Business Decision Making Time

I’m going to spend a little time today writing out my options and thoughts on the sewing line I want to start in the coming year as an income stream once I am able to move into freelancing full-time again, which will be on top of the freelance design and build work I currently do and will continue to build doing and the alterations I’ll take out of the home, and this will be the bulk of my income while I build up the creative work I do here with writing, art, and maybe someday music without stressing about the income the work here brings in as of yet.

So firstly, I have to pick a direction. I thought that I had, but I’m second-guessing myself now on whether I need to narrow my options more. After a lot of research, it seems like other shops are most successful having one niche thing they do very well, for example, a creator only makes tutus, or waist cinchers and corsets, or capes, or fairy wings, or hair accessories, or purses, etc. Or they focus on a very particular niche market, like horse blankets with a handful of horse accessories, or ice skating costumes, or ballet costumes, or burlesque costumes. Sometimes even more narrowed, like a shop only sells pasties for burlesque, with nothing else. The upsides to having a shop like this are:

  1. You get really really good at something so you can market yourself as an expert and build a reputation
  2. Being really good at something means you learn all the shortcuts you can possibly take and still make a really good product
  3. If it’s a “rinse and repeat” kind of pattern adjustment to create different looks, you aren’t starting from scratch every season to mix up your selection
  4. It’s a lot easier to train potential future employees/family members/friends to help you if the orders start piling up, which is again a time saver
  5. If for some reason you ever want to start mass-producing anything via hiring out a factory (not something I think I’m really interested in), having easily repeatable patterns makes the process much easier

The downside for me though is that the thought of limiting myself in this way bores me. Because my background is in costume design, my initial thought (and what I find much more interesting) was to design an entire look and then offer up the pieces of the look in a shop, and to also include interesting patterns of other things I’ve developed over the years. To have vintage and costume inspired pieces that could be worn in a wide variety of settings, maybe include some men and children’s pieces as well as accessories, and to tie in the designs with some of the work I am producing here eventually as far as inspiration goes. But if I go this route, I may potentially be running into problems down the road.

Part of my concern is that my husband and I already had an online shop, both on Etsy and via our own site, where we sold fairy-related art, costume pieces, and even bath products under our label, and we made it all. And we never were able to really get a good month of sales, in part because we were spread all over the place instead of having a particular focus, and also because we were frequently going for quantity over quality (a mistake I will not be making this time around). So is it narrowed enough to simply stick to sewing/wearable creations under my unique vision, or do I force myself to start very narrowed and see how it goes? Also as an aside, I made up a big batch of a face scrub/mask to give as Christmas gifts, and I had forgotten how much I love to make the bath/beauty products and it would be fun to eventually try selling those again. The recipes I had come up with were really good, but it is such a saturated market. So for the meantime, I will just allow myself to create more of those for myself and for gifts as I can carve out the time to.

Anyway, any of you have any thoughts on this that could help me reach a decision? Do I do what “feels” best to me despite it possibly being more complicated and time-consuming? Or do I follow good examples of other successful businesses and stop being so freaking stubborn in life? It would be nice if something could be easy for a change.

A New Beginning

Today is my last day working a full-time office job, maybe forever (but maybe not – and that is a reality I accept).  It’s a strange feeling.  These are people I’ve worked with and spent more waking hours with than my husband and child for years.  But I feel like none of them, even the ones that I call “friend”, ever knew me.  I was admired for my vintage fashion sensibilities and my smile, praised for my hard work and ability to courteously handle the clients and juggle oh so many duties, and many of them say that I will be horribly missed.  But I was a fish out of water.  I never found a kindred spirit.

We took a DISC assessment a while ago at work, and I was different from every single person.  All of the assistants tended to score high S,C.  I was mid-range D, very high I (almost off the chart), low S, and high C.  A combination of high I,C is unusual, at least in our office.  But what was even more unusual is that they plotted both how we actually are and then how we modify our behavior for our job, and again, with the assistants, their shown behavior was very close to their actual behavior.  I brought my I and C way down and upped my S, which meant 1) I adapt very well to fill any role I’m given (the person giving the assessment called me a chameleon) and 2) I had zero hope of actually feeling fulfilled in my role.  And if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t feel fulfilled in any role here.

So, here we go, leaping into the unknown. We’re developing our business plans.  I’m not expecting to make any significant money under Kat Micari for at least a year, but I look forward to the projects I’m pursuing here.  An Etsy shop will be opened as soon as I release the illustrated poetry collection to sell prints.  And once we’re settled in after our move, I need to set a realistic timeline for writing music, recording a demo, and trying to crowdsource the funds to record my first album.  And we have plans for the creative work I do under my own name.  I still need to keep my Kat persona separate from my actual persona, at least until I know if I have to hunt for a full-time job or not this fall, but I look forward to the day where I can co-mingle the two and cross-advertise.

But anyway, big plans in the work, and back up plans to the big plans, and back up back up plans.  So much unknown about where this path is going to lead us, but we are following it.

Outline for Graphic Novel is Done! And Possession Purging has Begun!

I finished my outline for my graphic novel (possibly also a webcomic) today during lunch.  I’m really excited at how the story has turned out.  My character, who traditionally is a loser, has turned into a hero and savior.  Yay!  I’ll reveal more once the story is written out and the concept art has begun.

We’ve also begun the purging process before beginning to pack.  It feels good to shed some of our worldly possessions, even though the decisions on what to keep, what to store, and what to donate/throw away is difficult.  We’re finally finishing digitizing our VHS collection thanks to a converter given to us a couple of Christmas’s ago, and we went through our vast CD collection and only are keeping those CDs that are sentimental (bands we know personally, my husband’s vast TMBG collection, musical recordings from shows I saw live) or that are fun to grab and listen to in the car.  Everything else is backed up to two external hard drives, so what’s the point of dragging everything with us or sticking it in storage?  Harder still will be going through my vintage clothing collection, our sentimental knickknacks, and our art prints.  And even harder than that will be going through our art supplies.  We need to decide what we’re likely going to use and then pitch anything that is old or just scraps, etc.

As part of the planning what to keep and what to ditch, we are going to be developing a business plan through the end of the year.  So that’s in the works for this week at some point, along with making prototypes and keeping up with the freelance work and starting to pack as well.  Lots of stuff going on.  My coffee and tea intake (already high) has been increasing accordingly, and I am doing my best to eat healthy foods (bone broths, veggies, low-processed foods) to keep myself healthy and strong during this month and a half.