Tuesday 5 April 2011

Shop or not shop - I need feedback

Hello dear friends!
I have this issue I want to come to a decision with. But first I feel I need to analyze it from all possible viewpoints to be able to make that decision on how I shall continue from here?

The images in this post are of Arabella, my daughter. 4 at the time, now 7 1/2. She is wearing a tiara I made. I call it "Punk Princess". And you know she is shouting out "It's Party Time!" on the first picture. There is no connection to the subject in this post. Other than that I love my children, and I wish them to be proud of me. I am sooo proud of them!

I believe you could help me with this process. I had such a good experience from asking about your opinions on the new looks on my blog. (Thank you again for the great response on that, it really helped.) So I am gonna go for this method again. Let's call it "Online Brainstorming for the Benefit of Malin"

I wish to hear your thoughts, different ideas, possibilities you come to think of, obstacles you can see, and so on. Anything and from any angle. And from all angles.

The question is - shall I have an online shop (like one on Etsy for instance), or should I not?

These are the facts:

  • I make jewelry.
  • I make good enough jewelry too sell it.
  • I want to sell my jewelry. I will not make any money from it, but it will help providing enough to keep my hobby going. I can buy more beads and supplies, and I can improve my working area and my tool park.
  • Another good reason I want to sell my jewelry is that it makes me happy. It is a great feeling to know that people wear things I have made. That I have helped to improve their lives just a little by providing something they like and makes them feel good.
  • It is a great feeling to get positive response on thing you have created. It's a kick, and you become kind of addicted. I know you know what I mean!

  • I have MS.
  • I got the diagnosis in 2008. But I know now that I have had it since at least 1984, at the age of 19. I have had symptom's that were vague and weird here and there over the years. Sometimes I would go and see a doctor about it, but most of the time I would ignore them, thinking it was just a passing phase of some weirdity going on. Looking at my self as the healthiest person on the earth. "I can do anything I want." "I am strong." (HA!) And the weird phase would pass, coz that is how MS works most often.
  • Now over the years the MS has gradually worn my system down, and today I am stuck with some permanent functional disorders.
  • It is these disorders that I am afraid stand in the way for me when it comes to selling my jewelry online. Or rather, I can't see really how I should do to work around them and make it possible anyway.

  • Basically the main problem for me is to actually make sure the piece reach the buyer in good time and in a good manner.
  • I have problems executing such things. And my current thought is that I can't have an online shop coz I would just not be able to provide a good service in that sense.

  • My bodily dysfunctions are. I don't walk well at all. And I get dizzy/vertigo from any movement of my head or my eyes. Or if things move within my eyesight. Changing visual focus costs a lot of energy. Basically just moving in any way costs a lot of energy (better explain, this is due to the nerve signals going very slowly and maybe not even reaching their destination, compare driving on a motorway/highway or on a curvy bumpy cow trail through the woods.)
  • Cognitive impairment: A lack of ability to organize myself, to keep track of things, to make a plan, to stick to a plan, and to carry it out. I have problems with staying in focus, and to maintain and divide attention, or to monitor my activities. I have a bad short term memory. And it causes me to constantly loose track of what I am doing at the time. I suffer seriously from all these things. I emphasize this strongly coz I have noticed that most people don't understand the severity of the cognitive disorders with me. They are not visible, but they are there. It is not just everyday "charming" wooziness, whimsies or forgetfulness which anyone can experience. This is way way beyond.
  • To conclude: the best for me is to be able to be still and/or in the one same context for longer periods. To have to get up to get something I need and that is not within reach (say for instance another pair of scissors) will most likely cause me to realize later, that I never finished that thing I was in the middle of. It could be hours, days, weeks or months even. And when I realize I am most likely not in the situation where I can easily just pick up from where I left. Because I am in the middle of something else then.

So that is what this is all about really. I need some good contribution thinking from you. Should I skip the online shop totally? Or should I try to alter some things to make it possible? What and how in that case?

(There are other possibilities for me to sell my jewelry, but they would mean other types of issues. And at the moment the online shop seems the easiest way after all.)

I am glad for just any little comment on this subject, do not feel you have to solve it all for me. Every little helps. It really does!

Of course their should be a possibility for you to gain something from helping me. How about a good old give-away? Or something else? Let me get back on that. All ideas on that are appreciated.

All my best,


Jenni said...

