Sunday, February 26, 2012

New Line :: Birth Announcements by Believe Notes

If you've stopped by my Etsy shop lately, you might have noticed something brand new - I'm now selling Birth Announcements!

I've got only a handful of designs up in the shop right now, there will certainly be more on the way. The line is focusing on soft colors, simple typography and delicate backer patterns.

Let me introduce you to my newest additions:

From top to bottom: Aerial, Falling in Love, Little Trucker, Little Girl Snapshot, Sweet Lines, Little Boy Snapshot

The announcements are $50 for a minimum of 25 sets. Each set comes with a euroflap white envelope, the matching pattern printed on the back, and your choice of Linen, 100% Recycled or Pearl/Shimmer papers.

Don't forget to check into the shop regularly for all of the other new items that will be posted!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Font Lust :: Bargain Fonts

Some women buy shoes, some women buy bags, some women buy clothes, and some women buy fonts.

I buy all of the above. 

But, in my defense, I really do look for a good deal when I buy things. 

Today I bring you a lot of good deals. Font bargains are the best! 

So many people don't know that fonts need to be purchased, and they aren't cheap - which makes font sales that much more satisfying.

Here are some of the fonts I've been lusting over, at super, super good prices:

The above is Daphne - all 12 (yes, I just said TWELVE) fonts are on sale for a total of $25! It comes with a variety of font back drops, textures, etc. Daphne is a fun, bold font that's super versatile - could be used for announcements, headlines, text and anything else. 

Up next we have Merced, which is on sale for $55 for two fonts. I love how thin and sleek this font is, with the fun shapes thrown in there. 

Now we have Mishka, which is on sale for $38. I love the casual script and I really love all the ornaments that come with this font. I'm a sucker for ornaments, which is ironic because I don't really use them often in my designs. 

Dada Slab might be my favorite find of the day. It's on sale for just $10 and it really reminds me of Archer, which is one of the most classic and widely used fonts among designers. However, Archer will set you back anywhere from $150-$400!! YIKES! I personally don't own Archer yet, and while it's on my wishlist, I'm perfectly happy with Dada Slab and it's $10 price tag! 

Mr. Moustache is a super fun font with tons of options available! It costs around $10 per font set, with over 5 font set options and a whole bunch of frame and ornament sets as well. This is definitely one of the finalists on my "must have" list for today! 

The best part about purchasing new fonts is they always inspire new designs! I can't wait to start using some of the above! 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Packaging Inspiration

I've been really looking at ways to improve my packaging and branding design. My goal is to streamline all of my products so that I have a cohesive "line" and every item is clearly from Believe Notes. Right now my packaging is kind of blah, and totally all over the place - it is definitely in need of some organization and streamlining.

At the moment, I wrap all of my items in tissue paper and then add a ribbon and a label. That's it. Best part? The ribbon doesn't even go with my brand colors. While it doesn't look bad, it just doesn't fit my overall brand theme, which is clean, simple and modern. If you order something from me today, this is most likely how your item will arrive:

Not bad, but not amazing either.

When I first started my business I was definitely concerned with the costs of everything and so my packaging evolved out of items I already had on hand, which was cost effective. As time has gone on, I have realized that part of operating a business means spending money; you know the phrase "you have to spend money to make money".  So the past few weeks (ok, you got me, it's been months) I've been investing in my company. The next investment I need to make is in the packaging department.

Here are some pictures (thank you pinterest!) that are helping me make my final packaging decisions:

Sally J. Shim
Bakers Twine from Cute Tape
originally spotted on The Dieline
from Oh, Hello Friend

So there you have it, my inspiration for meeting my goals during project "revamp packaging". I plan on sticking to my colors of white, orange, cream and aqua - while using fun little details. All to ensure that, when receiving an order from Believe Notes, it's almost too pretty to open. Almost.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Very Newlywed Valentine's Day

I know Valentine's Day was almost a week ago, but I thought I'd share some of the awesomeness the Mr.  and I shared on our first Valentine's as husband and wife. 

Here's a glimpse via Instagram (find me @jackieqm). 

Yes, we exchanged some crazy gifts, but that's what makes the two of us special. I was surprised with three dozen roses after a meeting at work, and the rest of the day was filled with smelly markers and buddhas for the Mr. while I got police legos and the latest book in my favorite series. Valentine's Day doesn't need to be crazy over-the-top, it just needs to be filled with love, and ours sure was perfect. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

new items for sale in the shop!

I'm super excited to have my shop back up and running, with some fresh new designs as well as some of the old favorites. The shop might look just a tad different, hopefully a little cleaner and more consistent - that's because I've decided to change how I display my items. I wanted to make sure all of the details of the designs were viewable to my potential customers, and I just wasn't getting that crispness before - but now I am, and I hope it's appreciated! 

