See you at Life InStyle

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We will be exhibiting at Life InStyle next month! I am very excited!

We exhibited at Life InStyle at Sydney 3 years ago and we didn’t do very well. Looking back I can completely understand why. We were immature in a lot of ways. We were a bit desperate and not knowing where we stood.

This time I feel like I am finally ready to give it ago again! We have a wider range of products. We know exactly what sells what doesn’t in our shop at South Melbourne and why. I feel more confidence talking to retailers as well.

By saying that, it’s still very nervous to put myself out there to give this a go again. Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid. It means you don’t let the fear stops you.

Fingers crossed for the show!

Stress to the max!

I am sitting in my shop today eating cake, drinking coffee and reading Frankie. I look normal from the outside but deep down I am freaking out!

We are going to Brisbane Finders Keepers next week and unlike the other Finders Keepers we did before, this is the first time we do inter-state market. We dropped off our stocks at the freight company on Tue and I supposed to feel relieved after that. The truth is before I packed up, I worry we don’t have enough stock. After we packed up, I worry the freight company missed part of our stocks. Now sitting in the shop I worry the weather in Brisbane next week. I worry people won’t buy. I worry people won’t come. I worry about EVERYTHING!

I know I know. I am making myself crazy. But before you think I am insane please read about what I have to deal with this month.

The bamboo swaddle I ordered in Feb supposed to arrive at the beginning of June so I can bring them to Finders Keepers but in fact they haven’t even printed yet.

The bamboo dining set – the best seller in the shop, have been delayed after delayed and people on the other side of the world are not cooperative at all. I have been organising this since November last year and things are still not here. I am so upset.

I am freaking out not only because I know they sell well and I feel like missing out but also I am going to exhibit at the trade fair in August, even if they managed to finish everything by the end of this month, it still takes a month to ship here, and my trade fair is on the 2nd of August. I don’t think I can make it and that trade fair costs me $10k.

There are other things too like training new person to work at the shop, miscommunications between orders and delivery, never-end-to-do-list, emails, invoices, housework, walking the dog, losing weight, etc the list goes on… haha

I don’t even know who’s reading this but please don’t worry about me. This blog is my outlet, it’s my personal diary to share my tears and my joy. I feel much better now writing about my stress. Everyone deal with their stress differently, I am very lucky that writing helps me feel better. The world is fair. We all have 24 hours a day. We start new the next day.

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Never stop working

I always want to write a book or at least a diary about running a gift shop but I’ve never got the time.  On one hand I have so many ideas I want to share on the other hand I feel like I am still very new compare to others who had their shop for like 30 years.

Since we have the pop up, we’ve never stop working. It’s like I am busy before I even get out of the bed.

Opening a shop isn’t as fancy as I thought. Years ago I was day dreaming with my best friend, dreaming we’ll open a gift shop/ book shop/ cafe and we thought we would be chatting to customers, drinking coffee, open and close whenever we feel like. Well obviously we’re very stupid and dreaming too much!

Running a shop is HARD WORK and it’s even harder for a designer! Getting products in from other suppliers are difficult enough but designing your own is even harder. I have to draw, source the materials, communicate to factories (if I am getting them made in bulk) getting samples, more communication, more samples, and things are not according to plan you have to find another factories. The process may take 6 months to a year! In between this process, it’s a lot to learn and there’s also a lot of self-doubt. I don’t know if people will like my design, whether people will like that particular product, and I don’t know if people prefer this colour or that colour, the lists go on.

Behind the sense there’re also lots of invisible stress because I have emails to reply, social media campaign, stocks to order, photoshoot to organise and if I am late for one thing, everything will delay. As an artist or a writer, I draw or write when I feel like this, as long as I submit the work before the deadline is fine but running a shop is doing different things in daily basis. it’s particularly hard for me because I can’t break up a drawing to do in different days or weeks, but sometimes I just don’t have the time to do one drawing in one day! Not to mention I need to get into the right time right mind set to draw. It’s all very hard.

I hope sharing this insight with you make you appreciate independent designer more. It’s  not that easy.

 

 

See you in Brisbane!

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Finders Keepers Brisbane here we come!!!

This is going to be our first time to showcase at Brisbane and I am so excited!!! We still haven’t figure out how to get there yet with so many products but yay!! I am sure we’ll sort this out at the end! I think same as every single market I’ve been to, I am starting to get worried about the sales, the set up, the stock, everything, so fingers crossed for us!!!

Can’t wait to meet all my Brisbane followers!

 

Melbourne We Love You!

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It’s been two years since we move from Sydney to Melbourne and WE ARE LOVING IT!

Two years ago we moved to Melbourne for a dream. Now I think about it I realised how crazy this idea was. We came here to chase a dream – to open a shop, to have a successful business and to be rich and famous 😀

We were very lucky that we’re making a great progress towards our dream and we’re very thankful to all the people that encourage us and support us all the way. Living in a new city is hard and running a business is even harder. Melbourne has given us the best opportunity to shine and I cannot believe how far we have came.

Thank you. Thank you all for all the generous support, kindness and friendship.

Work In Progress

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I know I won’t be the first one to tell you this but I still have to say it- managing your own business is HARD WORK!!

