Thursday, September 15, 2011

A range of cards from start to finish

We recently had a teacher ask for some personalised cards to give out to her pupils and I realised it would be a good idea for a range of cards. The brief I gave myself was six cards that are bright, colourful and cute and would appeal to children.

As I started sketching ideas I thought it could be good to document the progress for the blog. Normally when I work I'm one of those people where the best ideas come at either the last minute or after hours/day/months of pushing through a whole bunch of crap ideas and the frustration that comes with that. I also get obsessed with an idea and have to do it right away, even if there is other things that need doing more urgently. I know if I lose interest I might not be as enthusiastic about it later on. During the 'idea high' it kind of consumes your thoughts like a boy crush, although you might not be prone to giggle about it while sitting on public transport.

We only have one birthday card that could work for a kid, the rest seem to mention goon or other things that kids don't really get (yet). My plan for the cards was to have 6 different animals doing six different birthday things. Once I got sketching I didn't really like any of the animal drawings much. I don't think I could get past the octopus. I figured if I couldn't get it right then everything else would be even harder. You can click on all of the sketches to see them a bit bigger.

I decided to scrap the animals and go with aliens. I think this decision was a mixture of laziness and creativity. Laziness because it is easier to draw an alien than it is to draw an animal and creativity because I could draw whatever I wanted and make it a little odd. Although I didn't go with the animals, I still like the idea of the octopus with all the balloons and the school of fish with the blower things and might go back to them in the future.

I was pretty much settled on the idea of aliens at this point so drew some ideas for different creatures. Although I was sold on this idea this didn't stop me from drawing lots of other things as well. Once you're in that mindset that what you're doing is right it helps to draw other things as you can come up with another idea that works for something completely different. From the birthday ideas at the start I decided I liked the party hat, balloon and present images. Although I liked the idea of the game, it would be a bit more complicated to illustrate and I wanted to keep the cards really simple.

This was the last of my sketching where I was working out which colour things would be and what the aliens would look like. I used the triangle lines to tie them altogether and also have a place to add some other colours.

These are the six drawings I did with the fine liner and then have been scanned onto the computer.  I've become particular about the paper and fineliner I use, I don't like the line to have any fuzziness, the smoother the better. Once they are scanned into Photoshop I take them over to Illustrator to clean them up and get the lines nice and smooth. I usually digitally colour in Photoshop, but for this range I used Illustrator. Once I started colouring them it didn't take too long to finish them all and the first one always takes longer than the last.

This is one the final designs showing the personalised text. The text is a new typeface I made with my own handwriting (super time saver, I had been handwriting everything previously!).

We will list the personalised teacher range on Etsy in the next day or so. The pack will have 30 cards (5 of each design) and we can also put the class name and school year on the back. The cards will also be available individually just with 'Happy Birthday!' and we also plan to offer packs of 6 at the market.

Here are the final six designs with matching envelopes. They are printed on a lovely parchment stock we use for a small range of our cards. It picks up the ink really nice and has a soft texture to it. Which one is your favourite? I think mine is the pink one.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Heidi Date Day

Something Gareth and I have been meaning to do for ages is visit Heidi Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen. We started stocking the gift shop with our cards, so whenever we had an order to send I would suggest driving out there. We even made the mistake of going on a Monday when they were closed. Silly me!

So I made it official by putting it in the googie calendar and every time the day came around something else came up. I think it got bumped about three times! Well today it finally happened, we had an order to drop off (they have Kitty and Melbourne calendars that we have not even put online or blogged about yet!) so we got in the car and 15 minutes later we were in Bulleen. It is a fast drive from Brunswick, once you're on the Eastern Freeway you fly along very fast.

We were excited to try the Cafe Vue for lunch and after sitting down we realised we had not been out for food in a while (pub food doesn't count). I had the lunchbox and Gareth had the burger and the waiter KNEW that was what Gareth would order. He was a smart guy. The tea was fancy pants Simon Johnson and I thought it wouldn't be as good as my favourite Dilmar, but it might have been better, big call!

We spotted this guy in the vegetable garden (he is hard to spot in the photo, look to the top right). I was keen as a mustard plant to have a look at how the vegies looked. They had lots of herbies which are my favourite. Gareth pointed at the curly parsley and said "see that is what real parsley is". No winning him over with the gourmet flat leaf!

