Weekly Planner: free printable! (+ suggestions!)

Free Printable Planner from FreshStitches and Shiny Happy World

Planners are a big deal. They can get really fancy. And there are planner people to follow on instagram. Whoa.

It’s a little overwhelming!

I’ve always struggled with finding the right planner for me. I love having a paper planner, but I always found it hard to find the right one. Some have a page for each day (I don’t have nearly enough going on!) and some are monthlies (I need more than an inch to write all my appointments for a day!). I just want a lovely, weekly planner. With room for a to-do list. And a way to separate those things I have to do on Tuesday from the things I have to do sometime this week.

So, I designed my own

I know! It’s such a Stacey-thing to do!

FreshStitches Planner page

FreshStitches Planner page

I posted a photo to instagram, and you guys LOVE it! And want to do it yourself! Sure, why not?

Download the Printable!

Now, I know this planner won’t be perfect for everyone. After all, I made it just for me!

Let me tell you a bit about the features. One page is the ‘weeklies’, an overview of the week. I have a box for the weekly to-do list (things that I can do anytime, but need to get done that week), a checkbox task (things that need to be done every day, but it doesn’t matter when… like posting to facebook or checking email) and a meal planning area.

Freshstitches planner weekly todo list 8.5 x 5.5

You can download the Weeklies page in pdf format, here.

Then I have another page called the ‘Dailies’… things I schedule in for every day. You can see there is a blank space for the date, and a space to write a major task to work on each day. Below the date, I include appointments or items that have to be done that day (like 10am dentist appointment). I left a little space in the corner of the page for goals or mantras to keep in mind for the week. And I shaded out Friday and the weekends… a reminder not to schedule too many things for then!

You can download the ‘Dailies’ page in pdf format, here.

Make the Planner + Suggestions!

To make your planner, simply print both of these pages on 8.5″ x 5.5″ paper and have it wire bound! It’s a convenient size! I used 20lb paper (which is quite thin), so the resulting book isn’t too thick even though I printed out through the rest of 2017.

The wire binding means it lays open nicely on the table and you can see both pages at a glance. If you want to get creative, you can throw in extra pages (like a monthly calendar) on your own! Google ‘calendar printables’ for oodles!

You can write in the numbers and dates, but I splurged and bought these adorable number stickers. They fit perfectly. I also love these fun travel stickers. And of course I have my knitting stickers by Symposi Press.

It’s so much fun!

I hope you enjoy! And tell me about your planner!

 

 

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Stitches South, Stitches United and Gradient Yarn!

I just got back from teaching at Stitches South in Nashville, TN, and it was awesome-sauce! Here’s a peek at the lobby of the convention center:
Gaylord Opry
And since it was the south, I had to have shrimp and grits:
shrimp and grits at Gaylord Opryland
Yum.

A little yarn treat

Now, I do a lot of shows, and so I can’t buy every single pretty skein of yarn I see. I’d be drowning in it! So, what I usually do is buy one skein of yarn that I really love… and I try to knit it up before the next show.
Want to see what I got this time?
Gradient skein from Twisted Fiber arts
Did you just pass out from the beauty? Yeah, me too.
It’s a gradient skein from Twisted Fiber Arts. They have a patented process to dye the yarn without dyeing pre-knit fabric (so you don’t get those kinks!) AND they sell semi-solids of each of the colors so you can keep knitting if you run out. Genius.
I just cast on for a Japanese Feather and Fan Shawl. I’m already drooling.

New Stitches Announcement!

While at the Student Banquet, Benjamin (the CEO of XRX, the company that puts on Stitches) made a huge announcement…. they’re starting a new show, Stitches United!
In addition to featuring knitting, crochet and weaving, Stitches United will also have sewing and quilting! Squee!
FreshStitches rainbow bundles fabric
I am SO excited! You know I love fabric too! The show will take place in late April 2017 in Hartford, CT.

Shop Update

It’s the first week of the month, so that means I’m updating the shop!
fox needle minder freshstitches
I’m adding lots of new goodies (like this magnetic fox needle minder) and restocking lots of favorites, like crazy skeins and eye sampler packs.

