Tulip floral approached me about sharing a space with her that I realized this was going to end up being my full time gig. I had never met Lesley before, but we were featured in PORTICO Jackson Magazine at the same time. She was given my name by a friend and wanted me to share a studio space downtown. Rewind with me to 2010 really quick. I was driving downtown one day and noticed a strip of colorful, vacant buildings. They were beautiful store fronts that just beckoned for life and love. They always stuck in my mind. I wanted someone to host an event or a pop-up shop in them to showcase the space. Fast-forward with me to 2013, my jaw on the floor when I follow Lesley to the space and realize these were the spaces I had looked at just two years before. I walked through the space that would eventually become her studio with my eyes as big as silver dollars. This was the space she wanted to share with me. I looked at her with a big smile and said, "Lesley, do you know how much junk I have? There is no way it is all fitting in here!" She laughed and proceeded to tell me about the space next door that was also available for rent. We got the key to the space and walked next door.

Our space right after we moved in April of 2013! Our space right after we moved in April of 2013!

THIS WAS THE SPACE I stared at through the windows in 2010.. this was it. My head was spinning from that, but also from the life-size, stuffed grizzly bear that was standing in the front of the space. As we walked back, deer heads were lining the halls, and it looked like a graveyard where office furniture and 1990-era computers went to die. This space had been vacant for over 6 years and was a total wreck. I mean WRECK. The junk was stacked up to the ceiling in each room and it all just needed some major love. Being a creative soul, I saw the vision for this space and how great it could be.

My head was spinning.. JA...Thimblepress...JA...Thimblepress. There came point at JA where my boss had left, and it would have been an easy transition for me to take his job or share his job with my co-worker Michelle Mills (who I just adore!). I went and met with each administration head and the president of JA letting them know that I was willing and able to be promoted if they so wished it, and that I would really enjoy it. I felt it only fair in all the praying I was doing about what to do that I at least position myself to stay at JA if that was God's will. After talking to my mom, who is such a rock for me, we decided that if JA promoted me that would be the answer I needed from God. Well, JA did not promote me in the end, and it became clear to me and my mom where GOD wanted me to be. I always say sometimes God has to slam doors and blow doors open. He has definitely blown doors open for Thimblepress, but I never wanted to say He slammed the door on JA. Jackson Academy's staff and administration are some of my best supporters and friends. God totally knew I needed to be there when I was there for those two years. He knew I needed a support system in my day-to-day, a Christian support system, and boy did He provide one. I will never forget the days I spent there or the friendships that were started. I love that family. So with the decision in my head about where this was going, I (deep breath) signed a three year lease for the space that I had been loving since 2010. I could not wait to get to work on it. BUT WAIT, I was going to the National Stationery Show in May. At this same time, my sweet roommate Kate got engaged to the love of her life, Dave, and were planning to move to Nashville later in the summer so I knew I needed to find somewhere else to live.

The month of April 2013 was one of the craziest months of my life. Not only did I have my full time job at JA, but I was moving into a new house with friends, moving my studio and presses into the downtown Jackson space, attending Double Decker in Oxford, MS for the fist time, and preparing for my first year at the National Stationery Show.

My sister, Jennifer, helping me at my first Double Decker in 2013! My sister, Jennifer, helping me at my first Double Decker in 2013!

Maybe I work great under pressure because it all got done. I moved in to both locations and began finalizing the booth build in the front part of the shop. I quickly realized that I was about to have myself a little workshop in the front. Luckily, my dad had given me a nail Gun and an air compressor for Christmas the previous year, I already had a drill and a miter saw, so all I needed was a table saw and a Sawzee. Sawdust and Ink were basically my scents for the months of April - September 2013. Double Decker is an art show that takes place in Oxford, MS (home of Ole Miss) every April. It was a great show for us, and I had my sweet sister, Jennifer, help me work that show and my sister, Michelle, run errands like getting clothes pins for me to hang prints. I love Mississippi shows. The travel is close and usually I can stay with someone I know. Prepping for my first National Stationery Show was a whirlwind, but luckily I signed up for the Tradeshow Bootcamp webinar series where I learned about the wholesale industry for paper products, booth shipping logistics (we shipped a huge palette our first year...HUGE), catalog do's and don'ts, invoicing, payment, buying, you name it we learned it. In the process of the booth build I met Dani Griffin (who acted as our Director of Operations and Head of Accounts from July 2013 - April 2015). Dani was dating Neil, who was helping build the booth, at the time. (They are now married and the cutest couple ever). Dani selflessly gave of her time, evening after evening, coming up to the studio to help work on the show booth. Our friendship quickly grew when I realized she was just as quirky and weird (in the best way) as me.

