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129: The Immersion Box

See the show notes for this Episode here.

This transcript has been automatically generated.

Bonnie Christine [00:00:00]:
Hi, everyone. Welcome back to The Professional Creative. Today, I'm so excited to bring some of my team members together so that we can talk to you about a project that we run every single year. It is our box experience for the immersion course.

Bonnie Christine [00:00:18]:
I'm Bonnie Christine and this is where all things creativity, design, business, and marketing unite. I'm a mama living in a tiny town tucked right inside the Smoky Mountains running a multi 7 figure business, doing the most creative and impactful work of my life. But when I first set out to become an entrepreneur, I was struggling to make ends meet and wrestling with how to accomplish my biggest dream of becoming a fabric designer. Fast forward to today, I'm not only licensing my artwork all over the world, but also teaching others how to design their creative life and experience the same success. I'm here to help you spend your life doing something that lights you up. I'll help you build a creative business that also creates an impact, changes people's lives, gives you all of the freedom you want, and is wildly profitable.

Bonnie Christine [00:01:21]:
Stu before we get to the box and the experience and everything that goes into it, I want to introduce to you some of my team members who helped me with this project. Nikita, will you say hello and introduce yourself?

Nikkita Cohoon [00:01:39]:
Hi, everyone. I'm the program manager here at Team Bonnie.

Bonnie Christine [00:01:43]:
And you, Rebecca? I'm Rebecca Breda. I'm the lead designer. And you, Erin Godby?

Erin Godbey [00:01:50]:
Hi. I'm Erin. I'm the events director for Team Bonnie.

Bonnie Christine [00:01:54]:
You'll also be hearing from Ephia Covington, who is our VA as well. She's not here with us live, but you'll be listening to her, soon as she passes off some information, with how she works with our boxes as well. So every year for the immersion course, which is our signature course that we teach once a year, we also send a box to everyone who enrolls to their doorstep full of incredible pieces that really help take the immersion course from a course to an experience. And so we call this box also a box experience. And so we've put so much into this box experience that we wanted to just pause and share as much as we could about why we do this and also how we do this. But before we get there, I wanted to talk about how it all began and what the history of the Bonnie is as well. So I've been teaching surface design immersion once a year since 2018, and I believe it was in 2020 that we started sending something to students in the mail. And so it wasn't always a box at the beginning.

Bonnie Christine [00:03:09]:
It was an envelope. So I sent an envelope that inside contained, 6 additional envelopes, one for each module. And the idea was that we would all have something that helped implement the module that we all open together at the same time. And this is what we did for a couple of years. And so this was very much in house for us. So I ordered the bits and pieces, and then we would ship them from my studio. So this is kind of, you know, an all hands on deck. I was bringing in family and friends to help package these boxes and get them shipped out the door.

Bonnie Christine [00:03:50]:
And it's funny when I think back about it because when, when we were in open enrollment for the course, like, something that is so familiar to me is the of the label printer. It's like, the label printer is going, and we've got hundreds of labels piling up in the floor, and we would get everything out the door. And so it was a very kind of hands on for us for a couple of years until 2 years ago, we began to pass off the process to a partner who helps in the fulfillment. And so we did that. What do you what do you all think? When we were when we were sending out over 2,000 of them, we kinda transitioned into helping with the fulfillment. So just wanted to say that today, because if you're gonna be looking to do something similar and you're gonna be shipping under a 1,000 of them, I think it's something that's very possible for you to do kind of in house and, and then wait until you get into those bigger numbers to to do a pass off. But that's the history. Now let's just kind of start with an overview of what is inside the box experience.

Bonnie Christine [00:05:01]:
And, Erin, I thought you'd be the, a great person to kind of go over everything.

Erin Godbey [00:05:06]:
Yes. I would love to. The box is my favorite. Okay. So this box, when the students get it and they open it up, they find that it is packed with tools and resources to support them on their jury journey to becoming creative entrepreneurs. So let's talk about each item. First of all, the crown jewel, the Immersion course workbook, which is packed with 430 pages of supporting tools, resources, and study guides, and we're Bonnie talk a lot more about this. So just hold on to your seat.

Erin Godbey [00:05:36]:
Also in the box, the first thing you'll see is a welcome note from Bonnie. So if they're a new student, they get a special new student welcome note, and then alumni will get a different note that welcomes them back. We love having our returning Stu. And then there's a couple different envelopes inside the Bonnie, and so one of them has course content and in there, they'll find all kinds of goodies, like a scratch off journey map to track their progress as they go through the modules. There's a keyboard shortcuts reference card, but that has the shortcuts for both PC and Mac. And then this year, we did something fun and we also included keyboard shortcut stickers so our students can put those right on their keyboard and not have to be looking back and forth, and that makes learning these different shortcuts so much easier. There's weeds and seeds cards, We'll talk about them a little bit as well. I have a tracker.

