Every year in business has been so vastly different than the last. 2014 was a year of exploration -- trying to figure out what the heck running a full-time business was all about. 2015 was the year of the scramble -- big orders piling in, and a lot running around trying to juggle 20 tasks at once, feeling mildly crazy all the time. 2016 has been nothing like either of these.
This year has been a tad slower, or maybe it just feels slower because I know how to better time manage. I've managed to figure out how to produce faster and more efficiently, working with suppliers and my husband to make tedious tasks easier on myself. (My husband recently designed and 3D printed two parts to help packaging look better and go faster - blog post on those coming soon!). I also decided early in the year to focus on what I love and how I want Crafts and Love to stand out from all the other handmade jewelry lines that use gemstones and brass. Because let's face it, everyone knows someone that makes jewelry and I am just one of the many girls my age who has a jewelry business. Sometimes this can feel overwhelming and competitive, but I force myself to remember I have my own voice and need to express that individuality. Cue this mantra I have hanging on my desk: Creativity takes courage. -Henri Matisse.
I deliberately decided not to release two big collections this year, instead I launched one at the beginning of the year and then strategically launched products throughout the year. I took the extra time to focus on the products I currently offer and ask myself how they can be improved. Less popular items were discontinued, and I have been making my way through all the other pieces to update and overhaul the ideas. Whether that means new photos, more gemstone offerings, or new brass triangle styles, I have been taking a hard look at every style I make to insure it is representative of Crafts and Love, and if it isn't, I ask myself why and figure out steps to move forward. This is all part of my hope that Crafts and Love has an individual voice.
This honing process has made me realize that a large reason I love creating jewelry is discovering and using gemstones. For me, designing new pieces starts with a gemstone. I like simplicity, so I try to center every new design on a unique cut of gemstone. My favorite choice this year has been dalmatian jasper -- the black and white spots are mesmerizing, and create such a striking look, while remaining neutral enough to be totally wearable. These pieces have been favorites among customers this year too, and that makes all the deliberation totally worth it!
Kimberly Murray Photography took these (and lots more) gorgeous styled photos for us this year too, and I love the way she captured the beauty of the jasper and gave them so much life.
Progress, not perfection.
This is a mantra I have been repeating to myself a lot over the past few months. When I get too focused on making something exactly perfect the first time, I find myself being paralyzed by action more often than not. I have wanted to redesign my logo for months (if not years), and have shoved it farther and farther down my to-do list, really out of fear it would be too hard. I thought about hiring someone to help a million and one times, but never pulled the trigger.
I wanted to keep my old idea of a logo, but build on it, treating it like a first draft. Specifically, I wanted a better font and an ampersand (instead of previously writing out 'and' in my logo). I feel like after 5 years of business, people understand what my name is (although I do laugh when people say Crafts of Love -- so close, but nope!).
I knew I found the perfect font fit when the 'love' almost exactly replicated the love tattoo I have on my middle finger. My husband and I converted the font into vectors and off we went, moving things, connecting the 'F' and 'L', and basically making a lot of tweaks over an entire Saturday. As two people who have no background in graphic design (although, granted, my husband did spend many hours in college playing with graphic design for clubs instead of working on homework -- go boy!), I'd say we did a mighty fine job!
With anything in small business, progress is key. This re-brand is exactly what I wanted and needed at this time in my business. A big motivator in the whole re-brand era, was my desire to upgrade our packaging, and I didn't want to dive into new packaging without a new logo. I have wanted sturdier packaging that shines, and I went literal with that dream. Introducing, our shiny, sparkly, gold-loving new packaging!
Packing up orders, a task I do over and over nearly every single day, feels so new and fresh with these new materials. My whole mind-set has changed with these upgrades. Instead of trying to pretend packaging wasn't a big deal and boutiques wouldn't care if I had basic packaging, I now get amped thinking of my jewelry, on their pretty cards, or hanging with new letterpress gold-foil necklace tags, in boutiques across the country. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and that silly saying is so true in retail too. I hope you enjoy the upgrades, and get to see them in person soon!