Sometimes being the boss is hard (part two)

Yesterday I brought up three decisions I’m chewing on. Here’s part two.

Yggdrasil

I might need to put a cap on yarn club. Or stop offering swag. I love that my yarn club is taking off. I went from an average of 26 to an average of 48 this year (how I would love to see it grow to 100 by the end of next year!). That does mean, however, that it used to take between 7-10 days to dye and wind all the yarn… and now it takes between 14-20 days (correct me if I’m wrong, but there are only about 30 days in a month on average. This isn’t leaving me a lot of time for other things.) That’s just the yarn; that’s not counting also making (or acquiring) swag.

It’s cheaper for me to make swag, but can take another 3 days per month to make it. More expensive to buy it, but twice now I’ve gone to buy things in sets of 50 and the online sites that I buy from suddenly don’t have that kind of quantity. I’d have better luck, I suppose, if I did like at the yarn store and became a distributor of a particular line of tools, but then I’d have to come up with the money for an initial wholesale order, and with that comes a new level of responsibility for stocking tools and listing them (and storing them, ugh). I’ve been waffling on that for a while.

Add in that I don’t like to do exactly the same thing every time, because I have repeat customers and I don’t want them to get bored with what I send out. I don’t mind repeating things within, say, a year (like I just did with tape measures) but I don’t want to be known as the soap-tape measure-hand lotion swag girl. I like to shake it up. I also like to keep the price at about $5 per month for swag. This is seriously cramping my impulsive “this would be awesome swag” style. Also: if I’m having trouble buying in sets of 50, what makes me think buying in sets of 100 is going to be easier?

For that matter, if I’m having trouble finishing other things (I haven’t poured ceramics or handbuilt anything since July. JULY! and while I continued to glaze bisque and run kiln loads, I haven’t fired the kiln since September 17th)… what makes me think that having a plan to double the size of yarn club by next year is a GOOD THING? Am I… crazy?

If we get this house, and workshop, I will be able to expand my dye room a little bit to almost double what I can dye in a day. That’s going to cut down on the number of days I spend dyeing, which will make 50 seem much more reasonable than it is now (getting it back closer to 10 days from undyed to wound and labeled). So perhaps I need to cap yarn club at 50. And not reach towards 100 until I can routinely complete 50 in less than two weeks.

But here’s the thing that makes my brain tired about capping yarn club: THE LISTINGS. Do I just put something in the listing that says “when I get to 50, CLOSED!” or do I try to judge, from my past spreadsheets, “OK, I should list 10 sock weight with no swag, five worsted with no swag, yadda yadda” until I reach 50? Or do I stop doing swag, list 25 worsted and 25 sock, and then if I sell all the sock in one week and don’t sell more than 10 worsted, hahahahah, joke is on me? This is why I don’t want to have a cap – decisions are hard. Or I overthink, either one.

Pros of not offering swag any more: I won’t have to come up with swag ideas. I wouldn’t have to make swag (saving me an average of three days). I wouldn’t have to come up with emergency/alternate swag if what I wanted to buy wasn’t available in that quantity. Cons of not offering swag any more: I like offering swag. Many times, my ideas tie into the theme of the club or a colorway in particular. I dig that and would miss it.

Pros of capping the club count: I won’t be overwhelmed. It might be more possible to buy in advance if I know the number (if I have the money). Cons of capping the club count: disappointing potential customers. Having to figure how to cap it.

Overall: I don’t know what to do, I just know that I can’t keep doing what I’ve been doing, because yarn isn’t all I do and other sections of my business are not getting the attention they need. Even the regular yarn section isn’t getting the attention it needs, with restock dyeing being pushed back when club dyeing takes longer than expected.

Maybe working out Part Three, tomorrow, will help this decision.

5 thoughts on “Sometimes being the boss is hard (part two)

  1. I’m sorry you’re dealing with difficult work decisions. I think you’re right that it’s best to discontinue the yarn base, esp. if you are sure you can get one that’s similar but better. Are there downsides to capping your yarn club at a specific number and not specifying the weight (fingering or worsted or whatever)? Does that screw up your dyeing schedule to not know how many want it for awhile?

    1. Work decisions are sometimes hard to wrestle with (especially if there’s nobody to bounce things off of, and the dogs give terrible advice). Which is why I blog, I guess (when I have time to blog, hahahahah). 🙂

      I think I want to acquire the new base in a good quantity (like, for club) and then make my decision after that. If it’s a better yarn, I’ll go with it. If it’s not, I’ll… evaluate. Sigh.

