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I'm just a girl trying to figure out this crazy thing called life.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Big Idea

As young women, sometimes our imagination can get the best of us. We like to chat and dream of what we would do if we didn't have to work. This little nuance is what makes things so fun with the girls! After a few weeks of dreaming about selling crafts as a business venture we became more and more excited about the Squirrely Girls Craft Company. Talks about "someday our store..." began to take place. This process was exciting to me because our Big Idea began to take shape. It was simple and ambitious and it looked something like this:

A welcoming storefront, modern but still comfortable enough to hang out in. It would be a mecca of yarn, or at least a place to go for all things fiber arts. We want to include lots of beautiful yarns of course, knitting supplies, and sections for weavers, embroiderers, and spinners too. It would have an area for designer fabrics, limited patterns and notions, for sewers and crafters. The store would also need comfy place to sit, knit, chat, learn and teach in the middle of the store. An important addition was the section for consignments and finished project sales for local crafters to display their works. And finally, just for Nutter, a small kitchen where she can whip up snacks for customers.

The Big Idea was PERFECT! But more than a few questions remained. How do we get there from here? Can we all stick it out? Is this the one idea that will work? Do we have the finances it takes to pull something like this off? Etc, Etc, Etc........

We need a plan!

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Signs

As I mentioned in my first post, I have been inspired or at least guided down a path. In my never ending quest to find a self-sustaining business concept, I've toyed with selling hand made goods. I'm pretty handy in the arts and crafts field, or domestic as some might say, but was I good enough to build a business from doing this? And making what exactly? Soaps and bathbombs? Diaper bags and slings? I just wasn't quite sure. All I knew was that I get super excited about craft projects! Almost any project. It is very few times in life where you can start from scratch. Each new project lends its self to so much possibility and promise. Picking out the materials and creating the patterns are a spiritual process in and of themselves even before you begin your projects journey to completion (Just ask Hazel about her trip to the fabric store last week ;0)). So, naturally I wanted to make my love/hobby into a career. I began to research the idea in depth learning about the cottage craft industry and trying to determine the longevity of a homebased business. It was doable, but not for me at that time. I put the idea on hold for a while.

It was a few months ago that several signs began to appear in my life. What is that called? Synchronicity, I think. A kind of Celestine Prophesy thing where things just seem to lead you down a certain path...

The girls approached me about doing some crafts to sell as a fundraiser. As expected, I was super excited! This initial idea was where the name developed. It was taken from a crazy holiday decoration shopping spree that Acorn and Spanish Peanut experienced. They apparently lost control at Hobby Lobby and bought all the cheesy and corney holiday decoration kits. You know, the ones where you glue weird things on to ornaments and make glittery reindeers from cardboard. Anyway, they gave away their wonderful creations signing the gift cards- The Squirrely Girls. I guess it stuck. So, we had a name. Sign? Yes. Definitely.

I threw a logo together. As we all know good marketing is the key to any successful business. They all loved it. Sign? Sure.

More signs began to appear. Nutter held the Inaugural MLK Craft Day at her house. It was great. We snacked, chatted, and crafted. Nutter and I walked down the street to a little craft shop for a breath of fresh air. As we browsed for patterns and scouted out the store in undercover defective style, what should be at the check out counter? A cd entitled Squirrely Girl. Yeah, that's right. At the counter of a craft shop! We about fell over and raced back to inform the other squirrels of our discovery! Sign? Oh, yeah!

That evening I searched etsy.com, no Squirrely Girls. Another sign? You bet!

We have a tailless squirrel in our parking lot at work. A Sign? No, but funny.

Spanish Peanut had another group of girls when she was younger who all had nut names too. A Sign? No, but interesting.

I had been reading Friday Night Knitting Club when all this was occurring. Towards the end of the book Georgia tells her friend Cat that loving what you do makes it more difficult to quit. A Sign? As big as a billboard.

Finally, a friend of mine had an advisor who once told her, “Finding your career of choice is simple. Take what you love… make it a hobby. Take something you can make money at… and make it a career.” She recently posted this quote in her blog. To me this is the final sign, and a challenge well worth meeting!

We will wait to see what else fate dishes out.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Girls

Let's back up a bit and let me tell you about this squirrely crew I'm dealing with. In a nut shell, I could best describe their personalities as a metaphor. So, let's say we all decided to go to the pool on a beautiful summer day. This is essentially what would happen;

Acorn, the ever cautious one, who likes to think and think and then ponder about everything would be very concerned about the temperature of the pool, would make sure the rest of the squirrels had on enough sunscreen and then would wait for the life guard to come back on duty before dipping her toe in the water.

Hazelnut or Hazel, an orderly squirrel, must have a SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) in hand before she could even head out the door to go to the pool. She is organized, timely with military precision, and tough.

Spanish Peanut, our free spirit, would drop her bag and simply run toward the pool upon entering the pool area and do the best cannon ball ever. She would do this partially becaue it would freak Acorn out because she was running on the deck and could possible slip and fall and partially because it was just fun.

Nutter Butter, our shy and creative squirrel, would sit on the lounge chair pretending to read a deep book, probably something to do with the history of women or poetry or something, but she would secretly be watching all the other pool patrons and making funny whitty comments about them to the rest of us.

Finally, there is me. I'll call myself Alfred after the tailless squirrel that runs around our parking lot at work. I'd probably just spend my time at the pool swimming laps, because I'm primarily all business and very little play. This would enable me to get two things done at once- a workout and some hanginout with my friends.

We each bring something different to the table that's for sure, that's probably why we all get along. We run together, do yoga together, and we all knit and sew. Some of us are more advanced with our skills than others and some are just learning a craft, but we all have the spark to ignite that creative fire. And that's what counts! Right?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Inspiration

So, I guess I've been inspired. I'm often inspired, but too many times I write my thoughts and ideas down in a notebook and file them away. This time is different somehow. I've decided to create this blog to follow the development of a business idea/concept.
You see, I have a folder full of business ideas and plans. Some are more defined than others, but they just sit in their little compartment in the dark. I know it's a bit weird, but I know one day I'll find the right one that will work out. This oddity about myself is fairly well known in my work place. It's actually kind of a joke really. "Want to know how to start such-and-such business?" "Ask Allison."
So, when 4 fellow co-workers came to me with an idea of starting craft day at the office. I was into it. I wondered, "How can I turn this, something I enjoy, into a business?" I toyed around with the idea for several months. I did some market research on the Internet and looked at what the likely hood of a craft business was to be successful. I wanted to find other successful women or "momtrepreneurs"to pattern myself after. I searched for stories of other successful businesses- and found none. So, I crunched some numbers to see if the business was even feasible and then promptly filed the idea away in my folder.
Four months later the same 4 girls approached me with the idea of making some crafts and selling them as a fundraiser. Again, I was into it. Even did a little jig in the hallway. I was reading "The Friday Night Knitting Club" by Kate Jacobs and felt this was the right time to pursue this project. Thusly, I kicked in to Ali-drive and pushed full steam ahead, with the help of the 4 Squirrley Girls, our journey to starting a craft business began.