THE SINNFUL ONE

If you have ever been around for a drink in a bar or simply have been walking around the streets of Newtown in Sydney's inner west, chances are you would have come across artwork by Sindy Sinn.

You cannot miss his style of skulls, roses, motorbikes and anything and everything surrounding the theme of playful death (if there was ever such a category).

Take these classics as examples.   

I was able to have a candid chat with Sindy and I am happy to report that the man is quite jovial even with his busy-ass schedule (his colourful language and the tone of our conversation is rubbing off on this post).

Sindy Sinn profile
Sindy Sinn rings

I was able to grab a sneak peek of his upcoming Nightcrawler Co project which will be launching in a month's time which extends his brand to children.  

An interesting fact: Sindy used to be a touring roadie for bands and came across illustration by chance when he helped create material for bands on tour. The switch came naturally and his name got out organically as people latched on and identified with his no B.S. approach. 

If you want to see read more about "The Sinnful one" check his About page out.   The page does a great job of painting the picture about the dude behind the brand. You can also follow him on Instagram account @SindySinn to check his latest and greatest creations.  

And shout out of "thanks" to Sindy for taking time off and downing a couple of Young Henry's with me. Drop me a line if you ever need shots man!

Perry C@thethreeshot

 

Lessons when you don’t breakeven

This post is a sequel to Old Fashion Viral post.

If that post is too long, here’s a 1-line summary: Our collective group organised a day event to sell our designs and spread the word about our group.

Now the market day flew by and it was a — failure. There’s no need to beat around the bush, when you don’t break even, then you just lost money.
But if profitability is the only success measure, then unfortunately the group must be a sad basket case. Thank god, we’re more than that.

So it’s time to lick our wounds and throw down a few hard lessons learned.

Location is everything

Newtown here in Sydney is a nice melting pot of bohemian, alternative, avant-garde, young ‘seemingly’ well to do professionals and young ‘seemingly’ struggling professionals. It’s the Camden of the UK and Greenwich Village of New York (you get the picture).

Crowd is passing through rather than stopping

Crowd is passing through rather than stopping

Although a lot of these progressive types have a lot of time for dogs (and animals in general), not a lot of these locals actually stop by the local Saturday markets, which is seen more of a passthrough market more than it is a market you would conscientiously stop by on a Saturday.

We knew it going in, but we really felt it during the day.

So what are we going to do about it? We’ll have to know our market more and pick a better location next time that’s more contained, that people actually go to (rather than pass through). A good indication is to look at pictures online of the market and see if people are sitting down inside the market (like they do here).

In our area this translates to GlebeMarrickville and other markets where the crowds are larger and foot traffic is kinder.

Seasonality matters

Winter is a bitch. It’s not even that cold according to a member (an ex-Londoner that says “this is like our Summer”).

When the seasons hurt your crowd, the smaller numbers hurt the number of potential paying customers. That’s a kick in the groin any way you look at it.

Don’t be fooled by these happy faces — we were kinda cold on the day :)

Don’t be fooled by these happy faces — we were kinda cold on the day :)

So what are we going to do about it? Well we can’t really pick or wait that long for change in seasons — but if anything, we’ll try to avoid a cold day outdoors again (particularly if it’s pass through market).

Equally, we’ll select a market that’s indoors (hopefully with good heating).

Events matter

Our event coincided with the elections. Now how could we have missed this? Our bad.

What we also need to do is a little bit of targeted marketing and put a pop-up shop during specific events e.g. present our dog designs on a dog show.

So what are we going to do about it? Check the calendar and make sure it does not coincide with a crowd sucker.

But it also means hitting events like the Dog Lovers Show specifically for our dog tee initiative (as I’ve alluded to).

Have business cards

I refused to believe it when a partner suggested that we should have business cards. I said “Come on man. Let’s just direct them to our site and it’ll be right.

Here’s what I saw: People pass by the stall next door and ask for cards (and she was ready). People came to us and we redirected them to our site. Thinking about it, if passersby don’t remember it in their head then that’s a potential lost customer. Until technology can provide a frictionless way to give someone a business card (hmm..) then business cards still matter.

So what are we going to do about it? Design one, hand it out to CN crew, distribute it in events or to anyone that enquiries.

The chosen platform of choice is Moo. It’s now time to create a design and run it with the team.

