Thursday, August 9, 2012

Little Bears and Business Ideas

During the Olympics I've been enjoying crafting little teddy bears.  Most evenings lately I settle on the couch in the family room and watch whatever event is being shown in prime-time.  I know the broadcast is many hours delayed, but we don't have cable, and we aren't willing to pay for fancy online access (no FiOS out here in the boonies anyhow).  Some days I check to see the winners ahead of time, some days I don't.  I enjoy seeing the effort that the athletes put into their pursuit of excellence.  I love seeing underdogs win.  I especially enjoy seeing good sportsmanship. The kids and I have had many good conversations while watching various Olympic events.  The Princess says we can come watch her when she competes in the Games someday (although she's unclear what event she'd like to participate in).

So I've been cutting out and partially assembling little teddy bears for the past two weeks.  I also finished four completely.  I don't need to crank out a dozen of them all at once - I'd rather list a handful every few weeks.  I've started making some in Christmas fabrics, too, to get ahead for the season.

My daughter and my youngest sister both suggested, almost within the same day, that I make even smaller bears to sell as Christmas ornaments.  I'm going to give that a try.  I reduced the pattern, cut out three teeny tiny bears, and started the preassembly (where I machine sew the long seams, to save time).  I'll see how the final hand assembly goes - I'm not sure stuffing a bear about 5 inches tall will be all that easy.  I'm also thinking that I need to increase the price for my regular little bears, just slightly.  They're a bargain right now at $10 each, considering the work that goes into them.

I've had various friends and family suggest that I consider taking my art and crafts to a craft fair or juried craft show.  I'm not convinced that my art originals would sell well at that kind of venue, even the juried ones.  I need to look into investing in limited edition prints of my drawings.  People would probably be more willing to pay $15-$20 for a print, instead of $30-$60 for an original.  And I'd have to stockpile a huge number of bears.  I'd also need to get a laptop to keep inventory and take payments by credit card or PayPal.  Then I'd have to buy tables and display materials.  Not to mention I'd have to consider booth rental fees and travel costs.  No, I don't think I'm ready to sell at fairs.

But, we are considering buying a small kiln for me in the next year, so I can make small ceramic items at home - pendants, ornaments, and the like.  We've joked for a while that we'd start our own business, and my husband would be the manager/financial director/accountant, and I'd be the artist making stuff and doing publicity (the labor, if you will).  Maybe that will actually happen.  Tech Guy wants to register my business (Ellemar Designs) as an LLC (limited liability company) so we could offset our investment in the business with tax write-offs for business expenses.  Starting a real business (instead of what amounts to a hobby enterprise) will take a commitment and investment beyond what I'm ready to get into right now, but might not take that long to pull it together once we get serious.  Really, I'd love to also get in with a gallery to sell my paintings.  But to sell stuff I need to create stuff.  So, I guess I'd better get busy.  Well, busier.  Some days I can't imagine doing art as a business around my family's needs.  Other days I think, "Yeah, I think I can do this.  Let's go!"  I guess I'll keep praying for clarity, inspiration, and opportunity.

One of these days, maybe sooner than we think, we'll take the plunge.