Category Archives: Musings

Not Craft Related!

So sometimes, I’ve got no desire to discuss crafting (weird, right??) and a blog with traffic already is as good a place as any to discuss “real life” with you all.

So for about 6 years now, I’ve lived in a really horrible nightmare of a trailer. Now, don’t get me wrong, when I moved in first with my son Tarquin, it was gorgeous. Huge rooms, the trailer is about 14×70 or so. It was a dream come true for only $3,000.

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For the first time in a long time, Tarquin and I were both happy, warm, well adjusted, and convinced that we had one of the more pretty places we’d ever been in. I had a “real job”, Tarquin was doing well in school, I’d gotten rid of a poisonous relationship. Life was good.

About a year into it, things began to fall apart. The first thing, was when the entire kitchen exploded in mold.

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A nightmare ensued. I became deathly ill. Literally. I can pull up the years of chronic pneumonia, the lung issues, the prescriptions where at one point, I was on 60mg of Prednisone a day because my lungs were that bad. I nearly died.

About 95% of the reason Tarquin joined the military was to be sure of warmth, a roof over his head that didn’t pour in water, and 3 meals a day, something at this point, I couldn’t give him.

We finally got the mold under control, and my grandfather, the dearest man to me on the earth, finally died after a decades long struggle with heart issues and leukemia he’d gotten from working unprotected with industry paint strippers for his auction business. My grief was so bad that finally I collapsed with existing gallbladder issues, that caused a failing liver, and a pancreas that decided to again go on strike on me. I was a month in hospital, and a year recovering from jaundice, and I’m still recovering from the massive weight gain thanks to meds. I have around 200lbs nearly to take off, and it’s going slowly. All these issues meant I didn’t give a fuck about the trailer, I needed to worry if I was going to live. So the unfixed issues got bigger, and they got worse. Snowballs in Upstate NY aren’t unusual even in summer, what can I say.

I also suffer, and not well, from various mental health issues (so far the only thing working great are my lungs) and at times, a small thing will magnify into a spiraling, horrifying nightmare. Success in any form scares me, I’m convinced something will come up, and slap it out of my hands. I have issues with my business succeeding, and the fates forbid I’m happy in a relationship, I’ll do my best to ruin it and make people hate me.

So I’m not an easy person at times. I predict failure, and then am depressed when it self fulfills.  Doesn’t make my agony any the less, in fact now, it is also guilt, and horror that I was”right”.

I recently lost my shit essentially. I was succeeding, terrified and convinced that it couldn’t last. And, it couldn’t. I got self destructive and again fucked things up, alienating people who care about me, driving away people who were truly my friends. But who I couldn’t accept because I’m so convinced I’m not worth knowing.

And to drag crafting back in, as I have to on here, it’s not easy to work your business, or craft when you simply don’t give a shit. And, most people who struggle with depression, or BPD as I do, are often incredibly brilliant, and knowing you are failing makes it that much worse because you are smart enough to stop it, but can’t. You have people who want to help, but you turn from them, partly convinced that they can’t possibly help, but mainly because of your desire to not drag anyone down into the cesspool that is your life and mental health. It’s a vicious circle that sometimes, you never climb out of. Luckily, this time I did.

Now what tho?

I’ve been making a few tentative plans, I’ve acted on some, others I’m trying to act on.

I’ve cleaned up some of the personal life issues that were upsetting me most, certain relationships were firmly put on the back burner, and destructive people were asked to step away from me until they could control their own issues instead of magnifying mine with their self destruction.

I’m regrouping my business. I do want my business to succeed, and I do want to be able to help others as they’ve so often helped me, and the best way I can do that, is to make sure people have the products they need and want. But I was failing badly at that. Not what I wanted, but I was. As I said, success makes me nervous, so I did my best to make sure I failed.  I never said I was smart.

So right now, my business is on hold while I try to clean old business up and get back on track.

The trailer, has to go. I’m miserable, I can’t see it being fixed easily, and it’s really unlikely that I will hear the words “bus driver, move that bus”. I will be working on at least getting it liveable to a less dangerous point, and being able to be warm in winter is nearly a must.

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I can’t let the above pictures be what my life consists of. I’ve sunk just $1k nearly just into the bathroom, using my own money, and crowdfunding, and I’m still at bare walls and basic plumbing, not including the ability to shower in my own home (I do so at my gym where I’m working on that 200lbs)

I want to wash dishes in a sink in a kitchen (I can’t currently do that), I want to turn up the heat, and actually have heat.

Basic, everyday things most take for granted, that I haven’t taken for granted in nearly 6 years.

