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The Hippo & Co. Crew Blog


Happy New Year! I hope your first week of 2017 is going splendidly well! Here at Hippo & Co. HQ we have been thinking about our goals...

Happy New Year!

 

Happy New Year! We hope your first week of 2017 is going splendidly well!

 

Here at Hippo & Co. HQ we have been thinking about our goals for 2017 as a new small business on the block and doing so has gotten us very excited for the year ahead.

 

Before we focus on these however, first we want to bring attention to some fabulous artists and companies of whom have been a complete pleasure to work with and for who we would like to thank for making our first few months in business so enjoyable...

 

We had the joy of working with our friend Richard from RJ Bradbury Photography who visited us in our home and offered expert guidance as to how to use our camera to get the shots we desired and how to edit them post-production. Richard's service was second to none and we would recommend him a million times over if you need support making BFF's with your camera and editing software.

 

Secondly, another pleasure to work with is the lovely Simone Baker from Married To A Geek Blog. We sent Simone some of our prints to review and describe in her own words and she gave us a fabulously glowing review that made our hearts smile A LOT! Thank you so much for all of your hard work Simone, it is so very much appreciated. You can read what she had to say about Hippo & Co. here.

 

Last - but by no means least, is My Mountain Boutique. Lovely owner Gemma contacted us just before Christmas saying that she loves our prints and would like to stock them on her online boutique. My Mountain Boutique has a niche audience of skiers, active individuals who seek adventure and those with an appreciation of the wilderness (and the cosy comforts that come afterwards - e.g soft wooly blankets!). A number of our prints for little people are now available in their 'Mini Mountain Boutique Collection'. Such a fab idea! P.S did we mention that we are sending some prints off to the French Alps to be on display? How exciting! You can check out the collection here.

 

2017 GOALS

- Expand our product range

- Attend craft and trade fairs

- Increase our stockist list

& have loads of fun whilst we do it!

 

DID YOU KNOW?

We are now vlogging our way through 2017! We will take you behind the scenes here at Hippo & Co. HQ, you'll get to learn more about us - the people behind madness and silly designs - and see what we get up to in our free time. Work hard, play hard - RIGHT?!

 

Also, Co-Founder Stacey is now blogging about stuff related to life and business. Check out her blog here.

 

That's all for now folks! We've had a cracking few months and now are super excited to see what 2017 will bring for our little business...happy new year!


Tis' the season for free downloads, fa la la la la. We are joining the Christmas craze early for you eager elves out there, we have a little treat...

Ooooh! Free Digital Print!

 

Tis' the season for free downloads, fa la la la la. We are joining the Christmas craze early for you eager elves out there, we have a little treat for you... Hip hippo-ray for free digital print downloads!*

 

Instructions:

Click the link below for your desired size > This will open the file in a new window > Right click on the image and save to your downloads folder > Open your download folder & image file > Print 

 

Click here for A4 Free Digital Print

 

Click here for A3 Free Digital Print

 

You will need a borderless printer for this design. But if you don't have one don't worry... it will still look awesome in a frame with a little white border. If you're a DIY kinda person, you could pick up a mount with an A4 aperture (try your local craft store?), stick with tape and no one will ever know the difference! :) 

 

Enjoy lovelies

 

 

*Free for personal use only. Please do not modify or distribute this design as your own. Mr Hippo will be very upset - and he may cry...


Sometimes as a designer-maker, it can be confusing when we create designs with kids in mind but then realise that fun-loving adults...

Kids Goodies For Big People?!

Sometimes as a designer-maker, it can be confusing when we create designs with kids in mind but then realise that fun-loving adults would probably like some of these too. We have put together a list of 5* prints that we think would appeal to big people just as much as little people - no judgement from us. Who wants to grow up anyway?

*we might have bent the rules a little bit ...

 

1. Milkshake Heaven

Ok, so this one is technically 4-in-1 but we're confident you will let us off. Everybody loves milkshake - everybody. So these designs are for everybody (at least people who like less-serious-kinda-homeware-goods. Available in Vanilla, Strawberry, Chocolate & Banana flavours.

