Stylish Presentations & Proposals

When I started my first business, well also when I started See Jane Work, I had little to no capital (sounds better than saying money). You may know the ending, I was fairly successful despite my humble beginnings, but what you don’t know is how. Well, it took a lot of hard work and creativity and many other things that I don’t have time to go into today. You know the saying “Fake it, till you make it.” Well I did. Whether it was client proposals for my first business or a press kit for my second I spent as much time on the contents as I did the overall package.

Back then it was hard to find portfolios and report jackets that accurately reflected my brand. A simple manila file folder was not going to send the right message, but custom printed folders were out of my budget. Fortunately, times have changed. You don’t have to spend hours at the craft store like I did, unless of course you are crafting. There are now off the shelf products that you can quickly customize to market your business or yourself.

First consider what should be included in your presentation, press kit or report.

• Does it make sense to include a computer file on a CD or thumb drive?
• Always include your business card.
• How long is the report? Are there multiple sections?
• Be as brief as possible, but provide enough information to close the deal.

Once you know what will be included you can select a folder designed for presentations or use a file folder, portfolio or string envelope.

• Select something that matches your logo and complements your branding.
• Select something that makes the contents easy to access and easy to review.

(If you shove a thick stack of papers into an envelope don’t expect the recipient to read past the first page.)

Of course I recommend these See Jane Work folders at Office Depot. Choose between single or tri-fold to separate out quotes, graphics or contracts.

I also like these folders from Thomas Paul or Semikolon.

Next you need to order the contents in a way that makes sense.

• What do you want to call attention to first? Make sure that page is prominent.
• Move things around to ensure nothing important is covered by a folder pocket.

Use add-ons as needed.

• Sticky notes or arrows are great for calling attention to important points.
• Add a Smead Document or CD Pocket.
• See Jane Work folders have cut-outs for business cards, but if your folder does not add a Smead Business Card Pocket.

Here are some add-on options.

Finally, attach a hand-written note with a fancy clip. That is my secret ingredient for a successful proposal. It sends the message that this isn’t a random proposal sent to 200 people from a purchased mailing list. You took the time to write a note to the recipient and now maybe they will take the time to read it. You wouldn’t believe how many responses I’ve received simply because of unique clip or hand-written note. You have to set yourself and your business apart and if you don’t have a lot of money, or maybe even if you do, winning can be in the details.

Here are some note cards to try.

1. Pink Die-Cut Notes 2. Black Die-Cut Notes 3. See Jane Work Thank-You Notes

Some fun clips.

1. Ornamental Clips 2. See Jane Work Clips 3. See Jane Work Big Clips

Last steps.

1. Attach documents 2. Attach business card 3. Attach personal note

The finished product.

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Posted in Office Style | 1

This With That Gift Guide

Putting careful thought into your gifts can be difficult when time and money are in short supply. One way to show thought and planning in your gift is to pair two smaller, less expensive items to create one perfect gift.

Here are some fun pairings:

Domino Decorating Book & Library Stamp

Embossed Metal Card Case, $5 Starbucks card & your business card

Financial Organizer & Paid Stamp

Recipe Editors & Your favorite cookbook

Pack This pad & Luggage Tag

Jonathan Adler Giant Eraser & Set of Pencils

Semikolon Desktop Notes & Matching BallPoint Pen

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Posted in Business Gifting, Holly Bohn-Weiss, Make Your Own... | 0

Office Holiday Gifting

Holiday giving is very tricky. No matter how you choose to celebrate you should be sensitive and courteous. For many the holidays are a difficult time of year, personal, family or financial problems are magnified. In addition, people celebrate in many ways. There is Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, just to name a few. The last place you want to upset someone is at work, so consider the following:Going desk-to-desk to collect money is not acceptable, neither is sending out a mass email specifying the people who still haven’t anteed up. Holiday drives and donations are great, but if they single people out who can’t afford to participate they are not in the holiday spirit.

