I've been doing this business thing for a little while now and I've quickly learnt that all business is, is making a series of decisions, about everything and anything you could possibly imagine, from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed, and even sometimes in bed in the middle of the night too... there is no right answer, no almighty teacher/authority figure to double check with, and sometimes it really, really sucks. Of course there are a lot of completely unqualified people with loud voices and big opinions willing to tell you the 'common sense' thing to do in any situation, and this sucks too.
My philosophy on business used to be that it was just about parting people with their money, one dollar at a time, and I hated it. I think that this is certainly true of large corporations, and having worked in retail the whole time I was at uni, I dreaded the manager's insistence on 'add-on sales', on the target budget, and how it was always calculated by adding 10% to the takings for the same day the year before, despite the reality of either of those days. But, getting older, I realise that these were just someone's decisions about how to make money, how to grow the business, and that whilst sitting in an office in the city, they probably sounded quite reasonable... and watching the economy doing what it's doing right now, it's pretty apparent that the people making decisions are just people, completely flawed, biased, confused, under pressure, doing jobs that they were hired to do in order to survive in the world. Their preoccupation was probably the same as mine, just getting through each day, and making decisions as they present themselves. And that whilst they may have been wrong in their decision making, they didn't have a rule book to check with either.
So anyway, I'm learning about the joys of competitors copying and undercutting (not personally, but it's certainly alive and well at the markets each week), and of people trying to squeeze you for everything you have, or sometimes don't have. And this is horrible, it can leave you feeling defeated, and super peeved with humanity...
But I'm not like that. I see lots of good in humanity, I am a good person and I know lots of good people... and I'm not interested in entering a race to the bottom, or in taking over the world, and this has to shape the way that I run my business. I will certainly defend my interests, but I'm not interested in purposely attacking others just to make a buck.
So... with this in mind, my decisions are:
1. I'm not going to wholesale my toys to anyone. I have done the figures over and over, and without reducing quality, it's just not viable. I will certainly consider selling small quantities on consignment, and I'm putting together an online catalogue at the moment for that very purpose.
2. I'm going to be selling sewing patterns-- I love designing as much as sewing, and this way people can really understand why I love making toys. I'll be doing the PDF kind and the paper kind.
3. Most of my screen printed fabrics will be sold by pre-order. Less waste, less hassle, less guess work.
4. I'm sticking with quality, generosity and honesty in my products and relationships with customers and retailers
5. I'm going to keep working my butt off until this thing works because I love it and I want it more than I've wanted anything in my life. It isn't a hobby, and it isn't a passing phase. It's me.
p.s. thanks to design candy for the lovely picture in this post!