Archive for the 'The Shop' Category

Aftermath of Pink Flamingo Day

I was invited back to Leominster’s Pink Flamingo Day this year and I went hard on bulking up my supply of flamingo-print bags. Plastic lawn flamingos are a pretty big deal around here because they were invented in Leominster, and just recently their production moved next door to Fitchburg.

Last year, I brought 15 bags with me. This year, I had 54! And because I didn’t sell 54 bags, most of them are now in my Etsy shop.

So if you’re in the market for a pink flamingo bag, I have a few different prints available in 7 sizes! Find them all here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheTragicWhale

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Little Gert Collection

It’s here! It’s here! The Little Gert collection is here!

Little Gert is my Gram, Gertrude and she actually hates being called, “Gert” (Gertie is ok). But when I saw singing about her breaking her hip one day, Gertrude was not rhyming with “hurt” so here we are.

Anyway, more on this gem of a woman. Born in 1926, she is older than packaged sliced bread. And she was born on the kitchen table because 1926 / hospital in town didn’t exist yet. She worked for the telephone company during WWII and was sent to California to help with the war effort. She has so many amazing war stories and she loves sharing them! JUST KIDDING. She has one single story and this is it:

“One time, we went out on the ferry and it was, oh! Just wonderful!”

In the early 90s when the telephone company was revamping their computer system, they asked if she wanted to take one of the old computers home. And she said (this is not a joke), “No thanks, those will never catch on!”

One time, she was on the phone with my dad and said, “Oh my goodness, you will not believe- the biggest bird I have ever seen has just flown into my yard. I, I can’t believe this. I have to go.” And then she called back to say that it was a trash bag.

In all seriousness, my Gram is fierce AF. Even though she broke both of her hips in the last year and had to move into a nursing home, she is still smiling, still happy, and still “accidentally” forgetting to use her walker (hence the second broken hip). She sits at the popular table at dinner, and stops to talk to every.single.person. when she’s walking the halls.

These pouches are based off of the birthday card I made her this year. I made a couple of different sizes, with a couple of different zipper/inside fabric combinations, and I have plans to add 3 more sizes in the near future.

And just until Friday, they are 10% in the shop! Find them here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheTragicWhale?section_id=26337858

The results are in!

With a record-breaking 12 votes, and 100% support for free shipping, The Tragic Whale is moving to free shipping!

Thanks to everyone who took the time to weigh in on this!

This feels like a HUGE step for me, and the price differences see so drastic, but I just keep reminding myself that it’s only $2 and that I came to this decision with input from my customer base. Here’s to the next thing!

 

Free Shipping Poll

Please take the survey! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YX9YXMJ

With Etsy pushing free shipping, and with the USPS price increase at the beginning of the year, I’m considering offering free shipping. It currently costs $4.12 (+) to mail out a package, but I haven’t increased my shipping fees past $3 since shipping went up to $3 a few years ago.

I can raise my shipping fees up to $4 and take the loss of a few cents per order

OR

I can increase cost of my items by $2 and change shipping to $0.

I don’t want my price increase to be too dramatic and scare people away. But with an average order size of 1, it would decrease the overall price for almost my entire customer base.

Current-
Average item cost: $14.50
Shipping:$3
Average total: $17.50

Shipping increase-
Average item cost: $14.50
Shipping: $4
Average total: $18.50

Free shipping- 
Average item cost: $16.50
Shipping: $0
Average total: $16.50

Please take the survey! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YX9YXMJ

Inventory on Fair Days

Last year, I started deactivating the bags in my shop that I was bringing with me to events. I liked that there were still items in my shop to view, but that nothing could be double sold. But the process of deactivating 100 or so listings every week is time consuming, and then there is the matter of getting the unsold inventory back in the shop quickly. Sometimes I would removed sold bags throughout the day and reactive everything else right from my phone at the end of the event, but other times I wouldn’t get to it until the following Monday.

For this year, I’m going to test shutting down the whole shop just prior to the start of the event. I’ll hopefully have time during the event to delete sold items form inventory, and then reopen the full shop at the end of the day.

I’m thinking I’ll save time during the week on “Fair Prep” and will have more time for sewing and fabric design. It also takes significantly less time to press one button and reactive a shop than it does to reactive 75ish listings individually.

