biz ladies 09: advice from local nyc designers

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earlier this month i gathered short interviews from some of the web’s top design bloggers on their advice for getting your work online. the response was overwhelming- and so were the emails asking for more posts that involved advice from multiple sources in one piece.

so today i’m thrilled to share a new group post, courtesy of our visiting summer intern, holly sexton from SCAD. holly has been a joy to work with, and as her project for last week, she interviewed 10 successful design businesses in NYC. holly wanted to find out how they were affected (negatively and positively) by the recession and their feedback is full of great ideas and tips for dealing with tough economic times. holly’s questions were:

  • In this economy, how have your customers changed?
  • Have your customers started to ask more of you?
  • How have you changed your work to accommodate these changes?
  • What do you think has been the most successful part of your business since last year?
  • How do you show your customers that your product/skill is worth buying now?
  • What do you think would be the worst thing to do now as a business in this economy?
  • Have you changed any materials to be more budget-friendly in your work?

their answers are really interesting and provide some really valuable insight into the world of working designers and artists. so, i hope you’ll enjoy their feedback! thanks so much to holly for all of her hard work on this article- and to all of the designers and artists who shared their thoughts with us.

CLICK HERE for the full article after the jump!

1 – In this economy, how have your customers changed?

Amy at Wooster and Prince:

Across the country, our customers have become laser focused in their buying. With retail sales down, they’re placing smaller orders but re-ordering more frequently those items that sell well. This allows them to better manage their cash flow while still keeping fresh, new product in the store. We’ve also found that our customers really appreciate working with vendors whom they’ve counted on in the past. They seem more to come back to companies with whom they have a tried-and-true history of quality and customer service.

George and Jacqueline Schmidt of Screech Owl Design:

We haven’t seen a tremendous shift in our customers. I think our conversations have been really potent and that customers definitely have become more particular about what they are buying. I think that when things get unstable, we all tend to re-evaluate where we stand and put things into perspective. It seems that we think twice about what we buy, re-purpose things we already have and
get crafty in general. I think there are inherent advantages in carrying products that have a low price point in a teetering economy. We have found that our customers are actually buying more accessories for their stores to offer a wider scale and to help offset the higher end products that they are currently carrying. Vendors appear to be buying less and trying to move the inventory they have. In our instance, we think that our low price point and quality of goods has been what has helped us keep afloat. We have actually seen an increase in sales, perhaps because a consumer wont feel the pinch as much when investing $3.00 or $4.00 into a product.

Katherine at Hable Construction:

We are lucky to have some diehard Hable shoppers that know that the product they are buying is going to wear well and last. People aren’t buying as much stuff on a whim but really thinking about their design scheme and buying things they really love if it isn’t a “have to have.” They are typically buying some thing from us because they love it and it makes them happy.

Debbie Urbanski, owner of Bella Figura:

At the beginning of the year (first three months of 2009) we noticed clients still wanted letterpress invitations, but were working with smaller budgets, and often decided to print only the invitations + envelopes (putting rsvp information on the invitation, on the envelope flap, etc.). In the past few months though, budgets seems to have increased again – perhaps a sign that the economy is strengthening? Clients are very conscious of what they’re spending this year and want to find creative ways to make the most beautiful letterpress wedding invitation within their budget.

Beth and Amy at Greenwich Letterpress:

Our customers have been cautious when it comes to ordering letterpress. There are people who can afford to work with us, despite the economy, but that isn’t the reality for most. We have a younger generation who appreciates the printing style and wants to have elegant note cards and calling cards, but for them it is something to save for. If the economy picks up we know they will be back. Our retail shoppers are still shopping, but maybe the pile of cards they bring to the counter has shrunk a bit. Luckily greeting cards are not a major purchase!

Amy Atlas

I do find that my clients are more interested in the details of a party than they may have been a year ago. I think during good economic times, consumers are sometimes timid to voice their concerns and opinions. During bad economic times, consumers feel more confident voicing their concerns and are more conscious of exactly where their dollars are going. As a consumer, I too, have noticed myself doing this. I find that the dialogue is actually healthier during bad economic times because clients are expressing exactly what they want and what their budget constraints are.

