Friday, 31 May 2013

You & Your Wedding Magazine

It's at last Friday my favourite day of the whole week and the sun is finally shining - Hallelujah!
This week has ended on a high note for me, along with the sunshine I picked up the July/August edition of You and Your Wedding Magazine and found my Hudson save the date has been featured in their 'Something New' wedding stationery feature. It was such a nice surprise and it's the first time I have had anything published in a national magazine. 

They did request me to send them some samples a while back but i didn't really think anything of it as there are so many amazing invitation designers out there and so much competition. 
Thank you Kate Hornby for your beautiful styling and for including my save the date among all of those other stunning creations!

I will be finishing off all current orders this weekend and then I will be taking a week off from the blog and order processing.
Some much needed R & R is required!

/ / Please Note / /
The shop will still be open for orders and I will still be able to answer any inquiries however, please bear in mind I will not begin working on any new orders until my Monday 10th June.

Hopefully on my return I shall be fully rejuvenated and brimming with creative energy again!


Tuesday, 28 May 2013

serenity: scandinavian style

a little bit of scandanavian style goes a long way in creating a bit of peace and tranquility. which is much needed right now.

i need to get the white paint out again, there is still a lot of work to do in my house and it's not going to do itself. i decided to 'allow' myself an actual day off today and found a lovely new shop near where i live and it is full of amazing interior stuff. i should have taken some pictures as it's so lovely in there. they had the most amazing ginormous deer (at least i think it was meant to be a deer?) statue in there that was made of wicker or something like that - it definitely wouldn't fit in my house it was literally well over 10ft high (maybe it's meant for in the garden?) i will take a picture next time i am in there which no doubt wont be long, i have never seen anything like it before! 
i bought a few nick nacks there for my bedroom re-do which is happening this weekend - about time. i really can't be bothered with the whole wallpaper stripping malarkey that will have to take place before the fun begins. the lovely people that lived here before (or probably before them for that matter) decided to wallpaper every single square inch of the whole house - including the ceilings. let's hope the whole ceiling doesn't come down on my head in the process.

i assure you the next house i will eventually live in will be new, no maintenance and there will be absolutely no work to do - ever. oh yes and it will have a tiny ideally non-grass garden.  i had a wonderful time tackling my jungle yesterday - it took four hours to strim, rake, hoover, and then mow about ten times over to get it looking normal again. i have much better things to be spending my time on!!

which reminds me - i will be uploading a new library card template for you to download as i have had quite a few of you requesting a new one as the download link from the past post is no longer working - so i will be posting that soon.

i will also be posting my photo taking and editing tutorial very soon as i have had a few requests for that from you - my lovely readers and now i have downloaded some screen capture software i can take some snapshots of the screen as i edit the photos so it will make it much easier to follow.

after all that, i think a little holiday is required!


images clockwise 
jon barnard
en paper blog
barbara ekels

Monday, 27 May 2013

so far so good

well, i hope you are all enjoying your bank holiday weekend? i am finally recovered from a crazy few days of order processing. i had a large last minute order that i just couldn't turn down which meant working all through the night to get it done. it's not the first time i have done this so far this year and it won't be the last. am i a workaholic? (or crazy?) - you could say that, but am i upset about it - nope!

this leads me onto the purpose of this post. i wanted to give all you etsy sellers and anyone else who would like to take what you do from a 'hobby' to an actual business. i am not professing to be a massive success - yet ;)however, i have had a marked increase in revenue since january this year and i wanted to share with you how i did it.

above is a graph from my 'etsy stats' ( i have edited it to remove the actual figures) i wanted to show you this as to prove that what i am talking about is not 'bs' and that i really do have some useful tips for you. these tips are mainly focused on those of you that have an etsy shop but i think it will help most people.

make the decision to sacrifice
if you really want to make your business work you have to make sacrifices. as you can see from the time i started my etsy business (more a hobby at the time) i was not making too many sacrifices and was merely plodding along. however, naively i was always confused about how my business was not suddenly picking up and becoming an instant runaway success. the reason this wasn't happening was because I WASN'T WORKING HARD ENOUGH!
at that time in my life i actually didn't need to. things changed and then i had to make it work. some people don't need a massive life change to make them realize that serious hard work and sacrifice are required. but i am one of those people. it wasn't until i was forced to make the decision to either lose everything in my life i had worked so hard for or find the strength to make it work. it wasn't a hard decision - i really had no choice.
don't be the person that makes that decision only when they have to - make the decision now!

