Category Archives: Ideas and Plans

The New Plan

Alright. Here’s The New Plan.

1) I’m cutting back on my product line-up. I originally had such a broad product line in an effort to provide full-service diapering and babywearing options for the local community. Since I opened, however, a lot has changed locally. First, because of our thriving Des Moines Babywearing and Cloth Diapering group, many many more people are able to see diapers and try carriers out in person to get a feel for what they want, and this makes them more confident online shoppers. This is a GOOD thing, but it also means that more people are choosing to shop online vs buying from a local store that they have to make an appointment with. (totally understandable.) Also, in the last few years, Little Padded Seats has opened a brick-and-mortar store in Valley Junction, providing locals with the ability to see things in person before purchasing, as well as much easier local purchasing than Wallypop where, again, you must make an appointment. These are both incredibly positive things for the community, but they do mean that I can probably safely stop offering such a broad assortment of products without fear of depriving locals of their options. With a few exceptions (I need to drop Basic Covers over regulatory concerns), everything I remove from the inventoried product line-up will still be available via Made to Order.

2. I’m raising prices. I’ve been reluctant to raise prices in recent years as the economy’s been tough. However, my expenses keep going up, both in terms of actual materials cost, as well as in the cost of my time. When I only had one kid and we had lots of free time, I didn’t place quite as high a value on my time as I do now, with three kids and markedly less extra time. I also can’t underemphasize how expensive cotton, hemp, and polyester have gotten recently.  Wallypop items will still be comparable with the more affordable options out there – we’re certainly not going to start charging $25 a diaper like some of the major name brands (which are, notably, made much more inexpensively). I’ve also been surprised by the willingness of the cloth diapering and babywearing community in general (of course with exceptions) to continue to spend extremely large amounts of money on luxury baby items. Again, in comparison to many of the best-selling options out there, Wallypop products will continue to be very competitive, while remaining comparable or superior in quality.

3. I’m not going to sell wholesale. Removing the wholesale option cuts out a good number of sales, but it gives me more flexibility with my own pricing. It also will remove the pressure of receiving orders for hundreds of items in one fell swoop.

4. I am going to permanently remove my diaper repair and conversion options. It is so time-consuming to repair and convert diapers. I cannot pay myself fairly because it would be cheaper for customers to just buy new diapers.  I will continue obviously to provide support for my OWN products, but I’ve only ever repaired ONE set of Wallypop diapers in almost 9 years in business.

5. Made to orders will continue to run as they have, but I’m not realistically going to be able to go back to my former schedule of competing three orders every three weeks. This means wait times will probably be longer, more like what they’ve been since the beginning of the year.

6. Restocking. Restocking should hopefully be easier and faster because I won’t have as many things to restock. I’m also going to try to expand my network of local mamas (and nonmamas) willing to do sewing for me to enable restocking to be faster, easier, and less stressful all around.

7. Inventory. If it’s not physically here and ready to ship, it’s not available for sale. Historically, when I run out of things like wipes, I have continued to allow them to be purchased, and I just make them as they are ordered, because they’re fairly quick to put together. No more. This change will allow other people (aka the husband and my 8 year old) to help me pack up orders (which neither have ever done before, ever).

8. Fitteds. I’m going to change the way I sell fitteds. At the present time, I allow made to order fitteds to be ordered along with inventory items, and I make them as they’re ordered. This stresses me out so much, because then I need to sew sometimes 2-3 dozen fitted diapers to be ready to mail in a week or so. I’m going to be inventorying more already-made and ready-to-ship fitteds, and if you want customization or options not available on the inventoried diapers, they will be orderable via MTO like other products.

9. Shipping. Shipping once a week, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

10. Goal to work 10 hours a week, not 40 or 50. Wallypop currently really requires 40-50 hours a week. I don’t have that kind of time. I hope these changes allow me to cut back my time to 10-15 hours a week. We’ll see how that works out!

11. LemonDrops. I’m still going to stock and open LemonDrops. I don’t anticipate it being a really high-traffic business, lol.

Sound good? We’ll see how it goes. Give me a few weeks. I want to get past the start of school (we start the first full week in August so we have lots of cushion time for hospital stays), Teddy has surgery on the 10th, and I need to decide which products to axe and which to keep, then make the associated changes on the website.

