Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The "Side Hustle" That's Actually a Front-and-Center Non-Hustle

We read a lot about print-on-demand (POD)technology, because we know it's an idea whose time has come.

In doing our research, we've noted that many of the people who are best are at POD are people who are transitioning already thriving businesses away from the headaches of warehousing and inventorying. We think that's a necessary adaptation to a changing environment and we applaud those who do it successfully. (They certainly have an edge when it comes to getting customers... at least for the first sale.) But since we're starting out in a far different place, we don't measure our success against theirs.

The POD marketplace is not only growing at an unprecedented rate, it's also seems to be getting more callous and meaner. We've noticed a disconcerting number of businesspeople bragging about building their "empires" by just typing words into a smartphone and having an app spit out a design in minutes, if not seconds. We don't think that lack of creativity is something to be smug about. We are proud to do things differently. We make a design, go have a mug of coffee or hot chocolate, and come back with fresh eyes. We've filed away hundreds of ideas because they just didn't feel right upon further reflection. We study other people's successful designs and figure out the theory behind what makes them work. Then we employ those theories to our own ideas to make images that are uniquely ours. We add a human touch that no app can replicate.

Whether it's a short-term reaction to current events or some sort of paradigm shift, we don't like a lot of what we see from some people who call themselves our competitors. For instance, we don't think the phrase "side hustle" is a term to be proud of, because it doesn't honor the role of either the customer or the business owner. It demeans long-standing business relationships. We know that the POD market is large enough for consumers who value honest craftsmanship and makers who sincerely care about who ends up with their products.

We're extremely fortunate to run Janusian Gallery outside of our full-time day jobs. We try to give even our most basic designs lots of TLC. We know that styles and tastes (including our own) change with time, so we add new collections on an ongoing basis and delete or redesign some old ones. Because we don't rely on this as our primary income, we have the incredible privilege of running it the way other businesses can only dream of: truly customer-centric.

In our office, no design takes "too long" to create. No copy gets edited "too many times." We can be as "inefficient" as we want. We laugh, we play dorky 1970s pop music at our desks, and stay in our pajamas all day if we feel like it. We promote our pet to a position of authority. We make a modest secondary income while being good people. And that has made all the difference in the world.

- Lynne Sabean

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

We're Relaunching Our Frosted Chocolate Sentiments Collection!

Part of our mission for our Zazzle stores at Janusian Gallery is to bring you fresh designs. We try to bring you our best every day. Part of that includes updating our offerings when we feel we can do better.

Below is a "before and after" of one product from our "Frosted Chocolate Sentiments" Valentine's Day collection. The before was pleasant enough: cute type, a lace background, room for your personalized message:

But we're really liking the "after", with a soft pink background, a different typeface for the chocolate text, and gorgeous swirly text above it:

We'll be updating more products over the next few days, so please pardon the mess as we work our way through the collection. (And if you're even THINKING of buying for Valentine's Day any time soon... well, you're a LOT more organized than we are!)

BTW: we're pretty thick-skinned, so if you ever see a product that is ALMOST what you're looking for, e-mail us to see if we can customize it for you.

- Lynne Sabean

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Personae, Passive Marketing, and the Art of Right Livelihood

As some of you may know, the idea for Janusian Gallery germinated when Lynne was at a career crossroads: should she get another job as an attorney or should she pursue a career in the arts she's loved every since she first held a crayon? The decision was made by itself when she realized that one path involved working with people (who could afford the fees) at their lowest points of their existence and the other involved helping people from all walks of life create happy moments and memories. So as her law school and firm colleagues shook their heads in bewilderment, she took a full-time marketing job with a performing arts non-profit and launched Janusian as her "nights and weekends" passion.

Over the past few years, we've come to understand that starting a business is a lot like raising a young child. It's so important to nurture them, to create positive experiences for them, to teach them to be social, and to guide them into choosing their friends wisely. You want them to seek advice and assistance when necessary, but have an independent streak. Most importantly, you want them to be happy, healthy, moral, and kind.

