Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Meet My New Model

Who has two non-opposable thumbs and is 15 pounds of adorable? This Guy -

MartyB did a great job of helping me sell my new pet blankets. There are two currently available in my shop. The B is quite a natural. I just pointed to where he needed to be - and he would sit or lay down and look adorable - which isn't hard for the little guy to do. :) I might be biased though...tough to say.

Hope you enjoy your daily dose of adorable!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lessons Learned

Whew - I have been so busy lately. Not having completed my taxes yet has really stressed me out. I am usually the first one to file as soon as I have that W2 in my hands. But with T.L.Creations starting late last year, it complicated things a bit. Especially since I did not do my due diligence and take an inventory of my stash of stuff. This has been a hard lesson learned. I am hoping that someone else who is going to start a small business reads this!

Things to remember when starting your own craft business:

 - Everything goes on your tax return - there isn't a separate form for you and your business. This applies when you are Sole Proprietorship - which most small businesses start out as. I realized this - but didn't.

 - Get a separate bank account just for the business - AND KEEP IT SEPARATE! While I did set up a business checking account - I still frequently used my own account to make purchases. This was so hard to find everything that I purchased - uff!!! If you are looking for a cheap business account - I went with PNC. No fees for the things that I need - plus there are quite a few branches out by me which is nice as well.

 - BEFORE YOU OPEN YOUR DOORS:  take inventory of everything you have. Assign it a fair market value if you don't have receipts. You don't want to say that there isn't a Cost of Goods sold - for me - since a lot of my yarn I've had for quite awhile - I assigned everything $1. That way, if I do end up audited - I can't possible owe that much - but I still get to take a little off. Here is my organized stash - unfortunately - I did not take a starting or end of year inventory. It was a mess figuring it out this weekend! Specifically - a 15 hour mess.

- If you nee to call the IRS for tax help, be prepared to get three different answers to your one question. All the time...every time. I recommend documenting your call and who you spoke with - every agent has an ID Number.

I'm sure I will think of more things - but this is what I learned this weekend. Also - this year I've decided to track my mileage with the assistance of Project Girl and her mileage tracker. I have already printed it out and it is in my car. Next year IRS - I will claim mileage. Be prepared!

Onto the better news - I have made my goal for this month and sold one item each week! I know I know, the month isn't over - but I sold two items in one week :) Both of my large afghans were sold - one even went to Canada! So excited! I'm still going to work hard to get a sale the last week of February too. But I didn't do too bad this month.

Also - head over to my store and check out my make over! I have a new banner and avatar - plus other goodies that I get to use later on. This is all from Mindy at The Tiny Cottage. She did a great job and was so quick! I ordered at 1 am Eastern Time Last night and within 20 minutes she had a proof for me with the perfect Peachy Orange color that I was asking for :) I'm going to incorporate the banner and other images onto this site as well - I'm so happy! I look professional. If you ever need logo design - contact her. She is so easy to work with - she does great work and even has a no reproduction guarantee on some items!

I have tomorrow off from my real job - looking forward to some more crafting time. Hoping to also get another post in. I need to get better at this - I have so much to say. Just never get the chance to.


Thursday, February 9, 2012



With almost a solid 2 months under my belt, I recently realized I need to develop goals. Up until now, I have been flying by the seat of my no-goals-set pants. I am a list person - I need to visually be able to see what I need to tackle and be able to check it off - otherwise, I feel as if I have done nothing. This involved some ridicules from others for my page protecter sheets, my endless lists to the list, and my color coding. But honestly, at the end of the day - it works well for me.

As I have been pondering this goal setting thought - my head started to whir. So much so, I have really become overwhelmed. I realized today, I need to start small and then work those small goals into my big Utopian goal. Coincidentally enough, a blog I follow, Creature Comforts, wrote a great post that has pointed me in the right direction. Her idea is simple - and so similar to mine. Each day, do one thing that will get me closer to my goal. She even created a wonderful PDF to remind me each day! You can read Ez's blog post here.

With all of this in mind - I intend on getting my goals in order, both short term and long term. Some short term goals that have come to mind recently are:

  1. Have 50 items for sale on Etsy by March 31, 2012
  2. Maintain at least 50 items in my Etsy store at all times.
  3. Participate in my first craft show - March 3, 2012
  4. Survive my busy time at work and still keep going with T.L.Creations (more on this vague statement later)
  5. Develop seasonal lines.
Today, I did take a step closer to my goal - I shipped my first international order. To Canada. Let me tell you - it's a lot of paperwork for just going north to America's Hat. But it was a great learning experience. I am sure each time I do this - it will become easier for me.

I am excited to have attainable goals. I think I am going to take Ez's suggestion and write down the one thing I do each day. I have my planner that I think I will do this in. I have already printed out her pocket reminder to tap inside my planner. I think it will be great to look back and see my baby steps.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sometimes, you just need to sleep

I missed my motivated Monday post yesterday :( Kind of bummed - but, I have a great reason. The only thing on my To Do list for yesterday that was really important was to catch up on sleep. And that I did. So, after making a quick run to the grocery store, I made dinner for the boy and I (something I hadn't done in awhile!) watched some Tosh.O and decided that a nap might suit me well. And it did - until 7 am this morning. 11 hours of sleep seems to have done the trick - I feel so much better.