From a personal standpoint, let me say that this was and was not a difficult decision. In a way, I’ve made this decision at least two dozen times in the last year, but every time I’ve pulled myself back from the edge. Last week, I just reached the end of my rope. I can’t ease into changes at this point, I just have to jump into them.  At the same time, I love Wallypop like it’s one of my kids. I’ve certainly spent more time with it than my kids. (um, it’s also older than my kids.) I don’t want it to just go away. It’s been almost 9 years of hard work and countless hours, and I’m extremely proud of what I’ve built from nothing. I didn’t just buy a business… I started one. From absolutely nothing. Quite an accomplishment, and one I hate to just throw away.

So… look for some sort of grand re-opening in September and see what the changes look like.

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A few important notes in the meantime – I am NOT going to republish the shopping pages right now, because people will, not reading the notes, go ahead and order. It happens all the time. But I do want to honor gift certificates! If you have a gift certificate that you wish to redeem online or in person, PLEASE contact me!

Christmas Crafting Update. If you have reason to think you might be getting a Christmas present from me (so, if we’re related) don’t read this.

Alright. Here’s where I’m at. (no pictures in this post, the relevant pictures have already been separately posted)

Ballet skirts and legwarmers for two nieces: Done.

Ballet skirt and bun cover for another niece: Half done. (skirt done, bun cover out with a friend)

Camera cozy and assorted fabric pouches for mother in law: done.

Camera strap cover for father in law: done.

(MIL and FIL are also getting a bowl from StellaJames and a picture of my adorable family.)

Slippers for sister in law: done

Tote bag for other sister in law: done. (this sister in law is also getting the gift of our presence at her wedding in March in Arizona. don’t laugh, it’s going to cost us over $1000.)

Slippers for nephews: done

Slippers for niece: done

Hat for soon to be brother in law: not even started.

Project for sister: not started, needed equipment is malfunctioning.

Twirly skirt for niece and sweater skirt for niece: done.

Two brothers-in-law are getting gift cert’s for massage. They could both use one.

That takes care of extended family. So I’m largely done there.

Immediate family:

Wally: knit sweater, knit sock monkey. Neither started.  New pants (hemp french terry, dyed). Sewn, not dyed.

Genna: knit jacket/cardigan, knit longies. Not started.

Randy: knit fingerless gloves to match his hat. Christmas ornament from Wally. Not started. (though the ornament needs to wait until the 24th, because the child cannot keep anything to himself.) I’m also going to get him a gift card to Itunes for his new Ipod Touch.

And I’ll be doing some crafting for friends and others, too. One of those projects is finished, one is started.

I need to figure out what to do for our postal carrier.

Giving for Lent

I had posted at Facebook that I probably wasn’t going to give up anything for Lent this year – a first for me. (I’m not Catholic. I just observe Lent in my own ways.) Fasting isn’t really an option, what with the nursing newborn and all. I have traditionally given up something bad for me physically and something bad for me spiritually. (doughnuts and gossip, for example.) But, I’m so perfect this year, I have nothing to give up.

what?

are you chuckling?

OK, I just can’t think of anything.

And then one of my awesome Facebook friends suggested using Lent as a season of giving.

I started out by looking at the links posted at Amanda Soule’s Mama to Mama page. I have it narrowed down to either Little Dresses for Africa or The Dulaan Project. I’m not sure if it’s possible to just simply sew dresses and send them off to the Little Dresses people or if they have more requirements than that… I’m waiting to hear back from them.

Anyone local want to join in? Have thoughts on which project you’d like to do?

PS, regarding Lent, or really any traditional observance, “One man esteems one day above another: another esteems every day alike.  Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.  He that regards the day, regards it unto the Lord, and he that regards not the day, to the Lord does he not regard it.  He that eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he that eats not, to the Lord he eats not, and gives God thanks.”  -Romans 14:5,6

New Projects, New Projects!!

So I just placed my first order with Dharma Trading Company. I spent way too much money.

I bought a screen printing kit. I’ve always wanted to try screen printing. (OK, always wanted = for the last year.) And I read a lot about making your own supplies and whatnot, but decided that at this point, I needed something easy like a kit.

Then I bought some stuff to tie dye, which I’ve also never done before, believe it or not. And a bunch of clothing blanks. Um, yeah. A bunch. But mostly stuff that I can use for my own family, so I can do plenty of experimenting before deciding if I want to add new product lines to Boulevard Designs.

Potentially, I’m thinking about dyed and embroidered baby t-shirts and outfits, and fun dyed hair coverings. And we’ll see what else.

