Delegating to a team is no easy task when running a small business. It takes a huge investment in time and money, and 10x the amount of trust. Kristen Ley from Thimblepress has a strong team of women behind her and I am so thrilled for her to break it down for us on OSBP today. She’ll be sharing about the different elements of her business, roles of each team member, and (of course) a few fun facts on their signature Push-Pop Confetti! –Megan
Hi guys, Kristen here! We’re not even to the end of 2015 yet, but this year has been a huge year of progress and change for us at Thimblepress. From expanding our staff and our space to include the upstairs of our historic downtown building, growth has been the name of the game, but let me be the first to say, no complaints here. We have been more than blessed and are taking on the challenges of growth day-by-day as a team – and I’ve got to brag, we have an AWESOME team of talented ladies. Often for interviews and Q&A’s, I get spotlighted, but there is so much more to our company that makes it possible and keeps it functioning each day.
To build this company, I had to do each of these responsibilities at some point, but as you grow you realize you cannot do it all in 24 hours. That is where hiring a great team like mine is crucial to the success of any business. Today, we’re beyond excited to take you on a behind the scenes virtual tour of our studio and our daily operations including all the girls (and pets) that make the Thimblepress® machine run. Welcome!
Our studio is on the main drag of downtown Jackson, Mississippi and is positioned directly across from the Old Capitol Building (now a museum) and the WWII Memorial – it’s quite a fun view. The front section of our studio operates as a store front where we carry our full line of Thimblepress products as well as many other stationery and celebration lines. Though the bulk of our business is wholesale, we really love having a space where our local community and supporters can come by, visit with us and shop directly.
If you happen to find yourself in our shop or order with us online, you’ll be in touch with our Retail Sales Manager, Kate Freeman. She tackles customer service, packaging, shipping, post office trips, store displays, merchandising and more things. Order something from us and it’ll almost certainly go through Kate’s hands and wow, does she make a pretty package. Visit our local shop and you will see her smiling face right when you enter!
Just behind our storefront is our Wholesale office. Celine and Marielle (pictured above) make up our wholesale team – they process and assist all of our wholesale customers. From communicating with rep groups and wholesale clients, packaging, loads of paperwork and number crunching, sending samples, processing international accounts at the speed of light, these gals work non-stop to make sure our wholesale customers are happy and the ship is running smoothly. There are so many pieces to the wholesale business, and so much that we could write a book on it, and these ladies rock it out!
Lauren is our Print and Manufacturing Buyer and Production Manager. She is constantly researching new product and printing options for us, production for all of my crazy ideas, and managing the supply buying and sourcing for all of our products and shipping supplies. She works hand-in-hand with Kate, Celine, Marielle and MK to make sure we can predict ordering down the pipeline to help streamline our inventory, assembly, and shipping supplies!
When you see our products stocked at a local gift shop, or at larger stores like Anthropologie, Paper Source, Nordstrom or Urban Outfitters, know that these gals have been the middlewomen between our brand and wholesale customers making things happen. Customer feedback is HUGE to us. These ladies keep the lines of communication open which is so important, constantly translating customer feedback helps us evolve and improve our brand every day.
And, as any product-based business knows, production is a big part of our business. We package and assemble all of our products here at the Thimblepress studio, and consistency and quality are of the highest importance. Mary Katherine Sharpe (pictured above) is our Inventory Manager, and along with her sweet pup Frankie, she takes on the responsibilities of inventory count and also Team Leader of our Assembly Team.
Our rotating part-time Assembly Team Staff ROCKS. Everyday is different for them, but they’re always working together to keep our products stocked and ready for customer orders. We put a lot of emphasis on product quality and consistency, and it’s important to our business and brand that everyone on our team (not just our Assembly Team) knows how each and every item should look and be packaged. Whenever there’s a lull in any department (which is rare, but it happens) we all join in on assembly as there’s always something to be done, and to be honest, making Push-Pop Confetti™ is strangely therapeutic! (And, yes, we really do make all our of Push-Pop Confetti™ by hand!)
We are always testing new things and trying new systems to see what works and what’s most effective for us as a team as we grow. We definitely don’t have it all figured out, but we are taking it one day at a time, and when new changes and challenges pop up we take them in stride. Communication in our space is a tricky thing we’ve had to tackle as our space is an old row building– super narrow and long, and not that great for shouting out a message and being heard.
Joy Parikh, our Systems Manager, is constantly testing and fine tuning all the ways our business works. From the way we communicate to all the software we use, she gathers information on what works and what could be better to keep us operating at full capacity. We are putting a fine toothed comb to the business to make sure it is and will always run as efficiently as it can!
Most recently, we’ve been testing out Asana, an online task management system which allows us to each keep up with our own tasks and calendars, but also allows us to tag one another if a project includes someone from a different area in the shop. Other systems we’ve found that work well for us are ShipStation for integrating our selling platforms to a single shipping station and StitchLabs for inventory management.
In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, we are all about sharing the knowledge! Again, we don’t know it all, but we love to share and exchange our experiences and opinions with other makers. There’s that old phrase, when the water rises, everyone’s boat is lifted and we truly believe that in terms of sharing knowledge so we’ve started a new blog series called Biz Tip Tuesday where we’re doing just that. I’ve shared our story up until 2014, the process we are taking to overhaul our systems, and most recently a six week series on branding, core values, target customers, and plans of action.
And, in this back space of our downstairs shop, Joy and I share a space and often chat business and life while I’m printing on our 1925 Chandler + Price letterpress. I am still the only one that prints all of our letterpress product. As we grow, it has slowly become a challenge to find time to do it with running the business, finding time to be creative and develop new product, but I love it so much it would be hard to let that go.
The upstairs of our building houses two offices in the front, one of which doubles as our photo studio and a meeting area, and also a large meeting space for us to have meetings with clients. The remainder of the upstairs is my living space (see a full tour here).
Our photo studio doubles as the office and home away from home for our PR and Creative Projects Director, Bekah Bohlen. Social media content, Thimblepress blog features, custom projects, press & public relations, events and more fall under her umbrella of responsibilities. She takes on the task of keeping our brand image content consistent daily.
Anywhere I go is an automatically shared space with my two golden doodle pups, Willow and Henry. Can you tell we are pet friendly? Might as well call it Puppy Palace up here some days with all our Thimblepets.
Everything we do here at Thimblepress is a such a collective effort and we love that our brand and workplace environment promotes happiness and positive vibes between people. We are so so glad and thankful to the sweet team of OSBP to have had the chance to share a bit about our inner workings and the whole team that makes it happen today. Cheers!!
All photos courtesy of Thimblepress.
Interested in participating in the Behind the Stationery column? Reach out to Megan at megan [at] ohsobeautifulpaper.com for more information.