Vwen'tern, or greetings in the tongue of the Elves.
Here is a garden that blooms only after the sun is gone where thoughts and musings flit like shadows over moonlit leaves.
This blog is an extension of my store, click on the shop widget on the right to see what we have to offer!
Saturday, March 8, 2014
I’ve had to think about a lot of things lately concerning my
store, life, work and the balance thereof.
This is going to be a long one, so if your cup is nearly empty, you
might want a refill before reading the rest.
When I first started on this adventure, now nearly seven
years ago, I had no idea that the store would ever pan out, much less be this
successful. It has, and I am eternally
grateful to my endlessly supportive husband, to my customers, and to whatever bits
of luck, chance, or fate played into it.
At times people inquire if NightBlooming is my job. It’s a fairly popular store and I do brisk
business, so it isn’t a bad assumption. But no, it isn’t my “real” job; I have
a normal 40-hours a week full time career.
I enjoy what I do there, but it isn’t the same level of fulfillment as
NightBlooming. I read somewhere that
there are three types of work: jobs
(where you’re just there long enough to get someplace else), career (where you
stick with it, do it well enough and like it well enough), and passion (work
that you love). My day job is my career, NightBlooming is one of my passions.
Given the chance I’d make NightBlooming my full time job,
and either stay part time at my current job, or quit it completely. Making that sort of jump, though, often seems
a pipe dream at best.
But lately I’ve realized three things:
It might be more possible than I think
To make it happen I have to take a hard look at
I cannot carry on as I am for much longer
NightBlooming, on an easy week, takes up about 25 hours of
my time. During very busy times, like
Christmas, it’s easily over 40. Which
means that on a best-case week between my two jobs, I’m working 65 hours a
week, worst case, closing in on 90. Then
there’s household projects, personal projects, and just life in general. It all adds up. I have no time to just enjoy things. Every day, every weekend, is a calculated
to-do list. Falling behind means a
snowball effect that is nearly impossible to recover from.
I haven’t painted in years.
I haven’t drawn in just as long.
We have a beautiful yard that I have never once just sat and read a book
in because there’s always something else more pressing. I miss my hobbies. I miss relaxing. I miss spending time with my husband.
I can’t just quit my day job, tempting as that thought is
some days. My shop, while successful,
isn’t nearly enough to live on. And I
don’t mean “having miniature giraffes” lifestyle; I mean “covering my half of
the mortgage and bills” lifestyle. Then
there’d be the additional costs of having to pay for insurance out of pocket,
not having a company contribution to my 401k, etc. The sacrifices of leaving my day job are
substantial, but it’s NightBlooming that makes me happy.
One night about a week ago I was overwhelmed to the point of
nearly sinking to my knees. The one all-consuming thought in my head was,
“I can’t do this anymore.” The thought of everything I had to do and the things I wanted to do, but couldn't, was so intense I felt ill.
But I am nothing if not relentlessly stubborn. It’s gotten me this far, it can go a little
further. I came up with a plan to make
NightBlooming full-time happen, and while it’ll take me a few years to get
there, the knowledge that I just might pull it off if I work a little harder,
and work a little smarter, gives me resolve.
That plan involves getting a little help in between now and
when I can quit my day job, saving everything I possibly can to have a safety
net during the transition period, getting the NightBlooming site up and running
so I’m not losing so much in fees, and other farther-reaching things.
I also needed to evaluate what I’m paying myself, which
brings us to:
What my work is worth
When I first started NightBlooming the vast majority of time
was spent making things. When I
developed the formula I use to price things it takes into account the time
spent making the item, my material costs, overhead, and fees. With only doing a few listings and a few
orders a week, there wasn’t a lot of back-end stuff to do, so I never factored
it into a pricing scheme.
Now? All those
non-making things are the bulk of my time. Writing descriptions, posting listings,
answering convos, sourcing materials, doing bookkeeping, taking and editing
photos, designing, printing, cutting and applying labels, and marketing are
constant demands on my time.
I ran some numbers and I was shocked at what I wind up
paying myself for all that background work.
~$4.50 an hour.
The fast-food taco place in town starts people at nearly
double that. So, if I’m to make NightBlooming my job at some point, I need to
pay myself fairly.
In 2008 I sold my first 2 oz jar of Panacea’s Hair Salve for
$13.50, and the first ½ oz sample jar for $3.75. If you check the store right now, six years
later, those are still the prices.
Another great example is Triple Moon Oil. The price has never wavered from $3.75 for a
sample bottle with dropper, or $15 for a full 4 oz bottle.
I tried really hard to think of something I was purchasing
today for the same price I was paying six years ago, and couldn’t.While I’ve been able to buy ingredients in
greater quantities as sale volume has increased, it still boils down to the
simple fact that my pricing on my salves, oils, and other products hasn't been
updated enough to cover the costs of inflation and the ever-increasing time it
takes to package and ship it at the volume my store does today.Even the new products are using an outdated
As you can read about here, Etsy pricing is a game of
averages. I give each item a primary and
secondary shipping cost, and then hope that it shakes out to be about the cost
of the shipping + packaging + fees for my postage program. And usually it does. When it’s over by more than a dollar or two
I’ll kick the overage back to my customers.
But it’s also under way more than it’s over. But I hold to my word and if I said a sample
of Fire Genasi Hair Color costs $6 to ship to Japan, and when I print it all
out and it actually cost me $7.85 (not counting any costs from my program or
the cost of the mailer and other packaging supplies), I’m actually out the
entire cost of the sample, and then some.
I will never go back to someone and say, “Hey, your package actually
cost $4.82 more than I guessed. Mind if
you send that over?” That’s my
problem. But I do know I short myself
far more often than I’m kicking back overages and I need to address it.
Because I order so many things online, I know how much I
hate inflated shipping costs. I never,
ever want to be regarded as one of those sellers who sets their shipping at
more than the dead minimum required to cover my costs.
In that light, I’ll be keeping a closer eye on my shipping
and will be making adjustments. I don’t
expect them to be drastic ones, but expect to see numbers change a little in
the coming months. As always, if I find
I’ve adjusted them to high, I’ll bring them back down.
Pricing Change Head’s
I’m largely reluctant to raise my prices because I genuinely
like my customers. That they’re so happy
with the things they purchase are what drive me to work such insane hours, and
inspire me to constantly innovate new designs and products. I don’t see them as faceless hordes to make
money off of, but people who I want to
make happy who are, in return, happy to compensate me for my efforts and
In the coming weeks I’ll be looking at how to adjust things
on products that better reflects all the time that goes into NightBlooming, not
just into making that one specific bottle of oil, hair stick, or pot of salve.
The last thing I want to do is chase my customers off. I
felt it was important to let people know why I’m changing things before I do
because I want my reasons to be clear and not have people think I’m being
greedy or taking advantage of them.
How much prices will change, on what, and when isn’t
finalized yet. I know that sometimes
people have to save up for a larger order, or were planning on picking up
something maybe in a month, but in a month if might not be the price they have
budgeted for. I didn’t want to spring
changes on anyone, and wanted to give people enough notice to pick up items at
their current price.
Know that if I quoted you on a custom order, that’s the
price you’re paying. Anything that’s
currently in queue for custom orders or is already reserved is price-locked.
Let me know what you think
I’ve always felt that my customers and I have a pretty open
line of communication, with people feeling like they can let me know what their
thoughts are. The reason this post is so long is because I want my customers to know that there's a human on the other end of all this working her tail off to make what she loves to do a reality; not some faceless, soulless business.
So, please, let me know in
the comments what you think, and I hope you understand where I’m coming from.