How it all started
In 2015, Violet “Vi” Warner was an attorney in the finance industry. She had started taking printmaking classes as a break from her corporate job when she fell head over heels for letterpress.
For a while, she was a lawyer by day and printmaker by night. When she moved from Chicago to Colorado, she made the switch to printmaking full time. Since starting Violet Press, Vi’s brother, Jake, has also joined her in running the business. But going from big business lawyer to small business owner and artist meant that Vi needed tools to help run her business while leaving time for her passion: letterpress.
Vi’s business, Violet Press, had the unique challenge of doing two types of business, both of which needed to be run on the same software platform. Vi designs, prints, and sells wholesale greeting cards, but she also does custom wedding invitations. Wholesale inventory management and custom work require completely different software solutions, and she needed to be able to manage all of her finances in one place.
She started out working with a variety of tools, including GoDaddy. She tracked inventory manually with dry erase labels and used as much free software as she could for marketing and back-end processes. Whenever she got a new customer, she had to enter their information for her accounting software, CRM, and shipping carrier separately. Entering data multiple times and manually tracking inventory ate up all the time she could have spent growing her business.
As Vi started to exhibit at events and was picked up by Papersource, a national chain, her administrative workload increased. When she asked friends in the industry, most companies similar to hers were either still managing these processes manually or stretching their budgets to pay for Stitch Labs, an operations management software system. This could have worked, but cost more than she wanted to pay and still would have required custom work to integrate the other applications she used with Stitch Labs.
Vi decided to switch everything over to Zoho One after doing lots of research to find a single system that could integrate a CRM with both finance and production tools. Her main goal was to find a system where she could add a customer once, and then be able to track them throughout their journey with Violet Press. Now, she runs her business on an integrated platform that includes her customer management, production, and finance tools, as well as giving her tools to manage production and marketing.
Her custom work became much easier to manage. Vi is able to handle custom orders entirely on Zoho CRM in the Deals module. In CRM, she can track each stage of production as she works. And the automation built into the platform has been huge for Vi as a small business owner who has to wear every hat: automated invoices and shipping information make everything very professional and keep things under control, even when she’s busy with other work.
For her wholesale greeting cards, Vi uses Zoho CRM to manage her customers and the Zoho Finance Suite to manage her production and billing. Zoho Inventory not only helps her keep track of how many cards she has, but also streamlines production. Instead of creating one card at a time, she saves time by searching Zoho Inventory for other cards that are low in stock and use the same colors, so she can print in batches.
She’s also using some of the marketing tools in Zoho One: PageSense is connected to her Wix site and helps to refine her messaging and promote her business. And for new releases, specials in store, or when she’s hosting a printing workshop, she uses Zoho Campaigns to reach her audience via email.
Zoho One’s reporting capabilities mean that she’s able to spend less time on production as well as administrative tasks. When making a new batch of cards, she easily runs reports to see how much of a certain item was sold last year so she can cut down on stock that sits in her shop, as well as time spent reprinting cards when they sell out. This also means that Violet Press is able to avoid losing revenue by making sure popular cards are kept in stock. And instead of manually tracking commission in an Excel spreadsheet at the end of each month, she can simply tag invoices as they come in and then the commission report is generated automatically.
With a complete software platform to back her up and save time, Violet Press is now focusing on expanding the custom order side of the business while moving to a more pedestrian-heavy area in downtown Longmont for her retail store.
Violet Press was being run by two people, Vi and Jake, and it was difficult to keep up with the ever-increasing demands of running a business without it eating into the time for making her products. Now she has been able to regain some of that time. Vi says when it comes to packing orders, “what took me all day to send a couple orders now just takes me an hour.” Money was a challenge, but now that Vi has tools to manage the workload of selling to 200 retailers and a national chain, and she has a new store front, everything’s moving in the right direction.
Vi stresses how invaluable Zoho’s support in streamlining her business was in giving back time to grow her business and escape paperwork, order management, and other tedious tasks. Ultimately, she’s been able to scale her business up. Now, she can set her mind at ease and focus on doing what she loves knowing that Zoho One will help her handle the rest.
Republished by permission. Original here.