Between moving the website, writing my business plan, re-installing my website, and various other necessary evils like sleep I feel that I haven’t had a chance to sit and write a proper post for weeks! (That would be my overly dramatic side showing through again.) So many little things have happened that I would normally share with you that I thought it was time for a catching up post!
First of all I hope that you all had a peaceful holiday period. I certainly did! The chicks were off visiting their grandparents with their father and I had this quiet, clean (except for my mess) house where I didn’t have to be responsible for anything or anyone except the animals and myself. It was just what I needed after the turmoil of the weeks/months/year before Christmas and just what my health needed. I didn’t do any sewing until about the 4th of January! Then I made this bag which was a custom order left over from last year. I love the colours that she chose! I also made myself a new cushion cover, given that all my sewing recently has been for other people. I love this fabric!
I did however set up a new sewing room. I have commandeered the spare room that had been occupied by the eldest chick earlier in the year, and then by the au pair, and then my mother when she came to our rescue. Although it would be nice to give the chicks a room of their own each, I have decided that I need to start putting myself first a little more (one of my recent learnings) and that most of us survived sharing a room with our siblings until we left home, so the two chicks who are sharing a room will be just fine! I have a little tweaking to go with the set up, but so far am really enjoying the space. It also has the best light in the house – especially in winter when it becomes a sun trap.
I also spent a few days focussed on working on my business plan. You know – the one I started back in July and then kept meaning to work on? I am still not finished, but I do now have a clear vision of what I want to achieve with my making and selling, and how I need to think about overheads and pricing. The Right Brain business course that I did encourages you to make collages to capture things like your competition, perfect customer, brand values, etc. I enjoyed that much more than I thought I would! It also helped when I was writing an application for a Handmade Market – I just had to turn my pictures into words! Another good lesson learnt!
Part of the planning process is looking at your money. Hmmmm…..at worst depressing and at best thought provoking. That process prompted me to also look at setting up accounting software etc….. but after a day or so of trying to do that I realised that I am not ready for any of that. My buying, making and selling can be accommodated in a simple excel spreadsheet. When I become a mega-industrial mogul with warehouse sites etc maybe I will need to use the software products I was exploring but until then keeping it simple is just perfect! Phew – one less thing to worry about, and another lesson to add to my list.
One of the ideas that I have been playing with for a long time and that I am putting into action soon, involves developing some graphics that are precise (like pattern pieces for example). So I downloaded a trial copy of Adobe Illustrator and did some tutorials to see what I could do. Many, many hours/days later I finally came to the realisation that I am not a graphic designer and that I need to outsource that to someone who is! The upside of all of those hours? I now understand what is needed to give really good instructions to the graphic designer! Yep – another useful lesson!
In the midst of all of this I realised that I wanted to move the site to be self hosted. In hindsight I could have taken a different approach to that and made it easier on myself, but after learning all sorts of new jargon and processes it seems to be up and running!
I also did a bit of assessing my stock. I took an inventory of my fabric (boy was that hard – trying not to get distracted by pieces I had forgotten I had!), and of my bits and bobs – zips, slide buckles, etc. A bit of time on Ebay saw most of that addressed, so the parcel man has been a regular at the front door and will be for another week or so!
All of that really did take up a lot of time and headspace! I was a hermit for most of the holiday period, with the exception of a lovely dinner with friends on Boxing Day, and visits from Ms C, one of my dear friends who also helps me to brainstorm and problem solve. I was feeling great and thinking that perhaps I didn’t need to be on leave for long while recovering from all the events of last year. I got a bit cocky, forgot that I have limitations on what I can and can’t do, and organised a bit of socialising. I caught up with the MIML, and a couple of really good friends, and that turned into eating three meals out in one day. Mmmm…fun but very, very foolish. A good reminder that I can’t run around like I used to, and need to pace myself and do only one thing at a time. Really. Timely really, as the chicks are returning this week and I need to be able to look after them properly, on my own. So my mantra is two edged. Keep it simple. One thing at a time. Wish me luck!
All of this means that my sewing, despite my very best of intentions, has been slow. However the small bits that I have done have also helped me to look at my processes, assess them and think of ways to refine them. Two more purchases have resulted. (And probably the last for a while given that there is a lot of spending going on and not a lot of making/selling!). The first is a photographic light cube tent – a white polyester box that pops up and is used to take product shots with even light etc. After having my professional shots done I realised that my own photography is very inconsistent, so this is the first step towards addressing that, and reducing the time spent trying to get it right! (I just keep learning don’t I?)
The second investment? A steam press. One of those gadgets that irons your clothes/fabric etc between two surfaces. I am hoping that it will dramatically cut the time I spend attaching fusible interfacing and fleece!
Oh – and a third purchase as a result of a request by a friend to make up a particular product for her (that I will share if it works) is a cast iron press for attaching plastic snaps to fabric. The potential for replacing hook and loop was enough to make me think that it is a good long term investment!
Now that the bank balance is so drastically reduced it is probably time for me to simply knuckle down and get back to the stuff that I actually love – sewing!
Oh – I had another lesson during this time. It is VERY difficult to give chickens oral medicine. The ridiculous antics that I got up to in trying to achieve this were worthy of a comedy sketch, but completely hopeless at actually treating my poor chooks who have been infested with lice. However today the vet set me up with syringes with needles to inject them and that took seconds to administer, required no antics, ridiculous or otherwise, and will hopefully see them healthy and well again very soon.
I also had to break it to the boy that his favourite climbing tree is a little less than it was following a big storm. Think we will be off to the garden waste place with a trailer this weekend!
You might have seen that I have started a newsletter subscription thingy. My plan is a monthly newsletter with links, tips, some giveaways, etc. I am gathering together all my ideas for the first one, so do sign up so that you can enjoy the things I am finding for you!
Now it is time to go and sew. I hope that your week is going well and that any lessons you are learning are positive, affirming ones!