Sunday, May 15, 2011

How do I do what I do

"I want to know how you do it?! Like, do you do assembly line, individual, etc. I have two kids too, love to sew, but would never have the time to keep them entertained and get work done. Are you up till all hours, etc."
"I want to know how you get it all done? Does the little one go to daycare/preschool? I'm amazed at how quickly you get things done and shipped out!"
Granola & milk: the newest hair trend

These are some of the questions that I get asked fairly regularly. How do I do it all? Well, for awhile I felt like I didn't. And even now I know that I still don't but have earned a "much improved." I loved the boom in business but it became a 24/7 kind of thing. I think most self employed people feel that way, especially at first, that your business consumes you and you become overworked, stressed and you realize you are neglecting everything else in your life. Clean house? What is that? Reading a book with little man? Oh crap, when was the last time I did that? Teach Destructo her ABCs? Uhhhhh.....Chick-fil-a for dinner anyone? In the beginning, there was chaos. And now, there's a lot more calm. 
My kiddos are age 5 (pre-K) and age 2 (no daycare or preschool, she hangs with her momma). 
A typical day for me is getting little man to pre-K and letting Destructo have rein of the house. I always have my sewing room in a central location (in our last house it was the dining room turned into sewing room/office and in this house it will be in a room right next to the downstairs den/play room.) so I can see and hear what is going on and so I can stop whenever I want or need.  Destructo has a great imagination and gets lost in her own little world so she actually is quite happy eating breakfast and then digging through the toy box, putting together puzzles and flipping through books while I work. In the morning I try to work at least 2 hours and then stop to clean, play, eat lunch and run errands. Nap time is around 1pm and while she naps, I work. I pick up little man from school around 3pm and the kids head out in the (fenced in) backyard to play and I sneak in 1 more hour to work. That is usually the last hour of the day that I sew and I stop to spend time with the family, get dinner ready, throw in some laundry or whatever else needs to be done. In the evening is usually when I get invoices sent, pictures posted, shipping labels printed and emails responded to since I can do all of that from the convenience of my laptop while I'm parked on the couch watching American Idol next to my hubby. When I am slammed with orders, I usually take an hour after the kids go to bed to prep for the next day - cut fabric, pin fabric, iron fabric, etc. I USED to be up all hours, working, working, working but after awhile I decided that I am more productive on a good night's sleep and I don't burn out as quickly when I am not working all day long.
Recap: work 8:30am to 10:30am, 1pm to 3pm and 3:30pm to 4:30pm. Invoice, email, ship and post pics in the evening. Sometimes work 8:30pm to 9:30pm. 
Do I assembly line work? Well, when 95% of your business is custom order you can't assembly line in the traditional sense of the word (making multiples of the same item) but I can streamline the process. I can cut out the fabric for all the pillowcase dresses, all the banded pillowcase dresses and all the fit and flair dresses at the same time and prep them the same way (finishing the edges, ironing, making bias tape for armholes), I can cut out all ruffles for all orders at the same time and take a chunk of time finishing their edged, ironing them and gathering them. When I get an order for a snack bag, I don't just cut out 1 bag, I cut out at least 3. I try to always make extra items so I get a nice stock of items for local customers to look at or for a ready to ship sale.
I've been doing this for awhile now so I have a good sense of how quickly I can get things done. I take a break when I need to and communicate with my customers as often as I can so everyone feels like they are in the know. I am easily accessible and I'm pretty normal which is a huge plus (don't underestimate the importance of normalcy, being friendly and just downright decent). ;) 
Not all days go so smooth. Sometimes I'm on a time crunch, sometimes I have a bunch of rush orders that come in and sometimes I just don't feel like sewing and I stay away from the sewing machine for a day or so. I have to stop and re-prioritize every once in awhile and make sure my house gets cleaned and the Mt. Vesuvios of laundry actually gets put away. When I start to feel like my sewing is taking away time from my kids I make sure I get on the floor and play with them, dance around to Ralph's World with them and read and extra book or two at bedtime to them. And every once in awhile my husband has to threaten to shred fabrics and vandalize machines for me to STOP.  But I'm sure it's like that for any crafter who loves their job. It is easy to get lost in it.

1 comment:

Little Lady Designs said...

Thanks Liz!! It is nice to know that there are other moms out there going through the same thing. I defiantly have to get into more of a schedule and stop staying up till 2 am working on orders, haha!\