Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Marketplace: Would You Be Interested in a Feline Sampler Box Program?

Mimi approves of the contents of this box.
Mimi approves of the contents of this sampler box.

My July 2016 Feline Sampler Box is full of the colors and events of summer, and art and photos that depict a lot of kitties enjoying the sun, special kitties who I remember fondly in the month of July, and even a tribute to our community cats.

So I said back in July 2016—almost eight years ago!—when I put together one of my first monthly sampler boxes. That was also when I learned how intuitive Mimi was with my photography. When I set up the first one to photograph in April that year she jumped right up into the middle of it, but later we figured it out and she found her place and meowdeled like a purrfessional.

The sampler box without Mimi.
April 2016 Feline Sampler Box

The idea was to give the recipient a selection of items, including being the first to be able to order a new gift item I’d made, that they could use for themselves, give as gifts, or use in some way to benefit cats like donating items to an auction or sale.

I had done quarterly sampler boxes decades before in the late 90s when I had snail mail lists for animal and nature artwork customers. I had just begun to get greeting cards and holiday cards printed from my artwork as well as creating new artwork at least monthly, turning out a new block print at least once each year. I offered a matted print or small original block print, a few cards, and a different coupon each time for a commissioned portrait, an original painting, or for general purchases. It was the best way before social networking to announce and promote my latest artwork and other things I had available.

Mimi introduces my June 2016 Sampler Box!
Mimi introduces my June 2016 Sampler Box!

When I started working at home in 2000, just when I’d thought I’d be able to pick up the pace—and add email options to it to save a little on mailing, I had to stop when my brother had his brain trauma and then my mother her cancer surgery and I wasn’t able to pick it back up again for years. I really missed the excitement of it.

I had printed quantities more of greeting cards, including my sympathy cards in 2009, then my hands were itching to make things in addition to my art and in 2010 I started with a few handmade gift items and going to shows occasionally, to good return, but they were largely seasonal and nowhere near they quantity there are now so I was constantly looking for other outlets for getting my things in front of people.

Mimi poses with the May Sampler Box.
Mimi poses with the May Sampler Box.

In 2016 I built my current ecommerce website. My mother had passed five years before and my brother was fairly stable so I had more time. Ironically when I built my own website I had cut back on designing and maintaining customer websites because I had too many to maintain and they took all my time, but I needed to replace that income starting with my own website instead of Etsy and a dozen other online profiles which never produced much.

I also jumped into more handmade goods and then decided to give the sampler box idea a try again. I was turning out a new gift item just about monthly so I decided to make them monthly boxes that you could order once or order three months at a time. To my disappointment people loved to look at them and those who ordered them enjoyed the contents and still mention them to me, but I decided to put my efforts into vendor shows in 2017 when the sampler boxes weren’t selling and I stopped offering them at the end of the summer 2017.

Mr. Sunshine and Jelly Bean present the October Feline Sampler Box!

I’d like your feedback and ideas

I’d like to check on the interest for a sampler box and see what ideas you have. I’m debating about a monthly or quarterly box, possibly with an additional holiday box. The sampler boxes I’ve shown here had a set of categories that I made or chose items to fill. Scroll down through “Contents” to see what was included in my July 2016 box, read about the items, how I chose them and why I included them.

Cost

The size of the box depends on the size of the matted print, which might vary from  8 x 10 to 12 x 12 to 11 x 14, and the size of the gift item, which might be a folded dishtowel or a keepsake box. I’m also considering sending the featured print framed instead of just matted. I began offering the sampler boxes for $25.00 each in 2016 but with postage increases I had to increase that to $35.00. At this point I might need to make them $40 or $50, especially depending on whether or not I frame the featured print and that adds weight.

 

Contents of the July 2016 Sampler Box

A view of the July 2016 Feline Sampler Box.
A view of the July 2016 Feline Sampler Box.

I choose contents to give you the most variety in each item. I take into account not only item but style, medium, size, subject—even a particular feline subject, color or coat pattern, or a particular anniversary with one of my feline family—as well as season, holiday, color palette and the message it sends, as with greeting cards. You’ll see a good sample of not only my work but also the beauty and inspiration of felines so that, whether you keep the contents for yourself or give them as gifts or donations, you’ll find something that fits nearly every occasion.

