Report card time

Hubs rode along with me and the dog today to deposit the check I received from the t-shirt pillow class. We talked about how my micro-business was doing.  So, I guess it’s report card time.  And yes, I am going to talk a little bit about numbers and money.

I’ve been “in business” for five months now and yes, I’m turning a teeny-tiny profit only thanks to the fact I’ve not taken a “salary” out of the company.  Instead, I invested the proceeds back in the company by purchasing equipment to use for my sewing classes. [I knew this would be the case the first 2-3 years, which is why I started part-time while I have a full-time job.]

65% of my revenues have come from teaching – my favorite part of the business – and the remainder have come from quilt restorations and custom sewing.  Looking ahead to fall, I see that percentage evening out to a 50/50 split thanks to some custom work currently in the hopper.

I can count on receiving an average of $30 per clock hour of instruction for teaching kids’ sewing classes as long as I teach outside of my home.  It doesn’t matter if it’s private or group lessons. Adult classes pay more because of a larger number of students. I am well aware that another independent teacher in my area receives $50 per hour when she teaches a class. She also has 14 students where I have no more than 6.  The payoff in having this number is that I can I can now write a realistic proposal when pitching a teen/adult class to the local continuing education center.  I know how to set the course price to be competitive and what I will need to cover my time and expenses.

An after-school or before school craft club  would be wonderful – IF I can quit my day job to concentrate on this.  Four one-hour sessions a week would replace 1/3 of my existing income.  That doesn’t include other classes taught elsewhere or out of my home.  Mornings could be spent working on custom sewing projects such as t-shirt quilts or perhaps working a part-time library job as long as I was finished by 1 p.m.

Need to raise prices a bit and make better use of my sewing time.  Not meeting my targets there.

Spending 5 minutes to write the blurb on Craig’s List about my kids’ sewing classes was well worth it.

Moving closer in to Atlanta (like we’ve discussed) would definitely be the right move for my business.  Most of the requests received for private sewing instruction (the most lucrative BY FAR) have been from parents in north Atlanta, not the boonies where I live.  I’ve cheerfully referred people to other shops and teachers when  I can’t help them.  The favor will eventually be repaid.  I see this all the time in library land. I shipped some books that were turned into my library to the school district 1/2 state away last spring.  When I returned to work last week, I had a library book returned to me from the King County Public Library in Seattle.

My business needs at least one additional revenue stream.  Writing for publication or vending small items at craft fairs/online stores would seem like a really good fit.

I probably bought one insurance policy that I really didn’t need. I will not be renewing that one.

I will transfer the business domain name to this blog when the year is up. No need for two separate sites.

Something more?

I’ve been sucked into the vortex of craziness known as teacher preplanning (the week before the kids start the new school year where teachers sit in meetings and get their rooms ready for the first day of school).  It’s like Christmas in that I know it comes every year, but somehow I’m never fully prepared.   This year is especially bittersweet as many of my friends have moved on to other positions, new adventures and exciting opportunities.   I had hoped to join their ranks this year, but ’twas not my time.

I took a few moments between website and email distribution list updates for my school to peruse blogs of teacher friends I haven’t talked to in a while.   One quit her job to go volunteer in Haiti for a year.  That really took a leap of faith, but she looks so genuinely happy in the pictures she posted.  You can’t help but just *know* this was the right step for her to take.  Another  friend looked positively radiant as she talked about her pet rescue activities this summer whenever we had lunch.  That is truly her calling and I hope the opportunity she’s currently exploring works out for her.  I get that same glint in my eye when I talk about sewing machines, quilting and textiles.   That’s one reason I started my business.

I love libraries and they’ve been a huge part of my life for the past fourteen years.  I’m merely ready to move my career in a different direction…and surely there has to be a way to combine my interests into a new opportunity pour moi.

A busy week indeed

This was our last official week of summer break.  An oxymoron of sorts as I spent three days dealing with school stuff (unpaid, of course since our contract doesn’t start until Monday).  I managed to squeeze in some sewing and actually taught sewing classes this week.

Levi’s Story Time Quilt
from the stash and very scrappy

First off, I made a very scrappy baby quilt for a library colleague of mine who recently adopted a child.  Our former library media supervisor hosted a baby shower for the new parents.  Attendees were asked to bring a favorite children’s book to help build the baby’s library.

I decided Levi needed a story-time quilt to snuggle up with while he listens to all of those great stories.  The 16 patch blocks are made up from 2″ squares cut from fabric scraps.  In fact, I cut all of the pieces for this quilt using my Accuquilt GO! cutter. It made quick work of cutting all of those 2″ squares from various size scraps.  Sewing them together was a breeze.  Can’t say the same thing for the white squares, though.  Some came out 1/8″ short, forcing me to “make it work” while assembling the rows.  I had a similar problem with the 5″ charm square die, which the company replaced at no charge.  Hopefully this was a case of operator error not equipment error.  The 6-1/2″ size is quite handy.

I taught not one, but TWO sewing classes this week.  The first was a mother-daughter private and lesson and the second was to a class full of ‘tweens learning to make t-shirt pillow covers.  What a blast.  My friend Shannon was shopping in the store and popped in the classroom to say, “Hi!” when she heard my voice.

T-Shirt Pillow Class with Anna and Shelbea

The shop owner took a number of pictures of the class in action.  I’ll write up a post when I have permission from all the parents to post the pictures.  Meanwhile, enjoy this photo of my 8th grade friends proudly displaying their handiwork.

Lastly, equipment failure forced me to seek out a better fabric organization solution for my stash.  The oversize 3 drawer rolling cart I’d inherited from a teacher friend finally broke.  I purchased color coded fabric bins from Home Depot and a Martha Stewart 6-cubby organizer to replace the plastic cart.  The color of the bin indicates which color family of fabric is stored inside.  I can tell at a glance what I have.  And yes, the fabric bins come in a wide range of colors.  The 6 drawer plastic organizer to the right  of my new cubby organizer is a really good one – but I really, really like the ease of finding fabric in the bins.  And the bins hold a lot more fabric than the plastic drawers.  Hmmm…

Stash organization using color coded fabric bins and cubby organizer from Martha Stewart available at Home Depot (on left).
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