Saturday, 5 December 2015

Small Business Saturday!

So, American Express put on this thing (or maybe somebody else but it's well advertised by American Express) every year where the idea is that you celebrate and support small businesses. I like to think that I do this every day and I'm sure I'm preaching to the converted so I just though I'd share a beautiful little story that happened to me as a small business owner this week:

I'd popped next door to get a cuppa tea from the independent coffee shop owner there (see what I mean? Every facking day Amex, not just once a year...). I always stay by the door in there because I have to lock the shop up and I end up chatting to Sandra and her husbeast. She makes the tea and he brings it to me and bish bash bosh, dead easy. I see a customer coming to my door and trying it so I walk out and say 'hi, sorry, I got chatting, silly me... blah blah blah'. She says 'have you got some black wool?'. I say 'can you be more specific?'. She says 'thick'. I say, have a look at the Cygnet Seriously Chunky'. She says ''Ow much?'. I say '£2.50'. She says 'too expensive'. I say 'have you looked at the Cygnet Chunky?'. ''Ow much?'. '£1.75'. 'Too much. I've seen it in the Poundshop. It's a pound'. I say, 'have you seen the Dolly Mix, it's 75p. Or the Pricewise which is twice as much yarn for less than twice the price'. She says 'no, I think I'll go to the Poundshop'. I said 'brill, they need all the support they can get'.

This is what we're faced with people. Haha. Happily, I popped back to the cafe next door to grab my tea and was able to let off some steam but there are people that would rather shop in the Poundshop or Lidl or Aldi or Asda or whatever shitty shop has decided to sell wool than come to a proper shop and generally because they think it's cheaper. Never mind that it's usually not or that you don't get the service or the options or repeated orders of the same yarn (the amount of times I've had to explain that I can't 'just get the Aldi wool in' because they've run out of it, ugh).

At the same time as dealing with this woman, I was uploading a vlog, designing for a lesson that I'm teaching in a couple of weeks (crochet edgings - still space if you want it) when chatting to customers, e-mailing back and forth about the 'thing' for the Christmas boxes, planning the Christmas window, and thinking about when or earth I'm going to fit in doing my accounts before Christmas. On a daily basis I'm writing blogs, tidying, sorting, making orders, sorting accounts, paying people, reaching out to potential indie makers like Gill, Helen and Jem, helping customers who've got problems, helping customers choose wool, speaking to customers 5000 miles away about design options, adding more stuff to the website, answering facebook messages, e-mails and phone calls, dealing with the advertising, designing the advertising, making stuff to sell, cleaning the toilet, making designs, social working, counselling, being friendly to children, cashing up. I love it! I genuinely love it. But the bigger we get the more work there is. Obviously, the easier some of it gets - getting shit on the internet is now second nature, finding time to do it.... not so much...

I don't want this to be some sort of sob story, because it isn't. I know for a lot of you it's a dream job and in a lot of ways it is. But you don't get the flexibility of a lot of self employed work when you're in a bricks and mortar and the overheads are much more than say a wahm. We're stuck somewhere in the middle between big businesses who have people doing stuff and tiny businesses who have more options. It's a difficult position to be in but also exciting because what I want to do, if I put in enough effort, I can do - Christmas boxes, going to Yarndale (remember that only started because I was desperate to go and couldn't afford to so I made you lot pay for me... ;)), boozy birthday parties...

In return for this I get an incredible insight into your knitting and crocheting lives, a chance to celebrate when it goes wrong and the chance to help when it goes wrong. I'm there for new babies and divorces and birthdays and Christmasses, new jobs, new partners and and and! It's hard work but it's not all doom and gloom. It's a fucking community, isn't it? That's what we're building here. Love it.

So, today, we're celebrating, a little. Not a full on party but a nice relaxed day where I hopefully finish these bloody socks for Chris (his birthday falls on Small Business Saturday, fancy that!) and make a bit of money. The weather has not been great for us this year. I'm still in summer dresses, albeit layered with winter cardigans. We're making more than summer but this is the time of year when I get to get up to date with all of my suppliers and this year that is later than usual. Blurgh. The Daily Mail promised me snow goddammit! Anyway, I have two brilliant reasons for you to spend your money:

The first one is that when you spend £30.00 tomorrow, in the shop or online, you'll get a £5 voucher to use in July or August. Where you spend your £30.00 will be where you can spend your voucher i.e. in the shop will be a shop voucher and online will be an online voucher (I know I'm great but I just can't work out how else to do it, or rather, I can but I know I'll not get round to the admin involved... Just another reason to love small businesses, we're honest... ;) ). And, just as an insight into what it is to be a small business, the £30 cannot include the beautiful bags from Gill or the gorgeous pins from Helen because we only make a tiny profit on those because we're trying to give as much back to the makers as possible. Hope that makes sense.

And the second one is a new pattern from another small business - Jem Weston! Most of you will now Jem, she's a regular at Knit in Notts, a regular here and a general all round good egg. She used to work for Rowan, becoming my rep for Coats for a year or two before deciding to go it alone and become a full time, freelance designer! And here we are supporting her supporting us! Love it!

She's designed the beautiful Dice Cowl which is available from us, in print, for £3.00 but for a little while (probably until I run out to be fair, I expect this to sell well) you can get it for £1.50 if you buy one of the colourways that me and Jem chose when we filmed this vlog a few weeks ago. Have a click here for the internet version of this offer or just come into the shop, it's good to chat. :)

And that's your lot! Really excited about both of these things! But, being a small business owner, I can't sit around chatting all day, I got shit to do.

Love Eleanor. xxxxxx

P.s. I don't think I've said THANK YOU enough for allowing me to be a small business owner. This shop could so easily have gone down the pan so many times and yet, you keep coming in and fawning over our wool and attending lessons and celebrating at parties and generally being bloody fantastic. Love love love.

P.p.s. Just as I was writing this, somebody came in to put a poster up and asked if I'd like a free ticket to the event, I said nope because 'I hate people' he said 'I hate to tell you this but you work in a shop' and I said 'yeah but, they're knitters, they're not like normal people'. Applies to crocheters too.

P.p.p.s. LOVE.

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