Below in the list of contents you can read more about each of the items and why I chose them for this Sampler Box, and a link to the item on Portraits of Animals.

SELECTED PRINT

“White Cat Reflecting”, 6″ x 14″, matted for 10″ x 20″ frame

Counter print: “Conversation With a Daisy”, pencil, 8” x 10”

SELECTED GREETING CARDS

GIFT ITEM

“Two Cats After van Gogh Garden Flag”
11” x 15” all-weather garden flag printed with different art on each side, winner of the 2013 CWA President’s Award

About the contents

Featured Print: White Cat Reflecting

"White Cat Reflecting" matted to fit a 10" x 2-" frame.
“White Cat Reflecting” matted to fit a 10″ x 2-” frame.

My white cat was endlessly inspiring to me, and I would need two lifetimes to recreate all the images of her that I have photographed and saw every day. Sally was deaf and spent most of her days in her own little world in pursuit of her own happiness, which when possible included a rest, nap or long snooze in the sun. Here she alights briefly on the stool, reflecting the sunlight onto all that is around her while she reflects on the events of her day so far and just what is to be done next.

Sometimes a more finished, finely-detailed painting isn’t the best way to capture an animal’s personality, and especially not my capricious little Sally. I believe I painted this in June because that’s when the sun comes in the dining room window at this angle, but Sally in all her brilliant colors are full of summer.

I had been focusing completely on Sally’s beauty, but one of the elements I hadn’t anticipated when I went to work from the photos was Sally’s reflection of light back onto the surfaces around her. When I looked at the spot after she’d moved, it was all dark. The back of the rocker, the wall behind her, I hadn’t realized until I looked at the photos that those areas only had light because it was reflected from her, hence the double meaning in the title.

While this art appears impossibly tall, I’ve matted it to fit into a 10” x 20” frame which is commonly offered with a multiple-opening mat as a collage frame in many colors and styles at craft stores and department stores.

You can also find White Cat Reflecting in my gallery of feline artwork.

Counter print: Conversation With a Daisy

"Conversation With a Daisy", pencil on cream cotton paper, 9" x 12", 2004 © B.E. Kazmarski
“Conversation With a Daisy”, pencil on cream cotton paper, 9″ x 12″, 2004 © B.E. Kazmarski

I call pencil “my first and favorite medium” and I often say that “I can speak in pencil”, that what goes in my eyes and comes out the tip of the pencil has very little logical translation much as you would speak fluently in more than one language. I see the scene, and I see the pencil drawing. That’s also one of the reasons you’ll see so many of my daily sketches in pencil, and I have a huge body of works in pencil featuring my cats, commissioned portraits, wildlife, landscapes, waterscapes and flowers.

So when I saw Namir stretching his entire slender self up toward a downward-facing daisy I looked at his crisp gray fur with its muted stripes, his graceful curving figure, the simplicity of the daisies and immediately decided I had to do a pencil sketch entitled “Conversation With a Daisy”. Because Namir would talk to a daisy.

I had carried in an armload of my Shasta daisies that had been knocked over in a summer storm and put them in the crystal vase on the kitchen cabinet, always a risk in a house of cats who ate nearly all green things but who considered freshly-cut flowers a special treat. One of them had indeed been bent and was facing downward. Seeing Namir I snapped several photographs, but he would not stretch himself out again and sniff that daisy! “I already did that, I don’t have to do it again, cats only sniff things once and then they know all about them,” he said. So much for me, but I know how to get my models into the positions I need, and this one was easy: hold any object above his head in about the position the daisy had been, snap! Sketch.

I remember Namir in July, when he lost his longtime battle with heart disease, but only after a long life of conversing with daisies and such like.

You can also find Conversation With a Daisy in my gallery of feline artwork.

