11 December 2007
The Quiet Time
As those of you who read my blog yesterday will know, I spent most of the last few days sitting with the littlest one on my lap. Lovely on the one hand as I not only got those cuddles, but time to think as well. Unfortunately the other hand provided the downside; this time to think meant my mind dwelt on the problem of what seems to be referred to in small business land as 'The Quiet Time' - specifically January and February. Now I have worked hard to avoid thinking about this for now as it has taken all my energy to get this project off the ground and keep up with the unexpected (but lovely) early success of it. This is not how I usually work. I worry over a problem until I come up with a few possible things to try, decide on the one that appears to offer the most possibilities and then give it my all. This time I think it feels too big or maybe I am just a bit tired; either way, I have swerved around the problem of The Quiet Time and left it well alone for the moment...or so I thought. Yesterday the Quiet became a booming noise insistently crashing in my brain, refusing to be quelled and demanding to be dealt with.
I wonder what other small businesses of a similar ilk do in these months when we all nurse our over-stretched purse strings? I guess established groups have long term custom that call for those gifts/birthday presents/treats that sell all year come what may, but when the business is as new as mine (still only 3 months) then this is unlikely to be the case. One avenue I hope may help a little is the NoTHs 'store' which I joined recently, but the bulk of their sales also come in the lead up to Christmas and so I expect a drop off there too.
Of course, this could be a wonderful time for exploring new designs for the Spring, a time to play with fabrics and let the imagination become immersed in the warmer months without the pressure of fulfilling orders needed in a hurry....that's if you live in the land of Country Living (where I would sooo love to live!) and have a hubby who works in the City or is a property developer or...well, you get the gist. Many of these people we read about have another string to the financial bow in terms of a partner with fairly substantial earnings. Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to belittle what these people do just point out that the risk is not the same. For us, as with so many of you, the business is a huge risk as we need the income. Should I be doing this or should I be going back to a regular wage? With the instant orders that rolled in it has been easy to believe I am doing the right thing - that was until The Quiet Time shouted in my ear.
I have a few things up my sleeve, one of which is going onto my website later today -my Heirloom Cloth (shown in yesterday's pics for some reason!). This has been something of a pet project of mine, tried and tested on a wide group of people in Cornwall and seems to have struck a cord in a way I hadn't quite expected. The notion was simple...a cotton cloth which I send out complete with indelible pen which your family/friends/whoever is around your table sign and which is then returned to me in the bag provided to have the names embroidered as a permanent reminder, as an heirloom to be passed down through the years. I sold some and was pleased with the reactions to the idea even from people who I admit I thought would not particularly want this kind of thing. Word spread a little and I sold a few more. Now I am beginning to think I am on to something as I have been asked by quite a few people for one of these cloths. Some want to know if the names can be embroidered in colours; others want to know if they can have messages. One lady wanted to know if I could scallop the edges and did I know how to do drawn threadwork (where you create decorative holes in the cloth). The answer to all these was yes and so the Heirloom Cloth was born and will bring in a tiny, but important nonetheless, income in The Quiet Months as these cloths return for their names to be stitched.
Just need to think of a few dozen more of these Good Ideas!!!!
Ps. If you are after a gorgeous Christmas door wreath and can't make your own have a look at the ones made by Jane of Snapdragon; they are truly beautiful - the best I've seen - and there's still time to order!