Financial Fumble

My laptop quit on me on Sunday.  No warning, no blue screen of death, just complete silence.  I walked away from it mid-afternoon to go do some sewing work and when I returned it wouldn’t power back on.

We tried everything we could in the hopes it was an easy fix.  My hubby tested the power adapter/cord, the battery and the computer in general with his voltage meter to see if he could pinpoint a problem.  I followed every directions for a reboot/reset I could find on the internet.  Skipping dinner I even drove across town in the hopes my friend’s power cord would work to boot it up.  (We originally thought the power cord had quit working, thus draining the battery and not allowing it enough power to come on.)

Much to my dismay, my great computer “geek” ran some diagnostics yesterday afternoon and came back to me with the news I dreaded.  The motherboard was done.  Shot.  Toast.  With no signs of damage it decided to just up and quit, leaving me high and dry with no business computer.  All recommendations were to purchase a completely new laptop instead of replacing the motherboard in a machine that was already over two years old.  On the plus side at least the hard drive was still good so all of my data could easily be transferred to a new laptop.

To say I’ve been in a foul mood the last 40+ hours has been an understatement.  I get it, it’s only a computer and yes my data was recoverable.  Worse case scenario my husband and I go back to sharing the macbook (although this presents some challenges as all of the software I’ve purchased has been for a PC) for the time being. Last night as I drove home from the store with a spiffy new laptop on the seat next to me, the realization of why this has been so disheartening came to me.

I paid for the first laptop completely using Stitch To Stitch profit.  As I opened the shop in June 2010 I financed it using 18-months “same as cash”.  Each month I scraped together enough money to pay my bill, never dipping into our personal accounts for funds.  The goal of opening the shop was to become self-sufficient.  To fund my own sewing/crafting addiction, to be able to spend “fun” money on myself and the family, and to help out here and there with our household bills.  When the end of my payments rolled around I was ecstatic.  I was so proud to say I’d bought it with money I’d MADE from the business.  Over the last 6 months the business has continued to take off and do well.  I’ve made a couple of wholesale fabric purchases — we’re talking buying full bolts of material with minimum order requirements — and paid cash for them.

I felt like I was finally getting to where I hoped the business would be.  Making money.  Being able to spend a little money here and there without worry about having enough to cover basic supplies.  More importantly I was feeling like I was successful in this venture.  And now I feel like I’ve taken a step backwards in my financial freedom.  That I’ve hit a huge stumbling block, business-wise.  I know this is all part of the growing pains that accompany being a small business owner.  You have to account for the unexpected and roll with the punches.  It still stinks though.  It still makes you want to cry and shake your fists at the sky.  And something that seems as trivial as having to buy a new laptop can make you feel like you’ve been knocked back down to square one.

At least it wasn’t my sewing machine that decided to quit, completely putting me out of commission the last few days.  At least I’m in a place where I can go finance another laptop with their 18-month same as cash program again, but this time with more confidence in being able to make the payments.  It just means I need to work harder and be more diligent about driving my sales up to offset this new expense!  :)  It’s motivation to push myself to do even better.

A Plea for Help!

After the craziness of the last year (brain surgery and all), three of us started a new business in early June –Amanda, Jan and I (Viki). With her newly expanded brain, Amanda is trying her hand at being an honest to goodness seamstress and has opened a shop on this place they call Etsy.  She certainly loves what she does.  Although I’m a little biased, I think her work is fantastic.

It’s quite simple really.  There’s a division of labor amongst the three of us that rarely changes.  This division works well and when running smoothly, the three of us work together really well.

  • Amanda is the creative center: picking patterns and fabric, cutting everything out and coordinating the production/manufacturing.
  • Jan does the grunt work: serging raw fabric edges, gathering fabric for ruffles, rolled hems.
  • Viki (yours truly) does the aesthetic finishing work: top-stitching, decorative stitching and other fine techniques that are too delicate for Jan to handle.

We have a problem right now though.  Lately Jan doesn’t want to cooperate and is giving Amanda fits.

We’re supposed to be sewing this gorgeous fabric into a beautiful twirl skirt:

Instead Amanda’s fretting. Muttering about “loopers” and “tensions” (with an interjected curse word here and there).

