Monday, November 23, 2009

TULALOO: samples

Several brides have recently asked why we do not offer personalized samples without a deposit on a bridal order. And if a handful of people ask, I figure there are several others who are wondering but not speaking up. Allow me to explain our policies and processes for samples and custom design, and explain the reasoning behind it all.

  • We offer samples of any wedding invitation in the Tulaloo bridal line for a charge of $10. They are not personalized with color or content (although your wedding invitation will be completely personalized). The sample will arrive as shown in the picture, or with the paper colors we currently have in stock. The $10 charge is credited to your bridal order with Tulaloo.
  • If you are taking advantage of our Bespoke service and having a custom invitation design created, we require a $50 deposit for digital mockups of your stationery. If you are combining elements of various designs from our regular bridal line, and would like to see a mockup prior to placing an order, we require the same $50 deposit. Mockups are tailored to your colors and design specs, but without fully customized wording. The $50 deposit is credited to your final order.
  • To receive complete, fully customized digital proofs of every element of your bridal stationery, we require a 50% deposit on your order.
I understand why this can seem daunting to some clients, especially when one can find shops on Etsy willing to give away customized invitation design samples for just a few dollars or even for free. Why is Tulaloo different?
Firstly, we don't customize our $10 samples simply because we don't keep all our paper selections in stock at all times. We match your invitation to your wedding, and in order to do that we work from hundreds of paper finishes and colors available from several different paper sources. Keeping all of that in stock would be both cost prohibitive and wasteful. We do have swatch books of our paper selection in the studio, and we use this to match to your wedding colors as closely as possible. If you are a Connecticut bride you can schedule an appointment to meet the designer and see the paper swatches for yourself. If you are not local, we will include swatches of applicable papers in your sample pack if we have them in stock. We don't cut up our swatch books to send to clients! Alternatively, if you have a swatch from your bridesmaids dresses that you can send to us, we will use that to match your paper. In a pinch, you can go to your local hardware store and find the paint chips that most accurately match your colors and send us those!
So, why do we charge so much extra for personalized samples and proofs? One reason is that it requires a significant amount of design time to do color alterations and rework design layouts. With the volume of bridal stationery inquiries we receive, it is impossible to spend time designing custom invitations for clients without a commitment to purchase. We show as much of our portflio as possible on Etsy, our website and our blog so that potential clients can get a feel for the type of design quality they can expect. After that it is, in a sense, a leap of faith that we will create something you will be truly happy with. I understand that can make clients nervous and I am happy to provide references of former Tulaloo clients. We have a long list of very happy brides willing to discuss their experience working with Tulaloo.
Another reason we require deposit before beginning any custom design work is to protect our copyrights. In the past we did offer complimentary mockups, and I'm sorry to say that we have had our work stolen by clients who decided to take advantage of this. As the lead designer for Tulaloo, I work very hard at creating original designs that our clients love. It hurts me to have my work and creativity stolen, and I have learned to be very careful about protecting my designs. If you were to look around, you would find Etsy sellers who do offer all this design work upfront without a significant deposit. There are alot of Etsy sellers who run their businesses as a hobby. There is nothing wrong with that, and I'm sure they have their own satisfied customers. However there is a definite difference in the work, knowledge and service of a professional graphic designer and a part time hobbyist. As a professional graphic designer and stationer, I can assure you that the design fees and payment structure we use at Tulaloo are customary for professionals in this field.

Lastly, it is important to understand that we do more than one round of revisions on your designs. If, after placing your deposit and receiving proofs or mockups, you are not satisfied with the design we will rework it until you are completely happy with it. We want each and every one of our clients to be thrilled with their stationery. Whether you order 50 invitations tailored from our existing line or 500 custom designed stationery suites, we will do everything we can to make sure the experience is a great one for you!

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