Sunday, April 27, 2008

Weekend Work

My paper supplier cut part of my order wrong. Poo. Unfortunately, I didn't discover this until the weekend, and being on my usual timelines I had to work with what I had. Thankfully they were cut a smidge too big (not sure what I would have done if they were cut too small!!) so I have just spent the better part of a morning going back through all the sheets and re-cutting them 1/4 inch on 2 sides. Grrr .....

Here's a few more glimpses into my studio space:

*all images (c) Epiphany Designs 2008*

Thursday, April 17, 2008

See Andra Crave ...

I LOVE the See Jane Work website ... so many incredible ideas for your office decor! Working in a creative industry I find that surrounding myself with beautiful things is of the utmost importance. I honestly feel like I can design better when my surroundings are cohesive, functional, and lovely.

Here's a few things from the See Jane Work site I'm craving right now:

*all images courtest of See Jane Work*

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Honest Truth About Starting a (Invitation) Company

I am constantly surprised at the number of emails I get from women who are interested in starting their own invitation company. I'm surprised, of course, because I can't believe anyone would actually come to me for advice!

I'm not a person to pull any punches (as my mom would say) when giving out info, and I always wind up telling these women similar things. For those of you who are not looking into starting an invitation company but something else, much of what I say is relevent, anyways!:

My personal journey began when I created DIY invites and other paper goods for my own wedding, enjoyed it immensely, and was told by numerous people that I should do it as a living. I opened a studio from my home in the fall of 2006 after significant research into the local and country-wide market and began operations. My company, Epiphany Designs, would now be deemed successful by most, I hardly do any advertising as a majority of my clients come to me through referrals from past clients, and things are going tickety-boo. So yes, it can be done. But (there's always a but!), here are some things to think about:

(1)Do not start a company based solely on feedback you've received from friends and family. Friends, family, coworkers etc. will tend to always say that your invitations/products are beautiful and that you should "do it as a living". My suggestion would be to see if your actual wedding vendors (ie. photographer, caterer etc) see your work and, unprovoked, tell you the same thing. This could also apply to anyone who works around your "product" on a regular basis. Doing so will give you a significantly better take on the actual quality of your work overall, as this advice is coming from people who are surrounded by it all the time. I had a ton of guests, family and friends tell me that my work was great, but I didn't really start paying attention until I had 4 seperate vendors tell me (without my asking) that I should really consider it as a career move.

(2) Research is the most important thing you will do. It does not matter if your styles are fabulous, if your designs are out-of-this-world .. if you cannot find excellent local and web-based vendors of your supplies, there is no way you will be able to sell your goods at fair market value. Or rather, market value at which people will pay for what you are providing ... which brings me to point #3 ...

(3) Invitations/products must be priced appropriately for the market. Often newbie companies wind up charging either too much or too little. The best way to tell is to compare, compare, compare with other companies. You will have a good idea where you stand once you actually begin sales -- if you are swarmed with orders right away, you may be charging too little. If no one is buying from you, you are probably charging too high. Again, prices all depend on your market. Bigger city businesses tend to be able to sell with higher prices, whereas companies in smaller towns tend to have smaller price-points overall since the market itself is generally smaller.

(4) Making invitations full-time is hard work! This applies to almost any "artistic" company. Physically, the bent-over position you need to take for much of your work can wreck havoc on your back and neck, and my right arm is actually beginning to develp tennis elbow from the amount of paper cutting I do! Mentally, it can be frustrating to figure out sizes, your printer, etc. particularily when first starting out. Your need to be better-then-excellent at your timelines as, in the wedding industry atleast, you are dealing with one of the biggest days in a person's life. Mental strain can kick in if you are sick or unable to get to your work for a while, and the stress will really add up unless you are super-organized.

My invitation company is technically part-time, though I operate it as a full-time business (if that makes sense -- most of my clients are surprised to discover that I have a full-time day job). I still manage to do well at my full-time work, which is teaching; I chalk that all up to my Type-A personality and ability to time-manage. I love working both jobs and will continue to do both as long as I am able! Starting my own business has been one of the best and most-fulfilling things I have ever done. It gives me a creative outlet, I get to meet and work with amazing women all the time, and it means so much to play a role in one of the most important moments in a person's life.

That being said, I wouldn't recomend it for everyone. My husband likes to point out that its "stressful, hard work, and takes a toll on your time with your family". (whoops :D). Your invitation company (or ANY company you own, for that matter) will become very much like your baby. You will think about it at night, you will stress about it during the day, you will focus a lot of time and energy into its success.

I know this may come off as a bit of a "downer", but so often I hear about women starting up craft-based businesses without really doing their research. For some reason people tend to think that "that" sort of business is easy to run and begin, and that it doesn't take much to do. How do I know this? Because I thought the same thing! Luckily my cautious nature forced me to explore the idea further so I was not completely blind-sided by a reality check, thank god. It still won't 100% protect you (when I think back to my projected start-up costs vs. the real thing, I'm actually embarrassed at how naive I was), but it will give you a nice buffer.

When it is all said and done, you need to do your research, explore possibilities, opportunities, and potential pitfalls, and then do the scariest thing ... take the first BIG step.


Yes, I am aware that my last post was almost exactly 1 year ago! Due to my day job, the continued operations and development of Epiphany Designs, and the promotion and success of my first blog, I Love Weddings, I decided I was taking on too much. I also realized that what I actually wanted was to find a blog like Divapreneurs, not write it -- I need advice as much as the next gal! However, regular emails from wannabe readers asking me to come back to this newbie blog have made me re-evaluate my decision. Plus I have to admit ... I've always loved the idea of Divapreneurs.

I can't say where this blog will take us for the next while. I am looking into beginning interviews with like-minded female entrepreneurs so that we can effectively pick their brains on various topics. I believe that much of this blog 'til then may simply be my spouting about my own company, thoughts in my head etc.

Like it or not, I am (trying) to be back for good! Won't you join me for the ride?
*image courtesy of and copyrighted by Epiphany Designs 2008*