June 30, 2012

A Few Months Later

Things just don't turn out as you plan. My goal was to drop my Apron and Accessory line and Boost my Felt Flower Jewelry line with an added touch of Product design.

Well the flowers are selling, but certainly not enough to live on. But the Aprons and Accessories (especially after adding Bow Ties and an eBay store) is booming. The one business that I wanted to eliminate. So, now I'm building a website (poppysgardengate.com) for that business and seriously considering ending my line of Eco Felt flowers. Well not entirely. I may just move everything to a free store and shut down that Artfire shop. I'm thinking maybe storeenvy.

Maybe it's just that I need to focus on just one line, but I can't focus on just that one, because I make my income off the other. I suppose it's like having a full time job and trying to sell my craft. I guess if others can do it so can I. But they're on Etsy and I'm perma-banned. So until there's another alternative, other than eBay, I just have to do what I need to do.

On a cheerier note. One of my designs sold to a major retailer. Here are the statistics on that one. I spent 3 weeks, about 400 hours on 28 designs. 9 designs were selected for presentation. One design sold. My income at this time, about $1000. If you can't calculate, that's about $2.50 an hour. Not so great eh? Sounds like working for your craft?

There are other possibilities though. More of the designs can sell, or I can sell the designs to other clients, and I can alter designs to use for other clients too. And the retailer that bought the product is only introducing them in 200 stores, if they do well they might increase the line. So my dollar per hour will increase. Lets just say, I'm confident enough in my design, that it will do well and sell through another season. I'll let you all know what it is, when it's on the shelves next spring.

I've also resigned myself to making my Aprons and Accessories for income. I still get to work at home, and my income this year has doubled what it was last year. I just love my flowers and hoped that more than the few who buy from me would love them too. Oh well, maybe I can incorporate them into my lighting designs.

May 1, 2012

April 30, 2012 - It's a Wrap Pt 2

I was thinking of all I was trying to accomplish in four months. My goal was to do two things. One, to prepare my jewelry business to go wholesale. Well, I'm about as close as I can get without having any press.

The other goal was to create a website, and make contacts to get clients for my product design. I did that and I even have clients already.

The purpose was to drop my Aprons and Accessory business and choose between jewelry or product design. Instead I find that I'm still working all three. As a matter of fact, I may have unintentionally grown my Apron business in the process.

There were some goals that I would have liked to meet, that I didn't yet. I hoped to loose 60 pounds. But only lost five. I guess that's better than gaining. I thought I'd look more professional a little slimmer.

I hoped to have my jewelry website finished and today, I pushed to get it as far as I can. I still have merchandise to add, and pictures of my new packaging, but it's 95% done now. And I'm very pleased with it.

I'll be back with pictures of my brochure and my packaging. Hopefully next week. It's been fun sharing my thoughts and process with you all for the past four months.

April 30, 2012

April 29, 2012 - It's a Wrap

I wanted to share with you the things I set out to do in the past four months. It's my first list, my spreadsheet. I dropped some things I found unnecessary and added a few things after I thought about what I wanted to accomplish. Below is my original spreadsheet with notes.

I'm really big on spreadsheets. If I could organize my life on them I would. I use Open Office freeware. They are wonderful.

I had hoped to complete both my new Websites by now. My flower jewelry and my product design websites are both 80% finished. I designed many new pieces for my jewelry business including accessories I didn't plan on originally. I'm very pleased with my brochure design and my new business cards and logo. 

I also hoped to make some statement pieces and enter some competitions, but that didn't happen. 

Once my packaging is complete and photographed I'll finish my brochure. I will start sending out the brochure and samples immediately after. 

As for my design business, I really wanted to learn how to use my new CAD program. I did learn how to do some things on it, but I didn't master it. The only other thing I wanted to finish was my website. Not quite finished yet, but very close. Next step is to finish my website and start making contacts. I have been adding some contacts on linked in. As soon as the website is finished, I'll make more. 

I know that some of you have been keeping up with everything I've done, so I want to make sure that you get to see how it all comes together in the end. I'll make a weekly post here for a while so you can see how I've succeeded (or not).

Maybe I'll get more done now that I don't have to post here every day. Maybe not.

April 29, 2012

April 28, 2012 - What I've Done

As I wrap up the Four Month Blog about expanding my business, I wonder if I've over analyzed everything. It will be really interesting to see the outcome of all the work I've been doing. So far, business has improved, and I think if I put as much into my third business as I have with the first two, that would grow too. I've only recently added new merchandise to that shop.