i have had to make sacrifices to increase my sales. i have had to sacrifice sleep. not something i like to do as i love my sleep! i have also had to turn down lots of fun things purely because i have made a commitment to myself that i will not let myself and more importantly, my customers down. when everyone else has been out having a good time i have been indoors working. was it fun -  no! but, when it comes time for me to have fun i will be able to choose to do more interesting things with my time, things i wouldn't have been able to do before - and i will enjoy it a lot more knowing that i have made it happen for myself because i made earlier sacrifices.
you need to decide what you are prepared to sacrifice. do you have a partner or a family? these are things to consider. if you want to make it really work you will have to think about whether you would be prepared to spend less time with those that you love. this was a sacrifice i wasn't ready to make before and to be honest i am glad i didn't as it would have been something i would be seriously regretting now.

sell something people want and need
when i was put in the position of having to make my business work i had to really think about what i was doing. i had to look at my shop and the stuff i was selling in it. i realized that to start getting proper sales i had to provide something people really wanted and needed. this was when i really started to notice a difference and my hobby turned into my business.

if somethings sells well, make more of it!
when you find something is popular make sure you try to capitalize on it. make more in a different style, different colours and slight variations. when it comes to etsy the more items you have in your shop the better, but when you have more of what people want in a wider variety - better still. and it's so easy to do with the new etsy 'copy listing' feature.

renew items regularly
the more views you get the more orders you will get - it's a simple as that. i try to renew around 5 -10 times a day so that my items are in the first few pages in the searches. this is something that you need to be very consistent with. if i fail to do it i do notice a decrease in orders. also, the timing of your renewing is important too. i try to spread it out throughout the day but i do get the most orders at around 4-6am. luckily i usually wake up a few times around then so i quickly renew a few items from my phone and go back to sleep. it always seems to work. that's just something i personally like to do - i wouldn't suggest you set your alarm to wake you up 5 times a night to renew but as i wake up then anyway - whats the harm!

list new items often
this is something i am not too great at! purely because i am busy enough with the orders i am generating from the products i have on offer already. however, with a little bit more time management and hopefully when i am in a position to employ people to work on the practical side of things then i will be able to add more and more new designs etc.
a general rule of thumb for successful etsy shops is the more you have to offer the more sales you will get - simple really!

forget about how many 'favourites' you get

i used to obsess over how many favourites i got. i used to get quite a lot and they are now increasing again slightly. i think i got quite a lot before was because i made unusual 'treasury worthy' items. i would be featured in a lot more treasury's and now not so much. i think it's because when people see something in my shop the tend to just buy it. think about it, if i favorite something it's because i am not completely sure and want to see if there is something better available. i very rarely buy something i 'favourite' if i see what i want i buy it there and then.
don't worry about 'favourites'
worry about views because 'views = sales'

take excellent photos
this is SO important. you need your items to stand out in the searches. they need to be clear and bright and professional looking. it amazes me the amount of people that wonder why they are getting no sales when they have absolutely terrible photos! there are so many tutorials on the etsy website - there really is no excuse. you don't need a flashy camera - i just have a simple point and shoot but if you use the correct settings and then take the time to edit them properly you will end up with a really good shot. 
(i will be posting a photography tutorial soon which will detail how i take and edit my photos)

be prepared for slow times
don't get despondent if things suddenly go very quiet. this happens to me all the time. i can go for a few weeks with nothing - not a peep - and then all of a sudden i am getting sales all over the place. just make the most of the down times to work on your orders at a normal pace! and on new products. keep renewing and listing new items. if you stop doing that the sales won't come back.
don't give up!

find ways to motivate yourself

a picture of me as a kid. i wasn't like your average little girl that dreamed of getting married and having babies. my dream was to be a successful business woman. i have had this 'dream' all of my life. the only thing i didn't quite realize was how much hard work was involved to make the dream a reality. i am no-where near where i want to be and things are only just beginning. 
to motivate myself i look at this picture everyday and ask myself - would i want to let her down? this helps me stay motivated when i really don't feel like doing anything.
there is a saying that i love that i was taught while selling credit cards door to door in London.

