Over the last four years I have collaborated with lots of other bloggers, but it wasn’t until this year, that I decided to collaborate with another designer maker. Creating a set of prints with Kate from Daphne Rosa was a fantastic learning experience, so today I want to share my tips for working on collaborative products.
How to start
One of the questions people asked us about our collaboration was how it came about. Kate and I already had a good relationship where we met regularly (over brunch) to discuss our business goals and share advice. Although our work is quite different, I knew that Kate was interested in developing her product range and I simply asked her if she was interested in working on something together. It really helped to work with someone I could be honest with and that I had a personal connection with as a friend too. We knew that we could be honest with each other from the get go.
Idea generation is usually quite a personal process, so working with someone else requires you to be flexible with your approach and to use your listening skills. We began with brainstorming sessions on paper, creating sketches and lists to visualise our ideas. We were clear with our goals from the start so as to manage expectations for the project. The concept stage is a key moment for your working relationship, as it is when your creative ideas will blend and it can be quite rewarding if things click into place easily! We had a few “YES!” moments which was great.
Kate and I planned our work days in both her studio and mine which worked well, as our motivational tools and surroundings are pretty similar (Pitch Perfect soundtrack was the usual choice). At the beginning of each work session, we set our goals for the day and got to work.
Strengths and Weaknesses
If you know each other well, it will be easy to identify who is good at what. I am fairly confident with my camera so we decided I could shoot the prints when we first created them. For tasks where we both felt confident, we shared the workload evenly. At one point I wasn’t happy with some of the results of a shoot and I made sure to communicate my worries Kate. It turns out she felt the same, so I was happy I shared my weakness with her. We both wanted the best results we could get, so it pays off to share your skills with each other during the process.
Discuss Money Early On
At the concept stage, Kate and I did a lot of research for suppliers to determine if our product would be a viable venture in terms of profit. Remember that there are two people putting time into the product, so you will need to set an hourly rate together, as well as agreeing on profit margins that fit with your current business models. This might mean that you have to be willing to compromise a little and to accept a lower profit from sales as you are splitting it two ways. We created expenses and sales spreadsheets specifically for our project so all money could be tracked and recorded. Work out who is going to pay for what before you even begin, so you can manage cash flow. We decided to split everything evenly and communicated clearly at all stages of the project when money was involved.
Continually Manage Workloads
Workload was probably our biggest challenge for the project, because it needed constant management and attention. We were both very aware that we wanted the workload to be evenly spread and spent a lot of time being very British asking one another if they felt they were doing too much or if they were overloaded. Once we got over being polite about it, we just made sure to communicate our other commitments to each other.
The previous section about workloads leads nicely into timelines for your project. At one point, we failed to inform each other of our clashing holiday dates, which mean there was a bit of a scramble and a late night to get things finished in time for our deadline. As usually organised people, we could have done with one more diary session to solidify our launch date and manage the remaining work.
Once your product is made and you are happy with the result, there is just as much work to do in promoting it. We created a marketing strategy for how we would launch the prints, drafting a press release and working out who we could send prints to for possible social shares. Creating a buzz around our product launch was important to us and getting feedback was key. It helped us to realise that it wasn’t just the two of us who thought the products were a good idea! As our audience was fairly niche (we aimed them at other makers and creatives) it was important to determine our customer and target the promotional material accordingly.
The work isn’t over once your product is launched. Tracking sales and monitoring social shares and feedback is key to learning whether your product has been a success. It may be that you need to work on spreading the word a little more, or that you should send out more press releases. Keep communicating with your collaborator to see how things are progressing.
I am so pleased I worked on this venture with Kate. Not only did it push both of our creative boundaries, but the cross promotion allowed us to capitalise on each other’s followings and find new customers for our own shops that may not have come our way otherwise. The best thing for me was seeing our idea come to life and having a lot of fun working together.
You can find each print in our shops and also a set of 5 prints with a stand too.
You may also know that I also recently collaborated with Sew Crafty for a set of sewing themed prints. You can win a full set of the prints by visiting the Sew Crafty Facebook Page here before Monday 18 July 2016.
I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes post today. If you like these kind of posts and you want to hear more, leave me a comment below or find me on social media!