Change is good.

This web stuff is not easy. Even though we’ve used do-it-yourself templates, building a small, simple and modest site takes time. We have a new-found appreciation for web designers. It’s taken a week for us to build our site using DIY tools. Yola is great. And we’re not just saying that because our friend Laura works there. And we’re not getting paid to promote them either. They answer our questions and they answer them quickly. It’s nice to know we’re not alone and other people have the same problems, too.

We moved away from blog format and combined our on-line shop and main site into one. The on-line shop is now more of a custom offering. The plan is to continue to add tried and true styles to the custom shop. Our new homepage has a link to Facebook, Twitter, our blog, our Flickr account and our email. Our blog is staying with WordPress because we’re used to their format. Only thing is our blog address isn’t anymore, its, but you probably don’t need to know that. Most seem to access our blog posts from Facebook. We haven’t used Flickr in years, mainly because there was never much need to and partly because it seemed very complicated at the time. Now that we’re re-visiting, it looks like they’ve changed things around and made it more user-friendly. Or maybe we’re just not as dumb as we once were. Any case, we like Flickr now and will be adding photos of bags and fabrics as they come up. We’d like it to be a gallery of past, present and future.

There are still some coding things that we can’t figure out, even though we’ve scoured the internet for answers. We’re seeking help and have posted our plea on forums. One night we were up until 5AM trying to figure out how to make our hyperlink blue. Sounded easy and we thought we were doing everything we were supposed to be doing. We asked the forum for help. And even though we received an answer, it didn’t fix the issue. Not because it wasn’t right answer, but because we didn’t ask our question correctly. After screaming really mean things at our laptop and pulling out our hair we finally figured out our code was just in the wrong order. So we’re quite relieved (actually, thrilled is more like it) that we can move on to the next thing and check this off our list. The funny thing about website building is it’s never 100% finished, because there’s always going to be changes, updates and improvements. Sooo… there’s that to look forward to. We like our new site much better than what we had. It feels more personal… more who we are. But that’s just our biased opinion. It’d be nice to hear what you think. Take a look-see.


Thinking out loud.

For the majority of this post, I’m going to write in the first person. I know… really flying off the handle here.

When I first started this whole shindig, I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was that I liked to make things. I still don’t know what I’m doing, but at least I’m learning some things here and there. I never would’ve dipped into HTML had it not been for this. I never would’ve needed to worry about CNAME, DNS or any of that other alien stuff. I never would’ve had to source materials, figure out my pricing structure or rearrange my house. Even though I don’t believe in NYE resolutions, I did jot down some goals so I wouldn’t forget. I want to blog more (3x a week minimum), I want to tweet more (1x a day minimum), I want to do at least two major shows and get into at least two new brick n’ mortar stores. Other things that were default were figuring out my line and revamping my website. It’s a short list of straightforward goals, so it seems. But really, who am I fooling. I’m only one person. I can’t be in five places at once. I work a full-time job in addition to Timmy Mays. I can’t operate on three hours of sleep for months on end. I’ve already tried that and it didn’t go well. I wish I had an extra eight hours in my day. I wish I could snap my fingers and… voila!! I wish I didn’t need sleep, food or bathroom breaks. But wishing is one thing and doing is another. And realistically, I can’t do everything I want to do unless I take methodical baby steps. Easy come, easy go. Slow and steady wins the race. March to the beat of your own drummer. Okay. Enough with the whining already.

I first opened up the on-line shop because I had a bunch of stuff to sell. As I started to venture into boutiques, I realized it didn’t make sense for me to keep any inventory when it would be better off in a store. A full-blown on-line store works if people know it exists (that’s another thing I have to tackle). Truly, the only reason for me to keep any inventory was so I had something to show when I did fairs. As I continued to put things into stores, my on-line inventory dwindled. The sales I’ve done outside on my own have mostly been custom. This is good and bad. Custom is great because it’s a sure deal, it’s tailored to you and I already know you’re going to like it, but custom does take more time. The opposite is true of ready-made. I know I like it, but who else out there will? It’s more of a gamble I guess, but that’s the nice part about being in the boutiques. I can be chancy and try different things. Eventually (hopefully), someone comes around and feels drawn to it and takes it home. So, I’ve decided it really doesn’t make sense for me to have a separate store. Instead, I’m going to try to combine my blog, store and website into one.

That leaves me to wonder what I’m going to do about fairs. According to my goals, I’m supposed to do two large events this year. I already need at least two dozen items to fill one table at a small event. Doing a huge event is going to require much more than two dozen items to fill my booth. I don’t know what the magic number is, but if I had to guesstimate… maybe to the tune of one hundred-fifty bags, one hundred at minimum. Assuming a show will last through a weekend and the space I’m assigned is quite large, one hundred to one hundred-fifty isn’t that much. Although, it’s a lot for me to make and stash somewhere in my small living quarters. Yeah. I don’t know about this goal. Maybe just one large event at the end of the year is more feasible. But even then, what would I make?

