Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Brrrrrr…. Winter has definitely set in around central Ohio. We don’t have the snow yet, but the air feels arctic. If it’s going to be this cold, we really should have snow on the ground. Here’s hoping for a white Christmas this year.

While our Christmas orders are wrapping up, we’re thinking ahead for the next promotion. I’m considering multiple options that could tie into a January/renewal theme, a green/conservation theme, or just jump ahead and do Valentine’s Day. Either way, watch for our new promo piece to be unveiled on Dec 20th. Hint, we love suggestions!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oh, How My Wish List Has Changed

Once upon a time I dreamed of jewelry, a romantic vacation, or some personal and thoughtful little gift for Christmas (reality was more likely a kitchen appliance… I did mention this was a DREAM). After starting Trading Phrases, I’m now dreaming of more mundane things like a receipt scanner (ooh, organization!), or shinny new weeding tools. I’ll admit that the thought of the latest Photoshop or Illustrator are more thrilling than an iPod, and I’d be practically beside myself with a new wide format printer to branch out a bit with our product offerings. My stocking can be filled with new blades or cutting strips for the cutters, and I’d love a little elf to show up and update the colors on our designs on the website (the majority of our designs don’t have the latest colors—there are over 1000 to be updated, and I’m not going there right now). New vector art for more designs, a new font CD? Oh the possibilities are endless…

Of course the new kitchen appliance will also be lovely.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Burning the Midnight Oil

We’re burning the midnight oil around here. Orders are coming in, and everyone wants their items by Christmas. We’re keeping up with the demand, but a few goofs have slipped in (which means more work in the end). It doesn’t help that we continue to tweak our processes in the middle of everything, which makes everyone agree up front, and then slowly grumble when they realize that they have to change a time honored way of doing something. I never really understood why everyone loves progress, but hates change… We’re appeasing the crew with tasty treats (and pie, must keep Cody supplied with pie) in order to keep them going. They can’t complain if they’re chewing.

Orders are going out on time, generally one or two days after the order is received. Some schedules cannot be accommodated, such as the customer that ordered a design on Thursday evening and then was disappointed that she didn’t have it in time for an event on Friday. We’re good, but are not miracle workers. Perhaps if we could borrow a certain sleigh and team of reindeer for a few minutes…

Monday, December 7, 2009

Making a Stock Design One of a Kind

I love contrasts. I love shipping orders for snowmen designs in July, and for beach house designs in December.

Our designs give our customers a chance to create a design that is meaningful and unique. Color mixes that are edgy, an embellishment or two that add just the right touch, or mixing and matching a few words and artistic touches for a perfect one of a kind statement are all examples of how a stock design can be truly unique. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a few Valentine’s Day lipstick love notes to ship out…

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Free Designs... If You're Lucky

Have you ever heard the expression "Too much of a good thing?" Well we've got too much of several good things, and they're taking over our production space! We've got extra designs and we just don't have the heart to toss them out. Good designs. Popular designs. Designs that were cut in the wrong size, cut in the wrong color, or just cut when they weren't really needed. We've decided to give them to good homes. From now through Christmas, one free popular design will be happily gifted to a customer that orders that day. They are our gift to our fantastic customers, and we don't care one bit about re-gifting these little babies. To see what's being given away today, or to see which lucky customer won a prior design, visit our promotion page. For more gift ideas and inspiration, stay around and browse the site. Our designs are growing by the day!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What We're Thankful For

Our employees—Chris, Nick, Cody, Austin, Zach, Christine, Taylor, Katie, Samantha—we couldn’t do it without you! Our fantastic USPS carriers—you guys rock! iPhones—we couldn’t survive without the daily battle over the production room playlist Recycling centers that help us keep our carbon footprint more like a kitten heel than an Ugg boot Social networks—and my love/hate relationship with Twitter and Facebook Inspiration for our ‘coming soon’ line of new nursery designs—congrats Sami and Zak! The fall colors that were stunning but brief Mead, mulled wine, and egg nog—yum! The recent food and wine festival at Disney World—my feet are still sore! Hot bubble baths and soaking my troubles away after a long day The economy finally showing signs of life The growing Trading Phrases business that continues to keep us busy each and every day Our family, friends, and our fantastic customers—Thank you!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

That's Fontastic!

A funny thing happens to people who start working for Trading Phrases. People start recognizing fonts, or at least start noticing if something would be easy to work with or would be (now how do they put that… oh yes, now I remember) pure swoopy font hell.