1) Celebrate Thanksgiving-Find out if there are any non-profit organizations that deliver meals to needy families. Make a list of the items they require and post in the break-room. People can sign up without feeling pressured.

2) Host a gift drawing, but again make sure it’s not mandatory. Be considerate about the gift you submit. Sweets, alcohol, etc. are off limits in a day and age of strict diets and struggles with addiction. A fun tumbler or commuter mug is always welcome and say a little more about your gift giving efforts. By giving something unique and thoughtful you are also standing out at work in a positive way.

3) Direct supervisors should always try to do something for their employees. Don’t over buy. An extravagant gift can be irritating to someone who would rather have the money to buy groceries. Likewise, if there is a significant salary gap between you and your staff don’t be cheap, they will notice. Treat all staff fairly. A $5 coffee house gift card, a gift set with whimsical office supplies (think Jonathan Adler highlighters, sticky notes, etc), or even a business card holder (Business Card holders are very inexpensive) are useful and well-received by almost anyone.

4) If you feel compelled to buy for a boss the same rules apply. Extravagant gifts can make people uncomfortable. A lovely notebook or journal is useful and thoughtful. Don’t push your own ideals on others. You would love to get your boss into yoga so she stops complaining about her neck pain, but your gift of a yoga mat will not likely be a turning point in her life. So give in and buy her the new commuter mug you know she will use.

The short version:

Be sensitive to other’s beliefs.
Be sensitive to other’s financial situation
Be thoughtful
Be practical (executive Zen gardens are out)
Buy reasonably priced gifts

Image above: 1. Dylans Acrylic Tumbler $12; 2. Jonathan Adler Highlighters $10; 3. Sarah Pinto Notebook $10; 4. Kate Spade Sticky Notes $25; 5. Embossed Metal Card Case $6; 6. Lilly Pulitzer Thermal Mug $15

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Posted in Business Etiquette, Business Gifting | 0

Organize Your Holidays This Year

I used to look forward to holiday baking, decorating and wrapping gifts. I would even go so far as to say I was talented in these areas. Unfortunately, in the last few years my holiday cheer has been replaced by holiday guilt. With three kids and a full-time job I never have enough time to participate in these holiday traditions. What I do manage to accomplish does not meet my exacting standards. When I founded See Jane Work I thought I would have more time with my kids; but that was my first mistake.

I recently attended a dinner party and listened to moms who were just as busy and had just as many kids. It was a challenge, but I made a point of hearing their advice rather than tallying all the ways that they were better than me.

So how do they survive the holidays? They make lists and combine tasks.

Making lists may sound like organizing 101, but you would be surprised how easily you can be swayed by the marketing mania that surrounds holiday shopping. If you organize your shopping on a list you will spend less, get the gifts you need, and ensure that you’ve purchased items that the recipients will actually like or want. It’s easy to blow your holiday budget when you see the great sales and discounts; a list will keep you on track. I’ve created a form that you can use to plan your holiday gifts. Click here to see the Holiday Gifts Form.

Combining tasks is also nothing new. I’m sure you’ve attended cookie parties designed to simplify holiday baking; I’m not convinced they really work. My kids expect the same cookies every year so no matter what I bring home from a party I still have to bake the cookies they prefer. What these ladies do is eliminate holiday social events and instead make parties out of their holiday tasks. They go shopping together to minimize mall parking lot frustration. They have a wrapping party instead of a cocktail party (don’t worry there are still cocktails). They even buy cases of wine to get the discount then trade bottles for a variety.

You’ll still have to attend some holiday parties, but you’ll look a whole lot better in your fancy dress if you’re stress free. So get your girls together and get busy. Make being organized for the holidays a group project!

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Posted in Organize Your... | 2

I Survived the Storm

I’m finally on a plane back from NYC after Superstorm Sandy. What a week! I arrived in NYC early Sunday morning, super excited to meet with editors to share the details of the newly expanded SJW line due in Office Depot stores January 1st.

