By Heidi Reimer-Epp
I read the most beautiful quote recently and thought about some of the changes going on here at Botanical PaperWorks.
Trees shed their leaves and are dormant before there is regrowth. What do you need to shed in order to grow? Today, reflect on seasons of change in your life.
(Source: The Enneagram Institute)
We are undergoing a season of change. Good change. We are growing and have many opportunities. We are adding new people to our team. We’ve acquired new equipment and we’ve added capacity. And in this, our 20th year of business, we have shed some leaves and it has opened us up to growth. It's been a wonderful experience.
I wrote on my personal blog about how I gave up golf. It wasn’t life-giving anymore and it was time to free up that time for something else. The same thing happened this year at Botanical PaperWorks. It was time to give something up.
First, a little reminiscing. The very first product that we ever created for Botanical PaperWorks was a set of blank cards and envelopes. They were made with handmade paper that we made out of cotton linter and dried rose petals. My Mom, Mary, made the paper and I folded it into the cards, wrapping a set of eight in a raffia bow and adding a hand-stamped tag. We sold these card sets to five Winnipeg stationery and gift stores, stores that are long gone like Shelley Tadman Gallery and MAD About Paper.
Along with the card sets we started selling hardbound journals, writing sets, greeting cards and other stationery items. Then we added seed paper wedding invitations, wedding favours, memorial products, and eventually promotional products. We continued with this extensive product line for many years. Until, one day, we took a look at the profitability of each product line.
It turned out that the stationery line was not very profitable. First, the products were expensive to make. Second, the selling price was low. And finally, when people bought from that line, they bought in small quantities. As we looked at all of our product lines and realized that stationery was at best breaking even and at worst, losing money, it was clear that it was time for stationery to go.
What a bittersweet decision! It was the right business decision, but I was incredibly sentimental about this line of products that got the company started. It was hard to sign-off on the decision, but my team was great at bringing me along gently and it was clear that it was time to say farewell. After all, we want to invest our energy and money in what's working and call it quits on what isn't working.
Why prune the bushes and shed some leaves?
As individuals and as a company, we have a finite amount of resources. There are set amounts of energy, time, and money. The space in our facility is only so big. So when we say yes to these product lines, we have to say no to those product lines. It makes good business sense to clear away the marginal lines and open up to success and thriving with new lines.
Once we made the decision to discontinue our stationery line, we had a wonderful opportunity to do something with the freed up time, energy and physical space.
Our marketing and design department turned their attention to designing personalized stationery. They redesigned the eco-baby line and added new products to the wedding line. There are gorgeous new seed paper business cards launching soon, new business holiday cards and other new promotional products. That team is on fire with creativity!
The assembly department cleared out discontinued stationery and used the newly-reclaimed space to expand their production area. The purchasing department also simplified, going from 70 different clear packaging bags to just 40 to reduce clutter even further. We doubled our capacity in that area and it feels GOOD! It's clean and spacious with lots of room for our the big promotional product orders. We even created enough space for a new high-capacity printing technology that will help us fill large orders even faster.
Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has a beautiful quote about getting rid of stuff, and I think it applies to getting rid of things at work, including lines of product:
When you come across something that you cannot part with, think carefully about its true purpose in your life. You'll be surprised at how many of the things you possess have already fulfilled their role. By acknowledging their contribution and letting them go with gratitude, you will be able to truly put the things you own, and your life in order.
Our stationery line had fulfilled its purpose - to get Botanical PaperWorks off the ground, from start-up to thriving international business. Thank you stationery line, thank you for getting us here, we are grateful. And now cheers to the next adventures, the new products and the new opportunities!
Created with biodegradable materials, this seed paper is embedded with NON-GMO seeds that grow wildflowers, herbs, or vegetables when planted in a pot or garden. Seed paper products can help your business share a message and stand out without creating excess waste.