It’s been a few (okay maybe slightly more) weeks since I had the awesome opportunity to attend the Nearly Impossible conference in Brooklyn, New York. It was so exciting to be in a room filled with small business owners, makers, designers, writers, thinkers. Very few people pulled their laptops out — this was a pencil and paper crowd. The group was filled with self-starters. People who care. People who give it all they got. And I was so excited to be included in that group. So here goes the recap.
Jeff Raider of Harry’s
“Be real and accessible with your customers”
Harry’s is a company that aims to disrupt the men’s shaving market. And their business values are seemingly simple:
High quality product
They “give a shave”
We could happily relate: we want to make wedding invitations that are high quality, nicely designed, at the right price point. Harry’s offers a limited number of products, as to focus on making their collection as good as it can be. We hope to do the same — quality over quantity.
Chay Costello of MoMA Design Store
“Partnerships should be similar enough to make sense, yet different enough to be interesting”
Chay talked about the importance of partnerships, especially in an ever-connected world. MoMA recently partnered with Kickstarter, a crowdfunding website that produces incredibly unique products. This was a perfect fit for MoMA, but nevertheless seems interesting because one may not have expected a tech-savvy crowdfunding site to partner with a high-design curator. Similar yet different = successful partnership.
Chay’s talk has me thinking about who would make a great partner for Birdhaus. Could it be you?
Product Photography Panel
“We’re dealing with a whole different internet than when we started”
A couple of the panelists talked about how they use social media for their brands. Here’s the breakdown that made the most sense to me:
- Instagram is used best for behind-the-scenes shots
- Facebook is used best for larger promotional items (announcements, product releases, etc.)
- Twitter is used best for sharing links, articles, your inspiration, smaller bits of information
Nicole Fenton | Copywriting Workshop
“You want hearts not eyeballs”
Nicole took us through some really great exercises that helped us uncover the stories and personalities behind our companies. For one exercise, Nicole had us write down “voice attributes” or words that come to mind when we think of our company's personality.
I wrote down these “voice attributes” for Birdhaus Co:
down to earth
Kyle Andrew of Kate Spade Saturday
“Envision your company’s future”
The moment Kyle Andrew spoke, you knew she was a branding queen. Kyle spoke about crafting your brand ideology, brand future, brand promise, and enabling creative guardrails. My favorite of those was the brand future, or “envisioned” future. She called us to create a long term goal for our companies – this is good for you, your partners and employees. It gives everyone an idea to get behind, a purpose to keep going. Create a vivid picture of what your company looks like in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years and even beyond that.
Pop-up Shop Panel
“Host an event and it will make your brand feel larger”
Michelle Kohanzo made us all want to be kids again (or at least work for Land Of Nod, where she’s the art director). She spoke about their pop-up shop, which took the form of a baby blue bus that they drove across country, stopping to “pop-up” in various cities. Sign me up.
“Ask for feedback then tell them how you used it”
This panel touched on different financial solutions for starting a business, from small business loans to utilizing Kickstarter. One thing I took away from this panel was to involve your audience in the process of building your product or business. Do a little research, ask them questions, and then present their input back to them—show them how they really did influence your business. Customers enjoy being a part of your process. (Related: we're trying to do this by gathering information from our surveys. This post talks more about that.)
Nathan Bond of Rifle Paper Co.
“You’re never and always ready”
I was so excited to see Nathan Bond speak. Heather and I are big fans of the bright, fun, illustrative work of Rifle Paper Co., so I couldn’t wait to hear all about their story. Here are a few points I took away:
Listen to the market and stay flexible with your products. Constantly reevaluate what you do and make.
A great product is the best marketing
You’re never and always ready ( just go for it)
Vanessa Holden of west elm
“Write down your founding story”
Vanessa Holden wrapped up the day with a bookend brand talk focused on story. She urged us all to write down our founding stories (future blog post, anyone?), and to allow room for awesome growth in the future (full circle: envisioned future mentioned above). She mentioned it’s important to have a brand story, but not necessarily just ONE story. Having just one version of your story can box you in and you’ll start to think smaller. Have a story, but let it evolve. When you have a compelling story, your customers will become ambassadors for your company. Instead of saying “listen to us”, say “join us.”
So I invite you to JOIN US as we create the Birdhaus Co. journey. Thanks for reading.