My New Years' resolution…

… is not to start large December post series until I already have all the posts in the queue. Whew.

Things heated up in the shop in December, a lot. I had some great plans to not knock myself out restocking, but Etsy now allows non-premium accounts to set “allow restock requests” and, well, if people are asking for things I felt obligated to fulfill them. Even though it’s not the same as “pre-order” and only about half of restocks actually got bought by the person who requested them.

Post-Christmas didn’t slow down much, so obviously there’s a lot of “I got a Christmas bonus/an Etsy gift card” or just “I didn’t get what I wanted so I’ll just buy it myself” going on. The last Silver Apricot dragon went, with a camera dangle (that did not stay around its neck for shipping, no matter how much that amused me). Those are from a Designs By Little Bee design I’ve been meaning to use, but I used lightweight vinyl and some captured confetti in lieu of the applique.

The Greater Sea Dragon went on the last day of the year, which definitely improved the annual total and also made me feel a little better about the art-doll dragons, which hadn’t been moving for quite awhile. That order came in via advertisement, on what would have been the last day of my advertising experiment. I guess it was a success.

For 2020, my plan was to taper off the plushie-making (channeling that into selling the designs for other folks to make) and just stick with the bigger-ticket dragons – I’ve been a little concerned about whether those were really viable, but I think the real problem is just getting them in front of an audience. We’ll see.

Blog-wise, I still plan to get out the promised supplements to the interchangeable-flap bags even if not in the form of an Advent calendar. A mini-backpack is next, because I want one for myself.

Four art dragons in the shop

I decided to go ahead and list all four of the finished art-doll dragons, and put them on sale for “Smaugust.” (Hey, don’t look at me, I don’t invent these things.) It’s almost two months since any have sold, and I’m afraid the fancier ones are just too pricey. This is a shame because they’re really underpriced based on the amount of labor (and RSI damage) that goes into them, but maybe the market just isn’t there.

Of course, now isn’t the time to decide that… Spoonflower just had a sale on fat quarters and I sprang for a pair of extremely festive crowntail dragons, which are nearly as ornate as the greater sea dragon. So I’ll finish the purple one I’m working on and consider taking out some Etsy ads, and if that doesn’t work I’ll reluctantly move on to something different.

Doing the boring part

I’ve had a pile of receipts accumulating on my desk, and I don’t really have the excuse of needing to restock anything urgently. It was time to get everything entered into my spreadsheets and GnuCash.

GnuCash is not great for inventory control, so I do some stuff in a pretty basic spreadsheet. It’s a little bit duplicated, and someday I’ll write a little utility to keep everything synchronized, but so far neither my sales nor purchases are too overwhelming.

The business is going pretty well, though I have to admit I didn’t really expect to be mostly a beanie dragon factory, and especially not an almost-exclusively-Pernese dragon factory. I find myself wondering what other fandoms are underserved.

I passed a milestone on Etsy, and my husband asked how that compared to my costs, and I blithely said “oh, I haven’t checked that lately…” So now I have, and the answer is: sales minus costs plus currently-listed items all balances out. Which is not a particularly GAAP way of measuring things, but I think it’s a good sign.

It’s about time to give the business its own bank account and credit card and so forth, which will help in keeping things separate… and in keeping me from getting too carried away with new dragon colors.

On which note: midnight blue and french blue beanie dragons are coming soon!

Managing a problem employee (me. It’s me)

As you may have guessed from my all-over-the-map projects, I have a little trouble staying on task. This is fine for hobbies (if I don’t mind having at least three storage tubs full of UFOs) but I need to be a little more efficient if I’m going to do this as a business. So I spent today moving a little more slowly, and practicing good habits.

First, I started logging my work day. (Work hours, really; there aren’t always too many of them.) I had decided yesterday that today would be a day to sew five owlbear dice bags for the shop, mostly to see how long they take. I’m reasonably sure I can’t sew them in any amount of time that makes it worth my time but again, practicing good habits.

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