BUILDING A BRAND :: A STRONG BUSINESS MODEL


I originally titled this post “Not every day is going to be the best day ever.” (This picture here… I remember feeling like it was the best day ever. On Pensacola Beach. One of my favorite places on Earth. With one of my favorite people in the world)

My days seem to go from AMAZINGLY-SING-IT-FROM-THE-MOUNTAINTOPS-AWESOME to RIDICULOUSLY-GO-BACK-TO-BED BAD. My lack of patience while making things happen and commitment to continuing the momentum of the first part of the year keep me pushing through the later. I’m learning that the worst place for me to be is stagnant. Working with many different professionals to organize projects and build ELP sometimes presents the challenge of waiting on three things at once – things that take time to perfect. In another post, I mentioned how much attention I pay to the end product rather than the destination. As an stationer, that’s my job – to be wholeheartedly concerned with the end product, the quality and perfection of my finished pieces. It’s also important to pay attention to the journey there. To pay attention to customer service and to thoughtfully answering questions and guiding my brides along the way. That is as big a job (and just as important if you ask me) as the destination (or final pieces) themselves. Not only does a good experience build loyal clients/customers who will 1) come back to work with you again and 2) refer you and your services to others, but it helps your company grow at a good speed.

I’ve never advertised. Not a bit. All of my clients have come to me via Etsy and referral. I love working with each one. I love building trust with them so that they come back to ask me questions about invitation assembly, calligraphy referrals, post-wedding thank you notes and baby announcements. (Yep, had a few of those!) What a joy to walk with each client throughout their journey. Kind of like a photographer (especially my dear photographers) walks with you capturing the special moments throughout your life. My photographers have taken my 1) engagement shots 2) wedding shots 3) business headshots 5) product photos and 5) will [ONE DAY] take maternity and family photos as well. That kind of trust is irreplaceable. I love that relationship and enjoy building it with my clients.

That brings me to my struggle this week. Wholesale vs. retail.

I adore working with my clients. I also enjoy the business of the business – building relationships within the industry, talking with boutiques interested in selling the ELP stationery and wedding collections directly to THEIR customers, marketing my brand. Whitney English encouraged me to exhibit at the National Stationery Show in NYC for this very reason – to build a wholesale base. The wholesale side of the stationery business is much different than the retail. It excites me to no end. But just as I focus 100% of my energy into one thing at a time, I feel a pull in two directions. 100% to two sides is hard. Lara Casey, in my opinion, is a master of multitasking. She manages people, a mirage of businesses and a personal relationship with everyone she comes in contact with. How she does it, I don’t know. One of the four thousand reasons I admire and learn so much from her. I'm learning lately that just as its important to base your personal brand on your heart and soul and WHY you do what you do. Its equally as important to base your business model on those factors as well. Secrets to a strong foundation.

So in hashing out the ELP business model a bit, I’ve decided to make a few small changes to the website (coming later), begin building ELP Wedding Collection albums and continue to build my custom design/branding and custom stationery/invitations clientele. It’s very exciting and there are some things in the works that I cannot wait to share with everyone.

Morale of the story? Hard business decisions are just that = hard. They’re important and big because they can be game changers. But make them and go full steam ahead. Remember how lucky you are to be able to make the hard, big, game changing decisions. Big decisions are opportunities for greatness.

3 comments:

Katie@simplyandforever said...

Love how much of your journey you share, it is inspiring to me on my own journey. Hope to share some of the things I've been working on with you too, kicked my butt into gear after we talked!

Renae said...

You are the sweetheart of the stationery industry. You are so genuine in your posts.

Stacey Halphen said...

I love following your journey and the journey of ELP. Keep up the good work, and thanks for sharing your heart!