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Studio9:05 Notecard Set Giveaway!

Studio9:05 Notecard Set Giveaway!
 

Many thanks to Robin McCoy Ramirez of Inspired By Savannah for her second feature on Studio9:05 this week. Studio9:05 has been highlighted as Robin’s Friday Feature this week. We sent Robin a set of our BFF Notecards to review and she will also be giving them away to one of her readers!

Our folding BFF Notecard set is cheery, playful, and just begging gor you to write sweet nothings to your dearest pals. The exterior of the cards feature an authentic vintage photo of my grandmother and her crony, circa 1952. The set includes 8 folding notecards measuring 3.5 in. W x 5 in. H. in 4 colors: Poppy, Canary, Lime, and Seafoam (2 of each color.) The cards are professionally printed by a commercial-grade digital printing press on heavyweight white paper. The set includes 8 white envelopes and it all comes packaged in a sturdy natural Kraft board gift box (featured below).

One lucky Inspired by Savannah reader will win a BFF notecard set for themselves, or to give as a gift. To enter, head over to Studio 9:05 and pick your favorite product. Then leave a comment on Robin’s Feature Friday Post on Studio9:05. Make sure you leave your email address with your comment, so that she can contact you if you win. Open to US residents only. Giveaway ends on October 7, 2011 at 11:59PM EST. Robin will use Random.org to choose a winner. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to Robin’s email and claim his or her prize. If Robin doesn’t hear back from the selected winner, she will draw another winner.

Now for Robin’s post on Inspired By Savannah:

Feature Friday — Studio 9:05 (Review and Giveaway)

This past Monday I had the opportunity to spotlight Mary Katherine “MK” Alderman, creator of Studio 9:05.  If you missed my interview with MK, click here to read it now.  Today I wanted to share more about this great online store for fun and creative digital printed gifts. If you are a fan of indie crafters, then you must check out MK’s store.  I just love the vintage spin she puts on prints and creates handmade gifts like coozies, blank notecards, sunshades, stickers, coasters, fill-in-the-blank invitations and much more.  Every item in MK’s store is playful and fun.  You can’t help but think of all your dear friends who would love to receive a special message from you with MK’s vintage print notecards.  I have a few friends who are always hard to shop for, but not anymore.  They like handmade products from indie artisans and unique items, and Studio 9:05 is right up their alley.

Just look at some of the products that are available for purchase (all at reasonable prices).
And, if coasters are your thing, check out these three coaster sets that will be released this month, each set for only $20.00.  These would make great gifts for your girlfriends, as a housewarming gift, or just to add fun to your next girl’s night.
And, take a look at these cute baby party invitations that MK recently added to her online store.  I would have loved to have sent these out for Savannah’s first birthday this past July.  Guests would have got a kick out of the baby on the invitation.
Don’t forget to sign up for MK’s newsletter to stay informed on new products, news and promos.

Click here to visit Studio 9:05 and begin shopping now.   With the holidays right around the corner, why not begin your holiday shopping now for those hard to shop for friends and family by picking up a few notecard sets and coasters.  Each notecard set comes in a nice box seen below, so you can  simply put into a gift bag with some tissue paper and your gift is ready to go!


–GIVEAWAY–
One lucky Inspired by Savannah reader will win a BFF notecard set for themselves, or to give as a gift. To enter, please head on over to Studio 9:05 and tell me another product you like by commenting on this post. Make sure you leave your email address with your comment, so that I can contact you if you win. Open to US residents only. Giveaway ends on October 7, 2011 at 11:59PM EST. I will then use Random.org to choose a winner. Winner will have 48 hrs. to respond to my email and claim his or her prize. If I don’t hear back from the selected winner, I will draw another winner.
Thanks so much Robin!
Let’s get up to no good,
Studio9:05
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The Juice Is Worth the Squeeze.

The Juice Is Worth the Squeeze.
This month Studio9:05 has been fortunate enough to have been picked for two interviews!
This second interview is posted on Inspired By Savannah authored by Robin McCoy Ramirez. Robin is the mother of 1-year-old Savannah Rose (the namesake of her blog) and developed the SoothEaze blanket while pregnant with her daughter. Robin received a grant through the Huggies MomInspired program to develop the SoothEaze blanket. Robin lives in Putnam, CT with her husband, daughter, and 3 rescue dogs.Robin can be reached at rmccoy1234@gmail.com or you can find her on Twitter: @rmccoy1234

Excerpt from the Interview: 

On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?  

