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Our 5 secrets for ideas and inspiration

Posted by Mélanie Ouellette on

Everybody needs a great happy birthday card in its catalog. But how am I gonna do it to be unique?

I get inspired by a lot of things every day : sounds, images, music, tv, cats in the street, kids outside, cereal box, visa bill, great magazines, bad weather, everything can do. I love pairing images and funny-catchy phrases. It's our twist. But where does it all come from ? Here's a list of 5 ways where I reach for inspiration. 

 

1. Friends 

Blah-blah-blah, talking about anything, and hop! something funny. I write everything down. I have a note left open on my phone where I write down ideas. Funny situations, weirds comments, great pieces of advice or compliments. It all can be the start of something. If you don't have a lot of friends like me, don't despair. Even your cat will do !

 

2. Documentaries, movies and TV

Learning things about random subjects or really going deep for something I love, helps me thinking about new content. I'm all about Bondi Vet these days. Those pets have the cutest and fluffiest faces ever. And this documentary about hunters in the Taiga is the craziest thing I've seen in a long time. This one on the story of the earth is simply amazing. And I learned a lot on our land with this one. Also, don't miss this hilarious blog about sad animal facts

With Brice, we speak and work in French. But we watch a lot of TV in English. And since there is inspiration everywhere, that's why sometimes our cards are in English, and there might be a translation for it, or not. I do it as it comes, I don't force it.

You maybe notice this card is inspired by Série Noire.

 

3. Neighborhood

Our dog is, at the same time, the happiest and the grumpiest dog there is. We make fun imagining what she would say if she could talk. We gave names to all the cats in the neighborhood. We make friends with old people on the street and we hang out with the ice cream guy. They all have things to share.

People are often willing to talk about what bothers their life. As a designer, I have the magical power to relief their pain and create objects that make the life perfect! I listen carefully to people and I write down their needs and pain points. Brice is especially good with that, and he would start a new startup every day if he could. 

 

4. Social medias

Of course, I look at Pinterest, Behance and Instagram. Some people are simply incredibly talented. But to create my own stuff, I like to get inspiration on different designs fields, like architecture, fashion or installations. I select the concepts I like (for instance happiness, with this installation) and I transfer it in my own words and images. Or I get inspired by a texture or a color, and I find a way to express ideas with it.

 

5. Trends

Of course, I also follow trends sometimes. Our sloth garland is a sure best seller. And I love plants and monstera leaves like everybody. But I always try to find my own way to express it. The next thing is donuts. What should we do with it ?

 


Maybe you catched that video last week. If not, you should give it the time. It is a nice way to talk about ideas plus it's a beauty.

 

 

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8 very bad ideas we had so far

Posted by Brice Salmon on

(and how we managed to stay mentally balanced, despite it all )


Hi everyone!

In our infinite quest of pursuing transparency and happiness, we've decided to share today with you a couple of bad ideas we had so far. Why the bad ones? Well:

  • They arouse a very large panel of emotions and as human beings, it feels good to share hard moments.
  • We learn - the hard way - a lot more from them than from nice shots.
  • They may be funny sometimes. (Also, good ones may be boring.)

CHAPTER ONE

Bad money-related ideas

 

Using our cash flow to buy equipment. That one hurts. We didn't know what credit margins and loans were. We used to buy everything cash and wondering why we couldn't afford to make more new products. Problem solved!


Paying too much for workshop rent. We had the chance to find a fantastic deal last Spring thanks to the famous illustrator Isabelle Arsenault who was looking for co-workers. We now have twice the space for half the price in a better area!! Unicorns exist somehow.

Not putting enough money aside for taxes. Surprise! It's Spring again!

