April Marks 1 Year of Club

Last April I finally started a Fiber Club, something I had been wanting to do for years. They had been all the rage for quite some time – sock clubs, yarn clubs, swaps — anything that allowed someone to pay for a box to appear on their porch each month. But how could I make it work with the way I work? No recipes, no plans. No two things the same. It didn’t seem to be the way these clubs worked. Dyers send an “exclusive colorway” to their subscribers. I don’t even have colorways! After discussing with a fellow fiber artist (that I respect and trust), it seemed that a surprise batt club would be the best route. Blammo!

The first group was a bit of an experiment. I’ve worked out details through the course of the year, figuring out better ways to make it function. I’m pleased to say that I’ve settled on something that seems to make sense?? Ha! I suppose I’ll never stop doubting myself about these things.

Payment Options:

  • Pay the full amount at the start
  • Receive an invoice at time of shipping each month

Color Options:

  • Choose three colors (one for each month)
  • Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple
  • NEW! Neutral — natural color based
  • NEW! Carder’s Choice — total surprise!

Quantity Options & Duration:

  • One batt per month
  • Two batts per month
  • Club runs three months at a time

Excited to Join Up?

perpetual change

To say that businesses are always changing is obvious, and mine is no different. Since I started selling online in 2008, I have tried lots of different things, added new products, expanded, subtracted, failed, gained. All of it. Right now things are going well. I have a solid circuit of shows for the year, and I have my goods in several shops in the area. But the one place that has always fallen down is the online shop. I know there are so many people who have turned their online business into a hugely successful enterprise, but that isn’t and has never been me! Some time ago I switched from Etsy to Storenvy. Now I am eliminating the online portion all together. I feel that there are so many other popular dyers out there that it’s pointless for me to try to compete. People expect you to have an online store because it’s 2015 and who doesn’t sell online?! But when it comes down to it, they have no intention of buying anything from me. They just want to know that it’s there in case they want something sometime in the far distant future. I’m done playing around with it. I’m done feeling frustrated. I’m done putting in the work and getting nothing from it. I’m done giving people options just so they can ignore me. I have so many other things to do that this doesn’t even matter anymore.

If you want to buy my products, you can get them from the following places or find me at any of the 10-12 fiber, craft, and trunk shows I do each year.

Dryer Balls
Body Goodies
Liberty, OH

Hand-dyed combed top
The Artful Yarn
Chagrin Falls, OH

Hand-dyed silk scarves
Savvy Chic Boutique
Columbiana, OH

Hand-dyed fiber, yarn, & silks
The Shop on Liberty Street
Hubbard, OH

new shop is live!

That’s right!
The new online shopping destination for Gwen Erin Natural Fibers is finally open.

I hadn’t really planned to work on it today, but then I did. And now it is open for business. I am excited about the new look and the new opportunities it presents. Not only do I have fiber listed, I also have Eucalan available and the tote bags!

As I mentioned before, the main goal with this shop is to have older inventory and destash items for sale instead of spinning them myself. Since the roving and top are “well traveled” I have discounted them. It’s all still useable, you just may want to do more predrafting than usual. Or use them in a felting project. Or card them. Or maybe you won’t notice a difference.

Take a look. Feel free to let me know if you have any suggestions. Since these are destash items, I will not be bringing them on the road. This means I will be able to have the shop open all year round, even during festival season. Hopefully this will be easier for me to maintain and better for you. No more, “Is it open? Is it closed?” Simply, it is open!

Thank you!

the last hurrah

Since I already have the photos ready for the January reopening of the Etsy shop, I decided to go ahead and do it. I know it was scheduled for Monday, but I am meeting with my accountant, and I had the time today, so here it is! My plan to create a de-stashing shop still stands, however I do not currently have any items to list there. In a few weeks when I have been able to rebuild my inventory, I will reevaluate the situation. For now, please feel free to browse the shop!

Capture

ramblings of progress

Yesterday morning I was feeling rather squashed. What to do with that darn Etsy shop? Make it seasonal? Establish separate inventory? Close it entirely? After sharing that post, I went out to lunch with my dad. I basically spent the entire time talking about my situation (FYI – I often have to talk out loud in order to think). I realized that I needed to differentiate the two businesses somehow: my online business vs. my traveling business. They are already quite separate, so maybe I should capitalize on it.

That’s when I came up with the idea of using the online shop as place for de-stashing.Usually my process goes like this:

  1. Dye fibers to sell.
  2. Spin fibers that don’t sell after 6 months.
  3. Sell yarn.
  4. Knit with yarn that doesn’t sell.

