the state of the studio

Here's a little summary of my life since leaving my job:

Day 1: Friday. Dye pink streaks in hair (OK, meant to be purple, but either way I've got my post-teenage rebellion out of the way). Marvel at number of posters continuing to sell from "the Redditing" (over 200). Begin rolling mass quantities of posters and ship a case of them (around 50 tubes). Meet with favorite freelance client and discuss impending launch of her product line (exciting!)

Day 2: Saturday. Throw large birthday picnic/BBQ for four friends, including Jimmy. Spend the entire day cooking and cleaning, not rolling posters. Notice that posters are continuing to sell like mad and become a little alarmed; begin leaving food on stove to go and stuff posters into tubes. Nearly ruin potatoes; manage to not ruin potatoes. Have awesome party.

Day 3: Sunday. Wake up, go to IHOP with overnight guests, recall halfway through breakfast just how many posters I've sold. Go home and frantically roll posters while husband and friend watch terrible Japanese B-movie RoboGeisha. Against will, sort of enjoy RoboGeisha. Do nothing but roll posters for remainder of day.

Day 4: Monday. Roll posters. Run out of poster tubes. Realize shipment of poster tubes from supplier should be coming. Look at tracking, discover that poster tubes have in fact been shipped to billing address rather than shipping address (which is my parents' house, several hours away and they're on vacation). Call company, am assured that they will redirect the package of tubes.

Day 5: Tuesday. Roll posters. Ship a bajillion international posters. Seriously test patience of nice postal worker. Roll more posters. Wonder where my tubes are.

Day 6: Wake up filled with bizarre craving to watch Beauty and the Beast. Purchase Beauty and the Beast DVD. Watch it while rolling posters. Realize as end credits roll that tubes never arrived. Check tracking page, discover that tubes were delivered...to the billing address. Leave passive-aggressive message for tube company. Panic and try to figure out where to get that many mailing tubes on short notice.

So basically, I've just been rolling posters. I'm getting them out as quickly as I can, although the mailing tube debacle is making it difficult. Stay tuned, kids...


this is kind of a big deal

There's some exciting stuff brewing at Blimpcat HQ, and it's not just coffee. Tomorrow marks a very important day for the shop (and for me personally). It's Jimmy's 25th birthday, which is awesome, but it's also...

...my last day at my full-time job!

Two weeks ago I gave notice that I would be leaving my day job in early June. Business has been growing steadily over the first months of this year, and I decided in March to try to find a freelance position, something that would allow me to work on Etsy nearly full-time while still providing a safety net if I had a slow week. I found that job (writing for Groupon), got my ducks in a row, took a deep breath, and off we go.

The day I put in my notice, as I was coming back from the quittin' meeting, I was flooded with text messages and Tweets telling me that our Know Your Coffees poster was featured on Etsy's Facebook page. Within moments, orders started pouring in, and kept up for the rest of the day. It ended up being my biggest day, sales-wise, in my long history on Etsy. I took it as a sign from the universe that I'd made the right decision.

So what does all this mean for the store? It means lots of good things. More designs, more often. Quicker response and turnaround times. And expansion into a new realm I've been dying to enter for a long time now: home goods. I love furniture, it's one of my greatest passions, and with any luck you'll be seeing some original pieces pop up in the shop in the next few months.

To top it off? While I'm writing this post, explaining how I took my big day of sales as a sign that I was making the right decision, we were featured on Reddit--and today we've sold even more than we did on Coffeeday. Double universe bonus!


winds of change

Well, as you can all see, I haven't been posting for a while. We got a little swamped around here, and the blog sort of got pushed to the bottom of the heap...and unfortunately, it stayed there. I've been thinking about why that is, and I think I've finally come to a conclusion.

I may be way off-base in what you all want to read, but I think I've been trying too hard to be Design*Sponge, or Green Wedding Shoes, or any of those other fine blogs with design and weddings where you can get a fix of pretty new stuff. And so that isn't going to be the focus of this blog anymore. Not to say that I won't share wedding ideas or cool things with you...just that those posts will happen when I genuinely have something interesting to share--I won't make a post about weddings just because it's Wednesday, or something.

So what will the focus be now? At the risk of sounding narcissistic...us!