 

 

2. Bear Hug Central

We don't know if you've noticed, but we have quite a lot of bear-related goods. I'd say we are teetering on obsessed. A bear hug is something that is appreciated by pretty much anybody - don't we all love hugs? A warm embrace from the ones we love? These prints may be listed in the kids section, but we'd understand if they accidentally (on purpose) fell into your shopping bag. No one needs to know...Available in our Monochrome & Custom Colours collections.

 

 

3. Confetti Celebration

We think that this is a fun little number...confetti is usually used for celebration purposes - it's sparkly, it's carefree and brings the fun factor to any party. So what if it's meant for children's nurseries? We think it would look awesome in any monochrome lover's contemporary home. Available in our Monochrome collection.

 

 

4. Bold-Monochrome-Monogram-Lovelyness

We have this style of print available in our big people collections, BUT this bold style is only available in our Monochrome little people collection. You could totally hack this print though, push aside that little detail and choose an initial that means something to you. Available in our Monochrome collection.

 

 

5. Retro Style You Are Loved

This print uses a collection of beautiful retro fonts that look especially stunning when printed with black inks. Is your loved one also a monochrome lover? Tell them you love them every day in style with this beauty. Available in our Monochrome collection.

 

 

And there we have it! "5" prints that will be a great addition to big people's wall art collection. Have you been tempted by any of these goods? Let us know in the comments, would you buy any of these for a big* person?

*Applicable to age only. No offence to little-big people (co-founder Stacey is only 5 feet tall...& CEO Mr Hippo only a teeny 1/2 foot tall!).

 

Thanks for reading you lovely bunch!
 

As we have been working on this website for two and a half years, we've spent a lot of time researching the print industry...

Print Industry Myth Busting

 

As we have been working on this website for two and a half years, we've spent a lot of time researching the print industry, from material supplies to customer expectations and experiences. One of the things that caught our eye (and made us a little sad!) was that frequently, online reviews on other websites for designer-maker small businesses like ours would host a few sad face comments from customers who feel that they have paid quite a lot of money for what they physically see as "just a piece of paper".

 

We believe that this is really just down to lack of understanding as to what goes behind the scenes from the moment that lovely customers place their orders and they arrive on their doormat, because obviously they aren't there to see it. So we thought we would write a post with insight into what goes on behind the scenes of creating a high-quality print product. On a side note, we advise that you grab yourself a brew and a biscuit because this post might be a longish one!

 

Materials

This factor is especially important with regards to printing because some people feel that they have only "paid for a piece of paper" which we imagine most people don't usually spend much on. Typically as individuals for personal use, we buy plain paper in bulk - about 500 sheets at the supermarket for around £3-£4. This paper is all fine and dandy for everyday use, but not really what anyone would choose to use to print a piece of artwork on - the everyday stuff is just not up to the job. Here at Hippo & Co. HQ, we spent sooooo long researching types of paper, comparing qualities and testing these against our professional printer to make sure we were getting the best quality possible. Believe us when we say that top quality paper does not come cheap, and although we wish we could buy our awesome paper (230gsm archival matte) in a batch of 500 sheets for £3, we really can't. There was a funny moment whereby the reality sank in of how much we had spent on paper stock... Chris said "if someone had of told me that at some point in my life that I would be spending this much on paper, I would of said that they were bonkers (sometimes we still can't believe how much we are invoiced for paper - however, trust us when we say that it is worth it!).

 

 

Paper is the most obvious cost, but there are some other finer touches that may not be taken into consideration. How many of us have watched an unboxing video on Youtube? People love opening packages and they love it even more when their goodies look well presented with attention to little details such as twine or wrapping. Take the print above for example... we think it looks like quite a fun parcel to receive in the post. However, there are quite a few materials that must be taken into account when creating a product like this one: cellophane sleeve (to protect it), stickers (to inform you of the perfect frame size for your artwork), label (to add the finishing touch and direct our customers to our social media pages, where they can be the first to know about any upcoming offers/giveaways/competitions etc.), invoice/packaging slips, address labels etc. etc. Other material costs include packaging... but we'll get to that bit shortly.

