DIY… or don’t. 1


I answer a lot of questions about running a small business, especially as this is my full-time job. I’ve written a bit before about my oh-so glamorous life, and got a lot of positive feedback about it – from other small craftybiz people, and also friends and patrons, who were genuinely interested in how life works for me.

I admit to getting down sometimes. Y’all, doing it on your own is HARD! Luckily, I’m never quite alone, as I do have my friends, family, and amazing patrons who support my efforts and cheer me on. In a way, I do this as much for them as I do me, because I think it is so very important to see people striking out on their own and trying to fulfill a dream. In this case, the dream is the Quit Your Day Job dream. It’s not an easy one to succeed at, but I’m plugging away at it.

Quit Your Day Job and Make Stuff by rawartletterpress

Art by rawartletterpress; available at Etsy.com

What motivated me to write this post is a nice little example of how sometimes, being SmallBiz means that you need to think outside the box to get things done, and often this equals DIY.
In this example, your heroine has been extremely short on cash and sales lately, and has had several events come up where although there’s stock to sell, there’s a lack of the little things that go along with product to make it look “pro” – in this case, product tags.

Product tags are one of those little things that both the seller and the customer rely upon to convey information about the product – not just the ingredients or name or usage, but also a brand, a feel that goes along with the experience. If you know me, you know that my brand is rock and roll, bright/interesting colors, high texture, a willingness to deviate from the norm. Yarn and Fiber for Rebels.

Usually, I have pretty product tags: glossy on one side, with highly saturated photos of what I do and streetwise fonts where my product info goes. I like them, and I think they look “pro” while still showing who I am and what I do.
This month, I do not have those tags. I could not afford them. Telling you this is probably breaking some Rule of Business or something, but screw that, we’re friends here. I’m broke. The biz is broke. I’m waiting to sell some stuff to get the wheels rolling again, but right now the economy is slow, and you know what? This happens. We’re all not as flush as we’d like to be.

But The Show Must Go On.

This is how we make the yarn, make the yarn… make the yarn…

Seriously, the show must go on, because if it doesn’t, then it dies. The business tanks, I go back to a day job, and I let myself and you down. And a lack of product tags is in NO WAY going to do all that to me! Muahahaa!

So what did I do? I made ‘em my damn self, of course. I got some cardstock and my laptop out and I designed a simple and obvious DIY product tag that does the job and saves the freakin’ day. Will my products look any less professional? NO. Because you’re going to throw that product tag away… but the yarn or fiber you get from me will be around for a long, long time to come. And when you look at the project that you made from the stuff you got from me, that is what you’ll remember, not some stupid piece of cardboard.

I’m not knocking professional-style ephemera, not at all. I love that stuff. I use MOO cards and postcards, my product cards, and all that when I can, because I love a well-designed and produced work. I have a selection of business cards that are lovely on my wall, because I had to keep them. But when the going gets tough, the tough make it their own damn selves, and that’s the lesson I’m passing along to you. It’s not the packaging in the end that makes the product. It’s the product. It’s not the packaging that makes the biz, or the person: it’s you and me.

ps – if you’re in the Baltimore area tomorrow [9/9/12] I’d love to see your lovely face at PLY Party at Loveyarns in Hampden. You can see my DIY tags in person!


About Xiane

I am totally in love with what I do, which is blend amazing fibers, colors, and textures into a tactile rainbow of awesome. I feel lucky that I get to do what I love as a way to make a living, and I celebrate it every day.