Wednesday, October 17

How we stay in business

Our business idea isn't really that complex to follow, and for anyone that wants to replicate it - feel free to borrow our model.  And if you want help setting it up then please get in touch and we can help you become the next Little Hippo Presents :)

What possibly is slightly different from us compared to others is that no one person makes a living from someone else's work.  Our personal income, as with all the other sellers, comes from their own work sold.  All the percentages taken from sales pay for boring things like rent, telephone, bags, stickers and all the other things we need to operate as a retail outlet.

The Hippos are a community of makers, we all want to make our living from what we make but none of us want to take anything away from another maker.  We started from the position of adding up all our bills, working out how much shelf space we could fit in, how many craft fairs were sensible to do in a year then dividing it equally between folk - and that includes our glass.  As makers selling through the shop we also pay shelf space and also pay our sales percentages towards the bills just like other maker in the shop. 

What we now have to sort out is spreading the time and workload a little better, but that will come as we build the business because it is a business.  We do have to be accountable to our customers, our makers, the tax man just the same way as any other business has to.  The difference is we just choose to use any profits made to make the shop stronger, or put on other workshops, or invest in things that help many.

This is basically the model we work off, each element contributes to the whole which spreads the risk, helps the cashflow and stops us getting bored! 

The reason I felt the need to explain was that someone pointed out that it was fair to take a % as we had to make a living and they seemed really impressed that we don't make a living out of other sellers, we make a living by making things that are sold.  Hope that all makes sense, and see you all soon.  Hippo xx

Monday, October 8

Behold I give you the internet!

For those of you that follow me on Twitter or facebook you will be aware of my err slight rantings at the ineptness of BT over the last few weeks.  And that is probably the understatement of the century :) However, during all the various phone calls and emails to get us up and running I constantly felt as if I were in an episode of the IT Crowd.  For those of you not familiar with it, this is the episode I mean:
Behold, I give you the internet!

Bless em, not sure BT realised at the time but this is how they actually came across to me.  On a more serious note at all times they were reactive, unable to talk to each other or to me effectively.  Just out of morbid curiosity I looked up what communication actually means and this is what I got:

          "Communication (from Latin "communis", meaning to share) is the activity of conveying information through the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals, writing, or behavior."

Interesting! hmm a couple of key words there - share, convey, exchange and information.  So, a company with the word communication in it would quite rightly be expected to convey and share information to a paying customer? Yes? well actually no - this would appear quite difficult for them.  Even the chap who runs their twitter account was laughing at one point when he told me that the team wouldn't be able to see his notes as they had access to different record logs.  So, if they can't communicate with each other it's not really a surprise that they can't communicate with customers who foolishly hand over shiny pennies for a service that as Jen found out - we don't know what it is, we don't know how to find the elders and it is all shrouded in such mystery that we should just be in awe of the fact it happens at all.  To BT I present to you the elders of the miffed customers, you are unable to find us, you are unable to know what we think and you are unable to talk to us - mainly because you don't try very hard!

My teacher comments for this would read
"you have failed to understand the question.  What you have done is interesting and you tried very hard but next time please make sure you read and understand the question before answering it.  Also, you would have got higher marks had you structured your answer to guide the reader through your train of thought as it felt a little disjointed and muddled at times, almost as if you were panicking to reach the word count and at times I was unsure what you were trying to do.  Your links to other material and quotes from others did not support your arguments, and at times contradicted your original statements but good attempt overall" D+

Wednesday, October 3

Before and After!

Before ....

our pitiful belongings brought from the Purple Shed, which looked so lost when we first arrived!  It was really odd that everything echoed, and just so lovely to not be bothered by rain anymore cause we're all snuggly and cosy indoors now :)

 And after ...

See what I mean about the vast space we now get to fill?! And it all got filled up in about 8 weeks, which is pretty awesome really considering we work on buttons for pennies!  21 amazing artists and crafters from the area now sell with us and these photos need updating again to be honest as there's even more stuff in there now!
And apologies to all those expecting a giggle at my ranting at BT, that will be posted up tomorrow, Hippo xx

Monday, October 1

New Chapter for the Hippos

We found ourselves outgrowing our previous home at the Purple Shed, but wow did we learn so much from it!  Boring things like branding, advertising and marketing - you can have the best product in the world but if no-one knows you have it then you may as well give it to the cat.
So, where are we now?  Well, we now find ourselves in a rather lovely and shiny converted barn on an existing farm shop site at Apley, near Bridgnorth.  With my usual, yeah it'll be fine attitude we packed up our things and trundled down the road with our pitiful bunch of belongings.  It was a slight shock to realise just how much extra space we had gained when what used to cram the Purple Shed didn't even make a dent in this space!  You know when you move from that first one bedroom flat to a real house and think oh maybe that sofa isn't so big after all?! It was that kind of moment. 
Also, we only had a few sellers with us to begin with - 3 in fact, and 8 weeks on and there are now 21 Hippo-ettes with us and they keep coming.  Because it's a real shop, in terms of look, feel and layout we're managing to do rather well.  Not out of the woods yet because essentially we started the Hippos with a £400 loan from my parents and been chugging along on pennies ever since.  But we always knew it would work, always knew that good handcrafted items would sell and knew that there were awesome makers out there.  We just had to put the open sign up and sit patiently and wait.  Yes yes to the heckling from the back from those that really know me. Ok, so it wasn't that patient but given that not everyone who reads this knows me personally allow me the indulgence of pretending I was patient and horribly professional (cakes as bribery for all those that nod at this point!).
The other thing that seems to be happening is we're getting a rather lovely reputation for helping - not doing anything special, just reminding folk that they are good at what they do and offering a few suggestions along the way.  Quite sure that most go home and go flip she's barking, why on earth would that be a good idea?! But can't be doing that bad as gets loads of hugs and thank yous off folk - hmm more bribery perhaps??
So, in an effort to try and be more organised I intend to update this more regularly, get the books a little straighter (any accountants reading this you really can have cake if you help).  Oh, and for those of you that follow the chunterings on Twitter the BT complaint letter is coming next post - and it's a doozie!
see you all soon, and as always many many thanks for allowing the Hippos to flourish even if we do now need to get our own tractor.  Hippo xx