Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's Harsh & Long - Read at Your Own Risk

It's been a while, it seems like, since I wrote about anything business related that wasn't a sale or talk about an upcoming show. I have a lot going on right now and a lot to figure out, which makes it hard to know exactly what I should share and what I shouldn't. So, I'm just going to jump in. Those who know me personally know that I leave very little unsaid and I guess this blog is only a little different....so here it goes.

How it all started

As you may know from my posts in January, my line was picked up by sales reps from the Dallas and Atlanta markets. Wow...exciting right? Glamorous, right? No, in reality it is expensive, a lot of hard work, time consuming, and up to this point completely free of any reward of any kind. Yes, that includes monetary reward. Turns out I made a mistake. A big one. One that has cost me a lot of money and a lot of time. This is basically how it went down:

For two months at the end of 2008, I contacted every sales rep in the southeast that I could find contact information on. I received rejection after rejection, stating that they were already carrying too many lines or were not accepting new lines at this time. So, you can imagine my excitement when I got a YES! I was thrilled. I really thought back then - a whole six months ago - that getting a rep was a major accomplishment...that it meant you had "made it". Boy, was I wrong. From my experience hiring a rep is basically the same as hiring a gardener or a housekeeper. If they have time for you, they'll work for you. But you'll pay. Oh, you'll pay.


After being with my first rep for almost a month, she referred me to my Atlanta rep who accepted me as a new line on the spot. It was January....what a way to start off the year! If you go back and read my post you will understand my excitement. I really thought this was a great sign of great things to come for 2009.


Also, way back then, I thought that paying $100 a month and 12% commission wasn't a shabby deal. I mean, I understand that they have to pay for their showroom and travel time, etc. Fast forward to January 15 - due date for each rep to be paid their seasonal fee of $600. Multiply that by two. Factor in a decline in sales in December and January. Ok, not off to such a great start, huh? I owe $1200 and am banking on the hopes that these two are going to sell, sell, sell! Add to that the cost of shipping, print materials, new hangers, purchasing fabric to create the Fall 2009 line which debuted in February, etc, etc, etc. You get my point.

Fall 2009 Collection

Where it got me

Here we are present day. Beginning April 2009 and my 3rd & 4th month being "at market". One rep has made one sale at a whopping $488. Keep in mind that is wholesale, any other time I would be thrilled with this sale! Also, I was notified that this account rarely pays and to be sure and get a check and wait for it to clear before I ship. How do I feel now? Like I have wasted a LOT of money. Money that I can't afford to waste right now. (Not that ANYONE can EVER afford to waste money.) You understand what I mean though - things are tight.

My Mistakes - I made them

Before you begin to think I'm completely bashing my reps, let me tell you this: I have made mistakes - big ones - that also effected my experience at market. My goal was to be there by Spring 2010 (which means January). I made my goal a year early, which I thought was fabulous until now. It was too soon. My reps tell me my price points are too high and that I need to lower my prices so I can get INTO the stores and then raise them when I actually start making sales. THAT, my friends, I cannot afford to do. I'm already barely breaking even on a wholesale sale after paying 12% commission. My line is too expensive to make to wholesale at rock bottom prices. It works for so many companies - even small ones like mine. I'm just not set up to work this way, apparently. I thought by now I'd be looking further into manufacturing, but I just can't find any companies (IN THE USA) that will manufacture on a small scale that I can afford. My sales just aren't high enough to justify making even 250 of a single design. Someday....maybe.

Another Sign



Another sign it was too soon was when I found out that I had to have my Fall 2009 line designed, created, produced, photographed & shipped with line sheets, price lists, etc - all in 4 weeks! I hate to admit this, but while we are being honest - Fall 2009 is not my favorite to date. I didn't have enough time. Not to mention - I haven't even added a boy's line to the Fall lineup yet! It is hard to "crank things out" or force yourself to be creative when you are not feeling it. Generally, I use the 6 months between seasons to create the next line.

Questioning Myself

This makes a million questions run through my head. Do I start making a less detailed, less expensive line that retailers can afford to buy? (BORING!) Ok, boring but it might work. But is that really what I want to do? I can't imagine myself making a hundred a-line dresses and enjoying it - if you'll notice I don't even offer basic alines. I'm leaving that up to someone else - there are only a million other companies that offer them. No offense, of course, it's just not my thing. Next questions: Should I leave the markets and sell on my own? I have established one account with a local boutique, I suppose I could do more. Do I even WANT to continue to wholesale? Do I have time to factor in selling as well as designing, sewing, paperwork, etc? I don't think so unless I change my line. Ok, so this brings me to my last idea.

