Wednesday, March 14, 2018

"Organized chaos" at L*K world headquarters

Three years ago we moved to a different home and moved our home office into a nearby strip mall. We jokingly began referring to our new office as L*K world headquarters. It's not very glamorous, but it's 5 minutes from home and on the way to groceries and all sorts of neighborhood things.

I guess the "world headquarters" thing is really true, though. Would you believe about 15% of our total biz is OUTSIDE the US? Maybe we should try to visit those shops when we retire?!

I remember many years ago I walked into a cross stitch shop in Paris. I was traveling with my best cross stitch buddy Judy Whitman (JBW Designs). We literally trekked all over Paris looking for this shop because Judy was determined. I mean, we walked miles and miles looking for this shop...BEFORE cell phone navigation.

Judy Whitman (JBW Designs) at elusive Paris cross stitch shop

Anyway, we get there and the shop is lovely and large and thoroughly charming. I spotted a little pile of L*K designs and was thrilled. Then I tried to tell the shopkeeper that it was ME - I am Lizzie*Kate. Nothing. Total failure to communicate. Humbling and funny. However, we did buy some cool stuff in that shop. And a stop for gelato afterwards (gelato was our daily food requirement) made the afternoon perfect.

But I digress...back to my L*K office story...

Shelves with L*K inventory surround our shipping table

When we moved into our new office Alan had "a vision" for how to arrange things. He was so sure this setup would work, he practically banned me from the move/set up. Which was great for us both...he got to arrange it the way he wanted and I didn't have to help!

Shipping table view from other side - supplies underneath

And it has been a great little office, next to a chiropractor and smelling distance from the best Italian restaurant in town, DeFazio's. (Pietro DeFazio is actually our landlord).

The best feature is our shipping area. Literally, every L*K product is lined up on 3 sides on a big shipping table. Underneath the table are shipping supplies. There are sections for each of our product lines...chartpaks, Snippets, Flip-its, kits and embellishements - with everything in numerical order.

Alan's "desk" made the move to our "real" office. Really it's just a piece of plywood on top of file cabinets. I also have a "fake desk" where I never work and stuff piles up. I always work from my home office. We call/text each other constantly during a typical workday.

So...What's the point of this post?

Just to say that USUALLY our office is pretty well organized and not too embarrassing when the mailman or UPS guy drops in daily.

Scary office scene - work in progress!

AND here's what happened when we announced we were retiring and you all flooded us with your heart's content worth of orders!!! This pile of orders )pic below) is like some weird sort of reverse thing...the harder we work, the bigger it gets. Orders go out, but more orders pile in.

I am calling it "organized chaos"!

Piles of orders is "haunting" us every day

This pesky pile of orders is just not getting any smaller. We're ordering reprints and supplies every day. We recently ran out of 6" x 9" plastic zip bags (horrors!) and even the roller adhesive we use for color photos on our oldest products.

Overflowing "to do" table - designs that need assembly!

We have created a NEW office area during our transition time. We set up a folding table devoted to products that need to be assembled. Usually we just piled these on Carmen's desk, but the pile is too big and evolving too rapidly. Now both of our helpers, and Alan and I, grab designs from this table (and under this table) and get to work.

Here's one little challenge you might not consider. Lots of our products use embellishments...brass charms, tiny buttons, beads, embellishments of all shapes and sizes. We need to have these in stock, but we have to be able to FIND THEM in our office - I know, embarrassing. We're trying extra hard to keep track of popular embellishments (tiny white and black buttons, white beads, dragonfly charms, etc.) and reordering frequently.

Did I mention we have hired more daily help than we've ever had at L*K? Usually our assembly whiz, Carmen, helps us 2 mornings a week...and that works perfectly. Now Carmen is working every morning. We've also hired a fab afternoon assistant that is a super fast newbie. Joyce worked for years at our LNS, (Heart's Desire in Wichita, KS) so she actually knows and understands L*K inventory. Between Carmen, Joyce and me in the office, Alan rarely has a moment to himself (which I know is driving him a bit crazy, but too bad).

FINAL DESIGN - 190 Spring Smalls (includes embellishments)

In the midst of all this L*K pre-retirement frenzy, we did manage to RELEASE OUR FINAL DESIGN THIS WEEK. We shipped Spring Smalls to shops everywhere last Monday. I should have photographed that pile of USPS totes leaving the office. We were relieved to get those boxes out of our path.

This final "Smalls" series of chartpaks is really popular right now! We have devoted a "special office shelf" to this series - temporarily - to keep track of the rapidly disappearing inventory.

#182 Summer Smalls (with embellishments)

#185 Autumn Smalls (with embellishments)

#189 Winter Smalls (with embellishments)

Thanks again for being patient with us during this busy time. It makes us both crazy to have orders piling up and not being able to ship in our usual efficient style. But we're doing the best we can.

Klutz glove (rotary cutter protection) and favorite hoodie for a big day at work

So long from the L*K world headquarters. The whole gang will be in the office today - Carmen, Joyce, Alan and I. I better refill the snack's gonna be a BIG day!


  1. I love the glimpse into your world...your designs are always a fun stitch and I have so many of them in my house....I LOVE them all!

  2. Wow! I'm glad we're sending you off with a bang. :) Visiting all the other shops worldwide does sound like a great retirement goal.

  3. I will definitely miss you, you have been my favorite designer for years. I realize it's time for you retire.Thank you for all of your patterns over the years.