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ninjas

The sling from hell

Posted on 2007.08.28 at 00:05
Okay, after what I went through to make the first sling for my store, I've decided I'm definitely NOT doing custom orders!

I took what was left of the turtle batik fabric from the sling I made for myself and paired it with a sturdy grey knit to make a M/L sling. All went well, right up to the final tacking down of the french seam, until I turned it right side out again and discovered the lines I'd just sewn so nicely on the inside were all over the place on the outside. 

So I got out my seam ripper and started taking it apart. I have three - yes, THREE - seam rippers, and the two better ones have gone missing, so the only one I could use was the one that came with my machine, which doesn't have a nice ballpoint on the end to prevent accidental fabric tears. Well, you guessed it: even though I was as careful as could be, I still ripped the fabric in three places. I wound up taking the entire seam apart, and figured I could fold it over in a different way to hide the ripped parts. 

I pinned the new seam into place very carefully from the outside, figuring that it'd be better to tack it down where the lines would actually be showing. I managed to miss about three inches worth on the final seam, even though I swerved the line all over the place trying to catch it. And somehow, the end of the seam did NOT turn out as nice and flat as the beginning did (which was the only part I didn't undo, since it was fine). It stuck out and looked horrible, so I made a few quick stitches to nail it down, and that looked even more horrible. 

I'd been debating whether or not to add a padded rail to the bottom, and I decided that I should, since it would hide that ugly end of the seam. I cut the fleece, topstitched it so neatly, and spent a good amount of time pinning it onto the sling in such a way that the stitches would fall directly on top of the previous ones on both the top AND bottom of the rail. Very tricky! Too tricky, in fact - despite my meticulous efforts, I stitched too low towards the middle of the rail, and too high on the corners. The outside of the rail looks perfectly fine, but the inside - bleecchhh.

I don't even know what to do with this thing now. It looks fine on the outside, and the flaws are really only cosmetic, since they don't affect the performance or durability, but it's just too screwed up even to sell as a second. And that's pretty impressive, considering how lax my standards are for my own work. ;) Come on, I'm not a machine, I'm a human being, and my work WILL have that distinctly human touch. But this looks like I let my 3-year-old son sew it. 

I am debating whether to offer it to No Mother Left Behind, or put it up FFS (free for shipping) on Diaperswappers. In both cases, a needy mother would benefit and recieve a really cute sling that just happens to have too many snafus to make the retail cut. I suppose once I get some more made, I'll make up my mind.

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ninjas

Thoughts on shipping

Posted on 2007.08.22 at 01:36

I am uploading a heeyooooooge video (109 MB) onto Google Videos right now, so I guess I'll ramble for awhile to kill time.

I lowered my combined shipping costs today. I've been in the online buying/selling game for 7 years, but I've never had to figure out till now how to reasonably price shipping for individual items when they are sold together. Turns out that $2 per item (especially really light items like nursing pads) is WAYYY too much. A friend of mine bought $60 worth of pads from me and got charged almost $20 shipping! I felt really bad, so I threw in two free pads to make up for it, and just now I went into my store and changed each combined shipping cost to only $1 per item.

I hate to think that I might have come across as one of those people who jips customers on shipping just to sneak in a few extra bucks. That's totally not my groove. Like I said, I've been in this game for 7 years now, and I know darn well how much certain items cost to ship, and when I see someone asking more than that amount, I pass them by. I think it's shady and underhanded to blatantly inflate shipping costs, and I'd NEVER do that. My entire store is geared towards moms who can't afford to throw down a big wad of cash for diapers or pads, and ripping them off on shipping is not what I'm about at all.

I also hate when people sneak those few extra dollars in and justify it as "handling/packaging" charges. No sirree, I'm not going to pay you $3 to tape a piece of paper onto a manila envelope and then drive half a mile to drop it off at the post office. Sorry. Heck, look at what I have to go through to mail packages:

-I can't use USPS's pickup service since there is no outgoing mailbox at my house. That means that every. single. stinkin'. little. thing I want to mail, be it a huge box or a regular ol' letter, has to be taken to the post office.

-My printer is out of ink, so I can't use Paypal's pre-made shipping labels. I don't get to just drop my packages off at the counter, nope, I have to wait in line like everyone else.