Erin Godbey [00:06:23]:
There's also a field guide, which is an inspiration notebook. There's some special sticky notes that they can use Stu, mark some pages to come back to in their workbook and then a highlighter as well and then there's a graduation envelope that has some surprises so I'm not going to spoil those. All of our students will get to enjoy that when they open it when they're done.

Bonnie Christine [00:06:43]:
Yeah. So it's when I when I think about this box, you know, I've gotten event boxes before and maybe course material before. And oftentimes, it feels like, you know you know that swag that you kind of are it's fun to open, but it ends up being tossed at some point. And so when we approached the design of the Immersion, our really number one goal was to make every single item something useful, something beautiful, something that enhanced the experience, and something that everyone would keep all the way down to the box itself. And so I know in this episode, it is audio only. So be sure to go over to the professional Christine dot com and check the show notes for today's episode where you can see some images of the box experience so that you can really see it all come to life. But one question that I would love to just open up to the team is this is a huge effort. It is a multi month endeavor.

Bonnie Christine [00:07:51]:
It's also an expensive thing that we do. And so why do we do it? I would love to hear it from your words. Like, why do we do this thing with the immersion course?

Nikkita Cohoon [00:08:03]:
You know, we really have our students at heart long before immersion even go goes live, and we're thinking about their experience from every point of interaction. And that starts, of course, with the lessons, but what the box experience really does is brings that home and really personalizes it for them. And we want them not only to take in in in the information be but be able to document as they go, really experience it, and have some tangible not even memento, but just a record of what they've been through because it is it truly is an immersion. And if you think of a big event, even like your wedding, you look back and it feels like a blur. And Immersion, obviously, isn't a life event like that, but it is a full experience. We say that word a lot, and this box helps it really become more tangible in a way and memorable so that they can look back and remember all those parts of their journey.

Erin Godbey [00:09:05]:
Yeah. Absolutely. And, there's also, I think, 2 parts to it as well. One part of course is helping our students in their journey. And I took immersion, in 2023 and had the benefit of having the first workbook. And I honestly can't imagine going throughout through the course without it. It was such a help to not have just the digital content, but be able to take this literal literal textbook with me when I was studying, when I was practicing, and it was such a huge resource. So there's the benefit of that additional educational content.

Erin Godbey [00:09:37]:
And then if you guys know anything about Bonnie, you know that she loves to spoil everybody. And so that's honestly what this box is. It is just an outpouring of joy and love and beautiful things that will help you and make you feel so special because she literally made this for you.

Bonnie Christine [00:09:52]:
When I think about the course from top to bottom, my goal is to make this a world class experience. And I I like to just bring that all the way to the box experience itself. I want it to feel world class. I want it to be world class, and I want it to be unlike anything anyone has ever really gone through before. And so one of the ways that we do that is just to surprise and delight with the with the box as well. So one of the questions we get quite a lot is who does what, or do I do it all? And I certainly do not. I'm so glad that I don't. It is a tremendous effort.

Bonnie Christine [00:10:37]:
This is where when we say that we've collectively poured thousands of hours into the course experience, The box and everything that goes into it is one of those areas. And so I wanna talk about how we delegate, how we pass things from one team member to the next. And so as a high level overview, my part is really the vision and the core content. And then Nikita kind of takes my content and turns it into we we often call it like a black and white version of, what is going to be designed for the entire box, including the workbook, which then gets passed over to Rebecca, the our designer. And so she kind of makes the vision and the black and white version of it beautiful. And then Erin is really her specialty is in sourcing items as well as managing the fulfillment center. Ephia, our VA, kind of comes in after that and manages the shipping and the inbox and the questions we get about tracking and all of that as well. So I'll talk about my part, and then we'll pass it along.

Bonnie Christine [00:11:48]:
So for me, it's the vision of the box. It's maybe the direction that I want it to go in, what I want it to feel like when someone opens it, what I want everything to say inside of it. But I have taken a back seat in what I, you know, what I want everything to look like. Because I work so closely with Rebecca, she knows my vision. She knows what I'm going for. She knows it all so incredibly well that it's such a beautiful thing to be able to pass off. And so my kind of biggest part of the whole experience is in the content creation itself, which is primarily over in the workbook, which we'll get to in a moment. And so I get to have this kind of high level vision and then pass it off to Nikkita who takes so much of what I've done and turn it into something that Rebecca can actually work with.

