Inspiration

Holidays 2021: Three Custom Printed Stationery Products to Add to Your Collection

Honestly, I have about eleventeen new favorites but in an effort to keep this post short and sweet for all of us, I’ve narrowed it down to three products that are growing fast and helping stationery designers increase their sales.

But first, a little business tip. AOV stands for Average Order Value. This number goes up and down depending on what is being sold. Let’s say a designer typically sells a set of 10 cards/envelopes for $14.95 so that’s the AOV. Now let’s say that designer starts to offer a set of custom stickers with a return address and design that coordinates with the card set for an additional $6.95 so that same order goes up to $21.90. Same number of customers, same marketing cost but now the AOV is significantly higher. Multiply the difference by the number of orders every month and your revenue stream has gone up without a huge amount of work. So with that in mind, here are products that I love that I think customers will love too.

CUSTOM PRINTED WRAPPING PAPER

Custom Wrapping Paper Sheets
Amazing custom printed holiday wrapping paper design by Offensive_Delightful

Wrapping paper is our fastest growing product, makes sense that customers who like your stationery designs will also love your wrapping paper designs. The examples here are not personalized, but they could have a family name and specific holiday message for those who really love everything personalized.

Wholesale Custom Wrapping Paper, printed on demand
Double Sided Wrapping Paper Sheets, Custom Printed on Gloss Paper

Custom printed wrapper paper comes in sheets (5 sheets per set) or rolled (single rolls). To get details about size, stock and costs, go to Custom Wrapping Paper. Make sure that you are logged into your account if you are a creative professional so you can see the wholesale pricing.

STICKERS

It’s hard to believe that stickers are in my top three but they are very on trend, very low cost and very easy to add to a sale. Custom Printed Stickers come in circles, squares, and rectangles. My favorite are the 2″ round stickers, they are a great price – under $5 for 20 stickers and you can upload up to 4 original designs. And I don’t have to make sure they’re straight when I put them on an envelope or package 🙂

Custom Printed Stickers Wholesale
Personalized stickers, custom printed on demand.
Beverage Label applied as a jar label for holiday treats with a custom design.

CUSTOM PRINTED MAGNETIC HOLIDAY CARDS

Family photos with a simple message are still a top trend in holiday cards, why not offer them as a magnet? Make it easy for recipients (like me) who love to display all the holiday cards with a cute photos of kiddos, doggos and families. Magnetic cards come in A7, A2, and 4 Bar. Learn more about them here.https://www.stationeryhq.com/collections/magnets

Custom Printed Magnetic Holiday Card
Custom printed magnetic holiday card.

Should you attend an industry conference?

Part of my job as the Creative Director at StationeryHQ.com is to find ways to support our customers while they build their dreams. We do that by offering products at wholesale prices, with quick delivery and stellar quality. But we also support our favs by shopping at their stores when we need a gift or card and supporting the organizations that support our customers.

I’ve been following the Dream Team at [email protected] for awhile and love the work they do and the helpful resources they provide for creative entrepreneurs. When I saw the notice that they were hosting their annual conference both live and virtually, I hoped we’d be able to help out. And I hoped I’d be able to attend because, YES YOU SHOULD ATTEND INDUSTRY CONFERENCES.

Obviously this depends upon health risks and COVID numbers, that goes without saying. But someday we’ll be on the other side of the pandemic and it will be our opportunity to soak up all the good things that come from being in a room full of your peers.

It’s been a few weeks since the conference and I continue to be affected by what I learned and the people I met while I was there.

One of my big takeaways from the beautiful event set in Bermuda Run, North Carolina, is that your peers understand your challenges better than anybody. The things that you think are unique to you are also “unique” to so many others who have similar goals and aspirations. There’s nothing quite like that feeling you get when a speaker seems to be talking directly to you. Where you’re like, “GET OUTTA MY HEAD HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS ABOUT ME???” And then you look around the room and see a bunch of other astounded faces thinking the exact same thing. These are your people. They show you that you’re not alone and together you can create solutions to overcome just about anything.

What it looks like when the speaker is sharing the thing you needed to hear.

Every time I attend a workshop or conference in the creative space I am reminded that is that there is ALWAYS something to learn and I can learn from everybody in the room. Speakers at events are experts in their fields and have that thing a person needs to possess in order to think it’s “fun to stand up and talk to a room full of people.” They share their experience, research and wisdom. Soaking up this information in person is different than listening to a podcast or reading a book (which are great ways to learn, I do both constantly). There’s something about the energy in a room full of people who want to learn that adds gravity to the information and helps it stick long after you’re home. Not to mention a ready-made group who is enthusiastic about dissecting the topic immediately afterward.

