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Posts Tagged ‘Craft Business’

In a creative-type business the First Quarter of the year means lots of icky stuff that involves nothing of what an artisan loves to do.  It’s tax time.  It’s reorganization time.  It’s time to crunch numbers.

I don’t have a head for figures, but I do have some sense of organization.  My tax man says I keep impeccable records.  While I don’t know which numbers add up to what, I do know that compartmentalizing sales and expenses in little boxes according to where the sales and expenses were made is an important part of business record keeping.  I’m good at that, thanks to spreadsheets.

My spreadsheets are nowhere near as complicated as this one, but they dizzy me just as much.

The First Quarter of the year is slow, sales wise, just getting out of the busy holiday buying season.  It’s a good thing because I need the months from January through March to get my act together.  It’s not only about submitting numbers to the tax man, but also assessing where things are selling, what things are selling, and where I can find new selling adventures in the coming year.

Just in the midst of First Quarter my subscription to Midwest Art Fairs arrived, a publication to guide the vendor to find a good fit for craft/art show venues as well as being a guide for the craft/art show enthusiast as to where the great shows are.

A lot of the great shows featured in this publication are worth my looking into to sell my wares.  Even if I don’t show my wares at particular venues, the publication is a great source for me to visit shows and festivals, which I love to do.

Tonight I’m going to peruse Midwest Art Fairs to see what may be in store for me in the 2018 season.  It’s one of the pleasures I take in the First Quarter.

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Oh, the things I can get done in the dark hours when I know I don’t have to get up with the birds the next day.  I listen to the chime of the mantel clock strike a late hour as I’ve just finished producing, pricing, and recording a load of inventory for a drop at a gift shop that’s been waiting for my goods for three months.  If I were going to the day job tomorrow I’d have been in bed hours ago, probably tossing and turning with thoughts of how I could better spend my time.

The calendar flips its days, weeks and months to the finish line when I can say goodbye to the day job.  It’s all I can think about these days.  To spend time in this life exactly how I want to seems to be my purpose.  Nothing specific, just my whim.  How glorious that will be.

I’ve been avoiding writing lately, and I can’t really understand why.  It’s not that I don’t have time; I do have some, enough, yet I’ve been avoiding it.  Maybe it’s because that’s all I want to do, and the snippets of time afforded me only tease and torment.  Or maybe I don’t really want to write at all.  I haven’t figured it out yet.  But here I am in the silence of the night, fulfilled with what I accomplished without a solid bedtime, writing.

Day after tomorrow I’ll be going to the family cottage for the holiday weekend, and I’m taking my laptop with me.  Some of my family members might smirk at my bringing technology to the rustic nature of the cottage, but I’m not the only one bringing things to smirk at.  Enough said, eh Charlotte?  Perhaps I’ll find some time between roasting stale Peeps (a new delicacy Charlotte is going to try with Easter leftovers) and cleaning out boats and cottage rooms to return to my work in progress, rewriting/editing the first draft of the novel I wrote last November.

Such ramblings I have when I can relish the dark summer night.  Bear with me, for there may be more to come.  My blogging may take a turn, or continue to wane; one never knows.  I’m just getting in practice for that time when all I have to listen to is my whim.

Serene Muskie Bay

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Caught in a generation with one foot in the old school and one in the new I have a hard time realizing how important being online is to a business these days.  Keeping up with an online presence is exhausting for someone in my predicament.  I get all kinds of advice on what platforms to appear on, and then hear that it doesn’t make any difference at all.  Some say Facebook and Twitter are the way to go.  Others say those platforms are useless and a e-mail list and monthly newsletter is the way to go.

I admit, I’m utterly confused.  And what do I do when I’m utterly confused?  I retreat.  I’ve put my Etsy shop on vacation simply because it’s online.  Online selling is the new school way of doing things and I’ve become overwhelmed.  I’m not keeping up with my Facebook page or Twitter and and quite frankly updates on those platforms are automatic and take no thought on my part at all.  I feel like that’s really bad because I’m not actively engaging my customers.