Greeting and Note Cards

The sympathy card for this month, “Lucy in the Morning”, features Lucy on her “beach towel”. I had used this pink and gray rag rug for gray tabby Moses to lie and soak up the sun on the concrete basement floor, and it coordinated just as well with Lucy, who joined us just a few months after we lost Moses. I chose this image as a sympathy card because the scene looks like one that could be in any home, and the bright pink adds cheer to ease the somber nature of the card. Lucy left us in July, succumbing to the effects of FIP, but she sent her mother Mimi to us, bringing a new family of four.

The art card is “Waiting for Mom”, and though this was actually a painting with winter light I wanted to include little torbie Fawn and a pastel painting in a photorealistic style. The photo card is “Toe Cleaning in Black and Green”, discovering the magic of black and green and the green reflection of the sink on Jelly Bean’s fur and especially his toe pads, and I also like this photo for its somewhat abstract quality. They can work for family, friends, co-workers as a friendship, sympathy, thank you, thinking of you card, or could be a small framed print on your wall.

Sometimes a big greeting card just isn’t what you want to send. Here’s another medium, coat pattern and kitty with, “Big Game Hunter”, part of “Kitties Being Kitties“, a tuxedo kitten stalking through the grass as if he’s a big tiger in a classic small ink sketch note card to honor our community cats. The second note card is a colorful variation on my block-printed “Tabbies” set, usually printed in earth tones on earthy paper, printed in “Summer Brights” on randomly chosen bright paper and ink colors.

Then just for more variety and to share other art and themes I’ve designed for, I include a non-feline greeting card each month. “Red Climbers” is a decidedly July subject when the red ramblers bloom all over the fence in a watercolor I painted years ago and publish as prints and greeting cards.

GIFT ITEM: Two Cats After van Gogh Garden Flag

"Cats After Van Gogh"
“Cats After Van Gogh”

This flag is 11” x 15” and features a different painting on each side: the original “Two Cats After van Gogh” sketch on one side and “In Window Light” on the other side, both in my “Cats After van Gogh” style of oil pastel. This set of illustrations won a Muse Medallion, and the flag itself won the President’s Award in the 2013 Cat Writers’ Association Communications Contest. Garden flags are digitally printed on both sides of a heavyweight, durable indoor/outdoor woven printable fabric, and I finished by adding the rod pocket.

Packaging the Sampler Box

art paper with sketch of cat in basket
“Just Fits” art paper.

The packaging is another portion of what comes in the box: wrapping paper, of a sort! I used minimal tape and sheets of my art paper which are heavy enough to withstand a little taping, and that gives you two 11” x 17” sheets of cat-themed wrapping paper. This month it was “Just Fits” for the colorful nature of the season.

FOR YOU, FOR GIFTS, OR FOR DONATIONS

Use the prints and cards for yourself, gifts or donations to help cats. You can frame the cards or use them in a craft project. Any of the prints, whether the main print or a framed note card, can be given as a gift to a family member or friend, or as a thank you to a veterinarian or veterinary technician, pet sitter, groomer or anyone else in your life who would enjoy a cat-themed gift. They can also help other cats by being donated to online auctions or shelter and rescue events to help raise much-needed funds.

A NOTE ABOUT PACKAGING

I use as many environmentally friendly and fully non-toxic materials as possible in my packaging so I use as much recyclable paper as possible, which includes the glassine bag holding your cards. However, on the chance that you may donate or give one of your prints as gift, they are packed in a clear print bag or cellophane wrap depending on their size, and this is not recyclable but you may be able to reuse it. I both recycle any packaging I get that is clean and reusable, and use as many recyclable materials as possible. Read more here.

Read a review of my May Sampler Box from Melissa Lapierre of Melissa’s Mocha’s, Mysteries and Meows! Of course, my house panthers are all lying around here like, “of course!” http://www.mochasmysteriesmeows.com/2016/07/fun-feline-finds-creative-cat-sampler.html

Read a review of my May Sampler Box from Ingrid King of The Conscious Cat! Yes, they are still applauding themselves! http://portraitsofanimals.net/sampler-box-review-ingrid-king-conscious-cat/

Read about other Feline Sampler Boxes on Portraits of Animals.