Important items upfront

In practice

In practice

We had top sellers (based on online sales) and signup forms for passers by to write their interest (we had other products not on display) behind other items. It’s easy to think about it in hindsight, but not an obvious thing in the moment.

So what are we going to do about it? We need to put top sellers and important items upfront, put it above the fold as they say. For us that translates to the You had me at woof designs at the front of the shop with our business cards for easy access.

To extend this lesson, we could have in theory walked around with our signup form and business cards and had a chat to people about what we do (the next lesson below).

Engage them

The engaging Matias makes a sale

The engaging Matias makes a sale

When a passer by seems to be interested in a product, engage them. There’s a lot of judgment that comes to engaging: when is the right time? When they linger for 5 seconds or more? When they seem to be fixated on an item?

How do you engage without making it feel like you’re being pushy?

These are very difficult questions to answer but one does get better over time.

So what are we going to do about it? Get the sales people ready, get that timing right and get our charm on. That’s easy to say but it’s one of things that practice and time solves.

Listen to experts

Listening to other business owners is always a good idea, particularly if others have been through the same thing in the past.

We were positioned with another business owner who had a similar products and she shared her experiences with us.

The crew with ‘Plantfaced’ clothing

The crew with ‘Plantfaced’ clothing

So what are we going to do about it? Follow her tips. She did tell us about Glebe and Marrickville markets, and she also mentioned that The Commune is worth checking out.

And now it’s time for us to make some enquiries.

Social Media

Writing about it through social media before, during and after the event is a must do activity for any startup. We’ve seen an increase in activity in each platform when we share information on events like this which is obviously a good a thing.

We’re admittedly slack in some big platforms like Facebook and Twitter though, which is something we need to correct.

So what are we going to do about it? We need to increase our presence in Facebook and Twitter.

Execution is always the key and what we really need to do is to divide the tasks and share the load equally e.g. play to our strengths and get people that are more active on Facebook to share the info on the platform. The olddivide and conquer rule applies.

We might even have to extend this lesson and find an expert in the domain.

Final notes

In all honesty, breaking even was a stretch given that the main items were for a non-profit (RSPCA).

But outside the dramatic ‘profitability matters’ opener, we do at least want more enquiry form signups during the day.

These things take time and effort — but we’re up to the task.

Big thank you to these cool cats for making it happen

The Collective Network over the weekend

The Collective Network over the weekend

Come down and connect with us. We’re a fun bunch :)


About

Our creative group is as diverse as our backgrounds. We design, do photography and create software in our humble group.

Check out our ‘Collections’ for more details.

Making a better Lorem Ipsum

We are fans of Lorem Ipsum here at Collective Network.

 

HUGE fans like most of the people that use it. It is a great way to add some copy to quickly visualise a design during its initial stages.

The problem with Lorem Ipsum is that its value diminishes after those initial iterations when both client and designer have refined their work. What is actually required after this point is a better Lorem Ipsum.

A lorem ipsum generator that creates content, copy and design, based on a category. Wouldn’t it be nice if the tool would then generate a filtered list of content, helping the user’s focus during those crucial first steps?

And thus, this idea was born.

How it works

We have taken this idea and broke how to use such a tool in 3 simple steps:

  1. Select your category
  2. Generates the copy
  3. Add your design

As a user, you can then have a play around with your the results, by editing the copy, adding some more swag to the design, drag and dropping sections, adding / swapping / uploading your own images, adding icons and much more.

You can even save and download your work.

Let’s take a closer look.

Selecting a category

Use cases

The first challenge in designing a better Lorem Ipsum was its many uses. People use placeholder text to build just about any website, from travel to fitness, restaurants, photography, their own portfolios and multitude of others. A few will even use it as a play around when designing a section within their site, like their own blog.

The idea of adding a “category” to generate content specific to the category selected was then conceived.

Wouldn’t it be great if the tool was able to generate travel-specific content when the “travel” category, heading and/or paragraph was selected? Imagine the time and money it saves the user who might otherwise have to pay someone to write this all up.

Users

Making it easier for the user should always be the top priority when designing a new product.

And who exactly will be using this tool?

Everyone from a product guy, designer, developer, sales & marketing professional, or simply anyone that has come up with an idea. A user can iterate through an initial idea easily without having to hand it off to a designer.
A designer can use the tool to quickly, before launching into Sketch, Photoshop or their design tool of choice.

