studio spring cleaning

My studio spring cleaning took place in two phases: computer-related and collateral-related.

During the first phase my tasks included migrating my e-mail and calendar management to Google, freeing up memory by deleting unnecessary files and backing up the remaining files.

During the second phase I wrangled my tangible Thumbprint-related material into a main location.
I settled on carving out studio space in my living room instead of the study because my husband and I need separate areas when we're both working.

We happened to be in the market for an organization system to hold my son's toys so we decided to look for one that would work for me as well. Since I have a low inventory holding cost, I didn't need much space.

The top half of this Ikea shelf system holds most of my work material. The rest is display related and infrequently used.

I have also taken to using Nicholas' junior-sized table. It's a great space for assembly and other projects. I make sure to give the surface a thorough cleaning beforehand.

Though I may have added an unintended layer to the concept of live/work space, the result is a necessary mix of increased efficiency and decreased insanity!

media review + giveaway | design {for} baby

Our most recent media review comes from Design {for} Baby, a blog focused on finding and reviewing modern, eco-friendly and handmade products. With thorough product reviews, giveaways and even craft projects, this blog's following is growing by the day!

This makes them a great venue for us to contribute to the "economic stimulus package" with a contest giveaway valued at $122!

Design {for} Baby says:
What exactly is a Thumbprint Trading Card? Well, it's basically a mini business card for moms, although they are perfect for anyone to use--moms, dads, business owners... On the front of the cards is your personalized picture, and on the back is your contact info. During the design process YOU get to select the font, the colors, basically anything you want--you get! The designer, Christine Guillot, is incredibly talented & has an amazing sense of style. She's fantastic to work with & will make sure that your Thumbprint Trading Cards are just as you envisioned (and beyond)!...I am definitely impressed with the quality of work. I can't wait to pass these out at my next playdate!

Click here to review the contest details as well as a review of our entire product line.

creating a media kit | a look inside the process

This year I am focused on building my brand. This effort includes spreading the word about Thumbprint Trading Cards in as many high-impact outlets as possible, including blogs, on-line social networking sites and print media. It became clear that what I needed above and beyond my website, studio blog and product samples was a media kit.

I had heard about media kits and have read a few in the past but when it came down to creating one I didn't know where to start. What is a media kit? What should it communicate? What do I want it to say about me and my brand?

A media kit is a set of pre-packaged promotional materials. It is an organized and succinct way to communicate information about your business to the media. After reading Ingredients of a Press Kit and reviewing media kits from some of my favorite companies, including lululemon athletica, I got a better sense of how I would approach this project.

In addition to discussing the 5 W's (and one H), I wanted to make specific reference to the company's niche market, business culture and client demographic. I drafted an outline for my media kit and then reviewed all the copy I've ever written for Thumbprint from the current website to the draft document used to create my first flyer. I was able to piece together about 75% of the media kit from this material.

Aside from my business cards, this was my first marketing tool. It was also pre-website.

The most challenging section for me to write was the description of Thumbprint Trading Card's culture.

"During the design process we discover our clients' personalities, lifestyles, aspirations and ideals. This Client Filter guides our designs, business decisions, vendor relations, studio policies and future growth."

Thumbprint is not trying to be all things to all people. We are simply trying to reach out to our niche market and make sure they feel proud to trade our cards. To that end, I listen to what is important to my clients and make it important to the company.

My media kit
has two components: electronic files and product samples.

The electronic files include:
  • Information about company history, design services and products, Thumbprint culture, Principal biography, client reviews and press, quick facts and stats. This can be downloaded from the blog.
  • Images of media clips - links to press are in the blog while images are part of the mailed media kit package
  • Product Photos - high resolution images are saved in a public Picasa album that is accessible through the blog while compressed, web-ready images are part of the mailer package
The files for the mailer media kit are saved on a thumb drive. Not only is it an easy and reusable way to save and share files but it's also a bit clever - thumbprint : thumb drive.

The product samples include:

I packaged all of this material using my retail packaging, which is easy to customize.

I'm really happy with the final product. I hope it yields more press and, therefore, more orders!

"one moment, please."

This week I have shifted gears based on my deliverables. As a result the second installment of product photography is pushed out. On the plus side my media kit will be completed ahead of schedule!

