Happy 2020, friends! It’s time for a candid business/life post (and my first business blog post)! Buckle up!
Last year was amazing thanks to all of you! Some highlights included increasing my pride item offerings, including making my first wholesale order for proudbears.com; the crazy success at Con Before the Storm and the post-Blizzcon online launch; and expanding further in to the art world with new enamel pins, stickers, and more! I’ve really enjoyed improving my skill in both my arts and crafts, and appreciate all of the support I’ve received!
But there’s definitely a catch. While I am pleased with last year’s results overall, I couldn’t shake the feeling that a lot of my time on the chainmaille side was wasted. It’s just not selling, aside from some key items.
A lot of time goes in to handmade items, especially when building up stock for a show like Con Before the Storm. For example, I spent 14+ hours making 21 baby dragon key chains, so it’s really discouraging when only 1 sells after all that! Unfortunately, there were similar results with many of my new handmade products in 2019.
There’s also been some internal struggles with feeling bad when I’m not working on my shop, posting on social media, etc. I think this is pretty common with artists, but it can be really debilitating and ends up counterproductive. Since I am also working a full-time job, all my free time tends to be spent on business, or at least thinking way too much about it. I’ve barely played any games in the past couple years!
Because of all this, I’m going to take a step back and take a look at how I want to (healthily) run and present this business in the future. Business is business of course, but it should also be fun and fulfilling!
I’m not going to give up on chainmaille, but I will be paring down my offerings quite a bit. I hope to work toward offering more art-based products, which require less manual labor on my part. Plus, art is more unique from person to person, and has a pretty good standard for pricing product. This can’t always be said for chainmaille since much of it is based on patterns, and it’s hard to compete with people who are paying themselves less than minimum wage.
I especially have an interest in making more enamel pins…I have a personal obsession (my collection is…whew, I’ll have to post it sometime)! I’d been hoping since last year to make a Kickstarter to support the creation of my original Ice Cream Kitty designs as enamel pins. I’d still love to do this, and also expand the product line even further with a couple additional designs and products!
I also want to do a small re-brand. Not so much in name, but in appearance. I originally went for a slightly more “elegant” feel…but if I like and make cute things, why is my branding not cute? I have done a little bit of changing it up by using the Moose and Bean mascot heads, but I want to get away from the black.
However, this all brings us to the next point: life. Things have been…interesting. In the last year, our job had two rounds of layoffs in 11 months (my husband and I both work for the same company). Thankfully, we were not personally affected, but it gives us huge concerns, as living in Southern California leaves us with little ability to save without a huge quality of life cut. In the case something does happen, we want to be in a better position to handle it.
We are weighing our options, including the potential to make a big move away from California. Because of this, I really want to take some time away from business and get life in order, purge the excess, get in shape, and relax a bit before that inevitable stress of change hits. I’m not sure how long this semi-hiatus will be, and because of the timing and potential moving costs, I’m not sure if I will even be able to make it to Con Before the Storm this year (I do hope I can, though). I definitely won’t be able to take on any larger projects like a Kickstarter for now.
In the short term, I will be removing anything from the shop that isn’t ready to ship (aside from minor adjustments). Items that I’ve recently gotten in stock that I haven’t put up yet will still be added at some point. Old items which expired from my shop but are still in my inventory will also eventually be posted again, many at discounted clearance rates due to their age and lower quality (I’ve improved over the last 4 years, of course!).
Looking for a lanyard, or something else special? I may still take custom orders depending on the project, so please do feel free to contact me through Etsy, email, or Discord (moosecat#5703) and we can discuss your project!
That’s all I’ve got for now! A bit of a long post, but it’s a lot to process, and I wanted to be sure to make it clear that I’m cutting back the time spent on business things. I just don’t want to run myself in to the ground. I think taking this time away from being a full-time side business will be a healthy move for both myself, and the business in the long run.
Again, I really appreciate everyone’s support!