Saturday, February 25, 2012

The shop mini

Hanging on Part 2

   The second area where I reached my "I have had Enough" was my fear of rejection and invalidation with Spindles and More. I have not pushed Spindles and More because I feared others would look at my spindles and not be interested. I know the amount of time and how hard I work on the them to develop unique spindles (there are no repeats, even though the same colors get used, there is always a difference in style or detail). A hook may be set at mid- or high set, where the first was flush. Patterns change, I create series of spindles that can be part of each other, but also stand alone. Each decorative piece is hand painted and applied to the spindle in a specific manner.  The colors are chosen and combined by an idea of something I see in my world, or a concept I want to embody... There is a lot of me in each spindle I make and my fear has been that when others reject the spindle, they are in part rejecting me. And this is not just for the spindles, but the yarn and crochet/knit items too.
   But again, just recently, I took a bit of time to evaluate the Spindles and More situation. Here is what I discovered... I have three shows that only require me to fill out the application and send in the fee in order to vend there (and there are more shows out there). Since I make most of my sales in person, where the spindle can be test driven, this is a good thing. There are at least two people who have said they are interested in purchasing my spindles. And there is a local yarn shop that may be a possibility for carrying my spindles as well, which would open me to a larger customer base. 
   So, having realized the only real thing standing in my way is a fear I can't overcome unless I take a risk and put Spindles and More out there, I sat down earlier today and filled out applications, wrote fees checks, selected photos to send and wrote emails to get things in order and to make Spindles and More a living reality. No one will hear of it if I just sit here and tremble.

Hanging on for dear life

This is going to be a long blog, so I'll break it into two parts:
  One of my unfortunate personality quirks (those of you who know me, quit snickering at the "one" and "unfortunate") is that it takes me a long time to build up the courage to do something about negative situations I find/get myself into. Even though I experience the stress, I grit my teeth and hang on until I am so frazzled, the rope breaks. Recently I hit my "I am done with this" point in two areas of my life. One was an additional part of my job and the other was not promoting Spindles and More.
   The first was an additional part of my job I took on a few years back because I was tapped and they "needed me." Perhaps what should have clued me in to the potential for crazy was that the one person they offered it to before me looked them in the eye and said "Heck NO."
   This additional part involves being in charge of checking over sets of legal paperwork for the SpEd department  (so far this year I've checked close to 145 sets, in addition to writing my own sets), facilitating the monthly department meetings where I got to continuously break the never-ending bad news that yes, we are being asked to do more, with less time, resources and money and no, there is no way to "trim the fat" because we are already cutting into muscle, oh and that they now want us to start using the new format last week... Additionally, due to my exalted position, I was gifted two years in a row with a client who's parents were beyond obnoxious. I do not say this lightly, I've taught SpEd for 12 years and have been dragged to the doorstep of needing to slap a parent due to their ignorance on very few occasions, but these just obnoxious just to be nasty.
   And yes, there was a stipend, I suppose I shouldn't complain, I was paid for all this extra work. The stipend was, drum roll please... $1000. Total, for the year, before taxes, stretched over 12 paychecks.
   So, when I really took the time to look up from pedaling as fast as I could and evaluated the situation I realized a few things: 12 hour days at school were ridiculous, the people I was covering for still weren't doing their job and I was still covering for them, all the extra effort I was putting in was not being acknowledged by those who needed to acknowledge it, the pay was NOT worth the time, my health/mood was deteriorating, I was NOT happy with all the stress involved in the situation and finally, my husband and friends needed to be part of my life, not an afterthought squeezed in when I didn't have someone's paperwork to check. So I thought about it and I told my boss I wouldn't be doing it next year. They are not happy and are not sure who'll they'll get to replace me, but as my husband reminds me each time I worry "it is no longer my responsibility." "It is not my problem, It is NOT my problem, It is not MY problem." And the funny thing is even though I have another 4 months of serving in this capacity, my health/mood/relationships has already begun to improve and I smile and want to laugh every time I break that news that I won't be doing this next year. I try not to smile too much in front of my boss...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

To advertise and how??

  So I am debating the idea of advertising my shop in various places. The question is, how where, when and at what cost? There are several yahoo groups I am part of which offer the advantage of being free to post ads to, it is a specialized audience so there is more of a chance of results, one would expect. Then there is Ravelry, it costs to advertise here, but again, there is a specialized audience who are more likely to respond to ads. It will require a little more research to choose ad placement and duration. Etsy is a similar situation to Ravelry, specialized audience and again ad placement will make a difference. The downside to etsy is that I did a showcase there one time and had 0 response from it, I don't want to repeat a pointless experience. Finally Facebook offers a much wider base of exposure, but is not specialized at all. It's more of a get the kite aloft, cut the string and see if anyone responds to the attached note situation. I'm not sure it would work out at all, but it might be worth a try.
  Cost in advertising is an issue, this venture has been more of a way of expressing my creativity, not a money-making operation, so that means I need to take some savings and invest in the advertising that will make the most sense.
  Naturally, I prefer to go to shows and vend directly where people can handle and try the spindles, these are scarce on the ground due to the registration fees of some of the shows and my lack of networking and awareness of the shows. I know there are people who do the shows full time and have a full-time business, but I already have a full-time job that I cannot survive without, so "getting serious" business-wise about my spindle-making just isn't an option at this point.
  Anybody out there have some insights or advice?