My last blog entry was written at the opening of the 2011 season for the Riverside Arts Market. And the last market of the season was this past Saturday 12/17/11. What can I say? The months absolutely flew by. I had too much to do and not enough time to get it done!
How did my year go? Terrific would sum it up!
Two booths worked out nicely although I am thinking about scaling back next year. Business has been growing and it's becoming increasingly tough for me to be so fractured. It's just to the point where I need to narrow it down and basically decide what I want to be when I grow up. ;) The problem is that I love aspects of everything. Tie Dyeing for RAM, offering workshops in my studio, private sewing lessons...and of course, the Bird-E Towel 'factory.'
In the previous blog, I pined after a cargo trailer so that I could stop filling my van with RAM stuff (and thus getting my dining room back because THAT's where those van seats where living.) I did end up getting it which was an amazing help. I did a TON of RAMs this year. Even through the tough summer months when the heat was awful. It was worth it though! My fantastic customers kept coming back for more.
One sad event of the year was when my excellent employee moved on to full-time work elsewhere. I'm back to the me, myself & I show and it's not quite as good as having a team. After the ups and downs of normal small business stuff, I don't feel that I'm quite ready to bring someone else on board. It often feels that I bring money in right before the next big expense. Case in point, I just spent the equivalent of ALL of my December arts market income securing fabric to make Bird-E Towels over the next few months. That's 1200 yards of fabric and it wasn't cheap. When it's just me, I don't mind diverting my paycheck so that I can get an advantage on supplies. Obviously can't do that when someone else is on board. Anyhow, moot point because NOW is the wrong time to even think about this. No arts market income for 2.5 months = lean business months. Time to recuperate and come up with an action plan for the new year.
I ended the RAM season on a massively high point. Best sales EVER in the 3 years I've been doing this.
Rough Goals for next year - still working on them
- increase Bird-E Towel Sales. Bird-E Towels are more family friendly as far as production goes. I can make and ship around our schedule.
- Take on a few wholesale accounts and see how it goes. Couldn't do this last year with spotty fabric supply. Every time I turned around, my supplier would tell me he was out.
Sewing Lessons & Workshops
- I will continue doing these on a sporadic, as requested, basis. I LOVE doing these but they are slightly more difficult to manage with our ever increasing busy schedules. I look at these as recharging events. They help fulfill the inner teacher in me.
- Oh RAM, how I love you...but I need a bit more balance in my life and working nearly every Saturday was really tough this year. I'm going to load up on the front and back end of RAM dates for 2012. If I can, I'm going to give myself a break over the summer.
- I'm kind of embarrassed that my facebook fan base hasn't grown tremendously. I really need to figure out how to get those numbers to rise on a regular basis. I think I have a fear that I'll be pushy if I do contests tied to 'sharing' like other fan pages do. I am not a pushy sales person. I am thankful that I haven't needed to be!
I love how my business has grown in 2011. I love that the different pieces have worked together in harmony...mostly. I do work really hard and spend virtually all of my 'free' time on this endeavor. I can imagine big things for Athena Creates. Huge! I just need to keep growing, learning and working really hard so that I can make it happen.