August 22, 2012
Summer is nearly over and school will be back in session soon. I drew a little yellow pencil earlier this summer and decided to make a fun little pattern out of it.
August 20, 2012
August 16, 2012
The first post in my small business series was all about doing your research and the first steps I took to launch my stationery company. I have many different topics in mind for future posts, but wanted to focus first on how you can strategically use social media tools to grow your small business. Prior to launching Happy Cactus Designs, I spent a number of years studying social media platforms in graduate school and implementing strategic plans using social media tools with a number of non-profits and foundations, so I hope I can share some of my wisdom.
These days, it's next to impossible to run a business without some sort of social media presence. With Happy Cactus Designs, I have found that using social media tools is an excellent way to build awareness about my brand, interact with potential and existing customers, and network with colleagues. Here's some of the social media tools/sites I can't live without.
Icons designed by carrieloves
- Facebook: With over 900 million active users, Facebook is obviously the dominant social media platform. The day I launched my company's website, I also launched a Facebook page and have watched the number of fans who "like" my page grow over the past eleven months.
- Twitter: Who knew 140-character messages could be so vital to effectively marketing a company? I've been using the @hapcactus Twitter handle since the day my company launched. I check in with my Twitter stream throughout the day and tweet about my work, communicate with others in the industry, catch up on news (...and the occasional celebrity gossip), and to track trends.
- Pinterest: While much younger than Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest has been growing by leaps and bounds since it launched a little over two years ago. Pinterest lets you create virtual pinboards for anything you come across on the web. It can be a great place to share your work and find inspiration.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn is considered by many to be Facebook's boring little brother. The professional social networking site helps you connect with former and current colleagues and learn more about companies. LinkedIn hosts professional "groups" you can join on different topics related to your industry. These are great forums for asking questions and learning from key influencers in relevant industries.
I end up using each of these platforms at least once a day (and usually multiple times in any given day) to connect with others, share news, and learn. In the coming weeks, I'm going to focus on each platform in separate posts and share my tips for effectively using each to build your business. What social media tools do you use? Which tools are you curious about learning more about?
August 15, 2012
We're excited to share that Happy Cactus Designs will be participating in The Dallas Flea on Saturday, September 15.
Brannon grew up in Dallas and has had numerous friends encourage her to take part in the Dallas Flea. We can't wait! We'll have new products and old favorites and even some holiday paper goods for those who like to get a head start on the holiday shopping! Like The Dallas Flea on Facebook for updates and check out our Facebook page for sneak peeks and more details.
August 13, 2012
I've decided to highlight a different card from the Happy Cactus collection every Monday. Each card has a little story behind it and I hope to share the inspiration behind the different designs. Up first, one of my favorites: the "Corazon" heart print card.
The design for this card was inspired by little Mexican tin hearts. I have picked up a few tin hearts over the years from Tesoros in Austin and during a trip to Santa Fe and love the look of these little decorative ornaments.
A collection of tin hearts via Flickr
After coming up with an initial design, I ended up using a light pink and punchier magenta for the heart and a turquoise blue for the teardrops that appear to bounce off of the heart. For the background, I felt that a very light blue helped the colors of the heart really pop off of the paper.
The card has quickly become a bestseller since it was released in May. I had one customer tell me how she likes the design's versatility. It can be used for so many different occasions - as a love note, a congrats card for a new couple, an anniversary card, or just because! The Corazon card is available as a single card or boxed set of 10 notes here.
August 10, 2012
We're excited to share that iPhone 4 and 4S cases designed by Happy Cactus Designs are now available for purchase on MyCustomCase.com.
Two awesome things about the case (aside from the cheerful and fun floral print): it comes in different color combos and you can personalize it with a name. There's a number of features for personalizing your case, including changing the font, the background color, and the style.
August 08, 2012
I had a fun time creating this doodle of little flowers and playing around with some bold color combinations (lemon yellow + purple, brick red + sky blue, magenta + kelly green). When drawing, sometimes I have very particular color combinations in mind and sometimes I have no clue and just see what pops!
August 06, 2012
August 01, 2012
July 31, 2012
While I spend most of the time on this blog sharing drawings and sneak peeks of new products and custom work, I do want to also focus on what it takes to launch and run a small business. When I first launched Happy Cactus Designs last year, I benefited from developing a network of stationery veterans and learning first-hand from some of the best in the industry. That said, it has taken a lot of time, effort, trial and error, experimenting, and vetting to develop and grow the business. I hope with this blog to share some of my insights in hopes of helping others who are thinking about launching their own small businesses (whether it be in the paper industry or beyond). Consider this post the first in a series about managing a small business and how I get things done.
Are you toying around with the idea of launching a company? The best advice I can give anyone thinking about jumping into the stationery/greeting card industry is to do your homework and learn as much as you can from those around you. I enjoyed drawing cards for friends and family for a number of years before it even crossed my mind to create a business out of it. I knew I had the creative skills, but didn't know where to begin! Somehow, the stars aligned...In May 2011, while living in New York City, I received the course bulletin for the School of Visual Arts' Continuing Education program in the mail. Thumbing through the thick catalog, I stumbled across the perfect class: the business of greeting card design taught by the amazing Joyce Wan of Wanart. For the rest of the summer, I was immersed in learning everything I could have possibly ever wanted to know about this industry, including concept development, industry standards, production techniques, pricing, trade shows, and marketing. On top of the class, I spent hours upon hours on the internet researching sources, industry leaders and how they got their start, and what steps were necessary to formally launch a business. I emailed other stationery designers with questions and was thrilled to find what a supportive environment it was that fostered a community.
The bottom line:
- Research art and business classes that are available at local universities, art centers, etc. in your area. Take a risk and sign up for one!
- Don't be afraid to ask questions. I found that more often than not, veterans in the stationery industry were more than happy to answer my questions and share how they launched their business.
- Find a community. I found that while the support of family and friends is beyond necessary to launch a business, it's also imperative to have colleagues in the industry that know what you are going through. Signing up for the class at SVA allowed me to meet others who shared my interests. These days there are so many ways to connect with others online as well. I joined a number of LinkedIn groups tailored to the industry. They've been great forums to learn more about best practices and trends and to ask questions.
July 25, 2012
Last week I was lucky to have a lot of time to focus on some creative work (they say with creative businesses, you typically spend only 20% of your time on the creative side and the other 80% on running the business, and it's so true!). I ended up with a lot of drawings I'm excited about as well as an idea for a new collection/series (more on that soon!). One thing I found was that I ended up drawing a lot of tiles and geometric shapes. I've been playing around with these tiles...making different patterns and trying out different color combinations. Here's one of my favorites!
Some pattern play:
July 24, 2012