Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fairs galore

I don't know if you noticed, but I added a business goal on my sidebar - add 15 inventory items by July 31st, which just so happens to be tomorrow.  I've added 8 since that goal was set, so I have my work cut out for me.  I also have my culinary entries for the State Fair due Saturday and photo shoot with my beautiful new niece tomorrow.  I am counting the felt flower corsages that I will be selling at the Irvington Iris Tea Room in my inventory goal, so I think I'll probably make it.
If you visit your local fair every year, it's definitely worth entering some of your own creations if it's anything like Indiana.  For $35 I can enter up to 35 (!) items in Home and Family Arts, which includes sewing, painting, photography, antiques, knitting, culinary... pretty much anything I'd even consider entering.  You get a shot at the cash prizes for the top awards, plus 6 tickets to the fair.  The tickets alone are worth more than the entry fee.  The cash prizes aren't huge - I think I won a grand total of $14 last year - but it's still fun.  Oh, and for some culinary categories the awards are in pounds of butter!  How awesome is that?!  

On to some big business news - I officially signed up for the Irvington Halloween Festival.  The hubs talked me into it.  He made a good point; if I'm not ready for it inventory-wise, I don't have to do it and I'm only out $32.  This will be my first craft fair on my own since I'm sharing a booth with Mom at the Rocky Ripple Festival in September.  I gotta say, it makes me a little nervous just thinking about it.

Yesterday the Groupon here in Indianapolis was $15 for $30 worth of merchandise from Skreened, a custom screenprinting website.  Kenny and I both ordered one so we can make Bobaloo tshirts to wear to the craft fairs.  I'll let you know how they turn out when they get here.  I think they look so cute on the website's preview that I might wear it around town.  I figure it's advertising, right?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Calm after the storm

This past week has just been ridiculously hectic!  First up was Craft Night with the ladies on Thursday.  We made these adorable bib necklaces.  Since I had already made one for myself (I have it on in my profile picture) I made one for Bridget that is so cute I want to puke. 

Next up was Bridget's 3rd birthday party on Saturday.  Every year I tell myself I'm not going to go over the top with the food and decorations, and every year I get myself in over my head.  Everything turned out great and it was totally worth the effort.  I mentioned before that I decided at the last minute that B needed a Sleeping Beauty dress for the party.  I am SO GLAD I made it because she was just thrilled.  Princess Barbies have now overtaken our house thanks to all our friends and family.

For the past few years I've entered clothes and food into our local State Fair.  This year, I entered seven items of clothing (including my favorite jeans, which I'm sad to lose for a month while they're at the fair) that were all due this weekend.  In the hectic rush to finish a jacket for B, I forgot to take pictures.  I promise I'll share what earns me a ribbon when I get everything back.

On top of these two deadlines, I had the opportunity to present some of my accessories to Miranda, the owner of the Irvington Iris Tea Room.  Unfortunately, I didn't have anything made, so I had to whip a few things up so I could meet with her after the party on Saturday.  Everything turned out well, and some of my stuff will be in her shop when it opens later this summer!  It's the first time something I've made is going to be out there for people to buy, so I'm really excited.

Due to all this craziness I've barely made any business headway.  Luckily this week is nice and quiet, so today is the start of a mad creative blitz so I can amp up my inventory.  I really want to make some sort of catalog of products, plus I need some marketing materials.  I have about fifty to-do lists lurking around my house - hopefully I can cross some things off soon!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A busy week ahead

I am realizing how difficult it is to fit starting a business into the rest of my life.  This week I have Bridget's birthday party, Craft Night, and the due date for my State Fair entries.  Plus, since I am not the most on-top-of-things housekeeper, I have to clean my house (yesterday's Groupon was $50 for a whole-house cleaning - I was sooooo tempted to buy it).  How do I fit in business stuff? 

