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First show of the holiday era 2012 is a Motorcycle Swap Meet.

Doesn’t sound much like the holidays, right? This is one of the shows that we are doing. Before doing this business, I wouldn’t have imagined that motorcycle enthusiast would be interested in swap meets during the colder months. I guess it makes sense though. If you have interests or a passion for motorcycles, of course you would want to enhance your bike in the off season. Maybe pick up a deal here or there. Why not.

Well we’ve done a few biker events as you’ve probably read and and I would say we were embraced and patronized well. Definitely well enough to do more biker type events. I would have to say this wasn’t what I expected, but what do I know. Once you put a request into the universe and the gears get to churnin’, all sorts of surprises may be on the way. This was one of them.

Talk with you soon, Constant Reader

Stay focused, Jeffrey

This is a term I’ve had to repeat to myself over and over again. One thing I’ve said before is that I love the artistic aspect of this business. It isn’t like making fine art but it is making a rugged type of jewelry that people can wear everyday. As I’m preparing for an event, I get all these ideas of new things, Key Chains, bracelets, , necklaces, different colors and the like. Sometimes the ideas just come flooding out and I try and make them as fast as the ideas come.

There is only one problem. I can go down the road of exploring so many new ideas and tying new and intricate bracelets, that it is easy to lose focus and get distracted. I’m doing it right now.

Recently I started making a new bracelet with a dog tag, that we are developing, attached and it prompted a bunch of other design ideas. The problem with all the new ideas is if the process of making them is systematically different they slow me down and don’t allow me to make the amount of stock that I believe I will need for a show or event. Mind you that it is important to have something to sell. Something for people to be able to pickup and manipulate in their hands and decide if they will be able to purchase. I can’t go to the show, any show, with pictures and a bunch of order forms so I can’t take peoples orders and send it to them later. I don’t believe people expect that. It’s one thing if they are asking for something custom or something that has a unique process. It is a total different thing or expectation when people see you in person. They want to see that you actually created the item. I’ve wrote before how many times it has surprised people that I make them in the first place. Frankly I think people think I buy them. I’ve had several ask me how did I get my wife to make these for me. Now my wife is one of the most giving people in the world and I love her for that, but she isn’t about to just make hundreds of bracelets for me and send me on my merry way. I like making the items and I like talking to people about them. Actually it’s fun to surprise them.

So I’m going to stay focused, Constant Reader, and get back to work.

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.

This has taught me a few lessons

I consider myself a pretty kind and conscientious person. I’m no push over but I work at being kind, loyal and easy going to just about everyone I come in contact with. I’ve asked myself is that enough? Am I doing all that I can for others? My answer is basically: NO. In this business endeavor, I’ve come in direct contact with what I would label as true kindness, loyalty and even dare say love. Not intimate love, but the kind to do as much as you can to help someone achieve their dreams and goals. I’ve seen that in others that have come forward and helped me and as I’ve previously said, it shocked me. Their largesse, has inspired me in more ways that one to do more for others. Not in the generic way of helping the needy just to make me feel good, but to help someone I know achieve their goal. I don’t have to go out of my way or do something I’m not good at, I just have to help where ever I can.

This segues right back to what started me down this line of writing. The guy that I was speaking of came to me at the Bikes on the Bricks event and told me that he was taking a class (Firefighter type) and was wondering if he could take a few of the flyers for the Thin Red Line Bracelets. Before the class arrived he personally asked if I minded if he took a small variety of sizes of bracelets with him to the class to see how they would be received. Well I’ve worked with this guy for the last 15 years and see him every morning. I don’t really feel any reason not to trust him frankly. At the first class he sells a few bracelets and a key chain. Sounds great I thought. He did tell me that the guys really like them and wanted to buy more at their next class if I can provide him with more.

What did I do? Find out next time, Constant Reader.

Why do they do it?

I might have wrote about this before regarding another person or event, but it bears saying again. Why do they do it? For so long, I’ve heard people in business say they have always been approached by others telling them they could never make any success with their business plan. I’ve heard people with business ideas that I didn’t think would work, but I would never have the gall to actually tell them. I consider that rude. If someone is doing something that I don’t envision myself doing, I just tell them that it isn’t for me and I wish them well. To think that someone that would actually tell another person that their ‘dream’ of owning a business will never work seems ludicrous to me.

When it comes to me, guess what I’ve heard and experience from others. We’ll start talking about that next time, Constant Reader.

Well worth our time

The whole,  Bikes on the Bricks event went quite well. We sold many items. Met a lot of great people, and gained a few new friends. What more could we ask. We even got an invite to another event in the coming weeks.

My children were able to come along and were a tremendous help and my wife even threw her hat in the ring and came along. She not only came along, but she appeared to enjoy herself and was a wealth of information and suggestions.

I am truly grateful for the individuals that suggested that I do this in the first place and the other individuals that stepped up and were a tremendous help. I’ve often heard of people that are in business, getting lots of negative from family, friends, and co-workers. I would have to say that I’ve had the exact opposite response. So many people have stepped forward and helped me in many ways, big and small. I wish there was some way to truly repay them.