Ann Wood, Ann Wood Handmade:

So far I have not perceived a change. My customers are great and I’m flattered by how many have been with me since the beginning. I make what delights and intrigues me and I think the truth of those things resonates with people of similar inclinations so it’s a nice friendly little niche and I’m grateful for it.

Lindsey Adelman:

I would say since we do mostly fixtures built to order, there are many one-offs that we do. So our customers know the specifics of what they want and they are very specific and don’t mind searching out and asking for every detail for what they want.

Trish and Maureen at Domestic Construction:

Our customer is still looking for originality with the touch of the hand but we’ve found that the original size and scale of certain projects have decreased. Our customers still have a strong desire to make their homes tactile and unique and we’re still offering creative options to make this happen. In the economy we feel that if you can’t be happy at home where can you be… we find that the smallest, simplest touches can make a huge difference.

Blanca Monrós Gómez:

I feel that customers are still out there, but they are not as impulsive as they once might have been – at least for the more costly items. Now they do more research and ask more questions. Basically, people seem to be shopping around for the best value. They take a little more time and are more selective with their choices.

2 – Have your customers started to ask more of you?

Amy at Wooster and Prince

Our customers expect products with the highest perceived value at a reasonable, affordable price — which is precisely the product development goal Wooster & Prince has had from the beginning. We’ve always strived to create products that wow our customers not only with beautiful design but with how affordable they are. This market, as tough as it is, really highlights our ability to do that. Our customers have also asked us to be flexible with minimum quantities, which we’re happy to do. The small to mid-size boutiques are our bread and butter and so we do whatever we can to make it work for them.

George and Jacqueline Schmidt of Screech Owl Design:

So far, our relationships have appeared to stay the same. We have been lucky to have repeat customers that respect our policies and over time have been able to bridge healthy relationships.

Katherine at Hable Construction:

We have always tried to go the extra mile for our customers. We are sending out a lot more swatches so people can really lay out their rooms prior to buying pillows or yardage. We are seeing people buying multiples of things they really love.

Debbie Urbanski, owner of Bella Figura:

We’ve always taken pride in giving attentive service, but this year, customers’ expectations for service started out very high. They want and expect personal attention from us – which we’re totally happy to give. Customers are also asking more questions (good ones of course!) and wanting more consultation – they’re asking for recommendations on fonts, colors, designs. And (probably in part due to the iphone etc.) there’s the expectation for almost instant responses to emails. We can send 40-60 emails to a client during the consultation and ordering process now, and often we get email responses back within 10 minutes of sending a message out to them.

Beth and Amy at Greenwich Letterpress:

We haven’t noticed any change, mostly they are happy that an independent shop like ours is still in their neighborhood.

Amy Atlas

Since all of my signature dessert bars are custom, my clients recognize that when they are hiring me for their event they are getting something very special that is just for them. Because my clients inspire my creations, my clients are very much a part of the creative process. So even in a different economic climate, my clients are not getting a cookie cutter event. Having said that, I do have some clients, particularly young brides, who really want something special for their event but are looking for creative ways to have a special design at their event while staying within their budget.

Ann Wood, Ann Wood Handmade:

I haven’t felt any specific change in expectations that I can attribute to the economy but something I think people are always concerned with is having the simplest, easiest, safest online shopping/purchasing experience possible. A lot of what I make is one of a kind and that presents certain challenges in terms of shopping cart. I’ve spent a lot of time addressing that this year. I’ve also been getting lots of requests lately for patterns, kits and tutorials. I think that’s great and it’s a direction I’m interested in moving in.

Lindsey Adelman

Yes. That would be the biggest change. Our customer service is through the roof. I think that basically our business is based on that. We’re very service-oriented. We need to send people custom drawings right away and we do mock-ups of our large-scale chandeliers and look at sites. There are many many, more email exchanges and phone call exchanges where the dialogue and discussion goes pretty deep.

