A New Office

Koozie Central Blog Day 27:

Here I am sitting in my brand new shiny office!  It was quite the fanfare when I first arrived to this lovely shared facility as it was a) a holiday and b) we got locked out of the office for my very first few hours. Silly me!  Having finally received a set of keys as well as a stern talking to on how not to lock one’s keys in the office I have arrived!  Got my new double-screen work station, a wrap-around desk and all the coffee I could ever hope for.  I can just feel the productivity ooozing from my fingers.

My Latin American co-workers were thrilled with the personalized koozies we handed out!  Genius!  A big hit all around and some promises to connect to friends in key places associated with marketing accounts for major local companies.  If just one person comes through I’m going to be pretty excited!

In addition to being a special work day (my third official day in the shiny new office) today is my birthday.  It has been so fun to receive phone calls and chat about all of the progress kooziez.com has made over the past year. As we enter into our second year of official existence (well official in the sense that we started having the capacity to take orders on the web) I am really excited about where this company is headed!  It’s a wonderful time to be associated with this fantastic start-up company and I can’t wait to see what summer has to bring!  Graduation koozie time just around the corner!

Presenting: An Order Form

Koozie Central Blog Day 25:

Internet Comic

Hoorah!  This morning at 1am koozieZ.com has officially launched its shiny, new order form!  Replacing the most recent 3rd version of the form, this 4th version promises functionality, a user-friendly feel and easy to read explanations of all charges, options, etc.  Clients are prompted on each page to contact customer support for any and all questions they have making the “security blanket” never far from their finger tips.  Here at koozieZ.com we will guarantee that each and every customer is loved and taken care of in the best possible way and made to feel apart of our koozie family.

Personalized Koozies: A new ease of ordering

Some of the more exciting changes are:

1. The design options page:  Easy to read buttons are neatly organized in order of ascending costs.  Once an option is selected either more options will arise (i.e. in the case of a clipart selection) or clients will be prompted to head to the next step.

2. Delivery date:  A large beautiful calendar is available with easy to read numbers and a concise explanation of shipping costs.  Clients can click around and select the delivery date that best suits their needs.

3. Ship-to information:  It is now completely clear that this section is merely to be used to calculate shipping costs.  The summary at the top explains that you will not be prompted for payment information until after they have received an order summary.

Fantastic!  I have sent it to close friends and family for their review.  I’ve looked at it so many times, a fresh pair of eyes are certainly welcome!  Got a little time on your hands?  Check out the personalized koozies order form and let us know your feedback.

Order Form

Koozie Central Blog Day 24:

Computer Comic

Embarking on the venture to create a website that sells personalized product (i.e. personalized koozies), one can never even dream of the amount of time that is spent in choosing something so seemingly simple as a color scheme.  Hours and hours are spent agonizing over justification, available pages, order buttons and the placement of various links and objects.  I cannot even begin to explain the amount of changes we’ve already made to the site.

So our order form was started a little over a year ago.  We went from a basic ordering system with many glitches (where did people’s art go?!?).  This brought us to a order form with very well written code but aesthetically and basic user-friendliness slightly lacking.  A new age is born, the order form goes color and has various steps and pages involved.  Unfortunately, the pages are convoluted, the information is not consistent throughout the pages and various costs and amenities are not properly calculated.  This brings us to order form 4.0.  We are so incredibly very close!  It is supposed to be launched today but our FTP is doing a funky chicken dance.

I can think of another acronym for FTP that is not very polite and I’m so anxious to see it live!

Black and White

Koozie Central Blog Day 23:

Black and White Cats

Perhaps the most difficult part about setting up as an entrepreneur, even an online personalized koozie business, are the business relationships that are forged and formed.  It can be even more difficult if one of those relationships is based on and/or evolves into some type of friendship.  Here is where lines begin to blur and black and white becomes a muddled shade of grey.

Best thing to do is to create clear lines and expectations from the get go so that there is little to be unclear about.  Penalties set-up for all parties involved ensure that everyone stays on their toes and motivation is high to complete the tasks set ahead for each party involved.  Failing to set-up clear and concise definitions often leads to awkward and uncomfortable conversations that are more a result of lack of communication than anything else.

It can often be difficult to foresee what exactly you will even need to communicate to each other before the business has started but it’s best to lay it all out on the table and have a line of command for each and every one.  It’s certainly better to be over prepared rather than under-prepared.  When it comes to business it’s best to leave emotions out of the equation so there are no hurt feelings.  Black and white is a lot easier to understand than fuzzy grey.

Productivity

Koozie Central Blog Day 21:

I cannot tell you how often people ask me how I can possibly work, I mean seriously work in a climate like Panama.  The sun shines every day (especially during the summer months), the weather is warm, it’s tough to find a reason NOT to go to the pool or beach.  Funny enough, I never could come up with a concrete answer.  I always just kind of shrugged my shoulders and responded with the generic “Oh, you know… cause I like personalized koozies (huh?!?!!)”

Being in Denver in the middle of some record low temperatures and winter weather (schools are closed for goodness sake!), I now finally have my answer.  My crazy little body has, for some reason, had  difficult time adjusting to the time change.  I have consistently woken up at 8 am since arriving in Colorado about 4 days ago (6am local time).  This is ordinarily late for me, but as we’ve been “enjoying ourselves” quite a bit, this is totally on par.