In the business I had with my friend in Charleston, what I failed to mention was that we had a third business partner for the first six months of that business. She ended up kind of burning us, so my trust levels with allowing people (other than Catherine, my former business partner) to work with me were not that high. It is so beautiful how God works though everything because as I looped the crate with cellophane for the last time before the truck came to pick up all the stuff for NSS I looked at Dani and joked with her that I may need her help when I get back. God knew that allowing me to get to know her in a non-threatening environment would allow me to let my guard down and trust again. Fast forward just a few weeks after my first National Stationery Show. I was sitting in a cab headed to JFK in NYC to fly back to Mississippi and I call Dani. I asked her if she thought she could help me, and she said that she had just literally said a prayer that I may need help as she had just lost her job with a non-profit that lost funding and could not afford to keep her on. And so the adventures of Dani and Kristen started (cue cute, bubbly, Jack Black in "The Holiday" movie store scooodle-oo-de-o music). The National Stationery Show for my first year was incredible but such back-breaking work. I went by myself, which I later learned was insane, but I couldn't afford to pay for anyone else. I have never been that sore or tired in my life. I was so lucky in that I had a friend who had an apartment I could stay in so that I did not have to pay for a hotel. That definitely helped with expenses. I also went to Trader Joe's and bought groceries and cooked meals every evening minus one night when I went to eat with the sweet and so helpful booth neighbors, Paper Freckles. When I arrived at the Javits for the first time you would of thought I was a child who lost their mother in a department store. I stopped so many people and asked so many questions. They were probably ready for me to be gone at the end of the week!

Walking into my first booth at the National Stationery Show 2013 Walking into my first booth at the National Stationery Show 2013

I remember walking up to my booth space and seeing that giant palette wrapped in yellow cello sitting in my booth. It was a mix of emotions to say the least. I was so happy and excited that it had made it all the way from Mississippi, but I am sure I gave it several death stares as I realized I had to set this thing up all by myself. I was at the Javits from sun up to midnight both Friday and Saturday evenings setting up. Those walls were so heavy, but I had awesome booth neighbors with awesome strong husbands and boyfriends who came and helped me lift them up so that the electrical cords could be plugged in and so on. After set up, game on. This was my ESPN game day... this was my super bowl (and I used that when I described this show to people outside of the industry). I was in my element, totally. Getting to talk to buyers, students, press about what I do and what I love was just golden. The show itself was such a whirlwind. I went into this show so quickly that the only contest I signed up for was the best new product. I couldn't afford to sign up for the Louie awards, and honestly I signed up so late that I really didn't know much about them until when I entered in 2014.

My booth at the 2013 National Stationery Show My booth at the 2013 National Stationery Show

To my utter surprise, literally I say that in all seriousness, I was talking with a girl in my booth and not facing the aisle when she mentioned to me that a swarm of people had gathered at my booth, like lots of people. For a split second I thought they were coming to tell me something about my booth that I had done wrong or to ask for a fireproofing certificate for our plywood (which I did not have as you didn't need one for plywood, but my head was spinning so I didn't know). I turned around and was greeted by the whole NSS team, flashing lights, and a glass circle award. I had just won the 'Best New Product' award for my USA State Flower Collection Map. I was floored. I did that thing where you feel like you are having an out of body experience so you kind of mumble words that make total sense to you, but definitely not to anyone else. I was so honored, and I am still honored. Wow. This was also the show that launched a thousand Push-Pop Confetti™ poppers. I had developed a mailer to send out to retailers, potential retailers, press, and even random places like Facebook (just seemed like a good place for it to go? Reach for the Zuckerburg, right?). Coming from the world of branding and marketing, I knew how much of an impact a really kick-ass invitation could make. I wanted the mailer to be more than a piece of paper. there is nothing wrong with a piece of paper, but I wanted it to be different. I wanted it to be an experience. Since I was a child, I have loved party supplies! The inspiration from the original Push-Pop Confetti™ came from my love of the nostalgic ice cream treat we all remember from childhood and of course, parties and celebrations. I have always loved celebrations and parties, so when it came down for me to announce my first showing at the National Stationery Show in 2013, I wanted to come out with a bang… literally. I wanted the invitations to be a "party in a box" as I say. I filled the box with a custom balloon I had made, a letterpress card, a custom party hat, and a Push-Pop Confetti™. I knew I wanted there to be confetti in the box, and I knew I wanted it to be more than just a bag of it. I wanted it to be memorable and fly in the air! When coming up with the idea, I originally tried to engineer my own out of a toilet paper roll and a wooden dowel. Needless to say, there is a reason why I am not an engineer. I wanted the Push-Pop Confetti™ to have that cardboard body like the push-up ice cream we all remember from childhood. I was even going to do a little wax cover over it like the dessert. Once I realized that my toilet paper roll push-pop idea was a bust, I began searching for clear tubes, with no intention of returning back to my original idea. I stumbled across a company in the USA that manufactured their own design of a push-pop container. I read about it and realized that people were only using these for desserts, but I figured, can't you put anything in them? I ordered 100, which seems small now as we are ordering palettes of 6000 at a time every other month now, and I began to experiment. I decided to do a cardboard/chipboard belly wrap around it to give a little kick-back to my original idea of using cardboard like the ice-cream push-up. I letterpress printed each label and still do, although we have some other labels for different variations now like an "All That Glitter's" foil stamped label. When I first started creating them, I cut each piece of confetti by hand. There was no shiny mylar as I could not find sheets to cut down into small pieces. That has all changed, and sparkly-color is the name of the game! We still manufacturer all of our push-pops in our downtown Jackson, MS studio. Each of them has been topped with a sticker to remind you that the container is food safe and can be used again, stuffed with confetti, branded with a label, and sealed to ensure it does not pop in transit (and from curious children's hands). Since then, we have developed the Eco-Friendly Push-Pop Confetti™ which features a corn starch base confetti that dissolves in water and lavender buds for a nice scent, the All That Glitter's Push-Pop Confetti™ which is an all metallic confetti base, and a Gender Reveal Push-Pop Confetti™ which reveals the gender of a baby by using a label to conceal the blue or pink color in the middle and gold confetti on the outside and bottom (when popped the color is revealed). Never in my wildest dreams, as I was standing behind my table at NSS for the first time, originally just giving them away if you placed an order, did I ever think confetti would be such a huge part of my life, but I love it so very much! It brings sheer happiness! NSS 2013 was such an amazing whirlwind and full of so much hard work. Seriously, my feet after the last day had never hurt so bad in my life. I am pretty sure I walked myself to the Uber I called in front of Javits, on my hands. I will never forget that pain!

