Sunday, May 29, 2011

You Can't Hurry Love

Coming up with a new idea never happens when you are looking for it. It always, at least for me, happens out of the blue and at some inconvenient time. 

And that's how my new night lights were born. Now, to be honest I have wanted to make night lights for as long as I've been in business. I fell in love with the idea years ago and have a box full of at least 8 failed attempts in my attic that turned out to be too much work, too expensive, or just plain ugly. (I always save botched prototypes for future exploration) So this is not the first time this idea surfaced, it's just the first time it took hold of me and wouldn't let go. 

And once again, just as with the magnetic bookmarks, the obsession took hold a month before a wholesale show and once I knew I had to create them I was determined to have samples for ACRE. SO. The past month has been predictably frantic and fraught with mishaps. The designing of the night light covers, while all consuming for the first week, went pretty well. I found a way to make them out of my art sandwiched between two sheets of acrylic. But the rest has been a bumpy ride.

I ordered 100 night lights from a place I trust and as soon as they got here, took every single one out of it's individual blister pack and put it in a bin. That was my first mistake. I didn't notice until a week later when I was trying to put them together that they were cheap imports and the clip that attaches the cover to the light didn't fit. The cover spins and flops around like a ring on your finger after you've lost 50 lbs. So now I've got 100 night lights I can't use and can't return. 
Great start, Corwin.

Meanwhile, I still had to get them photographed so I can get them on the website before I leave for the show. So I made one of each design anyway, and got them to my wonderful photographer, Aaron, who had agreed to fit me in for a rush job so I could get the images online before my show next week. He was a trooper about dealing with the covers twirling on the base and super tight deadline. (And as I write this, I realize I should have just superglued the clips on the light to make it easier for him even though that would render them unsellable afterwards).

With just one week until I leave for Las Vegas, I spent the better part of a day calling night light suppliers, only to find that almost no one carries the black lights I want. The places that have a great price on them are out of stock until July and the ones who have them in stock are way too expensive. Apparently (who knew?) there is a night light shortage in this country. The black ones are so scarce that I had to order 250 dark brown lights (they swore they look black!) from one place and 500 black lights from another (much more expensive place), cleaning out both of those suppliers.
Oh, did I mention I had to have them shipped 3 Day Air so I could get them in time? Ouch.

Then, because the black lights are hard to get, I had to pre-order (and pre-pay)1500 of them to get them reserved so they can be drop shipped from the manufacturer when they are made later this summer.

To make matters worse, I calculated my prices based on the cost of the crummy ones that I had every reason to believe would work just fine. AND I already, in my hurry to cover every detail before the show, printed signs for the booth, designed and printed catalog sheets and sent out emails based on that price.

Oy. Learn from my mistakes, my friend. It is too late for me.

Now I'm poised to go to Vegas in a few days and take orders for a product I can't even start making until the day before I leave. I'll get it done. You can bet I will. I won't sleep much and I'll be stressed, and worried and crunching numbers in my sleep. I'll take a little hit on my profits. But at least you'll learn from me. Take this as a cautionary tale. 

Do your homework first.
Don't jump the gun.
Test before you print catalogs, signs, send out an email blast... and then test again. 

And then hold your breath and jump.


Colleen MacDonald said...

I love this post because it shows the level of commitment that is involved in marketing and selling work; If you had followed your own advice, you wouldn't have had a new product to show at ACRE this year, and having it may have secured you extra business in the long run. I do hear what you're saying though. Sometimes our excitement and optimism can turn around to bite you. Congratulations, though, on your adorable night lights. I love the princess one!

Pam Corwin, Business of Crafts said...

Thanks, Colleen! And here I sit 36 hours before I have to leave, still waiting for the night lights...ack!

Jen@Mom's Online Garage Sale said...

Very inspirational Pam! Just goes to show that prevalence pays off. Your nightlights despite the downfalls they have turned out beautifully!