You meowed about our art, and we listened!

We love exploring museums, and this last week were able to visit a museum we had never been to before.  Imagine how much fun a museum would be for the cats to play in?!  The curators (and maybe some artists, too) would probably frown on the idea though, so the cats stayed home.

In our last post, we included an image of an orange tabby observing a field of flowers... and then yesterday on Twitter, we posted a couple other ACEO drawings that came out of our furry minds when our paws met the paper.  Today, for your ease and viewing pleasure, here is our curated mini-mewseum of the cat art we have made since opening our shop. 

Your cats are welcome at our Bax Cat & Co. museum!  Heck, you can even visit the museum shop after your visit to give your cat a new fun creation!  Gather your furry feline friends around, and enjoy your stay at our first exhibit at the Musée de Bax Cat & Co!
Orange tabby cat art
Orange tabby cat observing a field of flowers ~ Colored pencil and markers ~ 2012
We love flowers, cats, and colors!  This cat is just taking a moment out of his busy day to reflect on the field of fantastic flowers. 

As you know, the Olympics were in London in 2012.  This inspired our next to creations.  First... tabby cats in lots of colors with the simple word "CAT" underneath them.  We draw because we love it, and these guys came out so simple, but they have a certain charm to them in their little smiling faces that we hope you enjoy =^-^=
Picture of tabby cat art
Colorful grinning tabby cats ~ markers ~ 2012
Once again inspired by the London vibe brought on by the hoopla of the Olympics, here is a Union Jack made mostly with pop art cat heads throughout - red, white, and mew!  This is perfect for the cat-loving Anglophile indeed.
Picture of cat art Union Jack
Pop art cat Union Jack ~ Colored pencil and markers ~ 2012

Months later, new cat art is here

The images above were in our shop, but when they expired we didn't renew them.  Perhaps because they weren't priced well?  Perhaps because we thought no one likes our art as much as we do!

The next two pieces are the ones we posted yesterday on Twitter and received such nice comments about.  These make us happy, and it's very nice to know that other people enjoyed seeing them as well!

These are both ACEO sized, so they're pretty mini, but that makes them all the more adorable and happy in our eyes. 

First up... what does your cat think about?  Maybe this?  Who knows!  The swirls add a movement that all of our cats have - they never want to sit still (unless they are napping for hours on end, of course).  Enjoy.
Orange tabby cat art
Orange tabby cat thoughts / dreams ~ Colored pencil and markers ~ ACEO ~ 2013
At the end of a loooong nap, a delicious meal, or hours of running around the house, it's definitely going to be time to clean your paws.  Here's a cute orange tabby doing just that, against a backdrop of colorful flowers.
Orange tabby cat art with flowers
Orange tabby cat bath with flowers ~ Colored pencil and markers ~ ACEO ~ 2013
Thank you for visiting our first art installation at Musée de Bax Cat & Co.  It's difficult to share our art, but by putting one paw in front of the next, we can become more brave, more confident, and keep creating cat art to share with you!

Thanks for looking, hopefully this made you smile; this post has been quite enjoyable to curate (did we mention how much we -love- museums and art?  It's true!) The future will bring many more installations of our cat art from Bax Cat & Co... and who knows, maybe someday it will be available in our Etsy shop.  One paw at a time =^-^=
 
Sometimes the best way to get over a creative block is by walking away for a bit, until your brain is refreshed.  Other times, the best way is by just... starting!  I have been facing a creative wall for about a week (my creative juices became frozen with the dropping temps this winter)... low motivation, lacking the desire to sew.  I don't even know why; sewing is fun, and I like the whole process from beginning to end, through when a cat somewhere in the world gets to enjoy a cat toy I made! 

So... why couldn't I just start to sew?  I don't know!  I recognized, however, that it is ok!  I didn't lose my love for the creative process, my brain was just telling me that it needed a break.  I have a lot to think about in this new year with the shop.  Now that it is more than a year old, I need to nurture it, market it, continue to reach out to its target audience, and continue to spread the word.  Maybe the big picture items assisted with the wall I was facing? 

Maybe I was subconsciously comparing myself to other shops that have a million more sales than me?  Maybe I was just having a tiring week, and sewing didn't feel like something I wanted to tackle, so I stepped back from it.
Picture of green celtic fabric
Celtic inspired green fabric I worked with today
All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness.  ~Eckhart Tolle
Maybe the world was getting in the way of my inner stillness!  That makes sense.  Today I finally relaxed, and became extremely motivated to go to the art cave (my sewing space, which doesn't look like a cave at all!).  I worked for a couple hours on sewing, cutting, pinning, and prepping lots of new items with two new fabrics that I bought.  I even moved the fox toy along a bit more, since I now have black felt for his ears, tail, and paws.  It was a glorious jolt of energy, and it reminded me that is really is ok to jump in and START the sewing/creative process, because sometimes that is the best way to get over the creative wall that likes to get in my way from time to time.