Bonnie Christine [00:12:40]:
So, Nikkita, do you wanna talk about your part in it?

Nikkita Cohoon [00:12:44]:
Yeah. I love this part of the process because you do establish the vision so beautifully, Bonnie. It's thinking about what is already there inherent in what you're going to teach, and then how can we support it. So instead of doing something that's word for word when it comes to the workbook, thinking about, okay. You know, it's almost like translation in a way of I'm taking that seed, and you and I know each other so well, so I usually can guess where you might go with it. And then I am also in there every day with our students, and I know the types of questions they'll have, what what it might feel like for them to receive this content. And so our goal with the workbook is really thinking about how can we take this lesson and then bring it Stu paper as a way to kind of document, give them notes, but also it's a place we almost want them to live of we want this to be their experience, and we want them to personalize it. And so there's places for them to reflect.

Nikkita Cohoon [00:13:38]:
There's a way for them to implement. And so it's helping bring that material that's on the screen and taking it off and into their their actual learning experience. And so it's considering a lot of those factors where the vision is the north star, but then how can we support that, and how can we make it personal for our students in their learning so that it really impacts them and they can truly implement it?

Bonnie Christine [00:14:04]:
So talk about the hand off to Rebecca.

Nikkita Cohoon [00:14:08]:
I don't even know if I would call it a hand off. Would you, Rebecca? It we were talking about this earlier that I sometimes I think of that little dancing girl emoji where you're sort of lockstep, and it's a very fluid back and forth process for us. We both went through the course last year, and we we kind of take notes in real time of, okay. When it comes to next year, we know we'll be doing new things. What is something that we could ideate, as Rebecca will talk about, on what could we expand and continue? And so we're having these conversations year round. We're tucking these things away like squirrels, our little acorns, and our nuggets of ideas. And so as I'm writing things for the work book, as I'm generating things there, I'll tag Rebecca in comments. We'll go back and forth as she starts the design.

Nikkita Cohoon [00:14:57]:
So maybe you can talk about it more, Rebecca, in terms of how you consider

Rebecca Barreda [00:15:02]:
it. Yeah. Yeah. So overall, my role, I'm really combining all of the really thoughtfully written content, Bonnie's beautiful designs and photographs, and just really working to balance all of those things together into an end product that will ultimately just add to the student experience and, like, guide them along this path that they're taking. And, yeah, it's it's a very collaborative a very collaborative thing. So it'll start off with like, I have the branding and project direction, and then I kind of do a little bit of Searchie, like, look at all of the things that we gathered. What worked well Stu year? What were some hang ups? What are the things that we could do better? And maybe do some research on that and sketch out a few different things before I start really, like, fleshing it all out. And then, yeah, it's a real back and forth like this page.

Rebecca Barreda [00:15:50]:
Is this making sense? Is the content too much on this page? How can we, simplify it? Because, ultimately, like we said before, we just really want to make the Stu' learning journey as simple as possible because learning anything new is intimidating, especially a program like illustrator. So everything that we put into the box and especially the workbook, we just really wanted to streamline it and make it as useful as possible for all of the students.

Bonnie Christine [00:16:19]:
And then, of course, there's this whole question of, okay, we've got the Immersion. Maybe we've got the design, but where do we get what we're putting in? So that comes down to sourcing materials and manufacturers and all sorts of things. And that is one of Erin's really zones of genius. So will you talk about that, Erin?

Erin Godbey [00:16:39]:
Yes. Absolutely. The sourcing is so fun for me. It's basically just like curating a perfect little collection that we get to ship out to all of our students. And the key is, you know, Bonnie had mentioned, you we've all gotten swags from events or companies that are fine, but it's just a logo slap in a water bottle or a logo slap in a notebook. And you guys know that's not how it'll work. Aesthetics and usefulness are extremely important to us. So we I, we Searchie the far corners of the internet and the world for beautiful things that we can include, that we can customize with Bonnie's designs and photos that are not only beautiful to look at, but are actually useful.

Erin Godbey [00:17:20]:
We're not gonna send something that's gonna just be going go in the trash. So the sourcing, I do a lot of that myself, and then I will tap with, into our 3rd party agency that we use, because they've got the vendor connections. And so sometimes if I can't find something, I'll say, hey. Here's what I'm looking for. This is my inspiration. What can you find? Because they have a lot more contacts than I knew. And then together, we we pull it. And then I'm with the logistics, I'm kind of the the little messenger running back and forth to go between, so I'm, getting all of the guidelines and the templates that we need from these different vendors for whether it's printing the work book or printing the sticky notes or the the keyboard stickers and making sure that Rebecca has those, that she has all of the specs that she needs.

