Thursday, April 21, 2011

Some thoughts and answers....

Just want to let you in on my plan for the next while... many of you are asking where are the Tshirts and other new things. I am new to doing shows, so still working on how to manage inventory for those and keep Etsy supplied too! Here are some of my thoughts and plans:

What have I been doing lately?

I needed to buy a lot of supply stock now, to work with this summer, so that I will have inventory for fall. I have now been around for a couple of seasonal cycles and am finally getting close to the "make in summer to sell in winter" model! But it takes a while to get to this cycle! When one chooses to use 'found' materials like I do, I also have to get them when I can.

During the summer months it is tough to get sweaters, so I have been off the machine and doing major supply buying the last couple of weeks. Once I have the material inventory, it is really efficient to make up my "bundles" right away rather than put everything away and then drag it out again later to do so. (My family has this thing about wanting to actually use our living room for a living room now and then!!). So I have also been doing that. I now have about 150 bundles ready to start producing sweaters during the summer for fall shows and Etsy.

Where are the Tshirts?

But what about those summer weight Tshirts you all love? Well I do have some bundles ready to go for those also. Now that my sweater bundles are in order, I will be starting some Tshirts next week. I will start stocking them in my Etsy store on May 1rst. I had almost decided not to do Tshirts this year. They are not as fun for me to work on as the sweaters, but I know many of you really love them, so I decided I will offer them again both as shirts and dress length. I can't say that I will be doing them full time though. last year I did that, and it really hurt my sweater inventory when fall came.

My plan is to keep offering and making Tshirts while also building up my sweater inventory, so when September comes, I am prepared with tons of goodies for you. Then, hopefully, during the fall and winter this year, I can start building up the Tshirt stock for next spring. Then I will really have the timing and production on track for both seasons.

List in waves or often, that is the question!

Then there is the timing of listing garments for sale... I go back and forth on this one. The most efficient thing for me is to make a bunch, photo a bunch and then list a bunch... but that makes for waves of new items, rather than new items on a more frequent basis. I could hold the listings and dole them out a couple at a time, but I get so excited to have them for you I just want to list as many as possible! Hope that is okay for you!

At the shows recently, I have realized that I am not the most efficient maker on the block. if I had standardized patterns or jobbed out the sewing, I could be much more proficient. But my items would be far less unique and far less fun to make. There would also be more waste in my process. Right now the materials usually dictate the design and often the size, so that I can use as much of the fabric as possible without providing more fodder for the landfills. Again, not necessarily efficient, but in step with my ideal. So my road to efficiency is the wave approach to making and listing.

FInally, shop affected by shows

My Etsy customers are my 'first born' and I feel an intense loyalty to each and every one. However, shows are a very important part of my sales base. One of the great parts of shows is that while there is travel and displays and numerous other factors involved, there is no photography of the items, description writing, uploading or shipping of the individual items involved. So, I see many people that have separate inventories for show and on-line, or have very little of their show inventory represented in their on-line venues.

I have tried very hard to put up the vast majority of my show merchandise in my Etsy site for at least a short time before taking it to the shows. I hope to continue this, even though it does require a lot of photos and time to list items that would probably sell at the show, and not need this effort. Like I have said, my Etsy customers are very important to me, and I do not take it lightly that they are willing to buy and trust from the internet, so making sure they have the best selection of my inventory is important to me.

Other on-line venues coming up?
It is never a good idea to have all of your eggs in one basket. So beyond Etsy, I have been doing the shows. But so far Etsy has been my only on-line outlet. I do have stores in both Zibbet and Artfire, but as of yet have not put any inventory into them. I will be trying some of these venues out as the year progresses. I may just put scarves and cuffs in those, or may put sweaters in some... I really haven't decide yet. Again, I love Etsy and hope to continue with it as my main on-line venue, but am also open to expansion ideas. I will certainly keep you posted if I do anything.


Carolyn said...

Thanks for the insight into your process and experience. And I LOVE that blue tunic!

J.D. said...

YES !!! bring on the t-shirts please!!

Nancy said...

I can understand al those issues. I'm a patient person and will wait my turn...

jill2day said...

Thanks, Nancy! Timing and the ebb and flow of seasons and supplies is definitely something I am still learning!!