In the education world, the word collaboration is used a lot. Like, probably over used. It has been so procedural-ized and monitored that often the amazing opportunity to communicate and plan with teammates feels like a chore. After a dozen years in the education profession, I am starting to cringe whenever I hear the word collaboration. But recently, in my writing world, a new partnership has restored my faith in the act of collaboration. In fact, it’s made me downright excited about it.
Google says collaboration is "the action of working with someone to produce or create something". Business Dictionary defines collaboration as "a cooperative arrangement in which two or more parties (which may or may not have had any previous relationship) work towards a common goal".
Both of these definitions accurately define the work I have done with Jen Barney, owner of Meringue Bakery, and more recently the local baker we are all cheering for on the Food Network's Holiday Baking Championship! Jen and I met at an entrepreneur co-working meet up, sponsored by our business coach, Chynna Haas. As we sat and plunked away at our lap tops and learned a few marketing tips from Chynna we struck up a conversation. We learned a little more about each other’s businesses and products. It didn’t take us long to figure out that a book about chocolate and baker’s line of sweets would make a good pair. So we teamed up.
First, we planned the items we would include and priced out each box, adding in an acceptable margin of profit for each partner. Then, we went our separate ways to gather, make and order materials.
Next came the packing. One November morning we spent three and a half hours in Jen’s industrial kitchen packing up the boxes while we sang and swayed to the (premature) Christmas songs we played to get in the holiday spirit.
For the final step, we set to work selling. This was one area where our collaborating kicked into high gear. I’ve been writing books for 4 years and Jen has been in the baking business for longer than that. Throughout our professional careers we have been able to make a lot of connections, find a lot of Facebook friends, and create a lot of relationships. By combining our networks and working together, we were able to create a quality collection of places and people to buy our little holiday treasure.
Since the morning we got together to pack, we have sold out of our first batch of boxes. 100 boxes have been purchased by local businesses and individual customers alike. This weekend, we’ll get together to make 100 more. The holiday gift box has surpassed both of our expectations and initial goals… and I can tell you that this is only because we worked together. We hope that the holiday box has made our customers just as happy as it has made us! (We feel pretty confident that they do... what's not to love about a Hallmark-esque holiday romance and a delicious cup of hot cocoa?!?!)
This Christmas, one of the gifts I am most thankful for, is the opportunity to collaborate with Jen - a creative, fun, generous and talented entrepreneur. I am also grateful for future collaboration opportunities that await my words and the world… but that’s another blog post… for another time. Watch out 2018, my talented friends (Jen included) and I are looking to do big collaborative things in the new year!
P.S. If you would like one of our holiday gift boxes, you can find them online on Jen’s website, or in person at these fine local stores!
Full Circle Supply (LaCrosse)
Journey On Boutique (Wilton)
Elmaro Vineyard (Trempealeau)
Bean Juice Coffee (LaCrosse)