Creative Spotlight: Kim of Flutter Magazine

Happy Monday, friends! We love introducing you to our favorite and most inspiring people in the creative industry, so we're overjoyed to welcome Kim, the owner and creative director behind Flutter Magazine. Flutter is one of our favorite print magazines, because not only does it showcase beautiful weddings and ideas, it also just feels like a work of art due to the many illustrations, use of color and pattern, the stories told, those thick matte pages, and endless inspiration! It truly does double as a coffee table book. We hope you enjoy learning about Kim and the inspiration behind Flutter.

creative spotlight bloom workshop_ flutter magazine

When did you start your business-- in this case, your magazine?

We released the first print issue of Flutter in October 2013. Seems like yesterday!

Jose Villa (This is Kim's own wedding with florals by Amy Osaba!)

Jose Villa (This is Kim's own wedding with florals by Amy Osaba!)

Where does your passion stem from?

To have a print magazine was always a distant dream. As a child I would collect all the really cool promotional pieces and magazines that would come in the mail. I also love any coffee table book I can get my hands on. Hence the hybrid you see today in Flutter.

The idea of the magazine started in the Spring of 2013 in Santa Barbara, California. At the time I was a photographer and lifestyle blogger. I saw firsthand the rise of highly visual digital media and the fall of advertisement-cluttered print.

Beautiful print imagery is a driving factor in what inspired me from a very young age to take up photography and a field in the creative arts. From the imagery to the paper quality, texture, and color, a fine print piece elicits a sense of luxury...a distinguished sophistication.

With the disappearance of the tangible beauty and captivating editorial content, I set out to break the mold; designing a “refashioned magazine” in a first-of-its-kind fine art periodical dedicated to wedding and entertaining...the art of celebrating chic.

Debuting in the Fall of 2013, a talented group of friends in the industry and I brought 108-pages of editorial content to life with stunning imagery, fresh inspiration, and trendsetting style. Thus, Flutter Magazine was born with Inspiration To Make Your Heart Skip A Beat. :)

It's really important to note that Santa Barbara was and continues to be Flutter's muse. If you're not familiar with it, the coastal city is one of the wedding meccas of the world! It's also a city that thrives on a community of independent artists that feed off of each others creativity. I am forever indebted to its coastal chicness, timeless beaut, alfresco charm, florally abundant, whimsical, wine-centric self. 

Corbin Gurkin

Corbin Gurkin

Corbin Gurkin

Corbin Gurkin

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice what would it be? (business, social media, etc.)

Every day I learn something new. However, I'd have to say make a basic business plan before you start a thing! Know it will constantly change and update, but it's so important to have a somewhat strategic path to guide you. As a creative I fought this in the beginning, letting the brand come to life organically...making all sorts of decisions on a whim. In my fantastical world of rainbows and butterflies everything was magically just going to figure itself out, right? Inevitably I hit a point where I started flailing. In my head I had an idea of what the brand should be and where I wanted to see it go, but it wasn't until I put it all to paper that I really truly understood what I was trying to do. I'm constantly reviewing it to stay on track. It's crazy how a simple exercise can prove to be so effective!

Corbin Gurkin

Corbin Gurkin

What is one way you stay inspired outside of your industry/field?

I run or hike. Thank goodness for my chocolate lab pup! She keeps me active and always exploring new trails. Wild and cell phone free! 

Sara Fitz

Sara Fitz

Favorite project AND most challenging project?

- Favorite: This is so hard! There's a different high that comes from every experience. Last Fall I had the pleasure of working with Sara Fitz to design a 2017 calendar filled with all the things that make our hearts flutter. She's an incredible watercolor artist. Everything from polka dot bikinis (July) to a bicycle with champagne and flowers (May) to hot cocoa with Flutter marshmallows (December)... I'm OBSESSED! I can't wait to see what we come up with for 2018!

- Most challenging: Our annual Spring Bridal Astrology Guide. It's typically a 2-day shoot we do every January. It takes months to plan for. It's a massive production with so many moving parts. It's stressful, exhausting, and a whirlwind of fun!

Taylor & Porter Photography

Taylor & Porter Photography

Three favorite things right now:

- Flowering! I am at peace with flowers and always joke that I will be a floral designer in my next life. In an effort to step away from my desk and take creative breaks, I have carved out a space in our backyard to make arrangements. I've also stocked up on the most heart-fluttering supplies from Terrain and Campo de' Fiori. My husband makes fun of me for having to style my space before I could style in it. :)

- France! I recently returned back from our #heartsafluttertour traveling through Paris and Provence with twelve women from around the world. I am still on a high and cannot believe we experienced all the beauty that we did together! It was so inspiring and I'm blessed for the new experiences and new friendships that will last a lifetime! We're sharing highlights from the trip in the new Issue No. 14!