 

What can you see the most on the image above? Ink, ink... and more ink. We have a top notch printer that uses a mixture of up to ten (yes ten!) ink cartridges to produce our prints. All of our prints are printed with the highest quality settings possible so there really is no cutting corners and saving pennies here. This is why we charge a premium (but flat) rate of three fine english pounds for all prints that require a colour background as a lot of ink is used to produce these bad boys (we think it's totally worth it though!).

 

 

Ok, probably the most important cost to consider - we are going to whisper this one...there is no such thing as free postage and packaging! There really isn't. Online shoppers just love the idea that they are getting free postage (and we as individuals feel this too!). Let's face it, nobody enjoys happily getting to their basket and finding a nasty surprise for shipping extra. It's a cost that most of us don't take into account until faced with it at the checkout and sometimes it can make us question our purchase altogether (we are totally guitly of this!). No, we all like to reach the checkout with the final figure in our head that we had envisioned through the happy-basket-filling-process. This means that the cost of postage and packaging must come from somewhere - we'll let you in on a secret, where possible, it's hidden in the final cost of the item and is all taken into account when an online retailer goes the process of costing their product. Realistically, depending on the size of the goods, the materials used to protect and package it as well as the courier costs will take up a minimum of 33% of the total cost of the product alone (or at least ours does anyways!).

 

When we were researching packaging materials, cost was one of the last things on our mind. What we were most concerned with was selecting the best possible options that would get your prints from our studio to your homes safely. Some print making companies choose to send their products rolled in a cardboard tube; not only is this method cheaper (as the overall size of the parcel is reduced), but this is also a pretty safe method because there are no corners to be bent. However, the deal breaker for us was the idea of rolling our precious prints and a fear that once the customer unrolls it, what if it doesn't flatten out perfectly again? With that decision made, we set out examining sample after sample of postage supplies to find the best quality possible that would allow us to ship our prints to you completely flat ready for framing. Finally, we found some superbly stiff cardboard envelopes (like the bee's knees of cardboard envelopes!) + extra cardboard boards to be on the super safe side so all of our stuff can be shipped flat hooray! What this means is though, is that our postage and packaging options are really not the cheapest method, but if this means that our customers open their goodies with smiles on their face, then we reckon it's worth reducing Mr Hippo's performance-related pay to fund it!

 

 

Other Less Obvious Costs

Unless you've really sat down and thought about it, we reckon that most people haven't really considered the unobvious costs of making a print product. One element is font licences - yep you read that right, font costs are a real thing and some of them cost a fortune! Anyone could Google "free commerical fonts" and come up with a bunch, but why do that when we can shop for fonts to make the designs unique and special?

 

Another thing to consider is the editing software that comes with running a small business that designs and produces prints. You probably don't realise this but we use a minimum of four software programmes to produce our goods and keep our website looking top notch. These programmes (as well as things such as accounting services, email hosts and website providers) are a rolling cost which means that every month (or every year), we have to pay for the luxury of using them, so this too must be factored into the equation when calculating the cost of each product.

 

 

Labour Costs

A lot of time and care is put into producing our lovely prints, as they are made to order to your specification by us in our little studio. Adding personalisation increases the time we must invest in your print, as this usually means that we must alter the layout/position of the design to meet the requirements of your added text. Even the most simple of personalisation can mean a re-aligning of the artwork before exporting and printing. We at Hippo & Co. HQ decided that we wanted nothing but fair for our customers and for them to essentially "get what they pay for". What this means is, is that if you don't require personalisation, you will not be charged for it (remember that free postage and packaging myth we just busted?). Well we suspect that there is no such thing as "free" personalisation either. Many companies will calculate the labour cost into their overall costing of the product. We instead charge only those who want personalisation a flat rate of £1 for basic personalisation, whilst those who do not require it receive their item a little cheaper. Similarly, with our white background/coloured background options, we think it would be unfair to charge all customers the same if one product has only a little ink, whilst another has a huge wad of ink. With us, you really get what you pay for, or the other way around - you only pay for what you want. That's fair right?!

