One of my goals this year is to improve my organization of inventory. As a business I need to have control of my inventory. Although most of what I make has a long shelf life, instead of making what I enjoy, and struggling to make more of other things before the next show, I’ve decided to better track the specifics of things I sell and develop an inventory par level, to relieve some of the stress between back-to-back shows. Of course I will still be developing new projects as well as tweaking older ones, since another part of business is constant change. With a better inventory system I should be better able to see where I’ve been as well as where I’m going.
Last year I made a spread sheet for candle inventory. Instead of just writing down the scents I sold at each show (as I had in years past) I began by listing all of my scents (over 100), included my beginning inventory, my sales of each for each month, and the number of each made each month. Then I had a running inventory to tell which ones needed to be made next. (Yes, this could be done in excel, but was easier for me to track by paper & pencil/pen on a columnar pad.) This year I have plans for slight changes which should make inventory keeping easier yet.
Now at the end of the year, I have a complete picture, not only of my best sellers (which tend to vary from year to year) but also of the monthly and seasonal variations which will allow me to better tailor my production for this year.
With candles somewhat under control, I decided that yarn needs to be my next challenge…..I spin a lot more than I realized, both at craft shows and at home.
I have more than five 18gal totes of yarn that I have spun over the last several years. (Plus a smaller amount that I have listed here and here. Starting with the five craft show totes, I emptied them on the table, one at a time, sorting them by color.
Then I started taking each color and dividing the skeins into families by color (dye lot) and fiber type, assigning a “parent” number and sub-numbers, and recording the pertinent information on a spread sheet. This way with a quick look at the parent number, I can tell a customer how many skeins of a particular yarn is available, whether it is in my back stock or listed on line.
The greens and the reds are completed (unless I find more in hiding). I am pulling some skeins to use in knitting hats and cowls. It’s a good way to display how well the yarn works, and gives me a better idea of the yardage needed for a project (although this will vary with pattern and individual gauges.) But best of all, I have the enjoyment of
working knitting with my own yarn; A skein with no knots, easy to wind into a ball without tangles because of the way I wind my skeins from my spools. And I see how the shades of color work together to enhance the pattern, forming an unique project.
(Hover mouse on pictures below to read captions)
Organization is a lot of work, especially when I get distracted with knitting 🙂 Two totes turned into two and a half, plus a bag of stash for me. I have only three totes plus a small box left to do. It is progressing quicker than when I was handwriting everything on my old labels.
Once finished I will know which colors I need to dye more of to spin. This leads to the roving totes that will next need to be “organized”! Then there’s hats etc that need their own spreadsheet!
As I create, I’ve also created “the never-ending organizing-inventory monster”! (I do like red though 🙂 All a part of growing a business I guess!
What inventory and organizing secrets have you discovered? Please share in a comment.