My flight back to Jackson was great, but I remember just sitting on the plane realizing that I had all these orders to fill and I still had a month left of work at JA. I was in my new space, operating in the back and building furniture and tables by night in the front for the new shop. The whole space had to be painted and given a face lift, and you better believe that I did not have the budget for it, so I rented a floor sander from Home Depot and Neil (Dani's husband) sanded the concrete. I swept the soot behind him and we got the front shop down to the original concrete in a day. If you have never done that, I highly recommend not doing it. That was the dustiest day of my entire life. It was like a never ending dust bowl and I swear I am still cleaning up after it. BUT we got it done.

The store counter I built and stained with the help of one of my friends, Crystal Coleman. The store counter I built and stained with the help of one of my friends, Crystal Coleman.

I then proceeded to paint all the walls white with the help of my friend Mary Kathryn Sharpe and re-do the bathrooms. I built my store counter and two tables by using a plan that I modified from Ana White's amazing building blog, and I (after one year of being there) had vinyl signage installed in our windows. I think I waited so long to install the vinyl signage because a part of me was always wondering if this was all a crazy dream and I was going to wake up from soon, and the vinyl (even though it is not) seemed permanent.

The finished front part of our shop in September of 2013 The finished front part of our shop in September of 2013
IMG_5354 Moving the presses into the shop in August 2013

Shortly after National Stationery Show in 2013 I began my summer rounds of shows. I started with Stray at Home in Jackson, Porter Flea in Nashville, Indie Craft Experience in Atlanta, and finishing off the summer shows with Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago. Show's are a lot of work thats for sure, but I love them so very much and the people that put them on are so amazing. I did some personal traveling that summer to West Virginia and California so that was fun to be able to see family and get re-inspired. It is always important no matter how hard you work to take time to recharge and get inspired. It is good for the soul and business. Another huge boost for us was when our State Flower Collection was featured in Better Homes & Gardens in July of 2013. Talk about me being cheesy when I emailed them (sobbing in joy) to tell them what a difference they made; that they personally had a hand in helping our business grow. That July our business, especially the State Flower Collection, exploded and we were seeing orders come in like we had never seen before. I could not believe how many people wanted to hang my art on their wall. I still cannot believe that and I hope I never change. It makes me so happy.

With an increase in orders I was able to create more product like cards, gift tags and notepads and send them to my local printer, Service Printers. I love making new and thoughtful items, so when I have the funds to do so, I am usually going to. I finished the space in the front by the end of September 2013, and before we filled it with inventory I had my amazing photographer friend Beth Morgan work with me on a photoshoot. For a month I sourced supplies and decorations I wanted to style the shoot with including big, like massive, balloons, glitter, metallic fringe, and vintage touches.

A photo of the shoot I snapped on my phone. I was in heaven! It was such a fun shoot! A photo of the shoot I snapped on my phone. I was in heaven! It was such a fun shoot!

I styled a bright photoshoot, used my great grandmother's china that had been passed down to me, and dressed the models in dresses from my personal vintage clothing collection. The shoot turned out perfect and better than I could have even imagined. The photos captured our product in colorful lifestyle images that could now be used to further market our product and in our catalog. The reason we did a lifestyle shoot and a flat product shoot is because sometimes you need to show the customer how the product can be used and how it could look in a fun environment. It helps them envision it for themselves. We wanted to help create environments for our customers. Soon after that the retail section of the shop opened and Dani was beginning to work up at the studio more and more. Each month I was asking her if she wanted to come on one more day a week than she was. Eventually by January 2014 she was full time with Thimblepress.

Opening the shop was a huge accomplishment for me. So many hours went in to building, painting, nailing. At one point I looked at someone on the day it opened and said, "if I do not have to hold a hammer for another year I will be okay with that." I was spent. It wore me out, but I was super proud. Shortly after, I was interviewed in the shop by the Mississippi Development Authority Creative Economy sector for a video about Thimblepress and what we are doing in Mississippi.

getting interviewed for MS Creative Economy getting interviewed for MS Creative Economy

