Saturday, February 28, 2009

Vacation... not... vacation.... not...

Earlier this week, I got two new orders. One mom was planning a princess party for her four-year-old and loved the circus invitations and asked if there was a variant that would work.

As I've been thinking that a princess/knight castle invitation in the circus invitation format would be super popular, I volunteered to create one for her at no additional charge.

I'm still tweaking it (and, in fact, added a fifth tower to the castle), but you can see how it's coming along...

The other order I received was for a set of circus party invitations (I could almost run my entire etsy card shop entirely on the basis of that single product) for a soon-t0-be-40-year-old man. I had never thought of expanding into parties for grown ups, but why not? I'm kind of excited by this one -- she needs 150 invitations, which would make this my biggest order ever!

I actually got a little dizzy thinking of all the printing, cutting and assembly I'd need to do for 150 invitations (my previous biggest order was for 50 and that quantity has me hitting the grindstone for several days in a row) and, to stave off any possible new orders which would simply put me over the top and overwhelm me, I put my etsy shop in "vacation" mode, meaning that I was basically shutting it down and not accepting any new orders. With having committed to the castle design and finishing up a few smaller orders, it was just too much for me.

This morning (after getting a good run at the castle design and deciding that we were almost done), I took it back off.

But I'm thinking of putting it back -- I'm fine with keeping up with orders, at this moment, but it would not take much to put me to push me over the edge. Plus I am trying to put together some inventory to have on hand for Crafty Wonderland and I just can't seem to get much stock together (I keep donating sets of cards to local school auctions -- very fulfilling, but it seriously depletes my cards on hand).

I fear that if I leave my shop in vacation mode for long, I will lose any momentum that I've built up so far in my business. I feel like I'm at the crossroads right now, where this can easily turn from a fun little side hobby into a real money-making venture, but with a full-time job (two if you count the motherhood thing), I just don't have the bandwidth to see it grow much more than it has. I would become a total wreck.

My husband has volunteered to step in and help with my large order, for which I am very grateful. Of anyone in the world, he is just about the only other person that I feel is picky enough in this kind of thing to meet with my super high standards for papercraft (if anything he might be pickier than me). I'm excited to explore the possibility of using my own in-house sweat shop in order to keep the etsy biz growing and viable.

A good book that I've been reading is the E-Myth Revisited, recommended by my friend Maria. It recounts the story of a pie shop that had exactly the problem that I'm facing now: it got too big for one person to handle. For her, the joy of making pies was replaced with the day-to-day grind of maintaining her pie shop (cleaning, accounting, ordering supplies, etc) and, over time, the joy completely disappeared. I was just getting into the really good stuff when I had to return it to the library, but I'm liking what it says so far. More on this thread when I get it back!

I know this post is really very business-related (and for my papercraft fans I do apologize), but it's a very exciting time for me right now!

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Here is my suggestion. Once you get caught up put something in all your listings that says "DELIVERY TIMES VARY, please see my shop policies for the current delivery estimate." Then when things are tight you can have a time range for 1 card or card packs. You also should plan your week out, when are you going to do orders, shipping, site updates, etc. You could also create a custom order wait list and put it on your blog. Sometimes making people queue up generates a buzz. Remember Cranky Pants?