You might also notice some pricing and quantity changes. This isn't because I'm getting greedy and wanted to increase the prices, it's because I'm using better quality papers in more options (thick 100% recycled, lovely pearl shimmer, and linen textured - all for the same price!). I've also increased the number of items in each set - for example, folded note cards went from sets of 24 to sets of 30. 

Here are some of the new business/calling cards that are now available for purchase:

Chic Floral 
Mod Colors
Summer Set

Friday, February 17, 2012

Minted's Women's Stationery Challenge, Voting is Open!

Minted has certainly been keeping all of us in the design community on our toes lately! We've had challenge after challenge, and while I haven't been able to submit designs in all of the challenges, I was able to squeeze out a few submissions for the recent Take Note! Women's Stationery Challenge. It would be fantastic if you could take some time to go vote for all of the designs that you'd like to see for sale on the Minted site in the future.

Below are the designs that I submitted into the Take Note! Women's Stationery Challenge:

Cool Shades


Vintage Monogram

I'd love if you could help get my designs for sale by voting on them!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Failure/Success - What's Your Definition?

Let's chat about the meaning of success. Everybody measures success in a different way, I measure it based on how I feel about something. However, I used to measure it on how other people felt about something. For example, some people might measure success by selling a certain amount of product; whereas I would feel successful just by knowing people liked my product enough to buy it in the first place.

The shift from focusing on other people to myself wasn't really a conscious one, to be honest, it was more of a defense mechanism. You see, for a while I fell into a rut where I wanted to win, win, win - and if I didn't win, it meant I sucked. You all know how much I loved Minted, and I absolutely do, but it's still super painful to submit designs to contests and not win. Often, after one of my designs wouldn't win, I would find myself saying things like "but that's soooo Minted's style! How could it not have gotten picked?!".

When considering new items to put for sale in my Etsy shop, I realized I had HUGE file of "reject" designs that I couldn't put for sale. Wait a second, why couldn't I put them for sale?? Well, because I didn't really like them. And then, the proverbial light bulb went off. I didn't like the designs because I wasn't designing them for myself - I was designing them to win. That's why I felt failure, because I felt like nobody liked my designs, not even myself.


So, from that point on I decided I would only create designs that I liked - that way, even if I didn't win, I would still love the designs enough to put them for sale in my own shop. Just the thought of designing for myself was empowering, I felt like I could try new things, take a few risks, and really use all of the skills I have learned over the past few years without the fear of failing. If I make sure that, first and foremost, I like a design, then a losing design does not mean a failed design, it means maybe I failed the competition, but I did not fail myself. 

My shift in how I perceive failure has proved to be a good business strategy too! 

I've applied my new perspective to my customers, I will only give them designs that I love first. Many designers struggle with the notion of do you design to make the customer happy, even if you don't like what they want, or do you design for yourself? Well, I've decided to refer customers to other designers if the customers style doesn't match mine. Since my decision, I've noticed that my customers are happier with their final products, and I enjoy working on their products much more. It's like...when you work on something that first and foremost you love, and then somebody else loves it too, it's total icing on the cake.

Anyway, I wanted to share this new revelation because I know how down some people get when they feel like they failed. But truly, I think you need to take a good hard look at what failure means to you. I am not immune to failure anymore, but having a different view of failing (and success) means that even when I "fail" I still don't feel like I have. Here's an example: I recently submitted several designs in the Save the Date challenge over at Minted. I was in love with my designs - they had hand drawn details, pretty colors and solid typography. The feedback on all of them was overwhelmingly positive and after the competition closed, I found myself checking the site hourly to see how many awards I won. Note: I didn't say if I won an award, I said how many I won - because I loved my own designs that damn much. Well, winners were announced and not a single one of my designs got an award.

Surprisingly, even though I technically lost, I still felt REALLY successful. Did the loss sting a little? Yes. But they were my highest scoring designs ever! Darling even made it into the top 40 of over 850 designs! I might have lost, but all I could feel was proud and excited. Excited to be able to sell the designs on my own in my Etsy shop. Excited to take the designs and turn them into full wedding suites. Excited that I didn't feel like a failure.

So for all of you out there that feel like you're in a rut, find a way to turn your luck around. Use every "failure" into an opportunity to improve and grow. Take feedback seriously, find your own unique style, and make sure that first and foremost you make yourself proud. It'll take some tinkering with, it'll take some confidence, but it'll be really, really worth it!