It was a really neat thing to think about being a part of a creative economy. With a show break of one month, October, it flew by as we created, packaged and shipped out products. We had our first booth at Mistletoe Marketplace in the beginning of November 2013. With having only attended Mistletoe Marketplace as a child I knew how packed the shopping could be, but it was so much more. Mistletoe ended up being one of our best retail shows that year, and the crowd was never ending. That is definitely the kind of retail show you want to do as a maker because it goes by so much faster plus I adore talking to everyone at the show and catching up with friends old and new. We are so sad to announce that we will not be participating in it this year; we think they wanted to switch up vendors? We take every hurdle with stride and are going o plan a little local shopping thing at our studio which is right down from the MS Trade Mart around that time. After Mistletoe and the growth we had been experiencing I realized that it was time to bring in some seasonal help, well what I thought to be seasonal help. Christmas lights and the Christmas tree went up at the shop and I bought Thimblepress it's first Christmas present. I purchased Dani a new to us iMac for her to work on. (Remind you, this is November of 2013. It is July 2015 and we now have 7 full time employees and 6 computer stations. INSANE... Maybe some of you do not think that, but I sure do.) Until then, she was operating off my 17 inch laptop from 2004 and I was operating (and still am) my 2006 Mac tower. I will never forget when that computer came in all shiny and I installed it for her. That was a major step I will never forget. It all started to become real. We were thrilled with our new seasonal staff as well, K.K. Kelso and Meredith Brabec joined the team as full time seasonal help at the middle of November and we were relieved to know we would have help through the holiday.

you know, just a typical day in the office with Meredith, KK & Dani you know, just a typical day in the office with Meredith, KK & Dani

From seeing how the summer had been, we predicted a lot more growth and it happened. I honestly could have not been more thankful and thrilled. Many nights I would be on the letterpress just grinning from ear to ear that I was getting to live this dream. Do you know how rare that is? The holiday season began to ramp up and our holiday shows were just around the corner. Before the holiday shows started I wanted to do something up at the shop. I wanted to get more people down here to see not only the shop but downtown. I hosted local artist Ginger Williams-Cook at the shop for an ornament painting workshop. Much to my surprise we had a full house and the workshop could not have turned out better!

Ginger Williams-Cook Workshop! Ginger Williams-Cook Workshop!

We really want to do more of those and get more people in the community coming to the shop, but before that we need more space to grow. The holiday show set was up and not only did I have retail shows that year, but I had a national marketing meeting with Daniel Richards. I participated in Indie Craft Experience Holiday Show in Atlanta, Porter Flea Holiday in Nashville, Stray at Home Holiday in Jackson, and Renegade Holiday Craft Fair Los Angeles. I drove to every show except for the Los Angeles show. I had to fly out there and ship all the product out to where I was staying. Luckily, I was able to save money by staying with my sweet cousin Audrey and her husband Matt. They were so accommodating and Audrey spent the her whole Saturday working the booth with me. The only thing about shows you have to fly to is having to source displays to put your product in. I was able to rent a tent and tables from the show, but had to hit up Ikea and a few thrift stores for displays while I was out there. People always tend to ask me if the shows are big money makers. I will tell you, I have always covered my expenses at shows. Some shows are much bigger money makers than others, but at the end of the day you are getting your product in front of people who may have otherwise not seen it had you sit at home and waited for them to discover you on Etsy or your website. Yes, the shows are a lot of work and consume tons of time, but they are so worth it as it helps you develop a customer base in that area, and you never know what press is going to pick you up. When I was in Los Angeles a girl who worked on set design for several large shows approached me about letting her use my work for art in rooms on several TV shows. Hello! YES! See what I am talking about? Months later our show appeared on the USA show "Playing House" Season 1, Episode 10. We were pretty excited and that may not have happened if we had not attended the LA show! That same week we were out in LA actress Ashley Madekwe posted our Push-Pop Confetti™ on Instagram, Glitter Guide featured our product in a Kate Spade inspired photo shoot, and an article for Libby Story's magazine "Storied" came out in print. We could not believe it! That same December I had my first National Sales Meeting with our reps Daniel Richards Group in Atlanta, Georgia. Once a year they ask you to come to Atlanta and give a short presentation about your next year, new releases, etc. It also provided a great opportunity for us to meet each rep and put a face with a name. Well, of course, I am a talker so I totally loved it, and very much enjoyed getting to know all of our reps more!

Before I knew it, it was New Year's Eve and the clock was striking midnight and we were ringing in 2014. Where had the time gone? At this point, we had just experienced one heck of a holiday season and we did no seem to be slowing down. I ended up asking KK and Meredith to stay on full time in January, and Dani ended up coming on board full time as well. We were four ladies strong and I could not believe it. In January of 2014 I purchased another computer for KK and Meredith to work off of and we got to working planning our our year. I had big ideas. I wanted our blog to really be developed into something, but we started growing our wholesale, retail and custom areas of the business so much that they blog ended up getting kicked to the corner until Bekah Bohlen came on board and completely transformed it. At the end of the day, you do what you have to do, what is on fire, and you to do it 100%. There was no way I was going to try to do it all and have everything suffer at the same time. I realize now, the blog will always be there, and when we finally had time to spend with it, and someone to give it have time we can develop it, it really started to become something wonderful. Shortly after the start of the year, Mississippi Magazine featured us in their large, January-February wedding registry issue. We were thrilled about that, and we continue to be thrilled and so very grateful when anyone wants to write about us! At this point in the year (February 2014), I had to come to the realization that getting a holiday card out just was not going to be possible. I so badly want to be one of those people that is able to get a company holiday card out in time, but we would rather get orders out in time to our retailers and customers in time, so we had to make the hard decision to keep pushing it back. Well, I decided to turn lemons into lemonade. The previous year we had only produced one wholesale catalog for two shows, but since that catalog was developed a year prior a ton of new products had been created and were not featured in the catalog. I decided to design a whole new catalog, package that up with gourmet lolli-pops, hand made caramels, and a letterpress greeting card. Yes, this was a lot more costly then sending a greeting card, but I wanted to show our retailers, press, and anyone who has worked with us that we did care about them and had not forgotten them. I wanted to make a bold statement, and I think doing things like that, i.e. our NSS 2013 invitation, are just engrained in our mission and who we are as a company. I never want to stop taking people by surprise and going beyond the ordinary. We sent over 200 packages out and the response was fantastic. People loved the little pre-Valentine's day sweets and happy, and the response to the new catalog and products was great. During all this time I continued to create new work, painted pieces with gouache and acrylic, ink drawings, and hand lettering.

