Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Spoiler Alert...if your last name is Dorman...don't read this!!

Christmas is almost here, which means the last minute rush is almost over.  I guess I have to apologize in advance to my loved ones...I just didn't have the time to do all that I wanted to do.  There is only so much I can do...and I'm quickly running out of time.  I decided a while ago that I didn't want to sew on Christmas Eve.  Whatever I was going to do needed to be done by today.  (Which likely means I will be up all night)  But, it is winding down.  I've almost finished my nieces' gifts. My nephews will have to be purchased because there was no chance of them getting done in time.  I was going to do the same gifts for all of the couples in my family, but it was all hinging on being able to do something I had never done before. didn't work.  So on to plan B.  Ok, so I don't actually have a plan B and I have no idea what I'll be giving people!  
I did have to show off a picture of the mermaid smock that Erik and I were working on.  It was really nice to have his input on this one.  I was making it too complicated.  He stepped in and designed a much simpler, and I think much cuter mermaid.  It's even cuter in person because you can really see the detailing in the hair and tail.   I didn't really want to show a preview of the mermaid smock because I wanted to unveil it to everyone all at once...but really, how could I not?!?!  

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Orders

Well, I did it. I cracked 50 sales. I ended up at the end of the holiday 2008 season with 56 sales on ETSY and probably another 15 or sales from shows, word of mouth, friends and family. This has been one heck of a week. I didn't really think I could get all of it done. But I stayed calm and made myself just keep working.

Now I'm ready for a break.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cracking 50 (sales that is...age-wise I've got a little while)

My goal for this year is to crack 50 sales by Christmas.  This has been such a whirlwind.  From posting my first product on October 24, to 43 internet sales today.  Not too shabby.  Of course with the craft fairs, etc the sales are already past 50, but I would like to see the "number of sales" on ETSY to say 50 or higher.  With multiple sales coming in a day right now that seems really possible.  
It's amazing how quickly this kicked off.  When I sat down and started designing in October, I'm not really sure what I thought would happen.  But it's amazing to look at all the sales I've made so quickly.  Of course there are sellers on ETSY with 100s of sales, 1000s of sales probably too.  I'm not ready for that.  Nothing I do is on a mass production's just me.  I wouldn't even know where to begin mass producing!  So I'm'm elated with my sales.  I'm really proud of myself.  There are very few times in my life when I've been proud enough with myself to not be too shy to admit it.  (Sometimes we're proud of something, but too timid to give ourselves credit for it)  Not this time.  I'm proud, excited, pleased, etc, etc.  And do you know what I've learned?  I love the raw emotion involved in being proud of myself...and not being too humble to say so!!  I feel much more in touch with myself.  I feel happier.  I've been more fun home, at work...all the time.  I can't believe I spent so many years wishing I was doing this instead of just doing it.  Though, I have to admit, without ETSY I might not have started.  It's so easy to start.  Within 30 minutes you could be up and running with your own webstore.  The digital age rocks. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Profit Shmofit

I learn a little more every day.  For now I've learned that if I don't charge enough, I don't make a profit.  Unfortunately I'm not prepared to up my prices yet, in fact I've had to drop many.  It takes so much money to start something like this up, it takes a while to make it back.  Between ETSY, word of mouth and the craft shows I average an order everyday or every other day.  For a business that's been running for less than 2 months...I'm feeling pretty good about that.  But, on certain items I've lost money.  I didn't charge enough for shipping, I didn't take into account the cost of the extra things (shipping tape for example), I didn't know how much ETSY and paypal took for their cut.  In the end the profit (if any) is small.  In fact, the Winder show I did I actually paid to make and give products away.  In reality I sold three products, but since I had to pay to be at the show and I didn't cover the cost of it...I actually had to pay to give those three products away.  So the money that went into the products, the time I spent making them...all wasted, never to return to me.  That's hard.  Because in the end, (while I love designing new products) if I can't make money off of this then I will have to stop selling things.  Of course that doesn't mean I have to stop selling altogether, but eventually I would have to decide that this will never be a full time thing and move on with my life.  Of course I'm not thinking about that right now.  That's my practical side talking.  My dreamer side says "of course this will happen!"  Although I'm not sure my dreamer side believes it will happen, it just hopes it will happen.  
What kind of dreamer am I if I can't even dream that it will happen?!?!  A practical dreamer I suppose.  That sounds about right for me.  I've always ideas, but I've always pushed them away for school, work, etc.  It wasn't until recently that I allowed myself to not only stop pushing them aside, but to actually embrace them as they came.  You'll rarely find me without my idea book.  Every time an idea pops into my head I try to stop then and write it down or sketch it out.  If I don't I'm afraid it would just slip my mind, never to return.  