-I live on the other side of town from the post office, but I don't have a car. So what does that mean? Every time I want to mail something, I load up the stroller and WALK 20 minutes to drop it off, and then another 20 minutes back home. Try doing that twice a week in 90+ degree heat! 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I'm just trying to show that even though getting my stuff in the mail is a bit of a pain, I'd never charge people extra for it. I did consider keeping the shipping rate at $2 to make this effort seem more worthwhile (and also to cover the fees Paypal charges me every time someone pays me), but then I realized that if I don't want people to do this to me, why should I do it to them? Especially when someone buys a ton of items and gets charged $2 for each one. That's not fair! So I lowered it. It's the right thing to do.

Sheesh, my video is only half uploaded. I guess I'll hit the Stumble button a few times until it's done.

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ninjas

Wow, haven't written in a while!

Posted on 2007.08.21 at 00:47
I don't give this thing much attention, do I? I mainly write over at OpenDiary, and since I am still very overwhelmed of LJ I don't feel like really opening up here....besides, this is mainly a biz/craft blog. ;)

So let's see, what have I been up to? Well, the store is doing well....mama pads still selling like hot cakes, and nobody's touching the diapers, but I think once I get the Larges and XLs up, people will be more interested. You can practically stumble over a medium fitted in the street, after all. Hopefully I'll get them up soon - I'm on a bit of a sewing sabbatical since I'm about to take Uma (that's what Hannah decided my sewing machine should be named) into the shop. I wish it were a stitch that I didn't use so much that was messing up...but I REALLY can't get by without the zigzag stitch. I use it on just about everything! 

I've got plenty to keep myself busy with while Uma's in rehab, though. I've been brainstorming lots of fun ideas, and I'm gathering up fabrics to cut. I need to crank out a bunch more mama pads, of course, but I also want to introduce pad/wipe pouches and maybe mini wetbags for them as well. I made this for my pads back in January, and although I'll be changing the design a little for the ones I plan to sell, the concept is basically the same:

 

It holds about four or five of my 7-inch pads plus the mini-wetbag I made. I'll need to make them bigger for people who like the 10- and 13-inch pads, of course. They really come in handy when you're out of the house and don't want a bunch of pads floating around randomly inside your purse. When I'm at work, I can grab the pouch out of my purse and take it to the bathroom instead of dragging my whole purse in there.  

I'll also be making similar pouches for wipes, but I'm trying to find some cute old-fashioned diapers to make them out of, like this one I made for myself. Sorry about the blurriness, but you get the idea:



Isn't that just so stinkin' cute? I bought that diaper at Goodwill for a buck just cuz it was too adorable to pass up, and hadn't been able to think of what to do with it till it dawned on me to make it into a wipes pouch back in May. Go figure, I haven't been able to find any more diapers like this since then. ;)

I'm contemplating making some "gift sets" too. I had thought about this prior to even opening my store, but people have actually asked for something like this, so I figure I should go for it. I'm thinking of making a postpartum set with a handful of different-sized heavy pads, nursing pads, wipes, and maybe a newborn diaper; a mama pad "introductory" set with several of each length/thickness pad, a mini-wetbag, and a pad pouch; and a newborn set with a wool wrap, a diaper, a shirt, and maybe a hat and socks. I think it'd be fun to make sets that match, especially since I bought some jersey sheet sets for a song at a yard sale and I could go crazy with some tie-dye sets. I'm planning on doing some tie-dye in the spring, too, since I have a bazillion white onesies just aching to be prettied up.

I also plan on introducing pouch slings to my store lineup. They are easy to make and fun to use, and I figure they'd be a good affordable item to add to the stock for people who can't shell out $50 for a Hotsling. Here's one I made just last week for myself. Please excuse the blurriness once again, that's what you get when you shoot in a bathroom with no flash! There's my 3-year-old 35-lb. son riding comfortably. I've added a fleece rail to the bottom since this picture was taken because it tends to dig in his legs when I do the back carry.



