Saturday, June 11, 2011

Reflections: Big Changes

It was a little over seven years ago when a friend suggested I open an online shop to display my artwork.  I put it off for about a year then finally opened what is known today as Reflections cafepress.  It didn't always have that name, and it's gone through an incredible number of changes but the store is still open 6+ years later.  With... some MAJOR changes.

As most folks already know, for the last 18 months or so I've been building up a sister store at zazzle, appropriately named Reflections zazzle!   (I've actually had that shop open for nearly the same amount of time as the other one, but it basically sat there neglected for many years while I worked cafepress). During the time I've been investing at Reflections zazzle, Reflections cafepress was essentially left alone and not much was ever updated, until now.  What prompted me to leave one shop alone while building up the other was a big change that took place at cafepress a little over two years ago.  Minus all the gory details, they changed their payment structure and basically charged a small fortune to have your shop listed in their marketplace.  The only option was to opt out of the marketplace listing and rely on direct shop visitors for sales.  I decided at the time to stay opted in and pay the high rent of the marketplace listing in exchange for a few sales each month, since I know next to nothing about SEO, boosting traffic and all those things you hear about on the internet.  It left much to be desired but I decided not to close up shop there just yet, and build up a sister shop at zazzle to offer the items that cafepress didn't offer.

Fast forward to now, and I'm quite pleased to announce the HUGE changes at Reflections cafepress.  To be honest, most of the changes you'll never even see since they're behind the curtain, so to speak, but here are some of the ones you CAN see:

All Christian apparel and gifts are now at zazzle exclusively, and you can see the choices at my zazzle shop Reflections Christian Apparel and Gifts.  Many of the older designs have been retired but there is a great selection of old and new there.

The Team Apologian shop that has the great Christian designs for Alpha and Omega Ministries is no longer at cafepress, but in it's own, stand alone shop at Team Apologian on zazzle.  The same applies to the Mylo Gear shop that has the super fun designs featuring the Original Rock and Roll Farmboy, Mylo Hatzenbuhler.  That shop is here.

So what's at Reflections cafepress now?  Glad you asked!  There are some really great items in store there like the hugely popular Super Hero tees and gifts, I heart (your favorite thing) tees and gifts, super cute Mommy to Be MaternaTees and the crazy popular Scrabble style letter tile pillows.  While those items have always been favorites, there are some great new things in store as well, such as:

Baby Snuggles personalized baby blankets.  These have actually been in the store for a while now but buried in the Babies and Kids section and not seen by very many people.  Recently they've become rather popular and I plan to add more styles as time permits.  As always, personalization for any name not shown is completely free, just drop me a line and let me know what name you'd like and I'll add it to the catalog within 24 hours.  Here's the product description for these great little blankets: Your baby will sleep tight (and sleep comfortably) with this super-soft, ultra-snuggly baby blanket. Whether you're swaddling a newborn or giving your toddler an extra layer in the car, this blanket has you covered. - 32 x 37 (with 1/2 trim) - 6.1oz 100% combed ringspun cotton - Solid color on one side, polka dots on reverse side - Super soft - Available in many colors (just pink and blue for now).

Kids Cool School Gear.  While these are also not exactly new, they're one the COOLEST things in the shop at Reflections cafepress.  These great little food & drink thermoses and water bottles are not only perfect for school, they're perfect for camping, hiking, sleepovers, the beach, or anywhere else you'd like to take along a hot or cold lunch in a cool, personalized container! Your kids will love these, guaranteed (ours do!).  Here's the product info on all three:

Bontrager Trek Water Bottle - Easy to squeeze, easy to open, and 100% leak-proof, the Bontrager 24 oz waterbottle features a screw top lid and large opening that makes adding your favorite powdered drink or adding ice a cinch. Easy-open and soft pop-it is gentle on your teeth. Hand wash only.

Thermos FUNtainer Food Thermos Jar - Perfect for lunch bags or picnics, this durable food jar does an incredible job of keeping your food hot or cold. Although small enough for easy transporting, it’s big on convenience. Soups on! Holds 10 oz. of food - TherMax® double-wall vacuum insulation helps retain temperature - Keeps food hot (5 hours) or cold (7 hours) - 3.5 W x 3.5 D x 4.5 H - Extra-wide mouth for easy filling, serving & cleaning - Made by Thermos® - Hand wash only

(My own personal review on these:  All four of our youngest kids have these and they use them all the time.  For school lunches they've used them for soup, stew, chili, mac & cheese, ravioli, spaghetti, sausages, hot dogs, pork & beans, hot chocolate, cole slaw, pasta sald and potato salad.  They truly do hold a generous amount of food, keep the food hot or cold even past lunch time at school, and are super easy to wash.  I've washed all four probably over 30 times each and the design on the front looks exactly the same as it did when they were brand new.  The design doesn't look as bright on the actual product because it's applied over the silver casing but it does look really cool and all the kids have heard "that's so cool, where did you get that!" many times.)

FUNtainer Thermos Bottle - With a built in straw that kids love (not to mention thirsty adults), this 12-ounce Thermos bottle keeps beverages icy cold. Rugged and well-made, its eco-friendly stainless steel design stands up to the rigors of recess. Holds 12 oz. of your favorite beverage - TherMax® double-wall vacuum insulation helps retain temperature - Keeps beverages cold for 12 hours - Hygienic push button lid with pop-up silicone straw - 2.62 W x 2.62 D x 7.38 H - Made by Thermos® - Hand washing recommended.

Now here's a little something is is truly brand new at Reflections cafepress...

Stadium Blankets - Snuggle up to a good book while you snuggle under this super-soft Throw Blanket. Perfect for the couch, the car or an evening ball game, this cozy stadium blanket keeps you toasty. A generous 50" x 60" and  depending on who's asking, it might even be big enough share (wink wink). 100% soft, warm polyester fleece - 50" x 60" - Ink won't run, fade or distress - Machine washable.

Right now there are only a few SUPER CUTE cartoon characters in this new line, but I'll be adding some great new themes as time permits.

I mentioned up above that most the changes at Reflections cafepress are ones behind the scenes that you can't see.  The biggest change is that I have officially opted out of the cafepress marketplace, as I just can't afford the rent there anymore.  Some folks liken this to moving out of the mall space (where you have guaranteed traffic) into a little mom & pop store across town.  I think that's a pretty accurate desciption.  It does mean I wont have nearly the traffic I once did but it also means my rent is lower, so to speak.  I can only hope that word of mouth will help bring folks buy to see what's going on at Reflections cafepress and they fall in love with what they see! If you'd like to help with that you can easily come on by and click the FB LIKE button at the top of the page or click any of the social media share buttons on the individual product pages.

There's still a bit more housekeeping to do behind the scenes and I hope to get that done real soon.

Have a fantastically wonderful day!
Carla -Resident Mad Designer
Graphic design by Carla Rolfe