Here's one of my "losing" designs that I'm super proud of, go ahead and judge, but I don't care because I love it anyway!
"Pack Your Shades"

I want to take a moment to thank everybody for the massive amounts of love for my last post on feedback. That post alone got more hits than my blog has gotten in an entire month! Even Mariam, CEO of Minted, re-tweeted it - like, seriously, my mind is blown! You've all helped me realize that my blog calling is to merge my professional career with my design passion. Thank you again for the love, and I'm glad you all found it so helpful!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Breakfast of Champions

My professional job is in helping to develop and grow strong leaders/managers, so most of what I hear every day is about how to help make people better with their interpersonal skills (because the higher you go in a company, the less you use your technical skills and the more you rely on interpersonal abilities). We use a lot of personality assessments in helping us when coaching executives and the whole point is to provide as much feedback as possible. Without feedback, nobody can truly get better.

Time and time again, I’ve found that the most successful managers and leaders are the ones that take feedback openly and objectively. Granted, there is an art to giving and receiving feedback, and not everybody has the knack for it, but it’s my job to give feedback in a constructive way, and it’s the receivers’ job to use it for growth. A good leader can take feedback and use it as a tool for becoming even better. They make goals for themselves based on that feedback and they develop from it.

There’s a phrase a bunch of the executives and I joke about, which we picked up from one of my coworkers – “Feedback is the breakfast of champions”.

Think about it.

Go ahead, think some more.

It’s true, isn’t it?

Sometimes in the morning if I’m riding the elevator with somebody I’ve coached, they’ll look at me and joke, “Hey Jackie, guess what I had for breakfast!”

So why did I give you that glimpse into my other career? Because I think it directly applies to designers as well. A lot of us designers don’t think we have a whole ton in common with big corporations, when really; we have a lot in common because at the end of the day, we are all people. Leaders and managers want to be successful, as do designers. Heck, who doesn't want to be successful! We all grow through constant feedback, and so one of the most valuable skills a person can have is being able to give and receive constructive feedback.

I don’t know about any of you, but 90% of my growth has been a direct result of the feedback I’ve gotten from others that were willing to give it to me.

And when it comes to giving feedback in the design world, Minted nailed it. They may not have done it intentionally, but man oh man, they nailed it. Before, I said that the most successful executives are the ones that are able to take feedback and grow from it, well the same is true of designers. Some of my most admired designers are the ones that maybe didn't start off super successful, but with enough effort they were able to turn the feedback into real opportunity for growth.

I'd also like to say that, as a professional in the world of business & Talent Development, some of the most well-said feedback I’ve ever seen has come from the Minted community. I teach classes on how to give feedback, I coach leaders and I study it on my spare time – so for me, it was amazing when I entered the Minted community and the designers were doing it so naturally and so well.

So, for those of us that still have growing to do, and for those of us that want to help grow other people, here are a few rules of thumb for giving feedback, many of which are demonstrated daily during Minted design challenges:
  1. Start by focusing on something positive. “I like the feel of this!” 
  2. Be specific – don’t generalize. Instead of saying “this design is bad” say “the type is a little big”. Generalizations are bad because they don’t offer any substance. For somebody to actually improve, they need to know specifically what isn’t right. Even if it means listing several things, it’s better than generalizing and saying “everything”.
  3. Point out the effect of the “bad” thing, “I find the type is a little big, which can be distracting”
  4. Offer a suggestion, not a direct order “Have you thought about making the type smaller?”
  5. Use "I" statements. They take the sting out of suggestions. “I think it might look nicer if…” “I might try this instead” or “I find the type a little on the large side”. Don't use "you" statments, and never say something like “you need to change this” or “you need remove that”
  6. Be confident that the person will be successful. “This is going to turn out great! I can’t wait to see it”
  7. Follow up and offer additional feedback. “Wow, the changes you made look really nice!” or “I see you made the type smaller, and it’s looking much better, but I still might try to make it even smaller.  
Avoid putting the other person down, being mean, calling them names, or calling their entire product awful. Feedback needs to be done in a positive constructive way so that the other person doesn’t become defensive. And if you give feedback properly (which the Minted community does) it’ll actually foster an environment where people actively SEEK OUT the feedback. Amazing, right?!

Can I also add that it’s really important to give feedback when somebody is doing something really well? Use all the tips I mentioned above, maybe say something like “Wow, this design is really great! I love the pop of color and the type layout, I wouldn’t change a thing! Hope this one wins!” I know that seems like a long way of saying you like something, but why not take the extra time to put a smile on somebody else’s face?!

So, speaking of all that, head on over to Minted and vote for the It’s Party Time: Children’s Birthday Party Invitation Challenge. I got to submit one design, and would love to hear some feedback!

 "Ice Cream Social"
Disclaimer: all professional advice I have given today, or may give in the future, is not guaranteed to work on husbands, wives, or children. 
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