Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Last Business Post for Awhile (because we have a lot of sewing projects to share)

If you follow us on Instagram, you know that I went to Ventura this past weekend for the Craftcation Business + Makers conference. This event gathers together people who work in the craft industry, people who own craft based businesses, professional makers and people who would like to be professional makers. There are small business classes, panel discussions, round table talks, crafty workshops and of course the beach!

It was a much needed break to refuel and re-connect, and more than anything else I am SO grateful to be in the company of smart and savvy ladies and gents who are passionate about what they do. I shared a lot of my own experiences and learned a ton from others, and I even got to make something! One of the problems with owning a crafty business is that it tends to be more business and less craft, so making is always treasured. 

Cathy Callahan's Ombre Dye Workshop
Sew L.A.'s Quick Market Bag class

Another problem with being a small business owner is that there is no one to tell you what to do - every day you have to kind of make it up as you go along. If you have been with us from the beginning or if you have been in classes that I teach most likely you have gotten an earful about the state of modern small businesses and how weird and difficult it is to navigate the waters. 

The payoffs have always outweighed the perils however, and that's why we are still here! Every time a new sewer looks at me and says 'I can really do it!' or when two of my 9 year old after-school kids make AMAZING LINED COATS I know I would do it all over again. It's truly a blessing to be able to assist in unlocking creativity on a daily basis.

Sew L.A. is eight years old now, and we have been through a lot. Three different locations - doubling our space each time - fantastic people coming and going (most recently our beloved Haley relocated to Portland - sad face emoji!) - great parties & events - fabulous dresses and skirts and pants and pillows and totes and embroidery projects made - and I want to continue to teach until I fall down.

So with that aim in mind, we will be closing the retail portion of Sew L.A. at the end of April. Our classroom will still be located in the back part of our space (with a bit of a makeover) and our select inventory will be organized for only online sales. What does this change mean to you, our student and customer?

- You will be able to sign up for our wonderful classes on our website. We will be offering not only our own well-known sewing classes but workshops and seminars by local teachers and professional makers from across the country.

- You will be able to get all of your class supplies when you sign up (or at any time) in the form of a kit or individual items from our online shop.

- Once a month or so, we will have a pop-up shop (i.e. party) in the classroom where you can stop in and say hi, visit with us and visit the fabric (and also take some home with you if you like). 

- All of your questions regarding classes, policies, purchasing, zipper length and thread color will be answered in a timely manner via email.

- You will still have access to the best and newest fabric being released in our carefully curated online shop.

- You will have the opportunity to take a wide variety of creative classes besides sewing: fiber arts, woodworking, figure drawing, calligraphy, paper arts, bookbinding, basket weaving, soap making, candle making and crafty business management, to name a few.

- You will soon have many more Sew L.A. patterns to choose from as my time can now be spent creating and producing them rather than overseeing the shop. (This is the part I’m really excited about!)

‘But Shaerie’, you might say, ‘What is the reason for taking this step? Doesn’t the retail store make Sew L.A. a ton of money?’ The short answer to this question is that retail is not nearly as easy as it looks. And fabric is hands-down one of the worst inventories a shop can carry: it’s huge, heavy, expensive and slow moving. And then there’s the staffing, upkeep, taxes and merchandising costs to consider. 

Lastly, it takes TIME and that is what I have none of. With my 2 1/2 year old in daycare three days a week, I have about 15 hours a week to run the entire business. This is definitely something they don’t teach you in business school - how to navigate life changes and still run your business effectively. 

getting crafty with washi tape

So, to sum it up, in the cycle of a business it’s just as important to realize when to downsize as it is to know when to expand - and that’s what the idea is with this change. Downsizing to manageable while the baby is home, and ramping it back up again when he gets older. Oh, the visions I have for expanding again! 

April 25th will be the last day the shop is open - and of course there will be a big sale - then we’ll be closed for renovation from April 26 - May 1st. The classroom will reopen on May 2nd for classes! And throughout this next month we’ll be working on reconfiguring the website to reflect these changes. Meanwhile, feel free to email me at classes (at) sew-la (dot) com with any questions, comments or concerns. Now, let’s go make some great stuff! 


P.S. - if you are a maker who would like to teach a workshop with us, let me know! If you've taught before we can get one going pretty quickly - and if you've never taught before but would like to we can help you develop your class. Everybody wins!


Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to your new classes/ventures.
I have a friend who runs a similar and fantastic shop in London, called The Idler Academy. Check them out.

Mo Henry

Helen Cahng said...

I can understand your need to downsize,but personally I am so disappointed the retail shop is gone. It was hands down my favorite fabric shop on the east side. Best of luck to you!

Unknown said...

Helen! Thank you for saying so - it means a lot to me. We still will be open at least once a month for people to come shop at our pop-up shop. We are still carrying fabric and patterns for our students to purchase for classes and for everyone to purchase online - but I'm doing the pop-ups because I know that many people need to see the fabric. Hopefully we'll see you soon.