December 13, 2007
I think it has been written about over and over about how I came to meet London Edwards. London was my "biggest (and only) fan" about a year ago. She even wrote me an email telling me how much she loved the blog. Had London not reached out to me, I would not have had the guts to reach out to so many other artists, crafts people and talented designers today. I am so thankful to her for her having the guts to send me that email.
I have been so lucky to have gotten a great friend from this blog. The fact that someone I considered competition is now one of my very best friends may seem odd to some. I do not consider her my competition - we both believe we compliment each other. I also know so much about her that she is forced to stay friends with me.....kidding, but having an ally is a great help when you feel like you are an island.
I am hoping this interview does not reek of nepotism....do read her story, she has much to teach all of us! Now, drum roll please....I would like to introduce you to London Edwards, owner and founder of My Little Dish.
London Edwards, owner & founder of My Little Dish
I had an idea for a product and was encouraged by family and friends to sell them. I did a lot of research before I started. One, to see if there was anything out on the market like it, and two, to learn about the wholesale industry. I had managed retail and worked in marketing for other companies, but had never had my own business. I also had never done much in ceramics, so I had to learn that as well. After all my research, I decided it was worth the investment and immediately began selling wholesale.
Over the past 6 years the industry has changed a little. It's had it's ups and downs due to fluctuation in the economy. One change that I've noticed considerably is the purchasing habits of the retailers. When I began, I immediately jumped on the wholesale trade show bandwagon. It was much better in the earlier days that it is today. It wasn't that shows cost less, they were still as extremely expensive than as they are today, but orders weren't as scarce as they are today.
My first few trade shows were very busy and he orders I took at the show covered the cost of the show, including travel and hotel. The shows that I've done over the past few years have not even covered my expenses. It was apparent at this last show I did this summer. Foot traffic was down and the average order was a lot lower too. My guess is that retailers are feeling the crunch of the on line buyers and keeping their stores open on days they used to be closed. I also think that some of these stores are doing there searching and purchasing on line as well. I get wholesale requests frequently from boutiques across the United States, much more than I did 6 years ago.
My favorite part of my job is creating. I love creating new designs and thinking of new items and new ways to market and sell. All of this requires an enormous amount of research, but to me, it's a blast. To be able to sit at my computer, or with my paints, and just play - I love that. I feel like I'm playing hooky when I do it, but it recharges my battery.
What it Takes Day to Day
My least favorite part of owning my own business changes from time to time. What is my least favorite thing today, wasn't a year ago. I really don't like filling orders. I know this sounds crazy, but painting the same things over and over is just dreadful. Especially when I know there are so many other important things that I need to be doing in order to grow my business. Now, that doesn't mean I don't like dealing with my customers. I love that. I love talking to them, finding out what they need and being able to tell them I can do it. But actually painting the plate is not my favorite thing. I enjoy handling it over to my painters and letting them do what they love - painting. So, I can get back to creating.
All sorts of things inspire me, it' funny because my boys are in the tween/teenage years, so half of the stuff I look at it isn't something that I would even buy anymore. I can find inspiration in clothing , books, magazines and even movies. I try to stay on top of the industry and keep current with the trends. For instance a few years ago, the prince and princess themes were all the rage. I pained so many darn prince/princess plates I thought I was going to die. But today, the simpler designs are selling best for me. I check out the colors for the year and what is the newest combinations of colors and try to create new designs using these colors.
Balance Running a business
Luckily my kids have been in school for a while, so during the school year, balancing is pretty manageable. It gets a little crazy during their sports seasons and especially if they run concurrently with my busy season, but at least I can work while they are in school.
During the summer, it is a whole other story. It's tough. I live in my car getting all three boys where they need to be or if I'm not doing that, I have a house full of kids running in and out. I'm the kool-aid house it seems. At least I know where they are and what they are doing, something I wouldn't have if I worked in an office somewhere else and for someone else. Over the past six years they have really grown up with this business, so they really don't know anything different. It would be strange to them, not to have stacks of paints and plates every where or not to have UPS at the door for a pick-up.