Kiehls Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil. I use it right before bed. It has primrose and lavender essential oils. I swear I sleep better because of it...not to mention my face feels refreshed in the morning!


Thanks for being here, Kim! You can follow along with Flutter on instagram below:

 

You'll also want to pop by our Instagram today to enter to win a copy of the latest Flutter Mag issue! Here's the cover by Lacie Hansen:

flutter magazine cover issue 14

Have a wonderful day!

Diagnosing Your Client Experience {Part Two} with Prairie Letter Shop

In Part 1 of this series, I shared a bit about client experience, why it matters in the life of a business, why it’s hard for new entrepreneurs, and why it’s important to think beyond providing the bare minimum. Read part 1 here.

In this next installment, I’ll provide some ideas for diagnosing the strength of your client experience. How do you know if you have one? If you have one, how is it serving you and your clients? How can you refine it to generate referrals and grow your business?

Define Your Client Experience Through Survey Data:

The most effective way to gather data about the health of your client experience is to ask your clients directly. Ending a project with a formal survey is a great way to tie up your interactions and help ensure that your guests feel heard and valued. If your client has constructive feedback for you, it’s better that they share it with you instead of sharing it in a negative review. If you want feedback from clients of the past, simply send a friendly email.

 Here are some tips for asking your clients about their experience:

  1. Ask questions that yield specific qualitative information: What did you love about working with us? What suggestions do you have to make our experience better for future clients? Detailed qualitative information, with words and descriptors, is more useful than numerical rating, for example, with no additional information provided.

  2. Use a survey generator such as SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to make the process easier.

  3. Look for trends, and don’t beat yourself up if your clients give you constructive feedback. You asked, after all! Feedback is a gift, and bad client experiences can be very costly.

  4. Keep it short and sweet! Although we want to gather strong qualitative data, we don’t want to go overboard with the questions.

    • A simple series of questions like this should do the trick: “What did you love about working with us? What changes do you suggest for future projects? Would you recommend us to a friend, and why.”

    • You can also make it even shorter: “What are three words that you would use to describe your experience with us?” These three words will yield more than a simple number.

  1. Be sure to thank them with an email, a coupon code, etc.

 Define Your Client Experience Through Client Communication:

Consider these two scenarios: Emily is a wedding stationery designer. She rarely hears from her clients once packages arrive and wonders how her clients feel about the end result.

  • When clients follow up, there’s an objective reason why: “Thank you so much for creating our invitations. We love them! Is there any chance we can order an additional 10 envelopes?”

  • Here and there, Emily does receive some positive feedback, so she searches her email inbox to find these notes:

        • Emily, we love the invitations! They are beautiful.”

        • “We have received so many compliments on our invitations.”

        • “You are so talented, thank you!”

Grace is also a wedding stationery designer. She often hears from her clients once her final product is delivered.

  • This feedback is client-initiated and absent of any other request, comment, or note.

  • The positive feedback is directed more at the experience than the final result, and when the final result is considered, it’s noted that the order went beyond expectations:

        • “Grace, you absolutely blew us away. The invitations are more beautiful than we could have ever imagined.”

        • “While we loved the invitations you created for us, we loved getting to know you even more. We hope there will be more opportunities to work together in the future.

        • “You made this experience stress-free and enjoyable.”

        • “You took away all of our anxieties.”

        • “You captured exactly who we are as a couple.”

 Notice the difference here? Emily’s feedback hints at an experience that output-focused. Emily’s clients are generally satisfied and state the obvious, that hand-lettered stationery is beautiful. Granted, some clients are less descriptive and wordy than others, and it’s possible that a client who provides this type of feedback is overjoyed with your service. However, it’s important to analyze the trends of your feedback. Are you always getting general feedback? If so, it may be time to alter your experience.

Grace’s feedback, on the other hand, hints at more abstract satisfaction. This feedback indicates an experience that met and exceeded expectations and focused on personal relationships. There are also lots of details that suggest a great experience: “stress-free and easy” are all words that suggest that timelines have been clear and the overall experience was seamless.

 Map An Average Client Interaction

Another way to gather additional data on your client experience is to hone in on an average client interaction—one that wasn’t remarkably positive or remarkably negative. Map out that experience from beginning to end, state all of your steps and your clients’ responses, and imagine what the experience was like from your client’s perspective. If you provide a service, it’s likely that you will be able to use an email exchange to map out your interaction.

