printer labels

can you believe that yesterday even came home grinning while holding some sort of device and when isak asked him “what? what’s that??” even just took his hand and led him outside their front door and isak immediately noticed the ISAK + EVEN sticker next to their doorbell but before he could say anything even was already typing away on the device, which isak then recognized as a label printer, and isak watched even carefully rip off the little label and stick it to isak’s forehead. “what’s it say?”

“it says cute. cause that is what you are” and isak kissed his boyfriend right then and there in front of their apartment for everyone to see

Why you SHOULD NOT make a plush for Kickstarter

First of all, Purrmaids have been going ultra successfully, but because of that, I’ve had a LOT of messages about how to create a plush, but, what a lot of people do not seem to ask is “SHOULD I create a plush?”

This is not to say that no one should make a plush design, but instead, this is a discussion of all of the difficult elements associated with running and managing plush design.

#1. Prototypes, ALONE, are expensive.

Chances are, you’re going through a company that’s helping you work with a factory, and doing most of the heavy lifting for you.  This means you’ll easily be paying $300 to $500 JUST for a prototype.  Add in another $70 or so to have it shipped to you for final evaluation and you’re already in for more money than most merchandise runs cost outside of books and extra large orders.

#2. but wait, what if I go directly to the factory?  Isn’t that cheaper?

Yes it is, but now you will need to deal with customs, payment, and everything all on your own.  Also, if your factory runs into any problems, do you have any way of communicating with them in their own language?  If not, you’re upping your risk.  Before going directly to a factory, ask yourself if you can: one, communicate with them if there is a problem; two, if you even know how to provide feedback and direction that is primarily visual, and easily understood by someone who CANNOT READ YOUR NOTES; three, if you are willing to tackle international bulk shipping on your own, and potentially deal with customs forms, and customs payments if things go wrong.

#3. Most people’s designs just aren’t that good.

Why are you creating a plush?  What does your plush bring to the market that isn’t already there?  WHY should people pay a premium for your plush when they could go to WalMart or Target and find larger, often more inexpensive plush?  I feel like a lot of people don’t seem to really dive into these questions when they go into plush production.  I see a lot of two types of plush being made (and often never being funded)
A. A plush that is super personal to them, and is not a design that will be understood or loved by the masses.

Like, I get it!  You want to make your OC into a plush because YOU love it so much.  Remember, the more SPECIFIC your design gets, the smaller the crowd gets that you’re selling it to.  You may be really, really down with your purple wolf with teenaged punker hair, and fishnet stockings, but will a mom down the street want to buy that same plush?  This doesn’t mean you should only design what you think will sell well, but you do need to realize there is a balance between “Ideas I want to make” vs “Ideas that will actually sell”

B. A person designing a plush to look like what they consider a sellable plush to look like.  A lot of times they wind up creating generic poses, expressions or shapes, which puts them directly in competition with the thousands of mass produced plush already existing.

In the case of A, you’ll likely only find yourself funded if your plush already has a huge following, and in the case of B, a lot of people won’t be that interested in your plush, because it looks like everything else already out there.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t design what is essentially a common or generic plush and not make it interesting.  For instance, Naomi Romero’s corgi and shiba inu plush are wonderful because they are full of HER personality.  Even though you can find hundreds of those types of plush, you won’t find any that look the way hers do.  Avoid giving your plush a traditional teddy bear stance unless it ADDS to the character.  If you’re an artist, we really want to buy YOUR personality in a plush, and not just buy a plush produced by you.  In the case of my Siamese Beta plush, which had the MOST revisions of any of my designs, I went through about 2 weeks worth and maybe 30-40 drawings before I settled in on a design that I thought was both iconic, unique, and looked like my art, which ALSO worked well as a plush.

#4 Wait, how much do plush cost again??

You’ll easily be spending anywhere from 3,500 to 10,000 to produce your plush project.  This is a LOT of dollars to put into a project that you aren’t sure everyone will purchase.  And there are some other issues assuming it’s fully funded on Kickstarter… (and we’ll get to the issues with Kickstarter, soon!)


#5 Shipping to your home will likely cost you more than the production of the plush.

Let’s assume you get your plush made for that low number of $3,500.  It’s fairly likely that if you want shipping by air or courier (sea can take 3-4 months) you’ll be paying another $3,000 to $6,000 just to ship it to your address.
This means that already your plush are costing a lot more than you may have assumed, which means less profit for you, the creator.

#6 Also, shipping to your customers is ALSO expensive.