AND I’ll be putting a couple of older items on sale. Whoa.

Best,
Stacey

And then the Kit Club outgrew my car…

This is a happy story with a good problem to have and a solution… but it’s mostly detail-sy insights about how I run the Kit Club. I do these types of posts every so often because a handful of folks find the behind-the-scenes stuff interesting. If it’s not, fear not! We’ll be back to regular programming in no time!

Problem: The Kit Club outgrew my car

I am committed to giving my customers the best prices possible. This means that I ship all of my Kit Club packages via first-class mail, which is a lower shipping cost than mailing via Priority Mail.

kit club boxes

If you ship via Priority Mail, the post office gives you boxes (and delivers them to your house) for free. If you’ve ever wondered why so many companies only ‘offer’ Priority Mail shipping, that’s one reason why.

If you ship first-class mail, you have to buy and pick up the boxes yourself. No problem. I can do that.

So, every other month, I drive my car to Wisconsin and fill it up with boxes for the club.

kit club boxes in car

This photo was taken 10 months ago. Since then, the number of subscribers has increased and the boxes no longer all fit in my car. I don’t have a tiny car, either. It’s an SUV.

How to ship the stuff? Possible solutions!

I want to point out that it’s the empty boxes that won’t fit in my car. I won’t even mention how, on shipping day, I can’t fit all of the full boxes onto my porch for the mailman. There are a lot of boxes.

So, I’ve been brainstorming some solutions:

Switch to Priority shipping. This would come close to doubling my shipping fee for domestic customers and would pretty much make all of my international customers cancel their subscriptions. That hardly seems worth it! Besides, what happens if the post office doesn’t have that quantity of free boxes in stock?

Buy a bigger truck or a trailer I don’t even want to calculate how many kits I’d need to sell to justify that cost! A trailer on the back does seem cool, though!

Have the boxes delivered. This would double the price of my boxes (since boxes are bulky and expensive to ship).

Make two trips to the warehouse. This would not only increase the cost of the boxes due to gas mileage, but I would also be charged a fee because these 2 smaller shipments would be below the minimum order. And, one trip already takes me 2 hours. A second one wouldn’t be fun.

Switch to padded envelopes. Hey… that’s not a bad idea!

The switch to padded envelopes

My longtime customer, Vicki from Australia, was the first to make this suggestion. At first I was hesitant, because envelopes don’t seem as ‘nice’ as boxes. But then I thought about it…

I can fit nearly twice as many envelopes in my car as boxes. Oooh, that’s exciting!

envelopes kit club

And, because the envelope is lighter than a box, I can include more material in the kit for the same shipping price! Ooh! This is sounding better and better!

So, I’m delighted to announce that I’ve made the switch! I know some of you may be sad about the lack of fanciness, so I made an adorable new sticker to make up for it:

new kit club sticker

That makes it all better, right?

Get ready for open enrollment!

New signups for the Kit Club open on July 20th. Although I’ll be be opening the club to some of the highest numbers I’ve ever had, there is still a limit. And if the club hits that limit before August 20th (the close date), then I will close the club early.

Update – the kit club is closed now, but there’s an awesome new Ami Club that’s all digital. That means no shipping costs! Sign up here.

Happy stitching!

Best,
Stacey

How I Spend My Work Time

Where Do the Hours Go? - tracking my work hours at Shiny Happy World

This year I’m writing more frequent posts about the business side of my business. Today I’m sharing some details about time. As in – where the heck does it go?

Working from home is awesome. But sometimes it can feel like you live at work. Last fall my husband and I realized that we were working way too many hours. Without clear start and stop times, it sometimes felt like we needed to be working all the time. Taking an evening off felt like an indulgence. This is not a healthy way to be!

So in January we went on a real, honest-to-goodness, bring-no-work-with-us vacation and we’ve been doing our best to take weekends off all year so far. I’ve discovered that taking the weekend off is terrific – it makes me really look forward to getting back to work on Monday morning. 🙂

But not working around the clock made me nervous, too. What if I don’t get everything done?

So in February and March I tracked almost every minute I spent working, by task. (I used the Timesheet app on my phone.)