Those pretty scrolly, scripty fonts that I love working with make our production crew whisper mutinous oaths. Plain text (boring in my opinion) fonts make them practically giddy. And the cutting machines also have their own ‘issues’. Just try to cut Passions Conflict font without the machine skip a letter or two out of spite. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

I’m working on a compromise font for a lot of my designs lately. Poetica is a fairly plain font, with Roman alternative capitals that add a bit of flair. I still haven’t given up the swoopy scripts entirely; I’m just trying to mix things up. However, if you start seeing nothing but plain text designs in the coming months please send help—the crew will have probably will have me locked in the storeroom far from my precious scripty fonts!

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Holiday Designs for 2009

Yes, I know, Thanksgiving is not here yet. I couldn't help myself. This year is going to be different. This year I'll shop early and avoid the last-minute crowds. This year I'll get those cards out early. This year I'll bake cookies and take them to the neighbors. This year I'll... Nevermind, I know myself too well, and I won't be doing any of that. I will, however, put up a bunch of fun designs for our holiday collection to add some instant cheer.

I love vinyl decals for holiday and seasonal decorating. They are beautiful, look like a hand painted stencil, and are easily removable when the season is over. If you want to reuse the decals from year to year, then apply them to a plaque, to a large tile, or even to a mirror or a piece of plexiglass that can be stored and used again. If you're got a personal message that you would love to create for your space, then contact us and we'll get that personal masterpiece started for you.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go take down a few Halloween decorations...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Swooshes, Scrolls, and Swoops—whatever you call them, they’re here!

I’m excited about our latest scroll designs. I love a fun, unexpected graphic impact on my walls. These scrolls are a nice change from the lettering designs that are so prevalent in our designs. These are great accents for over a door, accenting a window, a topper for a collage of frames, or just about anywhere. I’m planning on adding a few above the cabinets in my kitchen, and am going to dress up an old boring a cabinet with a few well placed scrolls. Now, what colors to choose?...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Halloween's a Coming

I love fall, the leaves are festive, the air reminds me of a summer day at the beach (that's the beach on the Oregon north coast, where 80 degrees is a heat wave), and the kids are back in school. We're busy churning out new designs, both custom ones and others that go well with the Simply Words category. We've also got a new Boo! promotion that is sure to add a little fun and whimsy tucked in with each order (now until Oct 25th).

Our designs have been spotted on a new site, where site users can create a mashup of several images and create their own digital expressions. Check out one of the family designs and then give it a go. It's a quick and fun way to start designing at

Rethinking Our Website

Where there’s a website, there’s a way to improve it. We’ve been thinking about our website a lot lately, and we’re slowly realizing that we need some significant overhaul. The designs are difficult to find, the shopping cart options aren’t standardized, and shipping options and discounts are cumbersome. On the other hand, it has a great look and feel to the design that really resonates with our customers.

We’re looking at updating the the custom quote options, which will let customers really get a chance to play with their design, font choices, and colors up front. We want that to be a seamless transition to either purchase directly without intervention. We also want to keep the ability to transfer the work in progress to the next step where one of our designers can make it truly special with a mix of fonts, colors, embellishments, layout options, and everything else they do to make the custom quotes a work of art.

Here’s hoping this redesign is a positive experience. Generally when you get creative types and technology types together they can’t seem to communicate. You end up with visually stimulating designs that don’t have the features or functionality that is actually something someone can use. Maybe that business degree in computer information systems will come in handy–not that I’m ever planning on admitting that it was worth it to suffer through statistics!

Friday, August 7, 2009

New Colors Are Coming!

The nagging, whining, and constant cajoling has finally paid off! Hot off the presses (or cutters, in our case) are 14 new colors from our supplier, Oracal. We haven’t seen them yet, but we anticipate a sage green, an olive, a teal, persimmon, a few more flavors of pink/magenta and more. We’ll get them available just as soon as they arrive, so keep watch on the color sample page for the latest update. 62 colors–Whew!

So for those that really can’t find the perfect color in the mix of 62 choices, we have the ability to cut most of the designs in a ‘reverse weed’ order. What this means to the design perfectionist (and you know you are!) is that you can use the design as the perfect single use stencil for a precise color match. Of course the beauty of the vinyl medium is that it is quicker and easier than paint, but the reverse technique is prefect for that hand painted look.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why yes, wall decals ARE removable!

We often get questions about how easy vinyl wall decals are to remove. Our designs are made of a type of thin vinyl that is removable without leaving a residue behind. These peel and stick designs are easy to put up, and look great until you're ready to take them down. The removable designs are a great alternative to paint or stencils, which can only be covered rather than removed.

