5 Things I’ve Learned in 5 Years of SCD

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Last week we had a little shindig to celebrate the 5th birthday of Swiss Cottage Designs! Sometimes it feels as if I’ve just started this business while other days it’s impossible to remember how it felt to work for anyone but myself. Running the business has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve undertaken but also one of the most rewarding. It’s been fun to look back on the last few years to see how far it’s all come and how much I’ve learned along the way. In that spirit, I wanted to share 5 lessons I’ve learned over the last 5 years of SCD.

Mistakes are okay. You will make them. No matter how hard you strive for perfection, there will be slip ups, accidents, and oversights. From small errors to (seemingly) more colossal mistakes, they are bound to happen along the way. As the old cliche goes, no one is perfect. The upside is that each mistake can be a learning experience so that you can do better in the future and avoid making the same mistakes again. Even as you perfect one aspect of the business, new challenges will arise in which you are bound to encounter some hiccups. It’s an ever evolving process, so take it in stride and don’t let it get you down because…

There is always a solution. I know it doesn’t always feel that way, especially in the moments after something has gone wrong. If you take a deep breath and give yourself a moment to brainstorm, a creative workaround will always come to mind. Reprint the job, messenger the samples, offer a discount….it’s won’t be the most ideal situation because ideally nothing would have gone wrong! But it’s great to take a step back and realize that nothing is so bad that it can’t be fixed or solved. Keep a positive outlook and an open mind and you’ll be able to tackle any issue that arises.

Kindness always wins.  When it comes to clients, vendors, employees, and yourself – being kind is never the wrong way to go. You won’t regret treating someone with kindness and understanding, especially when it would have been much easier to respond with annoyance or terse words. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and truly empathize with where they are coming from. This helps avoid tense situations, awkward interactions, or sour relationships. It won’t always feel like the easiest way to respond, especially when you’re frustrated or stressed, but it goes much further in the long run and will keep you and those around you much happier and more positive.

Self discipline goes both ways. It takes an incredible amount of self discipline to work for yourself. It’s wonderful to make your own schedule but even when trying to stick to a “normal” 9-5 , many nights and weekends will be swallowed up by the business. It’s not uncommon to miss out on beautiful days because you’re inside working or having to say no to a night out with friends to meet a deadline. A lot of willpower goes into saying “no” in order to prioritize the business but I’ve also discovered the importance of making sure you say “yes” to things – don’t let too much of life pass you by as you work. I’ve certainly missed out on things or events I won’t have a second chance to go to, so I want to make sure I’m mindful of the balance I’m striking so that the business continues to thrive and that I feel fulfilled in my other relationships and activities. Set aside time for yourself and your other priorities outside of the business.

The positive outweigh the negatives. Despite the bad days or moments of uncertainty, running your own business will always be worth it for many reasons. You’ll spend your time doing work you actually enjoy doing. Pajama Friday is a very real thing. Setting your own hours leaves you free to run errands on a weekday afternoon or work remotely for a week while you visit family. No one can judge you for how many snacks or treats you consume during the day. Great relationships will be forged with clients and you’ll get to see and feel the excitement firsthand. Each day is a new chance to improve and expand. Failures can feel more personal but successes feel empowering, exciting, and earned.

I’ve been so fortunate these past five years and I can only hope that the future brings even more exciting challenges and learning opportunities for Swiss Cottage Designs. Do you have any lessons or insight that you’ve taken away from the work that you do? I’d love to hear them if so!

 

A Peek Into Our Design Process

Today we’re sharing a post that originally appeared on the Bella Figura blog. Enjoy!

As any small business owner will tell you, running your own studio has many positives and, of course, a few negatives too. One of my favorite aspects about having my own design practice is the uniqueness of each project. We’re fortunate enough to work with so many types of clients, each with their own thoughts and ideas. Because of this, every day is new, refreshing, and full of what I love — illustration!   We’re excited to walk you through our process as we work on a custom wedding suite for an upcoming Brooklyn wedding. This has been on of my favorite projects as of late and I’m so happy to share it with everyone. Let’s get started!

 

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When I sit down to create artwork, I double (and triple) check that I have everything I’ll need handy. It usually takes a moment to find a rhythm and warm up when I draw, so it’s quite annoying if I have to get up to find a specific pen or eraser and interrupt my flow. I almost always draw from reference, so I’ve kept a few image of the Wythe Hotel on hand as well as my copious collection of drawing utensils. Not pictured – an endless flow of good, strong tea.