The simple fact is, I don’t know how to do online stuff and quite frankly I don’t care what everyone says.  I don’t want to be consumed with what works and what doesn’t with an online business because you know what?  I have a business that’s live too!  But I’ve been falling behind in that also.

Work work work.  That’s all I do, whether I do it right or not.  You know what that means?  It’s time for a vacation.  And guess what?  I’m going to have one!

Right now I’m looking forward to a trip to my beloved Door County with my beloved Husby.  And what makes it even better is the fact that I’m not going to do a show while we’re there.  For the past three years or so I’ve done shows in various locations in Door County and they all turned out pretty much disastrous for me only because I had to travel six hours to do shows that weren’t too lucrative or else blew my canopy to the other side of town.

In a couple of weeks I’ll be basking in the glory that is Lake Michigan.  I’ll be sipping wine with Husby at our favorite haunts and hiking the rocks and dunes that surround the great lake.  I’ll be watching sunrises and sunsets that make all of life worth living, and I’ll be eating food so good it should be illegal.

Until that time I’ll plug on, even though I’m not completely plugged in.

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January.  It’s the month I have to think about numbers and spreadsheets and…taxes.  I spent most of Saturday playing with my very specific spreadsheets, making sure they were accurate, so I could print them out for my accountant (Husby).  I also had to make my sales tax submissions to two states, a task that makes me nervous and sweaty every single year.  It’s not that I don’t think I’m doing it correctly, but I’m always a little concerned about making the whole online submission thing work right.  Well, I got my spreadsheets turned in and my sales taxes submitted so I felt pretty good; kind of like a real, live business person.

It’s been a couple of months now since I actively worked on making product.  Lately I’ve been feeling like it just isn’t worth the trouble.  The thought of starting up production again, just the thought, made me bored.  But working with my spreadsheets and seeing the sales I made and where I made them got the fire burning again.  I like what I do, and it’s fun to make what I make.  Over a glass of wine Husby and I started brainstorming about how I can grow my business into other directions and make it more profitable.  Not only is Husby my roadie and accountant, he’s also full of great ideas and inspirations!

January usually starts out as a drudgery for me business-wise, thinking here I go again, doing the same old thing over and over and over.  But when I realize what is and what could be, my motivation and enthusiasm starts up all over again.

Take a look at my shop and let me know what you might like to see listed there.  I’m always open to new ideas.  There will be some new drink charms on the way, and maybe even some candle accessories.  I also have a different plan for marketing my bottle cap magnets.  Be sure to stay tuned, because 2014 might produce some pretty fun suff.

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Isn’t that a fun little jingle?  I love this commercial with its peppy ba-ba-da and the very suave voice-over.

I just renewed my business standing with the State of Minnesota.  Auntie B’s Wax has been in business for eight years!  Hooray for me!  It seems like just yesterday I was pouring my first candle in the kitchen of Husby’s and my newlywed house.  Who knew that would grow into a legitimate and successful business?  I would have never guessed it then, but now it doesn’t surprise me a bit.

The other day Husby and I went to the bank to do some adjusting on the business bank account, then went out to dinner at the expense of Auntie B’s Wax, LLC.  It was the annual Employee Appreciation dinner Auntie B’s Wax’s owner and CEO (me) gives to her employee (Husby) every year in appreciation of his help and support throughout the year.

When the waiter came and asked for our drink order I was delighted to hear Husby order a Stella Artois.  He’d never tasted it before and said it was really good.  I was kind of hoping he’d start talking like the commercial voice-over guy after he took a sip, but that didn’t happen.  Oh well.

Husby celebrated the chalice which celebrates the Stella Artois. I celebrated the pinot grigio. We both celebrated Auntie B’s Wax.

I’m looking forward to another summer season visiting and working the shows and festivals and am happy to have my roadie by my side through it all. Raise your glass of Stella (or whatever else you prefer) to another successful year for Auntie B’s Wax.

