Friday, July 3, 2009

PERSONALLY: behind the curtain

The nice thing about being a little boutique, as opposed to a huge invitation distributor, is that I get to know my clients pretty well. I'm familiar with their wedding plans and certain aspects of their families and relationships. I have nicknames for most so that when discussing work stuff with my husband I can easily refer to a client/job by its nickname, and he knows which I am referring to (don't worry, they're nice nicknames - I'm not referring to anyone as "Bridezilla Betty"!). More about nicknames later...

Frequently, in the course of consultations and meetings and phone conferences, clients want to know more about me. And I can't blame them, since I'm privy to alot of their private info. Fair is fair. I figured that if several clients are asking me these questions then some of my more shy clients and blog readers may be wondering the same things. Or not. Honestly, I'm not really all that interesting, but since a few of you asked:

"Is this your full time job or do you have a day job?"

Yes, this is my more-than-full-time-job and I love it.

"Do you have a 'real' store I can come and visit?"

No, not yet. In the future I intend to open a studio space suitable for client meetings, but in the meantime I work from a home studio. The work/home balance is an everchanging creature when you are self-employed, but for now working from a home studio is the best choice for my company and for my family. It is frustrating to read and hear some voices in the stationery industry put down home studios, but I can assure you that Tulaloo is a professional business operating out of a professional studio. The studio just happens to be located within our home so that I can listen to the baby monitor while I work.

"Did you go to school for this?"

More or less. I went to art school - the New York State School of Art and Design at Alfred Univeristy. There I majored in both Art Education and Photography. I was an art teacher for about 7 years before I left teaching to concentrate on Tulaloo. The thing about art is that it is all related. Photography influences graphic design which influences ceramics which influences fashion and so on. So while I am a stationery designer, I primarily consider myself and artist. Stationery just happens to be my medium of choice. And this is one reason why.

"The email you sent me was time-stamped 1am. Are you seriously working at 1 am?"

I work long, yet irregular, hours all structured around my children and husband. Sometimes I work at 2pm. Sometimes it is more like 2am. Stationery permeates every part of my day. I swear I am not fibbing when I say I dream about wedding invitations.

"How long have you been doing this for?"

It depends on when you start counting. It all began with my own wedding invitations. Or perhaps it began with the first sketchbook my mom bought me when I was 5 or 6. In any case, friends started requesting I create their stationery and invitations. My friends' friends began asking for invitations and it just snowballed from there. So while Tulaloo has officially been in business about 1.5 years, I have unofficially been in the stationery business for 7 years and an artist pretty much my entire life.

"You are the only person at Tulaloo I talk to, yet you always say "we" not "I". Are there more of you?"

Yes. I am the owner and designer. I also do the majority of the production work. I have an assistant (Denise) that helps with assembly. I have someone that manages my books and finances (Sue), because frankly I am terrible with numbers. My husband is my sounding board, support, cheerleader and company while I work at mignight. He also builds really nifty display systems for bridal expos. My sister-in-law is my go-to girl for business advice. On paper I am 99% of the workforce behind Tulaloo, but I am not naive enough to believe that I am the sole reason for the success we have seen this past year. Tulaloo would be nowhere without the support and efforts of my friends and family (only some of whome are actually on the payroll). In fact, without the support and encouragement of my wonderful husband - who had far more faith in this little endeavor than I initially did - Tulaloo would not exist.

"How long have you been married? What did your wedding invitations look like?"

The Mister and I are coming up on 7 years this July! And trust me when I say that my invitations were not nearly as lovely as the ones I am making for you. Mine were the first I ever designed and produced and I have come a long way in 7 years.

"What job did you have before you launched Tulaloo?"

I was an art teacher for children with special needs for several years. Prior to that I was a security officer, shoe salesperson, McDonald's drive-thru girl and a nude model (not as scandalous as it sounds - it was just for life drawing classes at the art school I went to).

"What are your kids like?"


That is about it. Like I said, I'm really not all that interesting. If you have an other questions feel free to ask!

NOTE: The picture above was taken by Chunk. Not bad for a two year old, but I think I'm supposed to have a pretty headshot for purposed such as this. I'll put that on my to-do list.

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