Monday, August 11, 2008

Changing times and dropping the "interiors"

Since opening the studio, things have been changing around here. In the run up to the grand opening I found myself saying "yes" to orders, people also opening up new shops and desperate for stock. Really I should have been saying no, concentrating on getting my own stock made for the big weekend. But then, most business folk never like to say no do they. The upshot of it all was that I totally underestimated the time and effort required to pull everything together and as usual the sewing went on the back burner, otherwise there wouldn't have been a studio to open!
In contemplating this and thinking back to when I was tempted to give up wholesale some time ago but was talked out of it, I've realised that I just don't want to do it anymore. It has become a chore and that's not what this game is all about. Don't get me wrong, over the last five years, it has done us so much good, getting our name known and getting us out there, really it's the only way to do it. But now that I have this fantastic space that's just crying out for lots of one-off pieces, a place to experiment with products and get feedback direct from the customer, I can't really throw this opportunity away can I?
I've gone through the figures with the accountant, looked into getting someone to do the sewing, but is that what Primrose Hill is really about, someone else doing it? And at the end of the day, I would still have to have some kind of input, fabric and ingredients ordering, managing it all, that's not what I want to do.
So, the decision has been made, after 5 years of hard slog and being the basis of how the business started up, no more wholesale. It's been a really hard decision to make but it's done now, and I've put it here on paper so to speak, so I'll have to stick by it..! The only outlet I will continue to supply is the Fotheringham Gallery, as they were the first business to support us and they sell our products so well, I want to keep that relationship going. And as it's a gallery it's on a commission basis which is totally different to supplying shops.
We've also learnt over the last couple of months that people seem to think that the word "interiors" means that you make curtains for a living. Now this is something that I used to doing when we lived in Stirling. I had a sewing lady who made up curtains and blinds etc for me, but since moving up here I've kind of gotten out of that side of the business. Again, having thought about going back there I've decided not to, it's just not something that I want to do. So, Primrose Hill Interiors is now just Primrose Hill and we're focusing more on the studio side of the business as you can see here. A little bit of housekeeping has been done and I think it looks a lot better, what do you all think?
So, there we have it, a rather long rambling post for first thing on a Monday morning, you've done well if you've gotten this far! It's good to put these things out there though, people like to follow the story of a business and know the history of it all. I'd be interestd to know what all of you guys think though, have any of you gone through the same changes or thoughts with your businesses, do let me know as it's great to get feedback.
Right, off to tackle a rather large "to do" list.
L x


Debbies-English-Treasures said...

Hello there...
I`m glad to hear that you made a though decision and going through it... it takes lots of guts...
I too, add to do something similar... you see, I used to have my little stall where I had to pay over £300.00
a month just for the rent and then we had the insurance and also we were spending an average of £200.00 a month to stock the selves with our Treasures...
After an year we weren`t making a profit, so, very sadly we decided to closed it!
Which was very upsetting to us, because we have put a lot of work into it!
But, like they say... one door closes and another opens...
Now...Something it`s on our plans and hopefully it will be a bigger sucess than the stall.
Hope that my story has help you a little bit... I know how sad it is to have to say goodbye to something that you had so many dreams, hopes and input...and most important of all, the new friendships that you have made along the way!
You just have to follow your heart, I suppose!
Kisses Kisses
Debbie Moss

(Thinking Of YOU and All The BEST!)

Dusty Spider said...

Everything changes as it grows. Think of it as development! Takes some courage too. Well done you. Flick xx

Pam said...

It's strange isn't it, how we all tend towards the same crises - in this case how we should trade and market our products. I think it's important to have these times of reflection; that's what makes working for yourself a good thing. If you were still market led then you'd have to continue, but now you don't have to.

P x

Clover Yard said...