I’ve always been fascinated by the tiny house movement. I’m not sure I could do anything under 300 square feet, but at this point, I’d rather live in a pup tent than this trailer.  Every so often on my local Craigslist, I run into really great deals on RVs, and while I understand RV living and Upstate NY aren’t always the best combos, again, it’d be an improvement on my current conditions. Just yesterday, I regretted not being able to lay my hands on $800 in the worst way.  And don’t think the fantasy of being able to just go hasn’t crossed my mind either.

So, my other goal is to raise funds and turn around and buy something, anything to live in. I’d even be willing to take just a trailer base at this point, or a camper in horrific condition, with the thought that it is easier to fix up a tiny trailer than it is to fix up a 14×70 trailer that fights being lived in and has entire rooms with no floors.

I’ll be listing auctions hopefully, and doing fund raisers in the form of things I make, to try and raise money for this. I need to be out of here, I can’t handle any of this anymore, and I’m pretty tired of having to be strong and make do, if I’m going to be “roughing it” then at least let me have the dignity of being able to shower in my own home.

If you’d like to help, I do have a crowdfunding effort going on, you can check it out here on GoFundMe. This post is not asking for help, I only want the people who want to help me, to help me. Pity is not anything I’m after, not in my life, not for my “illness” and certainly not for my living conditions, they are all inside of my control, but sometimes, even strong common sense me knows I need help in order to grasp and keep that control.

ETA 7/19/2015 Conditions haven’t changed much here, and that fundraiser didn’t raise even $80. But thank you to those who did help.

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Exclusives aka Why You Can’t Have That Design

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The phone case is from the Dejah Vue Designs, but the bag, that is an exclusive.

 

You go into a cute shop on Etsy, or on the net someplace, and you see an item, that you instantly realize, has been done on an embroidery machine. That means there is a design for it, and now you want it.

So now you “copy” their picture, post it in the groups with “NMP where can I find this design” only to learn, it was an exclusive to that creator and isn’t for sale.

Cue tantrums and tears.

“BUT I WANT THAT DESIGN!! *sob*”

Well, you can’t have it. It is that simple. That is an “exclusive” to the shop, or that designer, and the person carrying that item is the one who worked tirelessly with a designer, giving ideas, drawing pictures, testing the design and finally, listing it.

It is a process that can take days, weeks, or even months.  And yes, you might have thought of it, but in the end, it was this creator and digitizer that worked together and got in there first. Harsh? Yes. But that is how in some areas of selling, you lock up a market, or at least make sure you are in there first for a while.

Of course, this doesn’t mean much, if you’re that determined, you can of course go and have it copied, losing the respect of your fellow crafters, and gaining the amusement of the person who was smart enough to have it designed for them.  You are even risking having designers refuse to work with you on legit projects you have ideas for. And trust me, you really don’t want any of that. Machine embroidery is a small world, word will get out.

So how can you go about getting your own “exclusives” for your shops? Approach your designer of choice. Many of them actually enjoy this kind of work. The designer of my TARDIS bag up there isn’t even a pro digitizer, but she is an incredibly talented one. Whenever I want a bag exclusive, I head to her. (talks are in place for genetalia bags)

Just ask the designer you enjoy most, if they’d work on this with you. You will have to pay for the project, but it usually isn’t too high a cost, and worth it in the end for a fantastic product that only you will be offering. You’re also removing any potential competition from others who bought the same design, because now suddenly, they can’t do that.

Be sure when you talk with your digitizer of choice that you make sure they understand you do not want the design out there for others. But again, keep in mind, the unscrupulous will often “copy” your exclusive, sometimes less than a week after you show off your new work. (this comes under my famous “don’t be a dick” statement, but is often ignored by the dicks)

Along with that, if a certain digitizer is good with certain items, like my girl who rocks with purse designs, go to that designer. Don’t go to someone who does mostly words and phrases for ITH toys. Go to the designer best suited for your design. You won’t regret it.

I personally love exclusives. In my own shop, and in the shops of others. It shows me that free reign on creativity is taking place. And yes, every so often, I’ve been a little bummed I couldn’t also have that design, but I respect both designer and store owner for wanting such a cool item and I’m often willing to buy it from them, showing my support of a seriously cool item.

 

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Ups and Downs

I had a fairly decent week. I decided to expand my craft business into a  more practical side, offering inserts for things done on our embroidery machines, like rattles, and voice boxes, and musical buttons. And so far, so good. I’m very clearly offering something that people need, and I’m giving folks in the group a chance to support small business, which, I’m a huge fan of.