The decals work well in apartments, dorm rooms, as seasonal or holiday decor. They are also an elegant touch for weddings and events. Cover an ancient tile back-splash with some of our tile cover-ups for a fresh take on an old space. Our beautiful matte finish means that the design mimics the look of paint, and an entire design can be installed faster than stenciling on a single word--no mess, no fumes, and no brushes to clean. When you're ready to remove the design, a little heat from a hairdryer loosens the adhesive, and then it's a matter of gently picking at a corner until you get a solid piece to peel off. We can even provide a sample of the vinyl for a quick surface (or color) test.

Vinyl decals are inexpensive, easy to install, and make a fun personal statement. What do your walls have to say about you?

Friday, July 31, 2009

We'd Like to Thank...

This has been one of those crazy months. We’re training a bunch of new people, getting even more administrivia handled, and are generally trying to remember what we used to do when we had free time. I thought that a little round of thank you’s were in order.

Clatsop Spit and Thundermuck coffee from Columbia River Coffee Roasters–you rock! :: USPS and your delightful pick up service :: Watching UPS trying to navigate the driveway with their trucks :: The Obama Beer Summit — thank goodness nothing else newsworthy is going on in the world :: RAIN, RAIN, and MORE RAIN proving once again that Columbus gets more rainfall than Seattle :: Pancake dinners :: Kitty mascots :: Wired Magazine — once a geek, always a geek! :: ADP Payroll Processing — keeping us out of IRS hell :: Michael Jackson :: The Apple Store and the shiny new toys that we’re only mildly afraid of :: The evil Roland vinyl cutter that is out to get Sami :: Armchair traveler books to Italy :: HD Radio :: Wood fired pizza, and the man that lights our fire :: Fireflies making us smile during late run nights :: The DYMO label printer — Is it wrong to love a machine? :: Harry Potter at midnight (and bring on more Snape, please!) :: IKEA and the Pottery Barn Outlet — two good reasons we’ll always need a truck :: Starting a new batch of wine with Mike and Tim :: Chalkboard vinyl — new medium to play with!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Top 10 reasons to work here

10. You get all the miscut, mis-colored, returned, and otherwise unsellable vinyl your walls can hold.

9. Working space without a cubicle in sight.

8. Every time a design gets miscut or messed up, an angel gets their wings!

7. Flexible hours–work when there are orders, go home when they’re done

6. You get to make up your own title (i.e. Designer Extraordinaire, Production Master, Inventory Diva, the list goes on…)

5. The employee lounge doubles as a wine cellar with at least one batch of wine being made at any given time. Bottling may be part of the job description, we’re not sure yet.

4. The wood-fired pizza oven is a fun way to make your lunch. Smelling like a campfire for the rest of the afternoon is an added bonus.

3. You get to meet fun and interesting people, like the UPS, FedEx, and Mail Carriers

2. Twittering, Blogging, FaceBooking, MySpacing (are those even words?) are part of the daily duties.

And the number one reason we’re fun to work for:

1. Championship sword fighting with pointy little weeding tools!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Site Updates!

We’ve recently changed hosting providers. While that doesn’t sound very exciting, it has given us a few features that we hope are a big hit with everybody. We’ve got a new Quote Request Form for customers to get started on a personal masterpiece. We’ve also got a fun Font Previewer for 25 of our more popular fonts.

We made requesting sample colors easier than ever with a Color Request Form, now updated with all 48 of the available Oracal 631 colors. Choices, choices, choices!

While we’re excited about the changes to the website, we’re also still running into a few hurdles in the change over, namely we’re having difficulty replying to email. Seriously, Outlook is not playing nice with our new hosting provider—any great IT techs out there with a knack for taming Outlook, let me know! I pay in vinyl!


Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Great Tile Coverup!

The word of the day is: Substrate. Substrate is a surface which a vinyl graphic is adhered to. In the sign industry, this is generally some hard plastic or wood surface, or is a colorful banner.

