I started my etsy shop almost a year ago, and at the end of June I shipped my 200th order! This started as a little project while my kids napped and has exceeded my wildest expectations. Most of the orders I get are for sibling sets, 2, 3 or more shirts that go together, so I am doing at least 100 shirts a month. I am thrilled that so many people like what I am doing, it’s exciting and humbling.
The past six weeks, though, I have been struggling with many challenges, and it is causing me to rethink my business. I have had an ongoing machine malfunction with my newer embroidery machine which has rendered it unusable since late May. I have been getting by using the smaller machine, but have had to turn down requests, spend countless hours troubleshooting and driving to and from the repair place. It has taken a toll on me physically, with daily migraines, and the stress from the demand and my inability to complete things as promised has been unpleasant for me and for my family. It is evident that if I cannot rely on this machine I use to create these embroidered shirts, I can’t run my business in a way fair to my customers. I am not writing this to air my grievances with the business who sold me the machine and has failed repeatedly to fix it, there is plenty of that going on in my life as I am seeking a resolution. I want to be open and honest with myself and my customers. I can’t run the type of business I want mine to be, a business that exceeds expectations, delivers ahead of deadlines, and meets the demands of my products. I cannot do this with a sub-par machine, poor, unreliable service and hours of wasted productivity. Truthfully, I also cannot afford to replace the machine since it was already a huge investment and it’s not paying for itself packed up in a box. It is beyond frustrating.
Each embroidered shirt takes about an hour to complete. This does not include time spent marketing, creating and testing designs, packaging, shipping, etc. Now my kids are threatening to give up napping, which greatly reduces the hours I have to work. The newer machine was faster, when it was working, and I was able to get more done in a shorter period of time. Without a nap time break, I lose at least two hours of time I can work on my orders every day. Paying someone to watch my kids so I can work on Etsy orders would not make sense financially, since I would essentially be working to pay someone to watch my kids (which is why I quit my job to stay home in the first place) I would have to charge $40 for a t-shirt. My main job is to care for these two little boys who deserve a Mommy who can be there for them, not stressed about meeting the demands of my business and dragging them to and from a deplorable business who has failed time and again to provide me with a reliable machine.
So what does this mean for Just-Joshin? I am cutting back, refocusing. I started this venture when I started making custom clothing for my boys to go to Disney World. We are planning a trip back again this year and I have a list of new outfits I want to make for them. I have been asked to make items for friends for their Disney trips this fall. I have a ton of fabric I bought at various times with grand plans and I would love to actually complete some of those ideas. I will still be taking custom orders, but they will be more limited. My Etsy shop has been thinned out significantly, and I am carving out a schedule for custom stuff. I will be taking orders through my website and Facebook, and will offer ready-to-ship items as I finish them. Right now I have two quilts in progress that have been in progress way too long, and those are a priority. In the next week or two I hope to have a storefront option added to my website, and a price list for custom items.
If you have already ordered shirts, Christmas PJs, dresses or outfits for Disney World or a quilt, your project is on my schedule and will be done ASAP. If you are interested in any custom orders, please contact me. I will still be happy to do t-shirts for your special occasions too, but will be cutting back on paid advertising and marketing through etsy. I am going to rely on friends, family, repeat customers and word of mouth. If you have requests for the holidays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, let me know now. Look for a new product list and ready-to-ship items for girls and boys coming to my shop soon.
And always, thank you all for your support and for your business.