Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Here We Grow Again!
Rob and I have mentioned in past blog and Facebook posts that 2011 would be a big year with announcements planned for almost every month. Well, this is another one - and maybe the most exciting announcement of the year (but the year's not over yet - <insert tease here>) Thanks to all of you, Bit of Whimsy Dolls has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last year. Growth is great! Keeping up with growth can sometimes be a struggle as we've watched dolls fly off the virtual shelves on our New Doll Thursdays. We simply can't keep the same old pace and meet the demand for Original Bit of Whimsy Dolls. This is a great problem to have, but still a problem.
Rob and I have spent a lot of time talking about how to scale to meet your demand for my dolls. To help ease this pressure, I hired an assistant full time who helps me with cutting dolls, stuffing the arms and legs, shipping and listing items on my website. She is fantastic and helps me out tremendously. She doesn't sew. Much. Yet. lol I put an ad in the newspaper and interviewed several sewists… I was amazed at how many people did not take me seriously with one even going so far as to tell me "…I feel that your dolls and patterns are too simplified for my skill level… I am sure many other mediocre sewers responded to your ad. I wish you luck with your adventure." No Joke… she actually put this in an email. lol. We live in a very old community and most of the ladies that I talked to didn't think that you could run an international business from your dining room. I did hire someone but after a few weeks I came to the realization that we weren't a good fit. I am very passionate and I need someone just as interested and passionate as I am! I put hiring on the back burner since we had a lot of traveling this spring and it would be hard to train anyone until we got home.
While on vacation in Georgia, we happened to visit A Scarlet Thread, an amazing fabric shop owned by an amazing woman named Karen. We got to talking…as Southern women do… and she gave us some great ideas to help us boost production. She introduced us to a great machine and talked to us about software capabilities that will duplicate my designs on the machine. We didn't buy a machine at that time, but Rob and I talked about it. A lot. Should we make such an investment? Would it work? Would the quality that I demand be there? We often seek advice from S.C.O.R.E. when faced with business turning points and after we talked to them about this machine, they asked us why we hadn't bought it yet. We bought it that day! It now sits in our dining room / Bit of Whimsy Dolls world headquarters lol.
In the past, I have looked into machine embroidery and have never liked it. There has always been something about it that I didn't like. Maybe it was how "perfect" it is or maybe it is the type of stitches that are used but I never liked it. I was really, really, REALLY nervous about the idea of switching to machine embroidered faces. I was not nervous about having the machine sew arms and legs for me, however! lol But the faces…. the faces need to be "just right". We contacted a few people to do the programming since we knew nothing about the software and designing, etc. We were excited to just get the machine going! We didn't like the designs that were coming back to us so Rob decided to give the software a go being the computer tech geek he is. I couldn't believe it when he showed me a sample of my hand drawn face sewn by a machine! Wow! The first one wasn't perfect, but showed a lot of promise. After countless tweaks - add a stitch here, move this stitch over a little, yada yada - he nailed it! I have to give Rob props for digging into this software and figuring things out! So even though the new dolls will be "high tech", they keep their handmade charm by still being directly based on my drawings. I honestly never thought it was possible until I saw a group of Mae's sitting together! For the next several months, there will be a mix of dolls with hand embroidered faces and machine embroidered faces and the descriptions will say what type of doll it is until we have moved completely over to machine embroidery.
So what does this mean for you? It means that I can provide more dolls for you! Wooohooooo! It means that I can keep my costs down while still providing an awesome product! Oh yeah baby! It means that I will have more time for custom orders! Yes! All custom orders will still have hand embroidered faces and the next three spots will open on Friday May 20th at 3pm Eastern!
Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the years! This has been an amazing journey so far and Rob and I are thrilled about this next path!