Trish and Maureen at Domestic Construction:

We’re finding that potential customers are coming to us for DIY tips instead of actually hiring us… it puts us in an interesting situation as small business owners trying to get our feet off the ground. We’re still a relatively new company that frankly started at the decline of our economy. It’s been an exciting learning experience; we’re trying to provide affordable options to people across the board while still paying our bills.

Blanca Monrós Gómez:

Yes. Customers want to have a more personal experience when shopping for fine jewelry. They want to be more informed about what they are purchasing, where materials are coming from, how the jewelry is being made, etc. That is especially true with wedding bands and engagement rings. Couples want to have a choice with their rings; it makes them more personal and unique. It is more appealing now, I think, for customers to be able to work directly with the designer on the ring that they will be wearing for the rest of their lives rather than purchasing something that has been mass produced.

3 – How have you changed your work to accommodate these changes?

Amy at Wooster and Prince

We’ve focused a great deal more on product development this year than ever before — vetting ideas, streamlining materials, creatively juggling our sourcing, testing price points — in order to create products at lower price points that are still packed with good design. At each step, we ask ourselves what is the perceived value of a particular feature? If it truly adds value, great! If it only adds to the cost, it’s eliminated. Our line for 2010 will feature lots of new products that a customer can throw in her purse at a really good price point and enjoy how useful it is later.

George and Jacqueline Schmidt of Screech Owl Design:

I feel a bit on my toes wanting to make sure that our consumers feel that they are getting what they are paying for with ease. We strive as best we can to accommodate our consumers so that we can keep these relationships thriving and alive. It is hard when you are a small company and trying to do it all on limited means and manpower. We do the best we can and always hope that our customers continue to enjoy our product.

Katherine at Hable Construction:

We have tried to ramp up the areas that are more profitable and are streamlining all aspects of our production and distribution to be as effective as we can in the shortest amount of time so our clients get serviced and are happy with their product!

Debbie Urbanski, owner of Bella Figura:

With smaller budget clients: we made a conscious decision to still offer them attentive, high-level service. All of our clients are treated as being of essential importance to us, whether they’re spending a few hundred or several thousand dollars with us. We also decided to promote and be supportive of options that keep pricing down – printing reply information on the invitation, for instance; promoting reply postcards, or 2 color designs that can be printed less expensively in 1 color, etc.

Beth and Amy at Greenwich Letterpress:

We have simplified some of our options. When it comes to business cards and stationery there are some “extras” we have decided are no longer appropriate in this economy. We looked at the styles that were most popular and got rid of formats and quantities that were slow to be ordered. We thought that by offering simple and straightforward options it would make people confident that a business card is a necessity, for say launching a new business, and not a frivolous purchase.

Amy Atlas:

I’ve worked hard to get the best possible deals from my vendors so that I am getting the most for my clients. If budget is still a concern, I try to come up with creative ways to make it work for each particular event. Some clients are willing to forego an elaborate cake and opt for a custom cupcake bar. Others are willing to make the dessert bar or candy buffet the favor at the end of the night so that they don’t have to spend additional money on favors.

Ann Wood, Ann Wood Handmade:

I’ve been experimenting for a while with DIY projects and I’d like to have a couple patterns available in my shop by the end of the year. I’ve also made some changes that have made purchasing easier. I’m making some things in small editions now to avoid the frustration and annoyance of over-sales as much as possible, also, some of my sweetheart bird sets are now available to order directly through my website. Everything is handmade so quantities are still limited but it’s much easier to keep inventory in the shop and turn around time for orders is almost half what it used to be. Previously I had been taking orders one at a time via email and it quckly became impossible – slow and frustrating for me and my customers. I spend so much less time on invoicing and other administrative stuff now that I’m able to make a lot more work than last year.

Website info: I use zen cart and my site was built by lightening bug designs – www.lightningbugdesigns.com

Lindsey Adelman:

I would say that since we have images on our website of our branching bubble series, we have a couple of examples, our clients get really excited about commissioning something that’s perfect for their space. We’ve created some projects in response to unfinished mock-ups. It’s something that I love because it’s something I wouldn’t come up with on my own and it’s incredibly fun. We’re more open to trying something and then tweaking it so that it fits into our design philosophy. In the end, it really enriches the design that we do.

