National Stationery Show FAQ, Part 1

National Stationery Show FAQ with letterpress printed arrows in background

The National Stationery Show FAQ, Part 1

Trade shows can be overwhelming. The first time Kirk and I took Sycamore Street Press to the National Stationery Show, I’d only been out of school for a year and a half, and Kirk was actually still in school! We had little retail experience, little wholesale experience, and very little business experience period. And somehow we survived. Not only that, but we did well enough to consider it worth our while to return the following year.

Now we’re old pros (ha ha) and we’re coming up on our fifth time exhibiting at the NSS. A few of my paper peeps have been asking me for advice about the show, so I thought I’d post them here for everyone’s benefit. If any of you have something to add, please chime in down below! These are just my opinions — I’m sure there are many ways of doing things. If there’s something you’re curious about that I haven’t covered, let me know. I’ll be doing a part 2 soon! - Eva

Q: How much is it going to cost me to do the show?

A: This number can vary wildly! You will need to do a lot of research to see how much you can afford and how you will budget everything. But a good rule of thumb for a small company exhibiting in a single 10 x 10 foot booth is to plan on spending around $10,000. This includes the booth, electrical, displays, catalogs, travel, etc… everything related to doing the show. It does NOT include the product itself. Like I said, though, this can vary quite a bit. Our first year, we were able to drive to the show, and take all of our products and display in our car (instead of having to ship it with a freight company). We also stayed with friends instead of getting a hotel room… so we probably did it for about $5000 that year.

6 more Q&A’s to help you figure out the National Stationery Show after the jump! Read More…

A New Focus for SSP

Inspiration Board | Sycamore Street Press

Things are looking a bit different in our shop lately. Sycamore Street Press is going through a big transition this year, and I thought I’d let you in on the why: Read More…

DESIGN 101: FREE FONTS

free-fonts #fonts #design

In this new how-to series, Shayla Moller, graphic designer and Pinner extraordinaire (over 3 million followers!), shares design and social media tips with us.

Links to Free Fonts:

01. artistica

02. basic

03. the only exception

04. blackout

05. mossy

06. blake

07. quand tu n’es pas la

08. matchbook

09. peach milk

10. devlose

11. brain flower

12. desdemonda

13. rainfall black

See also: How to Personalize Your Favicon and How to Install Social Media Icons

SALE: 25% OFF EVERYTHING!

Sycamore Street Press

We’re having a summer sale on all of our paper goods! Just use the code pinterest at checkout to get 25% off. The sale runs from July 11-19, 2013. xo, Eva

 

CORAL & AQUA

blue-orange-colors-of-summer

At Sycamore Street Press, we are seekers of all things beautiful. Annie Steward, our delightful intern-turned-contributor, curated this collection. 

1. I’m a big fan of the current juicing fad, especially this Grapefruit Mint juice from Pressed Juicery.

2. Just keep swimming

3. Now all I need is a camera to go in this adorable Rebecca Minkoff camera bag! Details.

4. This is the perfect no muss, no fuss summertime dress.

5. I love the new colors on this Sycamore Street Press card!

- Annie

BRIGHT & FLORAL

tropical-bright-summer

At Sycamore Street Press, we are seekers of all things beautiful. Annie Steward, our delightful intern-turned-contributor, curated this collection. 

1. This cross-stitched clutch is the perfect bag for summer parties.

2. I love the detail of the floral print on this new Sycamore Street Press card.

3. This tropical stool adds a pop of color to any space!

4. I love the bright colors in this Venessa Arizaga necklace.

5. I have a pink bkr water bottle, but I’m tempted by this coral one.

6. This floral serving tray makes me want to host a party!

- Annie

DESIGN 101: PERSONALIZE YOUR FAVICON

 

In this new how-to series, Shayla Moller, graphic designer and Pinner extraordinaire (over 3 million followers!), will be sharing design and social media tips with us.

