Last week I took some time to put together a production schedule through the end of 2014. It’s organized by week and on basically has three categories; make, develop, and extra. Make is for the product I’m going to batch make, including fabric notes. Develop is for products I’m developing or improving. Extra is all the other stuff I need to do to keep my little shop running, packaging and banners for example. The idea of a production plan is ridiculously simple and basic, but this is the first time I’ve done it. I couldn’t be happier with the way it’s changed not only how I work, but how I feel about my work.
For the past year, I’ve been making it up as I go. That meant making a lot of choices and usually making them based on intuition rather than information. Selecting fabric by intuition works. Making production decisions by intuition is not fun. The worst part of it was that it was impossible to know when I’d done enough. Every time I crossed one thing of the list, something else filled the spot almost immediately. My non-system left me feeling nervous and frustrated. A market date sent me into a making frenzy, but I also spent a good bit of my sewing time looking around my workroom wondering where to start.
When it came to putting together my production plan, I set manageable goals. In my weekly schedule, there are only three to four hours of guaranteed daytime sewing time. The rest is full of kids, household, and the other shop work that needs to be done. I can sew in the evenings and on the weekends, but the first nine months of this endeavor taught me that working like that was bad for me, bad for my family, and not too much fun. I’m being realistic and with some luck, that will keep me happier and ultimately more productive.
The unexpected magic came when I realized that a production plan was a great tool for organizing a lot of aspects of my business that I’ve been struggling with. Knowing what’s going to be new in my workroom and Etsy shop every week means it’s easier to plan blog and Facebook posts to support those additions. Make this week, blog about next week. Make now to prepare for the Lindenmarket on November 30. I also have some idea of how my inventory will build over the next few weeks, which means I also have a better idea of what supplies I need to have. Planning down to the fabrics I’ll use means fewer last minute panics about KAM snap colors (ahem). One week in, I’m pretty excited about how useful my production plan is going to be.
All of this brings me to my latest batch of bibs! The fabric choice was inspired by friends who’ve just had a baby and gave him a lovely bird name. I got a bit emotional about it and decided to make a series of bibs in his honor. If you’re following me on Facebook, you know they are already in my shop here. They are a bright teal with dark purple birdies. Figuring out which fabric would best coordinate for the neutral was tough. Once I gave up on anything matchy-matchy, I found this lovely dark gray tan in my stash that lets those bright colors just pop! I’m very pleased with the results and hope you are, too!
Last Monday, I put tags on a few bibs and key fobs to drop off at Studio Zipp. Studio Zipp is Wilma van Beek’s shop that she’s recently moved into a gorgeous location in downtown Nijmegen, Priemstraat 1. She fills it with unusual and beautiful creations, both hers and others’. I first met her when we needed to get our dining room chairs reupholstered. We spoke to a couple different people, but Wilma was the one with a modern vision and great skills to go with it. I was so flattered when we ran into each other as fellow stall holders at the Linden Market in March and she admired my work! One thing led to another and on Monday afternoon, I dropped of a few pieces for her shop. But there’s more.
A quick look at my Flickr feed revealed a surprising fact. I haven’t been blogging about my products! That’s complete silliness, because look at the groovy stuff I’ll be taking to the Open Dag at de Lindenberg in Nijmegen on Sunday! The bibs are lovely and that wool card holder – let me tell you about the wool card holder.
I was prepared for lots of new experiences when I started this business, but never did I think biking myself and all my gear to the market would be one of them! Luckily, the fates intervened an on Sunday morning I pedaled myself up from our house to downtown Nijmegen with a full load. Getting started on the bike was a bit shakey, in part because of the size but also because this bike required handlebar steering. Leaning to the side would probably only have landed me on the pavement (which didn’t happen, thank you very much). It was, in fact, a pretty awesome experience. Cargo bikes are very popular in the Netherlands and often function the way Americans would have a second, smaller car. Between the good biking infrastructure, the price of gas (currently around 8.40 USD a gallon), and the social norm of biking, it’s a choice that makes a lot of sense!
In Dutch, there’s a phrase “klein maar fijn.” It refers to things that are small, but oh so nice. This has been a week of klein maar fijn sewing. Little wrist straps using my scraps and mini-totes to do some workshop marketing. If you follow Earth Apple Studio on Facebook, you’ve been treated to my making and mini-tote tour. It’s all in preparation for de Linden Market this coming Sunday (6 April) and workshops at Studio Jurk starting on 14 April!
Yesterday was the big day – the Feel Good Market in Eindhoven. What a big, busy market! There were four huge halls and they were all full. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to touch, feel, and say hi. It was wonderful to meet so many nice people. If you’re stopping by for the first time, I hope you’ll look around and come back, too!
This has been my busiest and most productive sewing week yet. I’ve been making inventory for the Feel Good Market on Sunday – that’s 12:00 – 18:00 on 16 March 2014 in Eindhoven. Last October I visited the Feel Good Market with a friend. It was during Dutch Design Week and there were lots of people, lots of energy, and lots of really good and interesting products to see. People were there with everything from artisan breads to greeting cards, to gorgeous scarves and vintage interior pieces. I knew it was a place I wanted to be and can hardly believe it is going to happen on Sunday.
Last week was Crocus Vacation here in Nijmegen. We had a week of lovely weather and a great four days in Belgium, two in Ghent followed by two in Brugge (Bruges). It was my first trip to both cities and one of our most balanced family trips in the sense that everyone got to do something they really wanted to do, we found lovely places to stay, we ate out, we ate in, and no one got pushed past their limits. The result – a lot of fun!
Here are some recent additions to my Etsy shop. The bib is made with fabric from Lotta Jansdotter’s Glimma collection. I love the neutral taupe and the mustard yellow. This combination is really beautiful and a great cheerful neutral. The covered notebooks come in three different interior colors: green, red, and yellow. They come with a notebook and when that’s full, you can replace it with either a Moleskine Volant or a Clairefontaine 9×14 notebook. Both are great choices.
If you don’t get a chance to buy one on-line, I will also have these with me at the FeelGoodMarket on 16 March in Eindhoven!
The Linden Market yesterday was a success. It was especially sweet to see people coming back for more EarthApple products. Sweet is an understatement, I was shocked and flattered and oh so happy that these little bags of mine are making such a great impression. It was so encouraging and exciting. Thank you.
Wondering what my creative space looks like the night before market? Pumpkin was helping me iron on Saturday night and her papa thought she was so cute he had to have a picture.
I was completely shocked to see how messy and crowded my workspace looks in this picture. But it is what it is. It won’t be a surprise to hear that one of the things that will happen in January is getting this space cleaned up!
And with that, I’m going to go away for a couple weeks to enjoy quiet holidays with my family and some very good friends. Wishing you restful and restorative holidays, see you in 2014!