Trish and Maureen at Domestic Construction:

We’ve always been interested in recycling/reusing so we haven’t had to change our process all that much. We enjoy working with what people have to create an environment that they can experience in a different way.

Blanca Monrós Gómez:

I am a little more flexible with my work and offer more of a variety in stone and metal color possibilities to choose from. Most of my jewelry is now made to order. I’m meeting with the buyers in person or over the phone, offering more custom work.

4 – What do you think has been the most successful part of your business since last year?

Amy at Wooster and Prince

The little luxuries in the line — the products that have the highest combination of design and affordable pricing — are our best sellers. Our newest Letter and Notecard Portfolios, Vintage Journals and simple Boxed Notes have sold beautifully. The 2009 line was designed to maximize the visual impact in merchandising. The products were created within color and pattern collections which gave the retailers a lot of flexibility in the way they purchased the line.

George and Jacqueline Schmidt of Screech Owl Design:

There is no doubt in my mind that participating in tradeshows, craft fairs, press, and being represented in stores is what is responsible for any of our success. Whether the product is a good one or not, if it is not out there, then it will never have a chance. I think the most successful part of our business last year was to put ourselves out there. I think there has not been any one thing other than the act of trying that has helped us.

Katherine at Hable Construction:

I think we have been blessed with a flexible and optimistic team that has really been open to shifting roles and picking up extra responsibilities where needed. Our company has become a lot more collaborative and everyone knows their input matters and is taken into account.

Debbie Urbanski, owner of Bella Figura:

Custom letterpress wedding invitations.

Beth and Amy at Greenwich Letterpress:

Our own retail line has continued to grow and the more cards we design in house the happier our customers are. They always want to know, “what do you make here?” I think people feel good about spending their money on “homemade” and or unique items. I know I do when I’m visiting other shops.

Amy Atlas:

I’m very thankful that my business has been able to do well in this economy. I do believe the reason is because what I do is so specialized. I created the stylized dessert bar and it has since become a trend. I put a tremendous amount of time and effort into each event that I do and my clients really appreciate that level of detail. My clients know when they hire me that they are getting my signature style at their event because I have worked on every detail for their event. While consumers are being cost-conscious in this economy, they feel more comfortable spending when they know they are getting something special for it.

Ann Wood, Ann Wood Handmade:

I’m thrilled just to still be here! I haven’t been at this that long and it is still very much a work in progress. I started selling what I make towards the end of 06 and for the first two years I didn’t do much but work. There is so much to do and learn – I’m still learning and experimenting but things have gotten a little easier lately. The most personally rewarding thing that has happened this year was Design*Sponge sharing my cardboard stampede project. Lots of people made wonderful horses!! Big people and little people. I’ll share some photos and links in a follow-up post on my blog soon. It has been such a happy experience that I’m already working on other DIY projects to share.

Lindsey Adelman:

I’d say – knock on wood – our business is better than I could ever have imagined it to be. We’re probably triple of what we were in 2008. So I think it’s for that reason that more people are finding us, now that we’re getting a little more exposure through press and trade shows and word of mouth. I feel like the business is adapting to what has been asked of us in terms of what our audience is seeking in custom work. Our business is trying to make that easier and easier. Trying to be accessible and putting more onto our website so people can find answers to their preliminary questions. We actually have far to go on that I would love our site to be more user-friendly, I can think of a few great installations that we haven’t photographed yet and I would love to put those on the site eventually.

Trish and Maureen at Domestic Construction:

Our versatility over the past year has been the most successful part of our business… we’ve been able to get closer to the goal that we set of selling a lifestyle. As artists, the products that we create are just as important as the wall surfaces, events or simple pattern design. The struggling economy has pushed us to use all of our skills and aesthetic in a variety of ways.

Blanca Monrós Gómez:

Carving a niche in the wedding/engagement line. Despite the economic difficulties, people are still falling in love and – although they might be sacrificing other things – when it comes to getting married, they still want the best.

5 – How do you show your customers that your product/skill is worth buying now?