But speakers aren’t the only people with experiences and knowledge to share. I’ve created lifelong friendships with people I met at the HOW Mind Your Own Business conference a hundred years ago. They’ve helped me solved problems, listened to me bitch and moan and celebrated the wins with me. And I’ve done the same for them, they are my people.

The [email protected] conference is focused on Creative Entrepreneurs so the content ranged from topics about the mechanics of running a business – from social media tips to the importance of customer service and everything in between. There was also a lot of attention given to mindfulness, self-care and asking for help when you need it. While running your own business has lots of perks, it can also be exhausting.

What still resonates with me now that I’m back home in California is that having a support system is crucial, both for your business and for your mental health and well being. That support system can be friends and family, peers you met at a conference or partners who do the work they’re good at so you can do the work that you’re good at. The sooner you unload whatever is dragging you down, the sooner you spread your wings and fly.

I’m inspired by the new friends I made and motivated by the information I gathered at this well organized and beautifully designed event– can’t wait for the next one!

Resources for Creative Business Owners

Running your own business is pretty great. You get to call the shots, choose the people you work with, and do the kind of work that makes you proud. You also get to be the accountant, the project manager, the janitor, the IT person, and the sales person. That’s a lot of freaking hats to balance on one head that really just wants to create beautiful things. Good thing you have all that grit.

Here’s what I know about running your own joint: it can only grow if you can let some things go and get help where you need it. There are things that are wholly dependent on you (goal setting, building a culture and team for example) and there are things best left to professionals so you can focus on what you need to do to conquer the world.

There are some excellent resources out there, following are some of my favs:

Creative at Heart Conference – it’s a conference but the educators behind the event offer year round resources for all things Creative Entrepreneur. The founders are totally our people.

Biz Birthday Bash – a super duo with a brilliant podcast and resources for “Making Biz Strategy a Piece of Cake for Paper People.” They have some free resources and some you can buy, including an A to Z directory of providers.

Lisa Congden – if you want to hone your craft or learn something new from an amazing illustrator/designer, check out these classes. You can also listen to The Lisa Congden Sessions on Apple Podcasts. I’m a major LC fangirl, she’s a boss.

Steve Morris – an agency builder, a brand aficionado and next level thinker in our industry. I have the privilege of calling him a friend and mentor and I never get tired of reading his writing about creating a beautiful business and brand. This links to his blog if you’re looking for inspiration from a giant in the branding field.

David Baker – a consultant and guru to creative firms. I hired him a thousand years ago to analyze my agency and help me fix it. He did, to the tune of over $150,000 of additional revenue the following year without hiring more people or working more hours. He’s a somewhat surly, no BS smarty who has helped thousands of creative firms realize their potential. Go to the insights section of his website, I promise you’ll learn something there.

LinkedIn/Learning – If you haven’t spent much time on LinkedIn, you may not know that have TONS of excellent courses in business, design, illustration, and whatever else you want to learn. You can start with a free month and if you want to continue you’ll have to sign up for the $19.99 monthly subscription fee. I learned some mad Photoshop and Premiere Pro tricks through LI.

StationeryHQ.com – if you need something printed and shipped straight to your customer, because, duh.

In a Designer’s Head: Cutting Through the White Noise to Get to the White Space

I’m pretty certain that I speak for many of us in the creative profession when I say that we have A LOT going on inside our heads. We are the rare breed who engage our right and left brains concurrently, which means we are dreaming up things that have never been seen at the same we are creating a a perfect grid with which to align every single element on a page. We are constantly distracted by unexpected colors and textures at the same time we are noticing a pattern of lines in a busy intersection. We’re wishing the menu had better typography while we’re debating whether we need more protein or more dark leafy greens for lunch.

I will never have enough notebooks/sketchbooks to record all of my big ideas. These are just the books I can see without getting up from my desk.

To be honest, it’s exhausting. That’s why all designers worth their salt are totally addicted to coffee. Like if the Zombie Apocalypse happens and we have to quickly gather survival supplies, it goes 1. COFFEE 2. Everything Else.

But I digress. The upside of all of this activity in our noggins is that we are energized by it just as much as we are exhausted by it. We fall into the “Easily Amused” category because we are surprised and delighted by creativity, in all its glorious forms. It makes life more fun. It means we can often find the upside or the solution when it appears that there are only obstacles.

I have to manage the funhouse that is my head. When it’s time to say, write a blog post without going off topic, I very deliberately set the stage. It looks like this:

  • Write “Blog Post” at the top of my left aligned list
  • Take care of any easy To Dos (answer the quick email, unload the dishwasher)
  • Reheat my coffee (for the 3rd time)
  • Turn the ringer off
  • Close extraneous windows on my computer

After all that, there’s like a 70% chance that I won’t get distracted. I started this post yesterday, btw. But I had to take a break to play with the dog. And then I got thirsty. And then I saw a funny tweet and couldn’t stop laughing and forgot all about this post.

