Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Fun with business decisions...

As I head off to TNNA tomorrow, I'm finding myself really struggling with the direction my business should take. It doesn't help that I hear designers who I consider to be very successful questioning where the industry is going and whether or not there will be a place for professional designers. Are magazines going to continue to exist, or will webzines like Knitty and Twist Collective become the norm? Will yarn companies keep buying patterns from independent designers or turn to staff designers? Will a ridiculous number of knitting books continue to be published each year, making it harder and harder for each individual book to be financially viable? Will yarn shops keep buying patterns?

Yarn shops are struggling through the recession. While on the one hand, it's inevitable that a time will come when the weaker members of the herd are picked off, leaving the strong shops even stronger, on the other hand it's difficult to know if I should continue to put all my eggs in the LYS basket. I've focused my business plan on selling wholesale only, and while my business grew a lot in 2009 (and I can't complain too much about sales of my book, either, and I relied mainly on shops and Amazon to get my book out there), I'm wondering if it's sustainable. There are so many pattern lines out there - how do shop owners make a choice to buy my patterns over the gajillion others vying for their attention? For that matter, how do knitters?

I'm also suffering terrible burnout this winter. Usually the January TNNA show is the turning point, and we'll see how I feel when I come back from Long Beach. If we have a great show, it will confirm I'm on the right track with my business and I'll keep doing what I'm doing for another year. If it's a bad show...well...then come the hard choices. Do I turn my focus to pdf downloads? Do I start selling retail from my website and/or Ravelry? I'm conducting a small experiment right now with a couple of my patterns, offering them for sale on Ravelry to see what happens. I'd love to get beyond all the printing and sleeving of hard copy patterns, but I have a feeling I'd miss out on a huge market segment by not doing it.

See what fun it is to be a small business owner? And I bet you thought I got to knit and come up with new designs all day! If only. I won't even start on my bookkeeping rant (except to say I hate it so) - I've got packing to do!

If you'll be in Long Beach this weekend, stop by Booth 348 to say hi! As for the rest of you, stop back next week to see the new designs we've got for spring. There are some good ones, if I do say so myself!


Blogger pdxknitterati/MicheleLB said...

Have a great time at TNNA. I hope it's rejuvenating for you!

10:10 PM  
Blogger Geek Knitter said...

I hope that TNNA is a good time for you. I'm really enjoying your book, just need to clear the decks a bit before I start something from it.

5:30 AM  
Blogger Jocelyn said...

I don't think these two strategies are mutually exclusive (except for the time it takes). Some LYSes might get annoyed if you sell direct, but it's likely that the volume of sales wouldn't be enough to negatively impact any one store. Anyway, hope you have a great weekend, and I'll try to stop by when I'm there.

6:16 AM  
Anonymous Leslie said...

See you soon!

8:15 AM  
Anonymous Kim S. said...

Chrissy, I feel your pain. In fact, I've been drafting a blog post very similar to yours and will post it in the next couple of days. I'm making the same difficult choices you are right now...it's agonizing, isn't it?

Hope TNNA is a great show for you.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Scarlet said...

I don't think that LYSs would mind you doing direct retail unless you were pricing them lower.

Hope TNNA is a great success!

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chrissy, enjoy TNNA, go very positive, it will help you to absorb a great deal..From all the years I've been in the Knitting World..the nay say'er are the ones that are burning out...stay away from them..There will always be ups and downs in business..Keep positive...You have a good product, it should last a very long time..Pat Dixon

1:23 PM  

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