The results were eye-opening.

Where Do the Hours Go?

I spend less than half my time developing new patterns. 41% of my time, if you want to be exact. That’s time spent sketching, prototyping, sewing finished samples, taking notes, photography, photo editing, pattern writing and listing. (I don’t count the time spent on hand work while I watch TV. I probably should, but I just couldn’t.)

That doesn’t seem like enough, but I’m happy to report that it’s the biggest chunk of my time. I made it purple on the graph because it’s my favorite part of my job. 🙂

I have some more info to share about tracking time spent on particular patterns, but I need another month or two of that data before I’ll have anything really useful to share.

I spend 37% of my time on non-email administrative tasks. I tracked email separately because I really wanted to see how much time I was spending on that alone. This is that aqua chunk and it includes. . .

  • writing my newsletter
  • developing and writing blog posts
  • bookkeeping and financial tasks
  • ordering and receiving tools and supplies, updating the shop
  • recording and editing videos
  • fixing website problems
  • writing and developing guest posts
  • marketing and promotion (I don’t do much of this)
  • replying to blog comments
  • working on my new website
  • redesigning/revamping old patterns
  • etc.

I spend 12% of my time just answering emails. That’s only about an hour a day. I was actually surprised by how little it was! But I think tracking my time made me more efficient. I tended to set aside a chunk of time in the morning and another chunk in the afternoon instead of picking at it all day long. I’m going to keep doing that.

Finally, I spend 10% of my time packing and shipping orders and kits. I wanted to track this because it’s a factor in how profitable (or not) these physical items in my shop are. 29% of my profits come from the sale of things that need to be physically shipped, and I worried that I was actually spending more time on the packing and shipping than I realized – but I think I’m ok.

What’s my takeaway here?

Of course, I’d like to spend more time designing new patterns. 🙂 It is my favorite part of the job, after all. But if that’s all I do, I have a hobby – not a business. If I want to continue to make a living at this, I need to keep doing most of the things I do. And I really enjoy almost all the tasks I do – so that’s not a problem. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be smarter about it!

You may have noticed that for much of the year so far I’ve been writing 3-4 new blog posts a week instead of five. That’s going to continue.

The new website is going to have a feature that will allow you at any time to log in and access any of your previous orders. That’s going to save me a fair bit of time in replying to emails – and it means you won’t have to wait to get a response from me! I always feel guilty on Monday morning when I see an email that came in Friday night from someone who lost their email with the pattern download!

The new website is also going to have some behind-the-scenes stuff that will make shipping much faster. I won’t have to enter every address in the USPS website every time! And I won’t have to type in those crazy long tracking numbers! It’ll also allow me to ship 1st class by weight instead of having to always use Priority Mail – so some shipping rates will go down. Yay!

By August the new website will be finished and launched, and I’ll be done with all the pattern updates. Those are some big, ongoing tasks that are taking a lot of my behind-the-scenes time.

I’m going to keep working on my email in chunks.

None of these seem like much, butI learned from tracking my time that they really add up! I’m no longer guessing (usually not very accurately) how much time I spend on all the parts of keeping my business running.

I’m not going to keep tracking my time. It’s kind of tedious and the app I used doesn’t do a great job of feeding the info back to me in a useful format. But I have a lot of info to work with now and I’m going to track it again next spring. My hope is that by focusing on what I learned and making some improvements in my systems, by next April I’ll be spending a full 50% of my time on product development. 🙂

Happy sewing!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!

 

How to Get What You Want

My “working title” for this blog post was: Why you should ALWAYS communicate… but I thought this one was a bit catchier!

Do you feel like you’re always getting stuck in a tough spot? Like nothing comes out the way you planned? I have one tip that is going to change your life. It might not fix every problem, but it’s going to help a lot!

Say what you want aloud

There it is. That’s my tip.

What exactly do I mean? Let me tell you a story.

I order really big quantities of yarn for the Kit Club. Oftentimes, this requires the mill custom-dyeing batches of yarn for me, as they don’t have enough in stock.

I have a pretty tight turn-around for the Kit Club, so I need to have the yarn by a certain date. The last time I placed my order, I said, “I need this color as soon as possible, and this other color can wait”.