I guess we better talk about the art (it isn't all food, gift shops and vegie gardens you know!), we went to Callum Morton (which runs till October 16) and I think the Le Pine Funerals sign out the front was a highlight as we both had a BIG confusion when we came in as to why it was there. Although I think my favourite was the old Gas and Fuel Corporation building with 'help me' from The Fly playing over and over. I had been thinking about Fed Square and what used to be there because it feels like it has always been there. I only shifted in Melbourne in 2002, but I used to row as a teenager so it isn't like I wasn't ever in the city. Even seeing the replica confused me as it just gone from my memory.

If you're planning a lovely date day then I think Heidi is a good idea. It is quick drive, they have fancy food and art + pretty gardens is good for the soul.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


For those of you in or around Bendigo we have some exciting news that is Bendigo related!

Firstly on the 17th of September we will be getting up early and heading over for The Square Market at the Town Hall. We are looking forward to doing our first regional market, going for a bit of a drive and meeting some of the lovely Bendigo locals.

Saturday 17th September

When: 10am - 4pm
Bendigo Town Hall
Hargreaves Street, Bendigo

We also have a new stockist in Bendigo called View Point Gallery. They only just opened last Friday and it looks like they have big arty plans in store for the space.

13 View Point, Bendigo 

We asked Jessica a few questions about the shop:

What do you sell in your shop?
We've recently opened the first stage of View Point Handmade Gallery - the handmade retail section, which stocks all kinds of wonderful handmade goodies. Soon to be followed by a cafe, outdoor stage for acoustic music events and a dedicated gallery space upstairs, we're aiming to create a hub of creativity right in the heart of Bendigo!

What is a great place to go to eat in the area?
We will be soon enough! In the mean time there are some fantastic cafes and restaurants sprinkled through out the CBD; The Old Green Bean, The Good Loaf, T'hooft... The list goes on.

Best thing about running a shop?
I'm torn - I love meeting all of our wonderful customers and stockists.. but I also have a huge soft spot for receiving parcels in the post, so unpacking new stock is always a highlight for me!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Doing an interstate market

In July we participated in Brisbane Finders Keepers, our sixth interstate market. I realised this was the first time everything went smoothly and was really stress free but to get to that point I think I made every mistake possible. From staying in a dive hotel on Hindley Street in Adelaide and getting little sleep due to the party people 6 floors below to sending 10 boxes via Australia Post thinking it was the cheap option only to have all our stock mixed up and spending a stressful 2 hours hidden under the table trying to sort it out once the market started. However I think nothing will trump arriving at the airport after two days of Finders Keepers Sydney to discover I had booked our flights for the night before, a costly mistake that caused a mini meltdown.

This post is long and covers lots of different aspects of doing the market. Different people might have different ways of doing things and I got some advice from seasoned interstaters including Leeloo, Me and Amber and Record Attempts and included tips from them as well. If you have anything you want to add or a question you want to ask please feel free to comment on this post.


This is going to be one of the most important things to get right so make sure you read through the application and get an understanding of what is needed. Organisers are going to be going through a lot of applications so make sure you include everything and make it super easy for them read your application.The Finders Keepers Market has a great resourse with the top ten tips for applying on their website.

Suggestions for getting things right are:

1. Get some good product photos.

2. Know who your target market is (Everybody isn’t your target market, think about who buys the bulk of your product)

3. Know what products you are going to sell.

4. Have an idea on how you will display your products. This might be a diagram or photos of another stall you have made.

5. A good description of you and your product that is clear and easy to read. Get someone to read over it if you’re unsure.

Getting your stuff there

I think this has caused me the biggest stress and it has taken us a few markets to get right. If you plan on driving then it isn’t going to be a problem, but don’t drive because you don’t want the hassle of organising a courier as it isn’t that hard. A drive will be two days you could spend organising things beforehand and sitting drinking cocktails once the market is over.

If you sell small items you can probably get away with getting everything into your suitcase, but don’t go over your limit and not expect to pay for it at the airport. Weigh it beforehand to avoid the $364263266723 a kilo most airlines seem to charge.

If you’re organising a courier get everything ready that you want to take at least a week before the market is on so you have enough time to get it to your location with a day or so to spare in case something goes wrong. If a courier says it takes 2-4 days to arrive, send it 5-6 days beforehand. I like to know it is there before I leave. DO NOT let it arrive the day the market starts; I’ve been next to stalls with no stock because the driver couldn’t find the location of the market.