Turning fabric over and scrutinizing stitches.  Muttering about “loopers” and “tensions” (with an interjected curse word here and there).

Twisting knobs to the left and right.  Muttering about “loopers” and “tensions” (with an interjected curse word here and there).

Feeding the same piece of beautiful, albeit scrap, fabric through the machine over and over again.  Muttering about “loopers” and “tensions” (with an interjected curse word here and there).

Did I mention the muttering?  And the cursing?  Okay, I did.  Just checking…

You can tell that Amanda is NOT happy.  And the saying is very true around here…when the boss ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

This unforeseen and highly frustrating slowdown is forcing me to sit in the corner, neglected, and not so patiently wait for my turn to sew.

It makes me sad.  I just want to come out and play!  I’m too pretty to sit in the corner with the dog hair and forgotten dinner crumbs.  I want to sew beautiful stitches on that delicious Freebird fabric by MoMo.  I want to put the finishing touches on that adorable skirt and make Amanda proud.  In the time that we’ve worked together she’s never muttered at me, never cursed at my work nor gotten up and walked away to regain her composure.  I’m steadfast and reliable — swooping in to save the day when Jan is too sick to fulfill her responsibilities.

On a more serious note though (and the intent of this post), I think Jan is really sick.  It’s been going on for a few days now, this giving Amanda fits.  We thought she was fixed the other night but I guess that isn’t the case.  This is the second time she’s had to be taken into the doctors in the last 3 months.  I think this time she won’t come home with us; she’ll have to stay until they figure out what’s wrong and decide how to fix the problem.  With Jan gone, our creativity will halt considerably.  When creativity halts, business does the same.

Although I appreciate the extra attention that comes with her absence, I know it makes Amanda sad.  I keep thinking that maybe if we got a new partner, one who has my work ethic, we wouldn’t continue to run  into these problems.  We could serge and sew to our hearts’ content.  Making beautiful twirl skirts, peasant tops/dresses and pretty fall ruffle pants.

I guess I’m in a common place that so many people find themselves in–working alongside a coworker who calls in sick more often than acceptable, seemingly slowing the entire team down but never getting fired because when they DO work, their work is invaluable.  I long to be on a team that runs efficiently but I know that Amanda’s not in a place to replace Jan.

Out of my loyalty to her (I really do have life well here, I can’t complain at all about her expectations and treatment of me) I’m going out on a limb and trying my hand at winning her that beautiful new Husqvarna Viking s21 Serger thatwill be given away over at Sew Mama Sew’s Blog in September.   So please, readers, throw in your two cents about how much Amanda deserves a headache-free machine to work with and help me win this for her.  It would be really wonderful if she could have a beautiful new serger to work on our team.

Sincerely,

Amanda’s Husqvarna Viking Emerald 203 (aka “Viki”)

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**Disclaimer: Amanda wants family that contributed to the purchase of her Janome serger to know she truly appreciates the gift and has gotten great use out of it.  She just really wants something nicer and less temperamental to work with considering her workload now.**

Bump in the Road

Wouldn’t it figure that the needle plate on my serger breaks a week before my launch?  Yeah, that seems to be the luck of the sewing world.  When you need everything to work efficiently and smoothly it gives you fits and fights you like a toddler not wanting to take a bath.

To add insult to injury, the repair tech at the local store is on vacation until next week.  Even more awesome!  Thankfully the wonderful sewing ladies helped me to determine it was just the needle plate causing me troubles.  Unfortunately though, they don’t have one in stock and it will take 10 days for them to get one in.

I came home though and immediately found myself searching the world wide web for the needle plate.  Fifteen minutes later I had the same part ordered for about 60% of the cost AND priority mail shipping.  My hope is that the package is here tomorrow or Friday, giving me the weekend to pound out some last minute items.

So in my down time I’ve been working on taking/editing photos, writing listings and organizing all of the notes I keep writing on random scraps of paper and tucking into my sketchbooks.  You can see the new photos on my flickr photostream.

As for the listings, I don’t plan on posting anything until late this weekend or early next week.  Official launch is June 1st but I think I’ll spread the listings out over a couple of days to get more exposure.

Tomorrow I want to get fabric cut for some new items as well.  That way I’ll be ready to sew as soon as the postal carrier brings me my serger parts!