A Year of Change
It’s been a little over six months since launching the shop and what an exciting time! A few important things have happened. First, I actually made sales (hooray!). I also became a mom to baby boy Elliot in March. Becoming a mom really puts life in perspective and things that used to stress me out just don’t matter much anymore.
What does matter now is making sure I can spend as much time with Elliot while supporting our family. With that said, I want to focus more on the shop, including brainstorming new products and looking back on what worked and what didn’t. I’ll share my learnings and tell you where The Stranded Sheep is headed this year and beyond. So let’s get started!
My biggest learning is that I need to move beyond yarn. I knew that yarn would be hard work going into launch, but I didn’t realize just how much work it takes to create an abundance of handspun yarn. Since it’s so time intensive, especially when processing fiber from a raw fleece, it doesn’t yield a high profit. I can’t sell a skein of yarn for hundreds of dollars even though it took me hours and sometimes days to create. If you love my handspun yarn, don’t worry, I’ll still be offering limited batches from time to time, but it will not be my main product moving ahead. The good news is that I’ll be incorporating it into my weaving products to add some texture, making them truly unique.
I’m going back to basics to setup a proper business plan along with figuring out my supply costs, time estimates and overhead. This is a step I should’ve taken from the start, but I felt like I needed to get something out there or launch would’ve never happened. So I went for it, winged it, whatever you want to call it.
Moving on...it’s never been a secret that I love sourcing materials from local farms or ensuring they are US made, however, I need to find quality and affordable materials to keep my costs down. I have no idea how this works for production weaving. Do you buy bulk and wholesale? I’ll be putting my love of research to work as I find vendors and products I love to work with. (In the meantime, if my weaving friends have some secret vendors they'd like to divulge, especially for cotton warp yarn, shoot me an email.)
One thing I’ve never been good at is consistency, especially when posting to Instagram or my blog. If Instagram is the new blog, I really need to post daily to keep engagement high so I can reach more people about my products and mission. My goal is to put myself out there more often even if it’s scary and time consuming.
I miss knitting and don’t want to leave it behind! When I first began, I had no interest in pattern design since it overwhelmed me to no end. I’ve also become increasingly interested in sewing. I think the two go hand-in-hand and hope to explore design more in the coming years. Design goes WAY back to my roots of wanting to be a fashion designer as early as elementary school so I feel like this is where I’m headed in some ways and am excited to see it evolve.
Our plan is to still buy land or, even better, a farm. This is a BIG dream that's on the top of my mind lately. Land in Georgia is becoming increasingly expensive since Atlanta is one of the fastest growing cities so I don't know where we'll end up, but I do know that I'd love to have sheep or goats in order to start the fiber process from start to finish. Plus, I'd love for Elliot to grow up in the woods like I did. Secretly, working with a mill to create a yarn line would make me happy, and I hope to have some dedicated studio space for a few looms, including a production loom (don't tell my husband this).
So there it is...I put it all out there. I'm excited and nervous about the next chapter and hope I can make it all happen. I'll start with some woven pieces launching this fall and see where it takes me. Stay tuned.