Our customers (our lovely, wonderful customers) share a lot about their lives with us...you can really tell a lot about a person from their wedding! And now we think it's high time we returned the favor. So from now on, this blog will be about the creative process behind Blimpcat, what we're up to in our daily lives, anything relevant to the shop (and quite a bit that isn't). We hope you'll pop in once in a while to chat, see what's going on, or offer suggestions of what you think we should be offering. Because everything we do...we do it for you, kids.


change of scenery: blimpcat's office renovation

Hello everyone! We've been absent for the last few days, not because of a sudden lack of wonderful Etsy gems or wedding inspiration, but because of something closer to home. In our home, to be precise. Ever since Jimmy and I moved into our place two years ago, we've kept busy making the place feel like home: painting rooms, buying and refinishing furniture, and in one traumatic episode, removing three layers of hideous wallpaper from the master bathroom.

Throughout all this activity, we've been using our shared office pretty much as a dumping ground. Every conversation that started with "Where does this go?" ended with "Put it in the office for now, we'll figure it out." The room is bland, dark (owing to no overhead lighting and the "window" being a glass door that opens out onto a shady porch) and very cluttered, so I almost never work there.

Last weekend, I finally decided I'd had enough. We didn't want to paint the walls, since it was too much work to move everything out, we were working on a limited time frame, and Jimmy liked the color. So I set out to work with what we had. I'm seriously embarrassed to show you the "before" picture, but in the interest of full disclosure, here it is...

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ICK AGH what an awful space. Note the crappy stick lamp I hated, the extreme excess of furniture, the pile of papers and homeless dishes on the desk, the non-functioning old PC, the mostly unused pegboard...it's pretty terrible. The first step was just removing all the crap from the space. Once that was accomplished, it already felt better. I sold both the rolling sewing-machine carts on Craigslist, along with the desk lamp, and gave the computer to Jimmy to tinker with.

I wanted a custom-built glossy white L-shaped desk and a white chair, to brighten the space and make what little light there is more effective--like this:

But I knew right away we couldn't afford to start from scratch (we were working on a budget of about $200). So we decided to use my despised folding table as a base, and build a new top for it, with a counter extending from it along one wall. Here's what that looked like:

I've already painted the pegboard in this picture, and installed a big pendant lamp (see how much of a difference the overhead light makes?). We built a plywood top and shelf and installed them; all the heavy objects in our house are piled onto the wood while the glue dries. At one point our vacuum and cat were also up there! After installing the new wood, the next task was to paint it, and begin decorating. Here are the things we bought for the new space:
  • Paper lantern and cord kit from Pier 1 ($25)
  • Porcelain duck and lotus bowl from Pier 1 ($5 total)
  • White flokati rug from Wal-Mart ($20, bought on a gift card)
  • Chrome lamp and shade from Wal-Mart ($15)
  • Clear acrylic book holders from Wal-Mart ($6 for two)
  • White gauze curtain from Wal-Mart ($7 on clearance)
  • Cube shelves from Kohl's (normally $34 for 3, bought two sets on sale for $17 each)
  • Photo frames from Kohl's (also 50% off, $15 for 3)
  • Chalkboard sticker from Kohl's ($11 on clearance)
  • Monofilament and eye screws for "floating" memo board area ($5)
  • Ikea JULES chair (given to me for free by a good friend)
And here are the results...are you ready?

What do you think?? It took many coats of polyurethane to make the desk so shiny, but it was 100% worth it--the light just bounces everywhere now, it's very inviting. The rug (I know, I know, Wal-Mart, but my shopping options are limited here) keeps my feet warm when Mitzy (the Blimpcat herself) isn't sitting on them. The chair is surprisingly comfortable, and I love its modern design. And now the special things I want to showcase are arranged with thought and care, rather than just tossed wherever. I think it's funny that I got rid of furniture, but actually have more working space now!

The "gallery wall": my Etsy to-do list chalkboard, a Ben Folds concert poster made by local artist Ben Chlapek, two of Jimmy's vintage cameras, a brass duck and heart that my aunt gave me as a child, a toy 1957 Chevy Bel-Air (my favorite car), two of my favorite wedding photos, a teapot made by my dear friend Emily, and a pair of "stress cows" from my day job.

