How It Started: The Story Behind the Skyline

One of the biggest questions I get at pop-up shops and in person about the Fredericksburg Skyline designs is how did I come up with that? Where did the idea come from?

The real answer is: it happened accidentally. I didn't I wake up one day and know that I wanted to create this Fredericksburg skyline design. It just kind of formed from other ideas and took off from there. So I'll go back to the beginning.

A few years ago, I created a local logo using the skyline as a part of it. I found a real photo of the skyline from across the river, and digitally traced the skyline on my computer.  I incorporated it into what I wanted, and that was it. I didn't really think much of it. It was just....a skyline.

Not too long afterwards, the Burg Box came about, and incorporated the skyline into the logo and the main designs, because it just seemed natural. If the box was about all things Fredericksburg, why wouldn't the graphics reflect that? I also started including the skyline cards in the boxes, which really became my first big hit.

People LOVED the skyline cards. I sold more cards than boxes, and started really connecting with the community about this skyline. Selling these cards was when I had one of the first moments of 'man, this could be something.' But I had no idea how to make it happen or what to do. And of course I was scared, so I just kept moving forward with the boxes because that's what I knew. 

A little bit later, I stopped in to visit a good friend downtown, Catherine at Monkee's of Fredericksburg, and she proposed the idea of creating some skyline shirts and items that she might be able to sell in store. And that's when I really got the courage to start this, even though I won't lie, I was so scared and thought it was going to be a total flop. 

Up until now, most of the Fredericksburg items in the area are civil war based, maybe a little out of date, or tailored towards visitors, not locals and people who have grown up here. To be honest, until I started doing these designs, I didn't own anything Fredericksburg related. 

So I created a few designs to narrow it down from, we brainstormed product ideas, and the brand was born! We started with the t-shirts, cards, and drinkware, and it's grown since then. As most of you know, the gift boxes have since changed, and that's partially because of how well the skyline has done and how much people love it.

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Ultimately, I love how this skyline and these gift boxes have brought me closer to this amazing community. The support and love I have received from it is unlike anything else. While it's so much fun coming up with new ideas myself, hearing from YOU about your ideas or suggestions and even just how much you love it, is the best feeling ever. 

You see, there isn't some large corporation behind these skyline products. It's just me. Every t-shirt, every mug, every tumbler, etc. you see at Monkee's or in my shop, has been hand checked. Every state cut-out or watercolor or sign was hand drawn or painted by me. Every order that comes into my shop gets a legit happy dance with my dog and a text to my fiance that I got another order. I'm really just a small town girl who's passionate about her community and happened to stumble upon something that people really like. Isn't that how any business really works?!

Moving forward, I'm looking into new products and activities for the skyline and am always looking to hear from you! If you have an idea or product suggestions, let me know! If you're interested in working with me on a particular project or want to use the skyline for something, please reach out! I would LOVE to work with you and hope to continue to expand the skyline in the future, but I know I can't do it alone, and I don't want to! Your support means everything to me. 

I could never thank Catherine enough for her amazing support and for believing in me and my designs. Without her encouragement, these designs would not have happened. And thank you to all of those who purchase and support local businesses, not just mine, but all of the amazing ones in this area. You have no idea how much it means to us as small business owners. You mean everything to us! 

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2017 Recap

Happy New Year, Ya'll!

I hope you had an amazing holiday filled with love and friends and family. I won't lie, my Christmas tree is still up. I just love it so much I'm not ready to take it down yet. So, up it stays! 

I'm really taking January to kind of recap and reboot a lot of things. I'm trying to take time to think about how 2017 went, how I want to change things, and where I want to be a year from now. It includes a lot of really good things and a lot of really hard things. Including yesterday's announcement....

If you haven't heard, I am closing Love, Virginia Gift Boxes as you know it now. But I'm not actually closing it for good, I'm just kind of giving it a new home here at Twila. I have been so blessed that Twila grew a lot this year, but because of that, I basically forgot about the gift boxes. I had a few individual boxes here and there, but nothing of what it needed for me to justify keeping it. And what I loved about those boxes, was helping other small businesses! I love branding boxes and sending those boxes out to clients on behalf of the small businesses. So as the boxes move to Twila, I am focusing on bulk and larger orders. Do stay tuned though, because I do have a few other things up my sleeve...

So why was 2017 such a growing year? SOOO many reasons. For a lot of the same reasons that I know 2018 will be too. When you own a small business, the growing and learning never stop. If you stop those things, then you're not doing it right. 

Here's a little recap of some of the highlights from 2017.

First Employee. I hired my first employee! Yay Jael! She's been an amazing help and asset to me this year, and I hope that this year she becomes even more integrated. I'm very excited to see where this year goes!

Fredericksburg Skyline. Oh my gosh, I still just can't believe how well the Skyline has done this past year. Ya'll really know how to make a girl feel special! This has been the biggest growth and most amazing thing to be a part of. Truly. I cannot wait to share with you some of the things I'm working on now! 

