Ampersand Design Studio

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Category Archives: art + design

our big Surtex 2014 recap! 06.23.2014

Our third year of showing at Surtex is a wrap!! We can hardly believe it’s been three years for Ampersand Design Studio. In some ways it feels like it was our first year and in other ways, it’s as if we have been doing this trade show forever! From the time we first decided to show at Surtex in 2012 (full recap of 2012 here), we agreed that we’d do the show for three years to give it a real shot and see if licensing our art was going to be a viable option for our company! So, in a way, 2014 was a big year for us because we just completed this goal!

Of course, we were thrown for some loops. Getting out of town this year proved to be more difficult than planned. On our way out the door for the airport Friday morning, we got a phone call from our airline saying our flight was cancelled. You read that correctly, not delayed. Just plain cancelled….and that we could wait for another phone call to let us know when it would be rescheduled for. We did eventually get that phone call and our new flight was now set for 5pm…..with a layover…..making us miss the entire first day of set-up for the show. Complete buzz kill for us. We were so ready to just get to NYC by that point, it was really disappointing. But….we were SO thrilled when we actually got on a plane and felt like we were on our way….those are smiles of pure relief….

Then….we get to Minneapolis and our flight is delayed again!! ahhh. Then…….we land in NYC (finally) and we had planned on catching a cab, but due to flash flooding, everything was backed up. We waited in the taxi line for over an hour. It seriously felt like we would never get to our hotel. With Carrie still nursing, and therefore pumping for this entire trip, and Morgan being 7 months pregnant, needless to say, we were just beyond ready to be in our hotel room. Alas, we made it and got just a couple of hours of sleep before heading to the Javits Center Saturday morning for a day of setting up our booth.

For those of you unfamiliar with Surtex, here is our empty booth with all the boxes that we have shipped across the country and then lugged into the convention center.  After several hours, mostly of Carrie doing the heavy-lifting this year (thank you, Carrie for taking care of your pregnant business partner!),  we got the banners hung, the signage up, the portfolio books displayed and the samples of our work out on shelves!!  Whew! Many months are spent prepping for the trip, so when the booth is complete, it always feels like we can finally breathe again.

And TA_DA….the booth is complete! Much friendlier and MUCH more colorful than before :)

SIDE NOTE: We wanted to include a few resources for anyone else doing considering doing the show now that we have done our research and learned from our mistakes! This year we got our banners printed at Uprinting (by recommendation from our dear friend, and fellow Surtexee, Josephine Kimberling). In the past years, we’ve had major color issues with our banners and had to reprint them, sometimes more than once. So we were thrilled with the quality and color from Uprinting. We highly recommend them! We make postcards to send out to hopefully give a little teaser and a reason to stop by our booth. We have gotten those printed at Vistaprint all three years and have been completely happy with them (and they’re fast for those of us that sometimes run a bit behind). And lastly, we use UPS to ship our precious cargo halfway across the country to our NYC hotel and (knock on wood) everything has always arrived on time and in great condition!

Surtex is three days long, Sunday through Tuesday, from 9-6pm. Here we are feeling all alive and ready to take on the world the morning of the first day! We tried out a new aisle this year, the newly made #200 aisle and we were booth #235. We’re not quite sure how we feel about that aisle yet. It was the closest one to the National Stationery Show (NSS), but it also seemed as if there was less traffic in that row over all. Some parts of the show were overwhelmingly busy for us….and then other parts of the day, not so much.

So, everyone always wants to know, “How was the show?”. And the fact is, with Surtex, we never really know much immediately following. We talked to some amazing people and companies that we would LOVE to partner with. Made some really great contacts. We have high hopes for lots of things, but all the details of which pieces of artwork, existing or new, and timeline, and details of each individual contract are all worked out in the weeks and months following the show. So far in our first two years, Surtex has been worth it for us and we feel very lucky for that!

As far as this year, we will let you know a year from now! ha!

After the show each day, we try to get out and see and do as much as possible in NYC! We celebrated our booth setup with some street tacos and fresh juices at Tacombi at Fonda Nolita (and yes, there is a VW bus in the middle of the restaurant-what’s not to love about that?), We were lucky enough to get invited to the opening of the Alexander Girard pop-up exhibit by a friend which was just incredible, we did some last minute work at the Ace Hotel bar and of course, hit up the photo booth (see below), and after the last day of the show, we had a half day to do some exploring and even squeezed in a bit of shopping (see the “hey” entrance to the Kate Spade Saturday Soho store above). Each and every time we got to New York, we dream up ways of being able to live there. It’s just one of our favorite places on earth. Although living there doesn’t seem possible at this point, we’re pretty glad we get to go once a year, at least!

Coming off our third year, we feel like we have a bit of Surtex experience under our belt. So, we thought we’d share just a few tips for those of you that are considering going this route for your business:

1. Do your research. Walk the show first. Study what Surtex booths look like. Read other artists blogs about their journey to Surtex. Join a community of people who show at Surtex. Look into licensing coaches or websites where you can watch tutorials or receive emails. In general, the more information, the better!