Monday, November 17, 2008

So I had my first bad show.  Not just me, everyone.  Though it was even worse for those of us that had booths outside.  It was cold, and very windy.  We spent the entire day chasing down hats, tutus and aprons and picking up the artwork that blew down every few minutes.  Finally when the rain started about 2:30 we figured it was time to call it in.  Lucky we did, apparently the sky really did open up a little while later.  
The show itself didn't have many people, and those that came were grumpy and not really even slowing down enough to browse.  However, I did get my first taker for the handpainted cards.  Really she just wants the painted part, she doesn't care about the cards.  But so what.  It means someone else out there thought they were cute enough to buy.  That makes me feel good.  
So for now I've posted a lot more of my inventory on ETSY and we'll see what happens.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Here are pictures from the show.  There is another show on Saturday that I'm hoping to get into, and trying to get ready for.  It's not as stressful as last weeks, but it still involves a lot of lost sleep!  

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I had no idea how hard it would be to get ready for this show.  In the end the products I'm bringing aren't really the products I had originally planned on.  Of course in the beginning I was going to start small with hats only and sell on ETSY for a while.  Suddenly I'm signing up for craft shows and making tutus at 2 AM.  It just goes to show that you never know.  And it's true.  I never know which products will work out and which ones won't, I never know what idea will pop into my head next.  And most importantly I don't know which products people will buy.  I could have 500 people pass by my booth and think it's cute, but if they aren't willing to buy, then it's pointless.  Which is why I keep coming up with new products.  I want to offer as much as possible so I can start to see what's popular and what isn't.  I may love my bunny hat, but if no one else does than it doesn't really matter!  The newest of my products was born out of the desire to find something that people will buy.  And as my sister keeps reminding me, people will buy almost anything if it's personalized.  So out of that comes my Candid Memories Stationary idea.  Basically it's just a set of 12 printed cards.  The twist is, it's based on a photograph of the person's family.  Someone sends me a picture.  I hand paint a simple version of it and then scan and print it onto card stock for use as christmas cards, thank you cards, invitations, whatever.  Then the person receives the original painting as well as the set of 12 cards and envelopes.  Will it sell?  Who knows, you guys tell me.  I did two last night one with just Laurel and one with Luke and Laurel.  (I know, I should have done a Christmas one.  I didn't think about it in time for this show, but I'll be able to have it ready for next week)  

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'm excited to say that after sending out my first order yesterday, I received another order today and a special request for three aprons.  It's pretty cool to have someone in the world think your stuff is good enough to buy.  Now I anxiously await whether or not they will like it, whether there is a problem, etc etc.  It's hard to just ship it off and not worry about it.  I hand painted a thank you card (below) for the lobster shipment.  I figure for now at least anything extra I can do, I will do.  
So now I'm gearing up for the show on the 8th.  Actually, I'm not really gearing up at all.  I've been finishing up projects that I already sold, and it seems when I make a new product, it sells.  So my inventory hasn't really grown at all lately.  But somehow magically it needs to expand several times in size!  I'm not sure how this little miracle is going to happen...though I'm picturing a vat of coffee and a very tired me.

Sent my first sale out, and made another sale!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Good news comes in twos, Lobsters come in threes

Two pieces of good news;
1) I got my first real sale from someone I didn't know.  She ordered three of the Luke the Lobster hats
2) I got into the craft fair on the 8th of November

So, now I'm busy working on getting the order out, and trying to build up my inventory to take to the show.  It's a lot to think about, a lot to worry about and a lot to plan for.  Though, I think in the end I just can't plan for everything.  This first show will be a huge learning curve with a lot of lessons learned the hard way I'm sure.  I'm not looking forward to the hard lessons, ideally I'd prefer to avoid them.  But with as quickly as I've started this whole idea, there is no way I'm doing everything right.  I'm sure I'm not even close.  
At this point I just wish I had some sick or vacation days to take so that I could get some more work done.  As it stands now I not only have to build up my inventory, but I have to do it when I'm not at work and not dealing with the kids.  So far this has meant sewing when I have someone else on hand to help with the kids or waiting until they've gone to sleep to start working.  Last night I sewed till 1AM and was up again at 6AM to do some more.  In order to get ready for the show I'll need to work that much everyday if not more. 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Busy Busy Busy

In an attempt to get as much ready as possible to TRY and get into a craft fair on the 8th...I've been working around the clock. I have added some items that I really think will help sell my stuff, and a couple that haven't been as successful. But I have learned that to keep myself happy I could never just make hats or aprons. I love the artistic part of it. Creating something new, trying something new. After a while making the same thing over and over gets a little old.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Saying Goodbye to My Baby (aka the paisley apron)

It's hard to say at this point what my favorite product is. I enjoy coming up with a hat idea, sketching it out, making a pattern and then putting it together. It's fun flipping the hat over to see the completed work, and whether it came out the way I pictured it in my mind. So far, even when they don't match the ideal they have come out well. (With the exception of the fish hat, still working on that one)
The aprons I love too. The fun there comes from finding the coordinating fabrics and seeing the final result with them put together. And it's fun to try different ruffles and pleats depending on the fabric. I doubt any two of my aprons will ever come out the same since I'm always adjusting this or trying that.
I gave away my favorite apron (the paisley below) as a birthday gift for Laurel's friend. It seemed to be a huge hit and everyone wanted to know where to get one. I admit...that made me really happy. I seriously could not stop smiling for hours. It was exciting watching people get excited over something I put so much time and effort into.
I'm still busy, still exhausted, but still having fun. (Whether my children and husband survive this happily is another story.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Aprons Aprons Everywhere