Malin, if it is something you really want to do is there any way to get assistance for someone else to do the wrapping, posting etc while you concentrate on the making? Perhaps, even only once a week, you would need to ensure your clients understood postage may not be as quick for these reasons. I do believe it is imperative to get help, you do not want to make yourself worse with additional stress trying to do everything alone. I will watch what you decide.

steufel said...

Oh Malin, your jewerly is beautiful and you should go after your dream and make it happen. You wrote about your assistants here and there in your posts. Maybe they could help you organize your shipping issues? And maybe you could put a note about having trouble with shipment due to health issues now and then in your shop-statement? I'm sure people would understand.

Barbara Lewis said...

Over the years I've had a couple of friends who've had M.S. and it can be debilitating at times. I have a couple of reactions ... instead of a etsy shop, how about a Paypal "buy it" button on your blog. I'm suggesting this because your followers are going to know of your situation where an etsy buyer may not. I think this would take a lot of pressure off of you. Stress and pressure is not something you need and would make the whole venture a pain in the you-know-what!

My second thought is that you should make a profit. You're a professional. You have needs. Profit is not a dirty word ... it's just hard as hell to acquire it! LOL

I put on my best thinking cap for this one ... you know the one ... with the stripes, flowers AND plaid!

Heidi Post said...

I agree with Jenni -- dedicate just one day a week to dealing with the site. Have someone help you with it. And mention your situation in your shop announcement. Your stuff is too magnificent to go unsold! Also, there's nothing wrong with wanting to make some profit. You work hard & you deserve it. Think of yourself as a celebrity - they need agents and managers and publicists - why shouldn't you???

Claire Maunsell said...

Malin, you should definitely continue with the shop. You need it for mental health. But given the difficulties you face there are a couple of things you might want to consider. The first thing is, don't take on custom orders, or say you will work with people. It can be very stressful remaking things that people have already seen and not the best use of your energy. Use the high moments to make work that you love with stuff that you love and list when you are satisfied and be sure to pace yourself. Etsy is ideal for this. There are many small quality makers of things who have customers waiting for the moment they post their recent work - be one of these! Blog about your recent batch and generate a little rush (I know this is good advice because Shannon gave it to me...). Remember (though it is hard at times) that you control this even though perhaps you don't control the MS.
Also, and this may seem a bit silly but I've found it helpful, when you make something and list it, know what packaging it will have and get it ready as part of finishing the piece. Then, when it sells, you can just pop it into its box with a minimum of effort. I find it's the multitude of really small nothing tasks that seem to add up to overwhelming, and I imagine you might find that too.
Keep well, Malin - take care of yourself!

My Life Under the Bus said...

I agree! If you have someone to help you once or twice a week to check orders or wrap and take things to the post office and keep you on track it is doable! I don't know what services you have available to you but here in the US the post office is online and they even pick up packages at the door. You concentrate on the jewelry and have someone else help with the selling - if you can blog you can sell.

Anna Lear said...

I just love your work and believe it would sell very well! As others have mentioned, stating up front in your shop and "Note to Buyer" that, say, you mail out items once a week (or whatever you decide) can ease your stress and help you manage your workflow. I also like Claire's idea of setting up the shipping materials in advance (this is something I should do, too; I'm so forgetful!). And an advantage to Etsy is that it's okay if you are able to update in bursts, and to let the shop be when you're not feeling so well; "inventory control" is totally up to you. Just some thoughts -- in any case, I hope you're able to continue creating for a long, long time because your designs are so beautiful and inspiring!

Doreen said...

Hi, Malin. First I have to say that Arabella is such a beauty! I absolutely adore her tiara! I hope you have that that first picture of her framed somewhere. It is so special! Only you know how you feel and the extent of your disability. Why not just start out slowly. Pace yourself, as Claire said. See how it goes. Ideally, you could have a helper to help coordinate things for you so you could concentrate on the "making part" of things. Your work is wonderful. If it would make you happy to share, I say give it a try. What have you got to lose :)

TesoriTrovati said...