 

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Once I’ve sketched everything in pencil, I go back over it in ink. This is where my Micron pen addiction can truly run rampant! It’s also one of my favorite parts of the process because I can start adding in some of the finer details that really make the illustration fun and personal.

 

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After the illustrations are squared away, I’ll move onto the lettering. With brush lettering, like illustration, it can take a few minutes to get into the zone. I expect to go through several sheets of paper (sorry trees! love ya!) before I go back and edit down. I prefer to play with the ink and let several options develop organically before looking at everything as a whole and choosing which I like best.

 

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All of the artwork is done! Hooray! Now it’s time to scan it and dive into the layout, type, and color on the computer. Creating the artwork by hand and editing it digitally gives the process so much flexibility and allows me to have the best of both worlds. It also ensures that I can accommodate revisions in a timely manner for the client as opposed to starting from scratch when it’s time for edits.

 

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There are few things more exciting than receiving the project back from the printer! It’s the culmination of the initial ideas, inspiration, and artwork that you can hold in your hands and enjoy. Seeing the final colors and textures for these pieces made me fall in love with the project all over again.

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my process. The workflow is a constant evolution as I find what works best for me – and what doesn’t work at all! I’m very fortunate to do work that I enjoy and have clients who love the outcome. If you have any questions I’d love to hear from you!

The Knot :: Playful Palette

Last year one our good friends, Jove Meyer of Jove Meyer Events, reached out with a very exciting opportunity. He would be styling a shoot for The Knot and asked Swiss Cottage to create the paper goods for the event. Once he described his vision – bright colors, fun patterns, and bold shapes – we were in!

Jove and all of the other contributors did a truly amazing job pulling everything together. We were so excited to see the photos after the shoot and waited to share them with bated breath. After much anticipation, the time has finally arrived!

Everything came together so beautifully. It’s a great example of how bold design elements can be combined to create a refined and elegant look. The table setting is my personal favorite – everything is unique in its own right without needing to compete with the other pieces.

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A huge thank you to Jove for making it happen as well as to all of the talented contributors!

Planner + Designer – Jove Meyer Events
Stationery / Menus + Programs + Place mats + Invites + Save the Dates + Charity Signs – Swiss Cottage Designs
Flowers – Lindsay Rae Design
Vintage Glassware – Little Vintage Rentals
Furniture Rentals / Table + Chairs – Taylor Creative
Tabletop Rentals / Linens + Cutlery + Chargers + China – Broadway Party Rentals
Custom Hand Decorated Shoes – Hushed Commotion
Custom Made Suit – A Suit That Fits
Cake – Lael Cakes

Hello 2015 Mixtape

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We hope that everyone’s 2015 has been off to a great start! We’ve gotten back into the swing of things pretty quickly around here. It’s shaping up to be a great year full of wonderful clients and exciting new projects! I love how rejuvenated and inspired a new year can make you feel.

To celebrate, we pulled together a little Hello 2015 mixtape for you! It’s a concoction of old and new tracks that are focused around the spirit of a fresh, new year (plus a few that we just like in general). We hope you enjoy it on your Friday afternoon!

Happy New Year!

 

New Valentine’s Day Cards

Hello again and welcome 2015! We’re so excited to be back in the studio after a wonderful holiday vacation. Hopefully everyone had some fun and relaxing time off and a very happy new year.

Between all of the eating and sleeping we did the last few weeks, we also found some time to work on a brand new line of Valentine’s Day cards. We’re so happy to share them while also honoring the tradition of pushing holidays on you before you’re ready. Though to be fair, Valentine’s Day is a mere 5 1/2 weeks away!

The full line is available on our Etsy shop so you can send a little love near and far this year.

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2014 :: A Year in Review

SCD will be closed from Monday, December 22 through Friday, January 2nd. We will be checking email periodically but response time will somewhat delayed. Don’t worry, though! We will be back in the studio bright and early on Monday, January 5th.

Forgive us for indulging in such a cliché {especially this time of year} but truly – where does the time go? We’re only a week away from Christmas with New Years just around the corner. It’s so hard to believe that 2014 is almost over. It’s been such a fun and exciting year for Swiss Cottage so we wanted to recap some of the best moments for the very last blog post of 2014! {OK- we realize when we say “last blog post” of 2014 that could also be “the 5th blog post of 2014″… bear with us! Better blogging habits is on the to-do list for 2015!}

SCD’s top 2014 moments {in no particular order!}

1. Earlier this year we were asked to guest blog for a week on on Oh So Beautiful Paper. It was so fun to brainstorm and plan all of the posts. It was certainly a big undertaking with all of the prep and production that went into the content. That week was a whirlwind in the studio with all of the set up and shooting. The response to each post was wonderful and warm. It was fantastic to contribute to such a respected and well curated blog. Thank you to the amazing Nole for the opportunity!