Amy at Wooster and Prince

I like to call my designs “fresh but familiar”. I look to history — vintage textiles and architecture — for inspiration and find that customers respond to the fact that the art feels nostalgic and yet somehow refreshed with contemporary color and scale. In this market in which no retailer wants to take a huge risk, design that feels safe and yet is totally current is a better bet. Aside from the aesthetic itself, I literally pour everything I’ve got into each design and I think (or at least hope!) our customers sense that. I test color combinations relentlessly. I scale and re-scale artwork. I layer pattern upon pattern until I find the right combination — often tearing apart layouts repeatedly until the balance feels right. We don’t skimp on the design front — every product has to feel saturated with the art in order to be in the line.

George and Jacqueline Schmidt of Screech Owl Design:

I have to admit that I dont have a tactic. There is no other marketing technique that I have other than to believe in myself and to try my best. I hope that my best asset is that Screech Owl’s work is appealing to children, adolescents, adults and elders. Finding that balance has been really key. A product seems less risky when you know that it can appeal to the gamut.

Katherine at Hable Construction:

We hope people continue to buy it because of our track record. We are constantly trying to make sure the fabrics are as functional and sustainable as possible. But when you get down to it, the main reason people say they love our fabrics are the design and color…we just want those aspects to draw them and then the durability keeps them customers for life.

Debbie Urbanski, owner of Bella Figura:

Sending samples of our actual printing really helps. Good photography showcasing the quality of our paper and our deep impression printing helps too. Being ultra responsive via phone and email is essential – assuring customers that, if they decide to go with us, we will take good care of them. And I think telling the story behind the business helps as well – even with the changes in the economy, we’re still a small family business who cares deeply about the environment, and we’re still totally in love with letterpress printing and preserving our letterpress craft. We really love all of our cast iron presses and I think our enthusiasm for our craft comes across in all aspects of our business and all client contact. If people are going to spend money, I think now, more than ever, they want to know their money is going towards a place with passion and a heart. Building personal and lasting relationships with our clients is still important with us, and clients respond to the personal attention.

Beth and Amy at Greenwich Letterpress:

We are honest with our clients. We do not ignore the fact that letterpress is an artisanal printing method and therefore has a price that reflects that. We try to accommodate everyone that walks in the door by letting them know how they can work with us and not break the bank. There can be ways to cut corners or simplify a design and we offer that advice every chance we get.

Amy Atlas:

Because what I do is so original, my clients understand the value of what I do. My clients have a great sense of design and style, and are hiring me because they want something truly unique for their special event.

Ann Wood, Ann Wood Handmade:

I try to do that in a couple ways: I share a lot of my process and inspiration on my blog . I hope customers see how much I love making these things and how important they are to me. I pay a lot of attention to details : packaging, photography, printed material – business cards, etc. and I have one hard and fast rule for myself – if I don’t love it, it doesn’t leave here.

Lindsey Adelman:

I’m really lucky that I work with such highly skilled technicians and artisans. I think I’m going in the direction of things that are more technically challenging – more time consuming. We choose to design every fitting exactly how we want it. We take the long route to get the greatest quality product. I think because of all of those choices to reflect quality is the way that we can show them that it’s well worth it in terms of that it will last forever because there are no shortcuts. The other thing that has been kind of fun has been when working with interior designers and architects I’ll be able to see some of their clients and they get to see some of the different metal finishes that we do, I feel like they love coming to see that. I almost design in a way of imagining – looking back on these fixtures 50 years from now that they feel like a vintage piece but they still feel relevant. I don’t feel like they have a signature voice to them, so I hope that they have a elegant, lighthanded opulence with mechanically sound parts and that it will never feel dated. I feel like that’s why a lot of our fixtures are sold. So, in a way, their investing in a piece that goes way beyond lighting up a room and that they’ll never feel that if they change their décor in their home or if they move and go from one apartment to another that they can’t have the piece any longer.

Trish and Maureen at Domestic Construction:

Thankfully our customers still appreciate the value of the hand, where it may cost a little more there is something beautiful about supporting individuals over machines. We work with our clients to create something one of a kind that works specifically for that person. We’ve found that these services can’t be picked up off a shelf.

Blanca Monrós Gómez:

By not compromising quality just to reduce price.

