Have you ever wondered how our products come to life? First off, they’re not just made by machines – every item that leaves this building is touched by lots of hands and lots of hearts. Although we need equipment like printers and cutters, all of our signature items require hands-on work by our incredible team. Our Production crew preps, prints, builds, and carefully packages each item, and our Fulfillment team pulls, verifies, boxes, and ships each order.
The unique process of creating and shipping products for you to enjoy is something we treasure. We like to do things differently. We’re not fans of mass-market, cookie-cutter, been-there-done-that stuff – and our guess is you aren’t either. From the independent artists who create our designs to the talented team in St. Louis who brings them to life, our community is made up of creative, passionate people just like you.
Before I jump in and share our product process, take a peek at our video to get a little background about who we are. You’ll be able to get a look inside our facility and see some of the people behind the products.
Now, I’ll take you behind the curtain and tell you what our process is all about. First, we’ll hear from Amy, a Senior Graphic Designer on our Creative Team. Amy and the talented product development ladies work with artists to bring gorgeous designs to life on our products.
The Art Process
The first step to creating any product is designing the art! The incredible art on our products comes from our amazing community of independent artists. We use their sketches, paintings, graphic illustrations, mosaics, collages, sculptures, and more to create beautiful products for you to enjoy. We love being able to help make their artwork part of your home décor!
Once we find a piece of art we love, Amy and the teamjump in and start working with the artists. “Most often we provide digital templates that outline the shape of our items like Yard DeSigns, Door Décor, MailWraps, BreezeArt flags, MatMates, Art Planters, Art Pots, Art Poles, Floor Flair, and birding items. The templates help artists design their art to fit beautifully on our products,” said Amy. Once their designs are complete, they’ll give the digital templates back to the Art team to review. Our team then tweaks as necessary to make sure the artwork works perfectly for the shape and style of whatever product it will become.
The next step is to make sure each design is “Production worthy”, as the team likes to call it. “It’s important to go over each piece of artwork as a team to ensure that it meets our specifications and standards before printing,” Amy shares. Once the designs are approved, they’re ready to go off to Production to print.”
Now that you got a taste of what it’s like to develop a piece of artwork, it’s time to tell you how we make the products. Next up you’ll hear from Nancy, our Production Coordinator for MatMates and BreezeArt garden flags. Let’s get to it!
The Production Process
The Production Team is the backbone of Studio M. They’re the ones who take art from a computer screen and turn it into product.
Nancy starts her day by checking a report to see which mats and garden flag designs to print and how many need to be made. “I download the designs and send them digitally to our Mimaki printers. We have a total of six, and these bad boys print the art for MatMates and BreezeArt all day long,” Nancy says with a smile.
The special transfer paper printed with the flag and mat artwork is then cut to size before it can be heat pressed. This process transfers the inks printed on the paper to the flag and mat fabric through dye sublimation. Using heat and pressure, the ink leaves the paper and bonds to the fibers, locking in vibrant colors. After they’re pressed, mats have to cool on a rack for 24 hours before they’re ready to be tagged and packaged. It only takes about 10-15 seconds for flags to reach an appropriate temperature to be assembled and placed in inventory.
On an average day, Nancy prints about 1,000 mats and 800 garden flags, and our Production Team presses about 600 of each. That’s a lot of product in one day – and that’s just two of our product categories! Kudos to our amazing printing and pressing teams.
Another group within our Production Team prints other products like MailWraps, Door Décor, Art Poles, Art Planters, and Floor Flair. Let’s introduce you to Dusty, our Hybrid Printer.
Dusty is able to print all different types of products, but his main focus is MailWraps and Door Décor. “I print MailWraps on vinyl rolls that can fit 215 mailbox covers each. I get through two rolls a day.” After the material is printed, he runs the roll through a Futoba machine that cuts it into squares.
He then places the roll of squares through a vintage Heidelberg press that cuts the squares into the shape of a mailbox. “I LOVE this machine because it’s from the ‘50s or ‘60s, weighs about six tons, and it’s all mechanical – it doesn’t require a computer. I get to use my hands instead of just clicking buttons on a screen,” says Dusty. After using three machines, the MailWraps are finally ready to be quality checked and assembled.
He then uses a Biesse CNC router to cut out each unique Door Décor shape. “Every sheet is cut differently along with the extra pieces that are added by hand to make the Door Décor appear three-dimensional. It’s a lot of work and very time-consuming, but it’s worth it because our customers love the product!”
After all the pieces have been cut, Dusty passes them to our Door Décor Assembly Team who puts each design together and sands all the edges so they’re nice and smooth. The team also adds a ribbon so each one can be hung on a door. Dusty prints about 20 boards a day, which adds up to about 400 individual Door Décor. Go, Dusty and the Door Décor team!
Some products, like Standard Flags, are produced overseas by our vendor partners because we don’t have the equipment to be able to make them in-house. We choose our partners very carefully – seeking out those who share our commitment to creating amazing, long-lasting products.
Last, but certainly not least, let’s talk about the crew who’s vital to our entire process – the Fulfillment team. We’ll discuss how they pick, pack, and ship products to customers like you!
The Fulfillment Process
Meet Leo, our Fulfillment Team Lead. He’s one of the many dedicated people at Studio M who make the magic happen. What’s the magic, you ask? Getting our products out for you to enjoy, of course! Here’s what the process is like…
“The Shopper picks up the printed order, gathers your items (this part is called “picking” or “shopping”), and marks the order as ‘fulfilled’ in our system to confirm the correct products have been collected,” explains Leo. After that, the Shopper brings the order to our verifying station. The Verifier pulls up the order in our system and scans every item to double-check that the customer is getting the right products.
Once it’s good to go, the Verifier passes the order to the packaging area. “The Packer boxes up the order in the safest and most efficient way possible based on which products it contains.”
Then the order goes down the shipping line. “The Shipper tapes the order slip on the box, pulls up the order in our system, weighs the box(es), and enters the weight and dimensions of each box,” Leo explains.
Lastly, the Shippers put the mailing labels and packing list with the order details on the boxes and pack them onto the FedEx or UPS truck or set them aside for USPS pick up.
And there you have it – you just learned how we create, print, press, assemble, pack, and ship our products. Whew! Quite the process, but an amazing one. (And this was just the quick version!) As you can hopefully tell, we take pride in what we do and aim to give you our very best. We aren’t always perfect every step of the way, but we never shy away from making things right.
There are so many stories we want to share with you, and we’ll be back with more soon! Thanks for joining us on the blog. Have a wonderful and creative day!
Signing off for now,