|Embers by www.SarasTextureCrafts.com|
Almost mid-Feb seems a bit late to be talking goals, no?! Yes, you are completely right.... but February does seems to have become my new January.
So it's now after the chaos of January sales and my first show of the year that I get to implement all of the goals I have been planning since new year... not resolutions, I don't bother with those... but goals.
I thought this year I would give a little retrospect of 2014, which I probably haven't done in previous years. Through this I hope my goal choices will become clearer.
Let's break it down into Business, Personal and Crafting...
2014 was an interesting year for me... the first year I felt more like my old self, after all of the fertility treatments, miscarriages and operations... the first year I felt physically and mentally much better. Partly down to our beloved Patch, of course, but partly with the therapy of time. So 2015 starts with lots of prospect and for the first time in a while is a year I feel I have been able to fully plan for.
|Patch and Me|
I threw myself back into business in 2014 and really got to grips with where my business was asking me to be, as a pose to where I had left it whilst dealing with my personal struggles. Fortunately you all stuck right by me and my path was made much clearer (thank you).
I stopped selling on eBay, Amazon and DaWanda... eBay and Amazon had become a real bind mentally. Whilst both took good money in turnover, they had become what I call 'cash-flow' businesses. In other words I invested in stock and they turned them over, with little profit in return. The reasoning behind this was all about my inability to financially compete with the larger corporations (in some cases even market leading suppliers now selling direct!)
eBay in particular had also become a 'scam-filled' venue once again and so this added so much time and negative energy to my life... it just was no longer worth my efforts.
It was an obvious choice to axe both of these, but had been harder to let go of in month's past... especially as I had been, I guess in a mental need to control and keep what was mine, where physically I hadn't been able to control fertility issues. I think it's an easy thing to do in a situation like that, where you are dealing with lots of upsetting factors in your life and I'm sure I'm not alone in doing that, but there comes a time when you need to let go... what will be, will be... in business you need, sometimes to deal in hard facts... axe what doesn't work.
DaWanda was a lesser site for me to be on. It was hoped this would boost European sales originally (2007/8), but I think the difficulty of a site essentially broken up into several sub sites based on language added too many market place barriers and so it has not really taken off as fast as Etsy has grown in the Euro market. Essentially I was left logging in daily/weekly to a site that I wasn't getting anywhere with... even if I was on a non-commission starting rate. Again it's a shame, but time away from where I needed focus, was it's downfall in the end for me. I had really let this langish longer than I should have... so axed it was.
Instead I refocused my attentions on my website, shows, my Etsy shop and the blog. I also learnt to say 'no' to opportunities that didn't work for me and get rid of 'dead' stock that sold very occasionally... an important business lesson and one you should never be ashamed to do.
The website and show sales grew enormously last year and I think this is down to focus, a better mental capacity to be creative again and of course loyal customers who spread the word (you rock!)
The Etsy shop picked up, after it's downturn in 2013 despite the supplier/outside manufacture rulings they now have in place. I wouldn't say I'm close to the turn over of 2012, but I'm starting to learn more about what customers are looking for again. After a little test in January this year, it seems less is more... so I'm going to cut down my original offer there and stick to a few basics. Form here I aim to advertise a move to my main website for those customer's future orders. Ultimately my website will always now have the very best of my offer.
The blog was a new revenue stream... affiliate and advertising was a new one for me... an interesting experience, with posting daily and given the new EU VAT rules, a change in the market and my main business it is not one I am going to be able to expand on at this point in time... but an interesting experience none the less. Instead I'm going to post less regularly in favour of content that you have found interesting over the last year. Again this frees time for focus,
So all in all 2014 was a good year... a great year in fact, but not one without lessons and so my goals for this year are as follows (please note that some have already been implemented);
- Hand Dyed Pre Orders - I have taken the decision to effectively 'dye to order'. This allows me to offer you increased choice in both base materials and colour/dye techniques. Turn around times are quick and I'm not sitting on stock that may or may not sell.