You may be wondering just what in the world is a “favicon??” A favicon is that little orange “B” sign you see next to the blogger url. It’s just a little detail that can make a big difference if it’s changed to a pretty, personal symbol of some sort. And the best news yet is that it’s quite a simple process!

Step One: Create Your Favicon.

Creating a favicon image can be done on an Adobe program, such as Photoshop or Illustrator, or with an online tool such as PicMonkey. Remember that it’s going to be a veeeery small image, so too much detail isn’t necessary. Save the image in a square format, such as 200 X 200 pixels.

Step Two: Upload Your Favicon.

Go to blogger, layout, and in the upper lefthand corner there should be a “favicon” widget. Click on it and upload your image. It may take a day or two to stick but then it should show up and stay there looking all pretty and professional!

Let me know if you have any sort of questions in the comment box below!

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’

ready-for-summer

At Sycamore Street Press, we are seekers of all things beautiful. Annie Steward, our delightful intern-turned-contributor, curated this collection. 

1. I’ll be spending my summer in California. Where will you be?

2. This green tea and min blend sounds so refreshing.

3. I am in LOVE with these gold arrow bobby pins!

4.  I am SO excited about the new Sycamore Street Press gift wrap!

5. I’m slowly building my collection of baker’s twine.

6. Somehow this Pal Rodenius chair  manages to look chic.

7. Now THIS is what I call camping.

- Annie

NEW FROM SYCAMORE STREET!

Sycamore Street Press | flower foil cards

After months of hard work, we are so excited to launch over 2 dozen new items for the National Stationery Show! Gift wrap, gift tags, new cards, card sets, baby shower invitations, and Baby Milestones: The Heirloom Set. See them in our online shop here.

For all you US retailers out there, we’re offering free shipping if you order during the NSS (either in person or online). We’ll be in booth #1851. We also have a wholesale catalog and lookbook available (just email kirk@sycamorestreetpress.com to request them).

Thanks! – Eva

WINDMILL LETTERPRESS WORKSHOP

Letterpress Workshop at Flywheel Press | Sycamore Street Press

Behind The Press is a blog series by SSP’s owners: Eva and Kirk Jorgensen. In it, we share our experience with letterpress, paper goods, running a small business, and work/life balance in the form of tips, how to’s, and more. We hope you enjoy! – K&E

We bought our Heidelberg Windmill (a type of letterpress) from a family-owned Salt Lake commercial printshop. They were the original owners of the press and were wanting it to go to a good home.

I had a quick 15 minute lesson from the previous pressman which covered the absolute basics (on/off button, paper goes here, etc…).

These machines are built to be very efficient and have adjustments for just about everything. This is great if you know what you’re doing, but if you’re unsure you can end up deep in a rabbit hole of micro-adjustments. Since I didn’t have a firm grasp on the mechanics of the press, I didn’t get too far with developing the necessary skill set to use it for our printing.

A few months ago, Eva posted a picture of our press on the SSP Instagram feed with a caption asking if anyone had any recommendations or advice for help learning how to use this machine.

As it turned out, we weren’t alone in having a Windmill and not knowing exactly how to use it. Amber, from Flywheel Press, heard about all of us and invited us to the Bay Area for a Windmill Workshop. We spent a long weekend in great company, learning everything from oiling and basic maintenance to printing and die-cutting. It was also wonderful catching up with friends (old and new) from around the country.

San Mateo (where Flywheel Press is located) is a charming city with tons of great places to eat and great weather.

I’m back from the workshop and feel much more comfortable around the press and less overwhelmed. I’ve made some good progress and am excited to keep working at it.

Amber is looking to host another Windmill Workshop this summer. If you’re interested in learning, or have a press and need help, I couldn’t recommend this more. You can write her here: store@flywheelpress.com

- Kirk

GREEN FOR ST. PATRICK’S DAY

green

At Sycamore Street Press, we are seekers of all things beautiful. Annie Steward, our delightful intern-turned-contributor, curated this collection. 