Oh yeah, and now that you’ve spent all that money, to ALSO ship to your customers expect another $5 to $14 per domestic order depending on number of plush they ordered.  International shipping is EASILY $17 for Canada or $25 for international (US numbers).  If you have a very small plush, you may be able to get away with less, but basically, you’ll be spending a lot more dollars to make sure these items can even get to your fans in the first place.

#7 So, Kickstarter.  Let’s discuss where most people go wrong here.

We’ve already gotten into why these plush are super expensive, and that is JUST to create them.  Now, the great thing about Kickstarter is that it allows you to make sure there is enough funding and interest in your plush before you create them!  So, why is Kickstarter a bad idea for your plush?
A. almost everyone doesn’t raise enough money.
I’m not talking about whether your project is funded… what I mean is that most people only try to raise the cost OF PRODUCING THEIR PLUSH!  You need to consider the cost of shipping it to you and then shipping it out to backers!  Not to mention the fact you already lose about 10% of your profit right off the bat to Kickstarter and credit card fees, and yes, that includes what you raised in shipping fees.  It’s much better to be unfunded than to raise enough to purchase your plush, but not ship it to backers.
B. On top of section A, lots of people have TONS of backer rewards from stickers to buttons to all kinds of other products that they often don’t charge enough for, or give away.  These all eat off of your profit.
C. Most people REALLY ARE NOT ready to mail out 100 packages all at once, let alone 600-1000, or whatever crazy number you may wind up at if you over fund.  More on this, later.

#8 Well, what if I just self fund?

That’s fine, but what will you do if you go to a convention and literally only sell 1-2 of your plush?  It’s unlikely that most plush sellers you see are selling hundreds or thousands of plush a con.  Most of them are probably selling 15-50 or so plush at a large con. It takes a lot of sales to pay back your initial investment unless you have distributors, or an initial funding.

#9 OK, so you funded, did everything right, and now have a giant pile of plush… wait, where are you even going to STORE these?

We’re ordering 3,000 Purrmaid plush and an additional 1000 baby Purr mini beanbags.  The combined weight for all of these is a metric ton, or about the weight of a fully grown polar bear.  This all sounds pretty cool until you start to wonder where the hell all of these guys are gonna be placed?  I live in a small 2 bedroom apartment and most of the extra space is already full of my business supplies.  In my case we have rented not 1 but TWO 10x20′ garages, and I’m still not sure that’ll be enough.  There’s a fair chance I’ll be spending an additional $150 or so a month to rent a larger storage unit until I’m able to finish sending out my Kickstarter orders if they won’t fit in the space I already have.
Now, if you’re a kid at home, will your parents really be able or willing to store even 500 plush?  If you’re not super well off and living in a 1 bedroom apartment, or if you have roommates, do you have the shared space to store 12-20 large boxes?  Can you afford to pay for monthly storage at possibly premium rates?  These are extra expenses that people don’t always consider.

#10 You have all of the above… how are you going to get these plush to cons??

Remember, plush are LARGE ITEMS!  Unless you have super tiny plush you’re gonna have to invest in a way to get these guys to shows with you.  We drive a Honda Civic and already it’s pretty full when we go out to shows.  We invested about $400 into getting a roof rack and top carrier so we can store our plush above us since the car was full.  Alternatively, you may need to start mailing boxes of plush to every single show, adding extra costs.  You’ll probably need to invest in a vacuum sealer.  Again, all of these costs eat out of your final profit.

#11 Do you have the ability to take time off work, or put aside contract work to ship out 300 to 1000 boxes?

A couple years ago when I was moving I put a TON of things onto Ebay.  I sold about 25-30 items at once, and set them up so they all shipped in flat rate boxes.  Despite that, to just package and ship these 25-30 items took me the WHOLE weekend.  There was a huge mess of boxes and packages and I had to make sure not to mix anything up.  That’s baby business compared to my 600 Kickstarter backers and additional 200 or so preorders.  There ARE websites designed to help you with the shipping process, but they cost money.  There are label printers, but they cost money.  There are a lot of things to make life easier, but it WILL cost money, and if you don’t use them, it’ll cost you a ton of time.  I’m self employed, so I have to purposely NOT take on any work for about 2 months while I take care of these Purrmaids.

#12  Are you good enough with your money that you can COMPLETELY separate the money you raise for your plush from your regular funds?