I needed to organize my writing instruments and cutting tools, but I didn't really want to spend any money. So I just designed some simple wrappers, printed them out on kraft paper, and covered up empty cans (coconut milk, black beans and tomatoes, I think!).

I never liked my old gooseneck desk lamp, so I replaced it with this "normal" lamp. The photo on the desk is one of my favorites from the wedding, of three of my bridesmaids blowing bubbles.

This poor swan was all by himself on the clearance shelf at Pier 1. I brought him home to hold Post-It notes for me (I have a little addiction). If you've ordered anything from me in the past, you should be familiar with the fat cat cards there :)

So I'm sorry for the delay in blog updates since we've been busy getting the office together--but I could not be happier with the new space, and I hope you like it too! Now, when you get a package with a fat cat on the front, you'll know it was lovingly designed and packed right here.


fresh wedding theme: quirky february romance

Welcome to this week's edition of Fresh Wedding Themes! First off, let me say that this would work any time of year--not just February. However, love it or hate it, we've all got Valentine's Day on the brain, so the time seemed right to throw some red tones in the mix.

Red is, by far, the most popular and traditional wedding color, due to the widespread popularity of roses and its connotations of love. Traditionally it's accompanied by its friends black and white--which is gorgeous, don't get us wrong! But for a more modern take, try banishing black entirely. It can be surprisingly challenging! Replace it with shades of grey and silver, or supplement with aubergine, burgundy, and various deep pinks. If you want to really stand out, try doing it without a single red rose. Sound impossible? We're here to help. (Our picks this week are predominantly from Etsy, with the exception of the beautiful Maggie Sottero gown.)
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1. Keep your cake simple for a breath of fresh air--a smooth expanse of white can have just as much impact as a complex pattern. Instead of flowers, adorn the cake with organza poppies and matching ribbons. Burgundy blossom flowers, A Bespoke Touch on Etsy, $50.

2. Virtually any snow-white gown will work beautifully with this versatile theme. We love the feminine shape and classic structure of this one, especially mixed with some funky red accessories. Isadora Marie gown, Maggie Sottero, from $1348.

3. Give your groom a modern, masculine look with a flower-free boutonniere. (Bonus: it'll last forever!) Jancie boutonniere, Rationale on Etsy, $11.50.

4. We still can't get enough of these poms--they're festive, lush-looking, and the perfect way to add pops of brilliant color to your reception space. Mixed Berry Jam poms, PomLove on Etsy, $18.

5. Pewter flats peeking out from beneath your gown with these precious poppy shoe clips add a touch of innocence to your bridal ensemble. Handmade fabric flower shoe clips, JujaCrafts on Etsy, $12.99.

6. Obviously we're biased, but we think these table numbers in cranberry red on crisp white are an understated but elegant way to mark your guests' places. Lila table numbers, Blimpcat on Etsy, $20 for ten.

7. Give your groomsmen a gift they'll keep forever--and coordinate with your colors at the same time. Rocker Red vintage button cufflinks, Really Bad Kitty on Etsy, $17.

8. Flower-less bouquets are becoming all the rage these days--keep yours forever and show off your quirky style with a custom-made brooch bouquet in shades of pink and red. Wedding brooch bouquet in burgundy, The Ritzy Rose on Etsy, $275.

So what do you think? Ready to give black and white the boot? Red is really surprisingly versatile, and by choosing slightly offbeat accompaniments, you can be sure your guests will remember your wedding for years (in a good way!). Happy Valentine's day (or Anna Howard Shaw Day, as the case may be).


etsy gems - come on spring

Here in mid-Missouri, we've been slammed with blizzards for a week or so now. Jimmy and I couldn't get out of the house last week, and temperatures have been dipping into the negatives after dark. I love snow, but I've officially had enough of it this year, along with heavy winter food--I'm ready for light, summery fruits and vegetables, and I'm craving color the way I crave food. Since our landscape refuses to compromise on this all-white color scheme, I went hunting with the Pounce tool through Etsy's undiscovered treasures to satisfy my craving. Here goes!

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1. I'm thinking a table full of these sweet pinwheels might make even the awful winter winds seem like a spring breeze. Modern Love paper pinwheel, HurrahPinwheels, $6.

