Monday, June 28, 2010

The Name Game

I really got cracking on reading Handmade Marketplace the past few days.  One part that really threw a wrench in my plans was choosing a name for my business.

So a few years back, I made almost all of our family's Christmas gifts.  I ordered some personalized ribbon that said "made by sam" to cut up and use as labels.  Fast forward to earlier this year, when some of Bridget's ballet classmates wanted to buy handmade tutus.  I used the riboon lables for those, which led me to printing business cards that said "made by sam".  I thought it was the perfect name - simple, easy to spell and remember, blah blah blah.

Now back to the naming debacle.  I started to go through the steps recommended in the book.  I checked to see if the name has been registered in my state, checked the website, checked for etsy stores.  The name is available in my state, but unfortunately the website is for a guy making custom corsets and therefore has a scantily clad woman on the home page.  Also, there is already a made by s.a.m. etsy store that looks to be pretty big and pretty successful.

I realized I have to rename my business even though I have a stack of super cute business cards in multiple colors (I ordered on Moo - they are awesome and you can put a different design on every single card).  I hopped right over to and started searching for words related to kids, fun, toys, modern, new... every descriptive word I could imagine.  Nothing seems right. 

In the middle of this, I needed to call Bridget into the room to pick up her toys.  We have called her Bobaloo since she was a little tiny thing, so I shout, "Bobaloo!  Come down here!" and a light goes on.  Bobaloo is a great business name!  It's a nonsense word, so chances are slim someone else is using it, plus I think it has that little kid feeling.

As you can see, I have a little bit of a turquoise and red obsession these days.

I searched around, and it seems to me like this name is pretty much available (except for a few minor hurdles).  I have now reserved a facebook page, an etsy shop (with a slightly different name), a new email address, and this blog with variations on the bobaloo! name.  I'll announce them all as I get them going.

I am also exploring local non-profits that help small businesses get started.  I'll give out the details on those in the future.

Bridget begrudgingly agreed to pose for a picture in the princess tutu over the weekend, so here it is.  I didn't realize until I saw the picture that the tulle looks a little squirrelly in the front - I'll have to even it out.  Now I'm working on a punk-rock inspired tutu with lots of black netting and a super cozy beach blanket/hooded towel combo.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Craft Night - Shoe Makeovers!

Once a month I host a craft night for a group of girls at my house.  Last night, our project was making over a pair of shoes (see the awesome tutorial at Grosgrain).  Everyone's shoes turned out just adorable.  Here are mine - aren't they so stinking cute?  I think my couch is destined to have pillows out of this fabric.

I really like hosting craft night.  First, it's an excuse to be around the girls and have some adult interaction.  Second, it's so much fun to see people who thought they weren't crafty make something that they love.  We did learn a few things from last night:
  • Have snacks around.  These shoes took about 3 hours and everyone was getting HUNGRY.
  • Have plenty of scissors and glue guns.  Some of the time was spent waiting for tools.
  • Crank up the air conditioning!

On the business front, I made up a new style of tutu the other night.  I'm selling at my first craft show in September, so I'm trying to nail down a few styles to make in multiple sizes.  I know how crazy little girls are about princesses, so I was going for the princess vibe on this one.  I'll bribe Bridget to model it so I can get some pictures up.

Handmade Marketplace is still hanging out on the end table, unread, and I've made zero progress on my business plan.  I think I'll have a little extra time today so I'm pretty sure I'll be able to get to readin'.  I also starting reading the biz ladies series on design*sponge. It's so helpful and I definitely recommend checking out (not just the series, but the whole site - it's AWESOME).  It's crazy how many great creative blogs are out there - I have to stop subscribing to blogs or my Google Reader is going to explode.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Taking the plunge

I've finally decided to take the plunge and start a business selling my handmade creations.  So now what?

I've got my Etsy shop name registered, I have a few (VERY few) established clients, and I've got business cards.  Inventory = 0.  Items for sale on Etsy = 0.  Small business knowledge = very little.  What I do have is years of sewing experience and the knowledge from a marketing degree gathering dust in the far reaches of my brain.

I'm a stay at home mom - I have a 10 month old and a 3 year old - and I just know I can translate my creative side into something to earn a little income.  Right now, I'm focusing on starting a business selling toys and dress-up clothes for kids (I've sold a good number of tutus to my daughter's ballet classmates) but I really feel like I need a niche. 

My research about selling kids products has turned up a couple hurdles.  I'm learning about the new testing laws.  Basically, these laws make it extremely difficult for handmade goods to be sold to kids without extremely expensive testing.  Also, Etsy is growing by leaps and bounds and I'm going to have to find a way to differentiate myself from all of the other established kids product sellers.

On the good side, I'm mostly interested in sewing, and fabric seems to be for the most part exempt from the testing regulations (although I do need to follow some labeling laws).  There are plenty of successful sellers on Etsy, so there's no reason I can't be successful, too.  I'm not looking to make a living.  I just want to make a little money doing something I love, and last time I checked there was no one paying me to eat cheesecake and watch bad reality TV.

My goal this week is to start on a business plan.  I have the book Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin waiting for me at the library, so I'd love to read that this week, too.  Wish me luck!
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