1. This Kate Spade case is the perfect excuse to upgrade to an iPhone 5. Right?

2. Florals for spring.

3. Sycamore Street Press card.

4. Love the sawtooth detail on these Volley shoes.

5. Who wouldn’t want to make a trip to the supermarket with this reusable bag?

6. There is no occasion that doesn’t call for a crown. In this case, a wool felt crown.

- Annie

TRENDY AWARDS

Trendy Awards Nominees | Sycamore Street Press

We’re in the running for the Trendy Awards! And yes, you’ve probably never heard of it, but it’s put on by Stationery Trends Magazine, which is THE go-to publication in the paper goods industry. If you have a moment, we’d love to have your vote! Just click here. Thank you so much! – Eva

LETTERPRESS SALE!

Letterpress Sale! 25% off with code feb2013. (2/2813 - 3/7/13) www.sycamorestreetpress.com

We’re having a sale!

The Details:

Discount: 25%

What: Everything in the Sycamore Street Press inventory

Where: In our shop and on Etsy

Code: feb2013

Dates: Thursday, February 28  - Thursday, March 7, 2013

 

Top 5 Legal Concerns for Small Creative Businesses

Top-5-Legal-Concerns-For-Small-Creative-Businesses-SYcamore-Street-Press-625x850

How do I protect my company name? What kind of business structure should I have? Do I really need contracts? So many questions like that have run through my head since I started Sycamore Street Press. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and just ignore them. But we all know that’s not a good idea, so enter Ben Pollock of the Juniper Law Firm. Yes, he is my younger brother… which means that I am very lucky. Because he is also a whip smart attorney who understands the ins and outs of small creative businesses. He generously agreed to write this post for our blog. He also contributes to the Design*Sponge Biz Ladies series and writes his own blog, if you’d like to read more. – Eva

If you’re like a lot of small businesses, hiring a business attorney is not very high on your priority list. In fact, it may not even be on your list at all for any one of a number of reasons. So let’s take a look at the top 5 legal concerns for small creative businesses, and then we’ll decide whether it might be a good idea to make a new lawyer friend.

1) Business Formation – From corporations to limited liability limited partnerships, there are probably more available types of business entities than most people are aware of. When starting your business, it is important to get the entity selection right. And for more than just tax reasons. The entity you choose can effect your available management structures, who can have ownership, your exposure to legal liability, what formal meetings and notices your are required to have regularly, how much it costs to set up, and what records you are required to keep, among other things. Your best bet is to narrow it down to two or three options that fit your needs based on the above non-tax factors, among others. Then, once you’ve narrowed it down, you can pick between those based on tax benefits.

2) Trademarks – Most small businesses, especially creative businesses, understand the importance of having strong branding – from logos to distinctive packaging and everything in-between. It is trademark law that will allow you to protect your branding and prevent others from using branding that is confusingly similar. In addition to your logo, trademark law may protect your packaging and many other aspects of your overall image, including use of colors, as long as they are unique enough to set you apart from your competitors. Protecting your branding will allow you to differentiate yourself from your competitors, thus allowing customers to easily identify you and your products. There are several advantages to registering your trademark, including increased protection of your mark, deterring others from using a mark that is confusingly similar to yours, and the availability of greater remedies if your mark is infringed.

3) Copyrights – Copyright law is what will protect the creative, as opposed to the functional, aspects of your products. Creative businesses succeed by producing unique products that customers cannot find elsewhere. And if this “advantage” were to be taken away, many businesses would likely fail.

In the online context, there are remedies offered through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that will allow you to request that internet providers and others take down infringing material, even if you haven’t registered your copyright. But it is often difficult to prove your ownership of the material you want taken off the web without having registered your copyright beforehand. And if the copyright infringement does not happen on the internet, or if the internet service provider and others refuse to take action because they are unconvinced of your ownership, your only option is a traditional lawsuit. And you cannot sue without first registering your copyright. The advantages of registering your copyright before it is infringed are increased remedies, including the ability to recover all your court costs and attorney fees. This makes it much easier, and affordable, to protect your copyright than if you were to register it only after it is infringed.