2. "Put a bird on it!" I'm already digging through my closet for that pale-turquoise sundress that serves as my go-to for spring weddings--think I could use a new accessory for it! Romantic flower and bird fascinator,  Ghost of a Gipsy, $27.80.

3. These crocheted bangles in juicy colors seem like the perfect transition accessory--they look like they'd keep your arms warm with sleeveless spring tops. Wild berry bangles, Dirty Lush, $22.

4. Simple, modern, classic, and colorful: I think that yellow bag might be coming home with me. Yellow vegan felt handbag, anonimaMente, $48.65.

5. I love a good salvaged piece, and this cheerful red dresser is just what the doctor ordered to brighten up my living room. George dresser, The Salvage Collection, $325.

6. Nothing says spring to me like old-school calico prints. Paired with creamy cotton, it's a rustic piece of heaven. Toadstool embroidered pincushion, evajeanie, $9.96.

7. Finish off your "wishful thinking" pre-spring ensemble with these dainty, pale-pink earrings. Pink quartz 14k gold wrapped flower earrings, zhuzhudesign, $52.

There you have it! Are you feeling the winter blues too? Show us your best Etsy picks for spring!


new for you - 2.7.10

Hello everyone! So sorry for the lack of posts of late...Missouri has been hit with a great big blizzard and we've been busy walking packages to the post office and digging our cars out from under our collapsed carport (no joke). HOWEVER, just because we haven't been blogging doesn't mean we haven't been designing! Here are our new goodies for this week:
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Carte Postale is our first official thank-you card, with plenty more to come! (Fun fact: the photos in the sample are from our own wedding last October, and were taken by the extremely talented Lennart Karlsson of the Swedish Factory.)
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Domino is a fresh new save-the-date in muted colors for any season! Simple and clean, with a little bit of grade-school charm. Available with rounded or square corners (we say round).
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Lila is our first set of table numbers! She's modern, bold, and classy with just a hint of danger. (She happens to be named after Lila from Dexter, though we're taking liberties with the "classy" on that one.)
Rounding out this week's updates is Estelle, our second set of table numbers! Perfect for either an art-deco inspired soiree or just a simple, modern affair, she speaks clearly in whatever colors your little heart desires.

We love you, and we think you deserve a little something special for being oh-so-patient while we built our igloo. So through Valentine's Day, blog readers, Twitterers and Facebook fans will get 15% off by using the code SNOWMAGEDDON! Just enter it at checkout, or give us a quick buzz if you can't quite figure it out.

That's all, folks! Keep an eye here this week--we'll do our best to get back on track now that the snow seems to be melting. Stay safe out there!


etsy gems - modern classic

Welcome back to Etsy Gems! This week's theme is Modern Classic. We've chosen a handful of gorgeous items from as-yet-undiscovered Etsy sellers with serious potential to give you and your home classic style with a trendy twist. Let's take a look!

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This is only a tiny sampling of the treats in store from each of these talented sellers. Go take a look, and happy shopping!


new for you

Happy Monday, readers! (OK...as happy as it can be.) Hope your weekend was lovely. Jimmy and I traveled to St. Louis to see my family; my oldest two nephews had their 14th and 12th birthday party, and I have a brand-new baby nephew, Ben. (He makes 8 total nieces and nephews for me!)

Last week was a busy one, getting the blog and Twitter up and running. And we've got two new designs in the store! Take a look:

First, we have the Love Propaganda invitation suite! I had a lot of fun designing this one; I love to work with bold colors and graphic style. As always, it's customizable with different colors and fonts to make it your own.

Next, we have Home Sweet Home, a custom illustration of your home in mod style and overflowing with patterns. These are available in different sizes--they make a great housewarming or closing gift!

That's it for now--we'll be putting up a handful of new designs as the week goes by, so keep an eye on the shop. And don't forget to stop by here tomorrow for the next installment of Etsy Gems!


the week in links

Hello friends! This afternoon we've got a handful of great design-related links for you, accumulated over the last couple of days from Twitter and our blogroll. Here goes! Feel free to share anything cool you've found in the comments...
Happy weekend, everyone! (Drive safely if you're here in the Midwest--Columbia is buried under a foot of snow!)