Heck, I'm on such a roll today that I'm back to write this entry here!  Hi to my fun blog, I'm sorry to have been neglecting you in my creative block week! 
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”  ~Pablo Picasso
Now if you'll excuse me, I am going to draw something.  Perhaps a cat?  I would love to bring cat art to my shop again (had a few drawings up several months ago), but it's something I am hesitant to share with people.  I've never really taken an art class, but I really enjoy drawing/creating onto paper and would love to share that with people who enjoyed it! 

In other news...

The shop is slowly but surely being re-branded!  We have a new Etsy shop banner (which can be seen here), new custom listing graphics for the shop (I don't have any in use right now, but they are cute!), and new "Thank You" graphic (as seen in yesterday's blog post). 

There is also a new adorable avatar, but I am very partial to the one that I already use for the shop (a photo of our orange tabby friend); this is what we use for all of our other networks, too (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest).  People are very happy about this photo, so I don't plan on changing it to the adorable new avatar graphic (although I really appreciate the time the designer took to make it, and maybe I'll change my mind in the future, who knows). 
Picture of orange tabby cat and black cat
The shop's other adorable avatar option
Along these same branding lines, I need to re-visit my business plan now that we have a full year under our furry belts.  I would also like to get matching business cards to bring everything together (and stickers for packaging!)  These are the big picture items that are dancing through my head lately, and they will be worked on piece by piece until they are completed! 

I really want this business to be a success, and we all work hard on it every day, even if no items are being sewn one day or another.  Let's not forget marketing either: I will be reaching out to different cat blogs, cat networks, and any other cat avenue I can think of to spread the word about my furry mission. 
Lots to do, but I am looking forward to it, in spite of any creative wall I may face in the future, or have face in the past.  It is all part of the creative process, and I love every second of it.  I hope you have a creative and art-filled week... I certainly will! =^-^=
Picture of orange tabby in flower field
Orange tabby in a flower field =^-^=
 

Thank you

We just wanted to extend the gratitude of the Bax Cat & Co. team for all of your support in our furry journey!  Don't worry, although we haven't been posting the last couple weeks on here, we are still here! 

Some weeks we face lulls, other weeks we are so busy we focus all of our energy on creating orders... but through it we remain positive knowing that there is a cat (or cats!) at the end of our hard work who will start to purr when he/she plays with his/her new toy, wears a new bandana, or sleeps on a new mat that we made. 

Although we haven't been around the blogosphere in the last couple weeks, please know that we appreciate your support, and we look forward to many more happy cats and their humans!  Love creating for and working with you all, human and cat alike =^-^= 
 
(...and not completely wordless!)
Picture of two heart catnip cat toys
Valentine's Day heart toys shipped off to some happy kitties
Picture of plastic storage bins
Organizational bins maximize our catnip toy making process =^-^=
Picture of organized bulletin board
Bulletin board organization helps us stay focused when making cat toys
Picture of purple fabric with bunnies
Purple bunnies fabric
Picture of green Celtic fabric
Green Celtic inspired fabric
Picture of fabric
New fabric for our cat toys
 
Meet Bill!  This is Bill the Owl.  Bill is a cat toy made out of cotton, fleece, and felt, and has certified organic catnip in his belly.  He just recently hatched, and we are excited to announce that he has safely completed his migration to his new home!

Bill was so excited to meet his new cat friends that he wants his siblings to be listed in our Etsy shop so they can meet their new cat friends, too.  We are listening, Bill!  Not yet listed, but coming soon.  The owl fun continues.

Up next in our woodland creature invasion... foxes?!  Stay tuned =^-^=
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Bill the Owl catnip cat toy. Hoot!
 
Now that we have a whole year behind us (wow!), there are several things we want to accomplish in the shop; they include: organization to increase workflow & productivity; staying well ahead of upcoming seasons & holidays; spending a set amount of time each night in the studio; strengthening our brand; cutting the fat (explained below); and staying active online.  Let's branch these out and get out what's in our furry minds for the upcoming year!

Organization

Photo of irons and art
Irons and art
During 2012, we had lots of storage bins in the studio that held other non-Bax Cat & Co.-related craft and art supplies.  These supplies were strewn around in various different storage bins and drawers throughout the room. 