Erin Godbey [00:18:00]:
And so, we get to work pretty closely together as well translating, the vision into the physical products.

Ephia Covington [00:18:08]:
Hello. My name is Ephia, and I'm the virtual assistant here for the team at team Bonnie. And part of my job during immersion is managing the shipping. So I really get into all the nitty gritty of the shipping. I take all the names and addresses of Stu, and I send them over to our agency that manages our shipping for us, and they pack, label, and ship out the boxes for us. And they actually start packing those boxes even before enrollment because we really want to get the boxes to the students as soon as possible. Also, a part of my role is if there's a problem on the student side, they can email the team and let me know, and I can work that out with them. If there's a problem with an address, if they've moved, if the box is damaged in any way, if there's something missing.

Ephia Covington [00:18:54]:
Also, we ship block boxes globally. We have so many students from all over the world and managing, customs issues if there's anything like that or extra fees kind of helping them figure out how we can get their box moving again and get it into their hands as soon as possible. So, students email me, then I kind of will check-in every day and work with the shipping agency to solve any problems that they have or that or that the students have. So managing the logistics of shipping a box for the course is just staying right on top of it because every day, you know, people are enrolling and people are emailing and they're having questions. It's just trying to keep the communication open between our team, the student, and our shipping agency, just making sure that everybody has all the information they need so we can get the boxes moving and deliver to the students as soon as possible.

Bonnie Christine [00:19:54]:
Okay. So let's move into the timeline for something like this. Timing is tricky, and so a lot of that has to do with also how much time production takes and also how much time it takes in our house while we're working on it and designing it. And then as soon as it leaves our hands, it's also pretty timely, situation as well. So internally, it really all starts specifically the workbook. Let's talk about the workbook for this. The workbook specifically starts from a written context of the entire course. And so I've done a podcast on what it takes to rerecord a course, and we'll link that in today's show notes so that you can go dive into that as well.

Bonnie Christine [00:20:42]:
But for me, it really starts there. So lesson by lesson, improving and rewriting the script for each and every lesson. And so that was a multi month, effort for me. I think we were, I was at about 3 months with this really scripting of the experience, and that was a result of, like, a 500 plus page Google Doc situation. That is what I handed over to Nikita. And so Nikita is who takes that and then works side by side with Rebecca, to ideate and design a workbook that would coincide with the lessons in a way that would really not just replicate the lessons, but pull the student into the learning experience. And so that's all under our roof. Nikkita, why don't you talk about that for a bit, and then you can hand it off to Rebecca to speak about as well.

Nikkita Cohoon [00:21:41]:
Yeah. I would say you might underestimate how long it would take to convert that to lessons because it's less writing than what a script would be. But sometimes simplifying takes a lot of headspace too because you're really thinking through what are the essential elements here, what are the key takeaways, and what does that look like if we're going to add prompts, if we're going to have these Christine things like that. And so it really takes a similar amount of time from scripting to sit with that and think about what are what can we simplify here, what do we need to expand on, and what does that look like. So give yourself time there as well.

Rebecca Barreda [00:22:19]:
Yeah. So this year, specifically, we really wanted to make the workbook something that the students could take along with them in their journey no matter where they are in learning illustrator. Because there are students who are learning illustrator for the first time with taking this course and some who have been working with illustrator for years. And we really wanted to make this workbook make sense and be useful for all of them. So from what Nikita wrote, I took all of that information and we went back and forth with what information is actually going to be in the workbook, what needs to be included, and how we can make it almost more of a a journal of what they're learning, where they're at. Lots of prompts and questions for them to consider, in in their journey where they're at, what they're what they're still confused about, and what they're still learning. And I also put a lot of thought into how can I visually make the page really easy to view and consume? Because, like I said, learning illustrator is is a lot. There's a lot of moving pieces.

Rebecca Barreda [00:23:23]:
And the huge thing that we wanted to focus on was just making it really digestible. And so I was really intentional about the size of the text Stu the space of the text and the heading and giving space for things so that it there was there were breaks in the book and there were breaks on the page so that the students really felt that they could approach the content and take breaks when they needed and be able to learn at their own pace.

Bonnie Christine [00:23:50]:
So that's all under our house. How long do you think that it took you and Nikkita once I passed off my scripts in the design phase?

Rebecca Barreda [00:24:01]:
Stu and a half months, I think, back and forth.