As a small business, we can’t always give you the lowest prices some of the bigger places can, but we make up for it in other ways, you can get to know us personally for one thing. You learn our names, if we have kids, their names, you learn some of our quirks and we may even become at least “net friends”.

 

I know myself, I don’t even have much desire to compete with the “big guys”. I want to be able to pick out individual items, and work with designers to come up with new and fantastic ways to use those items. The curiosity of my customer as to why for example, I might carry musical coin slots. And what is a designer going to come up with for them? (seriously, that is happening)

The fun of getting to know my customers one on one, especially right now, while they learn to grow with me while I work on building up stock and become a better business for people that started out as my friends.

 

It’s going to be interesting, that’s for sure. And I really can’t wait. I’ve had a few setbacks, but they’ve already been overcome. I’m currently working with Chinese suppliers to get more and more of the parts I know you all need, and even some, that when you see them, you’ll never knew you needed.

 

 

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Don’t Be a Dick Part 2

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I at one point had a goal for my blog, that it was going to be about me, my life in crafting, my business, and occasionally, these posts that discussed how to be a better crafter.

But I’m slowly learning that what people enjoy most from me is these rather tart reminders to not be a dick. And while that’s funny, in a way it really isn’t. It saddens me that I have to discuss basic things that take place between human beings that are in business themselves, or are dealing with small businesses.

And today, I got handed a topic that horrified and angered me. And  I was trying to avoid this type of post so soon after You Want How Much?? and Don’t Be a Dick (part one obviously). Seriously, I was going to do a nice pretty post on some Russian caps I’m working on for a SCA member. But nope. Some people had to ruin it.

So the topic? Sharing. And no, I don’t mean sharing a cookie, or a meal, I’m once again, back into the world of machine embroidery, and the designs many of  us buy to use with our machines. (seriously, the designs on our machines are boring)

Sharing is when someone who has paid for a design, either gives it to someone else, or sells a machine with the designs they have paid for, and keeps additional copies for themselves.  I’m not speaking about the folks who entirely get out of machine embroidery, and sell everything and gives the designs and never buys or touches designs again. I’m talking about the people who throw in thousands of paid designs to “sweeten the deal”.

First? You’re an asshole. And I refuse to sugar coat that. How effing dare you? Do you enjoy stealing? Because that’s what you are doing. You’re not “sharing”, you’re being an accomplice in thievery.  You aren’t being nice, you aren’t generous, you’re a thief.

And just know, some designers actually feel you shouldn’t transfer designs at all. Period. End of story. And they have it in their terms (you should read them sometime, just sayin’) so think carefully, read the TOS on a designer, because many, really don’t want you sharing, or selling (why should you make a profit twice anyhow?) and in many ways, I agree with them 100%, you’re not only stealing once by using and making items you sell with the designs, but then you’re stealing twice by giving someone else the ability to make more money off these designs.

And if you’ve done this and not thought of it as stealing, rethink. If you go up to a website, such as Urban Threads, buy a bunch of designs, then turn around and send the files to a friend with an embroidery machine, you’ve now stolen money from Urban Threads. Who yes, they are bigger than some designers out there, but they are still people. They are a team of creative designers, who all work their asses off so that people can have awesome designs.

Now let’s say you head up to A Creative Medley. You buy a bunch of designs, and share them to the same girlfriend.  You know what? You’ve just stolen from a mom with kids, who is running her business single handed,  who not only spends time creating creative designs for your machine, but raises her kids, takes care of her man, cleans her house, AND also runs her own small embroidery business with her machine. You’ve just taken money from her that could pay for ballet lessons, groceries, not to mention, the software she has to pay for to even design these designs you enjoy so much.

Don’t share free either. Share the links. The reasons designers offer freebies is to get traffic and possible customers to their sites. When you bypass this, you’ve lost that designer a customer. Way to go. 

I woke up this morning, to a note in a group, that a rather large designer, well known in the embroidery world had killed her bandwidth on Dropbox. This confused me until I learned this.

Some assholes, and misguided jerks, with the morals of an alley cat, no, wait, I take that back, at least the alley cat cleans it’s own fur, so, my apology to alley cats, shared the Dropbox link of designs that others had PURCHASED, and PAID FOR, legitimately.

This designer had run a sale yesterday. A cumlative sale. People bought designs for about 4 hours, and at the end of the sale, anyone who purchased, received all the designs that had been purchased that day. An amazing deal, and incredibly generous of this designer.