Our fabrics and other daily use items for the shop were in bins and drawers that sometimes did not make the most sense; since we use these the most, it would make more sense to put them in bins that are more easily accessible. 

Admittedly this seems like a "duh" moment, but it is not something that time permitted us to tackle in 2012!

Good news!  The storage bin organization was completely overhauled over the weekend!  All different fabric types now have homes, and our day-to-day use items and materials are readily available.  There are now even drawers with labels on them to clearly show what is in what drawer, without even opening up the drawer. 

A bunch of little changes like this were made, but all totaled, they have a very nice impact on the space.  All of our fabric was taken out, re-folded, and then re-stored too.  It was nice to have everything out, to see old and new favorites together.
Photo of fabric rainbow
Fabric rainbow at Bax Cat & Co.
Next up: re-organize the bulletin board where all of the patterns are kept.  It would be great to see all the patterns in individual labeled bags, grouped together in a way that makes finding the different patterns a very easy task.  Putting them in bags will also prevent them from having push pin holes, allowing them to last a little bit longer.  This is a task that will be tackled this year; looking forward to this one!

Finding a new home for the thread spool holder is on the list, too; right now it is on a shelf, but it would be ideal to mount it to the wall a bit closer to the sewing table.  Moving it to the wall might also make the space a little more user-friendly.
Photo of spools of thread
Thread spool holder

Staying ahead

In 2012 we were primarily working on getting the shop situated: filling it with items, creating accounts online for it, etc. and not focusing too much on whatever the next upcoming holiday was (as bad as that sounds!).  We opened in January 2012, so didn't have to worry about the December holiday season until many months later.  Prior to the December holiday season, we aimed to get several new holiday-inspired items into the shop.  The holiday rush was so fun (loved seeing that much activity coming through)!

From that experience, we will definitely focus on stay ahead of upcoming holidays and seasons prior to their arrival, so that our shop has related items well ahead of time.  So far so good with that - all the Valentine's Day items are listed, and St. Patrick's Day-inspired items are waiting in the wings to list. 
Picture of Christmas tree catnip toy
Christmas cat toys
Picture of heart cat toy
Valentine's day catnip toys
Cat bandana
St. Patrick's day cat toys & cat bandanas, too! (coming soon)

Daily studio time

It may sound silly or (unintentionally) slacker-ish, but we have not been setting aside a designated amount of time each day to go into the studio and sew.  Spending one hour per day so far in January has freed up time on the weekends, has helped us create a bunch of new designs, and could be really beneficial in the long run. 

It's nice to have a set amount of time to work, because it makes us stay focused within that time frame: "Ok, one hour tonight will be spent cutting... drawing up new patterns... ironing... sewing... packaging..." etc.  Breaking it down into smaller daily blocks of time is a great tool to use (and we plan to continue to do so!)  Now weekends can be the perfect time to spend on taking and editing photos, and listing the items that we've made in any given week.

(Look at all of these tools for making us more efficient by leaps and bounds this year - exciting stuff!)

Strengthening our brand

Throughout the first year, we have really notice how great it looks when shops are branded across all online platforms.  When the same photos are used on FB, Twitter, Pinterest, as Etsy, you can really begin to recognize someone's shop (and brand presence) in each different avenue.  This also trickles down to matching brand packaging (stickers, business cards, etc). 

Things we did in 2012 for branding, and any changes we want to make in 2013:
- 2012: Had a banner made for the shop when it opened / 2013: new and improved banner is in the works, along with matching graphics to use.  We feel really good about this update!
- 2012: Had custom fabric labels made (see below) / 2013: continue to use fabric labels, they are a great addition to our items!  Need to look into whether the new graphics can be printed as the labels so that those match as well... branding!
Photo of fabric label Bax Cat & Co.
Our custom labels

Don't spread thin, but remember to trim the fat

Last year when started out, we signed up for a lot of different free avenues/accounts.  Each one offered a potential audience of people who were interested in our products and our mission (we were still learning how all of this stuff worked).  Lesson learned: spreading yourself too thin makes it nearly impossible to keep up with signing in and maintaining multiple accounts. 

Trim the fat; keep the accounts that work best for your shop's needs open and focus on those.  By spending more time with fewer accounts, it will allow those accounts to thrive (we're looking at you, trusty Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts)!  Our shop now has a very focused set of accounts that raise it up and help it thrive, instead of making us rip our hair out trying to keep up with a million other avenues. 

It took a while and a lot of diving in to figure out what different sites are best for the shop and run with those.  If there's one important thing we've learned, it's that we always need to keep evolving/changing/growing as our shop does. 

