Friday, January 22, 2016

Our Story - A Scrapbook for Valentines Day

Valentines Day is coming up and no matter how cynical you are about romance, love and relationships, it's hard not to get sucked into the season. I have been married for 12 years and prior to that I was dating my future husband for 4.5 years so basically we have celebrated Valentines Day for almost 17 years!! I should really be suffering from Valentines Day fatigue but thanks to Crack of Dawn Crafts, I find myself getting caught up in all the lovey-dovey madness just like I did 17 years ago!!

Our most popular gift for Valentines Day is the Our Story Scrapbook. This book is a love scrapbook which measures 12 inches by 12 inches and  allows the customer to record 10 details about his or her relationship. The book usually starts with How We Met, and moves on to First Movie, Our Engagement, Our Wedding, Gifts We've Given and so on. With plenty of space provided to add photos or pen down personal notes, the Our Love Story Scrapbook is a truly meaningful Valentines Day gift.

The best part about the Our Love Story Scrapbook is that it can be customised. We don't insist on a standard set of topics because we are well aware that each relationship is unique and merits its own list of headings. So whenever we receive an order we always ask the client for their inputs. We have a list of commonly used topics, but these are by no means the only choices. Very often we get a brand new heading that we are happy to incorporate into the book.

Another other factor that can be customised is the colour scheme. Originally made in the romantic colours of red, white and black, we have received requests to do the book in softer tones of cream, pink and red as well as silver and white. Sometimes the client wants the cover changed. Other times 10 pages isn't enough to record all the details they want to include in the book. In such cases we are happy to add the extra pages to ensure the Our Story Love Scrapbook contains all the important facet of that particular Love Story!

This scrapbook is also ideal as a gift too. We have received requests to make the Our Love Story Scrapbook as a wedding gift or anniversary gift by well meaning friends or family members, who want to give something different and sentimental on such special occasions!

And if you think that this is something that is primarily ordered by women, you would be wrong. There are some SERIOUSLY romantic men out there who want to make their lady love feel truly cherished. We have even received an order from an Indian man living in the United States who wanted us to ship the scrapbook to his girlfriend here in India. How romantic is that!!!

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Hunt for the Perfect Album

One of our perennially popular products at Crack of Dawn Crafts is a handmade photo album. I think this is particularly interesting given that we are in a digital of age of storing only electronic photos. Printing photos has become so rare that presenting someone an exquisite handmade album filled with meaningful photos has become a fabulous gift solution. And fortunately we at Crack of Dawn Crafts are in the right place at the right time because we make a LOT of exquisite, handmade albums!!

We recently received a query from a client who wanted a couple of albums to collect pictures for memories. The most popular designs were shared - the rose bordered Precious Memories Albums usually hit the spot. These are available in almost any colour combination, the most popular being Red and White and Cream and White. As with all our albums, they come with 10 pages, 20 sides, 4 tags and a keepsake box.


Surprisingly the client was not totally satisfied. She wanted to see more designs. So we shared with her pictures of the Princess Diaries album which is also a fabulous option for young girls, best friends or sisters. Each page is decorated with a princess element making it very girly.

This too did not seem to work. We were quite stumped so we started discussing more. What is the purpose of the album? She wanted it for herself. What is her style aesthetic? She loves Shabby Chic or Vintage colours. Unfortunately we didn't have anything else to share in the album category but we had a couple of options in the scrapbook category.

One was the Diary of a Doting Mom scrapbook which is just perfect to present to a loving mother. It chronicles the life of a mom from motherhood to grand-motherhood. A tear came to the eyes of many a mom thanks to this spectacular gift.

The other option was the Lavender and Pink Baby Scrapbook. Truly muted and extremely gentle, the soft pastel combination of lavender and pink combined with all the baby features in the book, make it a perfect keepsake for a precious little baby. Originally commissioned by a grandmother for her first grandchild, it has since become a popular choice for moms of newborn baby girls.

Our client LOVED these scrapbooks. It seemed to be just what she was looking for. We were thrilled! No worries we said - we can customise your albums to look like these scrapbooks! And here is the final result.

And that's how two of the prettiest albums we have made became part of the fabulous range of Crack of Dawn Crafts albums. We have called them The Pearly Lavender Album and The English Garden Album. The designs are so versatile that they can be used as a romantic gift, a gift for a friend, a gift for a sister/ mother or even teacher perhaps! And as a designer, I must acknowledge that some of my best designs come from my fabulous clients!

Do you like the new albums that we designed? Drop a line, we would love to know what you think.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Jungle Fever!!

A few months ago we were tasked with the challenge of creating a Jungle Theme invitation. A client who had seen a Crack of Dawn Crafts creation through another client contacted us from Nanital to order invitations for her son's first birthday. We hadn't yet done a jungle theme invitation so we were super kicked with the theme!! The brief was simple - We needed to design 2 versions, one had to be 3D that could also fold flat for easy postage to out of town guests and the second version needed to be an elaborate 3d invitation for local city guests. 