I'm trying really hard to make the most effective use of my time.  The kids nap at the same time in the afternoon, so I try to get to work in my sewing room the minute they go down for their naps.  I usually can squeeze in an hour or so in the morning while they're happily playing to check my email and work on this blog.  Bridget is also happy to do a craft or color while I cut fabric in the kitchen.  It's definitely a juggling act, but I'm getting better!

So in the midst of planning for all these events this week, I did get a few things done.  I made up a few reusable lunch bags made from cotton and lined with fleece for insulation.  It's a pretty quick project, so I'm considering selling these in pairs since they'll be pretty inexpensive.  They're nicer than brown paper bags, but a mom isn't going to be devastated if her kid loses one at school.

I also cut out some cute girl's painter's smocks.  These were about to get sewn together (which is a bit of a challenge - you can't pin vinyl together before sewing since it leaves holes) when I decided B needs a fancy Sleeping Beauty dress for her party.  Wait until you see this dress!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Decisions, decisions

Another awesome stack of fabric from the Fat Quarter Shop arrived today.  I'm excited, but it presents a problem - what to sew next?  I had a little brainstorming session with my husband over the screeches of a teething baby and the endless toddler knock-knock jokes and I'm sure I'll have some good stuff to show you after this weekend.  One thing I will for sure be trying out soon is a superhero cape and mask - Bridget's been begging for one since I suggested it.

My first craft fair experience is going to be at the Rocky Ripple Festival in September.  I'm sharing a booth with my mom (she makes jewelry) to sort of test the waters.  I know myself, though - I need to sign up for another fair for the fall or winter to stay motivated.  I know once I get some experience selling from a booth it will be fine, but I just need to get over those first few events and gain some momentum. 

I'm considering getting my own booth at the Irvington Halloween Festival, but that is only a month after Rocky Ripple, and I'm going on a week-long vacation during that month.  Is that asking for trouble?  I've heard of a pretty good holiday show at Ben Davis High School (which is very close by) in November, but I can't for the life of me find any information on applying for that one.  At any rate, I need to sort it out soon and send in the applications.

On a non-business-related note, we get a delivery of produce every other week from Farm Fresh Delivery.  This is great in that it makes us eat a much wider variety of vegetables than we typically eat.  However, this week we got eggplant, cabbage, and fennel, three things I have never cooked in my life (except for maybe some eggplant in lasagna years ago).  I cook a lot, and I'm not afraid of new things, but I just have to say thank God for the internet.  I search Epicurious and All Recipes like mad to try to find recipes that make use of the random ingredients that show up on my doorstep.  I'm making grilled coleslaw this week - how cool is that?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

FINALLY some inventory!

I've been making a lot of prototypes the past week to test out what I'd like to sell.  I like this part - it's fun to try something new, figure out what I'd like to change, and make it again.  Typically when I make something for the kids or as a gift I'm only making one, so I don't have the opportunity to change it around and make it better.  Here is a roll-up changing pad and bib I just made.  I started with this great tutorial for the changing pad and this one for the bib, both from Sew4Home.  Using these as a starting point, I'm going to redesign both and make them my own.

I don't like how the bias tape turned out on the bib.  I think the curves around the snaps are so tight that I just don't like the bunchy-ness (is that a word?) of the bias tape.  My favorite bibs of Graham's have a pocket on the front to catch crumbs so I think I'll add that on, too.  Also, I really don't like the contrast topstitching on the changing pad - instead of looking intentional I think it just looks sloppy.  I want to redesign the size and shape as well.

On a positive note, I finally have some inventory!  I've been finishing up a stack of sweet little stuffed bunnies, a copy of a bunny I made for Bridget when she was a baby that she loves.  My husband told me I had to make them.  I think he really just wants one for himself.

Yesterday I got a sweet stack of fabric in the mail, and I have two more shipments coming in the next couple days.  Oh boy, am I loving having an excuse to buy lots of fabric again!  I had put myself on a fabric buying diet until I used up what I have.  I almost felt guilty shopping my favorite fabric stores (like Fat Quarter Shop and but that guilt is quickly subsiding.  I'm loving the sale alerts on True Up - thanks to the last sale post, I found an Etsy fabric store going out of business and scored some great deals!

