Today I’m linking up to the first Store Front Meet Up being run by Kelly at Blue Bird Sews
For those of you who are new around here, I’m Katy, and I sell under the name of The Littlest Thistle . My business has up until this point been predominantly making and selling one of a kind artist teddy bears that I design myself from scratch, and make up in a mixture of mohair and faux fur. I sell online at my own website, at specialist bear fairs, and have also had them in an etsy shop (which is currently moth-balled as it wasn’t a successful bear-selling venue). This business is actually just a sideline at the moment as I work full time in the IT industry as a software test lead (one has to put food on the table and keep the roof over one’s head somehow!)
Kelly asked us a few questions, so I shall do my best to answer honestly, and not sugar-coat the truth (I usually do this anyway, as anyone that knows me will tell you!)
What’s coming next?
Well for me, I’m moving away from the bears (see the ‘What’s selling and what’s not working’ section further down). In their stead, I’m working more on bags, pouches and other little items to sell at local craft fairs. There are a lot of things that I see floating around that great interweb that I have not seen available locally at the craft fairs I have attended. I’m not sure if it’s that they won’t sell or just that no-one’s tried – I’m thinking the latter. I’m currently in a design phase for things however, so it will probably be April or so until I have stock for a stall.
I want to do a complete overhaul of the site and the blog design once I’m ready to launch the new stock, and bring my Etsy shop in line too. I’m also considering maybe selling some of my photos. I’ve been asked about them previously, but it’s quite an undertaking finding decent printers who can reproduce the colours well. I also have a pile more photos to add to the site, which will be done at the time of the overhaul. I’m eyeing up either the Easter weekend or the May Day bank holiday weekend for this task I think.
What are you working on now?
As I said above, I’m in design phase for some things, mainly playing with bags and frame purses at the moment, but I have a little list (currently about 100 items long ;o) ) of different things I’ve thought of. There’s no way I’ll make them all now, but I’d like to build up a stock of a variety of things that have been sewn, including, perhaps, some miniature bears around Christmas time. I’ve also been thinking of possibly selling some of my patterns so as I’m designing I’m writing things down, we may be some time!
How are the preparations going?
I’ve been stocking up on fabric supplies with a view to a variety of projects to suit all ages, especially during the Black Friday and post Christmas sales. I also bought a large selection of zips and bag making hardware at various points over the autumn. I now have a list of things I need to get come next pay day, such as thread, fusible fleece and interfacings, none of which are exactly exciting, but are actually integral parts of bag making and sewing in general. Luckily I was able to get a trade account at a craft supply company, so although it means buying in bulk (by the 25-30m roll of interfacing for example!) it is a great saving over buying in a shop.
What’s selling and what’s not working?
What’s selling: Err, nothing right now lol I’m not actually trying to sell right now, well, not actively so, although there are bears currently for sale on the site.
What’s not: My bears. I love them dearly, but they are extremely time consuming to make (I would estimate at least 16-20 hours is spent between designing, transferring patters, cutting out the pieces, basting, stitching, unpicking round 1 basting, basting round 2, stitching round 2, insetting foot pads, stuffing, sculpting the face, sewing the nose, adding the eyes and ears, sculpting the paw pads, jointing, stuffing the body and closing up the bear seams), and they are also not cheap to make, with a fat quarter of mohair retailing at anywhere between £15 (for very short sparse pile mohair for minis) and £40 (for the longer pile and more luxurious finish) Given that one of my larger bears can use up to a half yard of fabric, you’ll be able to imagine what materials alone can cost, and that doesn’t include the ultrasuede or faux cashmere for paw pads, glass eyes, a variety of joints, various weighting materials, stuffing materials and thread. I’m sure I will come back to making them, but probably on a smaller scale (apparently there are only so many people with room for a 2ft bear ;o) )
So there you have it, my plans for the year. I’ll keep you posted in this monthly link up series of how it’s going :o)
Hi Miss LT (use to be Mom),
Well, there is a tiny picture of me, second photo, second row (from top or bottom), extreme left. You didn't have my blankie in the picture.
Oh well….life is wonderful here, and I have my own Blog corner now.
Mom said I must send hugs. But they are little, wee hugs. )o:
Such a pity bout the bears 🙁 But, you have a good point, thats a whole heap of time and outgoings involved. Still a shame tho. Mini's wouldnt work would it?
Woooo, that's so exciting about your expanding to bags and things!
Thanks for linking up a great post Katy! I learned so much about you and what direction you're headed in next. I also noticed that fairs didn't have the cute little things the internet has going on all around and I've had luck in that way so your bags will be a good spot to fill that void. Seems like a big transition time away from bears. They are adorable but just not me — but you can tell the skill and craftsman ship going on there. Good to see how similar the inner workings of the craft shop. Thanks for all the news and insights, hope to see you next month and hear how it's going!
These photos of your bears make for a lovely collection. I took the same path as you but in the other direction – years and years ago. Was making quilts and selling them but not quite as quickly or as well as the bears! My sisters have wandered down the same path as you. Should we meet again sometime, maybe I'll have some of their things to show you. Good luck whichever direction you go. I'm sure it will be very interesting for us followers!
Good Luck with whatever you decide, your bears are absolutely lovely.
As much as I love your bears and let me tell you I'd take every last one off your hands and give them a loving home, I understand the need to change directions. My story is much the same. Although the materials for making my sculptures aren't nearly as expensive as your bear making supplies the time spent in creating each of my pieces makes it nearly impossible to sell them at a price that would fit most peoples budgets and it's not worth the wear and tear on my hands and eyes to continue making. I wish you luck in finding something to do that allows you to put some of that talent and energy you have so much of into something that generates a bit of income as well as being fun to do. Heaps of hugs
What an interesting post K! Its great to see how you are developing your business. Good luck!
The bears are lovely… I had no idea the supplies were so costly! Good luck with the transition. Looking forward to seeing what you've been working on for your new venture.
Good plans, lots of work ahead, good luck.
As you may guess I'm working backwards through missed posts! This is really interesting, sorry about the bears…even just reading about the steps that go into one I'm in awe of your skills! As for the new stock…I wish you all the best..keep us posted on progress..and finally, I didn't know you were IT…that's my background too 🙂 x