Was I being bossy? Telling the dyer how to do their job? Actually, no! The company said, “I’m so glad you told us that! It’s a lot of yarn, and this will help us prioritize the dyeing”.

Many of us are very timid about saying what we need. But when you say what you want aloud, then others can alter their actions to better help you out. It doesn’t mean you’ll get exactly what you want every time, but by saying what you want, you’re giving others information that will help guide their decisions.

You’re actually helping others when you say what you want!

State your preference, then let it be

Do you love the color orange? Maybe you want to mention that when your mom is asking about birthday presents.

Love pasta? Toss the suggestion into the ring when your friends are brainstorming about dinner.

It’s important to say what you want, but to avoid being pushy, in most cases, you’ll want to let it go after that. If your friends have no opinion about dinner, then they’ll tend toward the place you suggest. But if your 5 other friends want steak, a steakhouse is going to win the vote.

And that’s okay! You’ve done your job by mentioning your thoughts!

Do you have a story to share? A time when you failed to mention what you wanted and regretted it later? Or a time when you were really glad you shared your desires? I want to hear!

Other Articles you May Enjoy:

Best,
Stacey

How to Prioritize like a Pro: Schedule your Hardest Tasks

I know this has happened to you: you have sincere plans to do insert important thing here. And then, you have a little spare block of time. But it’s not the right time to do that important thing. So time slips by and that thing never gets done.

How do I know? It used to happen to me!

basic sock pattern crazy colors

It happens a lot in life, but particularly with crafty projects. Like, you’re not making progress on your knitted sweater because you haven’t gotten past that pesky part where you separate the sleeves and really need to concentrate!

I’ll tell you my trick for managing my time more effectively!

Schedule the Hardest Parts

Most craft projects have some hard parts and then lots of mindless hours. Take knitting a sock for example: you have to pay attention for the heel and toe, but unless you’re doing a fancy pattern, most of the sock is just hours of knitting in plain stockinette.

The trick is that you want to make sure to line up the easy part of your knitting with when you have mindless knitting time… which means that you may need to schedule the tricky parts!

If you’re planning a trip, for example, do the cast on before you leave. Then, you’re set to work on the mindless part while you’re traveling (and maybe can’t concentrate so well).

It’s a little counter-intuitive because it means treating your hobby a little like work (put it in your calender), but you’ll be rewarded with making fast progress in your spare moments!

Seen in this post…

Best,
Stacey

This post contains affiliate links. That means I make a little commission if you buy something after clicking through. All affiliate links are marked with an *.

Being a Good Boss to Myself – The Importance of Investing in My Business

Learning to be a better boss - investment lessons from Shiny Happy World

My husband and I are both self-employed (Alan writes children’s books). I do all the finances for both our businesses and for our family. (I like numbers and spreadsheets and all that fun stuff – and Alan really, really doesn’t.) Both our incomes can fluctuate wildly, so we have to keep a close eye on our finances. Once a month we have a “meeting” and I share the numbers so he knows where we are as well as I do.

We were sitting down to one of these meetings last year and I opened Excel to show him the spreadsheet. And we waited. Alan asked what we were waiting for, why didn’t I open the spreadsheet already? I told him I had – I was still waiting for the software to open. He looked at me in utter disbelief and said, “You are the worst boss ever. Your computer is held together with binder clips. You have to reboot it every time you want to use the scanner or edit a video. Your photo editing program closes every time you save a file. And now you’re telling me that it takes this long for a basic spreadsheet to open? If any of your previous bosses had made you work with such a computer you would have quit!”

And he was so right!

I bought a new computer – a good one – and my work life suddenly got so much easier! And faster, too.

I’m thrifty. Apparently, sometimes to the point of absurdity. 🙂

I’ve learned to spend money on good quality tools and supplies – but it’s been harder to apply that lesson to big ticket items. Because they’re big ticket! That computer purchase basically killed all my profit for a month.

But it has been soooooooo worth it!