And why did she do this? She has a bad furnace, she has unexpected medical and legal bills. She is a generous and kind person on her worst day, yet she threw open this sale out of need. And some selfish jerks shared her link, making it that much less money she would get for her furnace, her legal bills, and worse, her medical bills.

And now the understanding is this low life posted this link in a GROUP.

May all your needles shatter.

Develop a conscience. Do not be slimey.  Do not share designs you’ve paid for. Do not share FREE designs. Do not share download links!!

DON’T BE A DICK!!

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You Want How Much??

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How many times at a craft show have you heard this? If you’re me, fairly often.

You need to learn to ignore it. After seeing some of the prices I’ve seen in the embroidery and crafting groups I’m in, it’s no wonder people feel guilty.  The public is out there wanting Walmart prices and making you feel like shit if you don’t give them those prices.

Well, stop it. You are a skilled worker. You aren’t offering fries with that handmade item. And they need to grasp that.

But so do you. And this is mainly directed at those who sew, or use embroidery machines, since that is generally my medium of choice in my work. But really, anyone doing handmade, this goes for you too, so pay attention!!

You are worth your prices. You are entitled to make the money you ask for your item.  Stop trying to make the customer happy over EVERYTHING. Pricing isn’t about the customer. Pricing is about YOU as the creator and owner of this item.

Making the customer happy involves fabric choices, your quality of work, and your interaction with them being pleasant. It has nothing to do with your wages. If you worked at a “real job” would you run around telling people how much you earn per hour? Probably not.  But your boss, coworkers and friends and family would assume you earn it since you get a paycheck. So how is crafting any different? You’ve earned your wages, now it is up to the customer to pay you.

So how do you price? This is actually a tough question to answer. Etsy gives a decent pricing formula, 

 

Materials + Labor + Expenses + Profit = Wholesale x 2 = Retail

which is a good starting place, but it isn’t set in stone. You should use it to come to a price to start with. But a lot of pricing is about instinct, and the willingness to take a loss in one place and a gain in another.

Good example is felties, one of the scandals in the embroidery world is people selling these for 40 cents each. Now, felt is 20 cents a sheet, even at wholesale, you won’t find it much under 14 cents. So right there, you’ve got 20 cents and that in a 5×7 machine will make 6-8 felties. Then you’ve got the cost of the design, say $3.50 for that and you might make it 20 times.  Just the design alone, you’re paying 35 cents per sheet to make 8 felties.  Now convince me of your profit.

This isn’t to say you should be charging $1 each for felties (except those blasted evil multilayer 90 color changes ones) , but the only way 40 cents each can pay for itself is if the customer orders 100 at a time. And even then, you’re making yourself more work than profit.

For one simple reason. Where’s your hourly wage in this? So many skip the idea of “paying themselves”. And you shouldn’t.  It is part of your costs. And it isn’t set in stone either. I charge $25 an hour for sewing work, $12 for complicated embroidery work, and $10 for items done in bulk like masks and felties.

So be flexible with paying yourself. I realize to embroidery folks that you just push a button, but you’re doing more than that. You know what button to push most importantly. You know where to get the designs. You understand how fabric works. And you’re the one who fixes your machine when you have basic problems like bird nesting or snapped threads. That makes you a trained employee and worth far more than minimum wage. $12 per hour. Minimum. Please.

One of the things I see a lot in embroidery groups is “how much do I charge per stitch?”. You don’t. That method of pricing is for big multi needle machines and industrial embroidery on things like shirts, or bag. It isn’t for the home worker with a single or multi needle. Charge by materials and labor. Not by the stitch.

And charge by demand! Don’t be afraid to use a fad to your advantage! I’m going to use the still popular example of the bunny currently making the rounds of the groups.

The design isn’t cheap, $10.99 and this particular seller does no sales. But this rabbit is so hot right now that every other post in 4 embroidery groups is about this rabbit. Take advantage of that! Customize, add special designs to the stomach, and charge $35 each for the 5×7 and more for larger! PEOPLE WILL PAY IT. When the fad is over, and Easter has passed, lower the price to $25.

“Well, wouldn’t pay that“.

No. You wouldn’t. Why? Because you aren’t your customer. You can make this. They cannot. They do not have the skill, the patience, or the machinery and tools to make this item. You do. Take advantage of that fact.

“But no one locally will pay that”. 

You’re thinking like a customer again. You are not your customer. You do not know for a fact locals won’t pay this. You think this because you’ve had a few friends, or family, or a few locals who want Walmart prices have sneeringly told you that they wouldn’t pay that.

