We’ve MOVED!

We are SO thrilled to share with you our new home.  Please make sure to bookmark our new site and change it on your reader:

Our new address:




August 17, 2009 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

Exciting Announcement!

We are MOVING!!!

(to a new url)

On Monday at 12:01am we will have a new home.  So get ready!!!

Our new address will be:


See you then and there!

August 14, 2009 at 1:49 pm Leave a comment

Insider to Insider: Amy Beth Cupp Dragoo, Owner of ABCD Designs Bespoke Stationery, inc.

I’ve been a fan of Amy from ABCD Designs Bespoke Stationery for some time now.  I first came to know her wedding stationery from features in Grace Ormonde, Style Me Pretty, and Brooklyn Bride.  But, it was through Twitter that I really got to know Amy.  She is incredibly candid and very personable.  And, then I fell in love with her blog.  WOW! Oh – WOW!  Her blog is a true work of art.  Amy manages to showcase not only her stationery, but also her amazing sense of style.  She speaks from her soul about things that truly move her.  By doing this she has an incredible way of connecting with her readers.  I can only imagine that she has a million fans… oh, and then there’s you. Dear Reader, you’ll SOON be a fan of ABCD Designs too!

Amy Beth Cupp Dragoo
Owner, ABCD Designs Bespoke Stationery
New York, NY (sells worldwide)
Established 2006

What is your favorite thing about weddings?
There are always wedding guests (like parents’ friends) who may not know the bride or groom very well. For me, the wedding invitation is a wonderful place to tell the couples story. I like to incorporate the feel that the bride intends for her wedding celebration. I am very inspired by the decor, food and space where they plan to marry. I love to be able to set the tone for their party as invitations are the first glimpse of the wedding day. In my eyes, there is nothing like helping to grow and heighten the anticipation for the celebration through their printed wedding stationery wardrobe.
What is your best tip for time management?
I open up the blog with my first cup of coffee in the morning. I treat it like it is a part of my work. By blogging, I give my customer the chance to get to know my personality. While I do updates of recent projects on my blog, I do not try to “sell” my product by constantly shoving it down their throats. I Twitter mostly from my blackberry. I am very much a multi-tasker. I keep the widow open and tweet when I am standing in line, waiting on a train and sometimes when I am riding the bike at the gym!
What is your little marketing secret?
THE ABCD Design BLOG!! It is pretty amazing – I’d say about 90% of my clients find www.ABCDDesign.com long before they find www.bespokestationery.com. They “stalk” the blog for a while, convince themselves they like “me” and my product. It makes selling my services that much easier come time that they decide to hire me. They trust if I am exhibiting good taste and promoting item/design/decor/recipes that they like, they realize that I will not steer them in the wrong direction when it comes to their wedding stationery. The blog is great because I blog about all things “nesting” and about “living a well lived life.” Brides stick with me and the ABCD Design blog long after the wedding day because I don’t blog about 100% weddings all of the time. It’s a great thing, because when it comes time for holiday cards, change of address, business cards or baby announcements ABCD Designs Bespoke Stationery is at the top of their minds.
What is the funnest (most fun) trend you are seeing in the industry?
The brides that I work with often buck (or make) the trend. I really like to incorporate the personality of the couple that I am working with. The more they share about their story, the more creative I can get. Recently, I worked with a couple who met when he was working on a the Campaign trail and she was writing a political blog. The result was fantastic. We ran a campaign of our own, complete with a wink and a nod to the Constitution and “real life” campaign stickers!

If you were starting your business all over again, what would you have done differently?

I would/should have charged more for custom services from the get-go. The amount of time you spend brainstorming, baby-sitting, editing, revisions and calming the bride down all adds up. The brides -knowing my history in floral design, styling and event planning- often look for my advice on flowers, food and styling the event. Maybe I should have offered this as an ala carte service? At this point and time they get a really, really good deal for my design services and wedding “therapy!”

Thanks Amy!

August 14, 2009 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Sage Declaration No. 2 ::: Practice

Yesterday, I asked you to think about how you are going to educate yourself.  Today, I want you to think about Practice.  All of those things we learned in our youth (walking, running, biking, swimming, reading, math) were only accomplished with a great deal of practice.  Today, we expect “now, now, now”.  I want the email now.  I want the appointment now.  I want the money now.  I want my dinner now.  But, nothing great is ever learned over night.  We must practice – and we must practice A LOT.

I recently read Malcolm Gladwell’s newest book, Outliers.  In it, he discusses the “10,000 Hour Rule”.  His theory is that no one can achieve greatness without working VERY hard.  He believes that you must practice something for at least 10,000 hours to become an expert at it.

He explains how everyone thinks of Bill Gates as this child prodigy / phenom / college-dropout / computer mastermind.  But, the reality is that he started his computer programming education as a child.  He had the fortuitous opportunity to go to a school in Seattle that had one of the first computers in the country.  And, he began programming while in junior high.  He was a bit obsessive so he programmed at all hours.  By the time he reached college, he had years of experience unmatched by most in the country.  Naturally, he had become an expert.  Gladwell surmises that Gates had practiced his skill for 10,000+ hours before starting Microsoft.