Later in the year when my sewing machine was acting up (again) my husband (again) convinced me that I really shouldn’t be limping along on a tool that I use EVERY SINGLE DAY for my business. So I bought a new sewing machine, which killed my profit for the biggest month of the year.

Again – it was so worth it.

I’m not going to start throwing money around willy nilly, but I am going to try to be more proactive about investing in my business before things get to a crazy/ridiculous/practically non-functioning point.

At the end of last year I invested in a new logo and branding – as a first step toward a whole new website design – which I am paying someone else to do.

When I moved to my current website it was such a HUGE undertaking that I didn’t do anything else for nearly two months. Two months! No new patterns. No tutorials. Nothing but coding and troubleshooting – and looking up how to do all of that on Google because I am not a professional web designer.

I’m proud of the website I designed and how much I was able to do – but I learned that doing it myself was not actually the best business decision. It took me much longer than it would take a professional, I didn’t do as good a job, and it put my real business on hold while I did all that behind the scenes stuff. I probably lost more in sales than I gained in savings by doing it myself.

My new website is overdue – but not crazy, non-functioning overdue. There are weird little things that don’t work the way I want them to, things I don’t like the look of but lack the ability to change, features that people expect but that I can’t offer. But it’s still working.

I am not going to wait until it’s not working to finally make the decision to invest.

When I looked at my sales from last year and my projections for this year, I planned for this investment. The increased functionality is going to (I hope) increase sales while reducing the amount of time I spend on administrative stuff. It’s a good business decision that will make my customers happy – and make me a better, more productive worker.

I’m being a good boss. 🙂

Best,
Wendi
That's me!

2014 By the Numbers

Shiny Happy World sales by category

I look at my sales every day and do bookkeeping every month, but a couple of times a year I really dig deep into those numbers and use the info I crunch out of them to help me make some decisions and steer the course of my business.

I don’t usually share a lot of behind-the-scenes businessy info here, but these posts have generated a lot of interest in the past. I know a lot of you run (or hope to run) your own businesses, and I’m happy to share what works for me and some of the info behind how I make my decisions.

So that first graph up there is a look at where my pattern income comes from. I make money from advertising on my videos and the occasional teaching gig or magazine sale – but the vast majority (over 90%) of my income comes from the sale of patterns and supplies in my shop and in my Etsy and Craftsy shops.

So what sells the best?

Quilt patterns!

Quilt patterns account for 22% of my income.

Shiny Happy World quilt pattern sales

And more than 3/4 of that income comes from just four patterns.

Top Quilt patterns in 2014 from Shiny Happy World

The lesson?

More quilt patterns! I’m planning to release four new quilt patterns this year. I’m working on farm animals right now, and then I have some really fun surprises planned. 🙂

What’s my next biggest segment?

The Clubs!

That’s the Cuddle Club, the Party Animals and the new Dress Up Bunch Club. All three of these launched in 2014 (the Dress Up Bunch in December) and they’ve all done very well. BUT – that 19% of my sales number is a little misleading. The Cuddle Club and Party Animals cost me a lot of money to sell. I need to order all the supplies and pay to have them shipped to me, and then it takes me a lot of time to bundle them into kits, pack them and ship them. When it comes to profitability (very different from revenue/income) that top graph actually looks more like this.

Profit by Category at Shiny Happy World

Clubs move down into 5th place with just 10% of my profits. (And, incidentally, quilt patterns move up, with 31% of my profits.)

Ten percent is nothing to sneeze at – and I really love these kits – so they’re definitely going to continue. But. . .

The Lesson?

Digital patterns are more profitable than kits. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop selling kits. I really get a lot of joy out of packing them up. And as someone who lives in a remote area nowhere near any kind of craft store, I’m really committed to offering my customers access to the exact same high-quality materials I use in my own work. But I need to figure out a way to offer pattern-only membership in the clubs to people who don’t want or need the materials. I think I’d get a lot of new sign-ups that way! This is especially important for those who live overseas, because the international shipping charges are killer. I’ve got an idea how I’m going to do this and hope to have it all set up and working by mid-February. So stay tuned! For those of you already in the clubs who want to switch to pattern-only – I’ll have a way to make that switch easy and painless.