2. Make a back-up calendar. There are SO many things to do for the show besides creating lots of great artwork to license! Start with the date of the show and go backwards setting mini-deadlines for yourself for each week. We have been using a 14 week calendar, but it would be ideal to start sooner than that. When marking deadlines for yourself, keep in mind things like making an announcement on social media, designing and mailing out postcards and/or designing and producing giveaways for your booth, updating your website with current info, designing your actual booth walls and anything else that might be on display, researching and printing all of the booth materials including banners and/or samples of your work, making travel plans including a place to stay and plane tickets if necessary, checking dates to order your furniture for the booth, and of course, setting a date to have your booth supplies shipped (if necessary). There are a LOT of things to keep track of, so lots of deadlines along the way are so helpful.

3. Be yourself. please, please, just do you. There are hundreds and hundreds of other artists showing their work. There is no need for you to look like anyone else. Sometimes, we feel like its best to be naive in this way. Don’t look at what other artists are creating. It’s wonderful to be on top of trends and understanding why types of pieces companies are looking for. But make your artwork your own!! That’s the best way to stand out.

4. Don’t overlook anyone. One thing we have learned is that just because someone stops by your booth and you don’t recognize the company name, that does not mean it is not worth your time. In addition, what is a good fit for your work, might not be a good fit for someone else. So no need to compare what companies your friends have talked to. Some of our best partnerships have come from companies that we originally had never heard of!

We wish all artists the best of luck if you decide to go the Surtex route!! We hope to see each and everyone one get matched up with the perfect companies!

Lastly, the other thing we get asked the most is, “Are you going back to Surtex next year?”. And for that, we don’t necessarily know. It is a huge investment for a tiny company like ours. Three years was our goal and we just completed that. We have a lot of really exciting things happening for Ampersand right now and  we have set some big goals and new directions for our company in the next couple of years!!!

As for the future…..we will all just have to wait and see.

Just in case you are so inclined,  read our full Surtex 2012 recap here, and read our Surtex 2013 recap here.

  1. Olivia

    Oh my goodness, the trip to NYC sounds agonizing!! So glad you finally made it. I didn’t realize Morgan was pregnant – congrats!!

    June 24, 2014 5:22 pm
  2. ampersand

    Oh thank you so much, Olivia :)

    June 24, 2014 5:42 pm
  3. Rachel

    It was great meeting you ladies. You are as adorable and sweet in person as you are on your blog. Hope the show was a huge hit for you.

    June 26, 2014 8:09 pm
  4. Rosie Martinez-Dekker

    Great post, thanks for sharing and for the tips.
    Loved you booth and wish you lots of luck !
    R-

    June 26, 2014 9:34 pm
  5. Joy Laforme

    It was so great to meet you both at Surtex! What an exhausting bit to get there, but I hope it ends up being well worth it!

    June 30, 2014 7:21 pm

art + design: maya hayuk 05.05.2014

Have you spotted this installation before? We started seeing it popping up in the background of some of our favorite New Yorker’s photos and we are here to admit, we are simply OBSESSED! After a bit of research, we tracked down exactly where this is and who the artist is behind it. If you haven’t done the same thing, we’re here to fill you in! It’s artist Maya Hayuk‘s installation on the Bowery Wall in NYC. How incredible is this?

Like her other murals and paintings, Hayuk’s intricate Bowery wall installation is multi-layered and hyper-colorful. It almost represents a woven piece but viewed at the largest scaled you could imagine!

We’re so glad this wall let us discover Hayuk and the rest of her work. You must check out her site and the rest of her murals!

  

All images from here & here

Babikins Magazine feature 01.21.2014

Have you guys seen Babiekins Magazine yet?  We’re pretty much in love. It’s the perfect magazine for a modern mom!!!! The photography is so refreshingly current, the editorial is always worth the read and us adults could learn a few tips from the kid fashion features!  We got a hold of a couple of images from the current issue….it only makes us want to see MORE! are we right?
So needless to say, we were pretty stoked to spy our neon yellow ampersand print in a nursery feature in print issue #3! First of all, incredible job at framing the ampersand print and secondly, we are just flattered to have a print amongst all this cool styling! We sort of want this nursery to be our own room! PS- it’s the nursery of Danni Remender, who happens to be the creative director at Fawn Shoppe, so there’s not surprise that it’s perfection! We’ll be heading out to pick up a physical copy tomorrow to see the rest of this perfect little room! Thanks for the feature, Babiekins!
If you want to pick one up for yourself, the major stores are Target, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, Amazon.com, the largest bookstore Canada- Chapters and of course Babiekins website! If you find something else you love in there, share it with us and @babiekinsmag with #Babiekinsmagprint3!

 

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Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014! 01.13.2014

As we move into 2014, we have been doing a lot of future-planning, goal-setting and plan-making for this coming year, but we feel like it’s really important to pause,  look back at the previous year and assess what worked and what didn’t. So we started writing down our biggest successes, most exciting moments and also the things that disappointed us or we’d count as failures, because frankly, each one of these things will teach us how we want to move forward into 2014. Its not all just list-making though, we are putting on our business women hats and crunching some serious numbers, as well.

