Saturday, October 27, 2007

Frustrated and not sure what to do....

Annie, our much loved intern, started grad school in July. She had been working in the jewelry studio off and on for a bit more than a year and was doing really well. She was a joy to work with. Luckily, Jenny was needed a bit of summer work and she overlapped a bit with Annie and did a fabulous job. A real joy in the studio but had to leave in August to go back to her Real Job as a teacher. Since then, Deotrich and I have been working the studio alone. We interviewed one person who was really wonderful, but with a Masters Degree we couldn't pay her enough.

So we have been working the studio alone. There was a bit of a system shock to things just not getting done but for the most part we are doing okay. The orders slipped a week but slipping a full week allowed us to get a bit ahead, if that makes any sense. We are doing pretty good now, but it's a full week of work in the studio and we are starting to slip a bit again. But the holiday season restock is on the downswing, unfortunately. I know we will get some frantic - "I'm all out, can you ship tomorrow?!" sort of calls from our retailers. So we also need to build up a bit of a stock to take care of those sorts of folks.

So this leaves me little to no time or energy or upmph to do Fox Ryde. FR has very much taken the back seat since the various car accidents but the situation seems to be growing worse. Perhaps only in my mind, but there it is.

A lot of my raw materials bought several years ago at quantity (medium large amounts) are verging on needed to be thrown out. I couldn't make or sell enough products to use the amount up like I had been able to the years prior. So am having to think about throwing away a lot of stuff that is not in perfect condition (not spoiled, but not the quality that is FR) and then do I replace it? How much do I buy? At the price of shipping, I don't want to have to ship a little bit over and over. But I also don't want to have to be in this same place in the future of having to throw away aged raw material.

Bottle manufacturers change or discontinue containers. Who knew that simple plastic bottles could go out of fashion? The bottle I have used for a decade for the various oils is now unavailable. Ella Ann turned me onto a place that has something similar, but the top opening is narrower so it's harder to fill and put the botanicals in. So I am having to re-design the "look" of the bottle as well as do stability tests and pump tests.

Shows change management and suddenly so that the Normal way is now something else entirely. This totally frosts me. The first retail show we ever did, back in the mid-90's with Fox Ryde, decided that the show needed to "look different". They decided that the crafters could only have one booth and that they were going to shake up the floor plan. They did all this without mentioning any of this on the application (which was due back in July along with the booth fee.) We have always applied for the 2 businesses on one application for 2 booths. Just easier for me. No other reason. But over the years we figured out that both lines did better in a separate booth. We could intermix the products but it mostly just confused and put off customers. 2 booths sold better than twice as much as 1.

So we get a note that we had been accepted for one booth in the jewelry category. Take it or leave it. The lady at the show management was quite rude when I called to ask about the note and I almost told her to shove it but restrained myself. We appealed but I have yet to hear from them. The thing that really hacked me off was her comments like "well, from the application, we assumed that the jewelry was the most important" and "if you want to, just set the bath and body care in around the jewelry". And this after she had told me that they were trying to limit the number of crafters in each category. Which makes no sense. Grr. I can feel my ire rising as I type so I need to take a deep breath.

FR is in an awkward place where there are folks who love it and want to buy it and do. But there aren't enough sort of "drop-in" customers for me to hire anyone to make stuff. But there is too much work needed for me to be able to do it on top of all the studio work. Today, I was supposed to make soap with a helper. She let me know in good time today that she wasn't at her best so I told her to stay home. She is in school full-time and I know that is a drain on her. Soap is not something that you can just make a stab at. It is time sensitive and somewhat dangerous. So I am trying to gather up my energy after a long week in the studio to go up and make soap for the holiday show(s). And I also have to remember to send in the application for a nice charity show that a friend told me about.

I keep praying about it but don't know what to do. But if I am going to get any soap made for the Holidays, I better get to it.

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