Bonnie Christine [00:24:05]:

Bonnie Christine [00:24:06]:
So we're at, like, 5 months now. Let's say that as a rough estimate, and then it leaves our hands. So, Erin, talk to us about that process, the timeline of that process, and and what really production looks like.

Erin Godbey [00:24:20]:
Yeah. Absolutely. Production takes a long time and shipping takes even longer. So once Rebecca is finished designing the file from our side, it has made it just so incredible. It gets passed off to our agency who then makes it press ready. And so there's some little intricate things that they have to do with that. So the file is perfectly prepped for the printer. And then it's not just a simple black and white book they're printing.

Erin Godbey [00:24:45]:
This is full color. It's got gold foil on the cover. It's spiral bound. There is tabs for each of the modules that have gold foil on them. There's inside pockets. So there's a lot of extra pieces that go into producing this. And so, I work with the agency to make sure the vendor has everything they need. They send us digital proofs.

Erin Godbey [00:25:03]:
And then if there if time allows, it's great to be able to get a physical proof in hand as well. But producing thousands of these takes a long time. In addition to the workbook, if you go over the show notes, you'll see the beautiful box that contains all of the goodies. And then both of these items are nestled in a gorgeous cradle box. So this is something that's going to live in our students bookshelves forever. You want to plan for at least 2 months what you're shipping before you can start to assemble and get things out the door.

Bonnie Christine [00:25:32]:
Yeah. I want you to just imagine what would it feel like to hold your very own custom fabric for the first time, or maybe it's wallpaper or stationery or gift wrap. Perhaps you use it to wrap gifts with or sew projects with, like blankets or pajamas. If that sounds exciting, I'm so excited to tell you about my new free mini class. It's called Stu simple in pattern design. It's called Start Simple because, well, we're going to do just that. In just 5 lessons that are under 20 minutes each, you'll learn how to take a simple sketch or painting or picture and turn it into vectors using Adobe Illustrator. Now don't worry, even if you've never used this program, I'll teach you everything you need to know to get up and running, simply.

Bonnie Christine [00:26:22]:
I'll even show you how to take pictures of found objects like leaves and petals, so you don't even have to draw if you don't want to. I'll show you how to create a custom color palette, design your very own repeating pattern, and order as little as 1 yard of fabric or some wallpaper or maybe some gift wrap today. Once you learn how to design fabric, that's the magic. You'll be able to design just about anything you want. So do you have an hour to learn an entirely new skill for free? If so, let's get started. Head on over to bonniechristine.comforward/startsimple. Once you register, you'll gain immediate access to all of the lessons and begin learning right away. Again, that's bonniechristine.comforward/startsimple.

Bonnie Christine [00:27:07]:
Come on. I'll meet you there. You know, one question that I know our listeners will have, this is probably for you, Rebecca, is what does the actual design phase look like? For instance, are you designing a workbook to fit the box? Are you designing a box to fit the workbook? And how are you deciding on the dimensions of everything? How do we know it fits into the box? Like, tell me about some of the really tactical pieces of what it looks like to work with files for so many different moving parts.

Rebecca Barreda [00:27:41]:
Yeah. There there's a lot that goes into this. For the size of the workbook, we started that with discussing what would be the best for the students. Like, if I was a student taking this course, I'm probably gonna have it on my desk with me. So what would be a good size for that? That it'll fit on my desk, that it's not too too big, but it's not so small that it feels that it that the pages get really big if because if it's smaller, the text has to go Bonnie to more pages, so it might be thicker. So the workbook is where we started with for the size, and then we just created everything else to fit around the workbook size. And in designing the size, I talked a lot with Erin about this.

Erin Godbey [00:28:25]:
As we plan for the size, we did work with the agency and we ran a bunch of costs. So I looked at probably 3 to 5 different quotes. If we do the workbook in the box this size, if we put them in the cradle box or they're separate, So we've worked together to find something that fit our goals and was a good cost effective option while still meeting all of our aesthetic needs.

Rebecca Barreda [00:28:48]:
Another piece of the box experience was the field guide. This is something that we thought of last year when we were watching the course. Like this would be something that would be a great piece for the students to be able to carry around with them. So the field guide was made kind of like a notebook, sketchbook, and we made it smaller so that it would be easier for students to stick in their purse, stick in their bag, and carry around in their car with them and take them places where they might be able to find inspiration. And so they would have something with them. So for that, we made it smaller versus the workbook where I made it bigger as something that you might keep on your desk.

