Resolutions or Goals?

Happy New Year!

As the New Year fast approaches, many are busy making resolutions, or reviewing the almost past old year. This year I’ve decided to try a new approach!

To me there is a difference between resolutions and goals.

Resolutions usually involve an abrupt change in behavior (such as losing weight, stopping a bad habit etc.) but doesn’t break these changes into steps or prepare to implement them. It’s just saying that starting New Year’s Day I am going to ………….!

Goals,on the other hand, involve making lists, prioritizing the objectives, listing the steps to meet these objectives, and having incremental ways of measuring how close you are getting to the final goals.

Goals sound like a lot more work, but also more apt to succeed in obtaining the desired result. It’s not an overnight test of will-power that if you fail you quit, but more of an endurance test, to see how close you can come to making permanent changes (in life-style, habits, or business)

As you may have gathered, I have started preparing my business goals for 2016! It is a growing list of sub-topics (or how I plan to achieve these goals),  but most of my actions will be toward these three main headings:

  1. Continue to build web-site
  2. Increase Inventory
  3. Increase Sales
  4. Now I need to get out of this list mode! Maybe I do need to add one more-LEARN MORE computer skills! If anyone can help please leave me a comment and I will edit this to finish it the way I had planned?? I’ll leave it to another day to maybe add some parts of my sub-lists:)

A Craft Show, Part 2

My last post was about a craft show we attended as vendors, but I unintentionally omitted a part that is important to me, questions that I wanted to ask you!

Do you attend craft shows? If so, as a vendor? or as a shopper?

If you attend as a vendor, what type of products do you take to sell? Do you prefer small to medium sized shows? Or do you only look for the huge ones with 100’s of vendors and even more customers?

As a shopper, do you try to find shows where everything is hand made? or do you attend the ones that have a mixture of artists, crafters, and representatives of larger businesses (such as Pampered Chef, Tupperware, and Candle-Lite)?  Do you go to a show just to look and possibly buy something on impulse? Or do you go looking for something specific for yourself or as a gift? Or could you be looking for a vendor you’d purchased from before to see what else he/she might have created since last time?

Thank you for reading and perhaps answering some of these questions. As a small business, we’ve been doing craft shows for years, but this is my first attempt at some market research. I know the answers will vary, by individual tastes as well as by country, and city or rural locations. It should be interesting to find a general picture of what appeals to everyone.

A Craft Show

Saturday was Small Business Saturday and my son and I departed in the dark hours of the morning to drive just over 50 miles to set up for a craft show.

Attending a craft show, you never know quite what to expect. Since this was a one day show, I tried to cut back a little on how much I displayed, while still covering a range of items. You never know exactly what people might be looking for, so if I make it, I try to display at least a token of it. For instance, I set up all 116 scents that I make in soy candles, but only brought a small amount of my hand spun yarn. (People don’t have the time to knit for a gift this close to Christmas.) I also brought a sample of my husband’s canvases, along with some prints made from his originals.

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craft show booth overview

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end of wooden shelf

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wooden shelf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My son, on the other hand, set up his complete inventory of needle felting and wire wrapping. I think it looked very nice and it did draw people in for a closer look.

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necklaces and needle felting

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needle feltings

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needle felted ornaments and art dolls

The organizer does a nice job, she had advertised, but the number of potential customers seemed down from previous years, as were our sales. She had the vendor next to us slide her tables down a bit, to insure that customers would be able to walk into our corner space. I appreciated that as when we arrived to set up things were looking a little crowded in our corner.

However, as a business, we will have to consider if this will be a show worth our time and effort to do in the future.  With the size of our display, it is more time efficient to set up for two-four day shows, then to do too many one day events. By the time we returned home from a seven hour show we’d been gone for twelve hours! A very long day!

On the personal side, a friend stopped by to say hi, I was able to visit with another friend/vendor, had an interesting conversation about knitting with a lady looking at my yarn, and our son made a lady very happy when he custom made a bracelet to hold a charm the lady had gotten for her granddaughter.

One more show to look forward to (along with the aching back from hauling candles) and our craft show season will end until we start up in the spring!

 

Day 14- Extend Your Brand

I established what I think represents my business brand when I first used my “spinning lady” as my avatar and as a logo on our business cards. It not only represents the yarn I spin, but also the fact that all our products are hand made by us, with special attention to details.

The spinning lady was made by hand on a scroll saw, by my step-dad, as a special present for my mom. I later received one, and it is a photo of this handcrafted picture that represents family and not-forgotten craft skills to me,Avatar Business card 09 002 and I hope to those I meet.

Retirement or Just Plain Tired

This last Spring I gave a month’s notice that I had decided to retire! After more than five years as a part-time waitress at a local restaurant I knew I would miss the regulars who had become friends over the years. But after having my craft business on the back burner for over twenty years, we decided it was time to bring it to a boil.

Create the future!