4) Social Media Policies – More and more, social media is becoming an essential part of a small business’s marketing plans. And more and more, employees are not only participating in social media, but are often speaking about their employers or their employer’s customers on social media. A social media policy will allow you to have greater control over how your business is represented, or not represented, by your employees. There are, of course, strict limits on how much you can control your employees’ use of social media, but a little guidance can go a long way in making sure your business is portrayed well online.

5) Contracts – “Oh, we’ve been friends forever.” “This isn’t the first time we’ve done business together.” “We trust each other.” These are all common excuses for small business owners not to have a contract in the context of a business relationship. But what they don’t understand is that having a contract is NOT the equivalent of saying, “I know we’re friends, but I don’t trust you.” What it is actually saying is, “We are friends, and I want to protect our friendship from any unforeseen circumstance in the future.” When two people or businesses sit down and come to an agreement in the very beginning about how to handle a difficult situation in the future, it ensures that everyone feels they are treated fairly if such a situation arises. If an agreement is not put in writing beforehand, and a difficult situation arises, emotions will run high, people won’t be able to come to an agreement about how to handle it, and no one will feel like they’ve been treated fairly when it is all over.

I hope this small outline of common legal concerns for small creative businesses has shown you the importance of these few legal issues. I suggest you find a friendly attorney who has experience in these areas and form a close relationship so that you have somewhere to turn for guidance. And if you are not sure how to find an attorney, check out this post on my blog for some tips. – Ben

Disclaimer: This article is not intended as, and should not be understood to be legal advice. The topics above were covered in a general and informative fashion, but they are not tailored to your, or anyone else’s particular circumstances. If you would like to discuss these topics as they apply to your business, please feel free to contact me via my website, or any other attorney who practices in these areas.

A PRETTY PASTEL PARTY

a-pretty-pastel-party

At Sycamore Street Press, we are seekers of all things beautiful. Annie Steward, our delightful intern-turned-contributor, curated this collection. 

1. Wishing you a birthday filled with hooplah and hullabaloo!

2. Every birthday princess should have a crown. This one’s DIY (even better).

3. Rainbow confetti garland. Need I say more?

4. You know it’s a party worth attending when there are tassels.

5. Ice cream and these wooden spoons are an unstoppable combination.

6. These treat bags are almost too cute to give away.

- Annie

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

I Quite Like You | Letterpress Valentine Card by Sycamore Street Press

 

I quite like you.

I do.

If we were in elementary school again, I would pick out special conversation hearts just for you. Because you care to come to this space, and to get to know our little blog and company — the company that allows us to do something we love while fully supporting me and Kirk and Ingrid and Baby Lars, and helping to pay the bills for a few other friends and family members. And for that I am very grateful.

So I would like to say THANK YOU, and wish you all a very happy Valentine’s Day! xo – Eva

 

Stephanie Ford designed this card for us. It’s one of my favorites. Photo by Zuzanna Audette.

ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL | Valentine’s Day

valentinesday

At Sycamore Street Press, we are seekers of all things beautiful. Annie Steward, our delightful intern-turned-contributor, curated this collection. 

1. How can you say no to this Valentine’s Day banner?

2. These Knot & Bow stickers are the perfect finishing touch for my valentines.

3. Love the copper foil detail of the tiny hearts on this card of ours.

4. This sweet and simple Venessa Arizaga bracelet says it all.

5. Foiled dot napkins? Yes, please.

6. These Geronimo heart balloons are my newest obsession!

7. I’ll take this colorful flower arrangement over a bouquet of red roses any day (hint, hint).

- Annie

 

Top 5 Tools for Small Business Organization

Top 5 Tools for Small Business Organization | by Sycamore Street Press

Behind The Press is a blog series by Sycamore Street Press’s owners: Eva and Kirk Jorgensen. In it, we share our experience with letterpress, paper goods, running a small business, and work/life balance in the form of tips, how to’s, and more. We hope you enjoy! – K&E

Admittedly, we are not always the most organized people. We try to be. We LOVE having everything in its place. Sometimes it seems like there’s just not enough time in the day, though. And then we think about how much time we’d be saving in the long run if we could just put things in order. It’s a catch-22.

