Friday, July 1, 2011

Flashback Friday - Hi-Heeled Designs Stationery and Invitation Co.

An Enclosure/Gift Card

I knew which Flashback post I was going to do this Friday after posting some picture of Jake and I for his birthday post. One of the pictures was of Jake and I in my tradeshow booth for Hi-Heeled Designs at the National Stationery Show in New York City. I wanted to tell you all a little bit about that part of my past life :)

A set of stationery in our signature red organza bag packaging
Hi-Heeled Designs was my first baby, you could say. My friend, Julie Hacker gave me a birthday card that she had hand drawn back in 2003. It was the cutest thing I had ever seen. It had all these fun fashion drawing on there of a purse, high heeled shoe, and dress. It was so cute. And honestly, I thought any girl would buy this, and being obsessed with stationery, I thought it was a brilliant idea. so, off we partnered together to create Hi-Heeled Designs - "Classy Correspondence with a Fashionable Flair".

Our Social Correspondence album (we also had an invite album)

our Breast Cancer awareness cards

Hi-Heeled Designs started as a stationery and invitation company that we would sell at home parties and to our friends and such. And it was selling so well, and everyone absolutely loved it. So, then I wanted to expand, I just wanted so much more for this company. So, then we debuted our line for the first time at the National Stationery Show in New York. It was a HUGE undertaking.There are so many things that come into play with starting your own business, that is just overwhelming. Credit card processing, order form creation, marketing flyers, self teaching photoshop and graphic design and the printing process, advertising, banking, accounting, websites, designing new collections, copyright issues with other crappy companies trying to copy our designs, quickbooks, the "look" of our orders and packaging, publicity, etc, etc, etc.

Another card sample

Our first NSS show was amazing. from there we did the Atlanta Gift Fair, then the National Stationery Show for three more years, and then AmericasMart in Atlanta again. I LOVED doing tradeshows. It was my favorite part. Now, we were a wholesale brand in over 300+ gift shops and boutiques across the country, including Hawaii and Canada, along with some really cool shops in big markets like Charlotte, Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Beverly Hills . You think this is so great, and on paper we were successful, but the money (intake vs. outtake) wasn't so great. We were keeping afloat, and breaking even, and we were both still working two full times jobs as well, so every night and weekend was stationery, stationery, and more stationery. The Hi-Heeled Designs website was strictly for wholesale, so then I created a retail site so the average consumer could buy our stuff. That was going pretty good as well.

The row of shoes was probably our most popular designed card

There were some really exciting things that happened to us as a result of Hi-Heeled Designs. We designed the invitation for the backstage party at the Teen Choice Awards, we designed the invite for the backstage party at the celebrity party at the Kentucky Derby. We were asked to deign cards for a new product of Budweiser, we were asked to design cards for White House/Black Market. We were including in the celebrity gift bags for Lindsay Lohan's 18th birthday party (back when she was cool), as well as the Emmy Awards bags. We also won a couple of fun awards, including Best Emerging Designer on Style Bakery. I dipped my toes in the blogging world, and became addicted to it.

Also, it all had to come to an end eventually. I got this great job where I work now that I love. My partner, Julie, became a single mom which, of course, became more important that paper, bigger store weren't paying us, which was becoming hassle after hassle, we kept having to redesign to keep up with trends in the marketplace, and it honestly just because overkill. So, in 2007, we shut the door on this journey, and the memories along with it. . I don't really miss it, I suppose. I met some really wonderful women in the industry that I learned alot from. Some are still doing it, and are really successful, like Whitney English, Lori from Marzipan, and Marie from the Paper Menu, (among many others who were such a support group). Some have moved onto other bigger, better things, like Abby of Style Me Pretty and Dawn Viola. It was an amazing experience, and the only regrets I have was trying to grow way too fast. I just loved it so much and wanted it to be all things to all people, which you can't do in a business. I was 100% inexperienced in it, and learned SO MUCH along the way. Isn't that was life is all about?

Stationery Show (we always wore red boas - a marketing thing, lol)

Terrible pic of our booth

me and Julie

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  1. It's always so much fun to hear what people were in our "former lives" before we had kids and we came to the present day. I, too, am a stationary lover but I'm so frugal right now that I won't splurge to indulge. Your product looked like something that is just up my alley! Too cute!

  2. Oh my gosh... I'm fairly certain (like 85%) that I've seen those before. That was YOU! :) I think so many people see things that could succeed & just never put the effort behind it, at least you went for it until it didn't make you happy anymore. That seems like a good no-regrets experience to me.

  3. I agree with Lauren; how amazing that you created something and went for it. No regrets = awesome.