The past four months, I've taken a hard look at my flower jewelry business. I've considered my buyer base, and adjusted my product accordingly. I've considered selling wholesale and to see if it's profitable, I've made a spreadsheet of cost of materials, including packaging, and time to create to calculate entire cost of each item. I've decided to invest in a website to have a more professional presence, and redesign my packaging for retail display. I designed a logo/watermark and re-imaged my graphics and business cards.

I really don't think I've done more than anyone running a business should do.

For the past four months, I've also been preparing to go out and get product design clients. For that, I've been working on a new Design Portfolio Website. It still needs a bit of work, like a contact form, but It will be there soon. For that, I know my clients well and know just what to put on the site, but it helped doing a little research on designing a killer online portfolio. After I designed it first time around, I did a lot of redesigning. You really can't clutter up the site with 50 tabs of all your categories. It should be clean and simple and say I'm good and I want to design for you.

I did not accomplish all I wanted to in the past four months, I didn't meet all of my goals. I will have a wrap of my goals and accomplishments, probably Monday. But I really did accomplish a lot, and I am not only pleased with my work, but the fact that I was able to post here every single day of the four months.

April 28, 2012

April 27, 2012

Another fun filed listing day today, but today, I've almost finished with my packaging design. I hope it ends up being successful. Here's what I've come up with. Two types of packaging, box or hanging display. The boxes are kraft recycled paper brown and will be stamped on top with the same pattern as the cardstock backing in the acetate pillowbox. The boxes will be brown, the cardstock will be gray and it will coordinate with my business cards.

I bought a print background stamp to use on the cardstock. I wanted the pillowbox to kind of feel like a corsage box and the faintly printed cardstock, will look kind of like the print coated tissue that florists use to wrap bouquets with. I hope it all comes together.

I wasn't sure what I should use to tag my flowers in the boxes, a business card is too big, but I've cropped them down and they work perfectly. I love how they turned out. Everything is on it's way and I should have it by next week. I can photograph the packaging and get it all together for the brochure.

I can easily assembly line stamping paper and boxes. I have a nice paper cutter too that can make quick work of cutting the cardstock inserts. And as I've said, I have a binding machine to get the brochures together.

How much more can I accomplish in 3 days?

April 27, 2012

April 26, 2012

This week should have been all about the flowers and finishing my design website, but it was all about the bread and butter shop. Father's day is coming soon and I had to whip up a lot of Chef's Aprons and list them. Then eBay had a surprise - Free fixed listings and they can be for a month long. I had to take advantage.

Yesterday I spent almost the whole day listing Aprons and clutches. I'll be spending most of today and tomorrow, doing the same. If I can list a lot there for a month for free, I can get a lot of traffic. I don't like to sell there, because fees are high, but the more I list the more traffic I get and I used to sell more there. I think that I get a lot more traffic on Artfire though with their great SEO. I've been selling much more on Artfire. It's too bad that eBay doesn't support artists and crafters more. When all their DIY sellers moved to Etsy, it was like they couldn't show you to the door quick enough. We used to do very well on eBay, some sellers still sell there, but for the most part, Etsy is the place to sell now.

I have to admit that eBay does have great services, but you really pay for them. Their shipping service is fantastic, and I can't wait till it's working on PayPal. Their listing feature is very nice and you can even create your own html page, which I've done. But as far as getting any help for anything, it's all electronic unless you join a peer group. They rely on the community to provide the information you should be able to find on their site. If you have a problem it is very hard to get an answer.

I was hoping that I would be able to make a choice between one of three of my businesses. I foolishly thought that it might become clear in a few months. It hasn't. For now have to work all three, until one outweighs the other.

April 25, 2012

A day late posting again, Guess I'll do two in one day.

I've been making more of my flowers this year than I have in a while. I thin that maybe I've made more than I did while I was selling on Etsy, but still not enough to make a living. Next week has to be all about finishing my flower samples and my brochure. I need a photo shoot though and I at least need to fake my packaging with a printed, not stamped cardstock insert. I should have things sent out by the middle of May. I hope it doesn't take too long or I will miss the right time to place the product.

I'm tempted to post my website on linkedin. It's pretty close to finished. I really just have to add contact information and a few more links. I really wish I could add more of my finished designs. I just did some that turned out great, but they won't be available for a few months to a year. I hope to finish this weekend.

This weekend I am going to post a wrap of what my goals were, and what I've accomplished so far, because Monday will be my last daily post here. Things have gotten so busy in my life, keeping up with just this has been difficult. My big worry about being late with promoting my flowers in shops, is that it's Spring and that's when they have a better chance of selling. Spring and summer. They would have been good to have in stores for Mother's day. That's what I was hoping. I never really imagined it would take so long, just to prepare product for market. Maybe I'm over analyzing everything, or over working it all.  I think it's good to be prepared.

Did you think it would take more than four months to prepare product for retail?