It isn’t up to the customer to tell you what they’ll pay. It is up to you to tell the customer what they’ll pay. And this takes education. If you do shows, take your machine with you.  Have an older child, or a friend help you at your table while you work away using your machine.

Society is very detached from how things are made. They see the results, and not the work. And years of big box shopping have given them the idea that making things is cheap and everyone who makes things only gets 10 cents an hour. They don’t see the burnt fingers from glue guns, the sewing injuries from trying to work quickly, or the tears when your machine manages to knot itself up again. You’re dehumanized into a machine yourself, who churns out felties for 40 cents each.

Well, time to stop that. You are a person, and you are a creative one.  Some of your customers will never understand that and will constantly try to get your pricing down (I find sitting them in front of the machine and asking them to make me something tends to cure the worst among friends and family). Don’t worry, these “customers” will fall aside, making room for people who truly appreciate your efforts and will pay you what you are worth.

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Don’t Be a Dick

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One thing I’ve learned since starting machine embroidery, it is not a cheap “hobby”, and it is even less cheap to run as a business.

Machines can run into the thousands, as can threads, I’m not kidding, look up Sulky color sets sometime. You’ll pass out that people spend that on thread.

Then you’ve got things like stabilizers, several different kinds for several different projects, tear and cut aways for t-shirts, and water soluble for lace. And if you’re one of those people who insists on using the overpriced dealers, or box stores like Joann fabric, you’re automatically spending too much. And if you’re using bulk suppliers such as World Weidner, chances are still good you’re spending an easy $100 or more to make sure you’ve got enough supplies.

I’ve already lectured people about pricing too low. And our supply costs is one reason why when you price so low, you’re hurting the rest of us just as much as yourself. You can’t possibly making up these thousands of dollars you’re investing into machines and supplies. Cheaper suppliers means you are at least saving money there, and acting like an actual business by getting the most bang for your buck, but there’s a damaging side of that as well, and I’m probably going to tick some people off in a minute here.

Embroidery designers, especially the small timer ones often seen in the Facebook embroidery groups are business people. But they are also WAHMs or retired folks who are doing the same thing you are, trying to make some money for bills, or to pay for a larger machine, or you name it, they’re doing what you do, using a skill to make people happy, and to make a few dollars.

Have you tried digitizing software? I’m pretty computer savvy and it throws me entirely. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I can do letters, and merge, but compared to designers who spend hours, or days creating a feltie, or an in the hoop zipper bag, or a stuffed toy, I’m a hack and I know it.

Looked at the cost of this software? Even the basic stuff that is the best to use for creation, and I’m not talking basic stuff that only re-sizes or does a few monograms either. I’m talking about the serious shit that some of these designers have paid anywhere from $500 to literally thousands of dollars for. Are you willing to do that? If no, then why begrudge them making the software pay for itself?

So I cut the designers some slack on pricing. After having been in contact with designers since I got my first machine last January, I’ve had a year of getting to know some of these women. And let me tell you, I’ve been impressed, awed, inspired, and incredibly grateful there are people out there, male and female, who make my business look that much better.

So when I see people begging for coupon codes, or telling a designer that their design is too expensive, and when I look, it is a feltie design for $3.50, I’m insulted and angered on the designers behalf.

I’m sorry you don’t want to pay $3.50 for that feltie design that you have to pay for once and then make thousands of times and then charge 40 cents per feltie, undercutting all of us in the same business. Make sure that you post in the groups about you can’t possibly make a profit when designs are so expensive.

You are honestly your own worst enemy. Of course it is expensive when you are so worried about cutting out the other sellers that you’re cutting your own throat.  My sympathy for you is nil.

How about you spend a few hours in front of the computer, learning the software, which, I’ve had designers who have done this for years tell me is a daily learning process, because software constantly changes, oh, and make sure  if you do this yourself, get auto digitizing software so that you deliver to the public crappy stitch outs that people can tell you are WONDERFUL while anyone who actually knows what they are doing can avoid you like the plague.

What’s that you say? You don’t want to waste your education learning to digitize? Well then, suck it up buttercup. Those designs aren’t cheap, and they shouldn’t be. These people have skills you don’t have, and probably don’t want to learn. They are no different than an architect or programmer, using a computer and some fantastic skills to create a product that you can replicate, over and over, literally, thousands of times. I can use CAD software, my own skill, and the folks who whip through Embird leave me slack jawed and in awe.

So break it down. A Creative Medley has a very cute kawaii apple feltie.

Wow, it’s $4, Yes, I get it, that’s a lot. In this house, it’s a loaf of bread and some cheese. I get that, trust me.

But now let’s figure out what we get for $4.