I switch from strategic to tactical mode and just move forward one task at a time. The big picture can be both inspirational and daunting–being able to focus on the task at hand is what keeps the engine in drive. Just remember that above all, the juice is worth the squeeze.”

Now for the Inspired By Savannah interview:

Spotlight on Mommy — Mary Katherine “MK” Alderman of Studio 9:05

I am always on the lookout for great giftable items to give to family and friends.  I try and seek out handmade items that really show the person how much they mean to me.  So, when I stumbled upon studio 9:05, I knew I had to spotlight the creator of this amazing and fun giftable product line, Mary Katherine “MK” Alderman.  What I love most about MK’s style is how she uses playful vintage photos in creating her product line, which includes notecards, sunshades, invitations, coozies, stickers and coasters.

Click here to check out MK’s online store and see her amazing creations for yourself.  And, don’t forget to come back to my blog on Friday when I will be reviewing a set of notecards MK sent my way.  One lucky winner will win this notecard set for themselves.In the meantime, please enjoy my Spotlight on Mommy interview with MK.

Name: Mary Katherine “MK” Alderman

Company Name/Product/Service: Studio9:05, LLC/Vibrant, fresh, giftable items for everyday use.
Company Location: Raleigh, NC
Company Website: www.studio-905.com
Twitter Handle: @studio905
Age of Company: 1 year, 3 months.
Favorite Inspirational Quotes: “Everyone who carved their own path fought through brush in the beginning.” – Myself
and  
“The biggest mistake people make in life is not trying to make a living at doing what they most enjoy.” -Malcolm Forbes
Favorite Book: I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson–When I was working as an outside sales rep a few years ago, I spent a lot of time on the road and developed a secret passion for books on tape. This was one of the first books I listened to and it resonated with me so deeply, I just absolutely fell in love with it. A few months later, I found a

