Welcome to the second installment in our series on Creating a Collection. First, we discussed praying and how we actually decide what to create. Over the years, our process gotten much tighter and goes way beyond just spitting out ideas and doing them all.
I truly believe part of Val Marie Paper’s success is being so intentionally focused on only creating what we feel prayerfully called to create. I’ve created things in the past that failed miserably just because I saw other people doing it. I’m so grateful for this process now and hope it’s helpful to get to peek inside!
So after we decide what to create, we move into the production aspect of it.
Let’s start with design. Each year is so different. Some years production has looked like simple revisions of colors and covers and maybe a few small updates to our current collection. Each year, we work with a designer to design something custom for our Compose and Yearly Prayer Journals. We’ve worked with Lindsay Letters (3X! And current collection’s designer), Katherine Holly, Molly Jacques, Rachel Jacobson, Margot & Co. and another artist we’ll be debuting this September! 😉
Other years, like this year, we have multiple new products to create!! I feel like this year is going to be a big shift for Val Marie Paper and I’ve never been so excited to share what we have coming!! Normally I design all our paper products but this year, we enlisted Spruce Rd. to design one of my most favorite products that I cannot wait to debut this October: a book of prayers. I’ll be designing several journals and Andrea, our freelance designer throughout the year, will be creating a self-published book that’s coming in November!
Beyond the covers, we spend a good bit of time considering the inside pages! We know that what we look at has the power to draw us in and help us feel peace or it can turn us off and make us feel cluttered or overwhelmed. We really believe in creating products that are not only intentional and spirit-filled but are also beautifully designed, not just because we like pretty things, but because we believe our creativity and thoughtfulness in design reflects God’s image. So, we ask questions like:
- How many fonts should we have?
- How much whitespace?
- Does this need color or do we want someone to be able to add the vibrancy they want?
It might sound shallow, but we’re far more likely to use something if we like looking at it, so we’re in the business of creating a really beautiful collection that you thoroughly enjoy using!
Picking colors is one of the most daunting tasks. Especially for our Yearly Prayer Journal. We want them to coordinate together because we photograph them together, but we also want to have one for everyone:
1. Something neutral-ish
2. Something unexpected/bold
3. Something easy-to-love/crowd favorite.
Finding a coordinating collection of these three is difficult. We also have to consider what we had the previous years AND what colors will be in our Compose Journal collection.
Here’s what our “formula” helped us come up with in the past few years for the Yearly Prayer Journal:
2018 – 1. Fern (We stretched this one but it was so loved, it was basically the neutral! 😉
2. Poppy Red 3. Camellia Pink
2019 – 1. Gray 2. Dusty Rose 3. Navy
2020 – 1. Sand 2. Cypress Green 3. French Blue
(Thanks to Mika Perry for help with this combo!)
One more thing we have to factor in? Blues, some greens, and pinks are always our best sellers. Yellow, orange, and reds are much tougher to sell, so that’s why you don’t see them featured in our Yearly Prayer Journal. We have large quantities to meet so we, unfortunately, can’t order if we don’t think they’ll sell a certain amount.
I said colors were ONE of the hardest decisions to make, but the literal most daunting task is picking quantities! We have to predict whether the business will grow. We want to have plenty to last us through the holidays, but don’t want to have a ton of leftovers that we don’t sell. We also have to predict which color will do the best. We never order the same amount for all three colors. Usually, I’m pretty good at picking the number one color, but last year y’all tricked me. 😉 I totally thought Shoreline, being THE neutral of all neutrals, would do as well as French Blue (which we knew would be the biggest seller) but surprisingly, Cypress was so unexpected and fun, it took second place and we ran out fast!
Last year, we made the decision to order more than we thought we could easily sell by the new year because we are now less concerned with making sure we look cool because we sold out of stuff early and more concerned with having journals available when your best friend sees your journal the second week of January. It’s been fun to have more available later in the season!
Still, it’s a tricky process. We only order based on the money we’ve saved from the previous season, so we want to make really educated decisions.
In our first year, we offered pre-orders because I literally had no idea how many to order and didn’t have the savings from the previous year of sales to cover the full cost. We basically “kickstarted” it that year. Those two weeks of pre-orders in August were instrumental in allowing us to order what we felt comfortable ordering.
These days, we order so far in advance that we don’t look to pre-orders to determine how many we order. I’ve actually already had to decide this year’s quantity and I’m writing this in May. Honestly, we keep pre-orders around because we know so many of you depend on that discount and we like being able to reward you early bird buyers! For us, it means we can ship journals more spread out because things get nuts for the holidays and we can also spread out the cash flow a little bit throughout the year.
This year, we’re actually ordering conservatively on the Yearly Prayer Journal because we have another product coming to choose from. And I’m back to having no clue what will happen, so you can bet we’ve prayed about quantities and will also be looking to pre-orders to help determine if we will need to reorder a late shipment in time for Christmas.
There you have it! I hope this was helpful or at the least a little interesting to hear the behind the scenes of producing our Yearly Prayer Journal collection!