The only problem I haven't figured out yet, though, is whether to custom-make each one to the customer's measurements, or pre-make them in different sizes, since pouch slings are not adjustable. I'm leery of doing customs of any kind, since I'm a firm believer in "what you see is what you get" and I've heard so many horror stories of WAHMs overselling themselves and then frantically playing catch-up. Most of the sling-able fabric I have right now is not enough to make larger sizes with, so I can always make pre-made ones with those, and then sell custom-made ones later on when I get more fabric. I really need to get more fabric. :)

I did draw up about ten business cards on scraps of posterboard, but I only handed out one this past weekend, and that was to a friend who didn't have my current email. There wasn't really anyone to hand them out to: only one other mom showed up, and I think she was a little freaked out by how hard I drooled over her 2-week-old baby, so I left her alone. Oh well!

Here's a pic of one of the cards. Not the most professional-looking thing in the world, but they'll do till I can afford some real ones!

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ninjas

Busy busy busy!

Posted on 2007.08.12 at 14:45
Since I sold out of mama pads in just a matter of hours after advertising my store here on LJ, I decided to bite the bullet and make a whole lot more! My serge stitch has been chewing up some of my things, so some of them got tossed in the Miracle Diapers box, but most of them are good enough to sell as seconds. I can't wait till I get enough funds together to get this stupid sewing machine fixed!

I also made some BKT doublers and regular terry doublers, and some new batches of wipes. I'm aching to get those L and XL dipes up, but with my zigzag stitch all out of wack it's just not gonna happen. Soon, though!

I had to raise my shipping costs. My printer is out of ink, so I can't use Paypal's free delivery confirmation, and I have to buy it at the PO, which costs a whopping 75 cents per package! I've added that cost to each item, but I will take it back down once I can print out Paypal's shipping labels.

So much rides on the money I'm making from selling. Not only do I need things to pull my business together completely, but I have several big packages of my personal stuff still in my friend Russell's closet in Texas that I need to have shipped to me. I'm also hoping to save up for a car. This whole idea is mostly just a fun hobby for me, but at the same time, it would be really great if I did make some money from it.

I'm thinking about hand-drawing some business cards on pieces of posterboard I have left over from making my diaper patterns. That's another thing I need money for....but I'd like to have some cards to hand out at a music festival I'm going to next weekend. I'll probably just draw a mushroom, write a quick note about what I sell, and put my website address at the bottom. 

I took pictures of all my new stock today and just got done editing them for my store. I'll be listing them later tonight after Jameson goes to bed and I can fully concentrate. But here's a sneak peek at some of the new things I have to offer:

 

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ninjas

The Mushroom Tree is NOW OPEN!!!

Posted on 2007.08.06 at 15:20

The Mushroom Tree is celebrating its SEMI-GRAND OPENING all this week! Stop by for a visit and look at my affordable cloth  diapers, mama pads, and more!

Check out some of these cute items I have listed:

(If the link above isn't working, please C&P themushroomtree.etsy.com into your browser!)

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When I first decided to start my own business selling cloth diapers and accessories, I had a pretty idealistic image of how it would all happen. I envisioned myself spending perhaps a few hours a day sewing, and working on a cute little website in the meantime. I thought it would be so easy and fun to pull together. Little did I realize how much WORK it would be, and how much time it would actually take!

Chasing after a toddler, plus having housewife duties to keep up with, sometimes meant that I didn't get to sit down to work for days or even weeks at a time. Sewing machine malfunctions or breakdowns meant that I couldn't create some of the items I'd planned on selling. Computer problems kept me from making my website look how I wanted it to. And all the other ins and outs of life meant that my "easy and fun" little business became a lot of hard work that I often couldn't find the time to do.

Sometimes the thought crossed my mind that perhaps this was too difficult, that I'd bitten off more than I could chew, that I couldn't handle this. But I'd invested too much time, money, energy and ideas into this to just give up when the going got tough. I knew that I really wanted to do this, and I hoped that the end result would be worth all the trouble.

I've learned to roll with the punches, so to speak, and change my outlook according to what life throws at me. Now that I am finally ready to open my business, it's not quite what I had imagined it to be, but it is close enough, and I can keep working at it to make it better.

I've put a lot of love into the products I'm selling, and I hope people appreciate them and come back for more. I suppose that's the best I can hope for, in the end!

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