Also – The Dress Up Bunch Club was a smart business decision because it’s the predictable income of a club without the cost of materials or the packing and shipping time. Plus it’s going to be loads of fun!

Tools & Supplies

Next up in income (but not in profitability) is Tools and Supplies. This is much the same story as the kits – it’s an expensive category to maintain because I have to buy and store inventory. 11% of my profit comes from the sale of tools and supplies, but it’s not a category I’m actively growing. I sell what I use. I only add something new when I discover something new and wonderful that I think I’ll use all the time.

Softie Patterns

They account for 15% of my sales, and 21% of my profits.

The quilt patterns are easy to break down – a lot of sales come from a few very popular patterns. In the softies category I have a lot more patterns – and a lot more favorites. So to get a better handle on these sales, I broke it down again by type of softie pattern.

Softie pattern sales at Shiny Happy World

The Cuddle Style softies are the ones built like Franklin the Fat Cat and Bertie Bunny – very fat and huggable and fun. There are a lot of them, and they’re the bestsellers of the bunch.

The Dress Up Bunch is the next big category – it includes both the dolls and the clothes.

Creature Camp – my book about making softies – gets its own sliver, followed by Lanky style softies. That’s the new Elliott Elephant and Milton Monkey.

It’s worth noting here that I released only one Lanky pattern last year – in December – and it still managed to capture 2% of my total sales all on its own. I think this is going to be a strong style of softie. And what’s not to like? I love those long, weighted arms and legs!

Here are the bestsellers by name. . .

Softie pattern sales at Shiny Happy World

 

This is a very different picture than the quilt pattern sales, where over 75% of sales came from just four patterns. Here the top ten patterns account for just over half the sales. I don’t know if one is better than the other.

One other important thing to note here is that this doesn’t include club sales – all of which are softies. I break them out separately because the labor involved with the two is very different, but if I combined them, softie pattern sales and quilt pattern sales would be pretty much tied.

Kits

These are all the kits that are not sold as part of a club subscription. They account for 10% of my sales and 7% of my profits. Like the clubs and tools & supplies, I really need to think about the cost of materials and the amount of time spent packing them up – but I love having them and I’m planning to keep adding more.

Kit sales at Shiny Happy World

Holiday kits are clearly the heavy hitters here. Do you think I’ll do the Christmas Club again? You bet! I’m already gathering ideas.

Felt Patterns

10% of my income and 14% of my profits came from felt pattern sales. This is really what my embroidery patterns have turned into.

Felt pattern sales at Shiny Happy World

Take a look at that Christmas Club again! The kit graph showed people who had bought the materials kit – this is people who bought the digital pattern. In fact – the top three patterns were holiday clubs.

The lesson?

Keep those holiday clubs – and keep them fresh and interesting!

And that’s about it! Embroidery patterns and finished items are in there, but they account for such a tiny % of my sales and profits that I’m not putting any energy into them.

Putting it all together

That’s a lot of info – I know. It takes me a few days to digest it after I crunch all the numbers. But here are a few more thoughts to leave you with. . .

There’s a saying that gets thrown around a lot in the craft business world.

Do what you love. The money will follow.

I hate that expression.

I’m all about doing what you love. My husband and I are living proof that you can absolutely make a living doing what you love.

But I hate the suggestion that the money will just magically appear from somewhere.

It’s a constant balance to make sure that what I’m doing has a market, that I know how to reach that market, and that I price my products properly.

There were a lot of times in this report that I talked about how much I love a particular pattern, or how much fun I have packing up kits – and that’s important. But it’s not the most important thing. Let’s take those kits, for example.

Every time I have a new batch of kits go out I spend several hundred dollars ordering in supplies. Then I obsessively track those orders to make sure they arrive in time for the kits to go out. Depending on the kit I can spend 1-3 days cutting and prepping materials and assembling the kits, and another day printing labels and packing and shipping the kits. That’s all in addition to the time spent developing pattern and making the final sample, taking the step-by-step photos, and writing the pattern.

I love cutting the materials and laying them out in orderly piles. I love packing the eyes and beads and whatever else in tiny little ziplock bags. I love rolling the kits and watching the piles of finished kits grow while the piles of materials dwindle.