'when you least feel like doing it is when it counts the most'

this is so true and it's something i try to remember when i am feeling lazy or fed up with working all the time.

i hope these tips help you. really it's just a few simple changes (but hard ones) that i have made that are helping me a lot. so to summarize here are the main points to remember to increase sales in your etsy - or any other online shop

  • sell products people really want/need
  • take really good photos
  • list new items often 
  • you can never have too many products - list, list and list again
  • renew at least five times daily
  • don't give up!


and remember - if you worry about your beauty sleep - or lack of - like i do, you can always have a face lift when you are rich!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

venue inspiration: rooftop weddings

i have always been fascinated and amazed by tall buildings and how they are built, designed and stay upright?! i think these rooftop weddings are such a unique idea and are ideal for city dwellers. imagine the views! more on this theme coming soon.

more wedding invitations coming soon too.


Monday, 13 May 2013

/ / shop update / /

message in a bottle 'save the dates' now available here.


/ / shop update / /

message in a bottle bridesmaid invitations are now available here.
more coming soon.


Friday, 10 May 2013

Wedding Stationery Checklist

So he/she has decided to 'put a ring on it' and now you need to start planning the big day. First of all congratulations!

Now all the fun begins with organizing the biggest knees up of your life and I am here to help - at least with the subject of wedding stationery.

There are some things to get sorted before you even begin to decide on the type of invitations you want to go for.

I have laid out this checklist in a simple step by step way so it's not too daunting a prospect.
I have numbered each step and placed them in a timeline format so you will know when to do each step. Right image - Morgan Hill Designs

So, here we go with the most important things to tick off that ever increasing 'to do' list.
Wedding date 
Pretty obvious and self explanatory.

Guest List
When it come time to order your stationery your designer will need this list if you are having your guests names printed onto them. This will also help with your stationery budget as you will then have an idea of how many people will be attending.

There are wedding invitations to cater for all budgets from full on invitation suites to simple one card printed invites. Don't worry if you can only afford the latter option - sometimes less is more and you can even add your own little extra touches to make them extra special.

Please also bear in mind that there will be postage/shipping costs to include in your budget so please remember the following points - 

- packaging your invites - will they need to be packed into bubble mailers or will they be boxed?
- cost of postage per invite - remember boxed invites will cost more to post than standard enveloped invites
- are you ordering in hand made invitations? Do you request your wedding stationer to assemble the invites for you? If they come in presentation boxes maybe you might prefer to assemble them yourself as if they arrive boxed this could impact a lot on the cost of postage due to the size of the parcel. Ask your stationer for a quote for shipping before you order. Especially if they are from overseas as you will also need to re-post them yourself too so there will be two sets of posting costs to incur. Above image - The Sunny Bee

Wedding Theme
Most people try to have their wedding invitations tie in with the 'theme' ie traditional, modern, vintage, glitzy etc. and also it's a good idea to try to include the same colour scheme as the wedding. The invitations usually give the guests a hint at what kind of wedding they will be attending and the more impressive the invitations are the more exited your guests will get about coming along. 

D.I.Y Invitations
These are a good option if you are on a budget. You can order pre-designed invitations online that you simply print off yourself or at your local Staples or printers. You can add embellishments to them such as diamante's and ribbons to add a little bit of extra style clout. This will not set you back too much. You will need to of course purchase your own card-stock and ink to print them off at home.

There are some really good d.i.y tutorials online that give you step by step instructions to create some really lovely invites. 

The most cost effective option is to buy generic invitations at some stationery shops and department stores such as John Lewis that you simply just fill in and send off. They usually come with an RSVP section incorporated into them. 

Professional Stationery Designer
The next option for your wedding stationery is to choose a professional stationer. It will cost you more money but it will save you time and if you are not particularly prone to being creative with your hands then this is the perfect option for you.
Not all stationers are really expensive and there is a wide range of choice for all budgets and tastes.

Things to consider when choosing a designer

1. Location
Do you prefer to work closely with the designer ie. one on one in person or are you happy to only speak to them via email or telephone. If you are then there are many options for you and you will have a lot more variety to choose from. You can even order your invites from overseas widening your scope for finding those 'wow factor' invitations.
Above image - Wedding Home

2. Aesthetic Taste
You need to be sure that your designer is on par with your style preferences and particular tastes. 

3. Experience
Ideally you will want someone with a bit of experience and of course creative expertise. Ask to see some of their previous work. Ideally they will have previously worked on wedding themes similar to yours. For example if you are going for a vintage themed wedding it would be best to go for someone who specializes or has a good knowledge in that area.
4. Feedback and Testimonials
Do you know of someone who has had an amazing experience with a wedding designer. If that designer has an aesthetic style to suit yours then it would make sense to go with someone who you know has been highly recommended.
Left image - Alisa Mayde

5. Level of Involvement
Would you like to be kept updated every step of the way or are you happy to let them just get on with it? If you like to have a lot of control over things then you need to choose a designer who is patient and has the time available to regularly keep in contact with you. It would normally be best to choose a smaller scale company for this as they are likely to have more time. This doesn't always mean that they will be cheaper of course as time is money but at least you won't be left wondering what is happening.

