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Planning, Planning and more…Planning

This is practically and specifically what we have been doing for the last month. Planning how to do a show. What to bring. How to set up our table/booth. Lots of planning. Even when we do all of that, I’ve found it very important to be fluid with the specifics of the plan and have a willingness to change to some other idea if the feeling comes.

Each time we’ve done a show, we found something in our system that can be improved, consolidated or downright eliminated. One of the things that we didn’t have at the very first show was a portable way to carry paracord with me to the show. I wanted to be able to make bracelets and key chains for people while they were browsing around and initially I carried all of my paracord colors in a couple of plastic grocery bags. I found out the third day that this wasn’t going to work, when someone wanted a bracelet that we had just made for someone else and we committed to making it for them. Half way through the process, we came into one problem. The dark gray paracord was no where to be found. We salvaged the situation and used a lighter gray, but the writing was on the wall. I needed a way to see the cord colors. Later on after we got home and the event was a distant memory, I found the dark gray paracord in one of the bags. UGH!!

One day when I was sitting in my shop, just thinking about some different things, I glanced at this clear backpack that we bought for one of our kids years ago. It was passed down through at least two of them and at this point was about to end up in the trash heap since no one wanted it anymore. Until the light went off. I could see that it would be perfect to put all of my paracord colors and other items in. It was clear and would be perfect to be able to see everything. Problem solved. Well sort of. Now that we are carrying about 32 colors and lots of other stuff, this backpack is getting heeaaavy. Now I wonder if I should get a short or shallow bin. We’ll see on that one. I do like that I can throw everything over my shoulder and keep rolling.

 

I’ll talk with you next time, Constant Reader. It’s time to go check the backpack.

We have been so busy. Swap meets, Craft Shows…Whew.

I’ve missed writing here for the past couple weeks. My intention all along was to write a post in this blog everyday, five days a week. I was doing just fine with that right up until about a month ago when we started doing show, meets and events. We started doing them the week before Thanksgiving and have done some type of show every weekend since.

They’ve been fun, and quite interesting but, boy oh boy, do they take a lot of time. Granted they are on the weekend, but since our primary product is handmade, we have to spend time in producing enough product to take with us. Some of they items that are easier to produce, I “prep” them and we finish them at the show. As I’ve said in other post, I’ve found that people like to see that we hand make the items. There hasn’t been a show that has gone by without at least one person coming to our booth and asking who makes these items. In our first show or two, the answer was always me. Now I might still make the overwhelming majority of them, but my family is quickly stepping up to the plate and contributing their hands to the craft as well.

Since Thanksgiving, we have done, two Motorcycle Swap Meets and two Arts and Crafts shows. That’s pretty diverse right? I’m sure it sounds like we are probably selling different stuff at one type of show over the other, but we are basically selling the same things. Maybe our signage is a bit different but, I’ve found that people are people. Even though one genre might like a different color combination in general there is a broad appeal.

Well Back to work. We’ll talk more next time, Constant Reader.

 

Sleep Deprivation; another perspective

Today I took a class at work that was titled “Emotional Survival”. It’s a class geared towards law enforcement officers and speaks on how the job can be caustic and do physiological damage to us after many years. I won’t bore you with the intricate details, but the reason I am revisiting this subject is that one of the things discussed was sleep deprivation. More specifically how prolonged exposure to lack of sleep can basically render us via our cognitive processes and motor skills to a similar point as if we are intoxicated by liquor. I’ve heard this before but this instructor had much more details. It was amazing and showed me that I need to work harder to get my rest.

Speaking further on the post that I wrote yesterday, it really doesn’t do me any good to miss sleep if the hours that I am awake, I’m less productive and therefore less efficient. More hours in the day to do the same tasks better if I had the correct amount of sleep doesn’t make much sense. I know in the past when I’ve really been in need of sleep to the point where it concerns me, I don’t try and work in that condition. It doesn’t happen often, but I would prefer to go home a couple hours early than put myself in some type of precarious position. It’s important in my line of work to stay alert and I don’t minimize that.

As I said last night, sleep is important and I’m heading that way, Constant Reader.

Getting prepped for the busy season

First of all. Today as I write this it is Election Day 2012. I voted and you should have also. Nuff said.

I spent a few weeks after our last event researching some shows to do during the holiday season. This isn’t as easy as I thought. There were a couple shows, where there was a deadline for signing up, then the event planners were still requesting vendors to be in the show. This is with a fairly high price and no indication of expected crowd or anything. Needless to say I didn’t go down that road. With all this being so new to me, I’ve found it quite necessary to follow my gut with these events. Actually I’ve always depended on my gut or intuition to guide me to the right path.