I like to send things to the place I am staying because you can check in, then get your boxes and get a taxi to the venue. Me and Amber suggest finding an obliging friend in the city of the market and having your stuff sent to them.

When packing your boxes make sure things are in some order and write the content of the box on the outside so it makes it easy to set up.

Angela from Leeloo suggests not using plastic boxes as they break. Removalists often have big boxes for sale that are perfect for loading with products. Pack things securely, couriers aren’t known for their treatment of fragile boxes.

When you get to the market Angela says you can save a lot of time by taking your scissors in your luggage and to label the ‘utilities’ box so that when you start unpacking you can get into the rest of the boxes.

The other important thing is getting your stuff home, obviously there will be less stuff to take, but make sure you have a plan on how you will do this. My suggestion would be to organise a courier to collect it from the place you’re staying. Make sure you organise all of this before you leave. You need to know who you will be using and that the place you’re staying are know what is going on.

Transdirect are a good service that isn’t expensive and you don’t need an account to use them. They do require you print off labels with weight and box dimensions and stick them to the box, so if you are using them to get your stuff home make sure you can access a printer, have a tape measure and scales (or have a good idea of what the weight of a box is).

Places to stay

I usually go to Wotif and have a look for hotels and try and find something within 2km of the venue. If you plan on sending stuff to them give them a call to make sure this is okay before you book, generally they are happy to do this but if it is going to be 6 large boxes you want them to know this beforehand. I also like to look on the website of the place to see if they have any special deals on.

If you have friends going you can sometimes find serviced apartments that would have a good group rate and you can pretend you're on school camp!

From my experience don’t always go for the cheap places, you’re on a business trip for your own business so you might as well stay somewhere nice.


Make sure when booking flights you give yourself enough time to set up, and pack up after it is over. You don’t want the stress of trying to get to the airport after a busy day of selling. If you can do it, try and stay an extra day or so after the market, it is a good way to relax after a busy time selling and good chance to do some sightseeing.


If you do markets regularly then you probably have your display sorted, but it might be bulky and heavy and not so good for shipping interstate. Finding something light isn’t always easy, but remember that paper and fabric can cover ugly light things and make them look okay.

Also get an idea on the size of your stall, what size the tables are and how you will display them with enough room for you to get in and out to fix up your display and replenish stock. Make sure your table cloths (if you need to provide them) are the right size for the tables.

With a lot of people coming to the markets make sure your product is easy to access. You want to minimum amount of work per item when you have lots of people wanting to buy at the same time. If you have to keep stocking up items allow to have more out so you have enough time to serve customers and pop items out and tidy up.

Mark from Record Attempts suggests keeping a list of things you forgot to bring while setting up rather than remembering for next time. It is best to write it down while it is fresh in your mind rather than remember six months later when you do it all again.

Must have items

  • A list of all the important information you need in the bag you carry at all times. This includes the following:
      All the info the market sent you.
      A google map with directions for all the places you will be travelling to.
      Contact details for the place you’re staying at.
      Contact details for the courier company you’re using.
      Contact details for a taxi in the city you’re staying in.
      The address of the market venue.
      Your flight details.
  • A big float. Think of all the prices you have and the change you will need to give. If you have something that is $18 you will need a lot of $2 coins. We usually take a really big float so we don’t get stuck, but even with big floats we have been stuck before. Also if you’re carrying a lot of coins and flying it is best to put them in your check in luggage or separate them a bit. Security have dug through a bag of coins before and been rather confused as to why I had so many.
  • Food and water
  • Bags (to put goods in when they sell)
  • Paper
  • Mailing list form
  • Lots of price signs
  • Calculator
  • Tape (including packing tape for packing up the boxes after it is over)
  • A banner with your name on it so people can easily identify you
  • Business cards (500+)


Remember to have fun and remind yourself you are going on an interstate business trip for your own business. This is an exciting thing but something you can often forget.

I’ve spoken to a few people who have worried they wont make enough money to justify the trip, but I think only good things can happen from participating. At the end of the day making money, although very important, isn’t the only factor in why you participate in an event like this.

Have a look at who else is going, email them to say hello and organise a dinner or drinks and make some friends. You can talk shop with them and get inspired by people who work in a similar field as you.