Growing the Business

>> Sunday, March 28, 2010

My husband and I were talking about the shop the other day and he asked me, "how do we grow your business?" I have been expressing a wish to devote more time and energy to the shop, and to create a bigger footprint for myself in the fiber community.
"Well," I said. "More people need to know about me, about the shop. I need to be mentioned on Podcasts, videocasts, blogs and such. I need to get my name out there, basically. Once more people know about the shop and buy from it, the more business will grow."
Bear (my husband) shrugged and nodded, and conversation moved on.

I should have known that although the matter dropped from conversation, it hadn't dropped from his mind. The next day while at work I received an email with an attachment. "I think you should do this" was written in the subject line.

It was a vendor application for the 2010 Maine Fiber Frolic.

As I clicked through the application, I realized that the rates were much more reasonable than I'd thought. $75 for an outside spot or $95 for an inside one. The Maine Fiber Frolic has well-known vendors such as Spunky Eclectic, String Theory Yarn, Golding Spindles, and Enchanted Knoll Farms, among others. The thought that I could have a booth as well was a tantalizing one.

But how?

I have no where near the inventory I'd need for a show like that. The MFF also requires vendors to provide proof of liability insurance. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it. Bear and I agreed that even if I didn't sell a lot of things, the MFF would be an awesome way to get my name out there into the larger world.

So last week, we hatched a plan. Here's what I've been doing:

1. Called local insurance agencies. Liability insurance costs about $400 a year. That sounds steep, but I can make payments on it and can cancel it after the show without a penalty. I will have an appointment with them later this week.

2. Downloaded an application with a yarn/fiber wholesaler. I just need one more trade reference and a photocopy of my business license and I can send that in. The minimum order is $500 - this is proving to be the sticking point in the plan. If I can come up with this money soon, it should be enough inventory for a booth at the MFF. If not, then it won't happen this year.

3. Dyed up a bunch of my current inventory and spruced up the shop. Most of what I have right now is sock yarn, which I've been adding to the shop over the weekend. I tested out a new method of dyeing that is both faster and more beautiful than my previous method. The shop is no longer organized by collection but by form - yarn, handspun, and fiber are all in separate categories.

4. Got a commision to dye the "bonus" skein of yarn for an existing sock club. This was very lucky for me, as I happened to be in the right place at the right time. If nothing else, this is a great way to get my name out there to people who may have never heard of me. I'm just waiting on my yarn and dyes to arrive. I hope to have them dyed up on Tuesday and in the mail by week's end. Sooner if I can manage it.

5. Joined an online Stitch N Bitch group where I can show yarn porn real time via web cam to a bunch of knitters and spinners who love them some pretty yarn! I'm hoping seeing the yarn and the link to the shop in tandem will spur on some sales. If I get mentioned on the SnB creators' podcast, well, all the better.

6. I'm having a sale in the shop this week to help spur sales. 10% off everything and free shipping over $20. That means every skein of sock yarn ships free. I have my fingers crossed that this helps move my current inventory out so I can get this wholesale account moving.

So that's it. If you have any other ideas on what I should be doing, let me know! I need all the help I can get. Wish me luck!


Tas Mar 28, 2010, 11:14:00 AM  

I had an idea for you! You could send a sample of your yarn off to Phat Fiber for one of their contests. Since internet knitters are giddy about contests, you'll get a bit of a product review that'll go out to quite a few people. is their website.

Good luck to you!

Fleecenik Farm Mar 28, 2010, 2:00:00 PM  

I am getting ready to open an etsy site and one of the ways I thought to direct traffic there was to post all new additions to my facebook page. It is free advertising sorta...

do you know Corgi Hill Farm? She is a dyer and sells fiber on etsy as well she might be able to give you some tips.

Also, If you would like to get into The Sangerville Grange Craft fair let me know and I will give you the contact info. It is a great group of artisans that work that fair and everything is pretty high end quality.

I also went to the Newport spin-i, in Feb., and they had fiber vendors there. It was the EWE spinners group. Is there a state fiber organization where you could get info on other spin-ins where you could sell you stuff? The fees are much cheaper for these.

Twilight Mar 28, 2010, 2:19:00 PM  

Here's a couple ideas. When you post about your shop put a link to it in the post. I read you through Bloglines and didn't see a link. I clicked on over to find your shop but not everyone would.

Also, Etsy has a little widget that shows pics of what's in your shop. I would put that in the top corner where the text link is. It took me a minute to realize you only had a text link and I was looking for your shop link. A visual picture will capture more looks and clicks.

Good luck!

Heather Mar 28, 2010, 9:31:00 PM  

All of you had terrific ideas! I'll be getting on those soon. I've already added the Etsy widget to my sidebar... it kind fits. I love seeing my shop items all together like that!

Thanks again.

Ann in Medford Mar 29, 2010, 4:36:00 PM  

I'd love to know what wholesalers you are considering for your fibers..
Ann,in Medford

Heather Mar 29, 2010, 9:12:00 PM  

Anne - primarily Ashland Bay, since they have a great selection of fibers and yarns.

I would REALLY like to know who wholesales the yarn that has real silver in it, but so far no one's talking!

10kH is here for now. Hush.

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