There was another event in Bridgeport, MI that sounded promising. Once I called, the number is either changed or disconnected. Can you say Red Flag? Needless to say I didn’t do that one. There were a couple of bigger shows that I considered but that little voice kept popping up in me saying that it might be over my head. I had to remind myself that the very first event was what I would call a big one: 2012 Bikes on the Bricks. While we were doing that event, I really felt that making it through this would really bolster my confidence for just about any show. I was right.

More to come, Constant Reader.

It happened again and again and again

I had told my friend that I had wanted to do the Breast Cancer walk as a vendor, but when I contacted the “Making Strides” group, I was told that they didn’t permit outside vendors, only their sponsors. Most of these were local and national companies, like General Motors, Kroger and a few local hospitals that deal with cancer research. My friend suggested perhaps this will be the way to make some sales without going through the big organization. I liked the idea.

Once I get in the shop I go up to my friend and introduce myself to the shop owner. She seems like a real nice, no nonsense lady and she asks right away to see what I’ve got. I take out a flyer and show her and while she is reading it I tell her that I’m not sure exactly what good it will do at this point with the Making strides for Breast Cancer Walk  coming up on the very next day. She agrees regarding the flyer and it seems like a light bulb went on and she has an epiphany. She suggests that if I’ve already got a few bracelets in the Breast Cancer Pink Ribbon theme, that she can put them in a jar on her counter. She then goes to the storage area of her shop and finds what looks like a two (2) gallon glass jar. We count out all the bracelets so we both know what we are dealing with and she puts the big jar right on her counter. She even tapes one of the flyers on the counter adjacent to the jar. I took out all the items I had at the time, 22 Bracelets and 15 key chains, all themed with the Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon.

I asked her how much I owed her for this wonderful generosity: NOTHING, is what she said. Amazing is about all that I can say to describe it. The suggestion by my friend and ultimately the sheer kindness of this shop owner just blows me away.

 

Until next time. I’ll see you soon Constant Reader.

A few steps I left out. Part IV

I would definitely suggest to anyone that is planning on starting a website and this is something you haven’t done before is to find a mentor. When I speak of a mentor, I’m not just speaking of someone that you can speak with face to face. I’m also talking about a mentor, a person who is doing something that you desire to do and is coming from the same place as you. This is what worked for me. Finding a few sites that showed me the raw basics and then I could add more of my own style on top of that. This isn’t copying for the sake of copying. I call it emulation.

For the most part, most of us aren’t re-inventing the wheel. We are doing something that someone else has already done and putting our flavor to it. Putting our love, passion and energy into it. I’m not doing something new but something that has already been done. I’m adding Jeffrey Washington spin on it. Jeffrey Washington’s flavor to it.

The last bit of advice I’ll offer to anyone reading these words and thinking about taking the plunge. DO IT!!! Take the chance, a calculated chance, and do it. As long as you can try on your business for size and stay relatively out of debt, what do you have to lose. I’ve often asked myself, would I have regretted it if I didn’t “push send” on this endeavor.

MOST DEFINITELY.

Until next time, Constant Reader

 

The very first sale on our website and Etsy.

Today is October 2nd, 2012 and it’s a beautiful warm day here in mid-Michigan. Earlier today I was alerted to an email that I had received. It was notifying me that I had just received an order via the website. At first I didn’t look at this with much fan fare, but then I remembered all the work that went into making the site in the first place.

Coming up with the look and theme. Integrating a shopping cart, a unique challenge, and making sure all the pieces worked together all meant something.

After I set up the cart on the site with Paypal, I used their Sandbox feature. What is sandbox you may ask. Well let me enlighten you, especially since I just learned about it recently myself.

Constant Reader, that information will follow on the next post.

Talk about taking a chance

I went to one of the supervisor of our 911 center. I showed her a flyer for the specific coloration that I made up for our dispatch. They are affiliated with the police and fire departments, so I added both colors to their paracord items. She really like that bracelets and offered to put up a couple flyers and she bought a bracelet as well. As a matter of fact, she said she was thinking about searching through the internet on how to make the bracelets, but since I was making them, she figured she would just support me. I thought that was very kind.

She asked me if I had done the same and presented a flyer to the fire department or their stations. I told her that was next on my list. She said why don’t you speak to _____. I’ll leave his name out, but he is the assistant fire chief. Doh!!! I didn’t even think about this guy even though we have known each other by name for a number of years. We walked upstairs and went to his office area.

I showed him what I had and what he told me astounded me.

Next time I’ll fill you in Constant Reader.