Investing In Your Sewing Business
There's a really good related question to that came in from that I that I personally struck me that I thought you know this is interesting how do you run a business with your sewing passion but not one into the challenge of getting burnt out and ruin your love of sewing yeah, you know this is a really common problem that a lot of people have and this is why this part of the conversation is really important when you have the hobby when you are doing something that you're passionate about it you love and you are waiting for the time that you have to sit down and get get settled with your sewing machine and you just want to like the zone in on them of that machine and make magic with your fabric when you feel that way and then you turn that into a business it can sometimes take the magic away because it goes back to this slide that we had a few a few moments ago owning a businesses work and when it becomes a source of your income when it becomes something that you have to dio rather than ...
something you want to dio it can really change your feelings about it. I'll tell you a little story about myself that I don't get to talk about very often but in my early twenties I was a furniture designer I used to get furniture and re finish it and then sell it in our galleries or two television studios and I did this for a long time actually on I love to doing it, but I didn't really do it I started out doing it as a hobby I had a friend who showed me how to do it and I just love doing it so I was doing it and before I knew what people would say I want to buy that I want to buy that I want to buy that and I didn't really know that much about being in business, so if I had a piece in the gallery it was a lot easier for me to get a fair price for it, but I stopped doing it after like three or four years because it wasn't really fun anymore when I felt like people we're expecting me to do it or when I had a deadline attached to it or when it felt pressure for me to do it, I didn't like it anymore and now when I have like sad days where I sit around and think like I wish I was doing something different, which I think happens to all of us even if we're happy with our businesses that's the thing I go back to you I wish I still was making furniture I wish I still had kept up that hobby every time a new book comes out on remaking furniture re upholstering things or whatever I feel like completely crazy inside like I want to know about that, but the truth is, is that I gave up that business because I turned my hobby into into income stream and it didn't work for me, so finding the right balance comes into play with how much time do you really have and how much time do you really wanted to vote with it? And then that it's going to also tie into our last question here? What do you need or want from a business if you want to so for a living and you want to make your mortgage payment and be able to board your horse and get a new sewing machine every two years and also traveled to hawaii, then you're going to need to have a much different price point and output then somebody who just like has a really great hobby that they love doing and they just want oh, so whatever it is that they love to so and put it up in their shopping when it sells that's great and if it doesn't sell it's not it doesn't mean that they're not going to be able tio take that trip to hawaii because you know they're sewing is just something that they do and they love to do it they just want to earn back the money for their supplies aa lot of people who work in various fiber industries find themselves in that position where they're just compelled to make the product whatever it is with no particular person in mind for it they just love making it they love starting with nothing and ending up with something functional that's completely ok and for those people who so what they make aa lot of them just want to make their supplies back they want to save enough money to get a better machine they want to take a fancy class or go on an art retreat where they're going tio work on sewing projects with a lot of people in the same room who all have the same passion and love as they dio that's just what happens for some people and if that's all they need back from their businesses that plane to get to the retreat a better machine at the end of the year and to reimburse their prey personal pocketbook with the money that they spend to buy the supplies that they're using to make these products that are really for nobody then that's ok too that's a perfectly viable kind of business that you can do very well at and not feel a lot of pressure and keep your love of sewing that make a little bit of cash on the side your business doesn't need to be all sustaining unless that's what you're really going for so knowing what you need from a business is really the answer to that question. If you don't need to make a living from it, then you can take a much more relaxed in different approach and you can only so on sundays and then maybe on saturdays you load your stuff up and whatever it is that you want to d'oh it's all up to you when you own your own business, you're the boss, which means you get to make all of the decisions and you get to decide how things work you get to decide how things run you get to decide how things look, you get to make all of the choices when you're the boss, when you own your own business. If you don't want to work today, you don't have tio if you don't want to work next week, you don't have to. If you want to put your shop on vacation mode and not make anything at all, you don't have to, you know, but that depends on what your angles of the business are. So being really clear on what you want from your business will help you decide what choices you make, how much you work and whether or not you either change the love you have for sewing, and now you love being lt's, you know, sewing for sewing, for money or whatever your particular outlook as you get to decide that which is why it's, great to be your own boss about your products carry because you have a line that it also involves time tracking except how to manage your time, he said, although you're not in the same