Shop Talk: Small Business Saturday at PFK


“Relax, it’s the weekend!” - Unless, you’re a small business owner.

That second statement does not apply to all small business owners, but it does apply to many of us - especially solo-preneurs, side-hustlers, and new business owners. In honor of Small Business Saturday, I want to share with you what a day in my life looks like - particularly Saturdays, when I spend my whole day running PfK. As many of you may know, I currently work a full-time job as a VDC Specialist at a construction estimating firm, which means that 40+ hours of my week is typically consumed by making 3D models, working on project estimates, etc. So Saturdays are my PfK days - a day where I wake up, work with my assistant and production manager, Tyler, and keep things running. We work out of the second floor loft in our apartment, so this makes things a little more convenient and relaxed.

A view from our loft studio to our general living space, with Sandy, our cocker spaniel, casually sunbathing.

A view from our loft studio to our general living space, with Sandy, our cocker spaniel, casually sunbathing.

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200 (-ish) square feet

of design and production studio.

Here’s the setting for this particular Saturday: It’s nearing the holiday season, so Tyler and I are preparing holiday purchase orders for the retail stores that carry our products. Additionally, we, alongside my partner, Keith, are brainstorming, researching, and designing our booth design for the upcoming Indie Craft Experience Holiday Shopping Spectacular, a holiday market in which we are proud to participate for the second year in a row. I’m also working on a couple of other projects, such as holiday commissions, ornament making, and doing administrative stuff that sound less exciting: emails, invoicing, and inventory. This Saturday also, Krys Alex came over to take these wonderful photos of our process and basically, a what typical Saturday around here looks like.

9:00 AM: My alarm rings

I spend the next nearly 2 hours getting myself together, essentially. Turn off alarm, then have an inner battle with myself as to do I actually need to wake up. Eventually, I wake up and try to make sure my house is clean/acceptable enough for others to see. Keith usually makes breakfast because otherwise, I will completely forget about breakfast. After the house and I are presentable, I go up to my studio and try to clean up and start with some admin work before Tyler arrives.

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{a peek into our studio:}

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the command center

I’m all about the efficiency of the process. Earlier this year, we purchased another printer to help print faster and more quantities. Everything is stored in the cloud - going from my laptop, into the cloud, and into our production/YouTube watching desktop. There’s also a constant supply of paper - milled and handmade.

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the board

Mostly to remind us how many of each item we need to send to stores…and to remind me to order supplies, etc.

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stock shelves

This is where we keep inventory that we have on hand for our online store, and for items that are waiting to head to the stores. I also keep little mementos here - one is a first place design award that I won when I was 17 from the AIA, and others are notes from clients and original prints of commissions I’ve done.

10:45 AM (ish): Tyler arrives and we officially begin the workday

The workday is usually spent with Tyler managing printing, preparing boxes of inventory to send to our stores, and a few other projects. In the case of this weekend, we are mostly preparing for our upcoming market, the ICE Holiday Shopping Spectacular. In the meantime, I’m making more handpainted ceramic ornaments (we sold out of our last batch and needed more!), the best-selling Sweet Home Atlanta ornament/wall hanging, and a few more commission paintings for our Custom Holiday Greetings orders. Then we meet with Keith so he can update us on the booth sketches. We take a lunch at noon - sometimes the three of us will eat together, sometimes we let Tyler have some alone time.

After lunch, we keep going - me on doing design work, general admin work, maybe even some printing and packaging. Tyler prints and packs pretty much everything and makes sure we ship the right amount of each item. Usually, around this time, when I paint, I try to record and share my painting process to share with my social media (mostly, Instagram) followers. Sometimes I also send little clips to my commission clients so they too, can see how everything’s done.

I won’t lie, the printing-packaging rounds can get pretty dull, so usually we watch videos online as we work. Currently, we’re obsessed with It’s Alive! with Brad Leone from Bon Appetit! Watch it, it’s so good and hilarious!

5-6 PM: Usually delivery time…or, we clock out and enjoy the rest of the day.

Typically, we at this point would deliver to the stores which stock some of our products, or make a post office run to ship online orders and send to other stores. You can find a list of stores that carry our products here. Afterwards, we either celebrate the end of the day and our sales with some delicious grubs!

I’ve been enjoying this small business life for two years now.

There’s been a lot of highs and a lot of lows. There’s been a lot of late nights, working weekends, 18 hour days, meltdowns at UPS or FedEx (including driving to the FedEx HQ to track down a package for a client), researching material prices in the middle of the night, and so much more. There were times when I got really annoyed at myself, asking “WTF did I do this for?”, “Why couldn’t I just keep this as a hobby?”, and “Should I just quit?”

Then there’s also been the happy emails from clients, the excitement from customers at the market, the sweet messages from Instagram followers. The happy stories of when one of my artwork made a gift so great, that happy tears followed.

I was working on a commission project recently where one of my past wedding clients ordered a box of Custom Holiday Greetings. They’re celebrating a new house and a new baby on the way. I’m so thrilled for them - what a wonderful, humbling thing it is to be a part of people’s milestones. I’ve seen my wedding clients go through planning a wedding, to starting businesses of their own, to moving to new homes, and having fur and human children. It’s such a joy to witness and to be a part of the celebration.

Thank you all for reading this article and for supporting this little business of mine. I hope that this article provided an insight to how things run around here, or if anything, is an interesting read as we head into the holiday season.

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Cheers, xx