Do I Take The Risk?

Because BLW isn't just for lentil-weavers. Some of us like to piddle about with bits of felt and sticky-backed plastic as well.

Do I Take The Risk?

Postby KatGoldLIN » 02 Aug 2013, 14:40

I need some advice and I don't know where else to go.

Here is the situation. I have been asked to teach workshops at the Glasgow Country Living Christmas Fair. Quite a big deal and it will be a great opportunity to promote my work.

In return, I get a stall at the fair. The Fair in glasgow at least is HUGE! Upmarket, packed to the brim, an amazing opportunity. I will be selling books and my mother in law's range of yarn. I don't know about down south, but up here, it is essentially THE craft fair.

What I don't know is if I should try and stock kits. There is no question that they would sell. They are a good product and have been very popular. I have worked hard to make the margins decent and really refined the instructions and materials. However, I do not have the funds to make them up in bulk. I have to do very small print runs, etc because I can only reinvest what comes into the account. I still iron on logos on my bags and hand pack everything.

If I want to go big, I need to get some investment. Given my recent track record, I bet I could get a business loan from the bank. But, considering the whole point of the business was to get us out of debt, I am nervous. We still live very much hand to mouth and a failure could make a big impact. Running the stall in and of itself is going to cost (signage, displays, staff) and while MIL is paying for some of it, I would need a fair whack o cash to get it all going. Even then, it still would have a bit of a handmade feel to it, as I simply can't invest in super posh packaging.

I've never done a craft fair before, so I worry about the time and risk involved. My autumn is so packed full of work, already I struggle to see when I would have time to plan it all. However, that said, I could really do with an injection of cash that selling well at the fair would do. And more over, it does feel like I should go big or go home on the kits, as the time they take needs to be worth it.

Sorry to ramble here, I don't really want to post much on the forum any more, as I don't want to be awkward and use it for work and that is all I really do...
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Re: Do I Take The Risk?

Postby Lily » 02 Aug 2013, 14:55

Sounds like a brilliant opportunity, congratulations!

KatGoldLIN wrote:And more over, it does feel like I should go big or go home on the kits, as the time they take needs to be worth it.

This bit stood out for me. Basically, it sounds as if this is a decision you'll have to take sooner or later anyway - either take a risk on the kits, or leave them behind and focus on other things. And if you're ever going to take the risk, this seems like a good time to do it, as you'll have the guarantee of immediate sales to start getting some cashflow going.

Also, as a customer, I think kits might make your stall more appealing than just books and yarn - it will give less experienced crafters (or less imaginative gift-buyers) more of a sense that they can get going on a project.

I think I'd go for it, as long as the loan wouldn't be overwhelming.
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Re: Do I Take The Risk?

Postby jvnt » 02 Aug 2013, 14:59

Off to bed now so will keep it short. Immediate thought is yes to the business loan, after a point of success it is a false economy not to invest (and you are successful) I have a couple of friends whose businesses have really taken off and that has been their take away. To value your own time properly and Invest in yourself when the time is right, worst case is they don't all sell at the fair but its a product you know will sell eventually so you will make the money back over time. Use some of the loan to pay someone to pack the kits for you and obvs work it into the cost (I know you know that) your time is worth more and better spent elsewhere.

Keep the handmade feel.

Eta: also you should be able to increase your margin on the kits when you buy the supplies in bulk.
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Re: Do I Take The Risk?

Postby Seriously_Nutty » 02 Aug 2013, 15:14

Explain the kits to me..... I need more information. How much time does it take to 'make' one so to speak..

Normally my attitude is life is too short, just do it but my worry is the stress/childcare etc and time to create these kits. Do you have the time if you had the money. I have no doubt you can and will make a good living off your craft talent but I am not sure if this is the right place to sink your money or not.

So considerations:
Time to make kits
Cost of materials that go in them
Margin on them inc covering time cost obv
Loan and interest charges, term etc.

I want to say GO FOR IT because you are so hugely talented but I just don't want you to destroy yourself through you have the childcare for this commitment?
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Re: Do I Take The Risk?

Postby CherryPop » 02 Aug 2013, 15:20

My initial reaction is go for it.

Hobbycraft have just started selling kits for that Boodles yarn (the t-shirt one), you get a couple of rolls, a hook, a pair of handles and a pattern to make a bag. As an experienced crocheter, I would still buy one, and I'm sure amateurs do too. Could you tie it in with your MILs yarn, to cut down on investment costs? So you'd have to supply the hooks/patterns/packaging, but her input would be the yarn, and you'd split the proceeds?

I wouldn't worry at all about professional looking packaging - I think the more homemade the better, and your stuff is beautiful as is.
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Re: Do I Take The Risk?