A cute apple, that we can now make a few thousand times, 4 at a time, or many more depending on our machine, if you have a multi needle with a giant hoop, you could be making 40 at a time.

You should be then selling those felties for at least 60 cents each. After all, this is handmade, not a cheap Chinese import. So why are you selling it for 40 cents each? Ah, yes, your competition who you want to drive out with your no profit sales. My bad, I forgot.

You get customer service. You can contact this seller anytime, ask for help, run ideas by her, or even contact her for custom work. And for this same $4, she has to be polite to you when you’re abusing her because you don’t take care of your machine, so this design didn’t stitch out right, or bad mouth her in the groups because $4 is too expensive for a feltie file. After all, you’ve paid for the right to be an asshole.

So for $4, you’re getting more than a file.

So why are you entitled to a coupon now? Why are you bullying that digitizer into holding a sale? I’ve seen big places like Just Peachy have sales, where she does things for 90% off, or places like Urban Threads have sales, but they have them because they are big enough to call the shots. They’ve established themselves. Having a big sale is not going to hurt them, not with the daily traffic they do get. They can ignore requests for sales because they can afford to.

Little digitizers on the other hand, seem fair game for people to be abusive, rude, obnoxious and just plain assholes. It is as if that WAHM or retired person is suddenly no longer worthy of your respect. I’m not sure if this is because the smaller designers are more visible in the groups, so people figure they can treat them like this, or if people with embroidery machines  are just spoiled brats with expensive toys.  So far spoiled brat is winning.

Knock it off. You are not entitled to a coupon, that designer is not obligated to hold a sale, and you are not forced to buy their items, period. If you feel they are too expensive, wait until THEY offer a sale.

I realize that as Americans, we have to have that “Yankee thrift”. But there’s “thrift” and there’s being a cheap jerk. And so many people cross that line in the embroidery world. I’ve seen downright abusive wall posts from people demanding a coupon code so that they could save $2 on a $3.50 purchase.

Wait for a sale. I’ve yet to see a digitizer who didn’t have a sale every so often, even if it was once a year. Embroidery-Outlet, a favorite place for ITH stuffed plushies, only does one sale a year, near Christmas, when all her designs are $5.00 and she holds it for a month. It is a huge sale and her bandwidth is often killed by eager customers snatching up her entire catalog of designs.

And some designers, don’t do sales at all. Chances are excellent, those designs are worth it. Sonia Showalter, never does sales, and still manages to have plenty of fans of her work who follow her eagerly.

In your cost of handmade, these designs should be part of your pricing formula. If they aren’t, that’s part of your pricing issue. At the very least, take that cost of $4.00 and divide by the possible number of felties you’ll make from this one design. Include that in your cost of materials. Files are a business investment. They are part of your supplies and tools. Treat them with a bit more respect, without them, you’d be using factory installed fonts.

So the next time you want to whine or complain about a design being “too expensive”, stop, and think. And employ Wheaton’s Law and don’t be a dick.

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Your Low Pricing is Hurting Me

Arrogant. I know. How on earth can your low pricing hurt me?? How dare I!!

Well, let me break it down.

When you are out there, as a crafter, or a creator of handmade items, you represent not just you, but you represent all of your fellow crafters.  

As my regular readers know, I don’t just do one craft, I do a few.  I also happen to own an embroidery machine. 2 in fact. I was very lucky and got both incredibly cheap and it has helped to expand my business considerably.

I have only been doing this a year, but already, I’ve learned the fun of “ITH”, embroidery projects that are completed entirely in the hoop, with little, or no actual sewing.

Which is great. I often make the joke that I’m just the monkey that flips the switch. The designers out there are amazing and the entire concept of “in the hoop” is crazy to a long term seamstress.  I now do stuffed animals, which I never used to do because frankly, they are time consuming.

But no more. The latest craze in the embroidery groups that I help to admin are these cute little bunnies.

So, let me show you how this works.

Design $10.99

Fabric $6.25 (plus shipping) for enough to do one rabbit.

Thread, stabilizers, and contrasting fabric, not costing me exactly, but not free either if you accept that I bought them before hand for another project or “just in case” for things like this.

So right there, I’ve put about $16 into this rabbit.

Yet, people are selling these rabbits for $15 each. Or less.

Is your time not valuable? I know it has to take at least an hour, if not longer to make these rabbits. Is your ability to match fabrics, and your knowledge of how to use this machine not important? Are you putting these out in a sweatshop environment? Is Simon Legree overseeing you?

Why is your rabbit worth so little? You’re making something the customer can’t. Your customer has no machine, and has no knowledge of how to use one even if they did.

