Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Origami Owl Warehouse Tour

Origami Owl's company culture is like none other I've seen, and the opportunity to tour their warehouse and meet their employees only solidified my love for the company and their mission. 

As a business student, I was bored by most of the companies we studied. IBM and Fed Ex.... snore fest. Places like Southwest Airlines and Pike Place Fish Market were different though. They expressed a genuine interest in their employees; in their wellbeing, and happiness. They focused on fun, and that focus was returned tenfold in the productiveness of their employees. The work place was more like home than a place employees longed to get away from. I was thrilled at last year's National Convention when I learned that our then newly hired Vice President of Corporate Culture, Yvette Torres-Dickson, was pulled from the ranks of Southwest Airlines. In fact, I think I cried. Major business student geek moment right there! 

When I took the tour of our Origami Owl Warehouse last week, I was inspired by the amount of love in the building. Employees met us on the dock and formed lines on each side of our group to high five each designer as we walked in. There was a dance party. There was a LOT of hugging and smiling. These people had been giving these tours for two days straight - we were the last group - but they still managed to give us every bit as much energy as they did for the first tour.

The man standing on the chair here is Shawn Maxwell, one of our company's founders. His energy is infectious.... even after two twelve hour days. 

This is where our third quarter hostess exclusive necklaces are assembled. The pieces are beautiful, and even more stunning in large quantities!

New designer kits getting ready to ship... have you received yours yet? Joining Origami Owl is one of the best decisions I've ever made. If you'd like more information on how a small $149 investment can change your life, too, drop me an email using the sidebar link to the right.

Of course there is always time for a photo op! Here's a little shout out to Team Faith and the rest of the ladies on the tour. That's me in white at far left.

After our photo op, we moved through the warehouse with our tour guide. Boxes and boxes of product and packaging packed all around us. 

Everywhere we looked, there were employees showing the love. Genuinely happy people, enjoying their time with us and with each other.

The jewelry aisles were overwhelming. So many pieces. So many things to look at. Here are some of our dangles, packaged and waiting to be picked for orders...

Every department and section marked clearly...

Employees picking orders...

More O2 love!

Packages waiting to ship!

Stand on the owl prints, please! Another photo op! How do you like my mint Converse sneakers? Owlsome!

One final pic with our tour guides and we're on our way.

I won't bore you with all of the safety signs I took pics of (safety is a priority!) or the motivational quotes posted all over the warehouse (*swoon*) or even the FIFO sign that I snapped a pic of in another moment of business minded bliss. Suffice it to say, this girl was thoroughly impressed from both a designer standpoint and a business standpoint. 

I asked my tour guide if Origami Owl had adopted the Fish Philosophy, because so much of the energy and culture I see here rings true of Fish. He had never heard of it. It's possible that he also thought I had lost my mind, but we won't talk about that. ;) 

Fish Philosophy or not, Origami Owl is doing it right. I suspect business students will be watching videos about the Owl Philosophy in the not too distant future, too... 

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

On Meeting Cassidy Stay

I returned yesterday from Origami Owl's second annual National Convention. A few weeks prior to convention, our Origami Owl family was rocked with the news that one of our designers, Katie Stay, and her family, were the victims of a senseless act of violence. Katie, her husband, and four of her five children were killed. Cassidy Stay, her oldest daughter was the sole survivor.

Origami Owl rallied around the family, spreading the word about this tremendous loss and through the help of Katie's mentor, loving sister designers coordinating tee-shirt fundraisers, and corporate initiatives to get the word out, we were able to add a significant amount of money to what was already being donated by others in the community and around the world.

Cassidy Stay was, and continues to be, on the hearts and minds of everyone in Origami Owl. When I was at convention, I heard rumors that Cassidy was actually there with us. I didn't know if it was fact or fiction, but I whispered a prayer for her nonetheless as I often have over the past few weeks. I prayed that if she was there, that some part of that experience would bring her a sliver of peace. When you are grieving, you cling to those slivers. You collect them, store them up, and fall back on them when times are the hardest.

Sunday morning, our hotel was abuzz with designers who were making their final arrangements to head home. Last minute hugs were being given. Shuttles rushing in and out taking friends to the airport or some other destination. I had booked another day at a nearby resort, so my travel companion and I opted to spend the morning at Mass at an old Basilica across the street from the hotel. While at Mass, I continued to pray for the Stay family, and for all of our designers who would be traveling that day.

On my way back to the hotel, I received a text message from my Senior Director, reminding me that she brought some motivational cd's for me, and that she was in line waiting for her shuttle pick up. When I returned to the hotel, I made a beeline for the pick up area in hopes of locating her before she departed. I peeked out the doors, but there were so many designers waiting that I had to go outside and into the midst of them to fully see who all was out there and whether or not my Senior Director was among them. After scanning the crowd and coming to the realization that she was no longer there, I turned to go back inside and came face to face with Cassidy Stay and her guardian.

In that moment, a million things rushed through my head. Is that really her? What to say…. do I say anything or nothing? What to do…. do I offer a hello or a hug or just a nod? Do I walk away as though I did not see her to give her space? It occurred to me in that moment that the things my minister told me the day we lost Henry were very true: People do not know how to act around the bereaved. Even though I consider myself a little better armed to handle a grief situation given my personal history, I still stood dumbfounded while this sweet girl stared at me wondering whether I was going to move out of her way or spend the day staring at her.