My painting process

Creating new work is my favorite party of the job. Around early March I begin to plan our products that we wanted launch at NSS. Slowly but surely the closer we get to May, that task became a larger day-to-day item on my to-do list; which I cannot complain about. A lot of the things I create do not leave my office or see the light of day. They get stored in a big portfolio, but most of the "bad ones" get painted over or (ear muffs on, mom) trashed. The time in early March & April was also a chance to take product photos of new work that would be launching at NSS in May, and custom work that we had created. We really do a lot of great custom work, and one of these days we will get it on our website for the world to see. Until then, continue to keep up with us via social media to see tidbits of it from time to time. Around Valentine's of 2014 we partnered with Erin Austen Abbott of Amelia in Oxford. Talk about a super cool business gal, Erin rocks it out at just about anything she sets her mind to. She traveled to Jackson, MS and set up shop inside Thimblepress for a whole day, selling items that she has curated in her Oxford, MS shop. It is always fun to collaborate in some way with other makers, store owners, or creative friends to support one another, but also create a unique niche between the two or three parties involved. When there are lots of creative energies around, you never know what genius you could possibly create. I am a firm believer in getting together with people that you share passion for creativity with and spending time with them, thinking, creating and just being. You may be surprised by what transpires in those get togethers. Two minds are better than one. That's the saying, right?

The spring of 2014 was such a delightful time. We had our first sale with Zulily, which is an amazing company I would like to add. We ended up becoming dear friends with one of their buyers during the experience, and I even got to hang out with her and her family when I went to Seattle for my 30th birthday this past year. Zulily is a huge company, but the people that work there make it feel like you are right at home when working with them. It was our first time to be featured on a large flash site, and they literally held our hand through the whole process of getting Thimblerpess set up on their system. We have since worked with a few other companies on flash sales, but Zulily will always hold a special place in our hearts. Thimblepress was also lucky enough to become a meeting/stopping spot in Jackson, MS for the So Worth Loving Tour. Eryn Eddy owns an amazing company in Atlanta, Georgia called So Worth Loving. Their mission is to spread love and self worth to everyone through a community of stories and also really cool merchandise. Check them out if you have a minute and watch Eryn's great video on the about page of their website: http://shop.soworthloving.com/. Getting to host event's like that is exactly one of the reasons Thimblepress is in downtown Jackson. I am beyond passionate about not only showcasing what our wonderful state of Mississippi has to offer, but also share with my state the beautiful people and artists I have met along the way. We actually now have a feature on our blog now called "Mississippi Monday," which gives us a small platform to feature the awesomeness we have going on in our state. We also had the pleasure of hosting artist, Britt Bass, that April for a showcase of her art. She is so sweet and talented; we were thrilled to show her bright and wonderful art!

April 2014 came quickly as we were so busy producing new product for the National Stationery Show in May. April was a fun month for us. Dani, her now husband Neil, and I went to Oxford, Mississippi to work our booth at Double Decker. Double Decker and it was so much fun, great weather (always with the hint of rain looming in the near distance), and a good chance for us to interact with our customers on face to face level. Shows take a lot of energy, time, and faith in good sales. I really enjoy talking with customers about why they are buying a specific print, card, or one of our gift items. I particularly love when someone comes into our booth so excited because they had been given one of our items as a gift or had purchased it online and had it hanging in their home. Such an honor, truly. It still gives me butterflies that people hang my art on their walls.

Once we returned from Double Decker it was all hands on deck as we worked to finalize our booth for the 2014 National Stationery Show. In the middle of all the NSS planning, I decided that we should open 1 spot for a college intern. It was a new idea, one I was nervous about and also excited. I was nervous because once we put it out there on our website, people actually had to apply. My fear was that no one would apply or want to intern for us. Little to my surprise our inbox was flooded with emails of people wanting to intern with us. We read through all the applications, resumes, and found a handful that we thought to be the top of the top. For us, being an intern at Thimblepress was not just about how one's resume read. It was also about if you could "jive" with our team, our humor, antics, hard work ethic and hard play ethic. We were so smitten with two of the applicants that we decided to take them both on. They were set to start after we returned from the National Stationery Show and we could not wait!