Bonnie Christine [00:29:23]:
So when everything arrives, then we go into really, like, an assembly line. Basically, how do thousands of these boxes get assembled, get packed up, get properly labeled, and shipped literally to all over the world? So for instance, this year, we have over 55 countries represented, and they all get a box. So, Erin, would you talk to us about that side of it, the logistics of it?

Erin Godbey [00:29:49]:
Absolutely. This is where, it is very beneficial to have a third party, fulfillment agency when you're shipping this Bonnie. And, it's no on my dining room table with all my friends and Amy, like it, like it was, we were doing envelopes. So all of the goods, all of the pieces get sent directly to our agency's warehouse and their crew, as soon as things come in, I get sent photos and I'm checking and making sure everything looks good. So I'm not there, at the warehouse physically, and then they start to pack them up. So they start packing up boxes while we are in open enrollment. And so that way boxes are ready to go. They've got their set of alumni boxes with the alumni note.

Erin Godbey [00:30:28]:
They've got their set of new student boxes. And then as our students are registering, Ethea works with the agency and gets them all of the addresses so that they can ship these boxes out and get them out to all of our students all over the world.

Bonnie Christine [00:30:43]:
So as with any project of this size, there are always some challenges, and there are always some lessons that we learn along the way. So since we all have touched it very differently, let's talk about some of the challenges that kind of our section has has had. Right? For instance, one of the challenges that I really had was that this year, the course was new. And so because of the timeline for the workbook, we really had to design the workbook before I was done recording the the video lessons. And that was a challenge. It really meant that we had to fully wrap our minds around every single detail before it had been brought to life, which also means that, you know, if you have an idea later on, you might not necessarily be able to incorporate it because the workbook book is already set in motion. So that was something for me that I just had to very, very as much as I could, make sure that we I had everything fully thought through months months months before I typically would have.

Nikkita Cohoon [00:31:53]:
I would say the same for developing the the lesson text and things that would go in the workbook as well because, naturally, you'll have a script, but you may deviate from that when you go to film. And that was something Rebecca and I had in mind of what is the core of each lesson and what what what do we know will likely remain true, and where is there room for expansion? Can we create a space for notes so that people can follow along even if we don't document the whole process here? And there still might be places where we we didn't fully get it. And I think that's okay, though. There it's evidence of us being human, and we also want to encourage innovation and new ideas and just so we we're transparent with students that, yeah, this this page might look a little different than the final lesson, and we can always provide supplements in the course itself for that too.

Rebecca Barreda [00:32:49]:
I think that's an important part of any design process is knowing that it's okay to just let it go and be where it is right now, knowing that if you did it again, you would probably do it differently, and that's okay.

Bonnie Christine [00:33:03]:
Rebecca, talk to us about design challenges when it comes to things like scale and color and, you know, quality and that kind of thing.

Rebecca Barreda [00:33:12]:
Yeah. That's that can definitely be an issue Stu, especially with timing. It's always ideal if you can work far enough in advance to get a preproduction sample. Because even if we do everything perfectly and pass it off to a factory, they might make a mistake. And so there's always that piece that you might and they might just not make it the way that you thought they were going Stu. And that's just part of working with factories. So I was trying to be intentional about I've worked enough with factories to know that these are common things that can go wrong. And so I will be intentional about telling Aaron, to talk to the factory or talk to our 3rd party to make sure that they make the factories know, like, these are the things that we care most about.

Rebecca Barreda [00:34:01]:
And then also, I I think about that as well. I try and keep things simplified in the design because if you have more elements, more textures, there's more likely chance that things might not turn out the way you want. So, like, we had gold foil, but it was very simple. It wasn't like the whole cover. So if it wasn't quite the color we wanted, it would be okay. That's kind of how I approach it. I kinda Over to you, Erin.

Erin Godbey [00:34:28]:
There are so many moving parts and people involved in this project with which is both a wonderful thing and a challenging thing. So things can get lost in communication and, yeah, as Rebecca had mentioned, even though we sent off, you know, a perfectly checked, workbook file, there's a couple of images that just didn't make it in. Honestly, no one's probably gonna even notice but us and it's okay and we'll fix it next round because the workbook is beautiful. Other things like not being able to physically be present to oversee the production and the packing, you know, the quality checks might not be always up to our standards and a student might get a box that has a missing piece, and they'll let us know. We'll make sure we get the replacement for them. Or for example, colors, as we know, on screen are not always as they appear in real life. There's a beautiful bright mint green highlighter in the box that is not the color that we thought we'd selected. We thought we had selected a Stu muted, very classy highlighter and was a little surprised to see this minty friend in there.