signed copy in the $2 book bin at Goodwill! I have read it more times than I can count and just recently found out that they made it into a movie! You can bet I’ll be the first in line for a ticket!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How many children do you have?  What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc. 
I am married to my wonderful husband Billy and we have one child, our son Ian who will be 3 in December. We also have a 2-year-old English Bulldog named Roxie who has commandeered the couch as her own. I love coffee and savor quiet mornings reading the paper. I find the creative process to be cathartic and necessary for my self-fulfillment.
Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about? 
Studio9:05 began as a sense of quiet desperation I had unknowingly incubated during my years in the corporate world. I worked 50 hours/week and allotted no time for self-reflection or self-development. My creative side had been quelled for too long and I began searching for an outlet for my creative energy. Although my work schedule didn’t allow for much activity outside my primary duties, I made time during lunch breaks and after Ian went down for bed to draft a business plan and create a savings schedule that would give us the necessary financial cushion to pursue my own venture. In the spring of 2010, I partnered with a dear friend to start Studio9:05. We were able to gain immediate business by offering identity design to indie businesses and worked consistently to research potential suppliers and develop a comprehensive product line. By the spring of 2011, I took the jump off the corporate cliff and set up an official LLC for Studio9:05. Soon after, my friend and I decided amicably to go our separate ways: her company’s focus is on identity & marketing collateral design and I am focusing on bringing the Studio9:05 product line to retail and wholesale markets.
What is a typical work day like? 
Typically, I wake up around 6:30AM and check my emails (some of my suppliers are overseas and their emails come through at odd hours). I then get to have a somewhat leisurely breakfast with my son before I take him to pre-school. I work from about 9AM-5:30PM M-F and usually get an additional hour or two of work done in the evenings. I am working more hours/week now than I was at my corporate job–but the difference is, I look forward to each day. It doesn’t feel like work anymore. I keep my weekends free for family time.
What has been a struggle while starting up your company? 
The primary struggle has been learning to be a jack-of-all-trades. I am juggling almost every task associated with the business including design and product development, purchasing, supply chain management, sales & marketing, and shipping. The only task I outsource is my bookkeeping–and that is done on an hourly basis by my accountant/college roommate. Often it feels like there are not enough hours in the day. My to-do list seems to grow at a much faster rate than I can cross things off!
What did you do in your past work life?
I graduated from North Carolina State University  (GO PACK!) with a BS in Business Management and a concentration in Finance. In my past work life, I worked as an outside sales representative for a Fortune 500 Supply Chain & Logistics firm. I gained invaluable skills in sales, purchasing negotiations, and logistics during my time there.
What have been some of your major successes? 
I’m still waiting for that “major” success, but when I look back at everything I have achieved just in the past three months, it’s kind of mind-blowing. From teaching myself how to utilize Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to pulling together a comprehensive product line, developing a brand new website, and designing a completely new brand identity (all on my own!), I realize I have made tremendous strides since I decided to move full-time into my indie business. All of these milestones have been incredible accomplishments for me and as I position Studio9:05 for the wholesale market, I am really excited to move forward.
What have been some of your major challenges?
It has been a challenge to try and complete everything as a one-woman show. Sometimes I feel like I’m in that scene from Willy Wonka when he is coming down the stairs in the chocolate factory–taking a few steps forward and a few steps back–eventually he makes it to the bottom of the stairs but it took him an awful long time! That’s how I feel by mid-week every week if I still have most of the items left on my to-do list. It can be very frustrating when I feel like I’m not completing things as quickly as I should. I generally go into overdrive at that point and push through until I’m done.
On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?  
I switch from strategic to tactical mode and just move forward one task at a time. The big picture can be both inspirational and daunting–being able to focus on the task at hand is what keeps the engine in drive.
What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family? 
Communication and prioritization. If I communicate my schedule to my husband ahead of time, he knows what to expect and there are no surprises. We both know that it takes an awful lot of work to get a business off the ground, but we also agree that it’s vital to set time aside as a family and as a couple. This very issue was the inspiration for my “Life Lessons” coaster set–particularly the design stating “Make time for quality time.”
What is next for your business? 
The next step for Studio9:05 is the wholesale market. My time from August to October will be largely focused on marketing to stores and developing relationships with regional wholesale reps. I hope to exhibit at at least two large tradeshows in 2012 as well.
Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business? 
First and foremost, make sure your finances are in order before taking the leap. You need to make sure that your personal debts are taken care of before burdening your family with additional business startup costs. Once things are squared away on the financial front, my best advice is to go for it–hard and strong. Do not waver from your ultimate goal and don’t let naysayers throw you off your path. Use your pre-launch planning period wisely–research suppliers, research competitors, price your products appropriately from the beginning and create a sales strategy ahead of time. There are lots of great indie business communities on the web devoted to educating new business owners in everything from pricing strategies to PR to sales tactics. (I highly recommendhttp://theentreprenettegazette.com by Sarah Shaw, www.craftmba.com by Megan Auman and http://thecreativeempire.net by Megan Auman & Tara Gentile–two veterans of the indie crafter/maker industry.) But above all, just remember that the juice is worth the squeeze.
 Let’s get up to no good,
Studio9:05

Look Who’s Talkin’!

Look Who’s Talkin’!
This month Studio9:05 has been fortunate enough to have been picked for two interviews!
The first interview is posted on CreateHype.com Create Hype offers a variety of interesting marketing tips and tidbits from guest contributors and special experts, who bring different specialities to the table.

Sign up to their email now or read through their tip archives.

Create Hype’s email tips are delivered a couple times a week to give you the tools, tips and actionable advice you need to get you successfully marketing your business with confidence. Topics covered include advertising, word of mouth, branding, social media, public relations plus we offer exclusive deals and giveaways to help boost our reader’s business.

Now for the CreateHype.com interview:

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It’s such a huge leap of faith to move from a secure job to a creative adventure but some entrepreneurs thrive in such situations.  Mary Katherine Alderman is one of those amazing ladies, turning herself into a graphic designer who creates humorous cards, invitations, drink cozies, and much more.  She’s been so kind to share the story of her business,Studio 9:05, and some wonderful advice with you today!

You made a huge switch from a Fortune 500 company to a self-taught creative business. How long did the switch take and did you have the support of your family?

It took a full year for me to get up the nerve, flush out my business plan and build up my savings. I worked 50 hours/week and my husband and I had a toddler to take care of as well–so I spent almost every lunch break and most evenings brainstorming designs, researching the industry, reading business/design/escape 9-to-5 books and flushing out my business plan.

I am fortunate to have an extremely supportive family. My husband is behind me every step of the way and my parents and in-laws have been some of my biggest cheerleaders. Not to mention my three older brothers, my younger sister, cousins, aunts & uncles and good friends. These are the people I rely on for emotional support and constructive criticism–I know I’ll get the real schpeal from them.

I know that you are entirely self-taught in your graphic design work. Would you say that most people could teach themselves such a skill? Or were there certain resources that you would recommend?