Today, not only am I filled with appreciation for my employee but also to my customers and readers of this blog.  To show this appreciation I’m going to give you the chance to own a piece from the Auntie B’s Wax Etsy shop.  Go check out the shop and in the comments below tell me what item you like the best and why.  Three lucky commenters will receive their favorite item compliments of Auntie B and her appreciation for you.  If there are three or less commenters, everyone’s a winner!

Offer ends at 11:59 p.m. April 1, winners will be notified via e-mail on April 3.  Thank you, and good luck!

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Horrors!

Husby and I were at a craft show where we met a bunch of people right away.  There were two couples working together, two guys working together, and one other guy who was hanging out with one of the couples.  I remember the women’s names, Gwen and Kate.  I can’t remember the guys’ names.

The show was set up on a marina and in the adjacent park.  I was amazed that my assigned space was actually on one of the boats in the marina.  So very cool, and nice that I didn’t have to set up a canopy as everything could be set up under the cover of the boat.  Husby and I set up right away and even though the show didn’t start until the next day lots of people were stopping by to see what I had to offer.

At one point I came to an uncomfortable realization.  I took Gwen aside and said, “I’m so embarrassed, but could you tell me what state we’re in?”  I would have asked Husby but he was off swimming.  Gwen looked at me like I was crazy and didn’t even answer me, as if I didn’t deserve to know.  Such a premiere show and she doesn’t even know what state she’s in?

I decided it didn’t matter, but as Husby and I were sitting around with these seven other people we had met I asked again.  “What state are we in?”  One of the men responded “New Orleans.”  I looked at him and clicked my tongue.  “New Orleans isn’t a state, and besides, if I was in New Orleans I’d know, and this isn’t it”  It was at that point I knew these people weren’t going to be my friends if they couldn’t even help me out in my addle-minded condition.

Husby and I went back to the boat slip where my display was set up.  To my horror the entire boat was gone.  Gone!  Gone with all of my products!

At that point I woke up.  I likened this dream to those where you go to school and realize you have no clothes on, or forgot your locker combination.  I never did find out what state we were in, and when I relayed the dream to Husby he said “I think you were in the state of confusion.”  Ha ha.

Am I having craft show anxiety?  Am I having social interaction anxiety?  Am I having house boat anxiety?  I’m not really sure, but I am sure the dream is anxiety-based.

Funny, I don’t feel anxious in my waking state, but maybe I should pay attention to my subconscious.  First order of business is to be sure to know what state I’m in when at a craft show.  Secondly, don’t trust being set up on someone else’s boat.

Here’s to a week devoted to researching shows to do in the 2013 season.

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It’s a chilly 2 degrees F today, with a windchill of -17.  Do people in Hawaii even know what a windchill factor is?  Suffice it to say we’re having weather fit for perfect preservation.

The missing link, preserved in a block of ice. Apparently.

With such bone-chilling weather it’s hard to imagine that in a few short months I will be outside doing summer shows and festivals, selling my wares. As a matter of fact I’ve already received two applications. One of the shows I’ve decided to bypass, but the other leaves me on the fence and riddled with anxiety over the decision to apply or not. My gut says pass it up, but my head says take a chance.

I was up late last night, scrolling through a list of craft fairs and festivals to take place in Wisconsin this summer. Why do I favor Wisconsin shows more than my own home state of Minnesota? Well, for one thing when I do a show in a different state it’s like I’m having a working vacation. For another thing Wisconsin has a smaller sales tax than Minnesota, which is nice when it comes to filing a sales tax return.

Now is the time of year I have to make some decisions. Business decisions. It makes me feel like such a grown-up, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. I’m waiting patiently for a copy of Midwest Art Fairs to arrive at my house so I can really dig into the festival scene and schedule my summer travels from one craft show to another, to another…

Don’t forget, a schedule of my travels will appear in the 2013 Events page.  It’s empty now, but not for long.  I hope.

Stay warm!

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