Well, this past year we decided that was it. Time to make some real progress.  And it’s incredible how making a few small changes has really helped things run more smoothly! We still have a lot of plans to implement. But we’re happy with how far we’ve come, and are committed to keeping up and getting better.

If you’re a small business owner like we were — never feeling like we had the time to get organized — we hope this post can help you out. (And no, we are not getting paid for this post. We just use these organizing tools every day and love them!)

1) Google Drive – We used to trade long emails back and forth with the rest of the Sycamore team. Photo shoot plans, design brainstorming, production schedules, etc… Inevitably, we’d have to search through mountains of emails to try and find the one with the correct attachment for a certain project. Now, at the suggestion of a couple of our team members, we just create the document in Google Drive, share it with each other, and file the documents into folders. So simple. It’s great to be able to find all of that information in one place, that we can access it all from any computer or device, and that they won’t be lost if a computer crashes.

2) Google Calendar – Even if the only thing we had to do all year was to plan for and exhibit at our annual trade show — The National Stationery Show – this app would be worth it. We’re big fans of paper (obviously) and both love our little Moleskine planners. But they just weren’t cutting it anymore for the business. We needed a calendar that could be updated frequently (without an eraser or White Out) and that everyone on the Sycamore team could access. We got a lot of suggestions from colleagues, but when it came down to it, Google Calendar is free, simple to use, and it gets the job done. We plan months in advance and have a color coded system set up. (Production tasks in cobalt, events in yellow, PR in coral, etc…)

3) Dropbox – When our daughter Ingrid was 6 months old, our computer crashed. Inconvenient, but not a big deal, we thought at first. We had Time Machine set to automatically back up everything on our computer to an external hard drive. Well, it turns out that there was a disconnect between iPhoto and Time Machine. So we lost pretty much all of our photos. From the first 6 months of our daughter Ingrid’s life, and from the 6 years prior to that — ever since we got our first digital camera. We were devastated. (There may have been a crying fit ending with someone flinging themselves across the bed with a loud, slobbery moan. Not saying who.) Luckily, we was able to retrieve a few off of an old laptop and discs. But literally, it was just a handful compared to the thousands that we lost.

Obviously, this couldn’t happen again. Enter Dropbox. We signed up, downloaded the software, and began backing up all our photos. We love that we can access it easily on our computer’s hard drive itself, or from the “cloud” on the dropbox website from any computer or device. We’ve since started using it to back up all of our product photos, design files, etc… It’s also great for sharing files — high res photos with members of the press, Illustrator files with manufacturers, scans of drawings with other members of the Sycamore team, and more.

4) Quickbooks – We can’t tell you how many creative small business owners we’ve talked to who confess that the bookkeeping for their business is pretty much non-existent. And yes, we made the same mistake. Every year, we’d sit down with print-outs of our bank statements, categorize everything with highlighters, and then send it all in one big Excel spreadsheet to our accountant. He’d get it sorted out and make sure we were legit with our taxes, but that was it. No profit and loss statements, no monthly reports, nothing. Organizing our business finances was always a big dark cloud looming over our heads. Something we knew we needed to do to really grow our business, but dreaded with our very souls.

As of a couple of months ago, though, we are leaving that big dark cloud behind! And it feels sooooooo good. To get started, we sat down a couple of different times with our accountant to ask his advice. Then we bought Quickbooks, set it up on our computer, and hired someone to do bookkeeping part-time, along with other office duties. Let’s face it, the two of us were never going to be organized enough to do it ourselves. We figured that in the long run, it was worth the expense of hiring someone. By being able to see regular reports, we can start to see so much more clearly where the money is coming from and where it is going. It’ll make a big difference in our business planning, and will be a key to helping us grow.