business, but a lot of that will help our viewers, I think, yeah, so I have I created this product tio help with my own time management and it's called make it happen. It's, a workbook for productivity in a tracker, forgetting stuff done and partly why I wanted to make this is because I noticed that I was wasting a lot of time, but I felt like I was busy because if I was in front of my computer, I felt like I was working, so I would sit down to write and then I would start writing, but then I really wouldn't be writing at all. I would be doing something totally different, and so I would waste a lot of time, but it was time that I felt busy enough. End of the day, I'd be exhausted like, man. I can't believe I didn't get everything done. I thought I was going to do I sat at my desk all day, but in reality I sat at my desk all day looking at shoes or whatever it was that I was choosing to do with my time. So I said out in two thousand fourteen in two thousand thirteen is actually when I began all of these experiments to see what I was really doing with my time, and I learned a lot of things about myself that, you know, not really super proud of, like, I had no idea who I really was until I started tracking everything that I was doing, and I want you to have the same experience, so I made this time tracker journal and what it is is it's just a different way for you to break down the structure of your days, how you're spending your time, different ways for you to look at it, you could make charts, you could plan out your day, or you could choose to look at time and a different kind of way, which this was one of the things that I found to be most helpful, so I would ask myself, what would it take for me to finish whatever it was I needed to finish. What would it take for me to reach whatever goal it was that I was currently really working towards? What would it take for me to plan something that I wanted to accomplish in the future? But I knew was going to take a little bit of logistical focus or or something like that. So I decided to look at time and a completely different way to sort of turn it on its head, if it, if you will, to make myself more productive. And I have to say that for the most part, it really works. I had no idea what I was really doing with my time, and I also have no idea how much longer things actually take. If I said I'm going to write a block post for carrie chapman dot com today, I would think in my head like, well, that'll take twenty minutes because I'm going to talk about time management, but then I would look at the clock and it would be like two hours later, and I would think what I'm way off track, even though that whole time maybe I had been working on something for time management. So it's, really interesting for me to learn that almost everything I wanted to do from my business practically took almost twice as long as I thought it was going to take. If I said, I'm going to do task a and that's going to take half an hour and then I timed it and reality test. They could have taken me an hour and fifteen minutes, and I would have no idea. And that often happens when you're self employed and you work from home. If you incorporate chores or aaron into your day, it can really eat into your work time. If you don't give yourself a schedule and a structure and then really tried to adhere to it. I found that scheduling my time and developing routines was the only way that I was going to get my work done at home in a way that made me feel good about myself at the end of the day. So how much money can you invest that's? What we're going to talk about next because we all know that so any cheap first of all, that fabric is amazing and you want to buy it all the time and you're not even sure you're going to use it for what you feel like you better get it, and then when you get it, you feel like you better save it because you're not sure if the project or the product you want to make a special enough for that fabric, so someone costs a lot of money, you know, up keeping your machines up, keeping your equipment, taking classes, developing your process, making test patterns, making examples, making samples all of that is going to cost you money and be a factor and how much money you have to put into your business to begin with. I think that it is really smart and we're going to talk about this quite a bit with anna because she's some really interesting things to say. I asked anna what tipped her business, and I really, really found her her answer to be fascinating, but things that you might consider investing in aren't necessarily the things that seem really obvious you, for example, investing in a really good camera so that you can take really great detailed shots or lifestyle shots of your product. This is going to be really important in the sale of them. Photography is really key when it comes to sewn accessories or any business where you're trying to sell an item online, actually, but we're going to talk a lot about that more coming up, but investing in things like a better camera, lights lessons, ah better sewing machine that makes your work your work go smoother. You know, if your machine is always breaking down or locking up, or or you know that there's an accessory that you should buy that would make your work go a lot faster than investing that, because what you want to do is the business owners be able tio maximize the best use of your time. Make sure that you're spending your money as wisely as possible so that no more than more profit you get to keep. When you sell an item to a person, you want to make sure that you're making as much money as possible because nobody enters business to be a. More unhappy or more poor but both of those things can happen if you don't have a really clear picture of what you want to make and where you want to go and if you don't have the tools and supplies that back you up so you already know as somebody who says that there's a lot more that goes into making your products than just your sewing machine in your fabric you need a good chair you need a table that's at a comfortable height for you to do your cutting you need a really good cutting tool you were using your arms your hands your risk your