I also just found out today that nobody else in our family wants the spinning wheel that’s at my grandmother’s house. My grandmother is living in a home now, and she is selling her house to my cousin. They are having an estate sale to get rid of everything, but she was admant that the spinning wheel stay in the family. This presented a problem for my Aunt, who had been asking around the likely suspects, but found no takers. I called today and mentioned that I’d love to have it if nobody else wanted it, and learned that she had been sweating over what to do with it! Yay! So I might take up spinning. We’ll see. I really don’t need a new hobby.

Tidy Spaces

My workspace is very small, and it has to hold a lot of stuff.

  • It’s my office and office storage, so there’s the computer, my business files, all my fliers and business cards, and ink for the printer, and books.
  • It’s my general business storage, so it holds things like my mannequin and other items I use only for display booths at fairs.
  • It’s my sewing area, with the machines, and bins for cut projects, and bins for in-progress items, and bins for in-progress orders, and tools, and supplies.
  • It’s my sewing storage area, where I keep the extra rolls of elastic, backup spools of thread, my supply of ring sling rings, D-rings, snaps, seam binding, lace, trims and ribbons, interfacing, etc.
  • It’s my fabric storage, heh heh, enough said.
  • It’s my inventory storage and showroom (though a rather unimpressive showroom, I’m afraid).
  • And it’s Wally’s play area, where he hangs out while I work, so it’s got two small activity tables for him, his painting supplies, a few bins of toys and clay and glue and scissors, as well as a TV and DVD player and a nice little rocker.

With all this crammed into such a small space, it’s important that I keep it all tidy so the clutter doesn’t become overwhelming. But it also means that I could spend all day tidying and never getting any work done!

Here’s what helps me:

Crate for fabric too small to go back on the shelf. Eventually, this will get folded neatly and placed with the bits of fabric that are already folded neatly and in a bin on a shelf.

 Bins for supplies.

 These little drawers. Small, perfectly sized for sewing-table necessities: scissors, machine needles, thread, machine tools, etc.

 These bins, oh how I love them. They hold in-progress projects and current orders. I can gather all the supplies and fabrics needed for an order and toss them in a bin along with the receipt, then place completed items in the bin, as well. Once the whole order is complete, it all goes in a box to ship and the bin is freed for the next order.

 New shelves for Wally. We’ll see how this works out. This is a set of shelves just for Wally’s stuff. His clay and tools, his art supplies, his toys, his markers, his paper, his books. Until recently, this stuff was all mixed in with my own stuff.

Little shelf next to my sewing machine table and tucked under the open leaf of the table. This holds elastic, giant thread spools, and other larger round supplies. The box on top is made out of repurposed foamcore posterboard, taped together into a box. Wally provided the decoration, then the box got wet during a recent small basement flood, so it’s got a unique look to it.

Take the Handmade Pledge

I Took The Handmade Pledge! BuyHandmade.org

Take the Handmade Pledge this holiday season. I just did, and this will be going on about five years we’ll be giving only handmade gifts for Christmas.

Here’s a blurb from the Buy Handmade website:

Buying handmade is better for people, better for the environment, and better for giving truly special and well-crafted gifts. The ascendancy of chain store culture and global manufacturing has left us all dressing, furnishing, and decorating alike. The connection between producer and consumer has been lost. Buying handmade helps them reconnect.

We encourage all consumers to be aware of the social and environmental implications of their purchases.

Skirt Lust

So I’m wanting to branch out in my skirt making. I tend to use the same basic patterns – either store-bought or home-made – over and over and over. And I make very plain skirts. I don’t embellish, I don’t decorate. I sew the skirt together, and I’m done. But here are some skirts I like:

wet season skirtavalon silk skirt hope chest skirt beanstalk skirtstencil garden skirt

1. I like the border at the bottom of the green skirt. 2) I like the two pieces of the floral skirt. 3 and 4) are just cute. 5) looks comfortale – picture a jersey knit waistband with silk or cotton skirt. All pictures from Anthropologie.

I have Yarn. Could I be more insane?

 

So I own yarn.

Plain Yarn for Dying Wool scarf Sockweight Yarn Yarn in bag for bag

The Village Knit Wit, my local yarn store, is closing. I’ve been in there a few times to get yarn with my mom. I’ve drooled, I’ve lusted, but I’ve ultimately refrained from buying yarn because I really don’t need a new hobby. But alas, nice textiles are my weakness!

So now that everything is 40% off, well, I caved and bought a few skeins. Or 10. Enough for a scarf, hat, and mittens for me. A pair or two of leggings or socks for Wally (or me). Some for a felted bag. But that’s it, I promise.

I should note: I made a scarf for Randy when I was in college. That’s the extent of my knitting experience. Like I said. I’m insane.