If you don’t want to hire someone in-house to do this, you could have your accountant do it for you, or hire an independent bookkeeper. Or, you could show us up and do it yourself.

5) Freshbooks - It took a few tries to find an invoicing system that clicked. We signed up for Freshbooks over a year ago and have loved it for many reasons. It’s all cloud based, which makes it easy to manage orders while traveling with our laptop/iphone as well as accessing our account from multiple computers in our shop. It is simple and convenient. We have linked up our merchant account so that when a wholesale client receives the email from Freshbooks, they can view/download their invoice as well as pay their invoice by credit card. The other feature we really like is the report generator. We can easily generate reports showing total revenue by client or item number in any given parameter of time.

Obviously, there are many different tools and programs out there that can help small business owners get organized. But these are our favorites — the ones that have really helped us.We hope that one or all may be of some help to you, too! And if you have some tips or tools of your own to share, we’d love to hear in the comments below! – Kirk & Eva

The three images in this post are sneak peeks of Sycamore Street Press’s new gift wrap  and fox card collections debuting this spring!  See all of our other paper goods in our shop

BEHIND THE PRESS | Tips on Taking Time Off for the Self-Employed

Vacations For The Self Employed | Sycamore Street Press Blog | Photos by Jacinta Moore

Behind The Press is a blog series by SSP’s owners: Eva and Kirk Jorgensen. In it, we share our experience with letterpress, paper goods, running a small business, and work/life balance in the form of tips, how to’s, and more. We hope you enjoy! – K&E

The other day, I posted about some of my hits and misses in taking time off since I started Sycamore Street Press. I’m interested to see how other small business owners take to the issue, so I wrote a few of my friends and family members who work for themselves, and asked for their thoughts or tips:

Kris Pollock (my dad), owner of Jupiter Electric, an electrical contracting company in Heber, UT:

So many people can just walk out the door at the end of the day and not have to worry about work until the next morning. Or at the end of their vacation. But you and I and Kirk can’t do that. It’s something that we always have to think about. I lose sleep over work. It’s always with me. Even when I went to Norway, I was on the phone bidding jobs. But I do it for my family, I love my job, and I wouldn’t change what I’m doing, that’s for sure. 

Julie & Matt Walker, owners of Tiger in a Jar, a film production company based in Salt Lake City, UT

1) Since we are pretty exhausted between our shoots we aren’t really up for running across town to hit up a major sight, so instead we try to take walks around the part of town we are in. We often stumble across really amazing bakeries, shops, or landmarks and we love that it is our own little adventure that doesn’t leave us worn out.

2) We try to make travel time like flights, train rides, taxi rides, etc. as productive as we can so that when we get to our destination we have a bit of extra time to explore.

3) Mostly we feel like it boils down to attitude. If we constantly keep our eyes open to appreciating where we are we end up having a wonderful trip, even if we do end up behind the camera most of the time.

Brittany Watson Jepsen, stylist, designer, crafter, and founder of the House That Lars Built, a design and lifestyle blog from Copenhagen (soon to be Provo, UT):

I don’t think I ever take a real “vacation” where I’m not doing at least some type of “work”, whether that be checking emails or taking pictures for the blog or thinking about a blog post. I think it’s a part of the job of a freelancer because social media is like interest: it never sleeps. There’s always something going on that you need to be aware of. That said, the beauty of being a freelancer in that I can plan my own schedule, but it’s also the downfall because there’s always something to do. I think the best advice I can offer is to plan ahead so that you can schedule your work around the specific time period. Make sure your clients know your schedule and stick with it.

Erin Austin Abbot, owner of Amelia, an brick and mortar (and online) shop in Oxford, MS:

When I decided to open up my brick and mortar, I knew I wouldn’t have anyone giving me days off anymore. It was going to be up to myself to find the balance of work and knowing when to slow down and take much needed time off. Closing means a loss of sales, but without rest, what good are you? So, from the beginning, I established that I would be closed two weeks after Christmas and two weeks in the middle of the summer. My customers know that the online store is up and running then so they can still shop and I’m able to relax and focus on my family. And maybe even get out of town for a real vacation.

