Monday, February 4, 2013

Designers Care: Growing a Second Brand

As you (hopefully) know, Designers Care was a HUGE part of 2012 for me. It’s pretty crazy to think that something that happened in mid-November could have such a huge impact on the entire year, but it most certainly did.

I learned a whole lot about business in just a single month with Designers Care, and what I’ve learned has helped me really sit and hash things out for both Believe Notes and Designers Care. Since I know a lot of people had eyes on Designers Care, and tons of designers participated by donating designs, I wanted to take some time to really talk through the behind-the-scenes things that went into getting the business up and running in the first place, and then all of the things that have happened since.
First – let’s start with how it got up and running.

I wanted to create a shop that would sell products that were great quality and fairly inexpensive to make, so that I would be able to donate as much as possible. I also wanted flexibility to be able to sell small quantities and a variety of options, which would eliminate big printing costs. Having stamps created allowed me to spend a one-time fee for the creation of the stamps, and then use the stamps over and over with different colors, papers, inks, sizes etc.

Starting up was fairly easy, with all thanks going to the Minted designer community for setting up a fund where people donated. I also received very generous donations from companies such as Simon’s Stamps, French Paper Company, and, which helped provide me with enough paper, envelopes and stamps to get the shop up and running. Whatever wasn’t donated was covered by the fund, and luckily we had enough to get through the first wave of orders.

Fast forward to now, and I’m finding myself having to figure out the future of this shop. I’ve run out of almost all of my initial materials (except for the stamps) and there really isn’t enough money left to replenish everything. I also realize that the business isn’t set up legally (as a charitable donation with an appropriate Tax ID), and there are no real business processes or policies in place. There is also a challenge around the fact that I donated my time (and a LOT of it) to actually stamp all of the cards, and it was incredibly time consuming and began to take money away from Believe Notes (since I had to turn down paying design projects due to the time it took for me to handle Designers Care).

During the month of December, I spent a lot of time thinking about the future of Designers Care and where I wanted to see the shop go. Closing down was never an option, since I genuinely believe in the purpose and message, but I knew I needed to make changes. I considered options such as creating a Designers Care Zazzle or Society 6 shop, which would remove me from having to spend so much time stamping, but at the end of the day, I stand by the original purpose of the shop, which is to have high quality, hand stamped designs. So there won’t really be any product changes moving forward, but there will be a lot of thought around business models and whatnot.
While I still have some big fish to fry, I’ll be making the following changes in the very near future:
  • Orders will only be filled on Saturdays and will ship on Mondays
  • I will no longer be donating 100% of the money. While I haven’t worked out the exact percentages, I need to take out enough of the earnings to cover raw materials and operating fees
  • Prices and shipping will increase slightly
  • Suggested paper & ink color pairings will be on each listing
As I move forward in working through changes with Designers Care, I do plan to accept new designs. I will certainly make it clear and known when I am ready to accept new designs – I know so many of you are interested, and I am so appreciative of that!

Thank you to everybody that has helped Designers Care come so far, and thank you in advance for all you’ll do to help move the brand forward!

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