what's in my office?
I have to admit, I am an office supply junkie. My work space consists of all sorts of pencils, paper, folders, tape, calendars & planners (yes multiple). I use a Mambi Happy Planner for my business and demo purposes and the 2017 Kate Spade Agenda Diary for personal planning. I would have to say my favorite supplies to use are washi tapes and stickers! Organization is my life so I also use my Dymo 450 Turbo, Dymo Embosser and Brother P-Touch label printer on a daily basis both in work and around the house. The majority of my glam office is Ikea products (personal faves are the Micke desks [I have 2 forming an L-shape] with matching Micke file cabinet), Ikea Ekby shelving and generic white bookcases from Walmart. Since Ra Element is my full-time job, I surround myself with what makes me happy so you'll see lots of pink and gold! I put a lot of love into each package and want to make each person smile with joy when they see their order in the mail! As for my process, below I delve into that in detail and address the most popular questions I'm asked...
“What do you use to make stickers and why are they such high quality vs other sticker shops?”.
I asked my friend recently about this question constantly being brought up and she referred to me as the Roles Royce of handmade sticker shops. This made me laugh because honestly I hadn’t really paid much attention to how my process compares to others. Since this topic kept coming up I did a bit of market research and found some noticeable differences between what I do and what others do and narrowed it down to 3 easy questions you can ask any shop prior to ordering online stickers to be sure you get quality. Don’t be afraid to ASK THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS! I believe in transparency meaning one should always be open to answering questions about their process and products. I think it is within your best interest to ask any online shop about the quality of their product and more so how it’s produced. Anyone not wanting to answer the following simple questions would make me leery of buying from them. There are some great sticker shops out there so hopefully this will help you find them, especially if you’re new to the planner addiction world! For fellow shop owners: Yes, some people out there like to fish for what they believe to be “the secrets” but really no one can replicate exactly what someone else does because everyone is unique…and sometimes if you explain your process then people will see the value in what you have to offer even more.
My process vs others and how to find premium sticker shops...
1. Do ask: What kind of printer do you use? I’ve seen several sticker shops refer to using an inkjet. If you're new to the planner world and want to print your own stickers this can be an affordable option however professionally I would never use anything but a laser printer (like my Xerox 6280 to be exact). Overall a laser printer will give you amazing depth of color and the ink won’t transfer, bleed or fade. You can even use gel pens (glitter is my fave) to color on my stickers to highlight areas or give them shimmery highlights.
2. Do ask: What software do you use to create your stickers and where do your graphics come from? Quite a few sticker shops have been popping up like wildfire and although some owners claim to be a "designer" they mainly use MS Word or equivalent to quickly copy a poor quality image from the net and offer the it as a download at a premium price. This question will help you avoid this pitfall. True designers like myself will use a graphics program, high quality images that come from stock photography, graphics they’ve created themselves, etc. To create my graphics and layouts I rely heavily on my custom built Windows computer (with HP 25″ monitor) and CorelDraw Graphics Suite. From there I create cutting templates and send them to my Silhouette Portrait. I don’t use the Silhouette software because it is cumbersome and limited compared to the wonders I can create in my graphics software.
3. Do ask: How do you ship your items so they are protected? I was shocked when my friend showed me a package she got in the mail of some handmade stickers. It was wrapped in tissue paper then covered in packing tape for the most part with no support. When she opened it the stickers were bent, torn and some completely unusable. I get super excited to receive mail and am mad crazy about packaging LOL. I think the most fun in shipping orders for me is packing them up! You can read about my glam poly bags here and inside those you’ll find a hardback mailer along with contents in clear resealable bags because you just never know what journey that package will take. Case in point, a previous customer emailed me about her order saying she hadn’t received it on the date it was suppose to but her mailman is the type that throws her mail at her bushes. Yikes! She was finally able to demand her package from the post office where they brought it to her in a trash can of standing water! Although the outer package looked like a truck hit it the contents were safe and dry, phew! Yes this situation might have been out of the norm but I sleep better at night knowing if I spend more money protecting each order it will hopefully lead to my customers receiving happy mail instead of disappointment!
==> Don’t ask: What is your resolution? I get this question a lot. Resolution is the standard of graphic quality and ideally 300 dpi is great. BUT I’ve seen this term being overly used as if to give a stamp of approval for quality of a shop's stickers. This is very misleading for customers. Just because they say they print in 300 dpi doesn’t make it so because the end result quality of a graphic is only as good as the original image. Think of taking a smaller than wallet-size, blurry photo of your favorite high heels and attempting to enlarge it by 300% on a photocopier. The result is eww. Techy speak-wise, if the original image was a very low dpi resolution, say 24, then it will be pixelated (appear fuzzy and out of focus). When someone puts that low resolution image into a document they can save it at 300 dpi all they want but it doesn’t improve the clarity or quality. What it does do though is allow someone to say it’s “300 dpi” and charge more. Most of my images I utilize are 2400 dpi so when I print or create digitals of my creations you’re getting far better than 300. That being said, if you’re use to buying the standard 300 dpi (or in some cases 24 disguised as 300) you’ll notice a definite difference in quality with mine and other high end shop’s products. I’d stay away from this catch phrase question and stick with the first three questions. Those will help you differentiate between the hobby sticker shops and the devoted designer ones.