A 2016 wrap up
Hi everyone! Today, we are so amazed of how many of you read regularly our blog, thanks for that, you're awesome! That really gives us the courage to move forward and share with you our experiments, joys, and deceptions all along the way. Hence, this time, let's share a quick recap of our past year, our highlights, and difficulties, just as quick a wrap-up!
Before we dive in, let's show you a sample of a list we make every year as a big picture of what we would like to achieve, where we succeeded and where we failed:
- Work on corporate projects ✓
- Make workshops with our local community ✓
- Website redesign ❌
- Have a better accounting solution and follow up ✓
- Having a Rep. ✓ then ❌
- Pay less for shipping ✓
- Make a magazine ❌
- Launch a podcast ❌
- Create a catalog of our products ✓
- Move ✓
- Tighten shipping time ✓
- Raise global quality ✓
- Get closer to people who inspire us - W.I.P. ✓
January – March
High hopes and expectations: let's start with shipping. At last found a shipping provider for our international shipments and I thought that at this time that all our problems related to pricing and delivery times were solved. How naive I was 😇... Practical but not that hot. A year later, best solutions still reside in packaging optimization and not much on carriers' selection.
Thanks to Fondation Montreal Inc., we met the wonderful Anne Thomas, founder of TOMA. She became our mentor and friend, her support and kindness help us tremendously all along the year.
Yey! After 1 year of trial and error, we managed to build our own photo studio.
After a lot of research, we finally managed to create and make enamel pins. We struggled a lot, everybody loves them all and we've been approached a lot to make collaborations. Another important step was to use the money we didn't have to buy a brand new hot foil stamping machine. We discovered a whole new world, new people, new materials, and new technics. We're crazy in love with this machine we still don't use enough today. But wait and see 😉
Had a very inspiring meeting with Patrick Tanguay, "Editor at Large" of The Alpine Review, a stunning magazine you have to read somehow. Melanie and I are thinking about making a magazine or a book one day soon and thanks to Patrick's very valuable insights, we have a better vision of what it takes and how to proceed with this very exciting project. Then, at the end of the month, we had one of the most emotionally tough moments of the year: Go To Dragons' Den TV show. A lot of pressure, where we just lost our focus (which was visibility) but the follow up was really good.
Knock Knock. Who's there? Taxes! Oh, Surprise! Oh my goodness! We weren't so not prepared for this. Let's say we learned a lot 😌 Today, when I look back at this period, I'm amazed by our progress and the struggles we've been through - administratively speaking -.
April – May
A high level of wow factor
Internship season began with receiving Sarah, a graphic designer from Belgium who stayed with us for a couple of weeks. Energetic, kind and talented, we can't wait to see here again in Montreal (come back anytime Sarah! 😊).
Consequently to this beautiful experience, we decided to welcome Clémence and Cannelle during the summer for several weeks as well. We learned a lot together and accomplished great stuff thanks to them.
From then, the more Wednesdays we could, we organize "Bièrecredis", a casual meetup between a couple of entrepreneur friends around a beer.
We've been approached by several companies to make consignment. For those who don't know what it 's all about, consignment consists in lending your products to a shop, for free, in exchange for the hope to be sold, usually 50/50. If not, you take back your stuff, as is, at a pre-determined date. This is particularly interesting when you begin and a good way to create bounds with local retailers. Unfortunately, every time we accepted last year was a failure in terms of sells but also regarding the state of the products that we gave back. Consignment doesn't motivate retailers to sell that much as they don't take a lot of risk having things to sell that they had for free. Eventually, your products are manipulated by customers and get more or less dirty and scratched, hence products' condition is very subjective when it comes to being compensated when your items come back.
We saw our first corporate projects coming in and since then, have a lot of fun with them! This year, we definitely hope to make more of them.
May's highlight was, of course, our participation in the New York's National Stationery Show, the biggest stationery event in North America. As usual with us, we weren't prepared properly but reached our goals anyway. It was a huge reality check for us, we learned a lot and most importantly, it confirmed that we had our place among companies we long-time admire and look from below like Clap Clap Design , Iron Curtain Press and many more. They are all impressive, highly talented and professional, that's why we came back from there inspired and motivated like never before. The best part of all was definitely to hang out with of them and to be featured in our favorite blog Oh So Beautiful Paper. See you next May everybody!
June – August
In June began a 3 months relationship with a local company which goal is to provide local products as corporate gifts instead of oversea-made stuff. Unfortunately, this failed for several reasons like not being able to discuss with the final client, making back and forths quite painful or even disturbing.
We moved! - And we did well. We are so much better now: Our workspace is so luminous, peaceful, larger, cheaper... It's been our 4th moving in 2 years and we really hope to stay there now for a while.
The first attempt in having a " Rep' ". A Rep is basically someone who travels to show your products to retailers in exchange for a percentage of the sales. It's a long learning curve but a very interesting exercise to make. Also, you get very valuable feedbacks and it pushes you to remain up-to-date with your catalog.
As a way to connect with our local community, we decided to launch the Baltic Club Workshops. We had a lot of fun each time and brand new ideas emerged from these casual meetings.
A couple of days later, after the first session, we've been so surprised to be selected as part of Code Souvenir, an initiative to promote Montreal creativity to the world through evocative city products.
Then, family vacation 🌴
September – December
An end of the year tasting like a sprint
Our beloved jobs feel more like a marathon than like a sprint, but eventually, the amount of things happening makes you run like hell. That's particularly the case when comes the end of the year. Besides the fact that we were a lot out there, showcasing the work of a whole year, we had to deal with unscrupulous suppliers, various dramas as well as the everyday struggle to remain mentally and physically sain while working 24/7 for months. Wisely, I ran my very first marathon at this precise moment 👌🏼. Epic.
Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa. That's where we went. Anywhere we were, we've been literally overwhelmed, we received so much love that we just still can't believe it was real. Our goal is to bring a particular piece of happiness in people life, we are so grateful 😌
The emotional roller coaster we talked about in a previous post is still there but, to use a bad metaphor, this year, we manage to remain in our seats. We become more like anti-adhesive pans with pains and deceptions and enjoy every single daily success, even the smallest.
Now, a couple of things on our 2017's list 😊
Create more funny items,
Hire someone cool,
- Help and inspire people reaching their goals,
- Bring more happiness in people's life,
- Giving back more and more and more...
Now, what's on your list? We'd love you to share with us!