Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Finding Direction

When I opened my Etsy Shop about 18 months ago it was a mixed bag of photography, knit hats, note cards, dog treats and stuffed animals. Initially I thought ~ wow, what an opportunity to showcase all my interests!

Three months in (after a thoughtful hike along the East Bay in San Francisco/Berkeley) I made the decision to narrow down what I offered in my shop. I felt that the wide array of items offered were perhaps working against me ~ that maybe potential customers were confused when they entered my shop. Was I a photographer? A seamstress? A baker? A knitter? I was confused; I can only imagine what visitors thought.

On this early morning walk along the San Francisco Bay, watching the sun rise and reflect off the city skyline I thought about two things: (1) Considering all my interests, which offered me the most satisfaction and the most happiness? and (2) Considering all my interests, which presented the opportunity to actually make some money?

Although photography was, and will always be, a passion, it is an extremely competitive market. I have always had an affinity for stuffed animals, so I decided to focus on that.

So I did. And sales picked up. Within six months I began designing my own stuffed animals and developed a line of one-of-a-kind "Wee Ones." Sales hit an all time high at that point. A few shops across the country began to approach me interested in consignment possibilities.

Wanting to stretch my imagination and creativity a bit (because I have to admit I like creating new things) I recently expanded into applique plush pillows and applique baby bibs. And then I remembered ~ oh yeah, I know how to make knit beanies/hats. It is fun to go from one line to another ~ to mix it up a bit. But this time, I realized I had unconsciously created a new focus.

While at a networking social the other night a few people inevitably asked, "So what do you do?" I instinctively handed them a business card and said, "I make stuff for kids." They knew immediately what I do.

And with that, I realized ~ I have a direction. I have a demographic I can focus on; I have a market I can cater to. I know what shops to contact; I know how to promote my business. Everything makes sense now. :)

Direction. It makes all the difference.

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