Preparation for the 2012 catalogue started back in November last year. As you will have seen, we have renumbered all of our products this year (Why? So that we can squeeze more into the range - in some areas we were running out of numbers.) Barb began working on this late last year.
Once the re-numbering was done, the production staff (Liz, Deb and Carolyn) had to redesign every packet label in the system and then begin to work on filling all the packets that go flying out the door during the busy season. We had to fill packets with the new numbering system AND maintain stock with the current numbers as well, which kept us on our toes! We have around 1000 different varieties here at Kings Seeds, and every packet is filled by hand. By us. Mostly by Deb! Right through the summer we have been filling seed packets as the new seed stock has come in, ready for Spring.
We have also increased our range of bulk packs, so have had to fill and find space for all of these new packs.
Barb begins work on the catalogue in February.... photographs are sourced, descriptions are written for all new products/lines, layout work begins. This year we have made the photographs bigger and clearer. This means there are fewer items per page - and more pages in the 2012 catalogue. Having larger photographs meant that we needed completely new product photographs for quite a number of varieties in order to have high quality images for the larger format photographs. This year we also wanted to make it easy to find each section of the catalogue and so we have used nice bright colours for each section. We've continued to include lots of tips and tricks for growing, have redesigned our order form and have expanded our microgreen range. Part of design process is also deciding on the design for the front and back cover of the catalogue. We also needed to decide on the photo competition finalists and on which customer images to use in the brag gallery.
Just as an aside....if you would like your photo to appear in next year's catalogue, don't forget to take some photos during this year's growing season (of things you have grown from our seed). We'll make a call for photographs in autumn - sign up for our newsletter if you want to receive the reminder when it is time to send them in).
Gerard (who is just handing round chocolate as I write this!) is continually researching as new varieties become available and deciding which ones to include in our range. Sometimes this may involve finding a reliable source of quality seed, sometimes it may mean obtaining a small quantity of seed and arranging for it to be grown on as a seed crop, in which case it may take a number of seasons for it to make it into the catalogue. Final decisions on which new varieties will be released in this year's catalogue are made in March.
The catalogue is posted out in July. Before it is mailed out, we have to check through all our mailing data - we check for incorrect addresses, doubled up entries and Karen spends time making sure that this data is "clean" and ready to go before our big catalogue mail out. If you change your address during the year, it is good to check that we have your updated, correct mailing details before the end of May, when we send the data off to the printer. Any orders placed after that time are checked manually to make sure that everyone who has placed an order in the preceding year gets a catalogue mailed out to them the following Spring....we know how nice it is to receive that catalogue in the mail! The staff here at Kings Seeds look forward to seeing the new catalogue as much as you do!
In the meantime, there is much work to be done in the office, making sure the accounting system and website are updated with new varieties and information - this was a particularly big job this year with the renumbering of all products. Jude, Camilla, Jen and Karen were busy getting this info up to date and also spent time packing up selection packs and sprout packs ready for the Spring rush.
Max has a very important role at Kings Seeds, being Chief Dog in charge of Chasing Sticks and Not Giving Them Back. He is also in charge of Lying across the Doorway. He does a very good job of this!
And then suddenly, the catalogue is out, the orders come flooding in, and it's all go for the next few months getting your seeds to you. Hopefully, when we go home at the end of the week, we have just enough energy left to scatter a few seeds into some seed raising mix for our own gardens.
We hope you have enjoyed your sneak peek behind the scenes at Kings Seeds. I would have included a few more photos of the staff, but everyone was too shy (except Max). Maybe next time.
We hope you make the most of any sunshine that comes your way this weekend!!
Heather, via email says ...
Thank you so much for the personal insights in this Blog. You may not know this - but there are a lot of us out here who refer to Kings' catalogue as "gardener's porn' because we get so much pleasure out of reading it and in dreaming of what we could achieve in the coming seasons.
Because it was late this year, waiting for the catalogue was even more titillating than usual.
Sorry to miss out on the chocolate, and on falling over the dog, but looking forward to evenings drooling over the pictures and descriptions,