The immediate thought was lush foresty greens, cute brightly coloured animals and a pop of yellow to contrast! Wow wouldn't that be fun!! We created two fold flat designs. One was a Jungle shadow box frame invitation and the other was a Jungle Box Card design. Both versions could fold flat and both were made with the same colour family. We just LOVED my creations and was sure my client would be ecstatic too!

Sadly it was not quite the case. The client had something totally different in mind. She wanted a jungle theme yes but she wanted to be more babyish, more pastel and more gentle. She wanted 'animals' more than 'jungle'. Boy were we disappointed, we really thought we had hit a home run with my jungly designs. But back to the drawing board we went determined to create something spectacular for this special event!

This time around we created a Animal Box Card that was was soft and sweet, just as the client had ordered. We used the most adorable baby animal pattern and combined it with blue and yellow card. Animals popped out of everywhere and a bold number 1 stood at the front! All the party details went on the reverse side of the card. 

Now this WAS a home run. The client was totally delighted and gave the go ahead for production. We had also created a Animal Explosion Box design with the central 3D element being a baby cot filled with animal cut outs. She was thrilled with this too and we were a GO!!

We churned out about 100 invitations for this event and they were a total hit with the guests! The client was over the moon with the cards and called to tell us that almost every person she gave it to wanted to know who had made it. Of course she said Crack of Dawn Crafts. Right now we are working on a wedding card design for her brother! Exciting times ahead!!

Since Crack of Dawn Crafts was born there have been countless designs that have been rejected. Sometimes we lose an entire order because we are just not able to get the design right. Of course it is tremendously disappointing when a design is rejected but the good news is that whatever we make forms part of the Crack of Dawn Crafts catalogue! And now 2 years on, we have a product range of close to 400 designs!

Which of the designs did you prefer? The lush jungle version or the pastel baby one? Would love to hear your views, do leave a comment and let's compare notes!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Crack of Dawn Crafts - The journey so far and onward...

It has been a while - almost 2 years since my last blog post and whew... a lot has happened since then. In April 2014, I decided to make my crafting hobby a professional enterprise. In a nutshell, it meant that no longer would I be a full-time mom of 2, crafting for fun, but rather an entrepreneur struggling to juggle the demands of a fledgling business and the needs of my two little monsters. 


When I began, I was a one-woman-shop working from my craft table at home to service the orders I received. Since my kids were still quite small, I was always crafting late at night hence the name of my business. I created a Facebook page and starting getting orders via Facebook and Whatsapp. As the work started coming in, I hired one girl to help and very soon after I needed a second girl. They worked from my dining table. My craft materials found place in all sorts of makeshift locations including my mom's garage and for a while we were ok. But very soon, by August 2015 Crack of Dawn Crafts became too big to operate from home. I needed to hire more staff, needed more space for my materials and needed my house to become a home again!

Very fortuitously I found a studio space right next door to my apartment and grabbed it in a heartbeat. I decided since I was just starting out, it was better to hire rather than purchase furniture to fill it up. I set up the equipment, hired more girls, lined up my suppliers, negotiated special rates for services like printing and couriers and while all this was going on, Crack of Dawn Crafts was building up a fabulous customer base.

But... It sure was hectic! It was CRAZY hectic! I found myself working ALL...THE....TIME!!! I was designing new projects and managing production of confirmed projects. I was running to the printer, the paper supplier and the courier office all day. I worked from 5am to midnight 7 days a week! It was INSANE, excruciating but very very exciting! With each crazy day I was learning something new and this knowledge became the experience I desperately needed to build this entity.

Today 2 years on, the landscape has changed. We are not a one-woman-shop anymore but a team of six employees all of who are really good at their work. My girls (God bless them) turned out to be wonderful additions to the business and it is due to their painstaking attention to detail that we are able to take on large bulk orders and deliver them without any compromise on quality. Gratefully I am no longer so overworked. One of my original staff members turned out to be a total rockstar and she has become the supervisor of the studio, managing production. Another girl handles packaging, another quality control and another takes care of purchasing. I hired a office boy/ driver to do all the running around and with that there were finally more hours in the day. 

My role has become more of designer rather than producer. I figure out what the client wants, design something to match her requirement, then show it to my fabulous team and they re-create it in bulk. In this way we are able to take on more custom work because I don't have to worry about production at all. The team takes care of that while I focus on designing. 

The sales channels have also widened greatly. We have our own dynamic website where customers can place orders and pay online. Crack of Dawn Crafts products are listed on 3 major marketplaces with umpteen more in the pipeline and collaborations with a number of event planners, chocolatiers, bakers and other linked businesses. Also with it being our second year in business, we have so many repeat customers who have come back for the Crack of Dawn Crafts touch!

It has been fun. It has been nerve wracking. It has been INTENSELY rewarding. And I would say it is JUST beginning. There are so many ideas I want to implement, so many avenues I want to attempt and so many opportunities I want to explore!

Well...explore them we will! And blog about it every step of the way as that's what the focus of this blog is going to be from now on!! 2016 is going to be the year where we take a moment to reflect on the highs and lows of the week and what better way to do it that with the blog that started it all. So stay tuned as we share snippets of the journey which will hopefully be interesting... and ..... regular!