graphic design · graphics for shirts · Heat Press · Onesies · SCORE · Small Business

Rahm Designs, LLC August 2017 Update

I was not feeling well this past weekend, and didn’t get anything done for a couple days. I’m juggling several different projects right now, so it was discouraging to fall behind schedule. However, I’m feeling better now. I’m back at work and slowly tackling projects one-by-one. Here’s an update on Rahm Designs, LLC.

For the past 12 months the Rahm Designs, LLC Etsy shop has seen a 279 percent increase in revenue. From month-to-month it doesn’t usually feel like there’s that big of a change, so it was nice to see the stats over a larger period of time. Most of our orders come from Etsy and I feel it’s the best fit for our items as far as ecommerce sites go, but we still get frustrated with Etsy’s seller’s fees. We also get sales from eBay, but no where near the traffic and sales we get on Etsy.

We will meet with our SCORE mentor as well as the marketing mentor on the 23rd. I have been gathering all of our marketing materials and I’m eager to hear their feedback. It’s been several weeks since we’ve seen our mentor and a lot has happened in the mean time, so we’ll have a lot of catching up to do.

I’m still thinking about the organization of the business. I have many different interests, and I’m not sure what to focus on. Can Rahm Designs, LLC cover several different areas?

I’m excited to be working on some new designs, all of which were ideas from my family. My drawing skills feel a little rusty, but I’m antsy to put out a finished product. It’s been a while since I’ve put out new designs, and I’m excited to show everyone.

There’s a lot of uncertainty in my life right now. My husband has a new job, and my job at the mental health agency might be coming to an end in a few months. While it’s a little nerve wracking at the moment, I believe these changes will ultimately be better for my career and my life. Let’s see what the next chapter holds.

art · graphic design · Small Business

My New Favorite Series on Netflix – Abstract: The Art of Design

Abstract: The Art of Design is a series that came out earlier this year on Netflix, and I was instantly drawn to it. This inspiring program profiles the beautiful and innovative work of 8 designers at the top of their game as they reveal their processes and motivation. This is a must-see for anyone pursuing a creative career. I found their stories fascinating as well as an incredible learning opportunity.

Episode 1

Christoph Niemann talks about his illustrations as he works on a ground breaking cover for New Yorker. He explains the importance of abstraction and shares exercises that help him with the creative process. I have enjoyed trying these exercises myself. He says on a trip to the museum, “The gateway drug is not creating art, it’s experiencing art.”

Episode 2

This episode follows iconic shoe designer and creator of Air Jordans, Tinker Hatfield. Tinker discusses the problem-solving element of design and the importance of creating something meaningful – something that tells a story. He says, “Get out and experience life. Then you will have a library in your head.”

Episode 3

Es Devlin opens up about her successful career as a stage designer. She’s designed for small theaters as well as sets of today’s most famous pop stars and everything in between. She discusses 5 ingredients she uses in her design work, and what it means to fill a void with art. She explains, “Everything’s only going to exist in the memories of people.”

Episode 4

This episode follows Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. He created an inclusive approach to architecture and his work focuses on sustainability and problem-solving. He explains, “The way you realize your dreams is one step at a time.” You won’t believe the clean power plant with a ski slope on top of it.

Episode 5

Episode 5 profiles Ralph Gilles, automotive designer for Chrysler. He says, “Everything should be art.” His designs are beautiful and functional. He calls designers “taste makers” and as he explains, “Taste making takes time.”

Episode 6

Graphic designer Paula Scher is featured in episode 6. She describes design as “existing beyond screens” because “it affects real life.” She’s a big fan of typography. As she explains, “Making stuff is the heart of everything. That drive never goes away.”

Episode 7

This episode follows photographer and cultural provocateur Platon. He still shoots with film and has an amazing way of connecting with people. He always asks himself, “What can I learn from this person?” He has photographed numerous world leaders and everyday people alike.

Episode 8

Ilse Crawford, the successful interior designer, is the focus of episode 8. She considers all the senses in her work, because “we are our bodies”. She explains, “Design is a thought process, a skill, and a tool to enhance our humanity.”

I loved this series and I am grateful to the designers for sharing their work and stories. It was truly inspiring. I am more motivated than ever to learn and discover as much as I can about my own discipline. Time to get to work!

art · graphic design · graphics for shirts · Heat Press · Onesies · Small Business

Branching Out: Comparing Etsy, eBay, ArtYah, and Zibbet

I have been selling products online for nearly 2 years now, and I fear I am putting all my eggs in one basket. I spend most of my time working on my Etsy shop. I also sell on eBay, ArtYah, and Zibbet, but I often ignore these sites. I want to learn more about these other shops. The vast majority of my sales come from Etsy, so that’s why I spend all my time there. It’s time for me to branch out. As I’ve painfully learned, online sales can be unpredictable, so now I would like to develop multiple sources of income. It took a lot of work to get where I am today on Etsy, so it probably takes just as much work on the other sites. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Etsy