Before we could finalize our booth plans for the National Stationery Show we had to send out our promotional mailer! This was the most fun part of planning for me. We did it really big for our first year with the Push-Pop Confetti™, so I wanted to continue on our "tradition" of a gift item for this year. I thought it would be fun to do a tea towel with a fun little rhyme; a cheeky-play on the New York, New York by one of my favorites, Frank Sinatra.

Spray painting kitchen utensils for our NSS promo Spray painting kitchen utensils for our NSS promo

We spray painted handles of wooden kitchen utensils with neon and metallic gold paint and wrapped both the tea towel and utensil underneath a neon letterpress printed belly band. We sent out over 300 boxes containing our tea towel invitation to over 300 businesses, press, or individuals to promote our booth at NSS.

Stacks of our tea towels for our NSS promo Stacks of our tea towels for our NSS promo

For the 2014 National Stationery Show we decided to build our booth with Manny Stone's foam walls. The year before had been so much work and shipping costs, that foam walls sounded like a dream. We only had to sketch out where the cards and prints were going to go on the wall, not screws, nails, corners, and shelving. It was a change, but one I thought would be worth it. I ended up purchasing some cabinets (which we tried to paint white, not realizing until afterwards we should have sanded it first... peeling nightmare) for the booth, a mint velvet bench for customers to sit on, two clear ghost chairs, an ikea table and a small tiny console table. Besides my extreme airhead moment of painting coated cabinets white and then wondering why they were peeling, they worked great as storage space and counter space for all of our products. I highly recommend lots of storage space in a booth at a trade show to hide snacks, purses, laptops, chargers, catalogs, and any extra stuff you don't really want sitting out. It is important to keep a clean space at a trade show. We had our ikea table clear and always available for buyers to come sit around and chat with us at.

When we arrived at the Javits Center on the first set up day, Dani and I were already wiped out from our delayed upon delayed travels. We ended up getting there almost 12 hours later than we were supposed to due to a weather system, I think. We were so thrilled to see our foam walls all set up, as we thought it would all be easy-peasy from there. Little did we know what awaited us once we removed the cling wrap from our poorly constructed ULINE wooden crate. We carefully opened the ULINE crate and quickly realized it would be interesting trying to put it back together at the end of the show. We were so excited about our neon teal sign that we had custom made for our booth, but our excitement quickly turned to sheer terror (when you are in NSS mode all of our senses are heightened all events are 500 billion times more dramatic) when we realized the glass neon sign had broken in shipping. My heart sunk as I really wanted that to be the showpiece of our booth design. I quickly realized that that we had to work with what we had. I looked up at Dani, who had never traveled in NYC alone in her life, and asked her to take a cab and track down a shopping list of things we needed to fix the things that broke in shipping or were damaged. One of those things on the shopping list was neon paint, which Dani amazingly found. She went and called almost every hardware store in the city and found 1 tiny, tiny container of neon orange paint. I decided to make lemonade out of lemons and paint the neon sign with neon paint. It would be the faux neon sign that almost half of the people visiting our booth that show believed to actually be bright neon light. We also ended up having to repaint our storage shelves in the booth due to the peeling paint craziness. Boy did I learn a lot about paint application that trip or what? The National Stationery Show ended up being a big success for us and even better than the year before. I guess if we had anything bad happen it was just our items shipping and our travel. Other than that it was a great trip. We were so thrilled to win best new product in the “eco-chic” category and see so many wonderful friends old and new. One thing we did that was a little different and fun was bring my “doodle hug” painting cardboard cut out based on my pup Willow. It was so much fun watching people get their “doodle-hug” photo with Willow. We had over 200 people get a photo with Willow! Our giveaway for the show was a cotton canvas tote bag printed in black and neon pink lettering in the same hand-lettered style as the tea towel invitation we sent a few weeks before. The totes were a huge hit and we completely ran out! The last day of the show our crate arrived completely broken in half, and it arrived so late that we were going to miss our flight if we didn't hurry. We weren't quite sure what to do about the crate, but I knew I was ready to be home. After a week of solid working our butts off, the only thing I wanted to do was sleep in my own bed where I had lots of space. The room at the hotel in NYC that we were staying at was BEYOND tiny. We joked the entire week how small it was. I could barely fit my booty in between the TV and the bed. SO SMALL. I don't know how, must have been a miracle of God, but we crammed all of our furniture and product into our broken crate and covered it in industrial saran wrap. I think I wrapped the crate so many times I was dizzy and could barely stand up. Maybe that is what happened, I was dizzy, but as soon as we got our bill of lading and all of our labels stuck on the crate, I loaded Dani, all of our luggage and I into a cab headed for the wrong airport. Yes, you read that correct, the WRONG airport. I was so excited. We were barely going to make our flight, but we would make it. We got to LaGuardia, unloaded our bags and ran to the counter. At the counter is where our crazy day took an even crazier turn. At that moment the airline attendant notified us we were at the wrong airport. Oh snap - shit just hit the stress fan. We run outside to grab another cab to head to JFK. We get about 500 feet outside of the airport and I realize I do not have my iPhone. Oh snap again. What was going on? I quickly realize I can log in to find my phone on my iPad to see where it as left. It shows the dot on LaGuardia Airport. Really? Really? I was in such a state of exhaustion and anger that sweet Dani ran into the airport and up to the counter where we had just been not 10 minutes before. As Dani approaches the counter she begins to hear beeping with people looking around trying to find the beeping. Yep, that beeping was the beeping of my 'find my phone' notification I was hitting on the iPad. Yeah, WRONG place to play a beeping notification. Dani literally ran out of the airport with this huge grin on her face. She told me what happened, but as much as I wanted to burst out in laughter I was so stressed about trying to make our flight over at JFK. We finally arrived at JFK and of course no one was there, like no one. It was like an airport ghost town. I ran to our airline counter and explained to them our situation. You see, flying in and out of Jackson is not like flying to a large city from another large city. There was literally one flight from Charlotte that next day. ONE. The sweet airline attendant notified us that we would not be able to get that flight to Charlotte until early the next morning. She not five seconds after pointed us to the 'hotels and accommodations' booth where a guy was sitting basically twiddling his thumbs in boredom. Well, was he in for a treat with my spitfire attitude I was carrying on my shoulder. Luckily, he didn't have to meet me with an attitude because we had received confirmation of a new flight home. I was loving life at that moment and realizing I could be upset or I could just laugh and embrace the craziness. So embrace I did and we ended up booking a hotel room at, according to the dude working, the only hotel in the area left with a vacancy that was not $400 a night. So I pulled the plastic and got us a sweet room at the Days Inn in Ozark Park, Queens, NY. Oh yes and it did not disappoint. After a 20 minute cab ride we arrived at the Days Inn. The chandelier hanging in the lobby was almost as large as the lobby itself and had neon colors spinning throughout it. My mood was already elevated, but when they let us have the large handicap room, I'm pretty sure my smile went from ear to ear. We got into our deluxe room and I immediately fell on the bed. I soon realized the TV was broken and then found out the shower did not work as I was naked trying to take a shower. That was a laughable moment. Thankfully they relocated us to a new room where we got a good night's rest but not before we took advantage of 2 for 1 ladies night drinks in the Days Inn bar that was directly across from our hotel room. Straight up Miami night club, the all white hotel bar with disco lights served a great burger, fries and a chatty bartender. 4:30 am came quick for our hotel airport shuttle the next day in the pouring rain. That story is one I will never forget. It was annoying that I mixed up our airports, but it led to such an amazing story after. We made it back to Jackson that evening without any crazy events happening in-between.

