11 months ago
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Refine Your Crafty Business to Get the Life You Want!
...until it wasn't. I lost my motivation.
Several competitors popped up and many were much better financed. Customers became more demanding as the craft world became larger and the choices more plentiful. My partners and I started squabbling. Internet stores began to appear and I recognized that the competition would be an additional burden. The business took too much time away from my family. My husband became less tolerant. I felt frazzled and frustrated. I was busier than ever, but seemed to be accomplishing less. I was burnt out. My partners were burnt out. Sound familiar? It wasn't working any more and the bead shop was sold. It was a happy day for all of us ---a great burden had been lifted from our shoulders, but only one friendship survived.
Running a successful retail business is not easy. It takes a wicked amount of time, energy, focus, and money. It is hard. It is getting harder. It is no longer enough to have a well stocked shop and a knowledgeable staff. Today's Crafty Retailer must master Social Media (if you are not on Facebook, GET on Facebook!), design inspiring classes, have an interactive e-commerce website, plan promotional events, send out weekly newsletters, and more. It is exhausting just thinking about it.
Many retailers are deciding that the personal sacrifice is no longer worth it. I had an opportunity to speak with Kim Schweitzer, who recently made the decision to close her bead shop, EmMi Beads, in upstate New York. Kim was a savvy retailer...she has a business background as well as a creative streak. She opened her store 5 1/2 years ago and watched her business expand and grow over the years. She was lucky to have a wonderful support team. Her husband did her books, her artistic and bead loving daughter worked at the shop, and her mom was her right hand relative to operations.. She recently took on a larger space and business was good. Unfortunately, life happens and Kim found that the demands on her time were growing exponentially. Her daughter's interest understandably waned as she entered college, her father grew ill and her mother's focus was required elsewhere. Kim believed that she was no longer able to be the mother/daughter/retailer that she wanted to be....her plate was beyond full and she "felt as though [she] was not doing a single thing well." I absolutely know where she is coming from and I bet that you do, too.
The loss of her father was an awakening...we all experience that "Aha" moment where we come to grips with just how finite life is and Kim knew that something had to give. She missed having lazy moments with her young son, longed for the joy of creative discovery, and missed her life....so she decided to make different choices. Kim conducted a priority triage and determined that the store was no longer a good fit for the life that she wanted to live. She has no regrets. She learned from her experience and has moved on, acknowledging that she simply "can't do everything and that walking away is a viable choice."
Cool Moon Beads has chosen that option. Sheryl made the stunning necklace pictured at left and has experienced success in selling her designs, as well as bead inventory, by maintaining a booth at a local antique mall. While she does not earn enough to support herself, she is able to contribute to the household income, and is fulfilling her creative desires, without sacrificing her life. Way to go, Sheryl!
Others are sticking with Brick and Mortar, but are defining the terms. I know one crafty retailer who closes the store on the spur of the moment to deal with a sick pet or to attend a child's school play. It certainly annoys customers who have driven across town to make a purchase, but she is training them to call before they make the trip.
Life changes and the crafty retailer will transition to accommodate it. My business has been in a state of flux for years! Young children...my business needed to change. Seriously sick dog...my business needed to change. Husband involved in a new business...my business needed to change. Fortunately, the ability to choose something different is one of the coolest things about being a grown up! I find that I am continuing to evolve. While sales for my wholesale business have flattened with the economy, I am getting more teaching opportunities, as well as more requests for retail kits. Moreover, Swarovski recently asked me to join their Create Your Style Ambassador team, which is totally cool and provides wonderful exposure. It is all good.....the timing is excellent....my youngest child is heading off to college, my husband's business is growing, and I have more control over my time.
Although I am no longer interested in brick and mortar retail, I am drawn to something more "Retail-Ish" and am working on a retail website, Urban Stitch Studio. It will serve as both a personal branding site for my workshops and will feature my own line of hand dyed fibers. It is a work in progress and I would love your feedback. Additionally, I have started a more personal blog to catalog some of my crafty adventures...please check it out. Finally, I have a companion store on Etsy and will have my Facebook page up soon. I started a Fiber Arts Guild a few days ago and will have our first get together at the end of the month. WHEW! I am doing all of the things that I have been urging others to do for years. It is slow going, but I have realistic expectations and am willing to move at my own pace in order to craft a retail business that will best suit my life.
Facebook with a request to join the group. Please identify your store and website. The group is closed, so the posts are only visible to group members.