Spectrum Framing

New Year and New Challenges

Monday, February 13, 2012 - 0 Comments

Well I can’t believe February is here so soon.  It seems only a little while ago we were working twelve hour days, seven days a week getting through all the orders in time for Christmas. 

We had a fabulous December trading-wise, our best trading month to date, and achieved all our order deadlines too.  It’s always a tricky decision closing the order book for work to be done before Christmas…..surely if business is still coming through the door, we ought to be grabbing it with both hands, no matter how tired or busy we are…..?  We made a decision a few years ago to draw a line around half way through December.  Ours is a precision industry – working with millimetres when you have tired eyes is not ideal, nor is lifting large sheets of glass and board around!  We were able to extend our deadline though; a computerised mount cutter, and a couple of other new pieces of equipment has enabled us to speed up our process, without losing quality.  Most customers coming through our doors past our deadline were happy to have the work ‘rolled over’ into early New Year.  Nevertheless, a young chap, large poster in hand turning up at 3:00 p.m. Christmas Eve hopefully requesting us to ‘knock up a quick cheap frame’ was firmly and gently advised he would have to wait…..!

Back to 2012, and those ‘rolled over’ jobs were quickly succeeded by a whole raft of more complicated framing requests.   Everyday framing jobs comprise of; photography, watercolours, pastels, prints, childrens artwork, portraits, posters, maps – these are our ‘bread and butter’ but they are all treated with the greatest of care and respect. But the more challenging ones included;  ten kick boxing belts mounted and framed with photograph, certificate and information, several fully signed sports shirts, a signed golf club, an incredibly delicate laser-cut image, pony rosettes, very large pictures (they bring all their own challenges) and too many more to mention.  These all take an enormous amount of planning, designing and assembling.  Many of these jobs have so many steps in the process, they can take a couple of days to complete (see my facebook page for a step-by-step journey of a sports shirt).  Of course, I am not locked into a back room somewhere working on these without interruption, there are still customers to attend to, suppliers to order with, a gallery to keep stocked, neat, tidy and clean, artists to keep in touch with, products to source etc., it’s a good job Spectrum is a two-person operation; Tim and I are a super-strong partnership and we support each other through all aspects of the business.

This is also a time of year to look at our business with critical eyes, and look at what we can improve upon, which new products to source, external events we are going to attend (as exhibitors and and visitors) and our marketing and publicity strategy for the coming year.  It is an exciting time thinking about these things and a good opportunity to reflect and plan ahead.  It is always a priority to maintain the service we have become known for, along with being very approachable and friendly, but also to look for new and exciting products for our customers to enjoy.

Well, I think I will close on that for now, and promise not to leave it too long until next time!

Warmest wishes, Jo.

Black Ties, Dancing Shoes and Christmas Fayre

Sunday, November 20, 2011 - 0 Comments

Good evening all – here we are again.  Perched on a stool in the kitchen tapping away at the laptop.  I’ve decided I like this blogging business (not sure what it says about me…?)  and writing about my business, which is my third baby, is very enjoyable and therapeutic.

As I type, I’m smiling as I remember the fun I had last Saturday night at Solberge Hall, just outside of Northallerton.  The event was the Thirsk Ladies Chamber of Trade Christmas Ball, and its purpose, other than having fun was to raise funds for the Thirsk Christmas Lights Fund.  It costs an enormous amount of money to light up Thirsk so beautifully each year.  The insurance alone is phenomenal, and the amount of effort  put into it is immense.  I can’t give exact figures, as I am very much on the sidelines, but super people such as Jill Miller, Vicky Calvert, Sal Billany, Tarek Ghouri and far too many others to mention work their socks off to make sure it happens each year.  Thirsk is a North Yorkshire market town, but I feel it’s like a village really.  There is such a strong sense of community evident in every day happenings.  So many of the small businesses support each other on a day-to-day basis, and the local residents are fantastic in shopping with us.

Anyway – the big Christmas lights switch on is Friday 25th November at 7p.m – this is part of the Thirsk Christmast Fayre weekend - see their website for details www.thirskchristmasfayre.com.  There is a lot going on, and we want lots of lovely visitors to come to Thirsk and enjoy the festive weekend.

