Sewing the Seeds

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Beautiful Fabrics

Have you ever flirted with the idea of turning your sewing hobby into a profitable business?   If so you aren’t alone.  According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), small enterprises account for 52% of all U.S. workers!  However before you take the entrepreneurial plunge, you might want to consider:

The Value of Time

Creating items for yourself or family/friends on your own schedule is fun, but what about receiving orders from customers that need to be filled on a strict schedule?  Running a business is great in that you can take breaks to run an errand, or you can choose to work late in the evening as opposed to working early in the morning.  Unlike your typical 8-5 desk job, you have a great deal of flexibility, but with that you also have a lot of responsibility.  You will find that time is no longer your own in a different kind of way.  It’s true that when you own a business you actually work more hours than if you work 40 hours a week for someone else.  So be careful what you wish for, and be sure to discuss this time commitment with others in your household.

Financial Commitment

Do you have the initial funds that will be necessary for you to start your business?  If not are you able to borrow the money?  Try to make a list of the costs that will be necessary, and develop a financial plan.  Some costs will be up front, while others can be spread over a period of time.  If you need more expensive items like equipment, find out if these items can be purchased and paid for over a set period with no interest charges, to save on the initial start-up costs of your business.  All businesses take time to grow, so don’t plan on turning a profit too soon.

Getting Creative

So you have decided you have the time/money and still want to start a sewing business.  Do you know what type of business you want?  There are so many choices.  Do you want a retail store or would you like to sell online?  Do you want to sell sewing supplies or actually create items for sell?  Are you great at altering clothing?  Maybe you love making patterns and would consider selling those to others?   Would you like to write books for people that sew?  Or maybe you would like to teach sewing classes.  The point here is to think through all the possibilities and choose one that best meets your own time, financial, and creative needs.  Find a niche and fill it!

Business Savvy

Once you have decided on the type of sewing business you would like to have, start thinking of a good business name.  Do searches, by going to a website for domain name registrations, to see if the name you like has already been chosen by someone.  You definitely want a unique name.  Even if you won’t be selling online you will eventually need an online presence, so choose your name wisely. You should also search the US Patent and Trademark office to see if the name you have chosen is trademarked.  You might also check to see if your chosen business name is being used in social media – on a Facebook Page (this is different than a personal Facebook site), on Twitter, on Pinterest, and on any other social media you might use.  Once you find an available name you like go ahead and register it as a domain name now (about $10).

It would also be a good idea to register this name as a dba (doing business as) name with your local county and perhaps your state.  Most states should have an online website for this type of information.  You will also need to register with your state comptroller’s office if you will be filing a sales tax return.  Find an attorney or tax accountant to help you with the decision on what type of business you want to have – a sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation, etc.  All have different legal and tax implications.

Finding a Mentor (or two or three)

Find as many good mentors for your business as possible.  Bounce ideas off of friends and family.  In business areas where you are weak find someone who can assist you.  One friend that really helped me was a serious quilter, and she gave me “shortcuts” for sewing.  She also happened to have a master’s degree in business!  Read, read, read, and watch online videos.  There are so many online resources out there now to help those wanting to start their own business.  The Small Business Administration has a great website.  I sell online with Etsy, and they have a remarkable network of resources for folks starting creative businesses.  If you will be selling online, also check out other sites like Craftsy, MadeIt, and Big Cartel to see what online stores might work best for you.

The Big Learning Curve

So now that you have many of your business plans firmed up, it’s time to get busy and LEARN!  This means completion of everything you need to do prior to hanging up your “Open” sign.  If you have new equipment learn how to properly use it.  Take lessons if necessary.  If you are selling items learn about branding and pricing, and how to source materials.  If you want an online business you will have to learn how to set up an online store(s), and will need to make enough items, or purchase enough supplies, to stock a store.  You will also need to learn the ins and outs of shipping.  Learn all you can about advertising and photography.  Learn how to make use of social media to assist in advertising your business.  For some it’s a sharper learning curve than for others, but if you just make a list and tackle things one at a time it will help.  Determine what you need to learn first and start there.  Oh, and be sure to enjoy the process along the way!

Trust me the rewards of all your hard work will be worthwhile, and in ways you can’t even imagine.  There really is nothing like owning your own business.  It is still the American dream and definitely an accomplishment to be proud of!

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Spa Day

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Gracie getting a bath in the kitchen sink

She had a gleam in her eye when she happily announced that today was doggie spa human torture day. I watched as she scurried around the house gathering her implements – combs, brushes, scissors, trimmers, and the most dreaded nail grinder. I thought about scampering for cover, but then remembered that my body was not made of jello like that of the household kitties, who conveniently slide under furniture during storms. So I just sat rigid on the sofa and only flinched a little when she picked me up.

It didn’t start out so bad, although I don’t know why she always gets the big cushy floor pillow to sit on during my grooming sessions, while I only get to rest at her feet. Seems like a raw deal to me. As the grooming begins she manipulates my body like a mad chiropractor. Doesn’t she know that what I really want is a long afternoon nap, or maybe just a good squirrel or two to chase in the backyard? Well at least I got some nice belly rubs through it all.

Uh oh, time now for the nail grinding machine. I will say it’s better than the trimmers she once used, but not much. I struggle and do my best to make her task difficult. She might as well suffer with me. There better be some treats at the end of this, that’s all I gotta say!

Finally the grooming is over and I am allowed outside for a break. When I come back inside the house for a nice rest, I find myself picked up once more and hustled off to the kitchen. What now? Oh no, she’s putting me in the kitchen sink with all that WATER!! I don’t like this one bit and climb onto the high spot in the middle of the metal sink, in my attempt to escape. She mumbles something about me “smelling like dead fish in an aquarium”. Well I don’t know what an aquarium is, but I think fish smell good. Hey lady, I’m a DOG. I’m supposed to smell like this. She also keeps insisting that this isn’t a lake and I won’t drown, but as far as I’m concerned this looks like a little lake to me and I want OUT!

