Hi! In August I shared with you the exciting announcement that this autumn we will be expanding our website to include physical products. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) And even though I was way vague, you guys got really excited with us. Thank you. Today I'm back to share the story of why we decided to create our own products and how it's all been coming together over the past year! It's a good story. Grab a cup of coffee and here we go…
Over the past few years, Emma and I began to notice two things:
1. There's not a great one-stop place to buy crafty stuff online. We buy supplies constantly, and we shop at dozens of different stores every month. Locally, we are lucky enough to have a couple nice big-box stores that have a lot of the basics we need, but we have readers all over the world who don't have access to these stores. Often readers will comment or email us that they want to try a project, but they are having a hard time finding supplies.
This was light-bulb moment for us. Wouldn't it be nice to somehow have all the supplies we love and use most often in one shop? Even better, what if we could have a shop that was accessible and shipping-friendly to our readers all over the world? Our wheels were turning. You see where this is going, right?
2. The second thing we began to notice was that, even though we have big chain craft stores here and we shop online constantly, we STILL have a hard time finding certain supplies. We modify a lot of things. We mix our own fabric paint colors. We alter things to fit our needs.
We began to realize that if we were craving certain types of products in awesome colors and cute patterns– maybe our readers were too?
So last winter I spent the month working with a graphic designer creating mockups of all the products we wanted to create. In the process of designing ideas, I got SUPER attached to the idea of making these products real. Obsessed. It was all I could think about for a little while.
One of our first instincts was to do the product line here. We priced out what it would be like to buy a warehouse, hire a team to fulfill orders, and source all our products from scratch. We were tempted. And this is something we still might do someday down the road, who knows? But for now, we decided not to go that route because we wanted to do this product line right. We wanted you to have a great experience with our products from the design, to the ordering process, to receiving them at your doorstep. We knew that if we did it ourselves, we'd face a huge learning curve, and so we chose to partner with another company in the interest of "doing it right the first time." Basically, we didn't want to screw this up!
So we pitched our ideas to a giant company. They liked them. We started working through the details. But we quickly realized that to work with a big company meant that we would have to prioritize the big box stores (their big accounts) over our online shop. Don't get me wrong, I hope to sell in those stores eventually. But our first priority was to create an awesome direct-to-consumer website that our readers all over the world could shop.
Soon after, I was in Nashville on a business trip with my husband. Samantha from Studio Calico asked us to have coffee to discuss our future product plans. I was hesitant at first, but having met them at a book signing a few months before, I was like, "why not?". So we met. I had oatmeal. We talked about our companies, our goals. They told me the story of how their product-based company grew, how highly they prioritize their customers, and how (no offense, guys) crazy they are about quality.
I had a good vibe. We signed all those lawyer papers that swear you to secrecy. And we started working out a deal.
We finalized our contract in May and have been working daily to prepare our products for a late October launch ever since. I've been to their offices in Bowling Green, Kentucky many times. (It's near Nashville. That's why we're constantly there if you ever wondered). We've been working very closely for the last season.
(Here we are at a meeting a few months back at SC. We were discussing the holiday product lineup, looking through samples, and planning details for what our subscription boxes would look and feel like.)
We've talked to the customer service team personally about how I want them to take good care of you (they would anyway, they're old pros at that stuff). We've seen how they pack kits and orders in the warehouse (it's crazy!) and the level of detail that goes into preparing every order. We really like their team from the marketing, to the board members, to the designers and the people who handle all the technical stuff.
We like them, we trust them, and we're excited because we believe they'll give you the best possible experience with our new products.
When the website launches, you might not even notice that there is a team in Kentucky working on things. They have worked super hard to make sure our new website, products, packaging, and all the other little details will be true to the ABM brand.
Hooray– awesome partners. Check!
(This photo is from just last Friday with Studio Calico CEO, April Foster. I was at the SC offices meeting all day about our curated collection of accessories, home goods, and paper products that will be included in the launch. So many serious discussions about funny holiday cards and tea towels.)
For the past few months some of you noticed that I was posting here, on ABM, a bit less. That's not a permanent thing (Promise!). I was in a temporary fog because we designed SO. MUCH. STUFF. in a very short amount of time.
Over the past month we found our groove, and we're finding a balance. I design a huge percentage of the products in the shop and consult and curate on all of the rest. This has been quite a process, but I'm so glad we did it that way because I can honestly say that I love every single item we will be selling. We're already working on the new year. It's a dream job.
The official launch date is TBD, but I can say it will happen soon (late October or early November), in plenty of time for holiday shopping and everyone's favorite…. Black Friday!
The launch is set to include a monthly stationery kit (designed by us!) and a huge selection of craft goods like paint, ink, stamps, pretty paper, and stickers. It will also include a curated selection of accessories, home goods, and paper products.
Oh… and did I mention we designed a 2015 planner? I can't wait to show you!
Our new shop site will continue to offer our e-courses (we have some awesome new classes coming!) and photoshop actions.
Whew! I know that is a lot of information in a short amount of time, but I wanted to share our story with you. When the new site launch happens, I want you to know just how many hard-working, creative people were involved in the process. It's been quite an adventure! We're so so excited.
Thanks so much for sharing our joy. We cannot wait to share the next stage of our adventure with you. xo. Elsie