And customized? Personalized? Check this rabbit out. Not even HALF as cute as the one you are making, and just the ear has a monogram, and it is $42.

So back to the meat of this post.

How does my pricing hurt you?

Well, when you sell that rabbit for $15, and someone comes to me, or another crafter and says “well, so and so is selling it for $15”.  We have two choices. Lower our  sale price, lose our profit to gain a sale that we are getting nothing from, or shrug, and have the buyer go to you. 

So convince me. How is your $15 price tag benefitting you? How are you making a profit? Where is your hourly wage?

 

And I’m not speaking of “samples” or “oops” items either. What you sell that item for is your business. You want it out of your house and someone wants it. Who cares if you only get $5 for it. That’s between you and your conscience. No one elses.

But having said that, how can you expect to be taken seriously as a business when your prices are a joke?

If you’re doing this as a “hobby” that’s fine.  But please, if you insist on selling online, raise your prices, you obviously don’t need the money, or the work, so think of it as pin money you can use to get a new mini van.

 

(ETA: This article was apparently timely given recent trends in the embroidery world. So I’ve added a couple of remarks to my OP)

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I had an Idea…

Apparently to the people I hold near and dear, this 4 words can inspire terror.

I had an idea.

You’d think they’d at least admit, my ideas are in the main, very good. I have no idea what they are worried about.

So for my holiday gift this year, my friend Jennifer got me a dressmaker’s dummy. Or rather, she is helping me to get a dummy, something I’ve needed for a while now, and am incredibly grateful to have coming. In theory, it is supposed to be here tomorrow. But given my long standing feud with UPS, we’ll see.

Anyhow. So, my idea was pretty basic. I *wanted* to do a Doctor Who themed bustle dress. But after going over the pattern, and glancing over the fabric I have on hand, I’ve changed my mind. Doesn’t mean it will never happen, just means it won’t happen with the fabric I have here.

So, my idea is, you’ve got it, a Doctor Who/Moulin Rouge inspired dress.

Why? Who knows, there are some great Steampunk inspired Whovian dresses out there, and I think there can never be enough, because each designer will have a different take on such a concept.

But I want to do something else entirely. So using this fabric, my embroidery machine, and this pattern, I hope I can pull it off.

I haven’t done anything yet with embroidering clothing before I make it. I’ve done t-shirts, and I’ve done jeans, which, in the grand scheme are actually fairly easy. And I got this machine with the intention of using it for exactly this kind of thing.

But, I took a year off from sewing in order to get used to the machine, and a needed hiatus from costuming sewing in general. But, now I’m ready to get back to it. The addition of the dressmaker’s dummy (I’m thinking I might call her Zipporah) is going to make things easier since it’ll mean not only not having to fit on my own body, but to be able to take much better photographs of my work.  Selfies and sewing on your own body is very hard.

I’ve got a few designs in mind, and some ideas for the bustle and under skirt, we’ll see where it goes, I’m only going to worry about the main bodice for now. Then we’ll worry about the bottom.

Oh, and since this pattern includes one for the tights, count on some embroidered tights to match.

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Ever Reach That Point

Where you set the tools in your hand down and say “f- this”. Yep, you guessed it. I reached this point tonight.

I draw a few of my rings. Not many, because frankly, I don’t enjoy it. I’m not an artist in the pens and paint sense, so when something won’t work, I get frustrated quick.

I can do basic stuff. I keep it simple, and don’t get involved. Tonight, I smeared the fourth ring in a row and threw it. Far. I then made the decision that between the lack of glasses, and how short my temper was becoming over the issue, I wouldn’t draw any rings for now. I’d far rather work with the computer to make them and I’m far better at it.  So I will wait until I have the ink for the printer in a couple weeks, and I will wait until I have printable shrink plastic. It’s simply not worth shattering my nerves.

I may eventually pick up the stencils, or some other stuff, and I will always hand color pieces, but I just feel tonight as a snapping point and if this isn’t enjoyable, I’m going to be miserable at this. And that idea bothers me.

I’m at the same point with glitters and rhinestones, but I feel both of those are issues I can overcome with proper tools and am taking the steps to get those items I need so that I can add some sparkle to the rings and other pieces.

So, when I have my supplies, I’ll be ready, I can spend hours happily creating layouts for rings, and I’m getting ready to do holiday ones. I’ve got some great vintage Halloween and Christmas ones, and I have every intention of covering Chanukah and who knows what other holidays I’ll come up with.