 

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The good stuff…the hair dryer!

Just when I’m starting to resign myself to this further torture I suddenly find my feet back on the floor. I give my body some good shakes to rid myself of the water and zoom down the hallway towards the bedroom, knowing full well now what will come next. I’ll have my clean fur dried by the marvelous blow dryer. Yeah, I know, you would think I would hate it, but I actually like this part of the spa treatment. Just don’t even think about painting my nails, OK? And hey, where’s that treat?

 

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Now time for a treat!!

Do your doggies love their grooming sessions?

This post is part of a Wednesday blog hop. Please click the “Blog Paws” button in the sidebar to follow all the other wonderful pet blogs. Happy Blogging!

So Many Dogs

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Beautiful Hard-Working Husky

I was at the Austin Pet Expo this past weekend with two goals in mind.  The first was to take a look at the exhibitors and booth setups, since I will be an exhibitor at this event next summer.  The second was to try and get some nice photos of the many dog breeds I knew would be represented at this event.  Well, I was at least successful with the first goal!

 

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Loved this Great OutDogs mobile store – not your typical booth!

There were quite a few exhibitors at this event, and many of them were local adoption agencies.  The exhibitor spaces were set up very much like career fairs I’ve been to, with each space a 10’x10′ area.  I have to say that most retail booths here were not quite like those I’ve seen set at craft or antique fairs.  I think that my space next year should really stand out amongst the crowd.  My products are, by nature, very colorful, and I intend to promote them by showcasing my sewing abilities.  I want to make a nice banner and special table decoration from some of my stocked fabrics.  And perhaps even my own backdrop fabric panel.  Makes sense, right?  Just being able to see the show one full year in advance has been a very big help to me.

 

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Gimme a big smooch!

Another great help was talking to several Etsy sellers that were at this event.  They all made pet products, but not the type of items I make.  They were great about taking time to talk to me and to give helpful suggestions.  I especially enjoyed vising with Leslie Cox from San Antonio, Texas.  She made the most adorable small dog outfits with beautiful fabric, and she had her teeny tiny little yorkie with her to show off her handmade goods.  Cute!  Cute!  Cute!  You can check out her shop at The Pooch House.

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This dog had the most fabulous shiny coat.

My second goal, taking photos of different dog breeds, proved to be rather futile because there were so many dogs and so many people at this event, that taking a separate photo of any particular dog turned out to be almost impossible!   Most of the photos I took  had multiple pets and multiple people.  I am trying to get photos of different dog breeds for a new project I have in mind, but guess I will have to go about that task in a different way.  Let me know if you have any suggestions.  I think perhaps I need to attend some dog shows in the area!

 

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This dog had an owner, but there were plenty of dogs (and a few kitties) in need of a good home!

If you were at the show in Austin last weekend, I’m certain you had a good time!!  Ann, sorry I missed seeing you and your daughter.

 

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This pup was so tired she just sat down on her Mom’s feet!

This post is part of a Wednesday blog hop. Please click the “Blog Paws” button in the sidebar to follow all the other wonderful pet blogs. Happy Blogging!

Snapseed Photo App

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Original Photo

 

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Photo edited in Snapseed for Dark, Dramatic Effect

 

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Additional editing in Photoshop (look at background and eyes!)

 

Ok, so who doesn’t like a photo program that makes quick editing a breeze! One of my favorite photo apps, Snapseed, is probably the best all-around app for editing your photography on your smart phone or iPad device.  Originally created by Nik Software, and recently purchased by Google, it received the award for “Best Mobile Photo App 2012”.   For these devices you can get the app for free.  Sadly the desktop versions for Windows and Mac are no longer offered, so I am so glad I already have mine installed!  But if you use it for your mobile device your photos will automatically be saved to your photo stream, or can otherwise be shared, for later access on your desktop.   At that point you can always do further editing in another photo editing software, if desired.

This is one amazing little program.  When you first install it on your mobile device and open the program, you will receive quick instructions on the use of each feature as you go through the screens, and help is always quickly available via a button in the top right-hand side of your screen.  You can take photos while in the program, or choose to use photos already on your camera roll for editing.  Controls are on the left and are easily identifiable:  tune image, straighten, crop, details, etc.  Click on any one and swipe your finger across the screen to see changes, or up and down for more selection choices (ex. Bright, Contrast, etc.).  With center focus you can select the point on your photo you want in sharp focus, choose the amount and radius of background you want blurred, and again swipe your finger to see instant changes to your pictures.

There are many great filters with SnapSeed , including Black & White, Vintage, Drama, and Grunge, each with many options.  And with the super cool Tilt-Shift feature you can get the feel of a large format view camera.  It can make a normal scene look like a toy set!  Try it out!

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Original Photo

 

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Photo edited in Snapseed

 

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Additional editing in Photoshop (see background and eyes).

At any time you can undo the changes you have worked on, save them, or compare them to your original photo.  I usually don’t select crops or frames.  In fact often I save the final version of my SnapSeed photo without using these features, preferring to save the photo in its original size and complete my crops in Photoshop at a later time.

If you are a little hesitant to work with photography, I think you will be impressed by the ease of use of this software.  The Snapseed website also has some great free online tutorials.  Even if you are comfortable with photography, I would suggest taking one of these tutorials to see the best this software can offer.  You won’t be disappointed!!

Are there any wonderful mobile photo apps you are particularly fond of?  If so please let me know.  I have quite a few installed on my phone, but this one is by far and away my favorite!