feet, your back your neck all of that your eyes the eye strain of like looking air stitches your whole body is involved in your selling business you need to make sure as much as you can that you have the kind of equipment and set up that supports that so that your body can be healthy while you're doing your work which will in turn help your business to be healthy thes they're all things that you cannot overlook if you're sitting on a chair that hurt your back but you need to sit at your machine eight hours a day please get a new chair if you need to get a floor mat to go in front of your cutting table because once a week you spend six hours there when you're trying to batch out your work and cut out your her fabric, please get a joe matt, if you need to get a table risers to lift your table up so that your back isn't hurting. If you need to get new glasses, whatever tools you need to make your job easier on yourself is going to be easier on your bottom line. There is a connection between the way you treat your business and treat your supplies and treat your tools, and treat yourself as it as the moon most important part of your business and your bottom line there's a direct connection between all of that, and I want you, teo, make that connection, and I want you to believe in yourself and give yourself the support that you need as much as possible. So please be prepared to invest or invest when you can and always buy the best that you can, so that you're not repeating things. You know, you're not buying new scissors every year. If somebody in your household says, I need tio cut up this chicken, and then you're like, sure, take my fabric, scissors like that's, not a good idea, and sometimes that can happen. My husband doesn't know any of my different scissors that I have for different purposes around, I have to actually write on them with a sharpie that says, do not use this to cut a wire or do not use this isn't going to cut anything. Just don't use this like I have to tell him not to use scissors for certain things because he doesn't know I have to write his name on the scissors that he is meant t get anything, I'm sure he's loving this he's watching it because my mother was a prodigious dressmakers so and her stress making shoes with the best scissors in the house. But if we ever use them to cut paper, we were so big trouble, so much trouble and it's really it's hard for people around you who don't want to know. I remember when we were moving from vermont to portland and we were packing, I had two giant ziploc bags filled with different scissors, probably forty different pairs of scissors, and a lot of them had different purposes, not forty different purposes, but a lot of different purposes, and I remember her. You are saying, what the heck are you doing with all these sisters? And I just felt really protective over all of them, like none of your business, just back off all the scissors. You don't even need to know they exist because, you know, I don't want tio something crazy with that much. Undoubtably he would dio but anyway it's not his responsibility to know about all of this is there's it's mind so as long as there's a big pair that says eric on them and he's all set but you know you need to have the best scissors possible for your work you need to have the best rotary cutter if you need a new blade your blade is old replace it if you need these tools you need these tools investing in your business is part of being a responsible business owner try to buy bulk try to buy high quality used I know that money is not just like falling from the ceiling for everybody obviously but you know the best choices that you are able to make with the means that you have available to you it means the better business you're going to be able to build on the faster you build a better business the faster you're going to be able to afford the supplies and tools that you really really want for yourself so do yourself a favor and start off with the best that you can possibly d'oh and take care of yourself because without you your business doesn't exist so how solid are your ideas? This is a really important topic for for you to think about because if you just like to sew and you're just imagining yourself so in up whatever you wanted so you're going to so wallet today you're going to so two patches tomorrow you're going so a tina belcher bunny your hat the neck stay you're just going to do all these kinds of different projects and just throw him up online and see what happens you know that's really going to take away your focus you will be able to be more productive get more work done spend your money more wisely if you are really really comfortable with your ideas if you feel like your ideas in the direction you want to go in are really solid, you're going to make much different decisions than if you just start sort of like flailing around not really sure what's going on urges following your win that's ok if that's the kind of business you want tohave again if you're not trying to reach it income goal or you're not trying to do something specific with your money but consistency is key and it's going to make all of the decisions that you have to make a lot of easier so this is something we're going to talk about with anna next which is how do you really build a line? How do you decide what goes into a line and how can you batch your work to make things go faster and easier for you? So you really want to have an idea in mind of where you want to go and what you wanted you we already talked about what do you need from a business but I just want to stress that it's really important to think about what you want your business to do for you because that business needs toe work. Okay, so I want you to have a fast track to your success. I want to give you the biggest tip that I have as far as actually getting your business up and running with some sort of ease that's helpful to you and this is to know who you want to sell, teo and for our purposes today you're not allowed to say anybody who want something sound. I want you to have a particular customer in mind. Is it a new mom? Is it a grand parent? Is it a pet owner? Is it a young stylish teenager? Is it another