This is super important.  In our case we had about $37,000 coming into our bank account, so we had to make sure to have a separate account JUST for Purrmaids.  I’ve always been juggling money, because I ran a large household for several years, and had to deal with accepting large multi thousand dollar plus rent payments, while juggling student loan payments, and other bills, all at the same time.  Separation is ESSENTIAL in cases like this, or you risk mixing up your dinner income with your plush money.  The worst thing you can do is accidentally use your Kickstarter or plush pre-order money on paying off some bills and then when it comes to shipping your items, have no money left over.  No one wants to go into massive debt.  Be extra wary because it’s very likely you’ll have to wait MONTHS before you even start to pay the money back into shipping and the like and you NEED to realize that this Kickstarter money is basically untouchable until every last order has been sent out.  Are you strong enough to stare at $35,000 while your bank account maybe only has $5,000 in it, and then pay your 1,000 to 2,000 bill off using your regular savings and NOT the plush order? If you can’t do that, you’re not ready to run an expensive Kickstarter.  If you live month to month on your paychecks, you REALLY should reconsider running a massive Kickstarter.  Why?


#13 You WILL go over budget.

I think there are rare people who keep things completely in budget, and GO THEM!  Most likely, you’re going to go over budget.  Either accidentally (You forgot to consider shipping costs, or forgot to include the cost of the boxes and envelopes TO ship, or delays came up, estimates were off, etc), or purposely decided to go over budget (In our case, we hired a lawyer, and then decided to raise some plush numbers from 500 to 1000, AND are producing the baby Purrs out of pocket, 500 of which we are just giving away for free!).
You should always have some savings in place, and plan to use some of it towards your project, or, have a dedicated pre-order system in place to help take care of extra costs.  Again, remember that every single dime of income should be held aside until 100% of your orders are shipped.

#14 Some of your plush WILL get lost in the mail.

I haven’t yet gotten to the shipping part, but I’ve been running a business for years, now.  Mail gets lost some times.  It sucks.  You better have a plan in place for all customers who do not get their expensive items, and which you’ll likely be covering out of pocket while you wait for your *hopefully* insured mail to send you a refund.

#15 Are you seriously willing to check the internet every single day to answer questions, and post updates, and deal with angry people if there are delays?

SO many people are just terrible about customer service.  This seems straightforward to me, but seriously, if you are going to run a massive fundraising thing, stay in touch with everyone.  If you’re shy, and don’t like answering emails, have a person who WILL for you.  If you can’t do any of this, re-consider having a plush.

#17 Have you taken care of a large multi hundred or multi thousand dollar order before?

If not, PLEASE do that thing first!!!  Consider ordering special bookmarks, enamel pins, glittery prints, soft cover books, or ANYTHING before you consider doing a plush project.  These projects will often cost anywhere from $200 to $2500 to produce, which is significantly less money you risk losing if things go wrong.  In addition to all of that, it’s practice for what it means to deal with outsourcing, and shipping out orders.  It takes practice to really understand the costs of shipping and production, as well as how to market yourself at a convention or online.  I do fairly well, but I still have a good 50 or 60 books leftover from my massive 500 book order a couple years back.  Dealing with storing the books, traveling with them, and displaying them gave me a ton of practice for dealing with an item that will undoubtedly be much more expensive and difficult to manage.  I’ve been selling my art for about 6 years or so, and 2-3 years fully freelance.  If I had done this plush order even 2 years ago I would NOT have been ready for the undertaking.

Start with small items and build your way up.  Your dream might be to make and produce a plush, but don’t become a sucker to that dream and hurt yourself financially with a HUGE undertaking unless you’re really ready for it.  Don’t think of plush as a get rich quick scheme, until you really understand 100% of the costs behind it.

Just be smart if you go into plush production.

I’m going to write up a full post on my Purrmaid plush Kickstarter around January or so, but until then, I figure it’s important to note that out of the $39,200 we raised, our estimated final costs are closer to $45,000.  We actually DID plan to put our own money down on this project, and have made financial choices with full awareness, but I worry other people see that $40,000 funding raised and assume the money was pure income.  Don’t jump into a huge financial undertaking unless you have the full ability to take care of it.  Plush are DEFINITELY not a product for everyone, and I just want people to be aware of the difficulties behind it BEFORE they start down that road!!

That said, if you read all of this, know you got it, and produce a plush, please share it with me!  I love seeing all kinds of artistic creations!

Kiki

4

I’ve seen some questions on various artist groups about how to ship pinback buttons. It took me quite a while to figure out the best way to do this, but I think I have a pretty good system now - I’m sharing what I know in hopes that this will help others! So, here’s a quick tutorial for you!

