Thursday, June 25, 2009

business plans: simplifying styles

First of all, thank you so very much for all your advice and help in response to my last post. It was a very pleasant surprise and oh-so useful.

A number of recent blog posts from my Google Reader happened to focus on running a business right when I'm more interested in the topic than usual, which is already pretty damn interested. I really like this quote:
People probably think that fashion designers make a ton of money. But in reality, for the majority of us, that couldn't be farther from the truth. (even if we're one of the lucky ones that "makes it" so to speak.) We spend more than we bring in. We're lucky when we break even. And we're one of the select few if and when we turn a profit. I'm still not there yet.

Buy directly from the designer. You'll not only save from the retail mark-up, you'll ensure the designer actually gets compensated for their work. Long live Etsy. Or at least, long live the non-evil retailers. I still realize I have so much to learn about this industry. And I'm learning, one mistake at a time.
From Leanne M of Project Runway America.

The most helpful piece of advice came from The Fashion Incubator, from the first in her series of How to Start and Homebased Handmade Sewing Business:
If you make up one-offs, you won’t get a picture of which styles and sizes hold greater appeal. The way I would do it is to only produce a few styles and make them in different sizes, meaning duplicates. I realize each fabric would be different but the basic lines and shapes of each style could be important indicators. I would keep careful track of which bodies sold first and in which sizes. This will be very useful information in the future.
I could kiss her. In my last post, my main gripe was not really knowing what will sell (i.e. what the market wants), and this is a promising way to rectify that. I've never come across this point and I'm kicking myself for not considering it before because it sounds so simple. I have read every piece of handmade business advice I could get my hands on - Etsy Storque articles, Handmade Business blogs, the Business Topics Etsy forum, the Craft Inc book, and so most advice I feel I've read before. Although, usually it's not directed at people who make one-of-a-kinds or clothing, and certainly not both. There's a lot more advice in the series so I really recommend you read it if you have, or want to start, a sewing business.

I'm going to apply that advice by choosing several favourite styles to focus on that can be made up repeatedly, in different fabrics of course, so everything will still be one of a kind. I'll make several of the styles, in different sizes and colours. This style is one of my favourites, and it seems to be popular so this will be one of The Designated.

I might make up a poll post so you guys can vote for your favourites that you'll be seeing more of if they 'win'.

I don't want everything I make to have to fit within my select group of styles, because that would take some of the fun out of designing, and maybe buying, too. So I'm still going to experiment sometimes as well. And sometimes the materials I use won't necessarily allow replication - I'm not sure to what capacity yet. This change is to give me some more direction, some more market knowledge, and maybe help the issue of people liking stuff that's not in their size.

Oh, the other entrepreneurship article I came across was an interview style post with Xenia from Lime Crime Makeup, which was more interesting (very) than helpful.

P.S. I've changed the logo/header on my blog and Etsy shop. I felt the previous was a bit too clean and 'perfect', so I've grunged it up a little (but kept the cute). What do you think?


Clare said...

I love the new banners.
I think this is definitely the right direction (although you could probably guess that from my last comment). Constantly working on the same shapes may even make you more inspired because each time you'll probably think of some new adjustment. I always feel more creative if I have some barriers!

Anonymous said...

Yay glad you've got a plan, I know this stuff can do your head in BIG TIME! Key pieces/styles have helped me not go so nuts, and easier to whisk up even when you want to throw your sewing machine out the window, but having the choice to experiment and make new designs when the mood strikes is a great balance. Good Luck!

Heidi and Seek said...

Clare - Ah, you did say that! I guess it helped to drum it in that fewer styles would mean a better grasp of what's working and what's not - I didn't make the connection before, doh.

nictoria n bird - Thank you! I'm good at making plans, not so great at sticking to them without finding some other great new plan! I think I'm onto something good here though.

nikkishell said...

Saw you in Frankie today :)

Cosmic said...

A good business thrives on it's reputation alone rather than profit! Keep doing what you're doing and it will pay off in the long run I'm sure:) - That's where a lot of new businesses fail as their priorities all wrong. A good business takes a lot of resources initially, but it's a small price to pay when the business you've started gets handed down to the next generation of business nurturers!

You are:

'Being The Change You Want To See In The World'!!!

Lovin' the changes and I love your style:)


c.s. said...

I like the new banner...looks handmade but hip!