6. Processing Time
Sometimes wedding stationery can get overlooked during wedding planning as there are often much more exiting things to consider such as venues, dresses etc. so if you have left it a bit late (hopefully after reading this lot you wouldn't have!) then it is very important to choose a stationer that can process your order in time for you to send your invites out in a timely manner.

7. Printing Options
There are now quite a few options available when it comes printing. Letterpress and lazercut invitations are becoming more and more popular so you will need to check with your designer if they can offer your preferred choice before you go ahead.

8. Personality Match
You may well spend a lot of time in communication with your chosen designer and considering it will be at one of the most stressful (in a good way) times of your life, you will need to be sure that they are the sort of person that you feel comfortable with and confident that they will deliver what they say they will. 
Trust your instincts on this one. If you are working with a local designer it will be much easier to work this one out as you are likely to meet with them in person. Most of them are happy to do a free consultation so take them up on this offer before making up your mind.
Even if you are choosing someone further away you can work out pretty quickly if they are someone you want to be working with by how quickly they reply to your emails / phone calls and by the general tone they give in them. Above image - Which Goose

Send Your Save the Dates
Once you have chosen your stationer or the D.I.Y option you then need to decide if you would like to send out save the dates.
So, What are save the dates? 
Save the dates are literally what they say on the tin. 'Please save this day free in your calender for the most spectacular event in history! 'They are sent pre wedding invitations, usually around 6-8 months ahead. They are especially important if you are planning on getting married abroad or are celebrating your nuptials over a few days or at a time when travel is particularly busy.
Above image - LL Papergoods

Your save the dates should include the following information -
-The couples names

Thats all that is required. The rest of the information ie. exact address of venue will be sent later in the formal invitations.

Save the dates come in all kinds of styles and shapes so you can be as adventurous as you like. Take a look at this link over at Martha Stewart Weddings for some excellent d.i.y save the date ideas.

Now that you have chosen if you are having a professional wedding stationer make your stationery, or whether you have decided to make your own or buy some generic ones - it's time to purchase / order them!
Right image - Morgan Hill Designs

What you need to order now

- Wedding Invitations to include all extras such as maps, confetti bags, RSVP's etc..

- Book calligrapher if you are using one

- Choose favors - is this something your wedding stationer will be helping you with?

- Order your thank you notes. If you are planning on having these  made by your stationer you will need to order these now too

- Venue stationery can be discussed with your designer now but you will probably not need to order this until you know exactly who is coming to the wedding which should be around 2-1 month/s before the day. But if you are having the following made to tie in with the theme of your wedding invitations then you should let your designer know what you have in mind so they are prepared in advance from a design, timing and supplies point of view.

Typical venue stationery consists of the following components

- Table Plans
- Place / Escort Cards
- Menus
- Buffet Signs
- Thank You cards
- Guest books / cards
- Other Decor Items your wedding stationer may be helping you with

Wedding Invitation Styles
There are so many different styles of wedding stationery to choose from nowadays it's hard to know where to start!
I will try to narrow down the list to some the main types to choose from

This is where you pay a
professional calligrapher to hand write your invites. To save money you can have them hand write one and then have the rest printed from that. Left image - 100 Layer Cake

Embossing is a printing technique that's surprisingly affordable. An image is pressed into the card to create a 3D effect on the card. You can just have your card embossed with your initial or monogram only, to save money.

Also creates a raised effect by pressing ink into the card. This is a bit more pricey but very popular.

This is where an illustrator designs
your invites and it's often a lovely
option if you are adding maps to your
invitations too. Like with calligraphy
you can have all of your invites hand illustrated or have a master copy that the rest are printed from. 

Laser Cut
Creates a very crisply cut design that is either cut into the invite or a laser cut design is laid over the top

Printing blocks are pressed directly into the card to create a raised effect. This is a printing style that dates back many years but it still very effective.

Screen Printing
Creates a hand painted effect.
Ink is pressed through a fine mesh.

By far the least elaborate of options but can still create some beautiful invitations. From digital printing, lithography and home printing.
there is an option for everyone.

Right image - Beacon Lane

Now it's time to send out your wedding invitations and your thank you cards as the wedding gifts may well have started arriving.