crafter? Who do you have in mind for your customer and what do they want? How much are they going to be willing to spend? What do they like where you're going to find them and what do they need to know from you to make a purchase? Knowing who your customer is and why you want to work? Why you want to make things for them is going to make a lot of that more tedious things that you need to do is a business owner better if you are trying to wholesale, then you would have a a shop owner in mind that would be your ideal customer so they're going to want a whole different set of things from you then say a person at a craft show is going to want from you that you're selling to ind person and so now we need to build your booth with this customer in mind you need to make sure your sign it and you know everything about your your booth has this person in mind so that they want to stop at your booth when they're in a place where maybe there's three hundred if your ideal customers most likely going to find you online then what do you need to know about that person to draw them to your shop? Because these days it's just not good enough to start an online store in a marketplace that already is available to you you know it's your responsibility to point people to your store so you have to find those people and get them and if you have some idea of who they are you're going to have a much better clue as to where you're going to find them and how you're going to send them to your store so the fastest tip I have to making sales is to know your customers and this is going to tie into my second best tip which is going to come up soon when anna is with us but that has to do with photography so knowing who your customer is, why you want to sell to them, how much money they have to spend if your customer is as the great example that we got from the chat room earlier was like a middle class family who's interested in home decor, it's not going to work to make a place mat for that person that is custom made with hand dyed fabric and silk thread and crystal buttons and stuff where the placemat costs two hundred dollars, because you know her customer is not going to be able to afford that. So that's, the customer she has in mind than she knows a little bit about their budget and she's going to be able to sell to them easier and make them more comfortable purchasing from her that she knows a little bit about their background and what they want for their homes and the lifestyle that they want to have since she is sowing a lifestyle product, a home good, so that's, sort of the fast track to your success that I know that we talked about a lot of different things and that's a lot of it can be overwhelming, but this is a lovely bag that anna made, but so I just really want tio to tell you that you can do this. I know that this seems like a lot. I know that it seems really tough and that it seems a little bit overwhelming and there's a lot of things to worry about and a lot of things to think about in a lot of decisions to make, but you could do it if you need to learn it. You can. If you need to find a communities to support you and to back you up, you can if you need to find help, somebody will want to help you. People are really generous in your community in general, and they want you to do well, and they want to share their knowledge and they want you to succeed, and you will be able to find somebody who wants to give you the knowledge and the gifts that they have and it's going to be beautiful and amazing when it happens. So don't hold yourself back. Don't procrastinate yourself out of making your dreams come true don't let this fall behind if this is something that you really want, take action and decide to start a soon as possible. In fact, if you want to share with us in the chat what you're going to do to start moving towards starting your own business today, I would love to know what your first step is going to be I think that that would be amazing. Came in and carry every everyone's really resonating that you talk so much about community and of course, that's what we are here, creative life, really amazing online community, but they're saying, I feel like I'm too shy to get involved in anything on I don't even know how to find a group that would be the right fit for me. How can I find my place? Well, you could start by asking around in the creative life community where these people hanging out, what are they doing? You can look for sewing forms you could look for if your specialty is quilt making. If you want to make purses or bags, you can look for groups, reforms on those kinds of places you confined websites, or blog's where you know where you like to read a notice to those comments heirs are, and then maybe do a little investigating into if they have a block and maybe you could start leaving comments for that were communicating with them. If that seems like somebody you could connect with, you can join a facebook group of that something that you like or if you're really shy about a lot of different social media stuff, you can do it under your bed. This name, sometimes putting the like putting the shield of our business in front of us, feels a little bit safer to say like, look at this versus look at me so there's a lot of different ways you could do it. A few want to get started today. I have ah private facebook group that is just filled with handmade hand me business owners, and if you go to my website, carry cheapen dot com and sign up for my newsletter within an hour, you'll get an invitation that says, um, click on this link if you want to join this private facebook group and in there there's over six hundred people who do nothing but support and welcome and help each other all day long. And I was actually in there right before this class started, and I was looking at some of the conversations that some of the people and the facebook group were having and I actually started tio tear up and I had to stop because, ah, professional person put on all of my makeup today, so I had to stop myself from crying at all of the kindness and wonderfulness that was happening in that group, so that be a really good place to start if you if you want my personal professional opinion.