In the end, I opted for the hug. One thing I love about Origami Owl is that it's all about {LOVE}. Give love. Share love. Pass it on. I hugged her tightly and she hugged back just the same. I told her I was sorry for her loss. Safe words for anyone who is grieving. We chatted a bit, and I closed with, "God bless you," before releasing her and moving on my way.

Once my back was turned, I burst into tears at the thought of the weight of the grief she bears and the road before her. I am so grateful to know that she holds a strong faith in Jesus Christ. That she knows there is light, and that His light can alleviate the weight of this grief if she will let it (and I have faith that she will). I will continue to hold her and her family in prayer and am confident my Origami Owl family and so many others will do the same.

This is a quote from Harry Potter that Cassidy quoted when she first spoke after her hospital stay. If only one remembers to turn on the light. His light. Day by day, the weight of grief lessens.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Origami Owl - Getting Started

The day I decided to join Origami Owl and start this journey, I told myself, "You're here to make money, not spend it." I can't even tell you the number of times I've had to remind myself of that simple truth since then. When you start a new business venture, it's so easy to want to make everything perfect. To have all new supplies and display pieces and oh my goodness, have you seen all of the OWLS out there?! Eeks!

There are few things in life that make me cringe more than hearing a new designer tell me she just received her $149 starter kit and already has over $500 invested in the company.

Wait, what?!

Please know that this is not necessary. Take a look at the photo below. This picture shows a simple but effective Jewelry Bar display that was staged by our corporate office at our first national convention. It uses all of the pieces included in the starter kit, and just a few extras to give it some height and texture.

This, my friends, is truly all you need to start your business.

If you have $500 to invest in your business, and I know some do, rather than buying the $149 starter kit and then investing $350 in your display, opt for the larger starter kit for $399 (giving you more product and business supplies) and continue to keep your display simple. Or, still get the $149 kit but use some of your funds to order from your launch party for yourself to give you more product selection.

The focal point of any good display should always be our jewelry. The bulk of your investment should be on your focal point.

Keep it simple.

Adapt to our Japanese Modern style…. less is more.

Think about the pieces you see in this photo. Outside of the starter kit, the jewelry tree in the background is likely the biggest expense on the table. Look for a necklace stand to hold your chains. Try to find something that can accommodate the 32" lengths without them dragging on the table, or find something you can use as a riser under it to give it some lift. I've seen lovely display pieces at Hancock Fabrics (theirs are taller than the ones I've seen anywhere else), and actually just purchased a two new chain displays for myself at a local going out of business sale. Total cost for me? $4 each for sturdy heavy duty display pieces that would have cost well beyond that if purchase from the supplier. There are deals to be had. There are coupons to be redeemed. Take some time to find them and save yourself some dollars that can then be applied elsewhere in life or reinvested into your business. 

The Jewelry Bar sign gives additional height and color to this display. When I started out and did my first event, I invested in adding a few high quality product photos from our back office to foam core so that I could display them on easels on my table. The quality didn't meet what I expected, but it still cost me over $50 to have them made. 

Learn from my mistakes. 

A large 12x16 photo frame (Hobby Lobby, WalMart, Target, etc.) on sale that is matted to hold a smaller 8x10 photo does wonders for height and texture. For many months I used that to hold the Origami Owl sign that comes in the starter kit. I have also been known to purchase 8x10 acrylic sign holders at WalMart (same as the ones at Office Max and Staples, but a fraction of the cost) and use those to hold our hostess exclusive flyers or our starter kit flyers (cut down a bit on each side to fit). It's informative. It's colorful. It's effective. It's reasonably priced. 

You can find flat white plates like those shown at IKEA and WalMart. Look for something with as little lip as possible on the edges to give the most display room possible. Plain white. The ones I bought at WalMart were about $1.49 each. I used them to display my lockets. Rather than a the domed cake platter full of cookies, consider displaying your take out menus (i.e. catalogs) upright in a clear square glass vase. Look for them in the do it yourself section of a local floral shop. Mine was less than $5. 

Display busts are a bit of an investment, but no one says you need to start with a huge amount of them. Even now, two years into my business, I will only have 2-3 on my table at any one time. These can be purchased at Nile Corp. or Gems on Display. Look for linen busts. You might have the urge to get white or black flocked busts, but the price difference is subtle and the dollar or so more you pay for the linen is well worth the amount of time you'll save with a lint roller trying to get all of the dust out of those flocked busts. I would also encourage you to opt for the free standing 3D busts as opposed to the flat ones with the picture frame back that pops out. Those will fall apart with enough use. The lifespan of 1 of these busts pictured is equal to about 2-3 of those picture frame style busts. They might be a bit lower cost up front, but in the long run you may end up paying more. 

Note that there is no table linen shown. I know instinct is to run out and buy something fabulous again, but if you're doing home parties you may not need it. I rarely use a table covering at home parties… I reserve that only for vendor events. If you do feel as though you need something, consider a turquoise flat sheet from WalMart. It's O2 blue (matches the color of the blue branded table cloth in our back office exactly) and retails for less than $10. Again, as you earn more, you can upgrade if you decide that you'd like to. 

If you're thinking about joining Origami Owl, consider joining Team Faith with me. You'll find oodles more business hints and tips on our team page. We are a close knit group of designers from all over the USA brought together by the wonder of technology, and we'd love to have you join us! 

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