When posting your invites make sure they are packaged properly - especially if you are mailing boxed wedding invitations - you don't want them to get damaged in transit.

Why not add some extra special postage stamps to your envelopes/packages. There are lots to choose from that can tie in the theme and colours of your invitation. It's all in the presentation!
Right - image from Any Occasion Banners

Guest Book
Time to purchase your wedding guest book for your guests to write their messages and even their tips on a good marriage!
Photos can be added to these later to create a scrapbook effect. It's always wise to have a them spread their messages out so that there is room to add photos if you are going to. Oh yes and of course make sure to have a pen handy!
image to the right - Morgan Hill Designs

Menus and reception stationery
By now you should know what you will be having for your wedding breakfast so it's time to order or print your menus. As mentioned earlier, if you have discussed these with your designer it's now time to let them know to get started on them and any other reception stationery you are requiring.

Order Ceremony Programs
Again this is something you may have discussed with your stationer. By now you should know the details of the program. These can also be printed off simply and sometimes your wedding venue can help with this.

Table Plans
Also known as seating plans are simply a 
display that you have at the entrance to your wedding venue which shows your guests which table they will be sitting at.

The table plan will usually consist of a card layout with each card displaying the table number or name and then the names of the guests who will be sitting at the table. 

The 'top table' usually takes precedence in the layout of the table plan with the main bridal party positioned here and the rest of the guests are positioned on the other tables. There are many different ways to create a beautiful table plan nowadays but typically most people opt for a simple card layout (as I mentioned early)that will be mounted onto stiff board, a picture frame or easel.  

By now you will know who is coming to the wedding and now you just need to decide where to position your guests and then you can proceed to create or instruct your stationery designer to construct it for you in time for the wedding. 
The other option is to go without a seating plan altogether if you are having an informal reception. Image - Foxy Couture Designs

Place cards
Also known as escort cards. These are simply cards that are placed on the tables at the position where the guest is to be seated. 
These can range in style from plain printed cards to printed napkins the options really are limitless so let your creativity run wild!
Right image Fairy Folk Weddings

Stationery placement
On the day either yourself (along with the help of friends and family hopefully) will set the place cards, table plan, buffet signs,table number cards, signage, guest book and any other stationery you have.
If you have a wedding planner or stylist they may do this for you and sometimes your caterer will do this for you too. That way you can sip on a chilled glass of champers and focus on the most important thing to do - getting ready!

Finally - Enjoy!
Enjoy your day - all of your hard work has now paid off and it's time to enjoy what will be the best day of your life!
Left image - 100 Layer Cake

If you have any questions regarding your own wedding stationery - please feel free to contact me. I am always happy to help! I also do custom wedding stationery and no task is too big or too small.

contact me at
and visit my wedding stationery shop here

/ / / / / / / / / / / 
If you are attending the Etsy UK Wedding Event or already have and are interested in my wedding stationery please use the discount code ETSYWED for 15% off anything in my shop till the 31st May
/ / / / / / / / / / /

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

hair inspiration: messy hair

i'm getting my hair done this week and i thought i would create a bit of an 'inspiration board' here for my hairdresser to have a look at. i have decided that i'm going to keep my hair long. i was considering a bob again as i know they really suit me but i want to grow my hair long again as i haven't really had it that long since i was really young and if there are plenty of layers it should look ok. the other good thing about having longer hair is that i can rely on the good old 'croydon facelift' when i am having one of my 'i look my age days'! although ladies - don't do it too often apparently it can make your face saggy and we don't want that!

i have decided that i am going to get some highlights too. i have never had them before which is ridiculous really and i also want something more layered and messy looking. i could definitely do with a change. i am so bored with having straight hair. it's actually wavy naturally so it will save me a lot of time with the constant daily straightening that takes place at the moment.

in other (more relevant) news :) i have been working on a 'wedding stationery checklist' which i am hoping to post later this week. it will be pretty comprehensive guide and will hopefully be really useful. it will detail all of the different options out there for wedding stationery and also important information on timescales, etiquette etc..

also don't forget if you are planning a wedding and are able to get there, the Etsy Wedding Event is taking place on Saturday May 11th - if you can go along you will get a ton of inspiration. there is a button that i have added on the right hand side - click on there and it will take you to where you can book tickets.

i will be adding the special 15% discount code - 
to my etsy shop from the 9th May to the 31st May to coincide with the event for those of you that attend so please feel free to take advantage of it!


pictures via pinterest