 

Our lovely wedding print above is a more detailed personalised print, so the time taken to produce the product will be reflected in the pricing. Here is what I bet you didn't know... prints like the one above are aligned to the exact micrometre (1/1000's of a milimeter!) required to fit the customer's personalisation. We manually calculate the space required between each line to ensure that every line is evenly distributed in relation to the overall surface area of the paper. We can't tell you our secrets as to how we do it, but what we can say is that it can be time consuming and every step bar the last one is done manually (the last step we employ a calculator and the distribution is exact to the exact point, so for some designs, this could 5.435mm. That's pretty precise right?! Rest assured that our costing for that blasted piece of paper is truly fair for both our customers and for us (after all, we have to make a profit so our business can grow by producing more fun things, but make it value for money so people actually want to buy our lovely stuff!).

 

 

But...but...couldn't I just print this myself on my home printer?

Hmm... well you could, BUT that wouldn't be very fair (or ethical!). All of our creations are copyrighted (except our free digital prints of course - check out our blog posts for more info on that one!) so this wouldn't be a cool move. Aside from this little detail, let's assume that you kick ass enough at using professional design and production software so that you could replicate our products with your eyes closed. You would also need the skills to print it like a ninja too. Our printer is not your average home printer, we use ten different ink cartridges to produce our prints and have the ability to produce colours that standard home printers do not have (because they are poop for this kind of task!). Another thing that I bet you didn't know - what you really need to make sure the colours you see on your screen is the same as those produced by your printer is a colour calibration device which calibrates your screen to your printer. Hold up though...even if you get past this hurdle then you'll still have to go through a long process of professional printer profiling (by using a spectrometer) to your specific paper type (remember our epic paper we were talking about earlier? Well that plays an important role in this process too!).

 

The bottom line is, unless you really know your stuff, have professional equipment and a lack of respect for copyright, you're better off leaving the job to us - trust us on that. We have spent years, many samples, lots of trials and errors, blood, sweat and tears (Mr Hippo is such a softie!) into making our prints the best quality they can be - really we're saving you from a lot of grief here.

 

I still don't get it, couldn't I just go to the high street for something cheaper?

Yes absolutely, but please understand the reason why some stuff on the high street is cheaper. A lot of high street goods are mass produced that have often been manufactured in another country whereby labour is cheaper and potentially corners have been crossed with regards to quality. Another factor to consider is that high street big boys can probably afford to buy (and have storage!) in bulk to an extreme level which usually means a hefty discount. Lots of small online businesses like ours, do not a) have the funding to do this (we're talking thousands upon thousands of pounds) and b) do not have a huge warehouse to store it (as a lot of us work from home studios to lovingly make each individual product).

 

If you have made it this far and stuck with us, then you sir (or madam!) are a LEGEND! We hope that you have found this to be an interesting read and have a little bit more understanding about the printing industry because we want every single one of our customers to feel like they're getting so much more than just "a piece of paper". We'd love to hear your thoughts regarding this post, so give us an insight in the comments below.

 

Thanks for reading
Best wishes
A big hello to you! This is an über surreal moment for us here at Hippo & Co. HQ, as we have been working like busy little elves...

A Most Happy Hello!

 

A big hello to you! This is an über surreal moment for us here at Hippo & Co. HQ, as we have been working like busy little elves on this website for a whole 2.5 years (delayed somewhat by Stacey's postgraduate degree, but now that that hurdle has been smashed like a tail-waving T-Rex (with flying colours WOOHOO!), we have been able to finally enter the next exciting chapter - launching our online store. As it has taken quite a while to get things up and running, it has sometimes felt like a moment that would never happen, but with lots of tea, biscuits and egging each other on when we momentarily faltered, we are finally here and it feels EPIC!

 

Thank you so much for stopping by and taking an interest in not only our website, but these little ramblings as well. To celebrate our launch, we have a discount code for you, enter HIPPOSAYSHI at the checkout for 15% off your order until Sunday 20th November. Hip Hip-poray!

 

One last thing we wish to share with you before signing off, is one of the reasons why we love hippos so much... this video (not shot by us) is guaranteed to make you smile...

 

 

Hope you enjoyed that as much as we did... how can you not love a hippo that gets tucked up under a blanket every night all snuggled up to the dog? Amazing.

 

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to pop in again to be the first to know when we have exciting offers/giveaways/competitions!

 

Best wishes

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