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Wholesale, retail, handmade

31 Oct

Decade-DividersGenre-dividers

The new genre collection is set to launch in the shop on Monday, and it already feels like this new collection has been a long time in the making. I will readily admit, I am not an audiophile, I am not a music expert, I am a not even a super fan (except when I’m drunk and its Tracy Chapman). I’ve stumbled into this world of serious experts/hardcore music enthusiasts/musical classifiers… I just want to organize your shit so it’s easy to find, it’s accessible, and more enjoyable for more people. I sometimes wake up at night with a new genre idea in my head, or wake up worrying that I’ve forgotten a significant genre… (real serious worries, guys). I’ve been toting around a list of genre ideas for weeks, a crumpled paper full of ideas and genres. I’ve been talking to collectors and bartenders, browsing music stores and making prototypes. I’m up to about 50+ genres at this point, but its hard to be selective when hilarious ones pop up, like “80s Hair Bands” or someone requests “New Wave” or “Children’s Folk”.  This process is a little different this time around-last November I was running around like a madwoman, getting ready for my first shop launch. It seems hard for me to believe that the shop has been live for less than a year… but when I let my mind wander to the actual number of panels I myself or my assistants have sanded and packaged in the last few months… then yes, it suddenly feels like I’ve been doing this for years, not 11 months.

I’ve been slowly adding new retailers in California and New York. This summer, Urban Outfitters started to carry a few of my products, and in early fall, I began working with a UK distributor, Sound Fowndations. Working with retailers is a different beast, packaging larger quantities for wholesale, versus my smaller-scale individual sales every week through the shop. I still love sending packages out of the shop or my office each week, I love getting emails from customers who are SO EXCITED to get my product in the mail, and spend an afternoon or evening reorganizing their collections. They send me photos, they tell me about their weird collections, and that is weirdly, really wonderful and unexpected. Wholesale accounts have allowed me to grow and invest in my business, hire assistants and buy more raw materials in larger quantities.

Wholesale is sometimes really horribly stressful. I get obsessive about every package before I send them off into the unknown. Maybe because I don’t know who the final customer will be? I want everything to be perfect, and I worry about not having any interaction with the people buying my products on the other end. What if they don’t understand that everything is made by hand, or they don’t know that the boxes are screen printed in a small shop? That kind of stuff winds me up, which is probably why I spend so much time responding to individual emails ( about when I’m going to start making genre sets for books (SOON) or answering questions about production wait lists or custom sets for bigger collectors. Up until my first retail order back in the spring, I knew, and remembered every single sale and individual product I made. Now though, I don’t know every customer, and I don’t remember every set that comes off the production line. I remember sets in new states or new cities, or specific interactions with particularly particular customers. I still feel like every product is the most important product as it moves through my humble assembly line, but that product is quickly replaced by a new most important set that follows it. I guess being my own boss is hard and funny and weird, that is what I am babbling on about. I didn’t intend to be here, but my thoughts and list-making tendencies are a few months ahead, thinking about where (and what) I am working towards next.

Shop update

8 Jul

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I’m a little slow to announce a summer sale in the shop this month, as well as the new option to purchase gift certificates in the shop. Gift certificates are now available in many increments, from $50 on up. For all summer orders this month, take 15% off at checkout using the discount code SUMMERSALE at checkout. The offer ends July 29th, when I’ll be closing up the shop for a week and heading out of town for a little summer adventure.

brunch-group-detailA-Z dividers at Omnivore BooksPB030017

It’s a man’s mans world

19 Jun

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Yesterday I released new summer products in the shop and launched a big site design overhaul. Over the past few weeks I’ve been gearing up for a big shop update, though the actual launch of this update was pushed back for several weeks due to a number of ever-changing factors. Since my initial shop launch back in November, I’ve had multiple requests from customers, asking for more 7″ vinyl record options — I’ve been sitting on these designs for a few months because I wanted to release them after I had the chance to update the overall design of the whole shop. Two birds, one stone, that whole thing. In the meantime, I’ve been gloriously busy with wholesale orders and keeping up with online sales.