By paying close attention to the dollars spent and tracking my time spent, I know that these are not the most profitable items in my shop – but they’re profitable enough for me to keep making them.

Embroidery patterns – on the other hand – were not. Even though they had no material costs or packing time involved, the time spent developing the pattern, stitching up the sample, writing the pattern, and listing it in three shops – was absolutely not profitable. I was actually losing money with every pattern I published.

So I stopped. Of course! Because this is a business, not just me “doing what I love.”

I was able to turn my love of embroidery and hand-sewing into a collection of embroidered felt patterns that are profitable. Not huge – but they’re profitable enough to be a sustainable part of my business.

If you’re doing this as a business and not as a hobby (which – if you’ve read this far – is probably the case) it’s very important to pay attention to the numbers.

For the next couple of months I’m going to be paying a lot more attention to tracking my time – how much time I spend on the different parts of my business. I’ve downloaded an app called TimeSheet to help me, and I’m going to be using that to make sure I’m being accurate on some of the things that are borderline profitable. I’ll report back on what I find!

If you have any other business questions for me – ask away! I’ll be doing a few more behind-the-scenes business posts this year and I’d love to know what kind of info you all are interested in!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!

New Shiny Happy World Logo!

Shiny Happy World new logo

Those of you who have been visiting Shiny Happy World for a long time have seen me go through a few different logos. I started with this sun. . .

old Shiny Happy World logo

I liked it, but sometimes it was really hard to work with a square logo – and I got awfully tired of the same blue background all the time.

Then I changed to this one. . .

less old Shiny Happy World logo

I was a little sad to lose the sunshine, but the long banner format was (mostly) easier to work with. But why did I use blue again? It’s not even my favorite color. And I like the heart, but otherwise this is pretty bland.

And now I have this beauty. . .

Shiny Happy World new logo

Why? Because I paid someone who knew what they were doing! (Christine Castro Hughes at Aeolidia, case you were wondering.) Beyond simply having the technical skills with the design software, she asked me questions I never would have considered, really pushed me to think about where and how I’d be using it, and so many other things.

And I love it! I love the playfulness and fun and whimsy. I love the colors. I love that I have it in long and stacked formats. I love that I can put it on any color background. I love that there’s an alternate version that reads batter in smaller formats. I love the patterns that fill the letters. I love the extra little graphics!

I’m starting to integrate it into my site and printed materials. Those of you who have ordered from me in the last few weeks are getting new business cards with your orders. Thank you cards with the new imagery are coming soon. It’s on my website and my Facebook page and in my very newest patterns.

But this is only the first step!

I’m planning a major website redesign this year. And this time I will not be doing it myself! (Some of you may remember the nightmare that was me doing it myself last time. I went more than two months with no new patterns, and I was not a shiny, happy person for most of that time. I’m not a web designer, and I should try to be.) I’m going to pay someone who knows what they’re doing. 🙂 I’ve been working on the very detailed questionnaire for now, but here are some of the things I’m hoping for in the new design.

  • all new clean design and graphics based on the new logo
  • a much better member sign up interface – and the ability for members to easily access all their previous orders
  • a shop that’s more easily searchable – by pattern type, kind of animal, or difficulty level
  • sign up for clubs in the regular shop instead of through other, not-always-easy-to-find pages
  • better organized archives
  • some way to allow people to work systematically through the archives – either through series of mini classes or some other system
  • the ability for members to create wish lists that they can share with friends and family
  • better gallery for show & tell photos
  • photos that don’t shave off a sliver on the right side
  • the ability to have digital and physical items in one listing – so you can choose between a pattern or a kit without having to click around so much
  • So Many Other Fiddly Little Things That I’ve Never Been Able to Figure Out Myself

I’m very, very excited! Creating a new logo and establishing the overall “look” of my brand was the first step, and I’m so excited to officially unveil it to you.

The process of working with another artist was really fascinating. I was a little nervous at first, but it ended up being a wonderful experience.

Happy Monday!

Best,
Wendi
That's me!

