Monday, April 1, 2013

{One little biz} - BIG relationships!

Hello again!  I hope everyone had a wonderful, family-filled weekend!  It's Kim from Eggo in the Oven - and I'm back to share Part 2 of my {One little biz} series with you.  
Eggo in the Oven custom bunny tail onesie and confetti L'Eggos (legwarmers)
After writing about being just {one woman} last week - and working hard to find a healthy balance - I spent the weekend with my family and friends - and barely got any work done!  Oh well - the work will happen..... the memories we made and fun we had is worth it!
This weekend's sun-filled activities: golf in the front yard, clam digging, and blue skies!

Today's topic of discussion {yes, it's a discussion - I'd love to hear YOUR perspective / experience - just leave a comment!} is also from the manifesto I posted last time - specifically that "little means building BIG relationships".

A reminder of where I started - this onesie was made as a gift (along with a matching blanket, etc.) for a  friend prior to Eggo in the Oven being "born"!  She used the outfit - and blanket - for a VERY SPECIAL occasion - bringing their daughter home from the hospital!

{.... building BIG relationships}
Over the last few years I have learned that the well-known adage "it takes a village to raise a child" applies to businesses, too!  In many ways - my business {Eggo in the Oven} has been another child in our family..... and I definitely have relied on others' help to make it grow!
A customer photo of her son wearing a custom guitar onesie and solid brown L'Eggos

Did I ever imagine I would own my own business?  Nope.  Do my mom and I STILL giggle every time someone asks me for sewing advice / we think about the fact my business is centered around SEWING?  Yep!  If you had told me 5 years  - really, even 3 years - ago that I would own my own business, and spend the majority of my time sewing custom items for others - I would have LAUGHED out loud and called you crazy. 
My mom - who now sometimes asks ME for sewing tips!
AND "Baby Eggo" (aka Colby) wearing a tractor applique shirt I made him

But, here I am - and I LOVE that I am in this completely unexpected place where I learn every day and get to connect with others who enjoy similar activities.  Thanks to online networking - I have been able to "meet" MANY similarly crafty / creative people along the way.  Some I have met in real life (eventually!), and others I feel like I have known forever even though we have never met face-to-face!  They are around when I have a simple question - just the other day I was picking fabrics for a project, and was STUCK.  I quickly looked at my list of friends who were online at the time and sent a message to one of them - "Help!  Giraffe print and.....???  Ready, GO!"  She knew exactly what I needed - and very quickly had written back - "Teal!!!" - and I knew EXACTLY which fabric I would use.

Giraffe print / aqua pillowcase dress and matching ruffled bloomers
They are also around to discuss the tougher questions - how do I price my items?  What direction should I take my business?  How do I keep this up?  Am I CRAZY!?  Where is the line between good customer service and allowing someone to take advantage of you?  Without these relationships - my family, friends, and online network - I'm not sure where I'd be!

Tie shirt, pillowcase dress, and L'Eggos with bows made by Eggo in the Oven
Matching double hand-sewn flower headband by RubyKinz Hair Accessories
I've also had the opportunity to work WITH many of these amazing people.  Take these blog articles for example - not long ago, I joined the online fabric de-stash page Marcia admins.  I was able to sell much of the fabric I didn't use as much as expected - and buy LOTS more!  (if you haven't checked it out - you should!  It's a group on Facebook and not only can you get / sell fabric, but there's a great network of sewers / quilters / crafters!)  Marcia and I "talked" (online chat!) business, family, the creative process.  Marcia introduced me to Project Quilting - and talked me through some of my questions about challenges.  Now she has asked me to be a guest contributor on her blog!  Talk about BIG relationships.  I know I am continually amazed at her beautiful quilting and have learned SO much about her posts about her creative process!

Our very FIRST
Eggo in the Oven / RubyKinz Hair Accessories outfit!

For the last couple years I have also partnered with a friend (online at first, but we actually got to meet in February 2012!) to create adorable outfits from our handmade items.  Emma is the mama behind RubyKinz HairAccessories - and someone I definitely consider a BEST friend.  We have put together MANY custom outfits - the clothes I make with the hair accessories she creates!  We have SO much fun - and over time, with lots of trust in each other, we have sent LOTS of fabric / hair accessories / etc. back and forth from Washington to Wisconsin and vice-versa.  I know that MANY of our customers think we live near to one another {I wish!!!} - they don't realize we discuss design and fabrics, coordinate shipping, etc. all ONLINE!  It's so much fun to design and create outfits together!

LOVE this baby girl!  Sweet Eva is wearing a RubyKinz headband with her Eggo in the Oven cupcake onesie and matching L'Eggos - more about this amazing baby girl in Part 3 of this series - {BIG communities}!!! :)
The online handmade business can be a VERY cutthroat one.  There are so many people out there working HARD to create and sell - and many can be very protective of this process - for good reason.  The competition is brutal and it's tough to make enough money to feel like it's worth it {personally, I'm DEFINITELY not on this crazy adventure expecting to make tons of money - I LOVE to craft and create, and if I get some money to help offset my obsession with fabric, that's GREAT!}.  I have, from the very start, really looked at other businesses as allies - not the enemy!  For this reason, I am the first to discuss suppliers, give tips / advice on techniques, help people through the confusing / complicated world of online handmade businesses.

Birthday shirt by Eggo in the Oven
Custom matching felt hair clip by RubyKinz Hair Accessories
I LOVE that others are excited about the opportunity to share what they make with others - and if I just continue to have pride in what I make and provide great customer service, my business will succeed.  My business' success does NOT rely on the failure of others!  Building BIG relationships means I have an even bigger network to draw from when I need help - which is GREAT!  I love supporting others who are working hard to make their business successful - buying from fellow small business owners whenever I can make it possible / successful for my business / goals.

Eggo in the Oven necklace onesie (made from fabric purchased in the de-stash group)
RubyKinz Hair Accessories matching trio of felt roses headband

These BIG relationships have lead to some amazing friendships - professional and personal - that I can't imagine life without!  They have helped me create not only a successful business, but a {BIG community}.... but - more on that in a few days!

Emma (left - from RubyKinz) and Me (right) - when we got to meet in Las Vegas - February 2012

What role have BIG relationships played in your experience as a person / business owner / crafter?  I would LOVE to hear about them!  Through others I have discovered some of my favorite businesses / fellow crafters - and that I LOVE growing that network!  Feel free to ask questions, too!  Marcia forwards all comments my way so that I can reply to them - and if I get enough, I'll definitely do a Q&A post to share it all with everyone!  You can also email me directly - eggointheoven{at}hotmail{dot}com - or message me through Facebook!

Me (left) and Heather (right - from BellaVia Jewelry)
Read more about our friendship and contributions to the community
thanks to our businesses in Part 3 of this series!
{a little hint, we are walking the Susan G. Komen 3-day together in June!!!}
Stay tuned for more about my experience as a little biz owner.... I have two more topics planned!  I'm excited to share with you about {building a BIG community} and being {proud to be little}. 

Thanks again, Marcia, for allowing me to share about my journey!!!

A recap of my {One little biz} guest blog series:


Jeleoz said...

<3 great blog!!

elnorac said...

What a great post! I love that you're generous about sharing your knowledge and that you know the success of your business isn't dependent on the failure of others'. It isn''t a zero sum game. The online crafting community is wonderful!