That excitement quickly turned to anxiety then downright panic as businesses and public transportation began closing at 4 pm on Sunday. I spoke with a few NY friends and we decided that it was hype, everything would be fine, the powers that be were just being cautious. Monday night I lost power and water at my hotel. I waited till morning to see if it would be resolved, but as you know now the problem was not easily solved. I climbed stairs to the 19th floor to get help and information. While they tried to find a place to move the hotel guests I went in search of coffee and breakfast. I knew it was a true emergency when I discovered all the Starbucks in the city were closed. I walked many blocks and waited an hour in line for a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich. Some of the workers at the establishment had walked for 2 hours to get to work that morning. Now that’s a rough commute.

Later that day I was transferred to a hotel uptown. With the help of several members of the hotel staff, I carried luggage and boxes of samples down from the 9th floor.

Humor gets me through difficult situations, this was no exception. I mean no offense to those still suffering from the storm.

After all was said and done my butt is slightly firmer from climbing so many stairs (remember no power – no elevators). I survived which always feels good. Thanks to the taxi drivers that helped me, the staff at the Morgans who carried all my boxes and bags, to the staff at the Hudson who trekked my bags to the corner each morning.

Hugs to NYC, my office back home who supported me, Facebook friends and of course my husband who managed three costumes and trick-or- treating all alone.

Sorry for not taking pictures. I’m no photo journalist so I’ll leave images of the difficult situation to those whose talents exceed mine.

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Posted in Travel | 0

Liz Rivera – Desk Makeover

We love to hear from customers. Liz Rivera wrote about her mini office makeover. Here’s what she had to say and a few pictures.

In general, the office I work in has a utilitarian vibe. I prefer bright colors and elegant pens, but as a newbie I didn’t question the office decor (blank walls, Bic pens, and desks). One day I looked up and realized I’d been doing my brainstorming in front of the same blank wall for 16 months. No wonder I often felt so blah!

Although decorating your workspace might seem trivial to some (most of my co-workers), there’s nothing silly about creating a space that inspires you and helps you perform at your best. If you’re the first to forge new territory and bring a little sparkle to your workspace be sure to check with your boss and anyone you share common work areas with if they are ok with you changing things up a bit. (Be prepared to spark some copycats a few weeks after your desk revamp; imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and previously skeptical co-workers copying you means you’re right and should get promoted.)

Of course, professionalism is always a must. However, professional does not equal personality-less, it simply means you have to bring your aesthetic to the office in an appropriate way. Keep things simple and classic and limit extremely bright or flashy items. If you’re unsure whether something is office appropriate ask yourself, do I need this? or does this help me work better? or does this have sequins? And limit yourself to 1-2 decorative items on your desk.

If decorating your workspace seems daunting think of one item you can replace or need and find one that you love and matches your desk, then choose matching items to systematically upgrade your workspace. I needed to conquer my growing pile of reference materials, and I loved the deep plum of the See Jane Work magazine holders. The faux leather and rich color exude professionalism and provide a place for the magazines I often reference and can also be used to tuck away simple folders with reference sheets.

Pick a primary color that you want to decorate with and choose a complementing color to give your workspace a bit of edge. My primary color choice was plum, but I was at a loss as to how to incorporate a matching, but surprising pop of color. Neutrals and soft colors all match, but they can be a bit run of the mill and the stark white wall behind my desk was yawn inducing enough. (Coffee can only do so much!) Unusual pairings give a sense of vibrancy and energy to a workspace. One way to discover unique complementary colors is to go to a hardware store and look at paint chips. Grab a handful of colors that you like without thinking if they traditionally go together. The more unusual your selections the better. Then lay them out and mix them up until you find a pairing you like. My favorite pairings tend to be the most unexpected, such as red and turquoise, purple and yellow, and of course, plum and orange. Of course everything on my desk couldn’t be plum or orange so I chose white as a crisp neutral.