Revelation


Lisa working my booth @ Cottontails

I really TRULY enjoyed Cottontails Village. It was a lot of work, but had the potential to be a great money maker if I had gone into it know what I know now. (Lots of lessons learned there too) Part of me thinks I really want to continue to do these large vendor shows and just carry a lot of inventory and sell online. No, I'm not talking about getting rich. I'm talking about making a living. I never went into this thinking I would get rich, because Lord knows - from what I've seen so far the profit margins are small! Trust me - I just finished my taxes.

So, there you have it. I kind of think I know what I want to do. I think going this route would allow me to be more creative instead of cranking out the same thing over and over (which I do not enjoy) I'd love your input - but not your hate mail of course. I'd also love to hear of any vendor shows you think I may like to participate in. anna (at) sweet-dreams-designs.net Email me!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mayme Peasant Dress - SAMPLE SALE! Fresh as a Daisy



This was a hot one this season so I'm guessing it may not last long!
Size: 3T
Mayme Peasant Dress - Fresh as a Daisy
Regular Price: $58.00
Sample Sale Price: $30.00
Shipping: $5.00








Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Sample Sale Set - Madeline




How cute!
Jennifer Paganelli's Bell Bottom prints were super popular for my Spring 09 line. This little set is available in a 3T for $35. That's HALF price!







Friday, March 27, 2009

Skill Assessment: Is this the best you can do?

I don't do this much, but if you are in the industry, read this blog. Found the post on Twitter and it is exactly what everyone needs to read right now....a little kick in the booty!

roadrageblog - Skill Assessment: Is this the best you can do?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Last Day to Order Linen Monogrammed Dresses!

Friday March 27th will be the last day to order these adorable classic linen dresses with FREE monograms for only $29.99! See details below from previous blog post!
Welcome Spring! Sweet Dreams Designs is now offering these simple sundresses with free monogramming! These dresses will not be offered on the website, only for my blog readers for $29.99 each. They are available in pink only in sizes 12 months - 6 Years. Monogramming is available in three initial format - firstLASTmiddleTo order your dress, simply click the Buy Now button below. Shipping will be added to your purchase at checkout through paypal. Be sure and specify your monogram instructions, thread color and size!

60% Ramie/40% Cotton

Buttons in the back

Pretty drawnwork detailing on the hem.

Sizes available:

12M, 18M, 2T, 3T, 4T, 5, 6

These dresses are designed to be on the long side--below the knee, almost mid-calf. If in doubt, order the smaller size you are considering.



NOTICE: These dresses will become available March 25! Pre order yours now!




Monogram Instructions

Size




Feelin' Froggy - Matching Sister Dress



This one was a hit at Cottontails! It looks so cute with the matching jon jon that was listed yesterday here.

I have just a few of these left at discounted prices! They were sold at the show for $44.99 and I am selling them here on the blog for $39.99. On the site, these are $58, so you are getting it at almost half price!

Sizes available:
2T
4T
8Y






Size




Let's hear it for the boys! Frog Chow Jon Jons on sale!



I have a few of these left from Cottontails and coming tomorrow will be matching sister dresses!
Sizes available:
3 months
12 months
2T ***SOLD***
3T

These were sold at a discounted price of $34.99 at Cottontails, but for blog readers only they are $29.99! These are also listed on Etsy (for $34.99) so if you want one you better get it fast!






Size




Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Planting Time & a New Office

Now that it is pouring down rain, it is hard to believe that when I originally started working on this post it was such a beautiful day for yard work!


Posted by Picasa

Last week, Home Depot had a sale on 4" annuals = 3 for $1! A dream come true for Jason and me. He has wanted to fill our backyard with annuals every season, but we haven't been able to afford it - our back yard is pretty big! Pictured below are the 90...yes ninety... plants that we bought last week and planted over the weekend. 90 plants doesn't go as far as you think! We were able to get 3 beds done and I think they turned out beautifully.



Lilac Petunias

Orange and Yellow Marigolds - my design - Jason finally admitted he really liked it!
Multicolored Zinnias - kind of small right now, but they will be gorgeous!