Today I'm going to set up a light box for product photos in my sewing room and finish up those bunnies.  Oh yeah, and maybe I should go to the grocery store so we don't have to eat animal crackers and baby cereal for dinner.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Goodies in the mail!

I've been patiently waiting for some goodies I ordered last week to finally arrive in the mail (I know, I know, it's been one whole week).  But hooray!!  Two fun things in the mail today!

These are my new business cards from and my sew-in labels from Mommie Made It.  The labels are great, even better than I expected.  I decided for my first batch of labels to go with printed labels instead of woven for two reasons.  One, they're about a billion times cheaper and two, I could get them in a week.  My only problem is I didn't leave room at the top to stitch them into a seam, so I'm going to have to sew each one on separately.  Not a big deal, but next time I'll design them with some room at the top.  I may also spring for the folded woven ones after I go through these.

That cool little pink thing is a keychain business card holder.  My cards are the mini cards, so they're half the size of regular cards (think of them as a business card cut in half the long way).  I ordered the same type of cards with the "made by sam" logo before I realized the error of my naming ways and I always got lots of compliments on them.  I think they're unique, which hopefully translates into people remembering bobaloo! and wanting to check out my shop.

On the subject of Etsy shops, I've kind of had a change in my vision of Etsy and what my Etsy shop in particular is to me.  I've been listening to the craft business podcasts on CraftyPod while I sew lately and I'm learning a TON about the craft market.  One podcast in particular featuring Megan Auman from Crafting an MBA really hit home with me.  Basically, I'm starting to feel more like Etsy should be more of an online portfolio for my work - somewhere for people who I've spoken to in person go to check out more of my products and maybe buy a few things.  I've got to do some thinking on this subject as one of my business goals included a certain number of Etsy sales.  If you have time, listen to the podcast because it's really good.  Oh, and listen to the one with Rachel Klein from One Pretty Thing - the girl subscribes to FOUR THOUSAND blogs!

I'm hoping to whip up a quick gift for my little sister in the morning.  She's going to a boarding school at a college not far away, so she'll be living in a dorm room.  I think I may pick up some towels and add some fancy fabric to the ends.  I might even put her name on them - it's nice and short so I think I can pull it off in the couple hours I have before her "dorm shower".  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Back to work!

We took a little vacation this past weekend to Cincinnati.  It was the first trip with just the four of us, and aside from a little sleep deprivation for Graham, it really went well.  I'm sorta embarassed to admit that one the main reasons we went there for the weekend was so we could go to IKEA.  My daughter even said, "Can we stay here forever?"  She's my kind of girl!

I have made some progress on my business to-do list.  I ordered sew-in labels and business cards.  I finally finished Handmade Marketplace, and I'm pretty much convinced I'm just going to have to buy a copy.  It has so much good info in at that I can't take advantage of now, so I'd like to revisit it in the future.  I also started on some inventory - a sweet little stuffed toy that is a copy of one I made for Bridget when she was little.

About a week and a half ago I filled out an assessment form on the Indiana Small Business Development Center's website hoping for a little local help on setting up a business.  I'm disappointed to report that I just got an email telling me to sign up for a seminar.  I was expecting some sort of business counseling, but maybe I expected too much?  I'm going to search around some more for some help here in Indy.

I have two birthday parties coming up, so when I got the email that White House Custom Color had press-printed cards on sale last week, I went ahead and made birthday invitations for both little monsters.  Bridget, being a typical preschool girl, wants a princess party.  Graham has no say in the matter (well he says "Buh!" and "Dada!"), so he's getting a space-themed party.  I can't tell you how happy I always am with these cards - I use them for invitations and Christmas cards - and mama loves a discount.

On today's agenda is mailing in my application for a "Doing Business As" license and waiting impatiently for a shipment of adorable fabric!
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