A while back I talked about innovating and diversifying my product line to broaden my audience and increase sales. Well this blog post is the exact opposite of that. Instead, I want to talk about the pressure to constantly create new products and designs.
At markets my least favorite comments are, “What’s new?” or "Oh, I've seen that before." While these may seem innocent enough, it actually makes me feel pressure to not only have new pieces to share, but to have new pieces at every single market- even if they’re back to back. It’s hard to know when that same shopper will stop by again and buy something.
As a small business owner, I try to take cues from my peers and larger businesses. I try to see what works and what strategies I can implement in my own way or on a smaller scale. This has helped me expand and grow, but it’s also been a little panic inducing and has made me feel competitive. Big business has ingrained in customers that they should always be looking for the next new thing. And big businesses can do that, because they often don’t hand make each of their products.
As a one woman small business I do my best to stay innovative and add new products, but there’s no way I’d ever be able to compete with a store. First off, I make everything by hand. When I create a new design, I still have to stitch each version of it. Secondly, I do all the other business things like photography, shipping, marketing, in-person events, paperwork, finances, and more on my own because I’m the only one running this thing. The time I have to actually create isn’t as much as it seems or as much as I'd like it to be. And third, I don't do this full time. I have a full time day job in social media on top of running my side business. So seeing other makers who are full time, create bunches of new pieces or ship boxes of product off to new stockists can make me feel inferior, like I'm not putting in enough time to make that happen.
While I haven’t come to dread the question of “What's new?” I have felt the pressure to constantly create new designs and have a huge variety of inventory for customers to choose from. While variety makes for a fun shopping experience, it definitely makes it harder on me, the small business owner and actually stresses me out. As a shopper, I love variety and the ability to choose from a selection, but as a small business owner who feels the pressure to create and stock new things all the time, I like it much less.
After taking some time to slow down and de-stress (ok, only a little bit) this month, I’ve come to realize that I don’t need to constantly make everything to compete with big businesses or even other artists. It's just not possible. Instead, I need to go at my own pace.
Over these past few years, I’ve learned what I am capable of, when I should push myself to grow, and when I should slow down. While this might seem frustrating at times because I want to see my business succeed and do all the things at once, I also need to be realistic about my time, mental health, and ability to follow through with quality.
Yes, I’m having some FOMO (fear of missing out) by not taking on everything, but I also feel more in control. I'm still stressed, but I am happier, more confident, and have the time to play around with new ideas. I might not have something new at every show, or be shipping products off to new stockists and that’s okay. I doubt buyers will see all my designs the first time they stop by, and even if they do, they might re-find something they end up loving. I'm learning to be proud of the work I've accomplished and be thoughtful about where I want to go with my small business in the future.