I don’t think the rest of the world understands how special a person has to be to have this much going on in their head and still figure out what the client really wants, be original, communicate clearly, meet every deadline, run a business and be a decent human. I’m not saying we’re unicorns. But have you ever seen a designer and a Unicorn in the room at the same time? Ok, I’m totally saying we’re unicorns.

 

Blush and Gold Wedding Papers

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Waste Not Luxe Blush Envelope lined with engagement photo

We were lucky enough to have two of our kids get married in the last year and a half and this time the bride had a vision of a romantic blush wedding with a dash of sparkle and a ton of fun.

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The invitation was double thick with matte gold foil. This is a custom order since I included two different processes. Because I am high maintenance.

I used our Art Print option for the signs. The easel sign is 18 x 24 mounted on foamcore. The Guest Book and Unplugged Ceremony signs are 11 x 14 to fit in standard frames.

The wedding day was hot as Hades and we didn’t want our guests’ flyness to melt so we did last minute misters (with lavender, cuz we are cool like that) and since I’m a designer I really needed the little bottles to look cute and not… last minute. So I printed 3″ round labels (because rectangles are way harder to line up on 180 bottles) and we made fans out of  Flat A9 Cards.

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There was no printing involved in this photo, but isn’t my son so handsome? The bride is pretty cute too.

Our flat foil variable data place cards were perfect for this look. We included a menu which was silly because the guests didn’t have a choice. I created 10 original menus (and printed 20 of each) that included a joke and fortune in case the peeps at the table needed an icebreaker. #10 Flat Cards with rounded corners were perfect to insert in the blush linens. This was a huge hit with our guests.

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That’s me and Mr. StationeryHQ smooching on the right. Wish I could do my own wedding all over again, good thing I have one more kid to go… see more of our guest book options and wedding supplies here.

 

White Ink on Colored Envelopes, yea baby!

We are pretty sure you are going to love this option as long as you know how to set up your files for print. For now we are only printing addresses on the front of the envelope, stay tuned for addressing + back flap – we are working on it!

For variable data with white ink:

1.    Create a multi-page, 7.25″ x 5.25″ document with each name and address on a single page for the A7 envelope.

2. Create a new swatch called SpotColor_White. This example is in InDesign.

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3. All artwork, including each name and address should be assigned SpotColor_White.

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NOTE: WE DO NOT PRINT BLEEDS ON ENVELOPES, MAKE SURE YOUR ARTWORK IS AT LEAST .25″ FROM ALL EDGES

4. Save the file as a high resolution, multi page pdf file.

5. Upload the file.

6. Proof your artwork (you can view as many pages as you’d like).

7. Complete your order.

Order your White Ink Variable Data Envelopes today!

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The Craft Paper Look for Less

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The bride loved the sweet look of craft paper for an outdoor winery wedding but only needed 60 invitations and really wanted to keep a tight budget for invitations. We used Natural Savoy Cotton for a nice textured finish, very similar to craft. Most of our flat cards come on Natural Savoy and the envelopes are a perfect match. To create the small hang tags, I used a 4Bar card and set up the files with two cards that I could cut down after printing 30 originals. Tags_Front

I ran a DIY test print with various craft paper photos to make sure that the color was right and it really looked like craft (to non-designers who wouldn’t inspect the edge of the card to see if it was legit).

This solution is not for the purist, but it’s perfect for a quick turnaround, very affordable white-ink-on-craft-paper-look wedding suite.

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Foil Stamped Stationery: Can’t get enough shine.

RoseGoldYep, we added more foil stamping color options on StationeryHQ.com because we know you’re obsessed. And so are we. You can already order foil with digital printing through our website. Now you can order foil on A7, A2 and 4Bar size without digital printing on:

  • 130#/21pt Environment Wrought Iron Raw Cover
  • 130# Classic Crest Smooth Cover – Epic Black
  • 130# Classic Crest Smooth Cover – Patriot Blue

And since Rose Gold Foil is a smokin’ hot trend, we added that too. Other colors include festive Red, Matte Gold, Metallized Gold, Matte Silver, Metallized Silver, and Copper Foil. Foil stamping is perfect for wedding invitation suites, save the dates, small art prints and party invitations. Turnaround time is about 5 business days, find pricing here and don’t forget to log in so you see wholesale prices!

Shout out to Brit Tucker for generously sharing her totally fabulous typographic genius with us – thank you!

Foil continues to shine

You designers have made foil for online automated ordering one of our fastest growing categories. The rest of the world is still falling in love with this look so be sure to include in your 2015 holiday collection. Keep in mind that it takes 7 – 10 business days as opposed to 3 days to produce. Order early so you don’t have to stress about getting them out on time.