"In this world, nothing can be said to be certain,
except death and taxes." — Benjamin Franklin

CHAPTER TWO

The Cerberus syndrome

Making sales and purchases reports by hand. Yes. By hand. Excel and the whole stuff. If you really don't care about having a social life, just do your accounts with Excel. We kinda lost our friends but they understand. Problem solved :)

Trying too many things at the same time. At the very beginning, we wanted to do cream puffs. For real. Then, we built a pasta machine (for real, just see: http://www.glasgowstudio.com/#/eatthat/) . After that, we designed wooden domino games, a linen collection... all at the same time. That time is done, now we focus. Problem solved.

CHAPTER THREE

Timing is key

Hiring the right people but at the wrong moment. "If we could turn back time" today, we would be with them working hard, hanging out, maybe at the ice cream truck who knows? Instead, we're in Montreal and lucky to be here after all.

Not having a plan. The worst plan is definitely to not have a plan, taught me my physiotherapist last year. He's so right that I found myself injured running without a plan. Today, with a clear project and consistency, I'm about to run a marathon next month, which was absolutely unthinkable 6 months ago. It's the same for the job: Openness, consistency, gratefulness and a plan are now part of our fundamentals to achieve our goals.

 

Special mention goes to

Participating in events (like markets) without even knowing them. We did that (sadness/deep shame emoticon face). It's been very fun and somehow inspirational though.

 

Ok, now you can stop laughing or cry, let's say they were all "experiments" :) What are your biggest mistakes so far this year and how did you overcome them? We'd love to hear your stories!!

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Comeback on my first year at Baltic Club

Posted by Brice Salmon on

Greetings! It's been one year now that I quit my beloved job to create my own one, also beloved but in a different way. Quick comeback on a crazy year and what I've learned since "the big jump".
 

EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE

I will always remember that feeling of a fresh start on the very first day I worked 100% for Baltic Club. Everything was as clear as frightening but as being said say, "Magic happens out of your comfort zone", I was really excited by all this. Far far away from imagining what was going to happen, I decided to let go and to enjoy each moment. What's helping a lot is Melanie, being so extraordinary, so relax, I think we have way too much fun.

Magic happens out of your comfort zone quote

What was really new for me at this moment: In front of you, blank pages, empty folders, no procedure, no methodology, no "business culture". If you do nothing, nothing moves forward. It may sound a little bit weird but for me, this concept wasn't applicable to the business at all. Actually, it does apply very well :)

Plans change a lot, almost every day. The difficulty here is definitely to stay focus. Saying yes to every opportunity is not a viable solution: You can try, take risks but you have to calculate all the time.

Having the opportunity to make new products anytime, talk to new people, discover new places ALL THE TIME is overwhelming.

You have no limit in terms of work, of time spent to make your things, of places to work from... you taste freedom on a daily basis and it's magic but it leads me to the next point.

 

HEALTH

Even if I love what I do, sometimes I go too far and tend to forget that, to think properly, I need a healthy body. I didn't realize how important it was to find a balance, hence I took this opportunity to work on personal skills like consistency or self-control. Now I run a lot and eat more healthily. I also take care of my sleep in order to charge up my batteries more efficiently.

 

NOBODY'S WAITING FOR YOU, NOBODY CARES

"Ok, you've quit your job, so what?" No big deal for a lot of people, especially those who never knew what's it's like to be an employee. As soon as I was on my own, I knew that nobody was waiting for me and nobody cared. Building something, including my own identity as a business owner is quite a challenge but gives me the opportunity to have my own voice, expressing what I genuinely think at the moment I think is the best. I frequently ask myself: "What would this person do?" and I love it.

 

AN OPPORTUNITY TO KNOW ME A LITTLE BIT MORE

I've also learned that I didn't just win a dream job but instead, the chance to enjoy multiple aspects of the entrepreneur life: Accountant, designer, I can answer emails, packing stuff, delivering products and cleaning the floor of the workshop in the same morning. My mission and my dreams are very different today compared to what they were one year ago. For instance, I wanted Baltic Club to grow in terms of employees but finally, Melanie and I feel more happy and comfortable in small teams. I also thought that taxes reports were piece of cake...