Inspiration to follow our dream

I don’t know how I ever had time to work! We displayed and sold at about 20 shows this year. For most 2-day shows we were gone 3 days, for 4-day shows we always set up the day before. That left 2-4 days between shows for drying tents, making more of low inventory items, washing dusty table cloths, etc.   I repeat, I don’t know how I had time to work even a day or two between shows.

Needle felting

Son’s corner

Hand painted scarves and wood burning.

for blogging 101 041 for blogging 101 044Needle felted ornaments

Soy Candles

Soy Candles

 

Edwin's Art

Husband had his own tent.

 

 

 

 

 

My boss called in September, to see if my shows were over and if I might want to work a day or two each week during the off-season…… I “nicely” turned him down while wanting to shout “I’m retired, I don’t have time!” This while thinking of the shows I had left, including the 3 hour workshop I taught at one on processing flax into linen.  Still have two 1 day shows to do and a blog to learn how to run, as well as two on-line shops to stock!

 

 

Last week I finished spinning and plying these yarns for blogging 101 029 for blogging 101 030

merino wool yarn

two ply hand spun merino wool

Now the 18 skeins are waiting to be labeled and listed or added to show inventory.

I also made a few batches of soy candles. I carry over 100 different scents.

Free smells of Soy Candles

Free smells of Soy Candles

Need to dye more roving, unique colors done in small batches, that I can replicate but not duplicate:)

drying dyeing.

Rainbow dyed roving and top.

If you are a knitter, crocheter, or weaver, you will understand my reference to the slight differences in dye lots. You may also notice that my skeins vary in yardage. This is because I wind all of my skeins with no knots, but may have several skeins of the same colorway or of coordinating colors. This gives you better quantity choices depending on the size of your project. I love playing with colors and seeing the differences made by combining various colors, in dyeing, in spinning and in plying.

In the future you will see many of our craft show products pictured in sections of the gallery. This way you can browse and if you can’t make it to our shows, I can list it for your purchase on my Handmade Artists shop, if it’s still available. My on-line shop listings aren’t taken to the shows with me to avoid selling the same unique item twice at the same time.

I’ve only mentioned a few details of the fiber and craft show part of our business and already feel this post is way too long. In the future look for more information about my husband’s art

Husband's Art

Husband’s Art

Husband's Art

Husband’s Art

my son’s needle felting and wire wrapping, for blogging 101 033 for blogging 101 034

Son's Crafts

Art Doll and wire wrapping

and my wood burning and other endeavors. When creating a business, it’s hard to know where it will lead.

We welcome questions and suggestions of what you would like to hear/see more about, so please leave a comment.

Crafting and Blogging

I feel that in learning more about blogging I am actually learning to craft a website.

The Day Two assignment of checking and possibly changing my title and tagline is a lot like choosing which fiber to use to spin a new yarn. Do I want my yarn (or blog) to be a thin silk, used for special occasions, a two-ply wool, to snuggle through the long winter, or a durable linen, to withstand the tests of time and use?

I have been Mulch and More since the beginning of my business as explained on my home page, so only a slight change of spacing made my title more readable.

I want my blog to have the endurance of linen while maintaining a luster of silk and the welcoming warmth of wool. Only the test of time will tell if I can master the skills needed to craft a useful blog.

Hello, Glad to meet you!

I signed up for Blogging101 to learn more about making a blog.

For those of you who may have read my first writing of this post and you realize it sounds different, that’s because it is!   MY COMPUTER ATE my homework!   Yes I forgot to push that all important button that says “Save Draft” Lesson learned as I struggle to remember some of what I said the first time!

Hi, I’m Bev. I actually opened my blog earlier this spring to showcase and help the growth of our craft business. Yes I am technically challenged! (See above paragraph for example) Thanks to the response for my post for help I think I have things straightened out and hope not to make the same mistakes again…I know there’s many other mistakes I can find to make:)

The purpose of my blog is to find other people interested in hand made crafts, share information about the craft shows that we attend and about some of the methods used in creating things. I also hope to learn more by exploring some crafts that I haven’t done (yet)  while feeding my computer better to prevent random snacks! I’m also interested in organic gardening, healthier eating, better business practices,organizing inventory, etc.

If you would like to learn more about our family business, please check out our Home and About pages too. I welcome feedback and constructive criticism and meeting new people.

Welcome to Mulch and More Crafts

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Hand Spun Yarn and a Spinning Lady

Mulch and More originated over two decades ago, when I started business by growing an organic herb garden at a local restaurant for the chef at that time. As we started doing more craft shows, the More expanded and in 2008 I finally opened a small on-line shop on Etsy, followed in a few years by my shop on HandmadeArtists.com, a truly handmade only site. Meanwhile our craft show business has been steadily growing, so we decided to expand our name to the web site of MulchandMoreCrafts.com and truly have our own site to share the various aspects of our business and eventually offer a place where one-stop-shopping will be available.

Meanwhile I’m asking for your patience as I slowly learn how to set this up, yes I’m attempting to be a do-it-yourself person here as well.