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Silver foil on Natural Savoy. Boom.

Things to know when you are designing for foil:

– Foil reproduces best on smoother papers, if you want to use cotton or felt, keep it big and bold

– Make strokes 2pt or bigger

– Simpler, solid artwork will reproduce the foil best

– Comes in A7, A2 and 4bar

– File set up is a little different, check out file set up instructions, you’ll find them under the white card preview

Silver foil on Ice Pearl. Mmmm, so shiny.

Silver foil on Ice Pearl. Mmmm, so shiny.

Available foil colors.

Available foil colors.

Get your shine on and post your foil design pics on our facebook page so we can celebrate your sparkle

Guest Post from a Kick Ass Designer

Hello, I’m Melinda Hartz McElroy, founder and creative director of billet-doux. I’ve been dreaming up couture stationery, invitations and wedding suites since 2005. I love telling personal stories through something tangible, tactile and visually stimulating. But, as I was realizing visions for couture clients, I started to wonder, “How do you stay relevant in the broader marketplace?”

So, I decided to do something completely radical – launch my first ready-to-order wedding collection. What a novel idea! Having previously only collaborated with clients on a custom project basis, I threw caution to the wind and designed suites for imaginary brides and grooms. I immersed myself in fresh and current wedding trends and created a comprehensive collection across a variety of style categories.

It’s easy to get caught up in each and every delightful trend happening in our industry right now, but I kept focused with my targeted list of on-trend must-haves. Mixed typography, handwritten fonts, hombre color effect, monograms, polka dots, lace, floral patterns, and rustic and rhinestone details are among them. But, what are my top obsessions these days? [queue music]

brooklyn detail_website

1) All Things Whimsy

Whimsical elements will forever be at the tippy top of my list. At the core of who I am as a person and a designer, I love the element of surprise and the unexpected. The Brooklyn suite is a sharp detour from my typical design aesthetic; yet, it’s ironically my favorite of the collection. Brooklyn is modern yet whimsical, and perfect for the bride throwing an untraditional, offbeat wedding. [I heart that girl!]

Brooklyn Wedding Suite – billet-doux Spring 2015 Bridal Collection  Printed by StationeryHQ

Brooklyn Wedding Suite – billet-doux Spring 2015 Bridal Collection
Printed by StationeryHQ 

2) Glam/Art Deco/Metallic

So, I squeezed three trends in one, but let’s face it – they all go together like peanut butter and jelly. Dare to kick up the glam by adding to something that’s already glamorous in its own right (that’s you, gorgeous bracket die-cut pocket enclosure!)? Selecting a rich metallic color palette and pairing it with mixed typography (another design mainstay) in simple colors creates an added layer of formality. But it’s the gorgeous glam rhinestone embellishment that transports guests of this Gatsby suite back to the Art Deco era.

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Gatsby Wedding Suite – billet-doux Spring 2015 Bridal Collection Printed by StationeryHQ

gatsby collection_website

3) Dreamy Paper

I find leveraging beautiful paper to be an uber refreshing design tactic. I mean, why reinvent the wheel with every card? Let thoughtful typography or custom monograms punctuate a suite, and rely on fine papers and gorgeous prints to take the lead in setting the tone. Together or on its own, printing on dreamy double thick paper can easily add a lot of impact and take your design to a whole other level. (Thank you, StationeryHQ!)

Petal Wedding Suite – billet-doux Spring 2015 Bridal Collection Printed by StationeryHQ

Juliet Wedding Suite – billet-doux Spring 2015 Bridal Collection Printed by StationeryHQ on double thick card stock; Rifle Paper Co. floral bellyband

petal collection_website

Petal Wedding Suite – billet-doux Spring 2015 Bridal Collection Printed by StationeryHQ

Enjoy my portfolio and billet-doux’s complete 2015 Spring collection at www.couturestationery.com. Keep in touch on Facebook at www.facebook.com/billetdouxinvitations or at [email protected]

melinda headhsotAbout Melinda McElroy

Melinda Hartz McElroy is founder and creative director of billet-doux. From fĂŞtes to gratitude, billet-doux has been spicing up mailboxes with one-of-a-kind cards since 2005. Melinda is the former National Marketing Director of a multinational billion-dollar accounting and consulting firm. Melinda oversaw marketing and advertising campaigns for 42 offices across the United States.

By pairing clients’ individual style with billet-doux’s unique brand of creativity, Melinda dreams up pieces that even make wallflowers bloom. Whether creating something couture from scratch or selecting from readymade collections, all items are fully customizable without limitations. billet-doux’s service offerings include wedding suites, social and business stationery, party and corporate event invitations, event details, baby announcements and holiday cards.