Every business is different and I can only tell you how hard MINE is. Before we started to make money we worried that we won’t survive. Once we were starting to feel alright, another wave comes and and we need to paddle a little harder to try to keep our head above the water. We constantly worry about different things, timing, marketing, stock etc.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a dream come true for me to have the shop and be able to showcase my work to people, while putting a smile on their faces. EVERY coin has two sides. When you see me sitting in the shop looking at the computer, I am not always online shopping (just every now and then :D) I am constantly designing new products, getting new stock and thinking what can I do to make this better.

And when it comes to designing, I actually have no idea what I am doing. (Not that I know what I am doing with other things either!!!  😀 ) I may be good at drawing a picture but when it comes to professionally designing something I am clueless.

For example, I needed to re-deign our packaging for our children’s dining set, bamboo coffee cup and muslin swaddles urgently but I don’t know how to turn a template into a box!

Without a professional training it’s very very hard. It’s like asking someone to make a Croquembouche with no recipe. I just don’t know where to start.

I am glad that I get it all done in the end but man it’s HARD WORK! There are so many times that I wish I have more proper training in different parts of business but I think my brain and my time don’t agree with that. I will just try to do my best to learn on the job!

Hello April

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A quarter of the year has gone and we are very thankful that most of the things in the business and in life are running smoothly.

April will be an exciting month for us, as not only will we receive more samples of our children’s dining set but also new packaging for our bamboo blankets.

We are going to Japan and Hong Kong at the end of the month, and we can’t wait to share our journey with you all!!

Enjoy your April everyone!

Suki x

Bamboo Dining Set

A big thank you to everyone who bought our new Bamboo Children’s Dining Set in the last 3 weeks. We received fantastic feedback on these sets, which warms our heart and we are so excited to get more stock in soon. In the meantime, preorder is available on our website.

One of the main reasons we have chosen to release the Bamboo Children’s Dining Sets is we are aiming to be more sustainable and also more environmentally friendly. The Sets are made using bamboo and plant based fibres, these are biodegradable materials that won’t harm our planet.

There are several documentaries regarding plastic and the damage it causes to our environment. Not only does plastic end up in landfill but it also ends up in our water ways, often being digested by our marine life. Just yesterday, I watched a video on a whale that had died due to illness, and once the autopsy was conducted close to 50 bags were found in its stomach. This is absolutely heartbreaking.

I’ve mentioned previously, we would like to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. We are taking many other steps to reduce our footprint and work towards a more happier planet.

How do you reduce your footprint and what steps do you take?

Have a fantastic week!

Suki

My people – Melody

It took me a while to write this post because this means so much to me. Since we have the shop at South Melbourne Market, I’ve met so many lovely people and a lot of them have touched my heart. Melody is definitely one of them. We met when I was at So:Me space as a pop up. I still remember the first time I saw Melody, she took a bunch of friends to check out my stall. She was so happy showing her friends and telling them, that I was her favourite Melbourne artist. She came back the next week with another group of friends and showed them my work again!

Since we start the business at South Melbourne market Melody has been amazingly supportive and I feel extremely lucky to have her friendship. Sometimes you meet a person and you just click. It’s like you’ve known them all your life and everything is just so easy. I think Melody is definitely this person.

I enjoy every little chat with Melody, and when she comes to the shop she cheers me up. The friendship that I’ve got from the business is just amazing. I am very lucky.

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Thanks Melody!

Sydney Life InStyle

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We took a little day trip to Sydney yesterday to visit Life InStyle. Life InStyle is a trade fair for retailers to find their products all in one roof. We have exhibited there the year before but we didn’t do well. To be honest though we weren’t very well prepared back then, we only had mugs, notebooks and cushions to sell and we didn’t even have any packaging! We had no experience in wholesale and we didn’t know what we were doing.

Now we have our own shop and we know so much better what we are offering and who’s our target market, we also have better packaging. We are more certain what sells than what doesn’t. I feel like we are in a better position to give wholesale another chance. That’s why we’re up to Sydney yesterday to have a look of the venue and other exhibitors to see if that’s worth giving it another go!

I must say, doing wholesale isn’t easy. When we first started we had this great idea that we only wanted to do wholesale, so we didn’t have to bear the costs of having a shop and we could work at home. But life isn’t that easy. There are so many things we have to consider;

* The wholesale price of our products

* Do we provide enough mark up for the retailers?

* If we manufacture our goods, (to make the costs cheaper) do we have enough space to store all our products?

* What should we charge for postage?

* What’s the payment terms and conditions?

We’ve learnt some important lessons at the first trade fair. We were very silly when it came to money, it almost feels like as long as you buy you can have everything. So we didn’t take any deposits for some of the orders and were silly enough to post our goods to the shop before we get payment. Of course, some people took forever to pay and even one shop never paid us! I cannot imagine anyone would do this to a new small business, but shit does happen and there are plenty of bad people out there.

There is a positive to this story, what happened to us before really motivated me to do something to help new start ups. Our ultimate goal for this business is to provide a retail consult to new start up, provide Give feedback in terms of packaging, pricing and sourcing. It’s because I have gone through all the trouble and it would be nice to help the others.

Oh I think I am a bit off the track. We haven’t decided whether we will exhibit at Life InStyle Sydney next year but we will definitely give it a go for the Melbourne one this year.

Have a great week!

Suki x