Once we were back in Jackson, our team worked hard to get our sales rep kits out with all of our new products and catalog. At this time we had our interns hard at work, but we were starting to see that we needed some help in the wholesale arena with Dani. Lucy Tucker Knight joined our team in the summer of 2014 with our wholesale team, followed by Bekah Bohlen joining on as creative events director, and Celine Roces as a wholesale account executive in late fall of 2014. We were growing and we were so excited. We kind of reached a point of growth where having more help with assembly and on our team was so important and crucial. I got to do a lot of traveling to California in the summer of 2014, and I officially decided I would retire in Sonoma, CA one day. It is beyond gorgeous and like no other landscape I have seen down south. I was able to get away and explore San Francisco and Los Angeles in July when my cousin got married. Summers are quickly becoming just as busy as holiday season for us. We travel a lot for shows and get lots of new products out all within such a short window in July of 2014 I also traveled with Meg Sutton of Belle and Union to Atlanta for the Atlanta Gift Market where we are both represented in the Daniel Richards Showroom.

During the late summer of 2014 we were so excited to receive our first large order from Anthropologie for over 6000+ Push-Pop Confetti™ units that would ship out later for the holidays. We all did a happy dance in the studio when that order came in. The Urban Outfitters order followed suit. They picked up one of our cards, and now carry several of our products. For as much as I shop at both of those stores, happy dances were the least celebrating we did. As the summer started to come to a close and our amazing interns Kayla and Edward had to return back to school, I knew just what we needed to do as a last hoorah!!! We hosted a lock-in night up at Thimblepress. Everyone that worked at Thimblepress and our close friend Beth Morgan Cowan (amazing photographer) were invited to participate. We watched the Devil Wears Prada, I taught them how to letterpress and make their own stationery, and literally slept on blow up mattresses at the shop! We had so much fun with our interns, so much that I would share a twin blow up mattress with my 50 lb. goldendoodle, Willow. :)

As August 2014 was nearing a close, we heard from Taylor Sterling, the founder of Glitter Guide, who we had become friends with over the past year via social media, about possibly working together to create a collection of products available with the Glitter Guide and Thimblepress look. We both admired one another’s brands and thought it would be the perfect collaboration to move forward with. I began painting up a storm and working on a lot of fun material to present to the Glitter Guide team. At the same time we found out we were a finalist in the Martha Stewart American Made Awards. In the fall of 2014 I began to see a large increase in our wholesale business, custom work business and just general production. With this growth but limited amount of space, we ended up having to make our retail space smaller (basically in half), and use the other half as our wholesale office. As we were growing, we were also ramping up for the holiday season and all of the shows we were participating in. One of the first things we did was drive up to Oxford, MS with our friend Belle and Union and have a pop up shop outside one of our retailers, Amelia’s. That fall we also participated in two Junior League holiday markets, one in Baton Rouge and the other in our hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. Right around that time, Thimblepress was featured on THE FRONT of the business section of our state paper, The Clarion Ledger, and in Oprah Magazine for Oprah’s Favorite Things! WOWZA! We took up the entire front page of that section and more pages after that. Not only was it amazing, but the newspaper was also dyed pink that week in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month! And Oprah, I can’t even talk about it without tearing up a little. What a blessing to be featured! Needless to say, I was beaming from ear to ear and my mom was receiving more phone calls about it from friends than ever before. My mom works at Jackson Academy and teaches 9th grade physical science and 12th grade conceptual physics (I know, I have no idea where my science smarts disappeared to). I will never forget how many laminated cutouts of the Clarion Ledger paper my mom received that week from friends and co-workers. What a joy to know so many people were cheering Thimblepress on in our own community!

