Many of you may recall - or are already drinking from - coffee mugs I made a couple years ago with graphic bird designs on them. After a couple year hiatus, I'm reviving the mugs with a better business plan. I am actively testing new suppliers/printers to get mugs into production in August and into stores in September, well before the holiday season. And I will also be opening an online retail Etsy store by September, too.
• What designs are in the product line of mugs?
All mugs will be 11 oz., white inside & out with full wrap-around images. I currently have 9 wrap-around coffee mug designs - see the images and photos below. I may have up to 12 designs. Five are mostly winter birds - some with species of eastern US, some for western states. I am also working on designs with elk, fish and have one with a whimsical Santa Claus in his sleigh pulled by jackalopes!
Evening Grosbeak, Steller's Jay, Hairy Woodpecker
Red-backed Junco, Acorn Woodpecker, Mt. Chickadee
Gamble's Quail, Bridled Titmouse, Northern Cardinal
Western Scrub Jay, Anna's Hummingbird, Greater Roadrunner
Evening Grosbeak, Blue Jay, Hairy Woodpecker
Slate-colored Junco, Northern Cardinal, Black-capped Chickadee
Red-backed Junco, White-winged Junco, Pink-sided Junco, Oregon Junco, Slate-colored Junco
Snowy Egret, Herring Gull, Osprey
• My first three steps:
1. I will be ordering single samples from several mug printing companies. Printing quality, color accuracy, timely deliveries and cost are factors for selecting the company to make my mugs. Sample mugs range from $10 to $25. One sample mug I've already received was in excellent condition.
2. I will produce a limited number of mugs and printed promotional materials to be sent or delivered directly to selected retail sales outlets (Audubon Centers, park visitor centers, gift shops, outdoor recreation businesses). My goal is to provide mugs wholesale to 10 retail businesses by October 1, 2017. (Currently, I've have one bird & card store in Flagstaff, AZ, that will buy them ASAP.)
3. I want to start with a reasonable supply of mugs to support sales at multiple retail outlets and my own Etsy store (suggested retail price will be $15/mug). A standard case of 32 mugs can run $150 and up, or 1 case each of 9 designs will cost $1350 at least. That would provide 10 mugs to each of 10 stores and leave an initial stock for my Etsy store. I will also need to stock up on shipping materials and factor in the time for running this business too.
• Your valuable support and my thanks
With your contribution, I'm asking you to help give this designer mug business a kickstart. I will provide kickbacks to you. So look at your giving in part as advanced purchasing. (Note - you can donate by name, or anonymously on Go Fund Me, no name will appear on the public webpage, though I will know and have your email.)
For those giving $20 to $100, you will receive a mug of your choice (of designs in stock), one mug for each $20. So, for $40 you get 2 mugs, $60, 3 mugs, etc. I plan on delivering these starting in October, possibly earlier.
For giving over $100, you get the 5 mugs. And then, after sales have covered my initial expenses, you will receive another mug for each additional $10. So $110 = 6 mugs; $150 = 10 mugs, etc. Printing companies may get swamped as demand for other holiday products rises. So I may discontinue this offer or at least delay delivery. I will contact you and post update regarding timeliness or delays of such orders on the GFM site as I learn of them.
Alternately, for donors giving $110 or more, in lieu of any mugs you have the option to have me produce a single custom painting or illustration of a wildlife species (up to 11 x 14 inches) of your choice, and my ability. To make sure I am able to complete all custom artwork to be a holiday gift, I'm limiting this to the first 10 requests and by October 1, 2017. As always, alternate kickbacks are negotiable. (Note: later in August or September, I will begin printing up past and my new Holiday Cards too - more potential kickback items.)
As your early contributions will help me meet initial financial needs of starting this production process, I so appreciate all of you who support me in using my art skills to a higher potential.
If you want mugs for your retail store, contact me for wholesale costs.
• Why I believe this will work -
- I am experienced in graphic project management. I have planned, designed, managed and delivered over 80 graphic sign projects between 1998 and 2017. See my website to see samples and clients, http://www.lifedraw.com
- Back in the 2014 Holiday season, these bird mugs were locally popular, with 60 mugs sold at $14-$16 to friends in the local Audubon group, family and friends.
- Most coffee mug designs are ready to go, giving me more time to focus on my marketing goals.
- I already have one store in Flagstaff already commit to buying mugs as soon as they are ready.
- I am starting early to make the products in bulk (not working with Sam's Club photo services which discontinued the wrap around mug imprinting service anyway since 2014).
- As an employee at the Flagstaff Visitor Center, I have learned from our buyer how she assesses, selects and manages items for the gift shop.
• About washing printed mugs
As I've been researching suppliers and printers, some say only use the top shelf of an automatic dishwasher. Many advocate only hand-washing printed mugs as powdered soaps are rough. As I gather samples from various printers, I will be checking as best I can for the best quality. I still have mugs I that I made and have used since 2014. Not a scratch. I hand wash them.
Thanks for partnering with me to get my mug production revved up!
Please share this with your friends and with your Facebook friends!
Check back for progress reports and new design images!
Thanks for your investment, support and well wishes! Know that you're always welcome to stop by for a cup of coffee anytime.