Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Love Elaine Holiday - The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Happy Holidays everyone! I can't believe that Christmas is less than a week away, and that we'll be heading to New Jersey to visit my family on Saturday - just 2 days away! I'm so excited!

The Good - All Christmas Orders are DONE!

As of last night, I finally finished all of my orders for Christmas - it was the best feeling ever, as this Christmas season was by far the worst yet. Why the worst? Well, I'll be honest - it just isn't fun or rewarding for me anymore. And, that was made brutally clear over the past 8 weeks. I singled handedly sewed 25 aprons, 35 stockings, 13 tree skirts, 20 placemats, and 10 bags - I can't believe I did all of that.

If you know a bit of the story of Love Elaine, you know that I started a business almost by accident - as friends and family started asking to pay me to make them something for a gift. It started with bags, then moved to Stockings and Christmas Tree Skirts, and then aprons. And, if you've been following along, you know that over the past 3 years, Love Elaine has been the "little business that could" as it was continuing to move forward with a minimal "effort" on my part to help it grow. To be honest, my marketing strategy has just been to make products and items that I love, list them on etsy, and then the sales come. Which, has been the amazing part to me - that people do love the products and like what I make. That part feels good.

The Bad

However, the reality is that I have put a TON of effort into Love Elaine - for the past three years I have been working 24/7 with very little time to for me to try something new, make something for myself, or just sit and read a book. What most people don't know who buy on Etsy is that I have a full time job in Marketing and Advertising - which is a job that takes a lot of creative brain power and is often more than just 40 hours a week. Over the summer, I was laid off for 3 months and gave the business a shot to be my "full time" gig - and I learned a valuable lesson that at my current pricing, it will never be able to support me because expenses are just too high and labor is too expensive.

The Ugly

So, at the end of October, I had the opportunity for a full time position again, and I jumped. After I had already committed to taking orders and ramping up for Christmas orders on Etsy - the perfect storm if you will of lots of orders and greatly reduced time all at once. I've been spending the last 8 weeks making up for that - staying up until 3 AM most nights sewing, spending my entire weekend ironing, sewing, etc. with no help - just me. And, people were very unhappy. Which, I understand, but the messages of gratitude I used to receive with how much my customers loved their items were quickly replaced with borderline harassment and threats over their orders. I've been called a liar, unprofessional, a scam artist, a thief - you get the idea. I tried my best to communicate regularly - but it really came down to spending valuable time in front of the sewing machine vs. time on the computer.

I'll be honest - I've learned so many lessons this year, and these last 8 weeks in particular. I've learned that I'm great at designing and making items, and I'm great at communicating with customers - I am just TERRIBLE at doing them both at the same time under a deadline. So, while I like to pretend I'm super woman, I'm only human.

So, with that, I wanted to let you know that Love Elaine will be on a bit of a hiatus for a while. If I'm going to move forward with this business, there are many changs that need to be made, and I with another new job starting in a few weeks- I just don't have the time or energy to make those changes now. My etsy shop and my fabric shop will remain open, as all items are in stock and ready to ship - but I won't be adding anything new for quite a while.

In the meantime, I'm going to take some time to sew for me, make a few gifts, try a few new ideas that I've had in my head for a while - and read a good book, take a vacation (hopefully!) and celebrate a new decade with my 30th birthday coming up. I'll be blogging and facebooking - so please do keep in touch.

Happy Holidays!

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