Hi my name is Ellen and I am addicted to stationery. There I said it. I know I am not alone in this love of all things pretty but the way my addiction manifests is probably quite bizarre to most. I like to buy gorgeous stationery whether it be notebooks, pads, diaries or planners and then… leave them alone forever more simply because they are too beautiful to use. Pretty mental right?! I couldn’t tell you how many notebooks I have that I have bought or been gifted over the years that are in pristine condition because I don’t want to spoil them, a bit like the first page of a new school book where you just had to lay it all out perfectly in your best handwriting and hope you didn’t make a mistake otherwise it would be ruined! Just me?
Anyway, when it came to my business I knew I had to be organised. I never expected to be as busy as I have been. I mean, to never empty your order book no matter how many times you think you are getting close before someone else orders is fairly bonkers. I made the decision right at the beginning that I wanted everything in one place and a way to tick off what I had done as I went on. I do love a good list. There is something immensely satisfying about ticking off all you have achieved, so much so that I make a list every week as to what I want to get done at the weekend. But that’s a whole other story…
So yes, I knew I wanted to be organised but I also knew that I wanted to be taken seriously as a brand and not be known as ‘that girl who does crafts in her back bedroom next to an ironing board, an old ladder and a pile of washing’. Call me picky but that just wasn’t the look I was going for. I had experience with using a couple of different stationery suppliers and on the whole I was fairly happy with what I had. I’d managed to get an order book tailored to my needs, I had the logo stickers I wanted and I’d picked up some other pieces along the way to add in to my orders and make my packaging look professional. However, when I spotted some of Craft Schmooze’s own work I was immediately taken with the look and feel of their products. I like to make my work, packaging and overall style quite fun! For example a selection of their packaging stickers was the first thing to pop into my Etsy cart. 105 stickers in various designs, your chosen colour for just £3.99. Not only were they pretty but they were fun too, with messages such as ‘warning- contains extreme loveliness’. I use these on every order I package now and I can honestly say they have made a difference to the look and feel of my packaging.
Another thing I love about this business is their ability to take on so many challenges with personalised orders. I had spent quite some time designing, printing and cutting my own cards to pop into each order reminding people of what it means to support a small business and thanking them for their order. It reached a point where I realised that it was costing more to do this myself than to get someone else to do it for me and not just financially. Time is money after all. So I contacted Gemma and shared my design and what I needed and she was able to contact me with a number of different options and quotes. I made the leap and I can honestly say that I am so glad I did! I am still using the very same cards she made for me all these months later and the finish is far better than I could have achieved, not to mention the time and resources it has saved me in turn.
I feel confident in that I could approach Gemma again with another crazy scheme, safe in the knowledge that she would deliver the result I need to a high standard. At the time I worried that it would be an expensive solution and that it was just me being lazy but actually it makes perfect sense now and if you asked me how much it would have cost to have them made, I would have struggled to tell you because it isn’t something I lay awake at night worrying about or feeling guilty over. They were an investment and sometimes you have to invest in yourself. I feel the same way every time I order business cards. Yes it feels like a lot to spend on one thing (but then again I think 20p for a Freddo is expensive) that you could probably make yourself but you and I both know that the quality wouldn’t be the same and the time and costs involved would be more than what they can do it for. In my mind, if I can support a small business and make my life that little bit easier I’d be mad not to invest.
I was chosen to be a brand representative for Craft Schmooze and took the opportunity to really rethink my packaging and presentation. Having seen what Gemma could create I was keen to see more and after sharing my plans and requirements with her, I let her creativity flow. A short while later (particularly considering how much I had asked her to do) I was provided with a business mood board that featured my colour scheme, fonts, logo and a theme that could be consistently used across all my business stationery. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. I was also incredibly excited, especially when I saw the spread she had created with her vision of what my current stationery could look like and what other products it could be rolled out to. From this visual guide I was able to propose any tweaks I felt necessary to work with my business or branding and selected products that I wanted to have made. I have to say being able to visually see the ideas and choose as if from a catalogue was incredibly helpful, allowing me to feel more connected to the process.
I chose to improve upon my ‘did you know’ cards which would now feature a watermarked logo background and a blurb about me on the back which is something I had been keen to add but was unsure how to incorporate it, especially as I am mindful of the amount of paper and packaging I use. I also purchased some smaller square cards that encourage customers to leave a review at my Etsy shop and to also share photos on social media. Finally I purchased a number of different sticker designs that all tie in to my brand including new happy mail, fragile, stitch kit and sender/return stickers. The quality is just outstanding and I am genuinely excited to include these in all my orders.
The main thing I love about Craft Schmooze as a business, particularly a stationery business, is its commitment to its customers. What I have noticed as a consumer but also as a follower is their attention to detail and commitment to brands. They are not a business that has a template of a product and will just stick your logo on it and assume you will use their products as everyone else does- which happens more times than you’d like to think. They look at your logo, your branding, your style and your products and will tailor pieces to you. A classic example of that can be seen in their new business planners. I have received two of these, one for myself and one for a friend of mine as a gift. The books could be believed to be two totally different things purely based on the attention to detail on the actual design of the piece.
My planner picked out the bright colours of my logo and used them throughout and kept it clean and simple, much like my logo itself. The other planner I purchased was totally different but utterly gorgeous. Gemma had picked out the leaf in the logo and duplicated it to create a unique pattern across the book and tied all of it together based on the brand colours. This was a theme that she used across other products that were purchased in the bundle such as the notebook and custom cut stickers. Gemma has a real eye for detail and takes great pride in her work and understanding businesses. She had taken the time to explore my friends account and see what she makes and from there was able to establish what she would need for her packaging. All of this is done whilst still maintaining an outstanding price for small business owners like myself!
The final thing that stands out for me is their generosity. I have received lots of pieces in my orders ‘just because’. The planner that I received was a project I had helped support but purely as a friend and I am sure that if she had popped a listing up in their shop I would have ordered it regardless. But Gemma appreciates all the support she receives and is incredibly generous. She compiled the perfect planner for me as a thank you for my help and even included some beautiful stickers based on my business and what she had envisaged I needed. She was totally right! Those samples she created fulfilled a need that I wasn’t even aware I had but they will certainly be ordered. She also was kind enough to pop in some extra treats for my friend too! All of these little acts of kindness go a long way and I know this business will too!
For me, Craft Schmooze stands out above the rest and I genuinely believe they are running their stationery business the right way. Yes it takes an awful lot of time, hard work and dare I say some tears but with that comes love, care and attention and I believe in operating in this way they are ensuring that customer’s feel valued and understood and this in turn will ensure that they return. I know I will.
If you would like to find out more about the maker behind Craft Schmooze then why not read Gemma's interview? Why not treat yourself to some of their amazing products by visiting their Etsy shop! You can also get 10% off your order when you use discount code: SEWINGALCHEMIST10 at the checkout.
*Although I am a Brand Rep for Craft Schmooze this blog post was created by me and all views shared are entirely my own.