Friday, November 6, 2009

I Make Things

I make things. What kind of things? Things that I want people to buy. Why do I want people to buy them? Because I believe in the homemade community, I believe in my product being the best, I enjoy making my product, and I want it to become my livelihood so that I can stop working full time and work from home and be with my baby girl while still providing an income for my family.

I came to the realization a long time ago that I was born in the wrong era. I could have easily thrived during the time where kids played outside until it was dark, mom’s stayed home and cooked and cleaned and took pride in that role, and you knew all of your neighbors by 1st and last name. I’m a very old fashioned, I can easily picture myself homemaking things and taking those things and living on the barter system alone. I find it amazing that our ancestors once lived simply by swapping skills for items and food. Most today say that’s not practical, cash is king. But I’ve proven the barter system does still have some power. I’ve worked with a few photography studios trading my bows and tutus for photo sessions and pics, thank you Phototrappings!! I’ve also traded bows for web design and logo designs. As well as some of my items for outfits for the monkey. Now while I still love getting paid for my items because let’s face it cash is necessary, trading services like this gives me just as much pleasure. But there is a sense of pride that goes into knowing that I can make money by making things.

I can be pretty competitive but in this category of making and selling a product I’ve learned to not be so aggressive. Which is kind of silly in theory, I mean have you seen how many bow makers there are out there? Some pretty amazing ones, but there’s also some not so amazing ones as well. This is why I decided to NOT buck straight out of the shoot but to take my time in perfecting my products, take my time in building my website store, and to spend wisely on supplies and advertising. If I wouldn’t put my daughter in it then I certainly wouldn’t try to sell it. Thankfully I have a little girl and a niece and cousins who I’ve gotten to practice on to help me perfect what I make. I laugh often at the 1st bows and tutus I made. Seriously, what was I thinking?Don't believe me? Here's a few pics of a few of my 1st bows and my very 1st tutu, don't laugh. 

 But today, I’m proud of them. Today I can be more aggressive with confidence in my making and selling. Today I have pride in what I provide. Today I am blessed to make something for a special little monkey knowing she’s getting the best of me. Like this little monkey who one Best Hair in a pageant, notice she doesn't have any hair?  That's right the bow stole the show.

I’ve had many goals since I started making bows and tutus 15 months ago. Some have been met, some are still to be achieved but in everything I’ve done it has been with the mindset to provide for my family, to enjoy what I do, and to give God the glory in all my success even if my monkey was the only one who ever wore anything made by me. I will admit that in this adventure that very mindset has been tempted to stray to a competitive and unthankful one. Why? Some may look at a homemade item and think they could make the exact version of an idea for cheaper. And they very well may be able to do just that, I mean that’s one of the reason’s I started out making bows, because the boutiques were too expensive in my opinion and I could do it cheaper right? Oh simple minded me. You see the cost of a product is not merely in the computation of the supplies used to get an end result. The cost my friend is so much higher. Web hosting fees, publicity costs, Graphics and designs, shipping, gas to take you to all of the stores to gather supplies, and countless and countless hours designing and perfecting your item, searching and sourcing the right materials, and the list goes on and on. My bows are currently sold in 3 brick and mortar stores and one of them was approached by another bow maker to sell her bows. At first I was put off by other bows being displayed right beside my “creations” especially since in my opinion they are not up to my standard and I thought it made my bows look bad but it actually boosted sales for me and like I said, I like a little competition. On top of those who think that yes they can make your product just as perfect and for cheaper, you also have the larger chains like Wal-Mart and Target selling packs of 6 clips for around $2. So when approached with the question of why would I want to spend $3 for 2 clips from you when I can go to Wal-Mart for cheaper I simply say yes you can but let me ask you this, Would you rather have a pack of cute clips for $2 that will fall apart within a few wears (and I promise it will fall apart) and be the same as the next girl wearing the same thing, or would you rather have a cute, custom, unique *handmade* bow? See therein lies the difference, it’s not just about getting cute bows but when you buy handmade directly from an individual you are investing in me, and not just in me, but in my products, my ideas, my well-being, my family. You buy from me and your giving me dat, high fiving me, we connected, we shook hands, we helped each other out. It’s one of the most wonderful feelings, to go and buy diapers or clothing for my monkey or groceries to prepare a meal for my family and know that I’m able to do so thanks to the support of Phototrappings, of Chickadoodles, of my mom’s classroom full of little girls who want toggles, of friends with little girls, and of course thanks to the support of you! You make it possible for me to continue to strive towards my dream. This has been truly a beautiful experience so far. And I feel like I’m just getting started.

At times I do fight the urge to be more aggressive in marketing but when I do that I begin losing my focus and reason for starting this adventure. I get stressed and the fun is sucked out. Going at my turtle pace I’m able to keep that in check. I’m able to continue to make things that make memories,I'm able to build experiences that we will both remember. I am able to bring smiles to moms and monkey’s faces. I am building connections with my customers, making them feel important and unique which they are as opposed to being just a dollar sign that I feel manufacturers make us feel.

Below is just a sample of my custom orders, you won't find these on my website, or in big chain stores, these are special requests from my customers who want something different and specially made for them, they send me pics of their outfit, or color swatches and I go to work for them, I want to go to work for you too!!

So although it would be nice to think about a cash-free community, it’s just not the case, but I feel pretty good about my participation in the handmade community and showing people that they can still get quality items and a low price and feel like the most important customer ever, because again YOU ARE!!
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