Here is a sneak peek.
  • Introduction
  • Company History
  • Products and Design Services
  • Company Culture
  • Principal Biography
  • News and Reviews
  • Fun Facts
  • Media Images
If you have already signed-up to follow this blog or my Tweets, you will be notified when Product Photography Part Two is published.

Thanks for your flexibility!

one-on-one interview | jake olefsky

What would you like to tell us about yourself?

I never know how to answer open-ended questions like this. I’ll just let my answers to the following questions tell you about myself.

What is your profession?

This is a little hard to describe. Anytime I have to fill out my profession on a form I always end up writing something different. I have written: programmer, engineer, webmaster, website designer, website inventor, consultant. I wish there was one word that encompassed all of that, because whenever people ask me what I do, I never know what to say. In a sentence, I invent websites, build them and operate them.

What are the benefits and challenges of being self-employed?

The biggest benefit has got to be setting my own hours and not reporting to anyone. I get to work on what I want, when I want and I can take as much vacation as I want. I never enjoyed being told what to do, so working for myself has made “work” much more enjoyable. I actually enjoy work.

The thing I miss the most is collaboration with co-workers. It can get lonely working by yourself.

How do you stay current in your industry? What are you favorite professional resources?

I read all the daily tech news (techcrunch, slashdot, engadget, etc). Everything I do is documented on the web, so it’s pretty easy to stay up to date. I’ve always been a self-learner, so its easy for me to stay current.

Do you have a process for evaluating potential clients or projects?

I don’t take clients, so for me it’s just about what projects I want to work on. Whenever I get an idea, I put it into my logbook. When I want to do some work, I just scan through the list until something sounds fun, and then I do it. There are some things on the list that I will never do, and that’s ok. At least I captured the idea and can continue to evaluate it. Maybe someday it will sound like a fun thing to do. I try very hard to only work on things that are fun.

Can you describe your typical workday?

The first thing I do is answer all my messages. This includes emails, trouble tickets and messages posted on my websites. This takes several hours and is the most boring part of my day so I get it out of the way first. Then I read the tech news. Then I get to work. Hopefully this is before lunch. The rest of the day is spent working on my sites, programming in some way or another.

What tips can you give the Cyber Shy wanting to launch an on-line business or professional presence?

My two pieces of advice would be to do proper market research and know when to hire help. Often I see people trying to build an online business in a very crowded marketplace. If you have dozens of competitors before you even start, it’s going to be difficult. Try to find a niche that isn’t well served.

The other thing I see people doing is trying to do everything themselves without the proper training. Building a successful website takes a lot of different skills and years of experience. Instead of buying that “HTML in 11 Days” book, it would be better to hire a web designer.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Another open-ended question. Hmmm. I might as well shamelessly plug my websites. Visit for brain teasers, puzzles and game. Visit to organize your life with a powerful to-do list.

Jake's success is impressive and it's clear that he is doing something right. Here is what I am doing to follow suit.

I am logging my ideas for Thumbprint. I make notes of my ideas so that I can evaluate their feasibility immediately. [ Is there a customer for this service/product? Does bringing this idea to market line up with my brand values?] I know that, in the past, I have prematurely squashed ideas never to remember the initial inspiration again.

Being a power organizer in my professional life is something I am good at. However, striking out on my own has required me to put more thought into how I own and operate my small business. In order to maintain mobility and flexibility sans smart phone, I have begun migrating away from Microsoft Office for managing my e-mail account, calendar, contacts, projects, etc. To this end, I signed up for Toodledo. What's even better is that I was able to add Toodledo access to my Thumbprint iGoogle homepage. Organization, activate!

Thank you, Jake! We appreciate your time, all around web savviness and advice!

on-line networking | twitter

Last week, Jenny GG Photography revealed that Facebook is a tried and true venue for professional networking.

I signed up for Facebook in January but my on-line networking started to blossom after that interview. I also began posting information about Thumbprint. Jenny's right. Facebook is a great venue for marketing but my account will remain a personal one... for now.

Instead, I created a Twitter account titled ThumbprintCards to compliment the studio blog. This venue will provide more frequent visibility to what's brewing in the kitchen beyond what is shared here. I will also be using Twitter to post exclusive promotions and immediate notifications of any give-aways or sales.

You can follow my tweets on Twitter or subscribe to have them fed to your reader.

