November 9, 2009.
The expression, ignorance is bliss holds true for most major life changing events. I can say that in my life it has been true; marriage, child birth, parenting, aging, starting a business - that stupid sappy Rod Stewart song about, If I knew then what I know now....ya I may need to download that song before I get too old. What good ol' Rod is saying is, us youngin's be dumb, or at the very least blissfully ignorant to what the future has in store for us.
I am a firm believer that had I known what life had in store for me I might have taken a pass and spent a few days (years) under the covers. Thankfully I have no time machine, nor am I able to look in my crystal ball and tell what I did right or wrong. I am living in the moment, I have made mistakes, I have taken chances, I have fallen down. The good thing is I am not playing with anyone's life (or life savings) so I have gotten up, dusted myself off and continued on.
Back in My Day...
The older I get, the more I tend to repeat myself. I don't know if it because I am tired or just that my mothers voice keeps ringing in my ears. I am not sure why the older we get we just talk about how it used to be, or the good ol' days - but I have a good enough sense to point it out (before my husband does) and it was better a few years ago. Our industry was bursting at the seams with excitment, publicity, new products, new sales channels - it was exciting.
When I started JPD I was so excited, so passionate about every little aspect. Whether it was a new product, a new account, some press - it was so new, so exciting. Figuring out how to do an electronic newsletter was huge.......now ah, been there done that. Sales would double year after year - we would get a new sales account weekly - things were humming along, it was hard not to be excited.
Now, not much gets me excited.....okay truth be told Dr. Phil did get me excited and I still get geeked up over new designs. I love designing products, working on color schemes, creating a new product - that I enjoy. The every day stuff, the work I do now with the Economy down - a must, but not as much fun. It is what it is - this is true, I just don't do it all that well, or enjoy it.
The SevenYear Itch
I know the 7 year itch is supposed to refer to a marriage that is on the rocks, or just not great. I don't even remeber where we were or what we were doing when we had our 7 year anniversary, but for my business I knew it was this year. The 7 year mark - it is here and I know it. I revel in it and I dread it. This has been a tough year, a very, very tough year. To those that say the Recession is over or better yet we did not have one, to you I say, "Pssssssssssssssst! (raspberry or sticking my tongue out at you if you need a visual)" That is the best I can do without swearing like a sailor. It is so not over and it may be getting better, but not quick enough.
We (only me now) did come up with new products this year, but the climate has changed. When our channels are trying to make ends meet and just push product adding my 20 new designs is not always a priority. I don't know if it is because I have so many designs, or people are tired of my products. I do know that when I sent out our email about drop dead dates for the holiday and to intorduce new products that 16 came back as undeliverable - that means 16 businesses went under since my last email - that was just this summer!
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, Turn and Face the Strain
It is not so much a matter of life and death, but more a choice of survive or fail. Success is my only option, Failure is not an option for me. (I am starting to sound like an Eminem song....right?) I will not go down without a fight, nor will I let all my hard work be for not . It would be easy to just pull the covers over my head and ignore what was happening - but I refuse to be that girl. I refuse to accept that end of my story - it will not end that way.
In the next six months or so there will be some major changes at JPD. I am hoping that it goes as planned - but I do not know if it will - I am just guessing here but nothing goes as planned right? We have a number of options on the table right now. Some are exciting, some are scarry, some are just damn depressing. We need to look at all of our options, we need to see what is the best thing to do. The dumb entrpreneur refuses to look at the options on the table - I am not that person. I am lookng at all our options - even the ones I do not want to look at.
The Last of the Mohicans
This year we have lost some giants in our industry. We have watched some stores go away in a flash, others just did a quick midnight move. Artisans have licensed their art, others have given up on wholesale. I have sat by and watched, I have winced, I have cried. I have envied some and I have felt deep sorrow for others. But, mostly I have felt frustration, frustration at the Economy, frustrated by dwindling sales, and frustrated that I am still doing this after seven years.
Looking around at less competition on some sites, less websites and physical stores I suppose attrition is good. I suppose that it is just a cycle that all industries go through. For me though it makes me mostly sad, and makes me question a lot of what I do. It makes me wonder if those that got out were smart? Or lucky? Is licensing really going to make as much money as manufacturing? Is just designing as rewarding as the whole process of selling a real product to a customer?
Only Time Will Tell
Holiday sales are starting to pick up for us. We have some possible exciting new channels for 2010. Another fundraiser Wall Tile project for another local school will keep me busy for the next few months. And as the changes come (and they will) I will keep you posted. If one thing stays the same it is that I can NOT keep my mouth shut about it.