HOW TO SHIP PINBACK BUTTONS: THE QUICK AND EASY WAY

What you’ll need: 

  • Your button (the one I’m using is 1.25", but this method will work for pretty much any size)
  • Tissue paper (you can get it at any craft store, Target, Wal-Mart, etc. Don’t go fancy, this stuff should be about $2) 
  • 5x9" clasp envelopes - I got these at Office Max in a pack of 25 but you can get them in bulk cheaper. If you can find Tyvek ones that’s EVEN BETTER but they’re expensive, so these are really just fine. 
  • Clear packing tape

Okay! Now that we have our supplies, it’s really quite easy to safely pack these. 

  1. Assemble everything. I keep my supplies in a bag I can easily carry and I keep it in the same place so I always have it on hand.
  2. Wrap the button in tissue paper. I cut the paper in half for this if I only have one. As you can see I have a receipt for my Etsy order - I always print this off, it’s a good way to double check your orders when you’re sending them out, and the customer can clearly see what they paid for. 
  3. Fold the receipt around the button. This acts as extra padding. You can also drop a note or a business card in with this. 
  4. Pop it in the envelope and seal it up. Place the shipping label on the front and cover it with the packing tape - the tape adds a little extra durability to the envelope, I find. If you have a label printer you can always just print the shipping label on that. 

That’s it! Drop it in the mailbox and it’s ready to go! 

As for the shipping label itself, I use Etsy’s shipping service because they give you a really good discount on shipping costs, tracking numbers are included, and because I don’t ever have to go in the post office this way, haha. If you’re not using Etsy, though, it’s just as easy to go on the USPS website and pay for the shipping there. I use First Class mail and it costs about $2 to ship through Etsy, or about $3 to take it into the post office. Don’t bother with Priority for this, it’s just as fast to use First Class.

(FYI, one button weighs about 1 oz, when you’re calculating the shipping cost.) 

A couple of notes: 

  • If you print a shipping label online you don’t have to take this to the PO, it can go straight in the mailbox. 
  • This ONLY works for US domestic shipping. If it’s going international you’ll need a customs form. 
  • If you have a big button or you’re worried about it poking through, wrap a little bubble wrap around the button and you’ll be fine. I’d advise doing this anyway if you’re shipping it out of the country.
  • I always get a tracking number on any package I send, in case there’s problems with delivery. It’s included on Etsy’s shipping but you’ll have to pay extra at the post office for it. 
  • DO NOT TRY TO SEND THESE IN A REGULAR LETTER ENVELOPE. They’ll refuse it at the PO - because the button makes the envelope have an irregular thickness, you HAVE to pay the extra postage for it, and regular envelopes are too thin and flimsy for this besides. 

I think that’s about it! I hope this helps someone, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to shoot me an ask. :) 

I still need to restock my gallium etsy store but I haven’t because I need printer ink to do shipping labels and printer ink is fucking… expensive

April Fools in the vet clinic

April Fools is a contentious event at the best of times. Japes are meant to be fun and invoke laughter, not cause any distress or suffering. In a vet clinic, they also must not interfere with the duties performed there, as sometimes little lives hang in the balance, and some staff are stressed enough as it is. 

But fun may still be had. A good sense of humor doesn’t go astray, and might brighten up someone’s day. Here are some April Fools pranks that I have played, in vet clinics, during my career. 

  • Book out somebody else’s last appointment for the day with an annoying, chatterbox, hypochondriac client that they hate seeing with a minor complaint like ‘not wagging tail as much as usual’. Delete it half an hour before it’s due to come in.  
  • Relabel the colours on your blood tubes with Derwent or artsy colours instead. (Admission: It took anyone months to notice)


  • Similarly, relabel your urine jars as ‘piss pots’. 
  • While you’ve got that label printer handy, continue labeling other useful objects such as doors and pens. 
  • Also, feel free to label equipment and give them names. I suspect that’s why our ultrasound machine is called Jeffrey. 
  • Replace the erasers at the front desk with cute animal erasers. Next year, rearrange them into compromising or awkward positions. 
  • Fill a nurse’s locker with a wall of her favorite biscuits. (Note: takes some preparation. Other staff are usually very happy to help with biscuit disposal)
  • Create a fake patient for nurses to discover in the morning. In this example, ‘Rover’ is here for ‘Grass seed removal’. (He’s a lawn mower, in case you can’t see. Bikes work well too.)

The most important thing is that these jokes are all harmless fun. They don’t cause injury, distress or interfere with the work of the clinic in any way. 

Oh, and make as many puns as able, all day.