Postby StJuniper » 02 Aug 2013, 15:26

What I don't know is if I should try and stock kits. There is no question that they would sell. They are a good product and have been very popular.

This, to me, is what makes it sound like a good idea. Yes, it's a risk, but it's a pretty calculated risk and it sounds like you're pretty confident of a profit.
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Re: Do I Take The Risk?

Postby t&n's mummy » 02 Aug 2013, 15:33

Yes I would say go for it too and keep the handmade look. Autumn fairs are where folks buy for Xmas, so if ever there was a fair to go for it on, this would be the one. Trim your costs as much as you can and make sure that you charge properly for your time. Your stuff will sell itself, so keep it simple on the stand, you need a big tablecloth/ sheet to cover the table with and some boxes to arrange under the sheet to provide height to the stall and give you nice places to arrange things on. Sorry if I'm telling you about sucking eggs...
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Re: Do I Take The Risk?

Postby Turtle'sMammy » 02 Aug 2013, 15:42

It would depend how time consuming the kits are. How many can you reasonably expect to do up before the fair? Can you make enough to make your money back? I have no doubt that they'd sell, but would you be ale to put together enough of them to make it profitable? Of course you would still have the raw materials to sell them later. Hmm.
How much would you need?
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Re: Do I Take The Risk?

Postby H and K » 02 Aug 2013, 16:39

KG I am in total awe of everything you have achieved, and actually you are a daily inspiration to me to keep going to achieve the things I want to achieve. I don't think you would have got this far without trusting your instinct, so I think you should follow in your heart what you think is right (and yes, I think the kits are very good, they would entice me to buy if I was there and I am not easily swayed into impulse buys).
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Re: Do I Take The Risk?

Postby AB&M » 02 Aug 2013, 18:04

If you can find the time / childcare then DO IT! This is your big break :D

Keep it simple & handmade looking but good quality contents

I bought a knitting kit from fabric rehab & it came in a brown paper bag. They are professional & it looks fine.
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Re: Do I Take The Risk?

Postby MumtoMonsters » 02 Aug 2013, 18:30

Could you employ some local students/teenagers to make the kits up for you? If you can then I think there are probably more valuable ways you could use your time. I think it would be easy to get stuck in making up loads of kits, but it would be more important for you to concentrate on the bigger picture (the stall as a whole, the workshops, etc.).

In order to get a business loan you'll need to put together a business plan, so it's something else you'll need to make time for.

I think you can do it. I think you can make it successful/profitable. BUT I think it is all entirely dependent on whether you get adequate childcare sorted.
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Re: Do I Take The Risk?

Postby Twinkly » 02 Aug 2013, 19:01

I'd say definitely without a doubt do the kits!! These will sell so well on the stall. Absolutely worth getting a loan and getting someone to make them up. Great idea to get students to do them - perhaps local textile students?
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Re: Do I Take The Risk?

Postby KatGoldLIN » 02 Aug 2013, 19:03

Thanks all. You are all so fab.

The thing is that my gut is so split on it - which is pretty rare for me. The truth is, I need a steady income. Publishing does not pay in a way that is terribly sustainable for people who need to eat every day. On the other hand, I really don't love the kits, and I really can't see them being a longer term part of the business. Frankly there are people out there who do it much better than I do and that isn't a market position I like to be in ;)

My PA would be making up the kits - its actually what she was largely hired to do (plus bring me 4 shot cappuccinos on the days that I stay up all night working). We are sorting out more childcare as well. Plus work experience students. (my god, when I write that down, it looks like I have come a long way! too bad I still don't know where the groceries are coming from next week - ha!)

I have business plans and projections, so that isn't an issue. I think its more about the likelihood of not getting a business loan as I am not on the electoral role and while my credit isn't bad, it has not recovered from 2 years of unemployment.

And t&n' mummy - no you are not teaching me to suck eggs!! I have never run a craft stall before. Its 2mx1.5m - is that small?
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Re: Do I Take The Risk?

Postby PerpetualMadness » 02 Aug 2013, 19:13

It sounds like the kits would provide some reliable income and you have the childcare and business plan sorted. Go and talk to your bank, there's no point tying yourself into knots trying to decide until you know what they will loan you and at what rate.

You are more than capable of this. You have come so far and you are awesome a is your work.
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Re: Do I Take The Risk?

Postby robyn » 02 Aug 2013, 19:18

That's about the size of stall I used to do. Think about different levels and some simple lighting-ikea do good battery operated adjustable clip on lights.
If you can get the loan and do it properly, go for it, even if they don't all sell on the day they'll sell on noths in the run up to Xmas. If you can't get the loan though don't try and do them all yourself and drive yourself loopy with the stress.
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