Next I replaced my dull every-day work horses. Almost everything you use on a daily basis can be replaced with a luxurious, beautiful or fun version. I opted for clean lines and unfussy patterns to give my desk an organized and stylish look. My favorite upgrade was from a green plastic stapler to the sleek (and shiny!) Ace stapler. It looks like something my grandpa would have had on his desk in the 60′s and I love it.

Another way to update your look is to downsize. The more of your desk you can see the less cluttered it will look. Remove any items you don’t use on a daily basis and opt for vertical storage instead of horizontal. The plastic in-tray I was using to (ineffectively) hold my files was replaced with the Ivory Stratford Desktop Sorter and matching plum file folders. I also downsized from a bulky pencil cup to the Emma tray and went from about 15 pens to six. Orange and burgundy Le Pens are fun for notes to myself and co-workers, and my bevy of black Bic pens was replaced with one—the Seven Year Pen. It’s modern, eco-friendly (it really lasts 7 years!) and I really only need one pen (although admittedly a few of my Bic pens did get stashed in my top desk drawer as backups.)

Taking the time to make your workspace beautiful and efficient is time well spent. You’ll feel and work better and will more than likely catch the eye of your boss in a good way. As my boss likes to say, “clean desk, clean mind.” I agree. Make your workspace work for you on every level and you’ll find yourself employee of the month faster than you think.

Can’t spot the See Jane Work Letter Tray? I used it to replace the phonebook that raised my monitor to eye level. Function + beauty= no neck pain!

List of items used:

1. Susy Jack Grid Calendar

2. Le Pens

3. Semikolon Slim 2″ 3-Ring Binder

4. See Jane Work Plum Magazine Holders

5. Susy Jack Note Cube

6. See Jane Work Basic Letter Tray

7. Ivory Stratford Desktop Sorter

8. Emma Tray and Letter Opener

9. White Slim Calculator

10. Glasses-The Seven Year Pen

11. Pewter Stamp Holder

12. Ace Pilot Stapler

13. Dotted-Fabric Thumbtacks

Bio:

Liz Rivera is a freelance writer and novelist living in Los Angles. She is currently working on a screenplay and protecting her new stapler from jealous co-workers.

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Posted in Office Organization, Office Style | 5

Fashion Inspired Office Decor-Studs

Just because you don’t ride a motorcycle or frequent biker bars doesn’t mean you can’t dress the part, although if you have teenagers you do run the risk of being called a “poser.”

To get the look without looking like a wannabe, enjoy these edgy new trends in moderation. Don’t wear a studded collar, heavy boots and leather pants all at once, just add one piece to an otherwise conservative outfit.

Unlike the dog collar style studs of yesterday, today’s studded leather accessories won’t gouge your eyes out; and even look great in the home or office. Just like in fashion, the key to using studded leather in your decor is moderation.

Here are some pieces that inspired me:

Here is our new Studded Leather Desk Set and a few complementary accessories:

Studded Leather Desk Blotter

Studded Leather Pencil Cup

Fleur de Lis Letter Opener

Brasserie Dish

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Posted in Fashion Inspired Decor | 0

New Office Depot Collection Coming Soon

The new Office Depot collection is coming out soon. Don’t worry the dots and stripes will stay, as will the faux leather. We’re changing up the floral and adding in a funky lace design. The lace design is a limited edition, so if you love it, you better get it while you can.

Here is a sneak peek of the lace:

Here is a sneak peek of the floral:

I thought you also might enjoy learning a little more about the product development process. Where do I get my ideas and how do they become actual products? I asked my graphic designer extraordinaire, Heather Doyle, to tell you the story and like any self-respecting artist she decided to tell the story graphically.

Here it is:

In addition to seeing fashion trends I saw this Modern Gothic room in Living Etc.