Leland Rowley, owner of Rowley Press, a letterpress studio in Provo, UT:

Vacation? Huh? I think for me a lot of the time my vacation comes split up throughout the year. Sleep in one morning, go hiking while all the other suckers are at their 9-5 (of course I will be working till 11pm, but whatever…), or spend a day foraging. The flexibility of schedule on a day-to-day basis is like living everyday on vacation. Well, sort of.  When large blocks of time do arise, I most assuredly end up working. I have to focus on the fact that I may be working, but I am working from Disneyland or wherever. Sometimes I try to just turn off my phone and not check email, but that can be dangerous. Unhappy customers would make for a very unhappy vacation. 

Sarah, owner of Sarah Jane Studios, a children’s lifestyle brand based in Provo, UT:

1) Have very clear expectations with you are traveling with. Is this a family getaway?  A business trip? totally makes a difference. Here’s my 2 cents: 

FAMILY TRIP: set clear expectations with your traveling partners. Have a set time when you will work, allow for ample play time, and make sure that when you are not working, you aren’t thinking about working. My father was self employed for 10 years and he always worked at 5am every morning until 9am when every one else woke. We never knew he was working while on vacation. It meant the world to us as a family. As for me, I’ve tried to do big blitzes where I try and get as much done as I can in a big chunk, and then remain care free the rest of the time. 

2) If you can avoid working, avoid it. Plan blog posts ahead of time, clear your inbox, put a notice in your inbox about when you will return, etc. Being self employed means it’s REALLY hard to disconnect, which means it’s even more important to try and disconnect and just let it all go every once in a while. You’ll be better off for it. 

3) Get inspired. Getting away can revitalize you in ways you weren’t expecting. Be open to new ways of thinking, keep a journal, and enjoy the time you have to take a step away and get inspired. 

Margaret Haas, owner of Paper Pastries, a paper goods company and online boutique in LA, CA

1) Be prepared to go on vacation. Long gone are the days when I could pack up a bag and just take off on a whim. Now that I run a business, I make sure to wrap up all outstanding orders before I leave town. If a project is more involved, figure out a timeline that works for both the client and I.  You won’t be able to relax if you’re wondering “Did I get that rush order out on time?” Be sure!

2) Don’t check your email. I’d recommend putting your email on vacation mode. State the days you’ll be out of the office and that all outstanding orders have been shipped. 

3) Jump right back in. You might feel a bit guilty while you’re supposed to be having fun. To get rid of that feeling, I sometimes have to make a long list of things I’ll do when I get back. Just looking at that list makes me wish I was on vacation-and guess what- I am! Then I put the list away and get back to having fun.  But beware- it’s easy to get used to sleeping in and not checking your email. Pull out that list on your last night of vacation and think of how productive you’ll be when you return. The best motivation for me to get back to work? The more I work now, the faster the time will pass until my next vacation! 

4) Get a massage. If you’re the type of person who likes getting a massage, there’s no better time than while you’re on vacation. Because I work with my hands all day, my back aches and my arms get sore. Last holiday season, during all of the craziness I got a massage. All I did was feel guilty laying on that table- “I should be at work! What am I doing??” While on vacation, it’s the best. Because what else are you supposed to be doing but relaxing? 

Sarah Winward, owner of Honey of a Thousand Flowers, a floral company in Salt Lake City, UT: 

For me the hardest part about taking time off while self employed is…doing it!

I think that it is likely that anyone who works for themselves is driven, and in general, I think we all have a hard time putting the computer away each night (and weekend, and holiday). I’ve found that if I schedule my vacation time really far ahead of time that I just stress about how much work I will be missing on that time off.  I wish I could look forward to it! But for me it seems that when you and you only are in charge of how much work you take on and how much money you make, its hard to just decide to stop working.