6 – What do you think would be the worst thing to do now as a business in this economy?

Amy at Wooster and Prince

The absolute worst thing would be to stop producing new product. Our retailers depend on our bringing out new introductions throughout the year. New product is the lifeline of retail and as a partner to our retailers, that is our end of the bargain to uphold. They invest in our line and we owe it to them to keep it fresh. Having said that, creating new product does not necessarily mean going in far flung directions. Sticking to our strengths and staying true to our design aesthetic are equally as important in this market.

George and Jacqueline Schmidt of Screech Owl Design:

Probably investing a lot of money into a new line that hasn’t been tried before. If someone hadn’t tested it out, they’d be sitting on a lot of inventory, probably. But really the worst thing could be to do nothing. If you are just starting out, the best thing to do is jump and believe in it! If the economy is crummy it may be the perfect time to start because when things really get going you’ll have had the

experience of difficult times, and you’ll know how to operate in a more flexible, agile way.

Katherine at Hable Construction:

I think being afraid is paralyzing and we both decided to make this time a time to look at every aspect of our business and try to energize and maximize the positive parts and get rid of the rest.

Debbie Urbanski, owner of Bella Figura:

Lowering our level of service or lessening the quality and craft of our product would be a really bad decision for us or any artisan business right now — we want our clients to feel valued and special and be wowed by the final end product, no matter their budget. Sure, there are cheaper ways to do things (i.e. not letterpress!), and ways to cut back on our level of service, but then we really would lose the heart of our business. Word of mouth and client referrals are more important than ever, so it’s essential to make sure all of our customers are totally satisfied with the ordering experience and their invitations.

Beth and Amy at Greenwich Letterpress:

I want to say don’t take risks, but I actually think certain risks right now can distinguish you from competition and give you an edge. We are about to launch our new website this fall, for sure a risk, but a necessity to keep current. I guess the worst thing to do is to remain too cautious, you need to keep the momentum of your vision, passion and business going. Or else, what’s the point.

Amy Atlas:

I think the worst thing to do as a business owner in this economy is to be inflexible. More than ever, businesses should be flexible and find creative ways to make their clients feel comfortable. Also, business owners should pay close attention to their client’s wishes. I think it can really hurt a business not to listen to their client’s needs. I think this is sound advice regardless of the economic climate.

Ann Wood, Ann Wood Handmade:

Pricing yourself into poverty. That was one of my early mistakes and it’s a big one. Pricing is difficult especially when you’re just starting out. Design*Sponge has a great BizLadies guide on the subject : Pricing, Marketing and Wholesale Tips. I also try not to give that one part of the equation (the crappy economy) too much power. If my sales begin to falter there are a lot of other variable I’ll look at too, things I can work on tweak, adjust. I’m just not willing to give up my sense of control or accountability that easily. I’m a worrier by nature and there will always be huge variables beyond my control to obsess about. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t very nervous about the current state of affairs and how that will evolve going forward – at least once a day I envision myself trying to trade birds for groceries but when I’m done panicking I remind myself that it’s a great time to be small, a great time to be independent, a great time to be a maker, and great time to have the flexibility and agility to weather what might come. So, I remain cautiously optimistic. Except when I’m not.

Lindsey Adelman:

To quit. That would be the worst thing to do. Other things would be not to listen to all of the signs in terms of questions people are asking. I think if someone finds themselves in a company saying “no we can’t do that” then that would be a bad thing. Listening and paying attention to what their customers are dreaming of to have in their home is what would keep their business alive. It will be more rewarding as well. I always follow up with an email to see how they’re feeling afterward. It’s a complete experience from the initial concept to the installation to them living with it. I don’t get to live with it, they do, so I want to make sure they’re satisfied and make sure they’re not disappointed.

Trish and Maureen at Domestic Construction:

Giving up. Although we’ve definitely considered it, we’re forced to think creatively and work harder and we hope it will make our business stronger in the end.

Blanca Monrós Gómez:

To increase your overhead or overstock materials.

7 – Have you changed any materials to be more budget-friendly in your work?

