When I thought about writing a post like this one a few months ago, the idea horrified me. I was coming to the realisation that my business is not viable and either something needed to change radically or I had to basically give up. Now faliure is a very big word which I feel hanging over my head constantly, and I was so anxious and stressed that I couldn't see the wood for the trees. Not a good time to make big life changing decisions...
However I have now had something of an epiphany (partly due to Mr M sitting me down and telling my some hard facts, not just about the financial viability of my business but also about the negative impact it's having on my family) and finally I'm seeing through those trees and I have a plan - at least for the short-term.
I will not be closing Made By Mrs M, however I will be closing the product side of my business. I spend a massive amount of time attempting to sell my products - probably many hours for every single item I sell - if I think about my time properly I never really make a profit on anything. Sales have completely stagnated (in fact dropped sligtly) in 2017 and the dream of ever being able to make a living now seems frankly laughable.
Partly due to this, I've completely lost the love for my products - it's even harder to sell stuff when you no longer love it yourself. I no longer get excited about launching something new or attending a fair or market. Photographing my new work is a chore which I put off, as is listing the items on my website and Etsy. Then every month as I watch more money going out than coming in I just feel anxious, stressed and thoroughly miserable. This isn't how it was supposed to be.
Now, having said this there are elements of what I do that I still love. I still love designing patterns for fabric, and I don't plan to stop doing this. I will however not be launching a spring collection in 2018 - rather I'll revert to what I used to do (for a while at least) - if I create a new design or two which I like enough to add to my existing range I'll do that. Less fuss and less work, but still new fabrics from time to time for those of you who love them (and I know you do - it still amazes me that people like them enough to buy them at all so thank you). I'm also enjoying my illustration work more and I intend to do more of this and continue to offer custom illustrations and work with companies on licencing on an ad hoc basis.
So, I have now closed my shop on this website, but the website itself will remain. My Etsy shop will stay open selling my fabrics, custom illustrations and any small products or original work I fancy adding from time to time (with no pressure). All existing products are still there and available to purchase at the moment.
I do have a few markets lined up (but not many) you can find all my upcoming events here. At the moment I don't plan to book any more (other than our local open studios next year) but that may change if I start to miss doing them!
Thank you for reading this far. I wanted to add a word at the end about the Just A Card campaign - which I continue to volunteer for and which remains very close to my heart. Despite the increasing popularity of the campaign I know that many of us are still struggling - lots of businesses have failed this year, including a couple of places local to me which I've been rather upset about, but the message of the campaign really is true - no if I sell just one card in a week (which happens sometimes) I cannot keep going, but if everyone who tells me my work is amazing buys one (or something else small) I will keep going.
Unfortunately when it comes to my products I've completely lost the love - there's only so long you can cheerfully try and flog something that people don't want; but if it's too late for me, please do think about the other artists, designer makers, shops and galleries you love. It's all looking a bit bleak out there to me at the moment and I really hope that if we continue to work hard together on this we can still turn it around.