I think this is where having a line comes into play. I like a lot of things. Too many things. Brights, darks, greens, blues, earthy, organic, geometric and modern are just a few. I can’t (and shouldn’t) cram everything I like into my offering. And certainly, I can’t whip up a story and say ‘here… this is what I do’, because I’m still way too new at this. Building a line takes time, years of practice and a little knowledge wouldn’t hurt either. It needs time to form, requires trial & error and needs to speak to my audience. It has to be cohesive. Hmmm… I think this is what they call branding. This is not easy to do. I don’t know much about branding, but I’ve been reading up on the internet and observe what others are doing. Not everything I make is pretty enough to put out there. Sometimes it looks better on paper, other times it looks weird on the body or worse, it’s just plain ugly. Having pretty product is great, but how to convey your image in a photo or on a website? Can I afford to spend money on extravagant props and a professional photographer? Big fat no. Through this, I’ve also become best friends with my camera. I’ve actually had to learn how to use it.

I’m lacking in discipline when it comes to blogging and tweeting. I’ve been very loose about the schedule I supposedly set for myself when it comes to social media. I may spend three consecutive nights locked in my studio and inadvertently neglect my blog. Other times I just don’t feel like talking (or writing), so I’ll purposely busy myself with other things. Or maybe I really do want to blog but have spent too much time working on other things and now it’s 3AM and I just want to go to bed.

Anyway, as I was dragging my sleep deprived ass around the office today, I found inspiration in a Nordstrom catalog. I especially like the convertible tote. I did something like this last summer, but I didn’t do it quite right. It was a mixture of fabric and leather, but this time I’m going to attempt all leather. The coated print canvas bags are kinda cute; mostly I was attracted to the neutral color scheme. I’ve always been a fan of earthy tones, khaki, olive greens… they’re so easy to wear and they go with just about anything.

This much is true.

Things we don’t like: okra, Celine Dion, making several of the same thing over and over and over again. We’ve been trying to get through a small batch of Tripper for the past couple weeks. We’ve realized that being a mass producer or manufacturer is not something we enjoy. We get satisfaction from turning a flat design into a real life usable object. Like, hey… we drew this… and then we made this… wow, we’ve accomplished something and now we can move on to the next project. Not, hey… we drew this… and then we made this… and now we’re going to make ten more of them. But if we don’t do it, nobody will. That’s the part that sucks. We’re at our own mercy. Sunday we did absolutely nothing. Actually, we take that back… we woke up at noon [with hangover], ate, read, napped at 4pm, woke up at 7pm, ate, went to bed at 11pm. We were awake for approximately 8 hours and no cutting, sewing or working of any kind got done. So tonight we felt had to crack our own whip and do some work. We’ve got 2 projects going and almost started a third. We stopped ourselves from starting a third and asked ourselves… why are we starting another project when we obviously have other ones we could be working on? The answer was simple. Because we’re bored and tired and don’t want to work on the projects we’ve started!! Lucky for us, tonight was a good night to have two projects going at once. The leather prototype needs tassels. We’ve searched the web for tassel tutorials and either haven’t found any we like, or the ones we like won’t work with leather. So we’re going to do it our way, whatever that may be. First, we had to use some adhesive which requires 24 hours of drying time. While that was setting, we went back to work on the small batch of Trippers. We have to be honest and fair to ourselves. Things we know we need: sleep, food, variety. We’re going to allow ourselves to have multiple projects going at once, as long as we finish them. ALL of them.

This is going to be tough.

Blogging 3x a week is going to be harder than we thought.  We never realized how time-consuming blogging is until we started blogging.  Now we have a new-found respect for people who are full-time bloggers that blog several times a day.  It’s hard enough as it is being tied to our normal 9-5 job then coming home to work, blog, work, think… exhausting.  We have no idea who reads our blog [aside from the faithful few, thank you kindly], but strangely we feel as if we’ve let someone down if we don’t blog often enough.  Honestly, the last thing we wanted to do today was to come home and do more work.  Yikes.  Is that what it’s come to?  Work?  We don’t want to think of what we’re doing as work, but really… who are trying to fool.  It is work, isn’t it?  OK.  Stop.  Enough ranting.

Today we came home to continue work on a new prototype.  So far it’s been a royal pain in the ass.  This is the first bag we’ve attempted to make entirely out of leather.  Many, many, too many chicken scratches on napkins and random scraps of paper later, we decided on what we thought would be a straightforward, clean design.  But it never fails, the first go-round is usually a nightmare.  We’ve incorporated the use of binding tape this time.  We’ve never used binding tape before.  Apparently, we don’t know HOW to use binding tape correctly.  Now we have to think of a way to cover up the mess… maybe we’ll just leave it.  It’s a prototype.  It’s supposed to look like an experiment, right?  Right.  The outer shell is 75 percent complete, but the remaining 25 percent is going to be the most annoying.  Then there’s the inside, which we haven’t tackled yet.  Why do we feel like today is a Monday?  We sound like a crabby blogger.  Lack of sleep is taking its toll earlier than usual this week.  This is why we have to work by candle light while we listen to smooth jazz.  Serenity now.

A new year.

We don’t make new year resolutions because we can never keep them.  Although, we would like to blog more often [at least 3x a week], finish what we start and stop procrastinating.  Those are things we should be doing anyway, so we’d rather call them commitments.  Adding to the list: don’t fear commitment.  Happy 2011.