The Glaring Reasons

6 am in Denver, CO looks like:

Dark – maybe the sun is starting to eek up, cold (yes, it LOOKS cold), scraping car windows, snow and/or slush, chilly bathroom tiles, cold fingers, many layers of clothes, packing a bag to go to the gym before work and traffic

6am in Panama City, Panama:

Sun has just risen, dew on the grass, bright sunshine, a cool 80 degrees, palm trees, going for a run along the bay, shorts and a t-shirt, walking to work no matter the time of year.

Case…And…Point

Work, Travel, Play

Koozie Central Blog Day 20:

Travel Comic

The absolute most wonderful perk about having an online personalized koozie website is the mobility of it all!  It is so exciting to be able to work and travel at the same time!  Crazy you say?  No work ever gets done on vacation?  It’s actually been a whole lot easier than I thought it would be.  One of the advantages to travelling in a different time zone is, not only am I an early riser, but here I can wake up early, get my work done and by the time everyone’s up and ready to go so am I!

It’s certainly taken quite a bit to be this disciplined and I definitely value all of the time I spent in high school being told I had to finish my homework before I could go out.  It’s given me a work ethic I’m proud of and has definitely helped this online venture grow!  While I’ve been less disciplined about blogging, orders are picking up and I’m looking forward to a super great 2011 for this koozie site!

Taking It To The Next Level

Koozie Central Blog Day 19:

Learning Comic

Having just started to take over more responsibility in the company, I’ll now be needing to be involved with a great deal more of the design process (like 90% vs. 15%).  Before I enjoyed creating designs just because it was fun and creative.  Now I’ll be responsible for the designs as the safety net (one of the other full-time owners) slowly gets pulled away.

I am sincerely looking forward to being able to use some of my creative energy to create lovely personalized koozies designs that make people happy.  Of course I have nothing on those who have actually gone to design school, but it sure is fun to learn how to at least do the basics.  Who knows… maybe graphic design classes are in my future.

As of today, I will be using the web and all of its many tools to my advantage and will be starting GIMP tutorials via You Tube.  Gimp also has many tutorials that can be read on their site, but as a visual person – I tend to find it easier to split the screen, video on one side, GIMP on the other, and do as I see.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed tutorials on YouTube and to all those who have contributed to making GIMP the fantastic program that it is! You are all awesome!

The Day Frustration Takes Over

Koozie Central Blog Day 18:

There are many, many wonderful benefits to living and working not only outside of the country but in a sunny, warm tropical one as well.  There is nothing more satisfying than watching an NFL game in January seeing the snowfall in Green Bay and sitting at an outdoor bar watching the game on a flat screen drinking a Corona while yachts softly bump the dock behind you.  The even better

Isla Contadora - Panama

part about having a job/company like this one is I can even bring my laptop to said bar and work while watching the snowy game with the ocean breeze blowing around me.  It feels utterly luxurious to be sitting on a tropical island beach, working in my bikini

while stationed under a giant umbrella drinking a frosty beer with a personalized koozie on it (very important in this climate!).

However, there are days and there are days.  There will be those days no matter where you live, but it definitely does not make them any easier.  This past Friday was a day.  We have an office computer.  This computer has all of the Corel 11 files installed, gimp files, and the part of gimp that can read .eps files (very complicated – I have unsuccessfully installed Ghostwriter on my computer twice now).  My laptop only has Corel 9 so it cannot read the Corel 11 files.  I am also just starting on my path to becoming a fabulous graphic designer so I still find it quite challenging to say, turn something black.  Well, Friday was also a pay day – which means traffic is insane.  So lazy me, takes a cab to work (about a 25 minute walk/5 minute cab).  I sat on traffic, obvi.  I get to work and there is no functioning internet in the area.  So the only computer that can read these files is completely non-helpful and of course since there’s no internet I can’t even do some work.  I end up going to 3 different internet cafes (apparently my computer is fussy about which routers it will connect to) sit in traffic for a total of 2 hours (I wore very non-practical walking shoes) and arrive home back at square 1 and 2 hours late on the start of my work day.    Those are the days when living and working abroad makes me want to hide in my air conditioned bedroom with some wanton soup and take a nap.

Gimp Rocks

Koozie Central Blog Day 16:

Before beginning this online personalized koozies venture, I’d always feel slightly left out when someone would refer to “blogging”, the “online community” or use fancy words such as “pixels”, “banners” or “ppc”.  These may now be words that are fairly commonplace, but I sincerely feel as though my generation is part of an interesting bridge.

It was easy enough for me to get by in High School with just your typical typing and basic Microsoft classes and it was just as easy for me to go through college taking a basic HTML class and being happy that I could change the background color.  It seems as though my fellow generationers (sp?) could make a choice whether they’d like to know more about the world wide web or not.  These days it seems like my niece at age 5 knows more about my computer than I ever will.  I suppose this is how our parents felt when the car phone first came out.

While it may sound frustrating or even difficult, I must say I relish in the fact that I have previously known next to nothing about online “ishes” and basic graphic design (as applicable to koozie sales and wordpress).  each time I learn something new it’s a small (

who am I kidding, GIGANTIC) victory.  Last week I worked for 2 hours on a small banner.  It was 125×125 and is 2 pink squares, with white text and some light background “texturing”.  I took an online tutorial from a most helpful member of Etsy who throughtfully posted a step by step on how to create a banner in Gimp.  I layered, I aligned and I saved as .jpg and felt as though I’d conquered the world.

Check out the ad on beantownbride.com and let me know if you think my minor Gimp victory was worth it!

Gimp