Monday, April 25, 2016

The Job Prospects Update

Hi Everyone,

I just re-read my prior post, and I agree with most of what I said.  In retrospect however, I think the only thing that I would have changed is the 3 back and forth conversation part... I really don't care how many it takes, especially when it comes to the personal interaction... I love you gals, and many of you know it.  I didn't mean to be rude or abrupt, it was just a  reactionary response to our financial outlook, and I apologize if I once again offended anyone, it wasn't my intent.

I want to thank all of you that have sent us supportive notes, we really do appreciate them, and thank you for the recent custom orders, they are greatly appreciated.

We've heard rumors that this is some kind of marketing stunt, and I only wish that I was clever enough to hatch such a scheme.  Sadly, I'm not, but the good news (at least for our long term checkbook purposes), is that I have a 2nd and hopefully final interview on Wednesday, the day after tomorrow.  The big dogs are flying to KC for one on one interviews with myself and a few others.  Hopefully my next update won't be on how I managed to screw that up, I tend to be good at those kind of things.

So, I said that I'd keep you updated, and now you are.  Plus, we've updated Erin's resume, she's looking for some part time work also.

I hope you all have a good week.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

So Here's the Deal...

Good Evening,

I hope everyone is doing well this evening, or tomorrow morning, or whenever...

I asked the question a few weeks ago as to why it seemed that all of a sudden our business just virtually dropped off to nothing, and the answer has become clear.   We've hit our saturation point. 

I mean, let's face it, in the whole scheme of things, this is really a pretty thin market we've been catering to over the years, as there are only "X" number of ladies with long hair that actually use hairsticks and the fact is you only need "Y" number of sticks.  While we're not particularly thrilled with the prospects, it is what it is, and we have to face the music.  We simply can't survive on FNS's at 20 - 40% discounts, it's an unsustainable path.

Over the past few weeks I've been interviewing with different lending institutions with the hope of getting back into finance.  As many of you know, the interview process is painfully slow, but we've determined that it's time for us to re-enter the actual 9-5 workforce.  Ideally we'll return to me working a full time job and making sticks on the side as it was for the first 5 years.

In the interim however we still have to eat and pay the bills, and we can't just live for Fridays.  With that said, here's the deal, I'll split the difference with you if you are at all interested in a custom order.  Our typical FNS is priced at a 20% discount, sometimes more, sometimes less depending on the individual stick, but 20% overall.  Until such time as we determine the time value of new employment vs. self employment, we will offer a 10% discount on any custom orders (existing designs only with wood and gemstone changes being ok,  I won't be making any create it from scratch designs until somewhere down the line).  If it requires anything more than 3 back and forth conversations, I'll decline the request as I simply don't have the allowable time.  All I need is a link to the stick that you'd like along with the length and any gemstone or wood changes, nothing more, other than pleasantries of course. 

Should the job come through before I've completed the custom list, I'll have to ask for your understanding if I'm unable to complete your order.  While I'll do my best, I don't want to start a new job with the concern of an unfulfilled custom list, the distraction wouldn't be fair to my new employer.

So for all of you that have said "someday" I want to order a particular stick, the next few hours, days, or weeks or whatever timeframe we determine, you may consider this as being your "someday".  The job I'm hoping to land is a 1 hour drive each way, and I'm confident in saying that I won't be doing very many custom orders on top of an 8 hour workday coupled with 2 hours of travel time. 

Sorry, but it is what it is, we're not upset in the least, it's just a reality.  You all have been wonderful to work with over the years and we've made some tremendous friendships that will no doubt continue into the next chapter.  I'll keep you posted on the progress as we move forward.

Have a good night.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Morning After...

Good Morning All,

And herein lies the reason that Nightblooming suggested I maintain a blog to begin with.  It would have been so much easier to answer all of the questions on the forum in a discussion format, but history has taught me that anything I say beyond Good Morning is considered inappropriate by the moderator's and as such deleted.  I find it to be a somewhat lopsided set of rules, but I digress. 