Erin Godbey [00:35:29]:
So as always, we come back to done is better than perfect, and I am so proud of how this box came out. And if there's 1 or 2 little things that are not a 100%, it's not gonna impact how wonderful an experience it is.

Bonnie Christine [00:35:42]:
One of the biggest lessons that we learned that was also a little bit painful was that we thought we were on our correct timeline. We thought we were on the right timeline. And we found out a little a little last minute that the workbook or yeah. Basically, the workbook wasn't going to arrive in time. And this is like a no go. The workbook has to arrive in time. And so our option was to let it take 45 days to arrive or 7 days at the cost of, what, about $80,000. And so the 45 day mark would have put us way too far into course delivery.

Bonnie Christine [00:36:26]:
And so even though we had not planned on this expense, we ultimately decided we have to do anything that we need to do in order to get these in students' hands on time. So that was, what do you call it, a little bit of stupid tax, something that we didn't have to, have gone through had we really had our minds wrapped around and had the foresight of the proper timeline. So, again, take your timeline. I would double it. Lisa, our beloved integrator would say triple it. And so take the time that you think you need and just expand on that. Make it longer. We are now working way, way, way ahead for the next time that we're gonna do this because it's just something that you learn as you go.

Bonnie Christine [00:37:13]:
So I'd love to open up the floor to you all. If someone was looking to package something to ship to send to their students, what advice would you give them if they were just getting started?

Erin Godbey [00:37:28]:
I would say be simple and intentional. You do not have to give them the moon the first time around. I mean, the students that got those envelopes in 2020 were so happy to get those envelopes. It felt so special. And you can take your time and you can level up each year as you have more revenue and more students, but just focus on making what you can do really impactful.

Rebecca Barreda [00:37:54]:
I really love that, Erin. That word intentional is one of my favorites and something that I try to embody in my designs is being intentional. And I think really understanding your why of why you're doing that and who you're doing it for is the most important thing. That was really the driving force behind all of the decisions that we made for this box. So if you understand who it's for and why you're doing it, and you're really intentional about it, even if it's just something simple like envelopes, the people receiving that will feel that.

Nikkita Cohoon [00:38:24]:
I agree, Rebecca. And it comes back to that word of impact too of what is going to be the impact on their experience with their learning and what is going to be the best tool for that. And tool is a big word, but it can come down to a worksheet or a workbook or something like that that is really going to improve and enhance their experience. And that doesn't always mean all the bells and whistles or the most you know, the fanciest things, but truly the tools that will help our students succeed.

Bonnie Christine [00:38:55]:
Yeah. When I think about maybe Stu different perspectives of how to get started is, 1, I think when you when you think about manufacturing something, it can feel like an unknown world, and you're not sure how to get started. And I would love to just encourage you and say it's not as complicated as you think. It literally just requires you to get to googling. If you want to include, let's say, an enamel mug with a custom design on it, all you have to do is start researching custom enamel mugs and start reaching out to the contacts that you find there. Look at the options that you have, see, about the difference in pricing, and just kind of dive in head first. Erin, this is really your specialty, but I wanted to speak to how so many times we over like, we make it bigger than it is when, really, it just requires kinda diving in. Do you have any other advice that you would give anybody for sourcing?

Erin Godbey [00:39:56]:
Yeah. Just take your time and do the research. Google is your friend. A lot of paper goods or enamel mugs or small notebooks. There are so many vendors that have low minimums and are easy to work with. It's not scary. Just get in there and do it. And just remember, inspiration can come from anywhere.

Erin Godbey [00:40:14]:
The, beautiful vellum sticky notes that are in the box this year. I was inspired. I'm at a stationery store and they had these, really delicate washi tape, little mini post it notes essentially. And I love the idea of something see through that was a little transparent that students could write Bonnie edge of the workbook. And so that idea evolved into these vellum sticky notes. And so you you never know where you're gonna get an idea for a special project.

Bonnie Christine [00:40:39]:
The other thing that I think is tricky is how many to order. And if you're in a situation like we are, well, we don't really know. Right? We have to make decisions on how much quantity we're gonna order for everything way before we know the actual number. And in our instance, every student gets one, so we absolutely have to kind of over order. And so this is a testament to really knowing your numbers. If it's your first time and you're doing something like a course, I would say, maybe don't promise anything in the mail so that you've got some statistics to run off of the next time. In fact, the workbook for us was a really slow process. If you all remember, I know you do, It started as a PDF download.