- Monthly Shop Updates/Offers - As I am dyeing to order now this means that updates do not need to be weekly, which I struggled with last year. This means instead that I can be much more creative and focus on the right offerings and am less likely therefore to dyer's burnout. This also frees up time to expand clubs spots and sampling time. DON'T FORGET TO SIGN UP TO THE SHOP NEWSLETTER FOR SPECIAL OFFERS!
- More sampling - Sometimes I get caught up in what I'm making and I forget that customers may not be either aware of my techniques or uses for the products I am creating... for example what is a gradient dyed top? And so I need to free up some time to sample and to work on tutorials and advice for you so that you know what the gradient dyed tops are all about. With this said, I am still very much working on my e-series, as well as providing samples for you to see on the website (see variegated yarns). This I know will be a work in progress, but you can see the start of it in my learning centre on the website.
- Learning to Drive - I grew up in London and although my parents moved to Devon when I was 17, meeting Darrin a year later and getting into college meant back to London I went. So with London's great transport links, there was never a real need to learn to drive... now I'm in the country and run Sara's Texture Crafts things have changed and relying on Darrin to take time off for shows is no longer a long term option. So I have my provisional licence form and need to get it sent off... after I get my eyes tested (I know I'm going to need glasses!)
- Working Better Hours - I bill my hours as 9-5pm, but in truth as may independents do I work longer hours and weekends. I found towards the later of 2014 that with a better schedule and dyeing to order, that I was able to be much more firm about sticking to my billed hours. There will be times when I do need to pull the extra shift, as it were, but 2015 will be the year I learn to be more strict with myself about what is feasible and what isn't.
- Taking a Holiday - 2014 was the first year where I better planned time off and learnt that it was ok... it was the first year where I felt entitled to holiday... silly isn't it?! I still didn't take the time I was due (4 weeks for a full time job, with days in hand for working over time). It may be impossible to be that strict with myself and will depend heavily on my workload, but this is something I need to try and keep in order to keep my mental and physical health as good as I currently am starting to feel.
This is the point at which I start talking about the all elusive 'balance'... I think every year for the last 6/7 years I have talked about wanting more balance... the truth is that balance is really never fully achievable. I think I recall an interview with Beth Smith (author of The Spinner's Book of Fleece) on the Knitmore Girls Podcast, where Beth basically says there is no such thing as 'perfect balance'. She is totally right, at some point one part of your life is always in more need, than another... instead of perfect balance, we can only strive to perfect the act of balancing... in other words be mindful and true to the demands of your life... don't give in, but refocus your time and energy accordingly.
I think this realisation has really made me feel that is is ok to have moments of unbalance... not a bad achievement for 2014.
For 2015 I would like to enjoy a little more 'me, us, we' time. Now that I feel better and business is under control, but still growing nicely I want to get out and enjoy my surroundings... something which ill health has robbed me from doing since we moved to Devon. I want to learn to fish, to drive, to explore places... I have also started to wish to travel overseas again.
Darrin and Patch need me to find that time and so I will.
|Malachite at www.SarasTextureCrafts.com|
Crafting is the easiest category to write about... this is more of a wish list for the year.
Last year (as years previous) I spent my time mostly knitting and spinning, I mastered only a few new things... socks being my most favourite and of course the easiest 'carry' project for shows.
This year I want to be more for filled with either bigger projects, or new crafts;
- Sweaters - I have a few in mind and really want to get started. Watch the next podcast!
- Useful Knits - I want to plan and make things that I need this year... build up a good wardrobe of pieces. I'll still make for gifts, but be more selective and again more considered about what the giftee will find useful. Whilst I have enjoyed all I have knit to date (in most cases at least) I don't often wear all of them. So no more hats for me, unless I need a replacement.
- Spinning - thinking about more useful knits, means I will have more time for spinning... I'd love to spin for a couple of sweaters; one for me and one for Darrin. I expect them to take me some time, so I hope to pepper in some 'just because' spinning.
- Art Journalling/Textiles - I'm going to post separately about this, but it has been on my mind for about 6/7 months now and I'm itching to get started... a chance, I hope for me to be more freely creative.
So there it is a plan for the year...
Have a wonderful day... Sara x
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