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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.


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.

More lessons; more surprises

As I’ve said before this guy really shocked me. After he did that first day I thought it was over. Well before his next class, he asked me several times, if I can be sure and get him a few bracelets, matching key chains, flyers and business cards. I made sure to do just that.

In the afternoon of the Saturday session of his class, he calls me and says that several guys bought bracelets, but he could use some larger ones. He was wondering if I could make a few and we could meet up and he would get the new ones and take them the next day. Well I was in my shop working on some other items, but I dropped everything to help him out. How could I not, right. This guy was going out of his way to not only help me but help out the people that he was in class with as well. I’ve always liked, even more than making the money, being told how much people enjoy the bracelets or other items and seeing the smiles and hearing the great stories. It was great hearing him say they were selling like “hotcakes” and every one liked them.

After I put together about a half dozen, I met up with him. The next week, I saw him at work. He had sold about a dozen bracelets all told, with more people wanting to buy. He even passed out lots of business cards and gave out several of the flyers. Did I say I was shocked. Well I was and I am.

In the last post I spoke of how this generosity has made me look within myself and ask several questions. I believe this will ultimately make me a better, man, husband and business owner. I’m looking forward to see how I handle these types of things in the future. This is a part of the story that hasn’t been written yet and I like that.


We’ll speak again next time, 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.

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.


Until 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.