With the cooler weather arriving, it is a pleasure to see more and more people getting back to their shops and starting to work on projects again. As you regular readers know, summer is probably my least favorite season. I know that isn’t a popular opinion, but I have never been one to go along with the masses so I guess it is somewhat expected that I am not really fond of summer. From what I hear from my friends and customers in the States, it was for the most part a really brutal summer for them. I think I fared much better then most here in NS, but those couple of weeks of above average temperatures were more than enough for me. I do like outings and day trips, and if I were able to spend the day at the beach or a lake each day I may like it more, but for day-to-day living, I find the heat can be as debilitating as the cold.
With that said, it is wonderful to feel ambitious and be able to spend the day working wearing a light sweater to keep off the chill. I just feel as if I have much more energy and am able to accomplish so much more. Although I have laid a fairly good foundation for the fall season with my wholesalers, I still have many ideas of new projects and can pretty much keep going at this pace for a long while to come.
Realistically, it is a time when I should be starting to think about the Spring projects and warm weather items, such as garden plaques and things of that nature. In working with the catalogs and magazines we are supposed to get used to the time warp that we live by and have to reprogram ourselves to think at least six months ahead. This is the time for me when professionally I need to be fast forwarding my thinking and planning past the Christmas and holiday seasons, just when everyone is getting aboard with autumn projects. It is sometimes unsettling to me. It doesn’t help that the magazines also are on the stands well before their printed date. For instance their Holiday issue came out in August. I think November is next, and it becomes available in September. What happened to November being available in November?
I believe we are up to working on the March issue of the magazine right now that will come out probably sometime in late January or early February. So that means that they will have some winter projects in it still. Even I don’t know and I have been doing this for 14 seasons now. Is it me being too simple, or would it be better if the March issue came out IN March and had some spring projects in it? There goes that pink cloud thinking again. It always gets the best of me.
I don’t know what got me writing in this direction, but since autumn is my favorite season, I just want to enjoy it a bit. I am happy my website is doing a bit better this year. In the past several years it has been kind of an afterthought, and it showed by the meager sales I had there. Now, it is definitely a vital part of my business and it is a wonderful “real time” aspect of my business that keeps me in the proper season. I know that I can design something in October that is Autumn related and I can shoot it up on the site for people to see and they will have plenty of time to work on it. I love the instant gratification of the site. You hit the publish button and there it is for all to see. No waiting for months to see it out there in public.
I received my holiday catalog from my one large wholesaler the other day. It was the catalog in which I worked so hard to get the candle tray sets into. Besides the trays, there were all of my other new items I have made since the last cut off day a couple of months earlier. I had a very prolific summer it seems. It was strange to see how many new items I had featured in there and some I had simply forgotten that I did. Now will come the interesting part. Although I have had most of the items on my site from soon after they were designed, this will be the first time they were really ‘out there’ for the masses to see. As I had stated before, their customer data base is much larger than my own, and unlike the magazine projects where the items are not only seen, but the plans offered in the magazine, this time I will be able to see which items will really sell and appeal to people.
The catalog shipped the last few days of August and I am quite proud to say that about one quarter to one third of the patterns in it are from my company. Even my editor noticed what a presence I had in it. It think this is the most I have ever been represented in a catalog ever. I won’t know the initial figures for over a month though, but hopefully the hard work will pay off and I will have a decent autumn and winter.
So much of my work is delayed gratification. I think that is why many are not able to do what I do. I can work my butt off on something and not see any return at all on it for six months or more. It takes a lot of thinking ahead and patience to stick with it year after year. And if something doesn’t do so well, it takes that long to realize it also. It is quite a guessing game and I find that by keeping up the site and putting the tremendous amount of extra work to do that, it does help me to get an earlier indication as to what will be popular and what won’t.
On the plus side, once the things are done they can produce for me for many, many years. I have that Forest Leaf series that I designed in 2002 and it still sells to some extent today. The Wooden Teddy carries all the patterns (although many are only on their website) but month after month there is still a small check from their sales. On my site, I still find that people purchase the patterns retail, as there are new scrollers coming into the hobby all the time and they still have appeal. I sold a decent sized set of them just the other day.
So it is like a snowball effect, if you will. I guess I will just keep building up the arsenal. At this point, I have over 400 patterns. They range from plaques to small boxes to ornaments and everything in between. I am in a really good place now because I have such a vast and stable foundation in which to build on. Now when I design, I don’t worry that people will have ‘nothing to choose from’. I can really concentrate on design and quality (not that I haven’t in the past, but to a greater extent) and let the patterns out there work for me while I concentrate on new and better designs. That is the upside of what I do. The work I am doing now can pay off for ten or more years.
All in all, I am happy that I was able to stick with it. There were very adverse times in my business when others around me were telling me I was foolish for pursuing what I do and that I needed a more stable job. There may have been times when I thought they were right. But there was something inside of me that kept me going in this direction because I knew in my heart if I worked hard enough, it would be OK.
I read a blog this morning where someone was making a shop and had to kind of put it on hold because of the economy. I was glad to see that he didn’t abandon his dream altogether, but he adapted his plans to work in the mean time until things got better. I think he will be successful because his decision to change with the circumstances was both necessary and practical. I think in the long run he will do OK because he reworked his thinking to go with the times. It is people like this I feel that will realize their dreams. I know I am cheering for him.
So on we go today. I am finishing up the next set of ornaments I am working on and half way through. They are taking a bit longer than I wanted, but there were distractions yesterday and that is OK. I like what I have so far and I know the drawing will be done today and I will be cutting by the latest tomorrow. I think they will look cool and Robert will be happy with them, as they are for the magazine. I will certainly show them here though so you all can have a sneak peek at them.
So it is back to drawing for today. It is cool and overcast and the perfect autumn day. I have a cinnamon roll calling me from the kitchen and I will be ready to go. (Twenty seconds in the microwave and they are as good as out of the oven!)
Have a good and productive day everyone. . . .Until tomorrow. :)
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"