The Decision to Go Semi-Custom
Hello everyone! It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? I don’t like to make excuses, but you can be confident that this absence has not been one of idleness. I have been working like mad to put a lot of things into place that I’ve been dreaming of for a long time. As things fall into place, it has brought me a level of calm and happiness that reminds me of the feeling I had making the decision to follow Design by Laney full time last year, so I know I can trust that things are moving in the right direction. Sometimes, you just know, ya know?
One of the most important things I’ve learned in business is just to follow your instincts, because they are almost always right. With that being said, these upcoming changes are all VERY exciting and started from that gut feeling that I had every time I worked on an order. Some things I love doing, and some things I find myself dreading, which is typically a sign that you’re moving in the wrong direction. I’m sure if you’re here, you’ve seen my posts about the Semi-Custom shop that is launching in a few days, but you may have NO idea what the heck that means. I wanted to take some time to go over what that means, and the logic behind going Semi-Custom, as I have gotten a million questions on this from couples, planners, and other stationers alike.
In May, Alex and I moved from California to North Carolina on only about 1.5 months’ notice. We couldn’t even tell people we were moving for about half of that, so I continued to book clients as normal, repeating Tina Fey’s “Say Yes and figure it out later” mantra in my head over and over again. I was lucky that things worked out so that I didn’t have to abandon any of my wonderful clients, but it was a little tough. For this reason, I am writing this on a sofa bed on day 25 of a 36-day Work Trip back to SoCal.
Being gone for over a month is draining in so many ways, so I started thinking about how I could handle a future move more gracefully. The key was to become less geographically-rooted, and once I realized this, everything else seemed to fall into place! Many of the struggles of running my business came into the open at this point – having to turn down clients that lived further away due to time/shipping constraints, not being able to collaborate with vendors I admired because they were too far away, and having to figure out good delivery and meetup times all over San Diego county for clients to drop off materials, to name a few. It turned out that ALL of these problems naturally led to streamlining the ordering process and product offerings for Design by Laney, and taking on fewer fully custom clients.
So, what does this look like? Basically, it will be ten-fold easier for both clients and myself (and the future employees of Design by Laney!). There will be less back-and-forth emailing, fewer places to make mistakes, less confusion, more direct proofing, and faster turnaround…all of which lead to fewer headaches for me which of course leads to lower prices for you, and that’s what I call a win-win!!! I have been working diligently to create designs that are cohesive, simple, and fit the styles that high-end couples are looking for in their wedding goods. You can them customize them by choosing papers, monograms, add-ons, colors, etc. It’s amazing how even with 35 paper color options and 24 calligraphy ink options (according to statisticshowto.com that’s 417,225,900 combinations), the product offerings seem so much more manageable for me on the back-end – and this means that you will always know exactly what you’re going to get color-wise.
The question still arose though, as to how to make these pieces truly one-of-a-kind even though they are part of a pre-designed collection. I also wanted to make sure I could still have a physical touch on as many pieces as possible, as that is where my passion lies. Enter the Add On Options. These are things like watercolor dips, gold splatter, and torn edges, that are truly unique and take the already ridiculous amount of color combinations to the next level. I think one of my differentiating factors in this market is that I offer a nice mix of printed + customized work, and these Add Ons are the bread and butter of that. So would you like menus with torn edges + calligraphy names on top? Great! You can place that order in 10 minutes, upload a spreadsheet, and have them at your door in 3 weeks – significantly less time and hassle than a fully custom option.
As proud of I am of the work, my dream for this collection is much bigger than it will be at the launch on Sunday. I hope to add Holiday Cards soon, as well as Save the Dates and full Invitation Suites. The collection pieces will all be limited to 10-15 orders, so that everything will remain boutique (you will not see your pieces in a million magazines come next wedding season!). This is also a way to force myself to design for the sake of designing, which is when some of the best ideas are born and perfected, and honestly, as I’ve continued down the path, this is the part I’ve become most excited about. All these crazy ideas I have are finally going to become a reality and I cannot wait to see that happen!
Thanks for bearing with me through this post – I can’t wait to see where the shop leads, and I am beyond excited to send my little babies off into the world (is it weird that I consider my designs to be human infants? Maybe…let’s not dwell on that…). Let me know what you think and make sure you check out the Shop Launch on Sunday 10/1! There are special promos to help get this going that you can access if you’re signed up for the email list (below).
I appreciate every single one of you joining me on this journey, and allowing me to actually follow my gut instincts every day because sometimes it seems absolutely whackadoodle that I am lucky enough to do this and call it work. If you are interested in pursuing your own dreams (DO IT DO IT DO IT), my next labor of love is to finish up the business blog series, so stay tuned for information about starting businesses, keeping them going through the slumps, and special highlights from some awesomely successful fellow business owners I know!