Hiya Lisa, still online and got your comment - thanks! Wow, sounds like you've had a lot of thinking to do and that you've come to the right conclusion. I think if something becomes a chore and not enjoyable then it needs tweaking. I personally, would rather buy direct from the maker. I've resisted buying one of your doorstops on trips to Nutmeg in Dunkeld because I know that one day soon I hope I will have the opportunity of being able to come up to your studio and see all your wonderful creations in the making.
Little kitten is doing great thanks, chewing everything in sight but looking adorable with it! I got the magazine in Borders in Dundee..great selection.
Bye for now, Carolxx

Cathy said...

That's the thing about working for yourself - you can change things to suit your lifestyle and ideas when you want to. I reached the natural end of my sewing business recently - I just found it too much of a chore and too much hard work for too little financial return so felt it was time for a change. Good luck with your new angle - I'm sure you will be very successful.
Cathy X

Gigibird said...

This is very interesting.
I have often thought to myself that selling wholesale is like running your own sweatshop and I believe it prevents the creative process.

I think if you had set your sights at becoming the next Cath Kidston then finding people to make up your designs would be the way to go but if you love your home and want it to be the centre of life then what you are doing is the right thing.

Vanessa said...

I know you were thinking about giving up wholesale when we visited you, wholesale is good for cashflow and to get your name out there but it does take over things that you want to do!

I think you have made the right decision because you have something now in your studio to work towards.

Looking forward to seeing some of your one off creations.

Vanessa x

Primrose Hill said...

Thank you all for your comments, it's great to get feedback and chat like this.

I do see this decision as a natural progression of the business, and hopefully it won't be the wrong one!

I only make 3 products at trade, door stops, lavender hearts and bundles, as I couldn't afford to make other products at trade and also wanted to keep the majority of our range exclusively to us. This meant that although I have an inspiration book full of ideas, it's only every now and then that I'd actually get to play about with making new products, as I'd constantly be dragged back to the sewing machine to make up trade orders.

I feel like I've been on the "no-fun" bus for too long, but have at last plucked up the courage to get off and jump back on the "creative" bus!

I have to say though, I don't regret building the business up the way we have, we've got a great basis of customers whom we've gained through supply such fabulous places such as the Fortheringham Gallery, and getting to work with Johnstons of Elgin was great too. So no regrets, just time to move on.

With regards to the sweatshop (but in nicer surroundings with good coffee!), yes it did feel a bit like that at times especially around the festive season, as we offered more products at trade then. And I don't want to offer that type of work to someone, there would no doubt be plenty that would welcome the work but that's not what Primrose Hill is about.

Gosh, this is a bit like an extended post, but it's good to discuss this kind of thing here, at the end of the day that's what the blog is for!

L x

Pipany said...

Great post lisa and sounds much like my own experiences though further down the line than me. I have undertaken a few wholesale contacts asn they have provided much needed cash flow as you said. However, what a learning curve - I now realise that it is crazy to offer a large range this way and make a profit from it. Like you, I don't want to offer the work out as it is not where I want to go long term, so I am keeping the ones I have and limiting the range to ones which pay., freeing time for my own website. Phew, basically I agree with all you say!!!! xx

Primrose Hill said...

Another point though that I would like to make is that some makers that don't do wholesale do tend to make the ones that do, feel as if they have sold their soul to the Devil. They question that by doing wholesale, how on earth can they call themselves a designer when all they do is sew up the same old thing day in day out???

How you chose to run your business is entirely up to you, if that's how you enjoy working then I think that is fine and that it's a bit unfair of others to judge. I remember being next to Claire Nicolson, a well known designer now, at a design Fair in Edinburgh not long after we had both started up, and now look at her, she does both wholesale and retail and has a thriving business. Other good examples are Poppy Treffry, Hume Sweet Hume and Sam at Plump Pudding, so it can be done without feeling too uncreative!

L x

Primrose Hill said...

P.S. my last comment wasn't a dig at any of the comments left on here, just me making my point that doing wholesale isn't a bad thing.

L x