We have had an amazing couple of weeks, business is very good, and lots of framing orders are now in, we’re going to be very busy leading up to Christmas.  The sooner you get in with your framing orders the better.  In past years we have had to ‘close the books’ on orders for Christmas around the 6th December, but now we can comfortably extend that due to our new and computerised equipment.  I am also looking at some ‘visualisation’ software to enhance everyone’s visit – it will allow us to show on a computer screen exactly how that print/photo/watercolour will look with your shortlisted mounts and frames.  Some people find it very difficult to imagine how the finished article will look, with corners of mountboard and frame chevrons, so hopefully this will be a big help!

Well I think it’s time to go for now, I have to do my shopping list for the week, it must include numerous boxes of tissues – I’ve just got one child through a throat infection, now the other is full of a streaming wet soggy cold!!  I hope this dense fog clears for tomorrow and the rest of the week, I don’t think full daylight appeared at all today…..

Warmest wishes, Jo.

Shopping Evenings and New Websites

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - 0 Comments

Well I can’t believe it’s the end of Wednesday already – half way through the week and where has it gone so far? 

This time last week we were busy organising everything for our annual ‘Exclusive Shopping Evening’ at the Fauconberg Arms in Coxwold.  We did one last year and it was such a huge success we went for another one.  The idea behind it is to raise funds for a charity (this year we chose again to support The Bob Champion Cancer Trust),  promote some small local businesses, and bring existing and new customers to the Fauconberg Arms.  So last Thursday, Tim and I, Jane of Well Heeled, and Steve and David of Humphrey & Tilly arrived at the Fauconberg heavily laden with selected products to entice supporters to make a start with their (dare I say it) Christmas shopping and support a very worthwhile charity.

We  had some lovely helpers too; Sara and John, Amy, Hugh Farry, Wanda, Nikki, Jack & Caitie, and of course the fantastic team at The Fauconberg; Simon & Helen, Verity and Zoe and anyone who turned up to support us and lend a helping hand.  These events are a huge amount of work and effort, but I’ve got to say, when we were all beavering away, setting up our wares, with the dining room all lamp-lit, I felt a lovely warm cosy feeling coming over me – we are so lucky to be doing something we enjoy so much.  Laura Booth flew in with some originals of racing images; Laura is starting out in her artistic career and received some very positive and supportive feedback about her work.

Anyway, before I go all misty-eyed, lots of our guests arrived and it was all hands on deck!  Lots of people purchased products, and enjoyed the hospitality of the pub – plenty of people still relaxing in the bar when we left at 10:30pm……..We raised over £500 for the Bob Champion Cancer Trust – a combination of door money, raffle, gifts and a fab and enormous print from Bob Champion of Aldiniti which swelled the coffers from a ‘buy a square’ competition ran from the pub.  We didn’t get home until 11:30pm, and it was an early start the next morning to get the stock back up to Thirsk to the shop, but it was well worth all the effort.  Check out the photos on our facebook page

Since then, I’ve been mad busy getting the website populated with gallery stock, images, prices, descriptions, links, blogs etc.  I have tackled this mainly in the evenings, because, as every business owner will testify, when that ‘open’ sign turns to ‘closed’ there is a whole other area of the business to manage and keep running.  I’ve spent so long sat at a desk in the evenings, my lower back is seriously protesting!  I am a Picture Framer and therefore spend most of my time on my feet, definitely not used to seated work.  I have been helped and supported by Kelly at CK-Services in getting this new website done, her patience has been tested I think with my  lack of progress at times but hey-ho we are all done now thank goodness.

The week ahead brings some interesting framing challenges; pony rosettes, WWII medals, curly posters, fragile and aged letters.  All to carefully and respectfully frame, and to give our customers a piece of work which will hang beautifully on their walls for many years to come. I love my work, and it really matters to me that I understand what the customer wants, whilst offering my expertise and creative design skills – framing should be a collaborative process between the customer and framer to make the most of what is to be framed.

Well I wonder what the next seven days will bring us in terms of new business…?  This time of year becomes very busy for us, lots of images and objects to frame that will be opened on Christmas Day. Our gallery and gift area are well stocked with our ‘country theme’ products so come on everyone, get yourself to Thirsk, North Yorkshire and support some really lovely small independent businesses – you will get a much more unique gift for that loved one!

That’s all for now, warmest regards, Jo.