Bonnie Christine [00:41:28]:
It was, I believe, 3 years ago, and we started it as PDF downloads for each lesson. But when we did that step, we had in mind that we might turn this into a workbook. And so I thought that that was a really gentle way to start. Like, maybe you design it, give it as a digital version in year 1. And then in year 2, you can think about turning it some of those digital goods into physical goods. But you'll have some data to go on. So you should know how many students you had last year, how many students you project to have this year based on your audience growth and your conversion numbers and things like that. So when we talk about being strategic and knowing your numbers, it really is for so many reasons.

Bonnie Christine [00:42:13]:
And one of them is to be able to project and make sure that when you do something like a physical item that you get enough. The next thing I would say for all of the entrepreneurs listening is just how hard I know it is to kind of, like, release the grip that you have on certain things. And something like this in particular, you it's your baby. You would be so opinionated about how it looks and how it goes together. And I know that many of us feel, right, like no one can do it, like we would do it. And I'm sitting graced in the presence of just 4 incredible team members that don't just do it as good as I would do it, but they do it better than I would do it. And these people exist. They are out there in the world, and they're waiting for you.

Bonnie Christine [00:43:06]:
So be willing to just release the grip just a little bit. I know it's difficult, but if you can step into that visionary role and then bring people Bonnie board to your vision, they're very capable of making it better than you ever thought it could possibly be. And so this is not something that I would do without my team. It's not something I would wanna do without my team. And I'm so incredibly grateful for the hands that went into this project. Team, any last words that you would like to leave everyone with about the box, the workbook, the experience, all of it?

Ephia Covington [00:43:44]:
I would

Erin Godbey [00:43:45]:
just say that this work that we do is so rewarding and seeing students getting their boxes and sharing their excitement, whether it's in the inbox or posting on Instagram and just treasuring this, it makes it all worth while. And we know how much this is gonna help them on their journey and how it's gonna make them feel so loved and supported. Whether it's, you know, somebody just literally teared of joy over how beautiful and helpful this workbook is going to be because it finally feels real. She's finally doing it. She's finally following her dream, Or I saw, somebody who's a young mom post one of the weeds and the seeds cards on her by her desk. That was the tight on time one. These are cards that basically, Bonnie, how would you describe the weeds on weeds and seeds?

Bonnie Christine [00:44:28]:
Well, the weeds and the seeds are all common issues that we run up against, like imposter syndrome or not enough time. And then the seed is the exact kind of opposite filter that we can lean into to replace that weed with. So there are several, and they're all things that we just all struggle with. And so it's our way out.

Erin Godbey [00:44:52]:
Exactly. So, yeah. So just making these beautiful little cards that someone's got popped on their desk as a reminder that this you're not alone. Other people are doing this Stu, and here's how you come back up. It's just, it makes it so special. It feels like it's our little gift out to the world is being celebrated and enjoyed, and it it's just wonderful.

Nikkita Cohoon [00:45:12]:
I would say Stu, don't underestimate the power and the impact of something that someone gets to hold in their hands. Because creating something like this truly is a labor of love, but it makes such a difference, and it's the thing that stays with people when they look back on an experience like this.

Rebecca Barreda [00:45:30]:
And just to kind of tie them all together, my parting words would be, 1, to not hold too tightly to things that you're scared to just put it out in the world. Creating things, you always want to do your best, but you can you always feel it's easy to get caught up thinking, but there's more I could do. But I think just giving yourself a timeline, doing the best you can, being really intentional about it, and then just putting it out into the world because you'll be blown away with how much that it means to people when you do that.

Bonnie Christine [00:46:01]:
You know, what I was just thinking is how we kind of split the workbook up and had the whole team come in and give it fresh eyes. Because when we're so close to something, right, it's so easy to kind of look at it too much. I remember just recently, I had a spelling error in it was in something for you, Erin. And I had read it a 1000000 times, but it was, like, in my brain, it was I was just inserting that letter right there where it was supposed to be. And so one of the things we did with the workbook was kinda divide and conquer. We assigned page numbers to everyone on the team. So 12 of us were diving in to go through our section multiple times, and then we switched and did somebody else's section as well. And so that was super helpful, was just getting eyeballs on what we were doing.

Rebecca Barreda [00:46:53]:
My favorite part of this whole process was just how collaborative it was. Even when it was in the design phase, I was still working with Nikkita, and I was talking to Aaron and getting ideas from other people. And so so don't feel like you have to do it alone because you really don't. And working with other people is going to end up being even better than you envisioned that it was going to.

Bonnie Christine [00:47:12]:
My friends, that is a wrap on a peek inside what it takes to do an experience box like this. Create the beauty that you want to see come alive in the world. And remember, there's room for you.

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I'm Bonnie Christine.


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