In our little niche industry, a substrate ranges from a wall, to a piece of glass or mirror, to a tile, and the list goes on. A substrate simply means the background piece of material—and in home décor the background material can mean a lot. Tiles, for example can range from a decorative tile that is on a stand with a sentimental favorite placed on it—think “Welcome” or “Give Thanks” or even a monogram design. A more utilitarian use that goes along with tile as a substrate is to cover up some existing tile on a wall or

Now in our house, we have a great master bathroom (celestory 2 story windows aren’t in the average bathroom—I’ll admit we’ve got it good here). What is not in my personal taste is the run of peachy, salmon-y, southwestern-esque tiles that run around the tub, around the shower, and all over the floor. I’ve seriously con
sidered a sledgehammer, but that would mean breaking out my tile saw and fixing the problem. Unfortunately, I’m held back by powerful memories of doing a ton of tiling in an old rental that we fixed up. I’m also determined not to break out the trusty old loud tile saw until I’m ready to get rid of the mismatched laminate counter tops in the laundry room, the other bathrooms, and the ceramic steps on the front patio that have seen better days. As long as gorilla glue is holding those precious ceramic babies on the steps, I see no reason for major demolition.

So, what to do with the colorful tile that brings to mind a décor featuring a cow skull and a lariat (not that there’s anything wrong with that, I’ve just spent far too long in a high valley desert to ever want to incorporate that into my bathroom décor). Ah, fire up the vinyl cutter and cover the tile with some fun design—that’s what! We’ve got a range of tile tattoos that will cover, ahem, interesting tile choices. If you don’t have the time, money, or inclination (or abject ownership of said tile), then think about covering some or all of the tile with something fun to make the space a bit more modern and fun.

And while you’re at it, consider that decorative 12 x 12 tile for a welcoming greeting in an entryway. Better yet, have a few tiles ready to swap out with the seasons—they’re quick, easy, inexpensive, and look fantastic. Fear not the substrate!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Spring is finally coming to Central Ohio

Live Laugh Love

Spring is finally coming to Central Ohio, and it’s not a moment too soon. I’ve been going stir crazy for a while. Fortunately my walls aren’t boring to stare at, since I seem to constantly add and remove new designs to test them out.  Nobody knows what to expect when they walk in, so I guess part of the fun is the surprise.

We get a lot of questions about the vinyl designs, and whether they have a clear backing (they don’t). The designs are made from a very thin vinyl that are self adhesive. They are separate letters that are die cut from a large plotter/cutter and then have a huge masking tape layer applied on top. To install you peel the backing off, apply the vinyl, and then peel back the masking tape layer. Ok, so there are a few more principles to follow than that, but every order includes detailed instructions to answer those inevitable questions.

Removing the vinyl is nearly as easy, but an intricate or large design with many letters/embellishments may take a while since you’re removing each piece individually. The vinyl goes well on walls, including ones with normal orange peel texture, and works great on glass or mirrors. It’s a fun way to add a little color, impact, or personalization in your space, even if your space is relatively temporary.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Obama Starting Today Speech

Obama Starting Today...
To hear President Obama give a speech is to feel inspired by his energy, his ideas, and his ability to excite the masses. This is a snippet from his inauguration speech, a few words that capture the essence of energizing the American spirit.

Come visit for more Obama quotes and graphical designs.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow day

I'm watching fluffy flakes of snow fall from the sky, as the TV tells me that the county is under s snow emergency. We also have instances of thunder snow. I never heard of thunder snow until I moved to the Midwest, but it makes sense that you can have thunder and lightning in the rain, why not the snow?

Since we're going to be stuck in the house for a while, I'm beginning to go stir crazy. Even though I am constantly putting up new designs to test them out and get pictures of them, I have a lot of blank space that I just can't figure out what to put up. When I started this business, one of the things I planned on doing was to put up some designs and quotes that were near and dear to my heart. So far I haven't put up a single one that I planned on. Life is funny that way, you start down one path with a goal, and suddenly something else diverts your attention until you end up in an entirely new direction that you didn't even consider when starting out.
Here's my attempt at bringing a little spring into my life. It's a cute little kit that is easy to install and will make you smile every time you see it.

Cheers! Morgan

Friday, January 2, 2009

December, Whew What a Ride!

December, whew what a ride! I feel like the whirlwind of activity can finally end and we can get back to a sense of normalcy. We handled a bunch of orders up to the holidays, and many of the custom orders have been set up as stock designs. On the home front, the Christmas stuff is still being put away, and I must admit that I get a little sad once everything is finally packed away. The room seems empty and the bleakness of the gray light in January doesn't help. I've been toying with several new designs lately that are perfect to chase away the January blahs, and to bolster those resolutions that are easy to forget over time.

My resolution is to post a blog more frequently as a way to promote Trading Phrases, but also as another way to 'talk' about some of the ideas and designs that float by us from time to time. The most frustrating part of the business is that the great ideas come in fast and furious, but there are only so many hours in the day, and running the business takes the lion's share of my time. I get less time to simply be creative, which is the fun part. Accounting, not so fun (apologies to all the CPA's out there).