craft business

The Importance of Learning to Let Things Go

Timber Hawkeye of Buddhist Boot Camp has a short podcast titled, “Let Go or Be Dragged.”  It’s definitely worth a listen because what he says is so true. Change is the only constant in life. No matter how much we may want things to stay the same, things will and do change. You have to learn to let go if you want to keep your sanity. Is it easy? Nope.

People hate change.  From a business standpoint, try to find opportunities to help people transition successfully toward the new change or find ways to help them incorporate parts of the past with the present day.  Technology is a prime example. Every time a video format changes, there are “adapters” and services rushed to the market to help preserve your memories in a more current format or make the old technology work with the new.  In sewing, we see ergonomic scissors, specialty needle threaders and new gizmos designed to make sewing easier for both new and aging sewists.

I also think this why we see so many maker spaces and creative spaces popping up over town. It’s also why my sewing club at school is always wait listed every time it’s offered. People hunger to get away from the constant stream of technology, work with their hands, be creative, have some wine (well, not with the kids at school) and visit with folks. It simply recharges your batteries.

In my business, I’ve had to learn to let things go. After school sewing clubs got put on hold until I am no longer employed as a public school teacher (conflict of interest/ethics rules).  So, I teach at a local quilt shop and have reached out to a local creative space to teach pillow construction. Sewing requires an investment, which is why people prefer to try it a couple of times before they invest in the hobby. I already have machines, so the AR workshop was definitely interested in pursing a series of basic pillow classes where we’ll turn painted panels into an envelope style pillow. I’ve already paid for the machines and my machines certainly aren’t making me any money sitting idle in the closet between kid’s sewing classes.

Memory quilts are a lot of fun, but the ROI simply is no longer there as other companies have cheapened the product to a point where I will literally be in the hole if I agree to make one start-to-finish. I am not in a position to make the investment in a long arm quilting machine that would speed up production, nor do I have the time to devote to making t-shirt quilts on a full-time basis that I feel this type of financial investment would require.  Yes, I’ve looked at longarm rentals in a nearby quilt shop. That is feasible, but will have to wait until summer break where I can go through the mandatory training classes and be available during the day when the longarm machines are available.  In my business, I’ve made many quilts for hire, shut that part of the business down completely and am now looking at possible ways to tiptoe back into that part of the business because my customers keep asking me for that service.

Technical editing came about as the result of a conversation I had with a couple of quilt designers who were bemoaning the dearth of good, reasonably priced technical editors in the industry. Turns out, I had the exact skill set and sewing experience necessary to offer the service.  It still give me a thrill to hear one of my clients state that she has her patterns edited by an “industry professional” (that would be me).  I didn’t realize that a segment of the B2B industry needed my services because I had been so focused on B2C.

In closing, had I not learned to let go of parts of the business plan when I started my business six years ago, I wouldn’t still be in business today.  I would have given it up due to frustration and lack of profitability.  Now, I am more excited than ever to see what the future holds, especially as I transition out of my full-time day job at some point in the future (exact date TBD, but within 5 years!).

So let go, or be dragged!