5-19-17 The New Shop / Running a Business
The Queen Stitch brand is all about color, fun, kitsch, community, inclusivity, with a strong dash of weirdness. I realized I haven't ever really spoken about some of the more technical aspects of the business - my pricing, shop, patterns, business plan. The brand doesn't really scream headstrong ambition and capitalism, but it is a business none-the-less, and it's not just color and fun.
Based on some of the questions I've received, I thought I would talk about the business aspects of the Queen Stitch, and how I made some of these decisions.
Why do you sell mostly patterns and hardly any ready-to-ship goods?
This answer is two fold - One) I'm selfish. I get so bored making the same thing over again, that it's literally not worth the money for me to make something 4 times and be super grumpy by the end of it. Two) it's following my business plan. I've done a couple craft fairs and made ready to sell hats and scarves, but ultimately I want to focus more on design rather than manufacturing. I love experimenting with design and fiber arts techniques.
Why are your patterns more expensive than average?
The average amateur pattern is about 5 to 5.50 USD, hardcore designer patterns are usually between 8 and 14 USD. Mine are 6.50. This decision was made purposefully, and not lightly. When I started out, all my patterns were 5 dollars, and at the beginning of this year I upped my prices. Why? Not because I thought of myself as a "real designer", though I'm getting there. It's because all of my patterns include a full photo tutorial. I take step by step pictures that stand alongside the written instructions so that it's easier to follow along and everyone can get a sense of what each piece and each step should look like. I've never been that great at following patterns, and I'm a very visual learner, so creating the patterns like this was meant to increase inclusivity and understanding, but is time-consuming and takes patience. This is why my patterns are more expensive.
Wait you have a business plan?
Hell yeah I do! Don't get me wrong I started my Instagram as a way to showcase the various crafts I was working on, get inspired, and connect with people in the community. However, I eventually realized I had something to give back. More than just the ready-to-wear things I created that were overwhelming my apartment, I wanted to start sharing my patterns as well. I started with an Etsy shop - it's an easy template, and I comes with a huge community, but eventually I wanted more than that. That's when I sat down and created a business plan. What did I want from the Queen Stitch?
What are my short term and long term goals? I had short term goals, like strengthening the brand with more professional shoots and original content, and long term goals I wanted to get more design focused. I mapped out weekly small goals, medium month goals, and then where I wanted to be in one and three years. To start with, I really needed my own site.
Why have a shop on your website and also on Etsy, LoveCrochet, and Ravelry? What's the point?
The primary answer is access. The more communities and people I have access to, the more I can share my brand and patterns. Having said that, I think it's really important to have my own site, it's where I can have absolute authoritay! I can show off the brand exactly how I want, tell my story, talk to you fine folk, really own the space. Whereas on Etsy, Ravelry and LoveCrochet I am a part of a larger brand, and community, which is awesome too. My Aunt Debbie once said "Say yes, and then figure out a way to do it" When you're getting started in business this is really important, don't turn down any opportunities because you're not sure if you can do it. (Have you checked out my new shop?)
How did you get all this set up? I don't know how to start...
Take all that self-doubt, that imposter syndrome, now look at it. Are you looking at it? Great, now throw it all right in the trash. That shit is weighing you down. Ask for help. See my last post about how awkward this can be, and how absolutely necessary it is. What you create, your ideas - they're worth sharing. The fiber arts community is one of the most helpful, supportive, and uplifting group of people I've ever been a part of. Ask someone, they will try to help you, or point you in the direction of someone who can. I had a lot of help and influence from the community itself, people like Alexi, Michelle, Chelsea <3 (thanks guys). But also my family and friends. I had no idea how to take interesting photos (Debbie) do sales tax (Peter), set up a website (Lee), figuring out how to link social to literally everywhere (Helena). It takes an army, but everyone has help starting.
How do you deal with criticism or nasty people?
My advice? Which is a lot different than some I've heard... stay human. Don't make yourself a defensive business machine that takes no shit. Take the shit and look at it, is there anything worth looking at? Or is it really just trash?
I have gotten people who've told me my patterns are useless, or that I charge too much, or that they're unimpressed with feminism and why am I pushing that. This has honestly been one of the easiest tasks for me. Believe in yourself and your decisions, and stand by them. Someone thinks your pattern is useless - respond, don't get mad. "Why was it useless? Are you having trouble? Is there something I can help with? Which part are you struggling with?" They're human beings too, and everyone gets frustrated and impatient sometimes. Hell, it may make whatever you're doing better with the feedback.
Someone thinks I charge too much? I explain exactly why I charge what I do - the hours that went into it, the raw materials, the importance of intellectual property for artists.... People aren't bad, they're just people. I'm one, I make mistakes all the time, so I'm hoping if people have criticisms they can remember that.
As for my pro-women agenda, yeah that's not going away. I'm pro small-business, pro-art, pro-sustainability and pro a bunch of other stuff. I will leak into my branding, and I'm not sorry.
So yeah! That's my piece. I hope you found this helpful and illuminating, rather than confirming all your worst fears about me and the Queen Stitch. And per usual, you can always contact me in the top right corner of the site with the little envelope. <3