      The down side to capping the club comes from needing a physical number to type into the back end of my website. I need to be able to tell the online shop one of two things. Either “this is an unlimited quantity and you can sell it forever” (which is what I do with yarn club now), or “you have five of these and when they sell out nobody is allowed to buy any more” (this is how I do normal items that I’ve made, that I’ve made X number of). Does that make sense? I mean, I could go in every day and adjust the quantity around (“yesterday I sold seven of this, but none of this, so I’m going to move five imaginary spots of the thing that didn’t sell to the other spot that’s selling better, so that it’s all still capped at 50 but I have less of what isn’t selling and more of what is”) but that seems laborious and complicated.

      … and at some point, yeah, I do have to buy the base yarn.

      I generally buy base yarn about two weeks before yarn club is closed; this has bitten me in the ass more than once, but I need to get started dyeing so that I can start shipping on the 1st of the month. I’ve already looked at a calender for next year and I’m going to play with the dates a little more so that International goes out closer to the 5th and Domestic closer to the 15th, but I will still wind up sort of guessing and buying yarn while spots are still open because I will still need to start dyeing before the 1st of the 1st month it goes out. (Why not send it out much later in the month, like the 25th? Because Ravelry advertising runs the first of the month to the last of the month, and that’s where I advertise yarn club, and I feel weird enough about advertising new club ten days before the last installment of the last club goes out, I’d feel SUPER weird about advertising it for 25 days… or not advertising it until the next month, and losing a whole month worth of advertising — like, I will start advertising for the Jan-March club on November 1st, but the November club doesn’t ship until the 10th.) Is this too confusing…..?

      Anyway, for the most part buying yarn while club is still available to purchase is not TOO scary because yarn comes in bags of 10, and I’ve been doing club enough that I can sort of guess from looking at past purchases that it’s likely I’ll sell so many of this base by X date, and then I just round up to the nearest factor of ten. And I’ve only been wrong twice (although those two times were pretty “exciting” because my distributor has minimum order quantities, and I had to be creative with shuffling finances to get the money in place that I needed to order more yarn, but also wanted to use for ceramic supplies.

      It occurred to me as I was typing this (and this is why I like to process by writing!) that right now I have six options: sock no swag, worsted no swag, sock with fragranced swag, worsted with fragranced swag, sock with unfragranced swag, worsted with unfragranced swag. I could start doing the swag as a second drop-down within the listing; then I could just list sock or worsted as the first option, and then it would default to no swag, but I could do a drop-down choice menu for swag/fragranced and swag/unfragranced. Then I could cap swag, but not cap the number of people in yarn club — like, sure, I’ll sell as many yarn club spots as people want to buy… but only the first 20 people who want swag can get it. That would give me longer to plan and/or make swag (from the moment that swag sells out as opposed to the moment I close the listing for club entirely). And with a lower swag number, I wouldn’t run into what I’ve been running into (“you want to buy fifty needle gauges? Sorry, we have 23”).

      I suppose in the grand scheme of things there’s the option to not do club at all, and instead do more limited edition yarns that perhaps I show sneak peeks of and allow a certain number of pre-orders (like I did with the Star Wars yarn years ago)… but… I like club. I like my ideas, and I like my regulars (the “HaldeCult”), and I like being able to put something together that so many people get joy out of. I like the suspense and they way they chat on the spoiler and non-spoiler posts on Ravelry. I like the camaraderie.

      Sigh.

      Being the boss is hard!

      Thanks for listening. Reading. 🙂

  2. Just for the record: some of the best swag I’ve ever received is your soap when you add it to a ceramics box. Such a great little surprise.
    People ALWAYS need and like soap, fragranced or unfragranced. Do you not give out soap always as swag because it’s boring for you? Just curious. Soap never gets old for me. 🙂

    1. I do soap, sometimes… not all the time. This last time I did hand lotion. I guess I just like to mix it up, so that it doesn’t get to be (for the regulars) “oh, it’s the second installment, I bet this is soap.” (Which might be silly of me because doesn’t everyone love/use/need soap?!). But sometimes too I might not have a fragrance I think will go well with the theme of the color, or I might not have enough supplies to make enough soap, or enough time… it can all depend.

      I do like including the little sample soaps, though, and if I know the person sometimes I’ll look through all the samples to find one I think they’ll really like. 😉

  3. I like the idea of limiting the amount of club orders that get swag. I say this with every intention of being a customer who is fortunate enough to get the swag, of course. I also see no reason not to cap the number of club orders, assuming that you can figure out a way to do it that makes you happy.

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