Monday, June 18

The shop's growing up - and so are we

Eek this suddenly turned into a proper business!  Was I asleep when this happened, or just painting things purple?!?  Probably painting knowing me.
Well, what's been happening in the land of the Hippo - yet again I moved the shop around, keep getting told off that things never stay in the same place.  However, it now feels like a proper shop and I feel like it's a proper business.  It actually feels more like yes, we are doing this for real rather than err would you like to see some bits we made? Also, I've got over the initial crafters dread of apologising for pricing stuff - you know that horrible thing where you know that your stuff is worth money because you've seen it in catalogues or shops elsewhere but because you made it there's that stumbling moment of err yes please, if you don't mind it's £xx? To all those crafters out there struggling with that bit, believe me it's quite liberating when you actually cross that threshold.  You suddenly wake up to the fact that actually what you made is good, it is worth money and you don't have to apologise.  Just because you grew up making things that maybe your friends didn't understand or in my case Dad saying 'what on earth you doing this time Ange?' doesn't mean that your creativity and ideas are worthless. 
The other thing I've discovered is that there will always be those that in order for them to succeed they have to push others down.  It's hilarious when customers actually pop in and tell me this about other sellers - slightly awkward but still very funny.  However, we don't need to do that because we know where our shortcomings are and working hard to get around them.  A friend always described that as moving from the unconscious incompetent to the conscious incompetent then to unconscious competent and finally to the conscious competent.  I like that phrase as it sums it up quite nicely. You move from the ooh we have a shop to the eek we have a shop and then to the oh we're selling at the shop to the ahh now I know why we're selling at the shop.  Apologies if you are now all oohing and ahhing as if at a fireworks display!
I love this journey, and can't wait to see where it takes us next - and thank you to all those that have joined the rollercoaster that is the Hippo brain, and apologies if your seatbelt is a little loose :)

Tuesday, June 5

lesson learning is ongoing

This seems quite apt at the moment!  We organised our first craft fair with our name on the weekend and some things were good and some were not so good - but we're not that stupid or arrogant not to recognise and learn from the not so good.
What was good - the crafters as ever were the most lovely bunch of people you could ever hope to be stuck with on a dreary afternoon.  All had made their most wonderful things, decked out their stalls in red, white and blue and generally come along with the most fab attitude.  Feedback was that it was a very well organised event, stall holders were great and the networking invaluable.  And as Hippos we seem to be building a wonderful group of dedicated people keen to see crafting develop and grow which is great.
What was not so good - footfall.  We had advertised as best we could, but it seemed that all in our town had decided to disappear for the weekend.  We even had the local press photographer tell us that too, as well as others who had come through town to see us said that people were noticeable by their absence! 
What we learned - to keep trying! Had a bit of a personal thump earlier when I found out that someone was having a pop and kind of took it personally.  However, it's not personal - well one comment was but we will assume they had been on the gin he he! But we're not that daft to believe that a good day out with lovely people makes up for spending on a stall where you don't sell much because I would be grumpy too, so completely understood their frustrations.  So, we shall re-group and take the good bits (of which there were loads) and try and put right the not so good bits (but please don't blame us for the weather!). 
And a huge thank you as always to those that help behind the scenes that you may not hear from, you know who you are ... and we know where you live!!!

Friday, June 1

Don't fib - don't get squished, simple!

Been a weird couple of months this self employed lark!  At first it was really exciting because it was new, then I started to panic because we were struggling to sell and now we seem to have reached a secondary stage of exciting where sales are picking up and the network building is truly amazing.
To begin with, it was all new and shiny and loads to keep me occupied and out of mischief.  You see, that is the curse of the Hippo - boredom! Never leave a Hippo unattended for too long, goodness knows what might happen.  And never fib to a Hippo either - that's been a weird one too.  I trust that when people say I'll do that, then they will.  However, in business there is always a plan b, c, d required and have been a little taken aback at some of the not so well disguised attempts to take advantage of this.  But ... did you know more people are killed by Hippos than lions, that's because when they get annoyed they charge and squish you! So if you don't want to get squished, don't fib - simple.  Usually placid and full of ideas, but not so happy when they smell a rat and keep digging and digging until they find where the smell is coming from, yep bullshit is usually the main cause!
That said, am truly loving this self employed lark and have met some people along the way that hopefully wil become lifelong friends and the learning curve, wow! Years of business school could not have prepared me for what I've already learnt - both about the business itself and myself in a business environment or more accurately how to add a little colour and  cunning plans into it.
You see, ours is not a truly corporate world.  Yes, we have our branding or as someone said 'those Hippos get everywhere' and yes we have to play with numbers and pay bills because we are a proper business in that sense.  But it doesn't mean we have to lose our identity or purpose just because we have to play with a calculator once in a while.  If anything it's made me feel even stronger about what we are doing - especially when I hear horror stories of other crafters being fleeced.  And the idea of supporting others to set up is gently building and taking shape and can't wait to get out there and start sharing.  But as ever the impatience is growing - see, you should never leave a Hippo unattended with ideas, it's dangerous.