 Here’s an example:

1/15/17: Client sends inquiry

1/19/17: Client sends follow up to original request

1/18/17: You respond to inquiry with a few questions for the client

1/19/17: Client responds and asks for info guide

At every step, you should be able to make some inferences about how your client felt at that stage in the process and what you could do to improve. You can also note where you see strengths in your own process. In the example above, this client clearly expects a response sooner than four days. While there is plenty of debate about reasonable expectations for email responses, it’s wise to respond to inquiries as soon as possible. If you have an irregular schedule, use an auto-responder to send out helpful information and reassure your potential client that you will return her email in a specified time frame.  In the second interaction, you’re sending your client questions. This indicates that your inquiry form may not capture the information that you need to immediately engage your client. It’s also clear that the client followed up on the 19th to learn more info. This creates an additional step for the client, when pricing and information could have been shared in the previous step. While sharing prices immediately doesn’t work for every business, it’s perfectly reasonable to share a helpful blog post or other resource from the very start—to make the process easier for your client.  

 The Bottom Line

The bottom line is this: when we fail to analyze our past experiences with our clients, we miss opportunities to grow. Some of us are afraid to ask for feedback from our clients, but put yourselves in their shoes. Anytime a business asks me for my feedback, I feel valued. I am usually very careful about my response and try to provide positive feedback if there’s something negative about the experience that I’m sharing. Trust that your clients will be gentle with you and will help you identify the blind spots in your process that you may never realize if you are “in the weeds” of your day-to-day projects.

Next week, in our third and final installment, I’ll share a process of defining a plan for client experience, one that includes a PDF printable for your drafting.

Thanks, Alex! 

photo by Nancy Ray Alex Estes grew up on the West Coast, the daughter of a teacher/crafter mom and a film executive dad. Given her family history, it makes perfect sense that she would end up as a teacher-­turned­-creative entrepreneur. With limited television allowed in her household, Alex filled her time with art projects and make believe businesses. Her love for lettering was apparent early on; she lettered her aunt’s wedding invitations at the age of 12. After a stint with Teach for America in the Mississippi Delta and a few more years teaching high school English in Brooklyn, Alex took a leap of faith that landed her in the middle of the country, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she began work as a teacher trainer. A manager noticed her need for a creative outlet, and an Etsy shop was born. Within two months, Alex was surprised to find herself spending many late nights filling rubber stamp orders and lettering envelopes --­­and even more surprised by how much she loved the work despite the long hours. After building her skill and networking with incredible mentors for over a year, she heard God calling her to take another leap of faith into a drastic career change. Alex opened the full­-time doors of Prairie Letter Shop on June 1, 2015.  Most days, you’ll find Alex in her quaint home studio, listening to Spotify or podcasts and sipping just a bit too much coffee as she fills orders. She loves spin class, collects journals and craft supplies, volunteers at her church, and lives for adventures with her handsome boyfriend (and number one cheerleader). Catch up with her on Instagram, where almost daily she posts journal doodles and swoons over paper goods.

photo by Nancy Ray

Alex Estes grew up on the West Coast, the daughter of a teacher/crafter mom and a film executive dad. Given her family history, it makes perfect sense that she would end up as a teacher-­turned­-creative entrepreneur. With limited television allowed in her household, Alex filled her time with art projects and make believe businesses. Her love for lettering was apparent early on; she lettered her aunt’s wedding invitations at the age of 12.

After a stint with Teach for America in the Mississippi Delta and a few more years teaching high school English in Brooklyn, Alex took a leap of faith that landed her in the middle of the country, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she began work as a teacher trainer. A manager noticed her need for a creative outlet, and an Etsy shop was born. Within two months, Alex was surprised to find herself spending many late nights filling rubber stamp orders and lettering envelopes --­­and even more surprised by how much she loved the work despite the long hours. After building her skill and networking with incredible mentors for over a year, she heard God calling her to take another leap of faith into a drastic career change. Alex opened the full­-time doors of Prairie Letter Shop on June 1, 2015. 

Most days, you’ll find Alex in her quaint home studio, listening to Spotify or podcasts and sipping just a bit too much coffee as she fills orders. She loves spin class, collects journals and craft supplies, volunteers at her church, and lives for adventures with her handsome boyfriend (and number one cheerleader). Catch up with her on Instagram, where almost daily she posts journal doodles and swoons over paper goods.