For the past few months I’ve been working with my wife to help launch her new business Paper Bloom. It’s been a long slog but we’re finally getting somewhere. It always surprises me just how much work is involved in getting a new business up and running.
Paper Bloom creates custom paper flowers for weddings, anniversaries, events, shop displays and home decoration. There’s a split between custom creations which are tailored more to events and pre-created products which are ready for immediate sale.
Along the way there have been a huge number of things to get to grips with…
- Deciding on the products
- Sourcing materials
- Streamlining the product creation (it can be a lengthy process)
- Sourcing packaging
- Photographing the products
- Pricing the products
- Branding and design
- Setting up on Etsy
- Building the website
And those are just the things that spring to mind, there are more that I’ve either forgotten about or not got around to yet.
We don’t have a huge pot of cash to throw at this so we’ve tried to keep the costs down by doing as much work ourselves as possible. Obviously it made sense for me to help out with the design and web side of things but a lot of this is completely new to us.
The product catalogue is still being developed but so far the focus has been on paper flower garlands, bouquets, centrepieces and wall art. This isn’t a definitive list though and it’s being added to all the time. To begin with though, the focus has been kept quite tight to get the products to a very high standard which is something that René is really keen on.
Over time I think the products will evolve as we get more experienced and start to understand the market better.
My wife is a former graphic designer so she had a really clear vision of what she wants the Paper Bloom brand to be. She’s a bit of a Pinterest addict and has spent the last few months getting inspiration together for Paper Bloom. We worked together to create something that’s both personable and echoes the custom nature of the products.
With the logo and branding created we then put together some simple business cards that are currently being printed by Moo.com. We opted for Moo’s green business cards which use 100% recycled paper (it makes sense for a paper based business to be considering the environment).
The cards won’t be used solely as traditional business cards but will also be used to sit alongside product samples in stores and at events. They’ll also be used on product packaging.
Getting Started on Etsy
We decided that setting a store up on Etsy would be worth a try as a starting point early on for a few reasons. One of the main reasons though is that it’s a very quick way to get a product out there and test on an established market.
Learning how Etsy works has actually taken quite a lot of time. Although it’s a really intuitive system there are a lot of tips and tricks to getting your products listed higher up and converting better that are really specific to Etsy. We went completely against the recommendation to shoot all the products on a white background (partly because we don’t actually have a space that fits the bill). I’m still not sure that I fully understand how Etsy ranks and positions products and stores.
At this moment in time I’m not sure that Etsy will be the right choice for us as I can see fairly quickly that the market we’re in is incredibly competitive on price. This seems to go hand in hand with the quality of the product and that’s not something that we want to compromise on. The Paper Bloom brand is all about high quality handmade products. That said, for now some of the products will remain on Etsy for at least a while longer.
The Paper Bloom website
With the branding created and a presence on Etsy it was time to get an online presence of our own set up which will be used to present and sell the custom products that are made to order.
I was really keen to get the website up and running sooner rather than later so we’re working with a Wordpress theme initially with a view to going a little bit more custom as the business develops. Themes do allow you to get a site up very quickly but can be a little more difficult to model into something truly bespoke. For now it will do a job but as with all websites it will be constantly evolving alongside the business.
So for now, that’s Paper Bloom – launched and ready for business but with a long way to go. We’re now working on marketing the products and getting them in front of the right audiences. Fingers crossed…