Amy at Wooster and Prince

Because combining rich design at an affordable price has always been our goal, we have not had to change materials for budget reasons. In fact, we’ve actually sourced materials with greater recycled content which often means higher costs to us. The choice to use those materials is always balanced against the price point we’re trying to achieve and the value the customer perceives in them.

George and Jacqueline Schmidt of Screech Owl Design:

We have actually been spending more money on materials. We’ve reinvested in all of the paper to keep the quality as high as possible. We think it’s important to maintain the best quality possible because that is something that really sets us apart. It’s important to retailers too. It makes everybody feel good to have the best, coolest thing they can get sitting there on there shelf, if your the retailer, or

the customer, we want to believe in and feel great about what we’re selling. I think it helps that these things are locally made and made with love. It’s worthwhile to spend money to keep the quality high, because as we grow, we’ll be known for that commitment to producing a quality product.

Katherine at Hable Construction:

We would never substitute quality for budget so we are working with our manufacturers to keep costs as economic as possible as well as the best quality ever.

Debbie Urbanski, owner of Bella Figura:

Our materials have remained the same, but we’ve worked to embrace and encourage creative budget solutions in our invitations. For instance, some clients have begun to print their rsvp information on the envelope flap of their invitation. While it’s not traditional etiquette, we think it’s a great idea if it allows someone to fit their dream letterpress invitation in their budget. We really promote budget-friendly ideas (like reply postcards; putting rsvp information on the invitation; changing 2 color designs to 1 color; downsizing pieces to keep cost down) while still providing the same high-end level of service and the same high-end quality printing that we always have.

Beth and Amy at Greenwich Letterpress:

We have sourced out some new paper and envelope options to help cut costs.

Amy Atlas:

I’m always conscious of being budget-friendly for my clients, and I’m constantly looking for more cost effective vendors to work with and budget-friendly materials so that I can make events economical for my clients.

Ann Wood, Ann Wood Handmade:

The materials I use are very often the inspiration for what I make and many of them are pretty budget friendly so that hasn’t changed; searching for ruined and discarded treasures is a large part of the fun for me. As I have gained a little experience over the past couple years I have learned that procrastination and disorganization are very expensive and a huge waste of brain space so those are a couple of the areas I’m constantly working on to reduce cost.

Lindsey Adelman:

I would say no. I think I seek materials that have been around forever. No, because I think I lean more toward materials that stand the test of time. One thing we do is design and manufacture things without waste.

Trish and Maureen at Domestic Construction:

We always offer our customers a sliding scale budget range. As we said before, all of our work is inspired by what is found/reused so we can provide an affordable option for everyone.

Blanca Monrós Gómez:

I haven’t really changed the materials I use, but I am much more budget conscious of the cost of the pieces, especially when I am trying to sell at retail stores. I think that is the hardest part of the business: to be a retailer and a wholesaler at the same time. I am also reusing/recycling more materials and spending much more time looking for alternative sources. What I am not doing is compromising the collection by going with lesser quality stones or metals.

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About Holly: Holly Sexton is from Salisbury, NC and is a junior at the Savannah College of Art and Design majoring in Fibers. Her love of the relationships between men and women and between people and the earth is shown through her use of natural materials and masculine and feminine themes. Her work is extremely tactile, organic, detailed, and has a unique twist to traditional crafts. You can visit her blog here and email her right here.

lauren

this is fantastic! and features some of my favorite people/places in nyc – it’s really nice to read their thoughts.

deb

Thank you, I’m sure this is going to be really helpful for my new venture. Lots of interesting tips from my favourite people.

elizabeth

this is amazing info; thanks for the great post!

DesignWolfe

Another great Biz Ladies post with some wonderful insights into doing business in today’s economic climate — this series is so informative and inspiring!!

MelissaG

yay holly! you did a great job, love the article. glad you had a great experience in nyc… melissa

Liz Demos

I’m so proud of you Holly. This was a great piece. I can’t wait to hear all about the intership when you get back.
Missing you around the store.

Judith

Thank you, Holly! I’m always so challenged and inspired by this series. It’s always great to receive advice from other small business owners who have proven successful.

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