Generating Copy

After selecting the category, the user can then select a heading and description — and the tool will automatically generate an accompanying heading and description for that category.

 

All heading and description copy relating to Travel will be generated when selected by the user.

Similarly, all copy relating to Health/Wellbeing/Fitness would be generated with the selection of “Fitness” category, and so on. We, therefore, added a story card on the board to build that core feature.

Design considerations

Now in our head, copy wasn’t enough; we also wanted some design elements in our tool to contextualise what the user is building.

A person reading a travel site might expect the content to also include photos, which could be a key selling point in such a site.

Based on the category, we then added a card up to generate placeholder pictures specific to that category. The user would, therefore, have the ability to select an image which would generate random photos. Some of these will be generated through stock photos from Unsplash, and others will be taken from our group of talented photographers! [note: There are a fair few photographers here in Collected Network.]

 

We also added the ability to swap photos in case the user was not satisfied with the random photograph generated.

And as an added bonus, the user can also have the ability to upload their own images should they chose.

Design? Why bother?

And why even bother with adding design with a copy based tool? Context.

What better way to visualise your design than with real images (particularly with your own photos!)

But copy is STILL king

We have followed the universally accepted ‘Copy is King’ approach by presenting the block for copy prior to selecting any design elements. This approach ensures that copy is the key focus when the user starts to use the tool.

It is fairly obvious to the user that when they select images, before they select copy, that the output might look a bit odd — unless, of course, if that is the effect they’re going for.

Other bits of functionality

Drag and drop sections

To ensure flexibility, we will also allow users to move sections in different areas. In the scenario where a user creates the following content:

H1: Travel Australia
P: Australia is a country, and continent, surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans..
H2: Sydney
P: Sydney, capital of New South Wales and one of Australia’s largest cities, is best known for its harbourfront Opera House, with a distinctive sail-like design..

The user should be able to move the H1 (heading) and accompanying P (paragraph) below H2 if they so choose. The added functionality allows the user to have a quick play before settling on a final design.

People

We will create avatars of random people with an accompanying description if the user selects on the people icon. This will enable users to contextualise their site with real people.

The people and descriptions will also change depending on the category.

For example, the people generated for the Travel website will be travellers with some tall travel tales as description text; whereas if the user selects photography category, the people images generated will change to that of photographers (with accompanying text once again).

Blog

As you would’ve guessed, hitting the blog icon will generate a random blog specific to the category. A travel category will generate a travel blog (if selected) just like a fitness category will generate a blog related to fitness and wellbeing.

 

Contextualising the content is once again the key to creating a succinct experience for the user. There is simply no better way to design a concept in your head than providing you, the user, with tools in context, of what you have selected in the category. The aim of the game is to make the users thoughts concrete (as much as we possibly can).

Download

The output to all this is HTML for the copy and images will be exported via png files. We have also added a card for ‘copy to clipboard’ function.

 

The outputs from our Lorem Ipsum tool can then be used as inputs when the user builds their real website.

This is, in fact, the real benefit of the tool: It is the first stepto mocking up a website (or simply a design), for creatives, product types, designers, developers, marketing pros and anyone else out there who intends to create a site.

We have even included the traditional Lorem Ipsum text if the user so chooses. The tool is meant to be the first step in the design process — which is one of the reasons why we decided to call it “Startup Ipsum”.

Where to from here?

We are working hard behind the scenes building all the good stuff that comes with the tool; there are a few other features and surprises we haven’t even mentioned.

We would love to give you updates and absolutely welcome any feedback that you may have through our sign-up form. We’ll also do the rounds with meet-and-greets, predominantly here in sunny Sydney as well as promote our initiative through social media.

You, the user, are the key to letting us know what you would like to see in this tool. Let’s think outside the box and shape our first few steps in the design process together.

Feel free to reach out to us at any time.


Them Collective Rascals

This fabulous initiative is brought to you by the following#CollectiveNetwork rascals, specifically:

The handles: Perry CMark B and Suraj D.

Drop a ‘hey there’ or follow us on Collective Networks and through our own handles. We appreciate that :)

 

5 minutes with Carol from Mimpy and Co.

This will be the first in a series of interviews that drills into the people behind the Collective Network.

In our first edition of "5 minutes with.." we catch-up with Carol, our resident graphic designer from Mimpy and Co. In our 5 minutes, we get to know more about Carol's past, her present and her prediction for tomorrow!