It was such a great feeling working in the yard and getting things done around the house all day! We finally after 6 months, got my serger out of the basement and into my sewing room! Wow...that has cut down production time! We also moved my antique desk into my new office, which is fab!


Originally, as you may remember, my new office was supposed to be in the sitting nook in our master bedroom. Well, much to Jason's relief the desk was too large to fit through the door to our room! This also meant that Jason didn't have to bring it upstairs, which was great because that sucker is heavy! So, I panicked a little when I first found out that I was going to have to find a new home for my home office, but we got it all sorted out. We have a room that I have blogged about before. I have never really known what to call it, because it is supposed to be our dining room, but we are using our formal living for our dining. So, I guess this mystery room was supposed to be our formal living. Well, instead it is really a room where all of our extra furniture collects....we like to call it the music room since that is where the piano landed!
Now, the room has a new title - OFFICE.


I got my new old desk put in its place. It's not perfect - needs a lot of work, but it is perfect for me! This desk was my dad's and he had bought it to fix up. That never happened and it landed in a basement for the past 17 years. No big surprise that it is not in perfect condition. Turns out it is a banker's desk from (I'm guessing) the 1940's. It has all of these awesome little nooks and crannies and extra desk space that pulls out of both sides!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fourth Sample Item for Sale! Skye - Garden Party



If you've been reading, then by now you know the drill! Regular price - $56. Sample Sale price: $35 (tax & shipping added upon check out!) No returns or exchanges on samples.

This pink and green number is in a size 3T. Click buy now to order and it will be on it's way!






Thursday, March 19, 2009

More from the Sample Sale!



This is a Taylor - A Line Top that buttons down the back with sweet bows at the front. It is paired with a pair of ruffled shorts and is available in a size 8 in our Caribbean Floral fabric combo for only $30 plus shipping!






Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Monogrammed Linen Dresses - Special Introductory Price!


Welcome Spring! Sweet Dreams Designs is now offering these simple sundresses with free monogramming! These dresses will not be offered on the website, only for my blog readers for $29.99 each. They are available in pink only in sizes 12 months - 6 Years. Monogramming is available in three initial format - firstLASTmiddleTo order your dress, simply click the Buy Now button below. Shipping will be added to your purchase at checkout through paypal. Be sure and specify your monogram instructions, thread color and size!

60% Ramie/40% Cotton

Buttons in the back

Pretty drawnwork detailing on the hem.

Sizes available:

12M, 18M, 2T, 3T, 4T, 5, 6

These dresses are designed to be on the long side--below the knee, almost mid-calf. If in doubt, order the smaller size you are considering.



NOTICE: These dresses will become available March 25! Pre order yours now!




Monogram Instructions

Size




Sample Sale! Skye Round Neck Dress - Damask

Our second sample sale item is the Skye round neck dress in the pretty Diamonds and Damask fabric combo. This sample is in a 3T. Original price was $56. New price: $35

Tax and shipping will be added upon checking out! Sorry, no returns or exchanges on sample sale items.






Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Time for a sample Sale!!! Bell Bottoms Peasant Dress

It's almost that time again! To make this more interesting, I'm going to post a new sample sale outfit every day ( or almost every day - as time allows!)

The first sample is a Mayme Peasant Dress in a size 7 and in our popular Bell Bottoms fabric combo.



Just click the buy now button to purchase and it will be on its way! Tax and shipping will be added upon checking out! Regular price was $68! Sample sale price:
$38.00






Monday, March 9, 2009

Did you order from me at Cottontails Village?

If you ordered something from me at Cottontails Village, please contact me asap at anna@sweet-dreams-designs.net ! It is very important that you contact me immediately to insure a timely delivery of your order!

Thanks so much!

Cottontails Booth Photos

I thought I was going to feel like writing more about my experience at Cottontails Village today, but I think my body is trying to tell me something. I have been sick and horizontal just about all day today. I think my body has shut down and wants me to slow down for a bit and rest. Even when I was sitting up trying to do some work on the computer I just fell asleep! So, instead of writing more today, I'm just going to share with you my pictures from the booth - from set up to break down. I learned a lot about booth set up too - I love the way mine turned out, but it was not as efficient as it should have been and changes will definitely be made to future shows. Russ and Jason putting together my easel - don't they look thrilled?

Collage was used both on the easel and off - had to move it after a few crashes.