It’s the first day of a new month! Meteorological spring, no less, though the rain and milky sky outside seem very wintry. Meant to rain all day tomorrow too, curses.
The new month seems exciting though. Perhaps because I’m using a diary this year, the ticking by of each week and month feels more purposeful. Another new month, another new start. An opportunity to rebalance and get some energy together. Though since I realised (about eight months ago) that I was irksomely low on iron I’ve learned that your energy levels aren’t just about inner enthusiasm! Half of February was exhausting, and it was purely because I’d been trying a lower dose of iron. But I’ve bumped it back up now and feel so much better for it.
March is also the last month of the tax year. From a business point of view, 2015-2016 has been good. We solidified our focus. Not so much a change of direction, but a focussing on one route instead of partially following many. And though our business ingoings haven’t risen, they’re on track to not have dropped either. Given the upheaval of cutting out a portion of our work and focussing on shinies alone, this is good.
But a month still remains. And because I like to be in competition with myself, I would quite like to give this month’s ingoings a kick up the backside and beat last year’s overall ingoings. Even if only by £100! So if you have a couture corset or wedding enquiry for us, now is a great time to get in touch.
Today is also the last day for our Winter Sale. We have only two corsets remaining now. It’s been a good little sale, we’ve found excellent homes for loads of shiny designs which is pleasing. Here’s something you might not know… About 60% of the customers who buy sample designs go on to commission something bespoke. This is one of the reasons our sample designs are so well priced. It’s very rare to find the exact right client for a sample (exact right size, shape, style, etc.) and so you never get the proper bespoke price on a sample design. At least, we don’t since our stuff is so quirky. Plain samples or RTW are different, they can sell at their proper price. For a long time I would slightly lament the fact that our sample designs didn’t sell for their true worth. It was frustrating, knowing that you were essentially giving away money by selling something below its proper price. Then I would be told by other corsetry people that samples were a waste of time, and a sign that you weren’t busy enough with proper work. But for us, sample designs are essentially product/artistic development. They might not be the best earner in an obvious sense, but they’re an important part of why I do this work… to live a creative life.
And then I realised that all I needed to do was make the samples work harder. Use them in more photoshoots beforehand, or use them to launch a whole aesthetic (as with the Curated Collections), or as super eye-catching show-pieces (ie: as good promotion)… Then when selling them, to accept that their role is client acquisition. People who might otherwise feel too cautious ordering bespoke suddenly have confidence in doing so, once they’ve received, handled and worn an example of our work.
After all, something hand-crafted (whether a painting or a corset or a piece of sculpture) is expensive. There is a lot of trust involved and that need for trust is magnified when most of your clients are at a distance. They can’t look you in the eye, they can’t see the quality of the work in person. They have to trust you. This means that you need to be trustworthy, naturally! Trying to be generally kind and honest is step one. But better still is letting your clients see the work in person, so that they can decide if it’s “worth it” within the context of their own requirements.
So sample designs perform this function. A client thinking of ordering a £4k bridal ensemble might start with a £500 sample corset. The corset arrives and tells them what they need to know, then they order the bridal ensemble, then perhaps an anniversary corset, then they buy another sample five years late… This is one of the reasons why I can justify making sample designs. Even though I rarely make a profit on the sale itself (and sometimes just make an outright loss), the sale usually brings me future work that I might not otherwise have had. So there you are, a cheeky little insight for you!
Anyway, back to the start. A new month. March. Aims for this month (both personal and business) include…
- bumping the ingoings to beat last year’s cashflow
- upping my exercise levels (again)
- learning a couple of new groundwork things with the horses
- getting some new toiles and corsets out the door
- saving a small bit of money towards my BHS exam (not just the cost of the exam, I have no smart clothes…)
- finishing at least two new designs for photoshoots
And much more, I’m sure, though I can’t remember them now. Time to get cracking!