In the early days of my Etsy shop, one of the ways I learned how to operate was by participating in the creative work of others. I learned so much by shopping on Etsy and paying close attention to particularly positive experienes. One of the first shops that caught my eye was Print Stitch and Paste, the paper goods store run by the incredibly talented Cara Herchenrother. Read on to find out more about why I fell in love with Cara, and how that admiration has turned into collaboration! If you're a paper lover or a maker looking to grow your business, I've included some tips for successful collaboration at the end of this post.
When I first found Cara's shop, I was looking for personalized stationery to gift to a friend. Ever the procrastinator, I was immediately drawn to her swift turnaround time. I loved the cheerful patterns and monograms, and I was dazzled by the first stationery set I received from Cara. I didn't know it at the time, but Cara makes every item in her shop completely by hand. Not only did the package come wrapped in beautiful tissue with a personalized tag, but it also included a sharp invoice, a handwritten note, and a coupon for a future purchase. I ordered again almost immediately, and Cara sent a rapid response to clarify my monogram request. She went above and beyond, and I was sold! I ordered from her shop for Christmas and birthday gifts, and she made the first batch of stationery I ever used for my shop: beautiful notecards and notepads. She became my go-to person for paper goods gifts, so when Brittany and I started Brush and Pen Workshop, she was the first person I reached out to for swag!
I was a bit nervous to ask Cara to contribute to our swag kits, as I knew that she was extremely busy with her shop. However, she responded right away and was so thoughtful in her design of a totally new item to debut at our workshop. She collected the first initials of all of our guests and made initial letter postcards for each person's name. The end result blew me away--the design remains one of my favorites of all time. She also included the most perfect handmade magnets that were such a sweet surprise. I am so glad that she was able to bless our guests; her items were a favorite.
Shortly after the workshop, I reached out about a different type of project. I was in the midst of designing product for my first festival booth sales experience, and I thought that Cara would be the perfect person to manufacturer some Oklahoma-themed notebooks for me. I had ordered many of her handmade pocket notebooks in the past and loved them. I sent her a few designs and she was extremely prompt in her responses. She sent back a variety of layout options and vectorized scans of my hand-lettering in the most beautiful way. She even designed an inside cover with a repeated pattern of my simple sketch of the state of Oklahoma . Her attention to detail blew me away.
Cara took several pictures of her process for making the pocket notebooks. The quality of her work is unmatched, so it was so fun to see photos of her process after seeing her final product so many times. The day of the festival, I had so much fun showing off her work and surprising folks with the secret inner cover with the adorable Oklahoma print. They notebooks were a huge hit, and I'm beyond excited to send some out in the next month as a part of my new branding mailers. Cara, thank you so much for your incredible hard work--and thank you for sharing an inside look at your production process!
TIPS FOR COLLABORATION
Creative collaborations are not just good for business...they are good for the soul. Are you interested in learning more about collaborating with other makers? Here are some tips that I've learned along the way:
1) Be a customer first.
You learn so much about another maker when you start out as a customer. This gives you a window into the maker's working style, response time, and unique style. This is also a great entry into emails and conversations with that person. It allows you to start a conversation with, "I've ordered from your shop and love your work!"
2) Don't fear a 'no'--just ask!
It can be a little scary to approach another maker, especially one you've never met in person. The worst that can happen is that the person says no--and more often than not, I've gotten YESes. It's incredibly flattering to be asked to collaborate, and so many makers value this type of work greatly. You may also approach someone who would love to collaborate but is too busy at the present moment. Leave the door open for future collaborations and stay in contact.
3) Use your existing networks.
Pay close attention to your social media networks and Facebook groups. Not only have I built collaborative relationships that started with Instagram love, but I've also found a variety of incredible partners through online communities such as the Savvy Business Owners Facebook Group and in the community of workshops I've attended. Also, don't be afraid to use your own social media channels to put the word out that you want to collaborate. Using a "call to action" post can be a great way to see who is interested out there!
4) Think local.
Look to your local community for opportunities to collaborate. Where are the places that you love to go? Don't worry if you aren't in identical industries. So much can happen when folks team up across networks.
LEAVE A NOTE!
I'd love to hear your questions, thoughts, or additional tips for collaboration. Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.