Sunday, January 11, 2009

CPSIA isn't the only problem. Apathy is as well. Do something.

“Your outfit is absolutely adorable!” I heard a woman say behind me and my daughter replied with, “Thank you! My Mommy has a clothing business!” and I sighed. Sighing is not my usual reaction when I get a compliment for my work. The woman and her sister were very polite and had no idea that they had just brought to surface so many terrible feelings with their compliments, “You made her outfit? It's amazing! You really have talent and I've never seen anything so adorable.” They didn't have kids but talked about how they almost wished their biological clocks started ticking simply to shop for my line of clothes. I was completely flattered but almost muted because of the recent decision to close up my Immature Couture shop. When they asked where I sold my clothes I didn't have the energy to explain what was going on so I simply said “Online.” thanked them and went back to grocery shopping with the kids.

I want nothing more than to know that the toys my children play with are safe and will not cause them any harm. I understand the urgency to protect the children of this country from high levels of lead and stop the ridiculous recalls. What I do not understand is why these new regulations were passed with such carelessness that it requires testing for products that have virtually NO risk of lead contamination! Products like clothing, blankets, wooden toys and books! The CPSIA is essentially causing many small businesses that make products for children under the age of twelve to close up shop because of their haste in passing regulations that have an insane amount of loopholes. Congress decided that a problem caused by ridiculous and irresponsible mass-market toymakers should be solved with a solution that sucks in various other industries that are completely unrelated to toys!

Later on when the kids and I were checking out the two women approached me and asked for my business card because they wanted to tell their friends about my clothing line. I smiled and tried to explain to them as plainly as possible that as of February 10th I would be officially closing up shop because of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act . Shockingly they were outraged that they hadn't heard of it. That they felt their rights as consumers were being taken away. That the deadline is so close and there isn't a media outrage over it. That more small businesses are being shut down and allowing the big companies to triumph. We exchanged information, I gave them my card and they said they would be writing whoever they needed to and be in contact with me. They weren't business owners who are effected by this nor were they parents but they were as equally outraged as most of us that have to close our shops.

The apathy that I have seen from the general public and even those that own small businesses and are not effected by the new regulations have saddened me until I spoke with these two women. They were absolutely right! This does not just hurt my business. This hurts everyone no matter if they have children or not. No matter if they have a business selling products to children under twelve or selling something that, thankfully for them, does not have to be burdened with the CPSIA. Why don't more people care?

I loaded up the kids, put my groceries in the trunk and at that moment it finally hit me. Something I started as a side business for extra cash in hand and as a creative outlet was taken from me. Just when my business started to take off it was ripped from my hands, discarded and no real explanation for it. I sell clothes. Not jewelry. Not toys. Not anything that has been manufactured overseas or injected with lead. I design, cut, iron, serge, stitch and package every item of clothing myself. To comply with these regulations each product I made would have to be tested which means each indicidual component of the garment would have to be tested for lead. A 15$ onesie now costs 400$ to make simply because of the testing fees! I put sleepless nights into marketing plans, helping Etsy teams and writing blogs to help the handmade market. There is no reason for so many of us to be swept out of the way because some major corporations wanted to cut their overhead costs and put MY children in danger. I stood there and cried in the parking lot. There is no reason why so many handmade artists look away at the pain so many of us are going through simply because they are not in the same boat.

Do something. The children in this country need to be protected but by regulations that target only the products that can cause potential harm. If you don't do it for yourself and your business, or your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or friend's kids then do it for the sake of what's right and stop being silent and a doormat in our society.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

I Miss Tokyo

I spent most of my childhood summers in Tokyo, Japan with my family. Hey, some kids went to Summer camp and I went to Tokyo! Being a typical kid I actually complained about that. I have a lot of fond memories of spending Sundays on the streets of Harajuku and seeing all the street fashion and performers. That place is so alive. It is filled with so much sub-culture. There are amazing little things you just will not see anywhere else! Like, the Rockabilly dancing gangs. They are amazing in their dedication. The Gothic Lolita fashion has always been fascinating. The way its all evolved is so awesome... its so against the social norm... it is so punk. This sub-culture has molded my fashion tastes more than a child molds playdoh.

I started having a conversation about Lolita and GothLoli fashion with my daughter because she saw me flipping through a Magazine from Japan and immediately took towards this genre. She loves ruffles, bustles and anything layering. She loves dark clothes, layers and plaids. She also loves heavy makeup and bright hair. If we lived in Tokyo she would seek out this subculture from the moment we stepped out the door.

Now, I would also like to point out that I neither mold nor influence my daughter's taste in anything. I raise her to form her own opinion and there are plenty of things we do not agree on whatsoever! I give her the options, give no biased opinion either way and she formulates her own outlook on things. For example, she does not like my skater shoes or my chucks because she feels that all shoes should have some kind of shiny stuff on them or flowers. Simply different.

She wanted to assist me in designing something new. She chose her three favorite fabric combinations (which I am quickly running out of) and she grabbed some lace and decided she wanted to make a kids gothic lolita outfit. This was the result.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Etsy Handmade Kids Challenge!

Etsy has had this Handemade Kids Challenge going on for the past few months. Its been a wonderful experience and fun to check out all the talented artists! I found out that I am one of the finalists in the Kids Clothing category! I am completely floored and honored! The grand prize spending money would be nice but I feel like I've already won by being picked. This is what I entered and it sold long before they closed the contest!

You can vote here: Remember that every time you vote you are entered to win a 350$ spending spree in each category!

