How to Be in Two Places at One Time

21 12 2009

This is the dilemma: I have set a timetable of 10:30 to 4:00 Monday through Saturday as the times for the incubator, with having the sales area open important on Saturday, but not so much the other days. It doesn’t sound that demanding, does it? However, there is not yet the womanpower to give me much time away from the incubator during these hours, and there are any number of things I cannot presently do at the incubator.

For example, it may seem antequated but I have a mobile deal that gives me just 60 minutes per month, so I try very hard not to use it for anything I can use the home phone for. I can’t afford more, and my mobile is a cheapy that does not make it easy to text. And, no. putting in a phone line to the incubator is not an option, either.

The same goes for the internet and e-mailing. I do it at home or at the library, about 30 minutes away by bus or on foot. No car. When I say this is a shoestring operation, I mean it.

I took today off partly because there is an accumulation of snow and ice that I wanted to avoid traveling in, but also because there was an accumulation of side things I ought to be doing for the sake of the incubator and because I needed time with my home (8-harness floor) loom.

Nothing takes me away from whatever problems I am working on and at the same time stimulates my creativity in response to them like working with a multi-harness loom. Before that long, I expect, the incubator will have a four-harness table loom, and that will help tremendously. After this three weeks away from the loom, I threaded my latest warp and had 5 errors. It took forever to catch and fix the problems and get it ready for weaving, much much longer than it would have if I had been working on it as regularly as I have for the last few months.

Using the rigid heddle loom and working out card weaving at the incubator just does not maintain the same skills. But the floor loom would be difficult to move to the incubator, and anyhow, I intend for the incubator to have its own as soon as possible. (Not to mention that if I tell the truth, I like having it to myself and there would be no other good use of the home studio room.)

Working on the knitting machine at the incubator is challenging. There is endless potential for developing my own patterns and fabrics, particularly with the non-bulky and double-bed machines to come.

Sewing also has great creative potential.

But my being able to continue that development, and Ruth’s, and Marion’s, and the other designers I want to have the chance to develop full-time businesses is dependent on my making the incubator work.

But does that mean getting in the more advanced equipment, whatever the cost, or doing whatever marketing it takes to get people to actually buy our goods, or concentrating on developing one at a time? Barbara Winter talks of multiple income streams in terms of a plate-balancing act. You get one firmly started, then move onto the next, step back to keep the first spinning, back to the second, start the third and so on until you’ve reached the limit of your capacity or you’ve got enough spinning to support yourself.

My first plate was the setting up of the incubator minimally, the second its sales room, minimally. Then Marion came, which could be seen as my going back to the second. I’d like to go back to the first, but without money to buy additional equipment, all I can do for now is bring in my ancient sewing machine, my embroidery box, and the fabric painting equipment I have. (Which isn’t such a minimal advancement after all when I think of it.) There, that’s decided.

So now, I go on to getting the third plate spinning. Shall I do some further development of the salesroom? (Which could mean trying to get other vendors to bring in things or trying to get in fleeces and roving and handspun and hand-dyed from as local sources as possible.) (the latter of which might require money I don’t have untill things start selling) (if and when they start selling). Or I could be try developing the teaching aspect of the incubator (which really isn’t going to happen until after New Years, I’ll bet.) 

Well, another thing Barbara Winters says is that businesses that are going somewhere have interesting problems. I guess Pocktorian Textiles qualifies.

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Getting Ready for the Opening

25 11 2009

I am so excited, so brimming with ideas, which is a good thing, because I’m certainly not brimming with money. However, Barbara Winter’s Making a Living without a Job assures me that ventures that start with nothing have a greater chance of success because they are continually having to think up cost-less ways of getting things done. Well, we’ve certainly been doing that.

On Friday, I went to an event organized by an organization that gives grants to social enterprises. I would not have been ready without all the work that I have already done over the last four months, without all the help and advice from several different quarters that I have been given. I had my premises. I had my budget… actually I had three budgets, bare bones, medium, and dream budgets. They liked my idea, and I left almost certain that my project will be supported. Or course, I could be wrong, but I’m positive by nature and especially so since I’ve felt like I was on the right path.

So, as of Friday, I had my two empty rooms, into which I planned to put a plastic wall-paperer’s table and a folding picnic table along with my knitting machine, a folding camp chair or two, a rigid heddle loom, a tapestry loom, an ancient sewing machine and some materials. I also had Ruth Solomon, who appears to be a magician in coming up with cheap ways of doing things and a great networkers as well, since she’s easily coming up begged and bartered and borrowed and handmade things along with transport for them. I knew she was coming with a mirror, some sewing machines, an A-frame announcement board, and a dress form and a clothing rack.

We two could start with what we had. We’re both quite used to making do. But surely we would sell more if our display was more than a clothes line strung back and forth across the room. Biz-Fizz to the rescue. It looks as if we will have the long term loan of two good sized tables, a mannequin, several chairs, and some slat wall material. The last is something that is bolted onto a strong wall and you can put whatevery you like, hooks, shelves, hanging racks for clothes, into the slats, very very versaltile.

We now have a good sized sturdy cutting table by putting the two tables together, we have a table and chairs to hold incubator meetings and classes, we have enough chairs for all 5 of us (eventually) to be working at once. My dreams are coming true as fast as I can dream them.