Monday, September 10, 2012

End of Summer Recovery, In Abundance!

Northshield Coronation Report

Saturday was a low-stress day. After putting rings on belts we'd braided, Ron practiced his ukulele. I worked on lacing some pouches. We discussed what new things we possibly could sell. We had an Etsy sale. We observed that we need to make more wax pucks.

Oh, yeah: we were in Milwaukee at the time. We sold 3 pucks of beeswax and one pouch. And Ron bought a really pretty torc. No clue why the day was so bad for us, other people seemed to do well. I've decided not to fuss about it, there was no obvious reason to think that we'd do poorly.

New Product Ruminations

At the moment we're down to mostly belts and pouches for sale, with a few other leather accessories like frogs, dog leashes, etc. We've got some hardware, lace knitting patterns designed by Sharon, Ron's mom; and a few hanks of alpaca for spinning.

In the past we've had more variety - musical instruments, more fiber - and the variety helps sales. We need some new things. But that requires either investment of time or money. I think money may actually be easier to come by than more time to make things. But not huge bulky things. Or things that will hurt to be stuck with. And that fit in with what we've already got.

Shoes and garb (including hats) are right out. I don't want to mess with keeping umpty sizes of a thing. And there's enough people making and selling garb. Ditto jewelry. I'll put chain-mail on pouches, but jewelry is a saturated market.

We got out of the musical instruments (recorders, penny whistles, small hand drums) at the right time and won't be picking those back up, the rise of internet shopping has made it much easier for people to find what they want.

Ron Sr. and Sharon have sold their alpacas, so no more personalized bundles of alpaca (ie: picture of the animal it came from on the packaging) for spinning.

But, we could switch to yarn. Not lots, just laceweight, to go with the Sharon's lace-knitting patterns. And maybe some knitting needles. I've been working on finding a yarn supplier and debating colors (got Sharon's input on that, and suppliers).

On more leather-related things, I'd been thinking of putting some of the kits I'd made for the MuseCon class out for sale. Definitely going to do that, there's really no reason not to. I just need to re-print the pouch pattern sheets, make up some cover sheets (probably need Ron to get pictures), and assemble parts into kits.

Related to the kits, we're thinking of hand-stitching kits - groover, stitch wheel, awl, needles, and a small spool of thread. If we start out with just a couple kits then at worst we end up with a couple more sets for teaching.

Yesterday we went through catalogs to see what we might want to sell in terms of tools and supplies.

One thing I want to do is not sell things that Tandy/Leather Factory has unless mine is either (A) better, or (B) I can do so for the same price or cheaper.

The awl blades in the Tandy stitching kits suck. Royally. So I'll be assembling my own hand-sewing kits instead of buying and re-selling Tandy kits.

I can get copper rivets and re-sell them to fighters for armor repair at a better price than the Tandy baseline, and we can use those if they turn out to be a flop. I'll probably also get a couple rivet-setting tools to go with them. I think this week I'll probably order 5 lbs of rivets and a couple of the tools.

Found a few more conchos, and ordered a few of one style today. Yes, moving slowly - I don't want to over-extend.

Display Considerations

I need a better way to display the knitting patterns, right now they're all in one three-ring binder, so people don't see the variety. I did some searching and found a literature display rack that folds that Ron also thinks will work. And isn't an arm and a leg.

On the way home Saturday we were discussing how to display buckles and other hardware. The board we've been using works, it still looks good, but I think we've pretty much out-grown it already, and definitely if we add any more new hardware.

Some of the belts we finished Saturday were narrow braided ones, which are new, so I put price tags on them. It got me thinking that it would be useful to put tags on belts, so people don't have to ask, but pricing all the belts in the bin has drawbacks. So today I ordered some metal "golf towel hooks", sometimes used as shower curtain rings, and am going to get some plastic tags - I'll put prices on the belts on display, and just move the tag. And to prevent anyone playing with tags, I'll write the type of belt on the tag. And it makes it easy to match the tags with the "one of everything" set of belts if it's easier to pack belts up sans tags.

End of Summer Equals Back in Business

Oh, and yesterday I cut out a bunch of stuff. Yeah, cooler weather is here and I'm finally emerging from the usual summer slump. With a bit of a vengeance this year, it seems.

Decided that doing the Known World Academy of Rapier/Known World Costume Symposium solo was indeed madness, reinforced my e-mail from the new vendor coordinator, from which it seems some plans that seemed decided on are still up in the air. I have regretfully tendered my cancellation. Since it's not until November I don't feel too bad, definitely not a last-minute decision.

Have found a different e-mail address to try for the gaming convention of non-communication. It may be for someone organizing certain games only, but it's worth a quick e-mail.


  1. Too bad you cannot make it out here. At least at cons (including Gaslight Gathering - the steampunk/victoriana specific event), about the only people I've seen selling pouches, belts, etc. (or much of anything else) is Pendragon Costumes - and I don't know how much hand crafting is in their (small) supply of these kind of items.

    We've managed to make so few SCA events, I don't have an accurate survey of the markets there.

    But driving out to Southern California for the weekend is a bit too much of a time commitment. And trying to keep a subsidiary stocked (especially one who has a lot on his plate at the moment and won't have time to add dealing to it), would be just about as impractical.


  2. Yeah, no. I could probably split my stock into two not-inadequate setups, but there's "can" vs. "sane". :)

  3. Speaking of small college con events - did you ever check into the Anime/Gaming con that's starting up at Prairie State college? I remember you mentioning it when they were advertising at Capricon...think it's coming up soon though

    1. Maneki Neko Con - found the FB link Rebecca sent me :) Unfortunately it does look like it's in 2.5 weeks

    2. Well carp, it seems to have fallen off my radar. Maybe because that's the same weekend as the SCA Midrealm fall crown tourney, but Crown's Ann Arbor-ish (Saline), so too long a trip.

      OTOH, We don't have anything that I see scheduled for that weekend, so I've dropped e-mail to their vendor staff to find out if they have space available. Worst that happens is they say "yes" and we have to make a decision...