Who knows, our set of go-to sites will probably change somewhere down the line as the shop's needs change too.  We are ready for the ride!

Active online presence

Further to everything mentioned above, we think it's important to make sure our shop has a strong online presence (something we are constantly working hard at!). 

Elements and key parts to an active online presence to consider as we move into 2013 will be (in no particular order)
- Reach out and find blogs that would like to feature our shop or one of our items
- Find our stride (whether slow or fast) and keep the stream moving!  The visual of a stream through the woods is helpful - some areas it runs faster, some slower, but it's always so happy with whatever pace or bend it encounters!  And minnows, let's not forget the minnows!  (Disclaimer: no minnows will be used in any of our shop's items, it was a metaphor!)
- Try our best not to neglect our blog!  It's another great resource to use, and allows people to stay connected to the shop
- Continue to interact with fans and keep them informed of shop happenings (this includes FB, Twitter, and the like). 
- Active participation on Etsy teams

In conclusion...

...the first year of our brand's existence has been quite a fun learning experience.  We look forward to the years ahead with Bax Cat & Co., and will strive to stay productive through an organized space, keep ahead of holidays and seasons, spend dedicated time in the studio with fabric, maintaining a strong brand, trimming down accounts and staying focused, and staying active online! 

We hope you and your kitties are all having a great year so far; we thank you for your continued support & enthusiasm! =^-^=
 
Couldn't resist... Henry now has a friend!  Listings are in the works for both owls, and we hope to have both of these catnip toys available soon in our shop.

Aren't they a hoot?
Catnip toy owl
This is Henry's new owl cat toy friend <3
 
We are proud today: it is our one year anniversary from opening up shop!

Longer post another time, all this excitement has made us want to curl up for a cat nap =^-^=
 
Meet Henry, the owl we have been designing for the past several days.  He finally hatched today and we could not be happier!  He still has a little while before he gets listed in the shop; we want to hang out with him for a bit (and take listing photos too, of course).

What a hoot!  Are you and your cats big fans of owls, or maybe a different type of animal is your favorite?  We would love to hear from  =^-^=
Picture of owl cat toy
Owl catnip cat toy - he hatched today with all of his purple cute owlness :)
 

Our Etsyversary Cometh!

Wow, can't believe our shop has almost been open for a full year (January 9 is the actual date).  This shop started as a way for us to share fun toys with cats.  It's amazing to see how many people (and their cats) are as excited as we are about the shop.  This makes us so happy, and we really couldn't do it without the support of our great fans, fantastic followers, and cool customers - THANK YOU ALL (and your cats!)
Picture of cat with heart toy
One of our models

Other cool stats from this year:

- Our first items were listed on February 9
- First sale was on March 6. 
- This year we also had our first blog features
- Our Facebook page has over 100 fans (which we are so grateful for!)
- The Twitter page we started later on, but it has over 20 followers
- We have learned so much this year through the helpful people on Etsy, in team forums, and have really gained knowledge from a few great mentors.
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Cat bandanas rainbow
This year we started with a mission to provide cats durable toys that are affordable and fun to play with.  We also had mats in the shop right from the start, and eventually branched out to include these great bandanas, too. 

Much to our delight, our cats really like to wear them and show them off!  We hope that lots of people's cats can enjoy showing off their cute furry faces with our bandanas, too.  When people have purchased these and send us customer appreciation photos, they make us so happy to see! 

One Paw at a Time

When starting this shop, we knew it would be at a bit of a slow pace due to time constraints presented by life... but we always keep telling ourselves to do things "one paw at a time", and that really seems to be working. 

By the "one paw at a time" approach, we have had sales on 4 continents, and five separate countries this year.  Our Boot Camp buddy showed us a map program where we could track each sale as sales come in, so it's something we've been keeping up with - super fun to see the progress!
World map of sales
Map of sales around the world this year

Just Getting Started

This year as allowed us to learn what it takes to run a successful Etsy business, and to find the pace that works the best for our lifestyle.  2013 will be a year filled with the same mission - bringing durable, fun, affordable toys and other items to cats around the world.  Lots of ideas are already brewing, and we are very excited to pounce on the upcoming new year.  Lots to keep learning, lots to do... We are just getting started here!

Coming Soon...

Now that we are in the post holiday season, we have a bit of time to focus on new items for the shop.  Below are our newest creations that are not yet listed.  Stay tuned, they are coming soon!
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Coming soon - New catnip heart toy
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Coming soon - Shamrocks cat bandana
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Coming soon - Shamrocks kick toy pillow
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Coming soon - Heart cat bandana
Stay warm, furry, and purry... and have a happy start to 2013!  =^-^=