Archives for September 2013

Preparing for the Holiday (aka BUSY!) Season

Labor Day marks the official start of my busiest season of the year, as business significantly picks up with holiday orders. Just to give you an idea, last year I had 463 total orders. Of those, 312 were after Labor Day. Needless to say, I worked furiously during those months, both promoting TYPOGRFX at shows nearly every weekend, and designing and fulfilling orders during the week. I had anticipated that I would be busy and had tried to prepare accordingly, but I was still caught off guard by the success of my own business. I ended up having to hire help, both in the office and to clean my house in preparation for family dinners. While I still plan to hire help this fall, there are several things that I am getting in order now, so the holiday season goes smoothly.

 

#1. Do an inventory of all major supplies and printed materials, and order more than you anticipate you will need.

brochures

During the second show of last season, I ran out of brochures after handing out nearly 400 in the first few hours. In a panic, I ended up running photocopies of a very basic flyer to get by. I was quite embarrassed to hand out something so plain. This year, I have done a full inventory of all of my frames, business cards and brochures, and have determined what I think I will go through between now and Christmas. After making sure I have all of my materials updated, I am just waiting on the right sales to get them printed online. (I use Uprinting. Can’t beat the quality or the price, especially if you catch a sale!) I also stocked up on other office things like ink, paper, labels and markers/pens.

#2. Get the office in order.

pegboard
frames

 

It’s pretty obvious that a messy office or workspace is not going to be an efficient one. Last year, I had frames and shipping boxes stored in another part of my house (those darn things take up so much space!), and I had show materials scattered all over the house, shed and storage area. There were many frantic searches trying to find stuff at the last minute. This year, I have rearranged my office to accommodate most of the shipping boxes, and all of the show materials are stored in one location, so I can simply load up and head out. I have also arranged all of my framing and shipping materials in way that follows the actual process of framing and packaging them (genius, right?). My drawers are labeled and tools are visible and within reach of the workstation. This will also help cut down on having to constantly advise my shipping assistant of where things are.

#3. Get the house in order.

We hosted Thanksgiving dinner for 35 people last year, and there simply weren’t enough hours in the day to get the house cleaned AND decorated. Luckily, Kayla (with A Girl and a Bucket Housekeeping) saved me from the embarrassment of cobwebs and dust bunnies. This year, I will probably still have Kayla come a couple times, but I will be much more prepared. Over the past few weeks, I have been tackling lingering piles of clutter, including the Easter decorations, a pile of winter gloves/hats/etc. and electronic cords that were taking over our entertainment center. I’ve also worked on getting everything super organized. Not just the stuff you see, but the insides of all of the cabinets, closets, etc. The more organized it is now, the easier it will be to keep it that way and to find things. I also donated several things that we no longer used/need, which freed up a lot of space and helped with organizing.

#4. Plan meals and stock the pantry.

masonjars

Obviously, I’m still going to have to go to the store for things like bread, milk, fruits/veggies. However, I can be stocked up on the basic non-perisable goods and toiletries that we use on a regular basis, including toilet paper. (Bonus: You can find a ton of coupons and specials on toiletries – shampoo, soap, make up – around back to school time!) I’m also going to prepare several freezer meals, like beef stew and lasagna ahead of time. Pinterest has tons of ideas, but Andrea Dekker has a great collection of recipes and tips on freezer cooking.

#5. Work ahead as much as possible.

thankyoucards

When dealing with custom orders and the looming task of promising their artwork will arrive in time for Christmas, there’s just some things I can’t work ahead one. (By the way, check out holiday ordering deadlines and holiday FAQs here.) However, there are several tasks I can and do work ahead on. To a certain degree, I try to plan out my blog posts, email blasts and facebook posts. I also print, fold and hand write thank you notes (often while watching a movie with my family). While each thank you note is personalized, there are basics that I can write ahead of time thanking them for their order and asking for referrals.

#6. Schedule family time.

Hiking during one of our many camping trips

Hiking during one of our many camping trips

Yes, this might sound crazy, but if your busy season is anything like mine was last year, you’ll find yourself at the end of the year thinking to yourself, “Gee, I wish I would have spent a little more time doing non-work things.” Having a popular gift item, I get invited to numerous holiday/craft/art shows – 90% of which are on weekends. I purposely schedule things like a family camping trip and a trip to see the in-laws, just so I cannot commit to having a show EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND. I need to have a life outside of work too. But there will still be plenty of opportunities to come and see my artwork in person, here’s my complete show schedule for the 2013 season. I will be making appearances around the Kansas City metro and north central Missouri.

So there you have it. That’s how I plan and prepare for my busy season. I know it’s not foolproof, and I’m sure there will still be long hours and frantic moments. But for the most part, I feel confident and am looking forward to creating the perfect holiday gift for so many people!