Business 101 July 08, 2010 13:52

Sometimes I joke about going back to grad school to get an MBA. I refused to even take that blow-off business skills class in high school, yet here I am 10 years later running my own small business! Not exactly where I saw myself… The trial and error model of business I’ve gone with is maybe not the one they teach you at school, but growing things slowly has allowed to be learn in a hands-on way without having to take huge risks and adapt to changes as I figure things out. It didn’t really feel like I was running an actual business at first, but as things ramp up, that’s started to change. And with that growth, there are a couple of lessons about my little business that I feel like I’ve learned over the past couple years.

Business Lesson #1: If you send new stock to your consignment shops all at once, chance are they’ll all run out and need to be restocked again all at once.

Doh. I keep making this mistake, and have spent the last few weeks smack in the middle of the “everyone needs new stuff right now!” challenge. But the good news is that this means that Craftland in Provience and Cakespy Shop in Seattle will all have fresh new supplies of felty goodness later this week. Plus, I’m super excited to announce that Art Star in Philadelphia will now be carrying my work! I’ve admired them from afar, especially the amazingly talented folks they feature in their gallery, so it’s a huge thrill to be featured in the shop. And hopefully next time I can space the restocks out a little bit to combat some of the feast or famine.


Business Lesson #2: What sells in person is not the same as what sells online.

This is definitely another lesson I keep forgetting. I used to make a lot of these Aunt Flo Tampon cases. Remember them?

Yeah, cute, right? They’ve always made me laugh, but unfortunately, never sold very well online. I have one consignment shop, though (the very awesome Wholly Craft in Columbus, OH) where they’ve always done really well. I kinda stopped making them, until the peeps at Wholly Craft recently requested I send some more. This has really gotten me thinking aboout the stuff that I make and all the infinite numbers of audiences that are out there, and figuring that magical equation of what sells where. For instance, certain things sell well at craft fairs, but not online. And certain things sell in stores, but not at craft fairs. And some things only seem to sell from my Etsy shop. Weird, right? There are so many factors to consider when you’re marketing your stuff, and sometimes I forget that no matter how cool certain people might think a certain thing is, you’ve gotta figure out where to find those people if that product is ever going to find it’s audience.

Business Lesson #3: The more there is, the more that’ll sell.

Okay, perhaps this isn’t a hard and fast rule, because clearly if I make crap, no matter how large a selection of that crap there is, nobody’s going to be interested. However, I’ve really discovered that no matter how cool that one-of-a-kind Super Awesome Thing is, if there’s just one of ’em at a store, it’s going to have a lot harder time selling. I’ve seen this happen at the Renegade store, and noticed it with my own stuff, too– when there’s a whole selection of things that make a nice display and catch people’s eye, you’ll sell a lot. But those last two that are left, no matter how awesome they are, get lost in the shuffle and nobody’s really interested in them. One of a kind might work well in some situations, like a gallery or something, but from my experience, it just doesn’t work for my stuff. Which takes me back to why I need to get on all those restocks, and why pontificating on my blog might not be the best use of time right now : )

At any rate, I don’t pretend to be much of a businesswoman, but these couple lessons have really effected my thinking recently, and maybe writing them down and sharing them with the world will help me remember ’em for once and not have to keep relearning the same thing again and again. Here’s hoping, anyway!