Today, I'm more eager to focus on what really matters. It takes strength and courage on a daily basis and I definitely feel stronger, less crazy, wiser, I say "no" more often, I get rid of what's not lifting me up and as Frederic, one of my mentors, said to me one day: "Elevate yourself!"

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Charlène, Gontran et les autres

Posted by Brice Salmon on

Quel printemps ! Depuis l’acquisition de Charlène, notre machine d’estampage (un nom de danseuse, parce qu'elle est trop hot), en passant par notre semaine à New York et notre déménagement d’atelier, des événements vraiment le fun se sont passés. Avant de vous raconter la suite, nous voulions vous dire merci : Vous êtes de plus en plus nombreuses et nombreux à nous suivre et à nous partager encouragements et idées incroyables quotidiennement. C’est tellement important que nous ne serions plus là si ce n’était pas le cas. Alors rien que pour cela, déjà, un immense MERCI ! Du fond du coeur.

C’est donc le début de l’été :) Je me suis dit que de passer en revue quelques uns de nos projets corporatifs en guise de bilan du printemps vous permettrait de voir une autre facette de nos activités que vous n’imaginiez peut-être pas. Tout comme l’immense majorité de nos amis, confrères et consoeurs artisans, c’est dans le corporatif que nous trouvons les ressources nécessaires pour nous permettre de faire par ailleurs notre travail de création pour le grand public. C’est tout aussi intéressant mais dans un autre registre, avec d’autres contraintes. Depuis l’acquisition de notre machine à estamper par exemple, plusieurs personnes nous ont approché pour réaliser des projets très variés.

Petit retour sur ceux qui nous ont bien plu ;)

Carnets sur-mesure fabriqués pour Nouveau Projet par Baltic Club

Des carnets estampés en or, argent et bronze (Nouveau Projet)

"Gontran" - Un livre unique réalisé par Baltic Club

Intérieur du livre "Gontran" réalisé par Baltic Club

Gontran, un livre à exemplaire unique, relié à la main et estampé (Le NEM)

Cahiers de scénarisation réalisés pour l'ONF par Baltic Club

Des cahiers de scénarisation, design et estampage rose métallique (ONF / Tink Tank)

Estampage doré pour Bota Bota / Hot Foil Stamping for Bota Bota

Des enveloppes estampées en doré (Bota Bota / Couple d'idées)

Boite d'invitation pour un mariage estampé en or / Hot foil stamped wedding invitation box

Des invitations de mariage estampées en doré (Andréanne & CO)

Estampage rose pour le Gala FCTMN

Diplômes, estampés en rose métallique. (FCTMN)

Si vous avez un projet en tête, contactez-nous, nous pourrons
surement vous aider, du design à la réalisation !

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NSS recap

Posted by Brice Salmon on

The National Stationery Show is probably the most important B2B marketplace for stationery professionals in America. Despite our very young age in the industry, we decided we would be there anyway! Here are a few takeaways of our experience that we wanted to share with you 😊


PHASE 1 - AWARENESS

The NSS was of course totally unknown from us since a year ago when Marina, who worked with us at this time, talked about this enormous market in New York City. She heard about it as she was prospecting for craft markets to participate to. At this time, we had no stock, done almost no market, had only a couple of SKUs, barely had a table we shared in a workshop etc. In an quiet unconscious gesture, we registered thinking that one year later, we would be more than ready.

I’m literally smiling, writing at this. This moment was so “boldy” but however I admit we don’t regret that decision at all today.


PHASE 2 - ACCEPTATION AND PREP

Winter 2015 came and markets’ season was in full swing. We tested the maximum we could, across the province and sometimes beyond, to finally arrive to the OOAK of Toronto and for which you may remember we wrote our Survival Guide. Ye!

This occasion really had the advantage to raise the flag to us regarding big events.