To combat people thinking that my shop is on a permanent vacation, I’ll add a note to the shop announcement explaining what fair I’m at, how long it is, and when to expect the shop to reopen with full inventory.

My first fair of the year is THIS SATURDAY! So I’ll have the first wave of research in less than a week from now.

How do you handle Etsy shop inventory when you have a fair or a market?

How to Find Craft Fairs

NOW IS THE TIME! The time to start looking and booking your craft events for the year! But how do you find craft fairs and vending events to sign up for? A great question, and one I’ve been asked more than once! Here is where I find them:

1) Word of mouth.
Not always ideal when you first start out, but I’ve found some great events this way. Ask your crafty/ artsy friends and family about events they like to sign up for. If you’re already part of a regular market, ask the other vendors what shows they have coming up, if they’ve done them, and what they like or don’t like about them.

2) Check town websites and community Facebook pages.
My town started a Farmers Market last year, and I found that information on the town Website. I was the only craft-vendor to sign up! I also check the community Facebook pages of the surrounding towns just to see upcoming events and if I want to be a part of them.

3) Look for Facebook events.
Even easier than it sounds, and this is the number one way I’ve found events so far for this year. A friend will mark that they are “Interested” in an event, and it pops up in my news feed. I check out every single one, because you never know what you’ll find! If it looks like a fun event AND they are looking for vendors, I message the event asking how to sign up to be a vendor. You can also search through the Upcoming Events section on Facebook too, narrowing the search by area, month, and the type of event you’re looking for.

4) Sometimes, people ask you!
I signed up for a food truck festival in Worcester, and they asked me to sign up for their other festival in Spencer. I inquired about a town fair in Hubbardston, and they sent me the application for their Spring and Fall events. A blueberry farm down the street asked if I wanted to be a part of their Opening Weekend this year. Yes, yes, and yes!

 

Other things to remember:

Some events seem amazing and then you get there, spend 8 full hours in an under-heated room, and don’t even make back your table money (aka the money you paid for your table space). What a lousy day. And then next year, you’re invited to apply again. Ugh, no thanks. Whether you’re doing this as a hobby or as your full-time job, a wasted day is still a wasted day. You do not have to sign up for any event that isn’t a good fit for you.

The more you search for events, the better you get at finding them and at being able to identify a good fit for you and your craft. Some events will still be a miss, but you can make a notes about why it seemed great but wasn’t, and you know to avoid similar events in the future. I tend to avoid events where the contact person isn’t forthcoming with event information. So if I have to email someone and ask for more information and they send back just an attached application with no email content, I probably won’t sign up. I usually ask questions that are not always included on the application, and I don’t want to spend more time sending a second email with the same content as the first.

Similarly, if I show up to an event, that I paid to be a part of, and it’s hard to find the organizer and / or the organizer seems annoyed when I ask about my table location, the unloading area, or about anything that I do not know, then I won’t apply again. If your interest in me stopped after you cashed my check then why would I want to go back?

 

Anything I missed? Ask in the comments!

Moving to Monday Updates

For years, I’ve made bags throughout the week and then put everything on pause when I had a sunny day (love that natural light) to take pictures, edit, create listings, and then decide when I would add what into the shop. The process is good in that adding new items multiple times a week boosts your search analytics, but in all honesty it’s time consuming. On top of that, I share my work space with my husband and there are a couple of times a week where I will pause sewing so he can make phone calls.

I’ll be the first to say that I don’t always manage my time well and it’s something I’m working on. So it would make sense for me to save the photo uploading, editing, and creating listings for those times when I’m respectfully not sewing. Making them live takes about the same amount of time for 5 listings as it does for 30, so I can save a little bit of time throughout the week if I do it all on one day. Enter in: Monday Updates.

I’ll take pictures when I have good light, work on the boring part during quiet time, and spend some time on Monday mornings renewing expired listings and sharing all the new ones. I’m not concerned with where my shop falls into search analytics right now because the “new and improved” system seems to only benefit shops offering free shipping. I tried it last week and actually was able to turn out more bags than usual!

Running your own business is a constant learning process. I know I make quality products, and now is the time to focus on quality time management.


Hello, I’m Kerry! Maker. Sewist. Fan of all things bright.

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It's Fluff! Curious, master napper, likes to try new veggies.

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