No, in other parts, I’ve sat and thought this over carefully. I feel that as much as I enjoy other hobbies, I’d far rather concentrate on the rings. I feel I can very realistically have an entire Etsy shop with my rings, and the other items I make in shrink plastic, but with a heavy concentration on the rings. I enjoy making them, I find it easy, and I have fun with it. I like the rolled ones, and I enjoy the flat ones mounted onto adjustable bases. When I expand into cufflinks and tie tacks, I have a feeling I’ll really enjoy those too. And I’ll never stop doing the buttons, I can only see that line expanding once I have proper materials.

But I’m pleased to not be sewing, or doing some craft that really isn’t me. I’ll be able to create with resin as well, and still pour metal, and I feel alright with it, because it keeps my shop cohesive, they’re all interrelated in a way.
Now, for the good news. I couldn’t get a dot com, but I was able to get a dot net. And I as able to find someone to sell me the name that wasn’t GoDaddy. I refuse to use a company who has a founder who prides himself on killing. Don’t get me wrong, I love things like deer hunting, but what possible use does an elephant have as food?

I went with Name Cheap and I have to say, I had an issue with my redirect (so I thought) and the very kind Dmitry was back to me instantly. And apologized for taking so long!! So it’s official, I am http://www.dirtygirldesigns.net and that goes right to my Etsy store. I feel it’s the first step in the right direction, now to get those sales!!

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Filed under Business, Musings, Rings, Shrink Plastic

I Have to Admit…

I’m a little depressed. Oh, not entirely, the good news is, my stats are up. As in, WAY up. I can’t stress enough how far up, so I’ll just share a screen shot.

 

Now. This is for the last two weeks or so. This is GREAT. Yes, some is from the forums on Etsy, but my outside stats have picked up very nicely. Now, compare this to a year’s worth of stats and you’ll see why I’m pleased.

Yes. That’s why I’m pleased. My numbers are very plainly WAY up.  Nearly 9,000 in a year, and 2,000 in two weeks? Yes. Because if I keep going, that means I’ll have nearly 5,000 a month at this rate.

But, no sales. I realize, it’s back to school time, and I also realize that summer is when some go on vacations, and yeah yeah yeah, I get it. But I’ve only had TWO sales the entire time these stats are going up. That’s so damn depressing!!

And I see all the time people are being approached with wholesale offers, but why not me? I mean the chances it’d be a real offer are nil, but my ego would feel so much better.

I’m currently at 28 sales. I just can’t seem to get over that 30 mark!! I’m marketing (I suck at math but believe it or not, I actually contemplated going into marketing seriously, I love statistics and demographics with a passion) like mad, and it’s obviously working, but where are the sales? I feel I have a cute and unique item, that is clearly attracting attention, but it’s as if it’s a novelty that no one wants to buy.

I want my Etsy to work. I don’t even want much out of it. I figured, if it makes me $300 a month, I’ll be happy. That’d pay my rent and leave some money over for fun stuff like more supplies. Then I’d have money free to fix my dump of a trailer. I’m simple, I just want to be warm, and fed, and comfortable. And really, $300 is only about a ring a day.

I raised my  prices like I was told to, and it got me more attention, but no sales. Now part of me thinks raising my prices was a huge mistake.

I changed all my pictures to more uniform backgrounds, causing me to be in debt morally to a good friend for years probably. And it’s gotten me no sales. Now I wonder if I should have just shut up and had her take all the pictures on white backgrounds and let the rings fade into the damn backgrounds.

I’ve been putting myself out there to other bloggers, and big bloggers, offering them rings to review and so far, I’ve been featured on the Etsy Handmade Craft Carnival #4 but of course, that was the day we had the outage, so it got me no more than a couple of page views. Others have turned me down, and I’ve had juried panels just reject me in hours.

I really don’t think I’m doing anything wrong, I think I’m doing everything right in fact. Sure, there’s other things I could probably be doing, but I’m clearly getting my name out there. That’s how you get the sales, is if people see you. So I’m pleased my views are up. This will help me on Etsy, and it’ll help me on Google.

I’m trying to be positive, I have someone around besides my son (who is currently in Japan) who believes in my work, encourages me to go further and has done far more to help my rotten self esteem than anyone has in years. Much as I love my son, his admiration for my stuff is more an amused tolerance.  But having this person around has helped, and he knows it. (frankly, as smug as he’s been lately, I shouldn’t even write that!)

It’s just discouraging I guess. But I’m trying to keep my chin up and keep in mind that positive attracts positive and that people are marking holiday gifts and that once the kids go back to school I’ll get a seasonal rush.

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