14 Things I’m Really Proud of Accomplishing in 2014

Happy New Year!

I love starting a fresh new year! It’s a great time to think about how the last year has gone and think about what the next year may bring. Every year, I publish a financial wrap-up (see 2013’s here and here and chat about my goals for the coming year. This year, I’m adding to that roster by sharing a list of things I’m really proud of accomplishing.

1. I said “no” It’s really hard to say no: you feel like you’re letting someone down or skipping out on an opportunity. But there just isn’t enough time in the day to do it all. This year, I focused on saying “no” to opportunities that didn’t suit me. And I’m happier for it!

2. I took a risk This year, I began selling animal eyes. It was a huge risk – purchasing an entire line of eyes is a huge financial investment, and I had no idea whether it would pay off. But, I listened to my customers and took a leap of faith… and it worked!

eyes from FreshStitches

3. I started Coffee with Stacey One of my 2014 goals was to continue adapt my blog. I’ve been really proud of the increased number of tutorials and higher quality of photos, but I’m particularly happy with the Coffee with Stacey chats. I know some folks wish I did them more often, but keeping them spontaneous allows me to focus on topics I’m really jazzed about and also fit them into the busy FreshStitches schedule.

4. I kept learning This year, I took a woodworking class, a beading class as well as a number of online business and craft courses. Learning new things has helped me stay inspired and fresh!

wire wrapped necklace

5. I asked for help I’m the sort of girl who tends to tackle challenges all on her own. It’s hard for me to ask for help. My persistence is a strength, but I’ve been known to push myself to my absolute limit, which isn’t a good idea! This year, I asked for help when I needed it. My mom visited to help me with a Kit Club shipment. I’ve reached out to others when I needed to.

6. I kept my work hours under control It’s a continuing goal of mine to get off of work by 5pm. It’s a task that becomes more and more difficult as FreshStitches grows. But on most days, I stuck to it!

7. I kept cool while traveling This year, I visited 16 states and took 3 international trips. It’s a lot of traveling… and being smooshed on an airplane isn’t always fun. But I’ve worked on optimizing my travel projects and spacing my travels so they work for me. Success!

8. I’ve kept a yoga routine Did I mention how much I travel? And of course, for most of the year I’ve been pregnant, meaning that my body has been continually evolving. This year, I joined a yoga studio and practiced consistently. I told myself that I didn’t need to be amazing, I just needed to go. And I did. And I’m proud of that!

9. I’ve maintained an awesome Kit Club! In 2014, Kit Club membership has more than doubled. I’m so excited! It’s been hard work, but I couldn’t be more proud of it.

Puppy Snips

10. I focused on teaching If you read my financial reviews, you’ll know that my income comes from a variety of sources: pattern sales, book royalties, teaching and physical good sales. I love each component of my business, but I was delighted to spend some time this year to focus on teaching. I’m very proud of the classes I offer and my students seem to love them, too!

11. I ran a half-marathon This July, I ran a half-marathon. I registered for the race before becoming pregnant, and even though I love running, training while experiencing morning sickness and sleepless nights took extra dedication and willpower. I even ended up beating the goal I had set for myself!

12. I put family and friends first My family and friends are scattered across the globe. Keeping in touch means a lot of travel, phone calls and skyping. And hosting a plethora of visitors. With a busy business, it can be hard to take a weekend off to give a friend a tour around town, but it’s an important priority for me. There’s always more work to do… so I urge you to take the time to develop your relationships!

13. I innovated with my pattern designs I’ve been designing stuffed animals for 7 years now, and I’m always trying to balance accessibility and design. While I’m always making new stuff, I feel like I really rocked it this year. Check out my Sally the Snowflake. Totally new shape and so much fun!

plush crochet snowflake

14. I honed my social media plan I’m on facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Ravelry… it’s a lot to manage! And it’s important to me that my followers aren’t just getting the same-old, same-old on each platform. This year, I feel like I really hit my stride: distributing different types of information on the different platforms. You can read a bit more info about my strategy in this blog post.

What are you most proud of?

I want to hear about your 2014! What are you most proud of accomplishing?

Do any of these things help you set some goals for 2015?