November 25, 2007.
Looking back at the business and how it has grown can make me cry, swear, it can make me groan and it can make wonder how the hell I got this far. In the beginning I feel like I was just throwing stuff out there and seeing if it sold. I never did any research, I never tested the market, I just painted a sample, snapped a photo and stuck it out there.
Were I to do it over again, and the way that I come up with product ideas, and design ideas now - I would never do it that way. It is a little hard to admit that I just designed products in a total vacuum. Not sure if it was bold or stupid - but I did create to create back then. I never sat and thought about the margins, the audience, the cost of creating a new product.
Rough Stone Coasters
I would literally sit with my good friend and sift through magazines, advertisements, catalogs - blurting out crazy ideas until she said, "ya do that". I could not for the life of me decide on what to do with the coasters, all I knew was they were selling well. I was selling them to wineries, boutiques, family, friends, non-profits - they were selling. I just could not wrap my arms around them, it was like I did not have the passion for them.
These were just tiles purchased from Home Depot and then hand painted acrylic paints, wrapped up in some raffia and bingo a hostess gift. I hope I am not giving away any trade secrets, but it was that simple. At the time I was thinking how can I be selling these, when anyone could go and do the same thing?
While spending time opening up new accounts and making new designs I would travel around the neighboring cities doing craft shows. Yes, it is true I did many a Craft Boutique, a Mother's Club event, Purse parties, and even private shows at friend's homes. I know this does not sound glamorous, and trust me it is not. This is how you learn what people want, what they do not want and you get to really know your customer. I still have some customers from that first year I started. It is a very humbling experience - and a different audience then say, selling in a large store, or on the Internet.
Disturbing Working Conditions
I still can not believe that I convinced my husband to build my studio for me in the garage. I am still in awe at the amount of tile I used to paint, cook, ribbon, wrap up to ship or deliver. I used to get marks and cuts on all my fingers, and I would have paint on every piece of clothing I owned. Working with tile like I did can be tad tough on the finger nails too.....hence I was not getting manicures at the time. This picture makes me want to kind of throw up in my mouth a little.
Newsletter for JPD
Today was a big day, I sent out my first ever real newsletter - I feel like such a real business now. I think if you click here you can see what I sent out. I have been meaning to do it for over a year, I usually send out an email to existing customers around this time of the year with a discount - but now we have a real newsletter. If I could only figure out how to put the "opt in for our newsletter" HTML on my blog and on my website I would be soo legit! If the link works - go ahead and use it - an early Merry Christmas!
An Old Favorite
I can not tell you how many of these coasters I sold to friends, family and local boutiques. Sex and the City was a huge deal back then and these coasters were a very popular hostess gift.
Now, this is not what I would sell as part of um, say my children's line - no I am NOT encouraging under age drinking for little Johnny. I am actually doing them for a friend's boutique this Christmas, a favor...and I don't even drink martinis. Okay there was that one year where I had like um, a few too many appletini's - but it was my birthday and not my fault.
I am not sure what to do with them. I am thinking of selling them through the blog and through the newsletter...or just to close friends and family. Or maybe I will give them as gifts to people, I really do not know what will become of them. They have a sister set of wine glasses to go with them - any suggestions? Thoughts?
At least I am creating art to create - that has not happened in a very long time. And trying to paint new designs this time of the year, uh to quote what I said in 1983, "NOT!"