With the abundant resources available online today–I would say that YES–most people could learn to use design software. I am fortunate to have a very good friend who is a graphic designer and has helped me get over more than a few humps–but had a searched long enough, I would have been able to find the answers to my various questions on my own. Google is a miracle–just type out your specific problem and the version of software you are using and you can generally find a forum thread specific to your situation. In addition to forums, you can find an incredible amount of educational videos on YouTube for most any version of Adobe software (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash, etc). In the beginning, it was really helpful to keep associated textbooks on my desk–I use the “on Demand” series by Perspection, Inc. The books are really well organized so it’s pretty easy to find what you’re looking for–and the website has activities for virtually every single topic covered in the books. Be prepared to invest some time, but there really is something empowering about being able to funnel your creative energy into digital form (and not have to rely on a graphic designer to produce every single creative thing you will ever need for your website).

Your work includes vintage black and white photographs. Are there any copyright laws you need to uphold?

All of my vintage photographs are family photos featuring my grandparents during their years as expat’s in Cairo, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Before using a photograph, I get permission from my mom and aunt. I also make sure to get their approval on the level of naughtiness to which I can take things. One book I would suggest for anyone questioning whether or not they can use certain material is The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Patents, Copyrights, Trademarks, Trade Secrets, and Licensing by Jill Gilbert.

You mentioned several blogs and community forums that you take part in. What have they offered you during your career change and which are your favorites?

Oh sheesh!–What would I do without them? Megan Auman has been BY FAR the most influential person for me–simply because I’m embarking down the same path that she has trekked–I have a product-based creative business and I want my primary revenue stream to come from wholesale accounts. For me, her blog Crafting An MBA has been my go-to since I first began letting the thought of entrepreneurship creep into my head. By following Crafting an MBA, I learned about another of Megan’s ventures with her friend Tara GentileThe Creative Empire is an online member-only community of entrepreneurs that fosters supportive conversation, relationship-building, and brainstorming with positive, like-minded business owners.

Some additional resources that I keep up with regularly are:

  • And although I no longer look to them daily, when I was working in the corporate world, I got a huge boost of confidence from Michelle Goodman’s books: The Anti 9 to 5 Guide-Practical Career Advice For Women Who Think Outside The Cube and My So-Called Freelance Life-How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire.
  • Sixteen Weeks to Your Dream Business-A weekly Planner for Entrepreneurial Women by Nada Jones & Michelle Briody was instrumental in the early days of narrowing down all the possibilities of making it on my own.

Your lovely shop is beautifully branded. What steps did you take to come up with your brand and how did you integrate it into every aspect of business?

First of all, thanks! My branding was an organic process. It began with some creatives that my graphic designer friend came up with (while I was still in the beginning stages of learning the design software)–they sufficed, but they didn’t make my heart hum. They were pretty and feminine and placed on a white background. I knew that I liked a certain level of femininity–but it can’t be all sugar & spice & everything nice with me–especially since most of my designs feature women in the 1950′s partying and getting up to no good. I needed some juxtaposition. The only thing I kept out of that entire brand identity was the font.

As I expanded my collection of designs, developed new patterns, and experimented with varying color combinations, I figured out that I really (I mean REALLY) loved vivid, highly contrasting colors–so I incorporated them into every product offering. Once I had a reasonably sized collection of my own creatives, I created a rough digital collage and tried it on different backgrounds. When I saw my designs on a charcoal gray background, the colors popped. My heart fluttered. I had hit it. I then expanded this theme throughout everything associated with the visual style of my brand including my logo, my website, product photography, packaging, and marketing materials.

My tagline “Vibrant. Fresh. Giftable.” came from an exercise in Megan Auman’s Marketing for Makers course in which she explained that the most effective branding is an extension of your products. I began by weeding out any designs that didn’t seem like they belonged. I then brainstormed all the words that I thought could be used to describe my products and asked my friends and family members how they perceived my products. I made sure that my personal perception and the external perception meshed—and then chose the three words that best represented my brand: Vibrant, Fresh, Giftable.

Isn’t she inspiring!?  I hope you were encouraged by Mary’s words today to take a little leap of your own!  If you’d like to see more amazing work by Studio 9:05, check out her site!

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If you or someone you know would like to be considered for an inspiring interview, please send a link to your site to megan@justinegrey.com!

 Let’s get up to no good,
Studio9:05