Friday, April 3, 2015

The Offer That Wasn't

One of my friends posted this on facebook the other day. She headed it, "That moment when you know you're doing the right thing.."

I am so blessed to have found exactly the right career - twice!

I began teaching in 1965 and I retired in 2007.  I didn't rationally and intentionally choose to be a teacher. When I started college, teaching, right along with nursing and secretarial work, was on my list of "women's" jobs that I absolutely refused to consider. Then, in my second year of college, teaching found me. It really was like a calling that I couldn't avoid following. I wouldn't trade those years of working with children for a different career anymore than I would trade my own children for those of someone else.

Then came retirement. For the first year or two I just played around with my quilting and my sewing. Then Craftsy came along and I signed up. Little could I have imagined at the time that this website would lead me on to a new and totally unplanned career. I had always designed my own patterns and drawing had been a favorite hobby from the time I was old enough to hold a pencil. It was a perfect match, a hobby that I love and a small business that comes in very handy in these retirement years. 

And that leads me to the offer that turned out not be. 

The Offer 

Back in early January I received an interesting offer. At least it seemed interesting at first glance.

I had an email from a buyer for a very well known quilt catalog. She had seen my patterns on Craftsy and thought they might sell well through this company with it's international sales and millions of customers worldwide. She enclosed a PDF of frequently asked questions and offered to send me a contract should I be interested.

She didn't have to tell me that this is a big company. I knew that. I've been getting their quilting email for years.

It all sounded rather intriguing and I thought about the advantages. 1. I might pick up lots of sales this way and expand my customer base. 2. Customers who chose not to join Craftsy wouldn't have to become members in order to purchase my designs. 3. Those who don't use PayPal could pay another way.

I was curious, but not convinced that this would be a good idea, so I read the FAQ page. I was surprised to see that they wanted to take a 70% commission on the sale price of any patterns they sold. On second reading, it appeared that there might be room for negotiation. I had other reservations, but I responded anyway.

I sent a pattern to the buyer and explained that she might want to look it over before making an offer. My patterns are a bit different from most in that all of the templates are all drawn by hand. I don't know how to use a computer drawing program, I've not needed to learn this yet, and not a single customer has ever complained, so I'm happy. Her company might feel that this takes away from the "professional" look of the pattern, but I'm not interested in redoing templates or changing anything else about the patterns, for that matter.

Next, I told her that I'm an old grandmother, so I've no intention of trying to build an thriving business.  I'm just playing and having fun with my retirement hobby. I enjoy making these patterns at my leisure.  If my patterns pay for my materials and a give me a bit of extra spending money I'm happy.

Then I explained the most important aspect of my little business, the part that means more to me than any amount of money I can earn. By selling through Craftsy, I am able to communicate directly with my customers. I am easily accessible, always available to answer questions, able to guide beginners to the information they need, and excited to share in the joy of their successes. I know many of them by name, and we have a relationship that goes well beyond that of customer and seller.

I would never, ever give up these close relationships. I'm a retired school teacher, for goodness sake. I like people. I like being helpful. I get goose bumps when a customer learns something new or turns my pattern into something special. I thrill over photos of projects that are sent to me - even if the patterns used come from a different source.

I wrote that she could contact me if she wanted to discuss selling my patterns in more detail. Needless to say, there's been no response.

That's fine by me.

My patterns don't have to look "professional".  They may look amateur, but that's because they're made by an amateur.

On any given day, I can choose when I work, what I work on, how I go about my designing, and whether I work at all.

If I really wanted more customers, I could sell on Etsy, too, but I'm quite content with only one set of procedures for posting patterns.

I love spending my retirement doing something that gives me an enormous feeling of accomplishment and a heartwarming connection to others.

What I'm doing now is exactly the "right thing" for me!

Now, let's all go sew stuff! 

The frog pattern will be out in just a few more days!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Finished Wall Hanging!!

Yes! Yes! Yes!

The last block is completed, the last stitch has been sewn, templates have been drawn, and the pattern has been written! The 2015 Summer Garden quilt along is altogether finished, and it's done way ahead of schedule! This feels so good!

I must have taken 20 photographs, but this was my favorite. 

I've included the fabric requirement and instructions for assembling the quilt in this last block pattern. It's done very simply with 1" sashing and a border of the same size. 

The creation of a trellis block came as a complete and total surprise to me, but it was a very welcome surprise. It completes the quilt and it is unique. I've searched the web, but nowhere have I found another trellis block on a quilt. I'm sure that others exist out there, but I wasn't able to locate one. I do detest creating something and finding that it looks very similar to another designers quilt. 

Originally I had planned to use primary colors to make this quilt. Red, blue, yellow with a bit of green sounded happy. Somehow, though, that didn't happen. Without intending to at all, I slipped back into my comfortable pastels. The wheelbarrow and trellis blocks with shades of pink and purple changed everything, so I had to remake two of the small blocks. The dark blue butterfly was exchanged for a brighter, paler blue, and a red heart was replaced with one in yellow and pink. 

But, I know that I like this much, much more than I would have liked the original color scheme. Best of all, my hubby enjoys looking at it. "Beautiful," he says. I'm such a happy camper today.

I may make a combined pattern for all of the blocks eventually, but for now the patterns for separate blocks will have to do. With all of the full size templates and layout plans the combined pattern would have so many pages! The main advantage to this is that people can purchase and download one pattern at a time as they are ready to work on each new block. For me it's a time issue more than anything. I have so many projects in the works right now, and that's a really wonderful thing!

Hope your weekend is filled with glorious sunshine, both in the sky and in your heart! 

Happy Stitching!!