If you scroll down you will find another blog entry about this piece. My daughter actually helped me design this! It was a really great day for us. She had been sick after a severe allergic reaction and I needed her to have some down time. Its hard to get a 6 year old girl to sit still and relax... so designing and sewing did that for her. She was thrilled with the whole process. She is now ecstatic that the outfit she came up with is now a finalist piece in a contest. If we win then I am going to be spending the money on her and letting her have a little shopping spree.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Do Not Focus on the Slow Sales Today. Prepare for More Sales Tomorrow!

Yes, times are slow right now for many reasons! It’s the summer so families are out and about instead of buying things. Also, some families have added expenses like summer camp! People are just enjoying the weather, going on vacations and not being the usual consumer. It’s typical with Summer to have a slow season so do not let it discourage you! Look at the silver lining... you have a bit more time on your hands to take advantage of!

If you allow this slow time to bring you down then you will only sink yourself! Be positive and utilize this time to prepare for the holiday season coming up! Plan ahead and get cracking on those marketing and business plans! Stay busy and stay positive. I have always honestly thought that the Summer was a WONDERFUL break to allow us to prepare for the Christmas rush.

Have you started increasing your inventory? Have you started working on your marketing plans for the holiday season? Have you considered what added bonuses you will offer your customers to make their lives easier during this insane time? Have you formulated any sales plans to increase traffic? What about holiday marketing? What will YOU being doing to stop focusing on the slow sales today and prepare for the quick increase of very very soon!

-I’m looking at different banner advertising on Mom forums.
-I will be donating goods to various non-profits for sweepstakes in exchange for advertising on their websites and things of that nature
-I am increasing my inventory and will be offering only in stock and OOAK outfits instead of a lot of Custom Made to Size
-I will be offering gift wrapping
-I am going to be sending out postcards to my previous customers and anyone that signs up for my Newsletter that will include promos for them for the holidays

These are just a few off the top of my head. What will you be focusing on to move you forward through the slow times?

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How Much Is Negativity Costing You?

A Positive Business is a Productive Business

There is no room for negativity in the workplace. At all. None. So stop it like yesterday. Negative energy will only weigh you, the company, your employees and eventually your clients down. If you want to have a productive and successful business you have to start with your own energy and how to control it.

Let’s say your competitor is ahead of the game. They make more sales. They get more exposure. They get better reviews. You have a few options from this point forward.

A) Throw a fit. Be negative. Make claims on how they don’t deserve it. Bash them in hoping others will turn on them. Make yourself feel better short term by expending this negative energy that will eventually sink like a ton of bricks on your shoulders.

B) Do nothing.

C) DO something about it! Change it! Use it to motivate you! Figure out what the other guy is doing that you are not. Why aren’t you?! Don’t steal ideas! No, I don’t condone that. However, I do encourage changing your business practices and how your customers perceive you. You don’t always have to undercut the other guy and get your prices lower to make the sale. Sometimes you just have to improve yourself to make you worth your asking price. Notice I said you, not just your products, YOU are an integral part of your business and your customer knows this.

How does one do this? Simple and not simple. You have to start somewhere so I suggest starting with looking at yourself. Critique yourself. Ask others. Find REAL constructive criticism and take it well. Take it happily. Reach out to your previous clients and ask for input. Don’t be spammy. Offer something in return for their valuable time. Free shipping! 10% off for filling out a survey. Did someone tell you that you have poor customer service? GOOD! Now what can you do to make it right? What can you change to prevent that from ever happening again.

Also, stop blaming the other guy. Stop with the negativity. How is that productive? Spending an hour being angry over something you feel has an impact on your business will do absolutely nothing to move you forward. It will simply hold you back. Stop choosing to let YOU be your worst enemy!! Sure, get upset but then push yourself forward. Do something positive about it. Anything positive! Just get off of your butt and do something positive to progress your business otherwise you are going to sink yourself.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

I'm taking a break... but, not really...

The kids are sleeping and I just got done getting dinner ready to be cooked tonight. Everything is sauced up, chopped and soaked. MmMmMm.

I also cut all the fabric for the clothes I am putting together today.

I folded laundry, oh I need to start another load!

I cleaned up and loaded up the dishes from breakfast and lunch.

I've just started replying to convos, messages and e-mails. I'm almost done.

I've browsed a bit on the forums.

I picked out books and printed work sheets for the kids after they wake up from their naps.

The grocery list is done for shopping after we read and color.

So yeah... that is what I do when I have a "break". Maybe I should make some more coffee. LOL Thank you for peeking into my world. Hope you enjoyed the chaos ;)

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Designs for Big Girls!

First I have to give some credit to these designs to my daughter... she is 6 years old. Her and I came up with this whole half back skirt tutu design when she wanted to add "a bit more awesome" (as she puts it) to her wardrobe. We started doing this a couple years ago and its evolved into many different things. Here are a few new things I've listed the past two days for girls who want to add a bit more awesome!

Skull Tutu Tank-

Ruffle Tanks-

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Sweet Skulls Treasury by Tizzalicious

It always makes me so happy to be in a treasury!! This awesome treasury was put together by Tizzalicious

She makes Kawaii and Rockabilly accessories! Check her out!

The Treasury can be found at this link for the time being

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lets Put A Smile On That Face Treasury

Here is a Treasury West I made for the DIYscene Team July Theme! Its been really difficult not to purchase every single Joker items these amazing ladies have come up with!

The Goods:


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Super Hero Treasury

DIYscene Team ( ) has a July theme of Comics/Super Heroes going on right now. This has gone over VERY well!! Everyone made absolutely amazing items!

Here is a treasury I was included in:

It was made by MsChrista:

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