2016 Collection: Behind the Scenes

The 2016 Collection is live! I can’t tell you how good it feels to have the new patterns out in the world with beautiful photography to help show them off. This is the third collection I’ve come out with in the last three years and it was definitely the most challenging to complete. I think that’s probably because I was feeling some major burnout after last holiday season. Once January rolled around, I realized I had been running on autopilot and needed to step back to reevaluatethe direction of my business.

The last two collections were screen printed because you can achieve such cool looks with that process, like amazing metallic inks and bright colors on dark backgrounds. I had a large amount of paper printed so that I could cut down on costs and have a large inventory. This worked for awhile but when I printed that first line, I really didn’t know how much to print...so we printed a lot. I still have paper left over from that line which is cool because I still love it and use it, but it seemed like there could be a better way to avoid so many leftovers. 

2015 Collection pictured on the left, 2014 Collection pictured on the right

Another challenge I was trying to figure out was how to incorporate more custom frame work into my business. This area was where I was seeing the most profit, and it was the most unique part of what I did. And my favorite! My custom clients are amazing and they all come back again and again, which is a great thing to have in a small business. But I wanted to create an easier way for anyone to design a custom frame right on the Craftbelly website

In the past I have used my Epson inkjet printer for printing samples or trying out new patterns, along with printing wedding invitations. I have done a couple of custom frames with paper I printed myself and they always turned out great. I realized that I could easily print my own paper here in my studio on demand,  printing only what was needed. This would be a great way to save on high up front costs and play around with new color combos. Not to mention it would be extremely easy to print custom colors combos. 

With this new direction, it took some time to really figure out how the whole deal was going to work. And then I still needed to design the new patterns. That took longer than expected but was a necessary step. I printed out tons of samples and tried out many color swatches until I came up with a set of eight ink colors that I loved. Once I got going with designing, I was able to finalize five new patterns and decided to keep three of the favorites from past collections for a total of 8 patterns! 

Samples of printed patterns

After the designs were finalized, the next step was making samples for the photo shoot. I was going to have my favorite ladies Nicole D Stylist and Jennifer Olsen Photography do the photography and styling again because they are super talented and awesome to work with. With so many different style combos available, I needed to pare down for the shoot. So I chose a few for each pattern and then came the most fun part. I was going to feature some of my favorite artists’ and photographers’ work in each frame so I needed to pick all the artwork! You can learn more about who I used here. All of these special women were so great to work with and even agreed to run coupon codes for the week during my launch! I feel very lucky to know so many awesome artists. 

It was really fun to see all the patterns come alive as my studio was filled with frames. 

Samples of frames hanging to dry

Finally, it was time for the photo shoot. I love working with Nicole for styling because she always seems to get exactly what I’m going for, even when I can’t exactly put it into words. I came in that day with a general idea of which artwork would go in which frames, but then the rest sort of came together magically. I love watching Nicole and Jen work together because it happens so seamlessly, and we also just have a great time! We really were able to tell a story with the frames and hopefully the images help people picture the frames in their own homes. 

Images from photo shoot with Nicole and Jen

5 Spring Decorative Papers I Love

Even though I've been designing my own patterns for the last couple years, I still have such an obsession with color, pattern and paper that I totally nerd out over new papers at my favorite paper store, Paper Mojo. I still do plenty of custom orders where I mostly use papers from their site, since there are so many beautiful options. Here are a 5 papers that I think are perfect for Spring projects. 


Autumnal Paper Love

I can spend hours pouring through my favorite websites that sell paper, probably similar to how people  can waste countless hours on Facebook. Sometimes I literally just go through page by page and gawk at the gorgeous patterns and colors, without really creating any sort of database of favorites. My absolute favorite place to buy paper online is this incredible site called Paper Mojo, run by three women out of Raleigh, North Carolina. It's my go to resource for when I'm starting a custom frame project. I thought it would make sense to start some reference for myself where I could keep track of papers that I liked and figured my blog was a great place to start. This first group is inspired by our current season of Fall. It has been an absolutely gorgeous transition here in Denver, with nature just putting on a show every where I look. The leaves in particular are just stunning. Below is a little group of papers that I think would be great for any sort of Fall projects, whether it be for a wedding invitations, accents for decor at a party, or seasonal decor around your house.