Last night I got down to business with making the aprons. And while it's still not perfect, the improvement between my first and last is huge. In fact the last one I made last night will be a birthday present for Laurel's friend on Sunday. The only blow to my plan is that I had priced these out in my head, but Hallie and Mom brought me back to reality and gave me what they thought the price point should be. Yipes. Talk about an eye opener. I think in the end I'll set up my booth and give everyone a blank piece of paper and tell them all to price things at what they would pay. From there I'll average it out, take things into consideration and price them out for the show.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lobsters and Frogs and Hats OH MY!

I have decided to try to enter my first craft fair. After initially deciding not to do any craft fairs yet (my epiphany came a little late to capitalize on the 2008 holiday season) I found one close to home, and decided I'd go for it. Unfortunately, it's not only close to home, it's close in date. I have three weeks to pull it together. Even then, I'm not sure there will be any available booths. But I'm going to try hard to make it and hope that there is an available booth waiting for me. There is so much that goes into this, I had no idea. Besides spending everyday sewing and planning I need to get a business license, tax ID, business account, copyrights and figure out how to accept credit cards. Yeesh. But I've narrowed down the products I plan to bring with me to the show. I haven't made them of course, but at least I have plan.
I've been up since 2AM and I know I'll get increasingly more exhausted throughout the day, but there is such an energy in me right now. So for now, I'll ride the wave and get as much work in as possible. I completed the designs for two more hats (which is to say I completed the prototype design). Tonight I plan to sew it up and we'll see how the pattern came out.
I also tried my hand at some applique...that didn't come out so well. But I guess it's good to know what your strengths and weaknesses are so that you don't waste your time.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

First Prototypes

After a lot of thinking, planning, designing and fighting with my machine I was able to get some actual work done.  I like the overall look of the frog.  It's still missing it's eyes, tongue, etc.  But the basic design is there.  I thought it worked out well, though I'd prefer a rounder hat.  So I will have to keep working on that.  I also managed to make a trial birds nest scarf out of felt.  The real product (I think) will be made out of fleece, but for the sake of speed and cost this one is felt.  I think the dimensions worked out right.  Now I need to make a bird-hat to go with it.  I think that will be the next project.  That's a pretty fast one since there are no arms or legs to worry about.  
But so far I'm enjoying the process of designing, planning and trying.  I've enjoyed working on these more than any work I've done professionally ever.  So that's saying a lot.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ready to set sail on the big blue

Irony of ironies, I forgot about this blog.  Work has just really stunk lately and I was just really getting sick of it.  (Not sick enough to quit of course, I'm not crazy and I still have 2 kids to take care of) But sick of it none the less.  I went to bed on Friday night and woke up at 3AM because the baby was crying.  After nursing him and putting him back down I just couldn't sleep.  All of the ideas I have had over the years for making this or that just started swirling around in my head.  Finally I got up, searched in the dark for my sketch pad/journal  (This alone was a miracle because I ended up finding it between the trunk and my bed) and went out to the living room.  I just turned to the first available page and started drawing.  I ended up drawing for hours, sketching every idea that came in to my head, and trying to refine the ones that didn't look so good upon first-sketch.  Before I knew it the sun had risen and my son was awake and talking from my bed.  I went to get him, and for the first time in weeks (maybe months) I felt like myself.  I felt free and smart and ambitious and creative.  My job had been slowly sucking all of those traits out of me and I had become a human robot.  So it began.  I decided that finally I would try and make a go of my ideas.  I decided to start small, and picked a product line of children's hats that I had imagined.  I bought the fabric yesterday and have been planning the actual product for the past couple of days.  By the end of the month I expect to have my prototypes ready to post on  I'm excited and anxious and a little scared.  

Friday, July 18, 2008

An Idea Begins

This is the first official posting on Maggie Blue. I have always wanted to start a company to really show off my creative side, and I've known for years that this company would be called Maggie Blue. It's the alter-ego, the version of me I want to be but never could because I was too caught up in the human race. It's so easy to get caught up in the world of school, work, paycheck, death. I wanted to break free and make sure that I was living the life I wanted to live. And more importantly now that I'm a mom, to live the kind of of life I want my children to live. I don't want them to go to college because they have to, or work in a particular job because they need the money. I want them to find their way, whatever that is. (And I have to remember to mean that sentiment when my kids come to me and tell me they aren't going to college, or are turning down the great internship to sail around the world) But that's just it, we only get one life to live and I want it to be right for me and them.
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