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2. We were so excited to design the dinner menus for talented designer Nate Berkus and his husband, Jeremiah Brent, who tied the knot at The New York Public Library this past Spring. The white foil printing on black paper came out beautifully. Plus, it gave us the opportunity to work with our wonderfully talented friend Jenna of Love, Jenna Calligraphy for the personalization of each menu. The wedding was featured in People magazine and our little menu got a shout out on the People website!

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3. One of our invitation designs was featured in the special Weddings issue of New York Magazine! No matter how many times it happens, it’s always exciting to be featured in a print publication. The tangibility of it feels so real! It was wonderful to see our work alongside so many other talented designers and lovely invitations. The magazine is on sale through spring of 2015, so take a peek if you happen to snag a copy! Like a true hoarder, I bought 5 copies. A huge THANK YOU to NY mag for including us in this issue!

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4. Bella Figura is a very cool company based in Syracuse, New York  {home to my alma mater!} that offers so many great design options for save the dates and invitations. We were so pleased to continue working with them and contribute several new designs for their 2015 line. It’s a cool way to make some our designs accessible to couples who may not want to go the fully custom route. We can’t wait to see the new designs in the coming year, they have lots of cool tricks up their sleeves!

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5. We launched a shiny new Swiss Cottage website, full of new projects from 2014. We were able to work with so many incredible clients and create such beautiful artwork for them this year. It’s easy to forget just how many projects we do in the course of the year, so it was a great feeling to see it all come together in one place and to share it with everyone, too. And, of course, this update would not have been possible without the photographic genius of Brookelyn Photography. A HUGE thank you to Brooke for coming by and helping us make some magic.

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6. We also launched our first ever holiday card line!! This one is very near and dear to my heart as it’s been on my wish list for quite some time. For the last five years, custom work has been our bread and butter. We love that it means that every day and every project is different. It was a very cool change to design and offer a ready made line of cards. It allowed us to connect with a larger audience as well as directly with stores that we love. Several stores in Brooklyn and beyond carried our holiday line! We’ve already got some new ideas cooking for 2015 and can’t wait to share them soon! Check back in on 1/5 for the launch of our new Valentine’s Day cards. Oh yeah!

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7. The month of June was a busy one! We made the walk up to our friendly neighborhood shipping extraordinaire {Omar} almost every day, laden with boxes and parcels. We vastly surpassed our previous monthly shipping record, much to our surprise and probably to Omar’s pleasure. We also shipped our most well traveled package…all the way to Hong Kong! We celebrated on the walk home with iced tea and mini muffins from Mazolla’s {naturally.}

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8. A very neat opportunity came for us later in the year. Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store, a great little shop in Park Slope, asked us to illustrate their holiday window display. This was a big undertaking {literally!} that was a very fun and new challenge. It was such a cool feeling to see my artwork in a new context and to share it with so many others who passed by or came into the shop. It’s still on display if you happen to be walking down 5th Avenue in Brooklyn.

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9. We discovered that we have very little self control when it comes to treats. Sunny commutes from Greenpoint, the Brooklyn neighborhood that’s home to Peter Pan Donuts. More often than not she’d arrive on Friday morning with half a dozen donuts {one of their signature flavors is red velvet} and we’d proceed to eat our selves into a sugar coma. Then we’d wash it all down with a large chai from Maybelle’s and complain about feeling ill the rest of the day. No regrets, though.

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photo by: LG Train

10. While we do enjoy our donuts and chai, our biggest vice has to be the shockingly addictive Pellegrino. The fridge is usually well stocked, although we do have the occasional emergencies  that require a quick trip to the bodega for a re-up {yeah, we’re throwing some WIRE terminology around, it’s cool.} . Based on my loose calculations, we consumed roughly 73 gallons of Pellegrino this year. Don’t judge us.

San-Pellegrino-Sparkling-Water-1L11. And last BUT most certainly not least- Sunny came home! Ha. OK, I’ve been waiting all year to make this joke. But really, the world’s most amazing office manager, Sunny Eckerle, joined our team and made a difference from the get go! She’s made us an organized beast and has really helped get us in tip top shape. This year would not have been the same without her and we’re looking forward to more of her excellent contributions in 2015.