Let's hear it from the lovely Carol.


What are the earliest memories you had as a child?

Mmm, one memory that comes to mind was when my foot got stuck while climbing a tree. Of course, I started freaking out and my parents ended up having to call the fire department to come down and cut the branch to free me. I swore to never climb a tree again haha.

Oh haha. Hella funny. Sorry to hear that! 

So, is one of your parents a designer? Or did you have a close family member that introduced you to designing?

Neither of my parents is into design and no one in my family is within the creative line of work.

But my mother was always a fashionista, I think her sense of fashion and style had an influence on my creative side. My father is a headstrong man who served over 20 years in the military. So looks like I’m the only one in my family within the design industry.

And were you good in art as a kid? Drawing, sketching, craftwork etc?

I don’t know if I was any good, but I always looked forward to art class. It was one of the classes I’ve always enjoyed and really concentrated in.  

And let's now fast forward a bit. What was your first job?

My first job within the industry was working for a design studio in Perth. My boss was nice enough to hire me and give me the experience I needed to move forward in my career.

Working in the design studio I learned things that have helped me become the designer I am today.   

Invaluable experience! And if you did not have to create a product or any work for a client, what would you be designing?

If I’m not doing design work for a client I usually work on my own marketing content, for example, Instagram posts, Facebook posts and updating my website.

But I’m currently brainstorming a series of prints to design for my online shop.  

When you look back at the breadth of your work, what is the most common style / theme that constantly comes up?

My style has slowly evolved over the past years and is still being refined.

At this moment I aim for my style to be clean and simple, focusing around minimal colours with the strong contrast of black and white. 

And can I just add that minimal black and white is working out quite well!

Why thank you.

And so what is your design process? How do you start and what are the steps to completion?

My design process consists of doing lots of research (online, magazines, books, asking people questions, etc.), then going to the drawing board sketching as many ideas and concepts as I can.

Once I’m happy with the sketches, I pick the designs that stand out and extend and continue working on them.

Then I’ll have a few concepts that I’m happy with and can present to my client.

From there I work with the client on improving and finalizing the design.  

Nicely broken down there.

What happens if you are lacking inspiration. What do you do to spark creativity?

I try to change the scenery by getting out of the office. I’ll go for a walk and get some fresh air, grab a coffee at a local café, I’ll try and go to creative workshops, or if I’m feeling stuck I’ll catch up with like minded people and bounce ideas off of them to help get me motivated. 

Do you dabble in music? Is music part of your design process?

When it comes to working alone in the office, Spotify is my best friend. I’ve always got it playing in the background and the playlists they offer are fantastic and keeps me from wasting time on picking tracks. It helps me get motivated and gets me in a positive headspace. Great for getting in the creative zone.

Good stuff.

And outside your work, are you into photography? Is there a particular subject that you like taking?

Photography has always been an interest to me and it comes hand in hand with design. It’s hard because all the photos I end up taking are for work.

But lately my photos all consist of my pug, she’s my new obsession and every moment needs to be captured with her because she’s so adorable.  

She is very cute indeed :)

 

So who inspires you? Who should we follow?

@furrylittlepeach is definitely at the top of my list. She has a major talent for illustrating and has a bubbly personality it seems - love her work.

@seekerloverdreamer Zoe Weldon, is a social media ninja with a vibrant personality, she’s great to follow because she’s fun and quirky, which I love!

We'll definitely check those 2 out based on your recommendation.

Would you do anything else if you were not designing?

Since elementary school, I’ve always been drawn to being creative. Nothing else stood out to me, whether it was what I was wearing, to the layout of my bedroom, to DIY projects, I have always been creative at heart. I can’t imagine doing anything else, it’s definitely a part of who I am as a person.

Where do you see yourself in 3 - 5 years time?

I would like to expand Mimpy and Co. and have a team on board, along with running my own monthly publication focussing on creatives and their own businesses. 

All achievable before that time! 

Yes, haha.

And the final question: What gets you out of bed?

Lately, it has been my puppy, Mona Lisa, she wakes up bright and early at 6 every morning wanting to play. So the first thing we do is go for a walk to start our day.

Should've seen that one coming :)


We would like to thank Carol for all her contributions to the #dogtee initiative. We are over the moon with her incredible designs and very impressed with her collaborative spirit! More power to you Carol!  

We'll see you shortly in our next 5 minutes.

Collective Network