First of all, everything costs A MASSIVE amount of money. I mean, you have to have a good cashdown a year before an event to think about participating. The worst for us was maybe to have to pay upfront without knowing whether we would even be present. The second worst thing is that, the more you come close to the event, the more money you have to spend again and again. Even budgeted, be sure you’ll always have “extra fees” and bad surprises here and there until the very end of the show.

Logistic matters were exceptionally difficult to overcome. I used to working in startups to “make things happen” since a couple of years but this one was quite tough. The fact that we come from Canada, that we had no van, no fellow entrepreneur to learn about neither, added a level of complexity to the whole adventure. Let’s roll our sleeves, be positive, optimistic and hustle!

Paperworks, done. Payments, done. Insurances, taken. Promotional items, made... Every day, as we cleared new tasks, we discovered new ones at the same time. Even though, we were so focused that nothing could stop us at this moment.

Melanie and I spent too little time preparing mentally and physically as we were stuck in that tornado of what we thought was a “must-do-before-we-go” list of things. Eventually, you learn to relax, to put things into perspective, to let go. You have a walk, then you run again, a little bit more every day, and the world turns round the same way. Next time, we will definitely approach this type of challenges with the same determination but on a more relaxed basis!


NSS - 2 days before

Javits Center

Javits Center

Departure from home

Departure from home

Oh! Look how happy (and tired) we were when we jumped into the car that morning! Oddly enough, we slept well the night before. Now that everything was packed, nothing could stop us except, maybe, something at the customs 👉🏻 You never know what can happen there.

Thanks to the fantastic Anne Thomas and Tat Chao, we managed to arrange all the paperwork that allowed us to cross the border easily. Thank you again for that, you’re awesome!

 

NSS - 1 day before

 

What ?! The setup was really fast. At last something easy! Much easier than other exhibitors we saw around the alleys. Melanie did a fantastic job preparing all the stuff. If we could, we would have helped our neighbours but a lot of work had to be done yet a couple of hours before the show opens.

We had the chance to have one of our products beeing selected as finalist of the “Best Product Award” in the lifestyle category (our beloved nordic notebook), hence we had to put a sample in the appropriate area for the judges to choose. We didn’t win but we were really excited by this recognition and the other products were truly amazing.

We also dropped a couple of Press Kits in the Press Area of the show: Companies have let such incredible documents to the press! Some of them were literally art pieces. Everything to impress journalists and bloggers. Next year, I think we’ll have to raise the bar a little bit 😀

Booth #2268: Clear!

 

The NSS show


IF I HAVE TO SUM UP THE SHOW IN ONE SENTENCE: IT’S LIKE SEEING YOUR INSTAGRAM COMING INTO LIFE.


I mean, to give you an example, we were right in front of These are Things! We love and respect their work since the start. Awesome and inspiring guys, discussing with them was nearly surreal. Same with Poketo, Nole from Oh So Beautiful Paper, and many others. Of course Melanie also met and chat with her idol, Tina Roth Eisenberg aka Swiss Miss, founder of Tattly and CreativeMorningsbeyond other massively successful projects.

We will also remember that we made show-friends that we will be more than happy to see again soon, fantastic folks, weird geniuses, incredible designers and technicians. It would be too long to call them all but a big high five to Benjamin Ryder, Rosanna and Joel from Iron Curtain Press, Risa and Nicole from PapaLlama in San Fransisco, Litsa from That Sky Blue,  Michelle of 417 Press, and many more…

The best things that can happen during this type of event is definitely getting connected with other entrepreneurs in order to exchange on our daily struggles and hopes. I really would have loved to have a “Brain dating” space as E-180 use to organize in several events.


NSS show follow up

As a tradition now, the car broke the day after the show, taking care by the same occasion of our last dollars left.

We end up tired and happy. Tired and happy to have filled order forms, also by the satisfaction to have shops across the United States believing in us and in the talent of Melanie. We are tired but proud and will now do our best to deliver the best products we can.

See you next year NYC!

 

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