With so much positive love and energy behind me, I really felt like my looming 30th birthday would end up turning out just great. I ended up choosing somewhere I had never visited before and booked my flight. I ended up choosing Seattle and three of my friends came out there with me! Once I returned from Seattle, I was excited to see that a recent collaboration with Little Hip Squeaks (now June and January) was almost through the production phase. I had created some fun hand lettering to be screen printed on pink and blue baby blankets. They were adorable, but only a limited edition was created so I do not think they have any more. After Thanksgiving we were thrilled to be a part of Ban.do’s #girlspopup in their West Hollywood, CA offices. We love those ladies at Ban.do! They are FUN, love color and don’t mind laughing at themselves, so we were frankly beyond honored to be asked to put our products in their pop-up! We had also been contacted by Keds® to partner with them to do a custom Push-Pop Confetti™ to add to their holiday gift boxes they were sending out. We were floored they wanted to work with us… guys, KEDS! KEDS! I mean, I still have a pair of Keds®! What a dream that was and their team we worked with was beyond wonderful and generous. We got a package in the mail one day and they had mailed each Thimblepress team member a pair of the Kate Spade x Keds® glitter shoes for us to keep! WHAT??? Was this my life? So great! I truly do love this industry I am in. I love the people I have met through this industry. It is like one giant family of people making the things they love and sharing them with the world and each other. The great thing about this industry is I have made some of my closest friends in it because they are in the same shoes I am, they understand me, support me, and just pain get me. The holidays were fast approaching for us, we had a lot on our plate and our team was growing but needed to be trained on what to do. We ended up learning a lot the holiday season of 2014. We have a custom “Merry Mississippi Christmas” product that we print on napkins, cards, drink stirrers, and coasters. I decided it would be a great idea to open it up for customization. We had no idea how popular they would end up being, and boy were they! We learned a lot during the holiday season of 2014 when it came to production and fulfillment. We ended up deciding after December 2014 that we would no longer take on any customizations for the Merry Christmas products unless they were state names. That way we would at least be limited to 50 variations vs an almost unlimited amount of options. We had more people packaging napkins, coasters, drink stirrers and cards than ever before. We got it out, but some of the orders were more delayed than we and the stores originally wanted, so we definitely learned a lot and how to manage our production time lines. At the same time as all the custom Christmas craziness, we were prepping to launch our new line that we had been working on with The Glitter Guide and I decided to attend The Little Craft Show in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The show was so much fun, and I loved selling our goods to old customers and meeting new customers. Fayetteville is a great place and I highly recommend it if you have not been. Once I returned from Fayetteville I put my head to the ground to try and finish up everything with our Glitter Guide collaboration as we were wanting to launch ASAP. We had spent thousands upon thousands of dollars producing this collection of over 27 different products, so we were definitely eager to get it out before Christmas. Before the official launch we worked with my dear friend and unofficial Thimblepress photographer, Beth Morgan Cowan of Beth Morgan Photography on a dream photoshoot to capture the spirit of the Glitter Guide x Thimblepress collection. We hired two models, had Molly Gee Designs come in and do hair and makeup, and had lots of props and colorful backgrounds. The name of the game was color, color and more color. The photos turned out truly stunning and they are still my favorite photos to date. Unfortunately due to some production issues we ended up launching on December 27. We had a lovely launch party at our shop with pink champagne, rock candy, gum balls, cake, sammies, and popcorn. We had truly transformed our shop into a disco ball, glittery metallic wonderland with pops of neon and other colors! We had worked so hard to develop this collection with The Glitter Guide, and we could not wait to show it off to the world. Just the time it took to paint all the paintings was crazy long, so to see it in a final product form was truly special feeling. At this point with the help of the ladies of The Glitter Guide, we officially birthed a unique and fun collection of items, and it was time to hit the ground running to promote it and start selling it! We officially decided that we would launch the Glitter Guide x Thimblepress collection wholesale at the January NY NOW show in 2015.

Thanks for taking the time to read about years 2012-2014 of the crazy Thimblepress® adventure we are still riding! I can’t wait to share with you at the end of this year what 2015 has brought. So far, it has been our best year yet and we are so thrilled!

I would love to hear the questions you have. What you want to know about Thimblepress? Ask us questions in the comment section below and every BizTip Tuesday we will do our best to answer and discuss more of what you want to learn and hear about!

Lots of Thimble Love, Kristen

 


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