I haven't been getting up early like I used to - in fact, I struggle just to get out of bed in time for my real job. I enjoy being able to enjoy my coffee. Not rush out the door and drink while I sift through emails. Coffee is sacred in my life - I'm pretty sure I'd be lost without it. I do not know what I will do when I run out of my coffee I brought home from Munich....it will be a sad, sad day.

I did want to also post on a whole bunch of things I failed to even mention. I forget that this blog is for me to reflect upon my journey. How can I do that if I don't tell myself about the amazing things that have happened.

1) My first sale to an unknown party was on January 16th. It was an Owl Be Yours baby afghan with a hat.
2) I was invited to my first Craft Show on January 13th. She found me through Facebook - this was also the day I became a true believer in social marketing. I signed up and am so excited for March 3rd to come!

3) I wrote and sold my first pattern on January 14th. It is for sale at a shop in Glenside, PA - Stitcher's Dream. I also will hopefully be teaching classes soon as well!

4) On February 5, I sold two, yes TWO!, afghans!!! What I learned from this sale - price is everything. I had originally posted both afghans at $140 each. After looking around on Etsy, while I wasn't totally out of the ball park, I decided to lower my price - quite drastically actually - to $60 each. Four days later, they sold. While I may not have been paid for my time in creating these matserpieces, they did sell and made up for the cost of materials.

5) The order on February 5 will be my first International Order as well. One of the afghans is a gift that will be sent to Canada. Shipping it out today - so I'm hoping this is an easy experience. Crazy part - the buyer who will be keeping one of the afghans - lives in my area!! I get to hand deliver her purchase to her. I'm excited about this :)

So many exciting things! And last - but not least - in the last 30 days, I made almost $300 in revenue. I have been officially in business for just about 45 days now - so this is really exciting for me. Of the $300, I think about $200 is profit (less cost of goods sold - not my time). Notice I said think - still working on the bookkeeping thing. I need to finish that this week! (scribble on my to do list....) If anyone out there has bookkeeping experience and wouldn't mind helping me out - just getting started, Please please please - contact me :) I just need to be pointed in the right direction...I'm good after that.

Ok - on with my day - the real job awaits.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Motivated Monday

Ok, ok - so I need to work on my blogging skills. This is very evident to myself (and my small audience out there). I have labeled my Mondays now as Motivated Mondays - something to make the rest of the week go well. What is Motivated Mondays, Tristan? - you might be asking. Well - for me it is going to be the day that I do those nagging tasks that have been sitting on the "To Do" list and need to get done. I personally like to do fun tasks: make lists, organize yarn, crochet, etc. I do not particularly enjoy doing the laundry, cleaning, or sitting in front of a computer after my real job. It isn't that I don't like blogging- I believe this will be an important timepiece for myself - but the thought of sitting down at a computer after I just did that for 8+ hours...not attractive. 

So, today is Monday! My first Motivated Monday to be more specific. Today I:

  • Picked up a check from Play It Again Sports. I decided to sell my snowboard and put the money towards T.L.Creations. Unfortunately, the year I decide to this - Mother Nature decides to skip winter. Luckily - someone still bought the snowboard!
  • Completed 2 loads of laundry
  • Cleaned both bathrooms
  • Finished 2 Sleepy Owl Hats
  • Did my homework from sewing class. I needed to top stitch a border on a pillow case I am making. I am so excited to finish this on Wednesday in class at Stitcher’s Dream. I plan on making more of these – so many possibilities!
  •  Developed an After Work Routine. I need routine in my life – I feel in a state of chaos without it. After work – I was feeling like I was wasting time. Hopefully my new routine will kick that to the curb!
  • Cleaned my desk from the debris that they “tornado” left behind. That’s my story – I’m sticking to it.
  • Wrote a blog post  
I am really proud of my Motivated Monday. And to boot - I worked an 8+ hour day! 
In my last post, I had a goal of making 15 Elena Cowls. Well, I did try oh-so-hard, but fell short of my goal. I did end up making 8 - which I am happy with that. Most are posted in my Etsy store - take a look!
Last week - ugh....my crocheting took a real hit. I'm not sure where my time went! Last week was supposed to be making Owl Hats. I didn't make one. I did make 2 Suzy Q Kitchen Sets that still need to be listed on Etsy. So I am now officially behind. 

I have decided I need to focus on 4 main items for the craft show in March. I think I am going to go with crochet edged fleece blankets, hats, cowls, and hand warmers. My fear - Mother Nature takes an even more bizarre turn than it already has and it's 80 degrees in March....things to think about. 

To conclude today's productive post - I ask you join me in Motivated Mondays. Let me know what is on your To Do list that is just starring at you - taunting you. Do that load of laundry, clean that toilet, or even better yet - enjoy crossing off that nagging task :)