Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The History of My Business: Little Lace Lady

I think I will fill this space by telling you how I started making my angels and how Little Lace Lady began. I have made and sold over 35,000 of these angels during the past 13 years (with help from friends and family from time to time). I started with selling on consignment, and grew into selling wholesale. Then, my very supportive husband and I ventured out to open up a 1,200 square foot shop at the world-famous Chattanooga Choo Choo, where we stayed for 1o years! I then sold my business when my life went in a different direction.

I have always loved creating. Actually, my sister introduced me to these little angels. She lives in Utah where scrapbooking started. Every woman in that state must be creative! I know my sister is. She also introduced me to tatting, which I love to do. It really relaxes me and I can make such unique things. Well, I'm getting off the subject--my angels. In my next paragraph, I will start the story of my angels that began 12 years ago.


One day, approximately 12 years ago, my sister sent me a gift for my birthday. I opened up the package and there were two little baby dolls made out of crochet string. They were about 10" tall and had bonnets made out of lace trim around their faces with pink ribbon added for the bonnet ties. they were holding baby's breath in their string hands and had little skirts trimmed at the bottom with gathered lace. I had never seen anything like them! They were precious.

I had some friends with a little gift shop and immediately took them and showed them off. My friends fell in love with them and asked if they could order some to sell. So, I called my sister and asked if she could make more for me. Well, she is a pastor's wife and doesn't really have a lot of free time and decided that she couldn't "go into business" to make them for me. So, I decided to ask her if she could "instruct" me over the telephone on how to make them. She said she would and we set up a time when I would have all my supplies gathered together to follow her verbal instructions. Now, this was way before "You Tube" and video and anything like that, so it was much more difficult to picture the steps. And I must admit, my first "doll" was definitely not cute! It was pretty ugly, compared to her's. I still have one of my original dolls just to remind me how I started out. It's really pretty frightening!


Over the next few weeks, I made several little dolls and each time, they looked a little better. They still did not have the "look" of my sister's dolls, but they were improving. After making several more, I finally was satisfied they were presentable for sale. So I took them to my friend's shop and asked if she would be interested in selling them on consignment. She said she would try them and see how they would do.

"Consignment" is an easy way to start marketing your crafts. This way, you can see if the customers like your product enough to purchase it, and the shop owner is not out any money if they don't sell. If, after a month or so, your product doesn't move, it's time to go back to trying something else.

Well, the dolls did sell and this gave me the encouragement to continue on this journey. I then started to visit other local shops and show them my creations. Most of the time, I put the dolls in their shops on consignment. Not many shops turned me down cold. A few did, though, and when that happened, I would have to regroup and tell myself that my dolls would not appeal to everyone. Over the years, I have read lots of "how to" books and one thing that helps keep me going is a positive attitude. It is easy to get discouraged when venturing out like this and your product doesn't sell, especially if you are not a born sales person, which I am not. I am timid and not a very self-assured person by nature. I have to pray a lot for courage and the incentive to keep going when things get tough.


Another attribute you need is patience. If you are going to do the same task over and over, you have to enjoy doing it and you cannot quit. Have set goals. When making the dolls, I would break the tasks up into repetitive little steps andwould make one dozen of one step and then go on to the next step. Don't look at the big picture--it will be mind-boggling and very discouraging.

As I made the dolls over the next few months, I kept branching out looking for new shops. I have always enjoyed browsing in gift shops, so, in our travels, I would look for new and unique shops. On one of our little trips, we went to Stone Mountain, Georgia and I found a shop there that I enjoyed. It was owned by a very talented and smart woman who had many wonderful items in her shop. I would always pray before I showed my dolls. That way, I felt the Lord would give me that extra strength I need to deliver my "sales pitch." I had bought a nice large Wedgewood blue basket to display my dolls, and I would carry this around in our car trunk just in cae we came upon a shop.

I walked into her shop, looked around and felt really comfortable there. When the owner asked me if she could help me, I told her that I had some unique little dolls with me that I had made and asked her if she would like to see them. She said, "yes", so I went back to the car to get my basket. I never would take my basket in at first, because I wanted to use the "soft" approach. That way, if the owner or manager was not in, I would not be embarrassed with all the dolls--I would just give them my business card and leave. But this day, I took my basket in and she immediately liked them. She ordered some for consignment and I left a few with her that day. I mailed her the rest that next week. Over the next six weeks, I continued to contact her and my dolls were selling. I sold to her for the remaining time I was in the wholesale business and made a good friend as well.

Chapter 4

During another meeting with this store owner, she made a great suggestion that would further the success of my business. Her suggestion was, "Why don't you make these dolls into angels? Everyone loves angels!" I am never one to ignore good advice, and I felt this was a a great tip. So my dolls began to change--the bonnets were changed to curly hair and I used more lace to form the wings. But the doll, which was originally 12" tall, looked too big for a dainty angel so I decreased the size to 7" and made the head smaller. This seemed to have a more petite look to me and immediately looked more appealing. But there was something still missing. I would always be drawn to other dolls and, one day, I noticed a little angel with a poem attached to it. I thought to myself, "Why don't I write a poem so that my angel has a purpose and a message, and not just like any other doll?" I wanted my poem to be a testimony also to the watchful eye of the Lord on each and every one of us. So I wrote my first of many poems, "My Guardian Angel." I had the poem printed up with an angel on the front of the card and the poem inside the card. This was the beginning of a journey the Lord has taken us on for the last 13 years. He has opened up opportunity after opportunity for my family and me, for that I am very thankful.

No comments:

Favorite Web Sites