What's even more surprising to me than the price was to you, is that it took almost 6 hours before the discussion began, I think you all are slipping, typically it would have begun much sooner :)

Just for the record, I would have been sticker shocked also, because as many of you know, I rarely creep north of $200, it's outside of my comfort zone.  I only read the thread once, so if I miss something, feel free to ask a follow up question here, I don't have that many secrets, but then again, I'm not wild about the notion of teaching my various techniques to our competitors, as I don't think it wouldn't be prudent. 

*  Yes, the price was agreed upon well in advance, and although she offered to pay more, I charged less. 

*  While I will never tell anyone how to spend their money, I don't recommend running a stick through a bandsaw to see the cross section, you're more than welcome to do so, but I think it will largely be a waste of money, and resulting in very few answers.  If you should choose to slice it down the middle, please send me pictures, as I'd be curious to see it also.

*  If you would like for me to recreate this stick for you, I'll be happy to do so, but the price is $225.  No, I will never intentionally rip the original designers head off, and then sell it for less on reproductions, as that would be wrong on way too many levels.  Have I ever done so, probably, but it was due to a poor memory, nothing else.  Believe it or not, I don't actually remember the individual specifics of 5,000 some odd sticks.

*  We began discussing this design on December 29th, and have had ongoing discussions for the past 3 and a half months.  While you may not see it, this is what I refer to as a "Create it from scratch" design, and if you look at the custom order guidelines page, the minimum price for said design is $150.  I assure you, we haven't raised our prices, in fact, they've gone down if you're looking closely.

*  Yes, I've made similar style sticks for much less, but it was for 2 insets (holly) typically bordered in a crushed gemstone, but this particular stick has 6 insets, 2 holly and 4 paua insets.  This was my 3rd attempt, and as I explained to the customer after the 2nd failure, I can't do it because it's too complex, and she would have paid nothing.  Even though I had already purchased 2 new sets of artwork for the dragons.  I've never charged, nor will I ever charge a customer for my failures.  After thinking about it for a few days, my stubborn persistence kicked in and I thought through a new technique, as I wasn't wild about the idea of losing 3 and a half months of discussions and the expense of new artwork.  This was my 3rd and final attempt before I was going to just write it all off as a failure, as I have done several times in the past, it was familiar territory.  As Kenny Rogers so eloquently sung, you've got to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em... and I was ready to walk away from the table if the 3rd one failed also.

*  I know nothing about the decals are that were mentioned, so I can't comment either way on this point.  I only have one laser, and it's the old one.  Many of you may recall that the new laser never worked, and I ultimately made them take it back.  There are literally thousands of settings that I can program and I've just learned to work with the finer intricacies of an old and weak laser, and no, I still can't engrave ebony.

So there you have it, I'm sure I probably missed something, and if so, feel free to ask it again here. 

Have a great Sunday!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Friday Night Sale

Good Morning,

The next Friday Night Sale will be held on April 15, beginning at 1:00 PM CST (US), 8:00 PM (CEST). We will de-activate all inventory Friday morning for price adjustment with an overall discount of approximately 20% - 25%. Everything will be re-activated at exactly 1:00. (Please check your own individual time zone to make sure the start time aligns with 1:00 PM Central Standard Time in the United States.)

Monday, April 4, 2016

Spring has Sprung!

Good Monday Morning,

Just a quick update / photo.  Here's our first cultivation for the season, Lilac's and Bleeding Hearts, they should be dry and ready to become hairsticks in about 1 week.  We began making flower sticks I believe 3 years ago, and now we better understand which flowers work best and these are among them.  I'm personally looking forward to the roses, they're my favorite.

Just another reminder, I've got all kinds of space on the board if anyone is up for a custom.

Have a great day!

I almost forgot.  I just got on FB, and was reminded that today is officially my 2 year anniversary from when I left banking, so happy anniversary to me! 
We've never been happier yet so broke at the same time :)