See other feline artwork in My Cats gallery and in Feline Artwork gallery.


Marketplace

Mimi approves of the contents of this box.
Mimi approves of the contents of this box.

Mimi models the July 2016 Feline Sampler Box contents.

Take a look at other new merchandise and featured artwork.

Marketplace is a feature on The Creative Cat to share the latest coming out of my studio with my readers. Once a week on Thursday I feature something new in my “shop” .

Read about creating custom items

Find out more about creating custom items for your own home using the images you see here. Visit the “Ordering Custom Art” page to see samples and read bout how to order.

Find out about events and festivals where you can find me and my work.

Sign up for my e-newsletter (below), check the widget on the sidebar on my home page, or sign up to receive posts on Portraits of Animals Marketplace. I plan on plenty of events this coming summer in the Pittsburgh area.

It’s all done under the close and careful supervision of my studio cats!



Copyright

All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


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© 2022 | www.TheCreativeCat.net | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Weekly schedule of features:

Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life

Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters

Tuesday: Rescue Stories

Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork

Thursday: New Merchandise

Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy

Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats

And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!

 
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10 thoughts on “Marketplace: Would You Be Interested in a Feline Sampler Box Program?

  • Thanks, everyone, for your feedback! I’m thrilled that you’re interested, and I appreciate your suggestions. I’m really looking forward to this, especially as I determine what I’ll be doing about vendor shows this coming year. It looks like it will only be the smaller ones again because the larger weekend shows opening registration for vendors in January.

    Reply
  • 15andmeowing

    I couldn’t afford a monthly box, but I would definitely purchase a quarterly and/or holiday box.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Ellen. I will always have pricing for one box, and I announced the boxes here so you can order only if you’re interested when I post it. And because I’m taking things from my inventory, which is either always existing or easily made, you would also be able to order a prior box at any time.

      Reply
  • Sampler boxes seem to be popular now, I guess because of their magical gift-like quality. I’m sure there is a market for them (not with me since I’m currently downsizing). The trick would be marketing, since a lot of sampler box offers contain very little of actual value. How to convince buyers to spend $40 or $50, which I feel is reasonable.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Mollie, that was what I liked about the idea of sampler boxes from way back in the 90s when I did them occasionally. My sampler boxes aren’t actually a subscription–you can prepay for one or more than one, but I present the boxes here so you can see what’s in it. You can order only if you’re interested when I post it, and you would also be able to order a prior box at any time. Also, you can switch out items of like value with other things I offer, so you have a lot of choice of what’s in your box.

      Reply
  • Anna S Taylor

    I bought at least 2 of your sampler boxes way back when (May and June 2016 I believe) and I loved them. I loved the variety of items and the affordability. I’ve always wanted to support artists but can’t afford to spend a lot of money. I’d definitely be interested in more and love the idea of quarterly and holiday offerings.

    Reply
    • Anna, I’m glad to hear from you again! Those first months were so exciting for me! I’ll be doing somewhat the same thing this time. Because I usually come up with new items monthly a monthly box was a good idea to feature a new product and get some of them out there, but it was a little overwhelming on both ends of the process. The price was based on the usual cost of my new handmade items, where were usually $15 to $20, plus the other items, all discounted a little, then shipping. My new items will be about the same price range, but since it’s quarterly I think I’ll give customers a choice of one of three new items with other items and coupons included. I’ll be publishing an update on my plans today or tomorrow.

      Reply
  • Kathryn Edgecomb

    Love the idea of a quarterly box plus one for the holidays – and your choice of contents is spot on.
    The increased price is very reasonable for a quarterly box – not so much for a monthly (for me).
    Looking forward to this renewed offering in the near future !

    Reply
    • Kathryn, thanks so much! After three big rounds of moving things and organization, equipment repairs and replacement, and replenishment of materials, I think I’m finally ready to get to my studios in basement and office and spare bedroom and get things done. I still have 3/4 of the contents of my kitchen in my basement so the space is still a little tight to walk through, but it’s down to a level I can work with. So many changes, I had no idea it would take me so long.

      Reply

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