Not Everyone Succeeds Quickly: My Small Business Reflections on 2016

Two years ago, in 2015, I decided to try my hand at selling handmade crocheted items. I didn’t have a lot of free time as a mom of 3 with a part time job, but it seemed like something I could fit into some of those “extra” moments. Like sitting on a bench watching my three boys at the park or watching t.v. with the hubby at night. And maybe, just maybe, I could make a little money at it. I came up with a name, applied for a business license, set up a website, and signed up for a few local craft shows. I loved it! It was so much fun! After figuring in all my expenses at the end of the year, I did make a profit… but it wasn’t much! I was a little bummed, but I thoroughly enjoyed the satisfaction that came from conquering completely new challenges… and at least I covered the cost of all those yarn shopping trips that were probably more than I really needed (who knew buying yarn could be so addicting?)!

Setting up for a craft fair at the end of 2015.

In 2016 I set out to improve my business and my profit. I signed up for a few new craft fairs and crocheted like mad. Unfortunately, only a few months into 2016, I started having pain and numbness in my hands. I had pushed myself too hard. I talked to a few people about it and it sounded like my options were to either slow way down on the crocheting, or look into surgical options. I was very disappointed. Surgery felt way too big to consider, both for the physical ramifications and the cost! However, if I slowed down on the crocheting, I was pretty much giving up on continuing my small business.

At the local Farmer’s Market in 2016.

Four months into 2016, I re-evaluated and came up with a new plan. In all my Pinterest-ing and Instagram-ing I had noticed there was another group of people running another type of crochet business… the pattern designing business! I would not have previously considered trying my hand at designing, except that recently I had started having design ideas pop into my head. I decided it was worth a try and at least I could still crochet, but not be completely dependent on mass physical output of product for income.

So, I got myself a better website through WordPress and in June 2016, I posted my first simple pattern, the Ripple Flower Applique. And I entered the new realm of trying to figure out how to get people to your website to look at your pattern! It was challenging and mysterious! I made new friends who were kind enough to point me in the right direction (like Brie from over at Cream of the Crop Crochet). It was a brand new, fun challenge and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

My very first pattern that I created!

Next I designed a cup cozy, and a clutch, and then I got really brave and applied for an opportunity to do a pattern guest post on someone else’s website and was so excited to be accepted! In October 2016, my Diamond Boot Cuff pattern was featured on Melody’s Makings website!

My first contributor pattern, the Diamond Boot Cuffs, can be found for free over at Melody’s Makings.

And then I hit a new challenge. I have this adorable, full-of-life middle son, Aaron, who is 9 and has special needs. The special needs journey in general has been one full of many challenges! It has pushed me outside of my comfort zone and beyond what I felt capable of many times, but this fall of 2016 was especially challenging. Aaron was really struggling in school, on many levels. My husband and I made the decision at the end of 2016 to try homeschooling Aaron for the majority of the school day and see if that was a better situation for him.

My middle son, Aaron.

We’ve been at it for about 2 months now, at the time of this post. And I feel like it was the right decision. But, boy howdy, homeschooling is no joke! My housework has taken a major hit and, sadly, also my time to crochet and design has greatly diminished.

Life is full of forks in the road, hills and valleys, and surprises around the corner. It is full of highs and lows. I can say 2016 held all those things for me. I did not end up where I thought I was headed. I did not improve my profit numbers for the year for my business. My hands, despite my attempts to decrease my crochet hours (!) are still numb! And my new venture at designing has been greatly dampened by time becoming such a rare commodity (who knew designing would be so much work!?).  But I can say that I feel very fulfilled in the new things I have tried this year and accomplished. I am proud of myself for just going for it and so pleased at the small successes that I have had. It has been so much fun for me. And I am satisfied knowing that I am putting my kids on the front burner right now, knowing that is where they need to be in this season.

I am not sure what to expect in 2017. I plan to keep designing, though I know I will not be able to do it at the speed and rate I wish I could. I already have a few projects underway at various stages. Here’s a peak at a few things I’m working on:

 

 

 

 

 

I truly believe that conquering goals and achieving dreams is not always an immediate reality. Sometimes it is plodding and slow and comes after many defeats and disappointments. Anyone else watch Finding Dory in 2016? 🙂 So in 2017, I’m going to “just keep swimming”!

If you are reading this, then you have found my page and entered my journey this last year, since 2016 was my site’s birth year! Thank you for connecting with me here and wherever else you originally found my work! I hope that you will continue with me into 2017 to see where the journey takes me! You can follow along with me by signing up for my newsletter at the end of this post, or following me on any of your favorite social spaces: facebook, ravelry, instagram, pinterest or twitter.  Hopefully I will soon be posting access to those new patterns I am working on in all these spaces!

And as a last bonus, here is a link to my most popular pattern of the year, The Ruthie Scarf, as well as a link to my favorite pattern that is not my own, The Ups & Downs Slouchy Beanie pattern from Moogly. This design has seriously been my most popular seller at all my craft venues for several years now! People love this hat! I use Heartland Lionbrand or Caron Simply Soft yarns and pair it with whatever adorable buttons I can find, but my favorites are La Mode Vintage buttons. Best of luck in 2017 to all my yarny friends! 😀

 

 

 

 

 


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3 thoughts on “Not Everyone Succeeds Quickly: My Small Business Reflections on 2016”

  1. I love your honesty, and this is truly inspiring . We have plans but sometimes they don’t unravel as quick as we hope. And like you mentioned, I thinks it’s best to ‘just keep swimming’.
    I’m at that point in my life right now where I’m lagging behind on the plans i made for the year.
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you Rose! I was hoping my sharing might encourage others who are also experiencing a few “bumps in the road”. I truly think all the baby steps add up, no matter how small they feel, and eventually we will look back and be amazed at how far they took us… but sometimes where we want to be feels a long way off. Best of luck to you on your next step, whatever that may be!

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