Please note: Twitter button is compliments of twittermysite.

product photography | part one

My Spring/Summer Project list has several whoppers on it. Among them is a pressing need for product photography. Jenny GG Photography was gracious enough to shoot my initial pictures, but as the business grows with additional designs and press inquiries so does my need for more photos.
Since I can ask a pal for only so many favors, I started researching how I might be able to create professional looking photos with my own point-and-shoot digital camera and a limited budget. To lend some structure to my research, and to help others get a jump start on this kind of project, I decided to write a three part series on product photography which will follow me as I learn, execute, learn some more and execute again.

As this is a journey, I can only hope for a good ending. Let's keep our fingers crossed!

part one | styling your photos

There are two types of product photos - alone or with props. These are also referred to as the hero shot and the styled shot respectively. A hero shot is clinical. What you see is what you get. A styled shot puts the product in context.

It can be a challenge figuring out how to style your products and rightfully so because it is a profession all on its own - Art Direction.

After reading this resource I started searching for inspiration by flipping through catalogs, clicking through on-line shops and reading blogs. Not the least of these was the vast photo database that is Flickr.

I created a list of hero shots that I wanted to take and brainstormed ideas for styled shots. Then I whipped out my camera to take a few concept photos to make sure my ideas were feasible or would look good. Here are a few test shots. (If you'd like to compare these with my past photos, you can visit my website and online boutique.)

After this exercise, I have walked away with several objectives:
1. Focus on my hero shots to showcase my portfolio of Trading Cards
2. Ensure this approach is easy enough to recreate numerous times
3. Group similar themed cards together for a few photos
4. Select a handful of Trading Cards and style each several different ways

My next step is to take all of these pictures. Part two of this series will discuss creating an in-home "studio" and will showcase my favorite product photos.

press | parenting nh march 2009 issue

As featured in Parenting NH's.

Can you give me your card?

Set yourself apart with Thumbprint Trading Cards. No need to write down information for a play date, just hand over a unique social appointment card that is customized with your choice of photo and information.

Thumbprint Trading Cards are printed and manufactured in the United States using recycled materials.

For more information, go to

[Click on the image for a closer look.]

one-on-one interview | jenny gg photography

What would you like to tell us about yourself?
I’m essentially a mama that is also a total camera geek.

What is your profession?
Full time mama and full time photog

Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration comes in the moment from the person I’m looking at through my lens. I like to spend a little time with them before I start shooting in the hopes of tapping into what connects us and to catch them in a more relaxed place. My muse is my daughter Lily – without a doubt.

What are you favorite professional resources?
I love my printing company, WHCC – they never let me down. I also adore Thumbprint Trading Cards!!

What are the most effective ways of marketing your business?
I love Facebook – it’s been a great networking tool and I’ve been reacquainted with old school friends too. Word of mouth has been the greatest marketing tool for me though.

How much of your time is spent preparing for a photo shoot, taking photos and processing photos?
Most of my sessions last about 2 hrs (I’m not a clock-watcher). For kids especially, I like to take the time necessary for diaper changes, snack breaks and the occasional “grumpy-break”. Weddings can range from four hours to a full day of coverage. I recently photographed a birth and was there for about 10 hours. It was such an amazing experience.

What tips can you give to novice photographers taking photos with a point-and-shoot camera?
Just shoot and shoot! Try also when outside to turn the flash off – your camera should be able to be set to do that and natural light is always so much prettier. Plus, you don’t get the "deer caught in the headlights" effect.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
I want to say out loud how grateful I am that I’m doing what I love. Some times it’s tough, but it’s totally worth it.

I spent some time thinking about what I can learn from Jenny. Here's a list of my initial "take away-s" from this interview.

Jenny and I experience inspiration similarly - by connecting with the clients. I am revisiting the addition of a new product category for Thumbprint Trading Cards. Though I have been given lots of encouragement and feedback to go this route, I have resisted. I've been giving it so much thought and have distilled my hesitation to one point. Now I am asking myself, "How can I successfully incorporate my clients' individual personalities into this product category?"

Ah, Facebook! My prior work experience had me connecting with business partners across language barriers and international time lines. Though I am able to work beyond these barriers successfully, meeting these partners face-to-face solidifies the relationships. While Thumbprint is all about connecting with people face-to-face, there's a time and place for connecting on-line. I haven't ruled out Facebook for Thumbprint but it's not on the horizon yet. I prefer blogging for now. But, of course, only time will tell.

Thanks again, Jenny! We appreciate your time, answers and talent!