This look isn’t something I’m normally attracted to, but for some reason I decided to take a risk. With something like desk accessories you can do that. If the trend changes in 6 months you can easily change a pencil cup. I hope you like the new collection and like me I hope it will inspire you to take some risks with your office décor.

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Posted in Fashion Inspired Decor, Holly Bohn-Weiss, Home Office, Office Style | 2

Silhouette Storage

I’m a little picky when it comes to furniture. I might scrimp on something simple like a side table, but if it has drawers or other moving pieces I insist on quality. I’ve been looking for a dresser for my youngest son, but everything that I like and is well-made is out of my price range.

They say necessity is the mother of invention and in my case that is always true. My best ideas happen when I can’t have what I want. I came up with a low cost temporary solution, but I like it so well I think I might adapt it for the office, entryway or laundry room.

Here is the finished product:

Here is what I purchased:

· Purchased IKEA shelving unit for $100.
· Purchased collapsible fabric bins from Target.
· Purchased fabric paint, brushes and a wax pencil.
· Purchased wheels, because they look cool.

Supplies on hand, I then decided what items I would be storing in the cubes and selected simple images that correlated with the intended contents.  For some items I had to be creative.  Diapers and wipes are temporary, hopefully, so I used a skull and crossbones for that bin.  Socks were easy, so were shirts and pajamas.

Here is what I did:

1. I found images online.
2. Dropped the images into Word and made them as large as possible.
3. Printed out the images.
4. Cut the images out.
5. Traced the image onto the bins with the wax pencil.
6. Painted the edge with a small brush making sure I didn’t go out of the lines.
7. Finally, I filled in the center with several coats of paint.

Here is my first bin:

 

What do you think? My dog wasn’t crazy about it.

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Posted in Make Your Own..., Office Organization | 9

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

We think we are easy to buy for, our list of needs is a mile long. Unfortunately, our family doesn’t quite see it that way. So unless you want to end up with a new set of dish towels and flowers, not that there is anything wrong with that, it’s best to take matters into your own hands.

You can create a gift registry and email the list (option will appear when you set-up the list) to your husband or simply send him a link to the registry search page.

Here are my recommendations by personality type:

Techie Mom: This mom wouldn’t be caught dead without her iPad. Her 2 year old is having trouble looking at board books because he swipes to turn the page. It’s difficult to locate paper in this house as grocery lists, schedules and recipes are all on the computer.

The Techie Mom would love an iPad or iPhone Cover, Crazy Keys USB or a Jane Marvel Metro Tote.

On-The-Go Mom: For this mom home has 4 wheels and sliding doors. She spends her days commuting, carpooling or driving to the airport. For her the term family dinner is when everyone eats their drive-through meal in the car at the same time. Between work, soccer, football and dance there just isn’t time for a meat and potatoes dinner.

The On-The-Go Mom would enjoy a Commuter Mug or Drink Tumbler. If she travels via air try a Jane Marvel Zip Pouch filled with luxe travel size toiletries. A Bungalow Trunk is also a great gift and will keep the back of the mini-van organized.

Organizer Mom: In this mom’s home or office everything has a place and everything is in its place. You’ll never find a junk drawer in this mom’s kitchen and her child’s legos are always sorted.

The Organizer Mom would love a Pehr Canvas Basket, Bungalow Rump Roost Medium or Large, or Chewing the Cud Canvas Storage. No need to hide this storage away. These items lend style to any room while concealing clutter.

PTA Mom: The PTA Mom (A.K.A. Team Mom) only puts down her clip board or notepad long enough to shower. She’s at her best in a group of unruly children or moms.

The PTA Mom would love a set of Dylan’s Combo Highlighter Pens with a Mucho Spiral Notebook or have her upgrade her look by swapping out that clipboard for a Semikolon or Bella Leather Portfolio.

Still Confused? You’ll find that a Lucky Minimergency Kit or a Minimergency Kit for Mom is a welcome and useful gift for any mom on your list.

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Posted in Business Gifting | 0