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As business owners, we constantly find ourselves experiencing both the good and not-so-good aspects of running a small business. Some days we are glowing in the aftermath of a completed custom project and other days we feel frustrated because of a logistical snafu involving an outgoing order. Each day, each month, each year presents us with highs and lows, and we thought it would be fun to talk about these experiences here on the blog. We're calling the series “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” We hope you enjoy it!

THE GOOD (as told by Kate). We’re excited to announce a new licensing partnership with Papier, an online stationery company based in the UK. Papier was launched less than a year ago in London by an art historian who saw an opportunity to provide good design and convenience in the UK stationery market. Since launch, they've been growing rapidly, and you can see why as their website is beautiful and easy to use—not to mention they have an impressive selection of cards and invitations of which we are thrilled to be a part! You can view our selection of stationery offered through Papier here.

Licensing is not a new endeavor for us as we’ve been working with other online stationers, like Tiny Prints and Fine Stationery, for several years. These partnerships provide us with an additional source of revenue but more importantly they allow Smudge Ink to reach a larger audience looking to personalize holiday cards, invitations, and social stationery with the click of a button. To top it off, we don’t have to hold any inventory (hallelujah!). We’ve also been learning what designs do better or worse than others in a broader marketplace. Certainly, it has taken time to build these relationships and gain traction with each partner, but the investment has been worthwhile, and we feel like we’re in a good place with all of our licensing partners.

Counting Inventory
THE BAD (as told by Deb). The bane of our existence at the end of every calendar year is the inventory count. In order to have an accurate inventory asset number for our taxes it literally requires that we hand-count everything in the studio, from the envelopes and greeting cards to every sheet of paper and acetate sleeve. The bulk of this work falls on Sarah, our office manager, sometime between Christmas and New Year's. It’s not glamorous but there is satisfaction in knowing exactly what we have and purging old stuff that has no business being counted as inventory—sort of like starting with a clean slate.

As a small business and given that we produce many of our products in-house, our system of tracking inventory has never been very technical. Years ago, we looked into a custom system (too pricey at the time), and at one point we tried to use the manufacturing version of Quickbooks to track inventory, but found there were too many parts and too many opportunities to make mistakes in order for it to work.

Instead, we've found ways to make it easier on ourselves. It comes down to an organized inventory room (which is a no-brainer) and one very handy tool: a paper scale. We picked up a paper scale a few years back when B. Designs closed up shop to explore new pastures and have found it to be indispensable even if we use it only once a year. It's accurate to the card and saves literally hours of time.

THE NOT-SO-UGLY (as told by Sabrina). I’d like to take a moment and recognize the fact that no one in the studio is currently suffering from a cold. Thank you.