Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Now Or Never - How I almost Gave up, and The Little Black Bag

2015 was the year of The Ultimatum.

Business hadn't been great. I'd been making a sale maybe once every six months or so. I couldn't really make more stuff, and enjoy it, if they were just going to sit in a pile with everything else. Mr Frog had even gone as far as to say "Nobody wants what you're selling".

I know.

But I wondered if he was right. Briefly.

No. He wasn't. I knew it in my bones. But what I was doing, or not doing, wasn't working and it was time to get serious or let it go.

I gave myself until Christmas to improve business. Six months and if nothing changed, well then Madame Clochette as we know it would be taking a break... to perhaps re-emerge in another form, or not.

I met with a woman named Sandy from the City Council Mentor program and after discussing the current situation my business was in, Sandy deemed Madame Clochette to be a Hobby, not a business, and therefore not eligible for a mentor. I was devastated. But she was right. She suggested a range of things to try in order to change that fact and said she hoped to see me in the near future. To my chagrin, all her suggestions were things I already knew had to be done.

Firstly, I knew I needed a product I could replicate, that could be my "bread and butter" as they say in the biz. Looking at my range, all one of a kind, I realised I didn't have what every woman needs; a Little Black Bag.


This bag is the perfect start to your Madame Clochette collection. The fabric will take you from day to night, and the handles will match whatever you're wearing. And because it's not one of a kind, it's a little cheaper for you, and faster to make for me. Everyone wins!

Meanwhile I decided I needed to actually start marketing my product, rather than just list it on Etsy and hope for the best, which had been my "strategy" up until now. So, with inspiration at hand in the form of a magazine tear sheet,(thank you Dior and Natalie Portman) I prettied myself up and spent a toddler free day pretending to be a model..It was pretty crazy; setting the timer, posing and running back to check the results over and over. Some day I'll miss being the model.

I even started playing around with  Pic Monkey. It's a little bit addictive.

 The L.B.B is now available in store at a reasonable $30... and that now includes your choice of simple gold or silver handles. Just F.Y.I....

When I wander around Spotlight, I marvel at all the pretty vintage inspired fabrics and choose the fabrics I love. That's called shopping for your hobby. Shopping for the business needs to incorporate my own sense of style AND what customers might actually want to spend their hard earned cash on.   I came across the Leatherette collection on the racks at Spotlight. Behold! I originally had designs on the white Pleather, ( I know, mental, but Oh My!) yet quickly came to my senses and grabbed the Pewter, because after a Little Black Bag, a lady needs a little Silver bag. I loved the fabric so much that I made some in Black too... including one just for me. I use it everyday.

Instagram shot of my bag in action, pushing the pram to the park.

I was starting to think like a busniess woman. Like a Boss. I started paying attention to my accounts, recording what went out, and what came in. Meanwhile I'd started making a sale a month. Some were  to friends who like my work and can't resist Snakeskin, others to friends of friends or strangers online. One sale a month, instead of one every six. Things were looking up, but I still had until xmas.

Markets for me have always been pretty hit or miss... mostly miss. I just couldn't get a feel for the one that suited me. In December 2014 I tried out the Kingston Arts Makers Market, held at twilight a few weeks before xmas. It was my best market yet and so I was excited to see how things would go in 2015.

I couldn't have been more surprised. I was BUSY. I sold Book covers, Bags and coin purses.

It was so thrilling. And validating. And a relief.

Mr Frog was, as you can imagine, beyond shocked. And very happy for me.
Me at the market, looking pretty bloody pleased with myself.

 So Christmas came and the verdict is in. Madame Clochette is gearing up for a fabulous year. I've got an actual craft room now (a studio if you will) and I'm all set to start re-stocking Cocktail bags, Book covers and Coin purses.

Isn't it amazing what happens when you actually put your mind to something?

What will 2016 be the year of?

Who knows. But I've got a good feeling.

Did you reflect on last year? What did you come up with?


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