We participate actively in several online discussion and networking groups. There, we hear a lot of chest-thumping as to how many shirts someone sold last month, how you can create new images for just pennies by outsourcing graphic design services to third-world countries, and how it's all about hustling the public to bully as much cheap $#it as expensively as possible. We also hear a lot of grumbling about counterfeit products and "stolen designs", to the point where some designers have intentionally decreased the customer experience to protect their IP.

Here at Janusian, we try to take a more thoughtful approach to the way we do things. We honor the Buddhist concept of "right livelihood" and use it as a litmus test for running an ethical, dignified, and compassionate business. We treat our customers with deep appreciation and the highest levels of honesty. We create personae of our ideal customers and work hard to create amazing designs for "Betty" and "Steve" and "Bella the Dog". We think of them using and enjoying our products in their everyday lives and hope that we help brighten their days.

We're not into the one-off sale: we're looking for a long-term relationship. We want our brides to come back to us again and again over the years for baby goods, back to school items, and dorm room decor. We want to create goods that people will be proud to show off to their friends and neighbors. As an online business, we see the whole world as our "community." So even though we also run a social media marketing business, we try to be generous with free time and advice to our "neighbors". We consider this our duty and obligation, since so many volunteered their experience and wisdom when we were just starting out. All we ask is that the person we help out "pay it forward" to another newbie some day.

We don't like it when people misappropriate our designs and we understand that other countries and cultures view production and sales differently than the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office does. So, we file DMCA takedown notices with the appropriate vendors, but otherwise don't lose a lot of sleep over it. (In a weird, twisted way, it's a little flattering that someone thinks our designs are a money-maker.) Plus, with a lawyer in the family, we can afford to bring out the "big guns" if we have to. (Fortunately, that hasn't been an issue yet.)

Finally, we deeply appreciate that our print-on-demand vendors -- Zazzle, Curioos, FineArtAmerica, and others -- have given us free space on their sites to create passive income streams that will (hopefully) help support us financially for years to come.

Yes, our products may cost a little more than those from e-sweatshops. We've been lucky that people see the added value we try to bring. We're here for people who are into ethical shopping and those who intuitively know when products come from a place of love. We're not so arrogant as to call it "The Janusian Difference" because there are a lot of other businesses out there whose practices we admire. But we look forward to the day when "right livelihood" is more the norm than an aspiration.

- Lynne Sabean

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

New Design: Summer Landscape Mandala

This new design is based on a photograph of a summer landscape near a pond, with purple flowers in bloom.

It's available exclusively at our Curioos store. Here's an example of it in situ:

- Lynne Sabean

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

New Design: Alt-Left is About Keyboards (Waving the Flag)

We admit it, the news bugged us this week. So we did what we do best and took to our computer to cerate some fresh new designs:

Get it at Zazzle and, for a limited time, Amazon:

- Lynne Sabean

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New Design: Pet Soul Mate

Sometimes, we look at our little fur baby and love him so much:

It's available with either a Yorkie silhouette or a generic paw print one.

Get it at Zazzle:

- Lynne Sabean

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

New Design: Aloha Pineapple

This new collection features a Kawaii-style cartoon illustration of an adorable pineapple with blue floral board shorts. He's got a ukulele in one arm; in the other, he holds a surfboard. Because we create our own artwork, you won't find this exact image from any other designer.

Get it now at Zazzle. Coming soon to our RedBubble and Society6 stores.

- Lynne Sabean

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

New Collection: Chinese Fortune Cookie

We had Chinese takeout for dinner tonight. Over our meal, we thought: "Wouldn't it be fun to have a cartoon collection with customizable fortunes?" About an hour later, we were both hungry again AND had started posting our new design:

Look for it to roll live on Zazzle over the next day or so.

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

New YouTube Video: The Janusian Manifesto

We believe that art galleries should be welcoming, not intimidating. We believe original art should be accessible to all. We believe that arts education knows no age limits. Our value statement is the basis for The Janusian Manifesto. Learn more about what we do and why.

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