We’re so thankful for the new relationships, friends and clients that have come from 2013. It’s truly been an incredible year for our business. We can’t go without recognizing that we are some of the lucky ones that are actually living our dream, doing exactly what we were meant to do! And a huge thank you to all of our Ampersand friends who stop by our little blog to see what we’re up to, we’re grateful for each and every one of you!

We’ve got big plans for 2014 and some of them have already started (ah…you know how we hate keeping secrets)! But before we move forward, let’s look back at 2013, want to come along on the journey with us? Let’s go:

JANUARY // We kicked off 2013 by traveling to Salt Lake City for Alt Summit and we had the honor of speaking at a roundtable about Going Into Business with Friends, (Full Alt Summit recap here). Oh and yes, we got to meet Jessica Alba! // We got to introduce our first stationery collection with teNeues // We launched our partnership with LaPlates for our custom designed melamine plates and platters

FEBRUARY // moved out of coffee shops and got our very first studio space // launched Ampersand iphone cases on our etsy shop // spoke for AIGA Kansas City Homegrown Fashion

MARCH // our very first fabric collection, Cream & Sugar, starting shipping to stores across the world and online boutiques // our work was published in Playing with Type book by Rockport Press // announced we are in over our heads HIRING an intern //

APRIL // welcomed Jordan & Emily to the Ampersand team // partnered with The Honest Co for their awesome productspinning parties // did a local meet & greet at Harper’s Fabrics to launch our Cream & Sugar fabric collection

MAY // collaborated with Anthropologie for a Mother’s Day craft night event // showed at our 2nd Surtex show in NYC and it was a big success! // full recap of our 2013 Surtex show right here!

JUNE // really tapped into our DIY side for Father’s Day & Mother’s Day

AUGUST // spoke about Branding for Blgogers at Go Blog Social conference in Kansas City //

SEPTEMBER // Carrie had a baby!

OCTOBER // attended Quilt Market in Houston and shot a video //  new partnership for kids room decor with Oopsy Daisy // we moved (again)! to the Kansas City Crossroads Arts District downtown // prepared to launch our second fabric collection, 8 Days a Week, with a massive 3-location photo shoot and lots of help from our sewing friends!

NOVEMBER // started selling our screen prints at one of our favorite local shops, Utilitarian Workshop // Had the pleasure of designing The Country Club Plaza Lights banners // hosted a super fun holiday trunk show for The Land of Nod in our very own studio!!

DECEMBER // featured in Spaces magazine // partnered with Mane Message for a custom design package of  hair bands // added new stationery items to our shop

And 2013 was so good to us in the press! Thanks to all of you who featured one of our products, our shop, or the work we have done!! We appreciate every single word! Better Homes & Gardens, Apartment Therapy, To & From Magazine, Adore Home Magazine, the cover of Fon’s & Porters Love of Quilting, Camille Styles, Honest to Nod, The Vault Files, 100 layer cakelet, blogshop Philly, Spaces Magazine, KC Weddings magazine and so many more!!

We also took our wholesale business to new levels and added lots of new accounts to our list including Shop Made by Girl in NYC, Collected in Aukland, New Zealand,  Take Heart in Austin, TX and our most recent, Schoolhouse Electric!

All in all, we’d like to say a big huge CHEERS to 2013!!!! You’ve been incredible to us and we can’t wait to see what 2014 holds!

(And just in case you’re curious, here’s our look back from a year ago and 2012!)

 

 

  1. Nicole

    This is so awesome! I’m excited to see what 2014 brings to you beauties!

    January 13, 2014 2:34 pm
    • ampersand

      Thanks, Nicole! So excited for your 2014 and your new beginning, too! Hopefully this will be a great year all around!

      January 16, 2014 4:16 am
  2. Megan

    What a great year you two had! Congrats. :)

    Megan from Chasing Davies

    January 13, 2014 6:46 pm
  3. ampersand

    oh thanks, megan! it sure was a crazy one ;)

    January 13, 2014 7:15 pm
  4. Akram Taghavi-Burris

    Congrats on your successful year. May 2014 prove to be just as fruitful.

    It’s good to see local business’s thriving and I love sharing you guys inspiration and insight with, my graphic design students.

    Keep up the good work ;)

    January 16, 2014 1:10 pm
    • ampersand

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Akram! And thank you for sharing our work with your students! We are so flattered. We hope you have a wonderful 2014, too! Cheers!

      January 16, 2014 4:07 pm

black, white & gold errrrthing 12.12.2013

We can’t get enough black, white & gold EVERYTHING!!!! Here’s a little round-up of the goodies on our shop to satisfy your luxe needs!!

Limited edition screen prints, iphone cases, hair ties, melamine platters—tongs of perfect gifts! Come on over and get to shoppping :)

(AND…..pssst….we’re offering one more discount for those of you trying to cross off your holiday shopping list: 15% off with code HOHOHO! Expires at midnight on Monday, 12/16!)

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