Simplified & Streamlined my Invitation Process. This was a huge one! This past year I really focused on simplifying and streamlining my invitation process so that I had it down to a scientific process of forms, payments, and contracts to better serve my brides, and be able to spend more time with them on the design rather than the paperwork part. It's been so helpful so far, and one of my goals for 2018 is to further simplify this and apply it to other aspects of my business. 

Got Engaged! I know this isn't directly business related, but it's still pretty big news, right?! Other than just the joy of getting engaged, it's affected me in some incredible ways, including giving me an entire different outlook on working with my own brides. 

Incredible Photo Year. Looking back at last years blog and weddings, I am just in awe of the beauty of the weddings my brides are planning! They are absolutely stunning and I am so grateful to be a part of it. 

And I think those are the headlines! Looking back it doesn't seem like a ton, but all growth takes time and patience, and that's what this year was all about. This year I did get the Goal Planning Powersheets by Lara Casey and while I'm a little behind, I cannot wait to share some of my upcoming goals for 2018! Have an amazing day!

 

 

Branding & Customer Gifts

I'm a day later than normal, but better late than never right? Today's blog is another one in this months branding series as we get closer to the launch of our new brand...and I cannot WAIT. There are so many exciting things going on behind the scenes that I can't wait to share with ya'll and I'm starting to get impatient.

But let's get to today's topic, shall we? Branding & Customer Gifts! Why are they important? How do they relate? How do you incorporate the brand? What should you include?

Why are they important? So let's talk. I am a big believer in client gifts; mostly because I love to give gifts in general. That feeling of brightening someones day with something from your heart just makes me giddy. While client gifts can be extra money spent and an extra effort, I believe that they are important. They can really increase that client experience from a designer who does what they're supposed to, to a designer who went above and beyond to put a smile on the clients face.

How do they relate? So imagine getting your wedding invitations in the mail and you are just in love; but on top of that, you get a gift that matches your wedding invitations as an added bonus. Something to help you remember this special time and a gift that no one else could give you yet because no one else but your designer has seen your invitation. Same goes for a new logo and brand. Imagine receiving your first branded item with your new logo after all the hard work you put into discovering yourself and your business.  This is how branding relates. When creating a customer gift, you have two options: you can brand it to your own brand as the giver or brand it to your clients brand (logo or event). Either was right! Personally, I use both. I use my brand when I'm saying thank you or the project was about my business, and I use their brand when the project was about them. 

How do you incorporate the brand? You can incorporate the brand in many ways: custom labels, ribbons, colors, and the items in the box. I put the logo on EVERYTHING. I do a sticker on the outside of the box, one on the inside, one on each item in the box, tie ribbons everywhere I can, choose specific box and crinkle paper colors, and make sure to put a little post card or note on branded paper on the inside. Each sticker I use also uses the brand fonts and colors so literally everything matches. It makes my brand stylist heart so happy.

And lastly, what should you include? What goes inside the box should come from your heart. Don't just throw something in there. A lot of my clientele is in Virginia, and local. I also know a lot of business owners in the area through that work. My gift boxes include all local items to Virginia: popcorn, Sprelly, candles, coffee, cookies, bath products, and more.

I love supporting other local businesses with my boxes, so I always keep an eye out for great products. If you have a cute downtown area locally with lots of local stores, go take a walk and check out what they have! You could also try Etsy. Take a look at different sellers and see what items could fit your brand and who you are! If you love baths, do bath products. If you love pretzels and snacks, send them a snack box. If you love candles and making your home smell good, send a custom labeled candle! Think about things that you love, and share that part of you with your client. 

Last note, in my initial questionnaires to my clients, I subtly ask some small questions: red wine, white wine, or coffee? Salty or sweet? Allergies? Address? As I include some food in my boxes pending the client, they may get a little hint that something is coming, but usually they forget all about it by the time the box arrives. And this gives me little hints on things they might prefer in my box. 

A Special Treat For You!

Before we get to the photos of some of the branded boxes, I wanted to share a little discount with you! This week I'm doing a 25% discount on all custom stickers ordered by COB (6:00 PM EST) on Monday, April 17. We have lots of sizes and shapes and can put your logo on any of them! Or text if you want it!

Use code 'STICKERS' in check out to receive your discount.

Are you local and want to pick up instead of ship? Email me at Johnna@TwilaCo.com and we'll work with you to save on shipping!

Custom branded box for Hope Taylor Photography  |  Business Brand

Custom branded box for Hope Taylor Photography  |  Business Brand

Wedding Brand

Wedding Brand

Branded Box for Monkee's of Fredericskburg  |  Business Brand

Branded Box for Monkee's of Fredericskburg  |  Business Brand

Business Brand

Business Brand

Client Gift

Client Gift

Business Brand

Business Brand

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Client Gift

Client Gift

Wedding Brand Gift

Wedding Brand Gift