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With the steady increase in sales and wood purchasing, I started having a trickier time sourcing a reliable quality wood that I liked– the quality overall seemed to be going down at my usual suppliers. No one seems to have a reason for this– thats just “how it is”. Alternately, they try to convince me that the wood hasn’t changed at all– its exactly the same, even when I have samples in hand that say otherwise. I could go on and on about wood here, about all the things I’ve gleaned from phone calls, lumberyard conversations, the internet, real life splinters, prototyping and all kinds of frustration– but that is interesting to very few people. I’ve visited many lumberyards, called many more, and received more splinters than I ever planned or hell, anticipated ever. I’ve learned that most lumberyards are weird, their systems and attitudes are old and outdated. Frequently (not always, but frequently) the men that work there try to treat me like a lady-hobbyist if they’re willing to grudgingly give me the time of day at all. There is nothing more frustrating than being discredited upon arrival, just cause I’m a lady.

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I’ve learned that my lumberyard credibility goes up with my increasing knowledge of the appropriate lumber vocabulary, that and walking in like a confident boss, who takes shit from no man. I feel like the only woman in a land of lumber-dudes, though I am sure I’m not the only one out there. The truth is, I’m still a novice when it comes to this new weird world of wood, but its a real boys-club and that is bullshit.  Know what else is a boys-club? The audiophile/vinyl/music world! I’ve inadvertently stumbled into two male-dominated industries, simply because I’ve been interested in doing something new for myself, and I like being my own boss. All the recent articles and conversations around women and confidence and inequality and gender everything, man! I feel down about it all. Perhaps my lumberyard lessons are good life lessons– to feign confidence and bossiness always, but it is a fight sometimes. I actually like the word bossy, and don’t have a problem with anyone using it. I’ve been quietly reading along with the blog My Husband’s Stupid Record Collection and the constant noise around her reviews (HOW DARE A WOMAN REVIEW MUSIC AND ETC!) and find the conversation interesting and insanely frustrating at the same time. I recommend a good dig through this conversation, if you’ve got patience.

I don’t see an end here– at least not to these issues or this blog post. I’ve been writing and un-writing this since yesterday and its now officially time to break.

 

Kate Koeppel Design, just launched!

1 May

katekoeppelweb

 

After a few bumps and delays, I am excited to announce the relaunch of katekoeppel.com. My new site features recent client work, a few oldies and hopefully, a more concise view of my professional design work. I’ve also added a design services inquiry form to help streamline new client inquiries. Yay for organization! I have learned through this process that designing for myself can be a tedious, uncertain and slow moving process. Who knew? Actually, I knew, which is partially why this process was so painful. Boundaries, work hours and my sleep schedule have all suffered in the last few weeks. I am not the best client, when I am also the boss. Perhaps the timing of this redesign and major edit played a role in this slow process. I chose an extremely busy period (hi wholesale orders for the east coast! hi Skill Exchange ticket release tomorrow morning at 8AM) to finally tackle this project, but hallelujah, its pretty much done.

Sometimes, balance, updates

15 Apr

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Over the course of several days, I’ve written, rewritten, deleted and scrapped this post numerous times. I keep second-guessing all my writing topics and fleeting thoughts because… I just keep getting that nagging feeling I should be doing something else. I SHOULD be doing something else. I have a list of tasks that need my attention; a series of errands and production tasks that need to happen today. My attention is divided between my design website relaunch, (several weeks overdue) production and order fulfillment in my shop, and keeping up with client work. Oh and email. EMAIL! I have orders to ship this week, orders to sand and package, a pop up shop to prepare for this Saturday, wholesale orders to deliver, wholesale inquires to follow up on, and a cat that won’t leave my lap, even if it means he keeps getting dumped out of it, every 25 minutes when I need to grab something outside the office. Oh, did I mention I’m working on a new Skill Exchange event scheduled for Mid-May?

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This week I am trying to balance a reasonable amount of work with a reasonable amount of rest. Trying, anyway. I feel as though I’ve got a giant on my back at the moment, kind of like a cat, always watching me.  If I can keep on top of our meals for the week, and keep vegetables from getting hairy and limp in the fridge, that will also be a bonus. Today I sent my very first set of record dividers to a customer in Australia, which felt a little momentous. My product-babies are moving out in the world, to other continents! Another small victory this week? This little mention of my shop in New York Magazine. (!!!)

 

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