Let me start with what I know about being an Etsy seller. Etsy is a very popular site for handmade and vintage items, and your customers are very targeted. Customers come there looking for items that are one-of-a-kind. There are over a million active sellers on Etsy, so competition is fierce. Some of the things I like about Etsy are that it’s easy to create custom orders, the site is very user friendly, and you can always find help in the forums. Listings cost only 20 cents, and it’s very easy to get a shop up and running. Now what I don’t like: the fees! Every month I get slammed with transaction, processing, and promoted listing fees. For every item purchased there are separate transaction and processing fees. I do get sales from promoted listings, but man those fees really add up!

eBay

I also sell on eBay, which is also a very popular site, but the customers aren’t as targeted. You can find just about anything on eBay, not just handmade and vintage. I find eBay to be more difficult than Etsy. It’s definitely not as user friendly, especially when adding listings. The fees are a mystery to me. Sometimes my listings are free, but if I post to multiple categories, it’s 30 cents. I do like the bulk listings feature, though. One thing that’s disappointing is that the traffic stats lag a few days behind. I keep a record of my stats on Etsy and eBay so I can track trends. Etsy is usually just a few hours behind. I also read on the Etsy forums that many sellers think “bigger stores” overrun eBay.

ArtYah

I opened a shop on ArtYah maybe a year ago, but have mostly ignored it. I am checking it out again because ArtYah is gaining popularity among Etsy sellers. ArtYah lets you import your listings from Etsy, which makes adding items to your shop a lot easier. ArtYah specializes in handmade and vintage similar to Etsy, and the listing fees are only 10 cents. However, ArtYah also charges a 3.5% transaction fee plus a percentage commission, so in some ways it’s like Etsy.

Zibbet

Zibbet is a little different. You can try it out and list 10 items for free. This is what I’ve done. Instead of charging listing fees, transaction fees, processing fees, etc., Zibbet just has a monthly subscription where you get your own domain. The starter plan is only $4/month. Zibbet also lets you import your Etsy listings similar to ArtYah. Zibbet specializes in art, handmade, vintage, and craft supplies, however is not as widely known as the other sites.

So that’s basically what I know. I have a lot more to learn! I plan on looking into these other sites and spending time finding other sources of income. I’ll keep you posted!

ArtYah ListingEtsy ListingZibbet Listing

 

graphic design · Owens Community College · Toledo, OH

The Fifth Major is a Charm: Owens Commercial Art Technology Program

In May of 2014, I graduated from the Owens Commercial Art Technology (CRT) Program. College was a long, bumpy road, not only because I was dealing with schizoaffective disorder, but I had also gone through 5 different majors. The CRT Program was really different for me. The classes were practical and hands-on, the instructors were professionals working in the field, and everything just clicked for me.

One of my first classes was vector graphic design, and I had no clue what I was doing. I had never touched a design program before, and on that first day it was clear that many of the other students had. I can’t believe that was me! With practice I picked it up, and now Adobe Illustrator is my favorite program.

I learned so much from all of my classes. Other coursework for the CRT Program included drawing, 2D design, photography, photo manipulation, animation, video editing, typography and more. I felt the classes moved at a good pace – quickly, but not too quickly. As long as you stayed focused you had enough time to finish your work.

I love creating art, and the CRT Program showed me how to channel that creativity into something practical.

After I graduated, I slowed down a little, but once I became interested in running my own business, my motivation returned. It’s important to keep up, so I watch online tutorials. Learning even after graduation is crucial to my success.

I would recommend the CRT Program to anyone who is visually creative looking to add some practical skills. The curriculum is versatile and gives a great overview to a very broad field. The CRT Program gave my life and career some direction, something I had been longing for.

Two class projects.

graphic design · graphics for shirts · Heat Press

I’m in Love with My Heat Press Machine!

Rahm Designs, LLC was started in 2013 as an outlet for my graphic design work, but it wasn’t until 2015 that the business started to take a direction. In August 2015 we started our first online store, an Etsy shop, to sell baby onesies. Soon after we bought a commercial heat press machine, a tool I came to love.

We bought, and still use today, a TransPro Mini Heat Press from Pro World. After trying a few different transfer sheets, I began to rely on JetPro Soft Stretch.

I came to learn the many benefits of using a heat press.

1. It’s easy to use.

I learned to use my heat press rather quickly, and there are many resources online if you need help. I go to www.t-shirtforums.com when I have a question.

2. You can use as many colors as you want.

For my first onesie design, I went to a screen printer. I only used 3 colors and it was quite expensive. Now I use my heat press for all of my onesies, and some of my designs are quite colorful. I also use gradients and different opacities.

3. It’s easy to do small orders.

When I went to the screen printer, they had a minimum quantity requirement as well as a set up fee. All my orders from my Etsy shop are made to order, one at a time, with no set up fees.

My heat press machine has been an awesome tool for my Etsy shop. Besides onesies, I also sell toddler shirts and cotton totes. I’m hoping one day soon to invest in a larger heat press so I can do more adult sized shirts.

I’m sure I still have a lot more to learn, but I love using my heat press machine. It has made me decide to focus my design work on graphics for textiles.

You can check out our Etsy shop here: Rahm Designs, LLC Etsy Shop.