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I think that about wraps it up!! Thank you so much to everyone who made 2014 such an incredible year for Swiss Cottage Designs. We have been so lucky to have such wonderfully creative and fun clients, we are so grateful for each and everyone of you. We hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year! Make sure you stop by in 2015 to see what we have cooking, it’s going to be a good one!

Cheers!!!

London Love

Take a peek through the blog and you’ll notice it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of all things London. The Swiss Cottage studio wouldn’t be complete without endless amounts of tea, miniature Beatles figurines, and vintage London Underground poster. Even our business name is borrowed from a neighborhood in that lovely city!

Being the anglophile that I am, you can imagine my excitement as I worked on this London-centric wedding suite. We opted to move away from the traditional blue, red, and white in favor of black, white, and red. The dramatic colors are balanced with softer, watercolor illustrations of some of the city’s landmarks. I love how striking the overall look is. It’s bold while still maintaining a more gentle, romantic edge. Highlighting some of the most iconic spots around London was also a great way to get guests excited about making the trip for the big day! 

The juxtaposition of old and new is such a prominent theme within London, which is why one of my favorite details is the envelope liner of the Underground map. It introduces a modern element alongside the watercolor images of Big Ben and Tower Bridge. There’s a nice visual push and pull within the suite that I had a great time balancing through the artwork and design.

This is one of my favorite suites that we’ve created this year and I’m so happy to have had the chance to work on it! You can see this plus many other new projects on our freshly updated website! Enjoy!

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SCD Holiday Mix 2014

 

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Christmas tree markets have popped up on every corner, stoops are decorated with twinkling lights, and the air is nice and chilly (though no snow quite yet.) Christmas is only 4 weeks away and it certainly feels festive here in Brooklyn. We’re celebrating the arrival of December with lots of chai, sweet treats, and of course – Christmas music!

We’ve pulled together some of our favorite tracks to help get you in the holiday spirit. It’s a blend of old and new with plenty of classics and a few you might not have heard. Feel free to use it for your holiday shindigs, cookie decorating sessions, or inaugural tree lightings.

Bonus fun fact – all of the songs from our Holiday Mix Tape card are featured on the holiday playlist!

Grab a warm drink, get comfortable, and press Play!

SCD website :: SHINY + NEW

It’s December first, the holidays are coming at full speed and over at SCD we are anxiously getting ready for 2015! We’ve been giving the once over to all of our branding and packaging, have been brainstorming ideas for our 2015 card line (wahoo!) and most importantly, have updated our website!

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Our updated website is cleaner, easier to navigate and includes all of our most recent projects for your viewing pleasure. 2014 has been an incredible year for SCD, we’ve worked with some of the most creative and kindest clients we ever could have hoped for and the new website reflects those great collaborations. We’ve even included a little write up on each project so you have a better sense of the inspiration behind these designs.

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We also have an updated section for our branding projects which is something we have really been focusing on {and enjoying!} in 2014 and will continue in 2015 with some great new brands.

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Have a look and let us know what you think! And, as always, thank you for stopping by and for your support of SCD! Here is to a great holiday season. And don’t forget to shop our holiday card line! Free shipping through 12/8 using promo code SCDHOLIDAY

Cheers!

Annie’s Holiday Windows

One of the best things about owning your own business is how different every day can be from the next. While that can certainly be stressful at times, it’s usually very fun, interesting, and exciting. It also allows cool, unexpected projects to crop up which is exactly what happened with Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Annie’s is an amazing little shop of treasures, chock full of stationery, books, gifts, trinkets, and treats. You definitely need to set aside some serious browsing time to take it all in. It’s a great neighborhood spot which is why I was so excited when I was asked to illustrate their holiday window display this year!

For a lefty who’s used to drawing rather small and tight, creating an illustration for three 9 foot by 4.5 foot windows was an awesome challenge. I started by creating all of the artwork by hand in my sketchbook. Once that was complete, I was able to turn everything into a scene, enlarge it, and create several large format prints to use as my template. My good friend Jenna gave me some tips and ideas of how to execute this, without which I would have been lost! I taped the prints on the outside of the windows and used them as my blueprint to recreate the illustration from the inside of the shop.

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One panel complete.

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Drawing away!

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Close up of the first window of three.

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Another close up as I put on a few finishing touches.

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The white ink really popped once it got a bit darker outside!

It was a lot of prep and a full day of drawing, but I was so excited about the end result! If you’re in the area be sure to stop by the store and check it out. Thanks so much to Annie’s for letting me a part of their holiday window display.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday weekend. See you all in December!

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