However, instead of using those older fibers myself, what if I placed them in a “sale bin”? That would be my online shop! I could also list things like the grab bags when I have them available. And maybe I would list a few other resale items that I couldn’t sell on Etsy, like Eucalan or notions. Ironically, I just cleared out all my old stock and knit it up for holiday craft shows. So, it might not happen right away. This also means that I won’t have those lingering items to use myself, so instead I’ll just dye a pound or two extra for my use. That will also help freshen up the colors of the yarn and knitwear, since they will be intentional and not left-overs.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. It was good to hear from fellow merchants and customers alike. It’s easy to lose perspective. We all need support from the community from time to time. Without each other, none of us could do this. I’m still thinking about closing the Etsy shop and reopening in a new location. For a long time I was afraid to do this. I would lose the following I had developed there over the years and the help from Etsy reaching customers. But honestly, it isn’t happening there. Nothing is happening there. I want to reinvent this aspect of my business and I feel like creating a new space might be the way to do it. I’ve been developing a shop at Storenvy and it’s fun! In fact, I can work on my listings while the shop is closed! WHAT?! Yes, someone decided that shop owners should be able to see their listings even when the shop is closed. Hm.

Stay tuned as I work through this new adventure!

new banner!

when things aren’t working

Oh, that darn Etsy Shop. It taunts me. Haunts me. Makes me feel inadequate, guilty, and annoyed. It’s always there, lurking over my shoulder. I’ve struggled with it since January 4, 2008. Six dreadful years and a meager 222 sales to show for it. I’ll admit, it was a good way to get started. I didn’t have to maintain a massive inventory. Just update a few at a time as things were made.

Then I started going to events. Again, I started small, but now with 8-10 activities throughout the year, it has become incredibly difficult to maintain an online presence. Just when I get something photographed and listed, I take it to a show, sell it, and have to remove it from the shop. It may only cost 20 cents per listing, but that can add up. I’ve considered keeping separate inventories: the majority for live events and a smaller group for online only. But after all this time, I just haven’t been able to make it work. Why leave a box of fiber home when I know I could sell it at the show?

I don’t know if I should just give up all together. Online sales have never been successful for me. For some reason I have developed a following that isn’t so Internet focused. They aren’t posting selfies with my yarn, or gabbing about their latest project on Ravelry, or buying loads of fiber from my shop. When I stand there in front of my booth, I sell. When I sit at home staring at the computer, nothing happens. Sure, it’s easy to get lost in the overwhelming avalanche of fiber that is now available online. I understand there are many things to choose from, and obviously mine just doesn’t shine through.

  • Is it time to close up shop?
  • How can I reconfigure things to make them work for me?
  • Would it really matter if I just didn’t do online sales anymore?

I was planning to reopen next Monday. But I have to take all new photos of my products, another aspect of this that I hate. Yesterday we finally had some sun, so I got out my camera, lugged the boxes of fiber into the living room, and sat down to work. Camera battery dead! I put in the charged battery. The camera won’t come on. PS. This camera is at least 15 years old. Refusing to be defeated, I used my phone camera. The pictures look great on the phone, but terrible on my computer. No color! Next stop is PicMonkey, a free photo editing website. I fixed all the pictures there and now they look reasonably accurate. But, ooooh, I hate this nonsense.

This first collage shows the pictures unedited.

locks-collage02

The second collage shows the photos enhanced. And I did add a filter over the whole thing to give it more oomph. The “normal” edited photos are available for view on Flickr.

locks-collage

 

grab bags

It’s done. I finally went through the part of my hideously massive stash that consists of weird bits and pieces, odds and ends — the left overs. It made sense to work on it this week since I’d already pulled a lot of the stuff out into the living room for batt-making.

#carding #handdyed  #wool

Really, that photo doesn’t even give you an idea of it. All of that stuff is keepers!

And sure, I could slowly churn through these left-overs, incorporating them into batts. But in the meantime they take up a lot of space and guess what? There is a LOT of this stuff. Probably more than I could use and more importantly, I’m sick of looking at it. That’s where you get the pleasure of helping me out of this predicament.

I put together 14 grab bags. Each one contains assorted fibers, usually two to three different things and ranges in weight from 3.5 to 4 ounces. They are $5 each and are currently listed in the shop. Any that do not sell will travel with me to the Autumn Fiber Festival in October where I will have additional destash items (undyed fiber and tools). Do me a huge favor and get this stuff out of my house!

PS. The Grey to Green Festival, scheduled for September 21 in Youngstown, OH has apparently been canceled.