So my advice…

Is to just bite the bullet, and give yourself time off.  I have such a hard time scheduling time off for myself, but when I do I always come back refreshed, inspired, and more productive than I was before. My job is much busier in the summer than it is in the winter, so I always have the winter to look forward to for some relaxation.  In the summer I work 19 hour days about 3 days a week, and regular 8 hour days for the other 3-4.  If I don’t take a bit of time mid-summer to escape, I begin to loose my mind, and I lose touch of the fact that I love my job. While I am taking time off I am often out in nature and I fall in love again with wild flowers and trees and all of the things that make me love my job in the first place.

This last one is a quote that I posted on the blog a couple of years back. I still think it’s interesting.

Chris Guillebeau, entrepreneurial writer, from his book the Art of Non-Conformity:

It’s always fun to go on vacation as a self-employed person, because a) you still have to work, and b) no one thinks you do any work to begin with. So then when you go on vacation, they say, oh, must be nice that you don’t have a job and can do that. Meanwhile on vacation I work six hours a day instead of ten. But it’s all good.

Do you have any tips for figuring out this catch-22 or just thoughts about it in general? I’d love to hear!

All Photos by Jacinta Moore. She took them while floating off the coast of Cinque Terra in Italy. Looks so gorgeous and relaxing, doesn’t it? You can purchase affordable prints of these photos and more in her shop Bawk Bawk.

BEHIND THE PRESS | Vacations For The Self-Employed

View from the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress off the coast of Helsinki by Sycamore Street Press

Behind The Press is a blog series by SSP’s owners: Eva and Kirk Jorgensen. In it, we share our experience with letterpress, paper goods, running a small business, and work/life balance in the form of tips, how to’s, and more. We hope you enjoy! – K&E

Before I started working for myself, I had no idea how complex the idea of taking time off would become. I thought I knew, but I didn’t really know. I still don’t. It’s something I’ve had to fumble my way through ever since starting Sycamore Street Press.

For instance, a couple of years ago, Kirk and I decided it would be great fun to spend an entire month in New York. We were going out for the National Stationery Show, and signed up to do the Renegade Craft Fair and Brooklyn Flea on consecutive weekends. We rented an apartment in Brooklyn, bought our plane tickets, and figured that aside from the days we were actually participating in a show, we’d explore during the day and work in the evenings. It would be a delightful, light-hearted adventure. Oh yes.

Well. It may have turned out that way if we were freelance designers, needing only a laptop to do our work. Maybe. But, as you know, we make and sell tangible objects. Things that take up space and require packaging and shipping. So we ended up having to eat, sleep, live, store product, package product, make signage, etc… all from that tiny one room studio apartment underneath the B.Q.E. in Brooklyn. And of course, we had to schlep all that stuff back and forth to the post office, the Javits in Manhattan, the Flea & Renegade way over on the other end of Brooklyn, just by using our manpower and the subway. We knew all this going into it, but somehow, we hadn’t worried. It had seemed romantic. (What?!) Oh yeah, and I was pregnant, and a major heat wave hit the city, and we didn’t have air conditioning.

Now of course, we did have some wonderful times in New York. We hung out with old friends, ate some really delicious food, saw some amazing things. But would we do it over again? Never. Sure, I love getting to visit New York every year for the NSS, but I would never again bring all our actual product on a trip. And luckily, Karl does our packaging and shipping now, so we wouldn’t have to. Which is how, this fall, we were able to take our first real vacation in years — a vacation that’s main purpose wasn’t for work or to visit family. (Those can be great, too, but it’s different, right?) But even with employees to help out, it’s still a tricky thing to take time off. As you may know, I’m expecting our second child, and without any real maternity leave, I’m wondering how we’ll balance everything. We’ll figure it out eventually… but I have a feeling it’ll be a pretty crazy transition.

Stay tuned! I’m curious to see how other small business owners take to the issue, so I wrote a few of my friends and family members who work for themselves, and asked for their thoughts or tips. I’ll be sharing their responses with you on a follow up post later this week. – Eva

p.s. The quote on the top image comes from 30 Rock. Oh, Liz Lemon.