All I can offer is my eternal gratitude and honor their encouragement with making this a solid growing business as much as I am able.

We’ll see what next time brings, constant reader.

 

 

Day 2 continues in earnest

Leading up to this event, I spent a lot of time making various bracelets and key chains. I was trying to have what I would presume most of the attendees would be interested in. This was fairly hard to do since I had never been to this event or liken myself to being a biker.

Each evening, when we would come home, I would have all these ideas of different bracelets, colorations and designs that might be popular. I found an interesting way to do this each evening as well. Recently I’ve been listening to a book, “The girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Each night when I wanted to spend a little time making items, I would turn my iPod on with this book and wham. I would get lost in what I was doing and the book and later on would look up and find I had made quite a bit. So much so, that on Friday night my fingers were killing me. I hadn’t even realized it while I was working but my fingers were so sore. Part of the trade I guess. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, morning and evening I would work on what I thought would be popular and may sell.

It didn’t take long to realize that I had geared most of my items to police officers or people interested in police. I needed more biker type items and frankly things that little kids would like. There were several times that kids would pull their parents arm over to our stand and show them something they saw while passing by.

I’ll see you next entry, Constant Reader.

Whew…it all came together

As I wrote previously, after a trifle glitch in the matrix, we got the go ahead to set up. This went a lot smoother, since we had done the same thing on the first day. I think we looked darn cool too, with our matching shirts and all.

I forgot to say that on the first day, we nearly lost our canopy to the wind. I had to use some of the paracord and tie some anchors to the rear in a patch of ground with stakes and I had to use a couple of paint cans to anchor the front legs. A bit crude but it worked. I had an idea to expand on the paint can idea, since I can’t depend on anchoring to an open patch of ground. I went to our local Lowe’s and picked up 4 empty paint cans with lids, filled them with sand and taped our logo to them. Once we had the canopy up I tied the cans to the canopy with paracord, using a Siberian Hitch at each paint can. It is a quick, fast knot that is adjustable and is really quick to unravel at the end of the day. As a matter of fact I had a few people commenting on the cans and that they were a good idea. Heck, I was just trying to make sure our set-up made it back home.

We had a wonderful lady from a chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club stop by. She wanted a particular size of bracelet to wrap around the right upper side of her vest just under the shoulder. She told us that several people from their clubs wear them that way or wear them dangling from the side of their vests. I had never heard of this before. We got to making her bracelet, when she returned shortly thereafter with her husband and two other club member. That one bracelet transformed into 4 sales along with some great suggestions on colors and designs. They also suggested that I check out their national website for events that I may be able to attend and sell some of my items.

Tune into the next entry when I continue the story, Constant Reader.

Bikes on the Bricks, the first day continues.

After we got set up, I was a bit exhausted. I didn’t know how everything would go, so I just try to relax and watch the practice by the officers. Then Jim Nelson, comes up. He is a motor officer from St. Paul, MN. He asks about the bracelets a bit and says he will be back in a bit to get something. Later on he even brought a plate of food from the tent that the officers were located. This guy was so generous he shocked me a bit. Maybe I’m somewhat jaded by working in Flint as a police officer for so long, but he astounded me with his kind demeanor. I looked upon it as a good sign that perhaps I was in the right place.

Throughout the day we made a few sales. Jim Nelson, bought 3 bracelets and we sold about 9 items in total. Come 4pm we began packing up as the officer’s were finishing up their day of practice. I felt a good sense of accomplishment, but I also had this lingering thought of what would the next day would bring. As I said before, the enormity of this whole thing, left me feeling inadequate. I even told my family that I was planning on doing the event on Saturday, but I felt like maybe I wasn’t ready for Sunday. While we were driving home, my wife began encouraging me to do the whole thing, Friday, Saturday and definitely Sunday. See it to the end, she said. Learn from it and move forward, she said. She planted a seed if nothing else. Now I’m back to doing something that puts fear in me.

As we drove home, I thought about it more and I believe she was correct. I shouldn’t fear what may come. Embrace the experience, heck it just may be a lot of fun.

Tune in next time to see how it unfolded, Constant Reader.

 

With every failure comes another opportunity.

Remember when I wrote about my letter campaign going completely bust and not getting any responses. Well something interesting happened. In the letter, I was marking the milestone of selling the 100th paracord item. This is around the 2nd week of July 2012. Although I sent out several letters, I kept several back until I came in contact with those people again.  When I finally realized that the whole process was a big goose egg, I realized, I was well past the 100 item mark. I was creeping really closely to the 200th item and beyond. Although I didn’t like what happened, or should I say, what didn’t happen with the letters, I kept my nose to the grindstone and kept, making items and selling. That I believe is what is important.

I learned that it is important to stay focused. I can’t let a setback hinder my business goals. I have to press on and move forward.

I’ll talk with you next time constant reader.