So, I ask you:

What do you need to practice? How will you build your skill set?  How will you commit to practicing?  How will you improve and benefit from 10,000+ hours of hard work?  What will you do to achieve success?

We cannot become experts in our field or in our business without practice.  There are no short-cuts.  We cannot build an empire overnight.

August 13, 2009 at 6:00 am 1 comment

Sage Declaration No. 1 ::: Educate Yourself

It seems like we spend most of our youth actively learning.  As a child, we learn how to walk, then run.  We learn how to ride a bike and swim.  We learn how to read and do math.  Over time, we’ve learned gazillions of complicated things.  Once we graduate from school, if we go to work for a company, we are asked to learn new things from our employer.  But, what happens when we are self-employed?  Where does that learning come from?

Today’s post is a simple one… think about:

How are you going to continue the learning process?  How are you going to build on the knowledge you have to become a stronger business owner?  What do you need to learn to be better at what you do?

If you aren’t learning something new, you are becoming stagnant.  Make a decision today to read something that educates you.  Make a decision to start surrounding yourself with people who encourage your learning process.  Make a decision to expand your mind, and learn something new.

August 12, 2009 at 6:00 am 2 comments

Inside Out: Examine Yourself

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License

We’ve spent the last several months putting plans into place for your business.  We’ve written strategies, analyses, forecasts, budgets, and reports.  This week, let’s take a step out of the business and look inward.  What is it within us that will make this business happen? What is holding us back?

Last week, in working through the SWOT Analysis I wondered what it would be like to write one for myself.  What would the SWOT look like for me, the individual?  This was a really interesting exercise because in taking a look at my own personal Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats I found that there are also characteristics that do affect my business.  What happens within us affects all the facets of who we are: mother, wife, business owner, philanthropist, teacher, friend, daughter.

Your personal strengths are the things that build you up.  They are reflected in your business.  They are reflected in the relationships you have.  They are reflected in the strong decisions you make for your business.  These are the things that will make your business happen.

Your personal weaknesses hold you back.  They are the areas you know you need to work on.  They affect how “you” look in your business.  They are reflected in the decisions you make.  Identifying them can be a challenge.  But, knowing them gives you the understanding and insight to work on them.

Your personal opportunities are the prospects available to you.  These are largely out of your control, but are there for the taking if you use your personal strengths to guide you.  These life-long opportunities go beyond your business life, and much deeper into your personal life.

Your personal threats are those things that eat into at you late at night.  They feed off of your insecurity and weakness.  You want to control them, even though they are outside factors that you cannot do anything about.


  • How are you going to use your personal strengths to seize opportunity? (SO-Strategy)
  • How are you going to use your personal strengths to minimize threats? (ST-Strategy)
  • How are you going to minimize your personal weaknesses to make room for the opportunities (WO-Strategy)
  • How are you going to minimize your personal weaknesses to lessen the threats? (WT-Strategy)

Look inside your core.

August 11, 2009 at 8:10 am Leave a comment

SWOT’s It All About? (FREE Download)

Last week, in four parts, we created a SWOT analysis by defining the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and  Threats to your business.  One final step is necessary in putting the SWOT information together.  An analysis is only valuable if you put a plan into place. In this last step you will create a list of strategies for your business.  In this last step we’ll take a look at how we can:

  • maximize our strengths to take advantage of opportunities: Strength-Opportunity Strategies (SO Strategies)
  • use our strengths to minimize the threats to our business: Strength-Threat Strategies (ST Strategies)
  • use opportunities to lessen  weaknesses: Weakness-Opportunity Strategies (WO Strategies)
  • mitigate the weaknesses in light of impending threats: Weakness-Threat Strategies (WT Strategies)

Here is a matrix for a Wedding Florist Business to help you see how all of these details fit together:


Here are a few observations:

  • See how we’ve lined up our niche strengths (unique floral design) to take advantage of opportunities (submitting photos to that new magazine)?
  • Notice how we’re beefing up our strengths (strong customer service) to work around the threats (increased competition)?
  • Do you see how we are taking advantage of external opportunities (cost of rent and real estate is dropping) to lessen the weaknesses (high overhead)?
  • Observe how we can mitigate the weaknesses (no blog; start a blog) to adjust for threats (advertising costs are rising)?

In Summary

The SWOT is a very powerful tool in identifying the internal and external factors that affect our business.  I find it useful to do one every 6 months.  Some of the factors don’t always change so a working word or excel document can be helpful in analyzing the constant and/or dynamic aspects of your business.  The final piece, putting a strategy in place, is helpful in determining short and long term goals for your business.  All of the SO, ST, WO, WT strategies can be put into your 1-10 year goal sheet, and into your business plan.

Do you like this? We love feedback… let us know in our SWP Survey.  And, if you love it, feel free to DOWNLOAD this here: SWOTAnalysis.

Here is a matrix for a Wedding Florist Business to help you see how all of these details fit together:

August 10, 2009 at 6:00 am 1 comment

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