03.05.2017

What’s the Deal?

sewingmachine.jpgIt’s been an excruciatingly long time since I last posted and I am sorry for that. I had been on a pretty good roll and then life happened, as it so often does, and I’ve just been distracted ever since.

In that time, I launched my new business venture, Epic Penny Pet Accessories, specializing in 100% handmade pet accessory products, safe for all breeds of dogs.

I manufacture my pet accessories out of bright and exciting cotton prints built upon an animal grade polypropylene core.

There’s no reason why you should have to sacrifice style for comfort!

I launched the business on February 1st 2017 and so far things have been going very well. I am set up on Etsy, as well as my own dedicated dot com location, and I have been getting sales on both platforms.

Presently, I am preparing for some real life company appearances at an upcoming fair and at the Toronto Arts Market.

I am incredibly behind on sewing. I worked it out, many weeks ago, that I had 20 days of available ‘prep time’ and then I would have something like 50 days to create a minimum of 1 item per day in order to be ready for the fair I am preparing for.

Day after day after day went by and I still wasn’t getting off my ass to start cutting interfacing and my fabrics.

While I am not technically wasting my time, as I have been labouring over my computer working on social media sharing, configuring apps in my store, blogging, site edits, and etc, at this point, it is still no excuse to not be working on toward my manufacturing goals.

I will be going to Welland next weekend for another marathon sewing session with my mom in hopes of catching up to my time line goals. I am hoping that she and I will get me onto a roll that I will be able to continue once I am back in Toronto.

Another important task that has been put on the back burner is a lifestyle photo session with my furry family. I need site images for the slide show on my website and I would like to update my Instagram feed with some consistent images of the dogs against a white background, which will match my product shot already in the feed.

That has been a difficult task to accomplish because setting up the photo backdrop is really a two person job and Johnny just hasn’t been available lately. I will have to reserve him for a couple hours on his next available ‘free day’ over the coming weeks.

I need the new inventory first, or else we will have nothing to photograph.

It’s a total chicken before the egg conundrum.

In addition to the fairs and Arts Market that I am presently creating merchandise for, I am also in the process of rolling out the Epic Penny wholesale program. I think that I have even achieved my first wholesale client! We are just waiting for an opportunity to have a face-to-face meeting so she can have the product in her hands before she makes her final decision.

I believe in my product and am incredible confident that it will be a done deal once she is able to appreciate the construction of my items.

All of these opportunities have got me considering bringing on a staff person, perhaps by the end of March. I am reaching this milestone WAY earlier than I could ever have anticipated.

I have decided that I will be seeking to recruit a young-ish (around my own age) immigrant female who will preferably have experience working on a commercial machine. If not, that’s fine.

We can learn how to master the beast together.

I plan to go through a Toronto organization called Sistering to find the winning candidate. They have programs that help immigrants assimilate and get job training, like sewing!!

It really has the potential to be a perfect match. I hope so. I don’t want to have to go through a dozen people, just to find the one person that I am forced to settle for.

I would much rather put together a detailed job description that carefully outlines every aspect of my business and the potential responsibilities of the new hire so that that person can either agree or disagree to take the job with confidence.

I’m sure I’ll find someone.

Another goal that I have set out for myself involves transitioning my business out of our apartment and into a rental location. I found an artist’s collective on Dufferin that would be perfect for my company’s minimum requirements.. and it’s available on the cheap!

I am pretty sure that I was quote $630/month for a 100 sqft space, which includes tax, wifi, 24/7 access, insurance, access to public workspaces and kitchnette, storage space.. and I think that’s it.

I would like to make the move into my own dedicated workspace by July. That gives me plenty of time to acquire some solid wholesale accounts and for me to get a feeling of if and when and how often these accounts would be reordering.

By that time, if I am experiencing success at the Toronto Arts Market, I may also pursue setting up shop at some of their other locations.

There is also the Toronto Designers Market. It is a couple hundred bucks more each month over the Arts Market, but it’s set up at a great location and I would be in very good company among the vendors that are presently exhibiting there.

So what happened to all of he exciting projects that I had been eluding to over on this blog before my hiatus??

Believe it or not, I am still hanging onto those dreams.

I plan to relaunch the Tickety Boutique just as soon as I am a little more settled with operations at Epic Penny.

I am still in the process of automating things like social sharing via Buffer and other various automated necessities that are handled by some of my Shopify apps.

Once those tools are fully functional and operating in concert with each other, I will have time to breathe and to begin thinking of other projects.

I highly doubt that Rise (my financial lenders) would agree to fund another project of mine so early on in the life of a company that they financed. I am certain that they would see that as a terrible risk and would probably think that I was losing interest in Epic Penny.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. I really believe that I have found my stride with Epic Penny. I feel that I have an eye for fun and exciting prints that have mass appeal and I know that I have the skill to create a quality product that is consistent and worth its price tag.

I just think that I am capable of doing more and I don’t want to limit myself.

The Tickety Boutique is basically a continuation of The Rag Boutique, which means that it is an endeavour that I have been pursuing for nearly 15 years.

I would just like to give that business a fair shake! I can’t really remember what caused me to fail in Manitoba, but it very likely had to do with my mental health.

My most recent attempt at nurturing that business was side swiped, once again, by health issues. It never had a chance at getting off the ground.

I feel I owe it to myself to give it another go. I believe in the product. Even more so, now that I have decided to take a ‘punk rock feminist granny chic’ spin on things. It’s a fresh idea. Unique. And I think it will fly.

Since Rise will likely not invest in the Tickety Boutique, I will have to wait until Epic Penny is profitable so I can invest that money into my other projects.

I don’t have a timeframe of when I am expecting that to happen. I know that I am hoping to blow my financial projections for year one out of the water, but I have a ways to go. At present, I am doing quite a bit worse than I had forecasted I would.

I believe that it’s just growing pains and that once my ads start appearing to people for 4th and 5th time, I will get some of that traffic and will be able to convert them into sales.

We’re in a brand new month and so far, March has been great to me. I’ve gotten 4 sales in two days, with some abandoned carts that I am fairly certain will be returning to complete their purchases. Fingers crossed.

Anyway, as much as I would love to sit around and blog all day, it’s time that I got back to cutting and sewing.

I appreciate all of my readers who kept checking in for updates on the blog and I truly apologize for being away for so long. I am planning to take my blogging to the next level in 2017 and I hope you will come along for the ride.

The next several months are sure to be very interesting.

Allison

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