Miss Malin, your work just sings with joy and it makes me leap that you can create such beauty when you are suffering so much. I wish you well, my friend. I think you could do Etsy. There is very little knowledge that you have to have outside of uploading pictures and typing info into the forms. You already know what to do based on your blog. It helps me to have a bit of a plan, although I am behind on my plan, but that can be a start. Don't think that you have to do it all on Etsy, or have the biggest shop, but get your work out there! I had to think of a set up that worked including having packing materials at the ready and knowing when I could feasibly ship things. Have clearly outlined policies in your shop about the expectations buyers can have and be good about convoing people. I know you will do well! You already have a following around the world!
I say, go for it. If it doesn't work, then you can back off, but you won't know until you try.

Enjoy the day!

P.S. I was painting something special just for you last night! Stay tuned!

Angel Whisperer said...

Eftersom du gör så underbara smycken tycker jag absolut att du skall lägga ut en del till försäljning!
och låta andra få njuta av att bära dina konstverk!!
Vi säljer ju inte några stora mångder så du borde kunna få hjälp att posta dessa av din assistent?? det hoppas jag dom vill hjälpa dig med att kolla adressen o packa in det osv....
du kan ju skriva på sidan Etsy att du bara postar en gång per vecka...så borde det lösa sig...att någon under den tiden hinner hjälpa dig...bara du har hemma vadderade kuvert ...lite extra att slå in i frimärken...kostar 28 kr upp till 100 gram och 60 över...
(det brukar gå bra även utan tulldeklarartion på om det bara är nåt litet smycke i ...dom lyser igenom allt..)
för visst är det roligt att veta att någon vill bära det man tillverkat och uppskattar kreationerna!!

KRAM!! Birgitta

E B Snare said...

Everyone has put forward such good comments, and very sensible too.

If having a shop will make you anxious and make your symptoms worse, don't do it. Any problems like shipping, organisation etc can be worked out by good communication and help. But if worrying about all these things, thinking about ideas for the shop, worrying about shipping and customer service: if that's going to make you more sick, I wouldn't do it. Your work is beautiful and will sell well, but nothing is worth more than your health and wellbeing!

Pretty Things said...

If having a shop makes you happy, and not anxious, have a shop. But if it makes you anxious in any way, no.

The good thing about Etsy is their Vacation Mode. And you can also set your policies so people are aware that shipping can take X number of days.

I personally love your jewelry (still lusting over that necklace in your blog header) and would be willing to wait for it.

The key is to do what makes you HAPPY.

And your daughter is adorable!

Maneki said...

Ja, jag vet inte om där är något jag kan säg som inte redan sagts. Det enkla svaret, särskilt med tanke på min egen avsaknad av erfarenhet kring de handikapp du beskriver, är att du ska lyssna på dig själv. När du leker med tanken, överväger de positiva känslorna din oro för att inte klara av det? Tror du att glädjen och bekräftelsen i att andra vill ha dina skapelser kommer att överväga de hinder du ser? Och i vilken grad är det hinder som du kan hitta lösningar på?

Ta t ex just utskicken av varor, som oroar dig. Vilken hjälp kan du få av andra i din närhet med det? Vilka andra delar är viktiga i sammanhanget, som du tror kan vara svåra för dig, och vem/vilka skulle kunna hjälpa dig med dem? Hur kan du på andra sätt förbereda dig för att minska de problem du är rädd för ska uppkomma? Just den delen känns som du skulle kunna få bäst svar på om du bollar med någon som förstår din situation väl, t ex familjemedlem eller stödperson/assistent.

Att du också är mycket tydlig i din kommunikation med shipping policies etc kan göra skillnad för då ger du redan från början dina kunder en tydlig bild av vad de kan förvänta sig för service. Vissa verkar skämmas lite om de tar tid på sig att skicka, tror det skrämmer bort kunder, men det stora felet många gör är att inte direkt säga det för då hinner kunden inte få orimliga förväntningar. Och kundtillfredsställelse handlar just om hur bra säljaren lever upp till de förväntningar kunden bildat sig. Det är inte servicen i sig så mycket som hur den skiljer sig från vad kunden fått en bild av hur den ska se ut. Se till att förväntningarna hålls på en nivå som gör säljandet givande och stressfritt för dig.

Du skulle ju kunna börja med att säga att "nu gör jag ett litet kort test med en etsybutik" och gå in med tanken att det bara är något du gör för att se hur det går. Det kanske gör det lite lättare eftersom där inte finns något direkt misslyckande: vill du fortsätta så kan du, känner du att det inte funkar så är det bara ett experiment som du kan avsluta.

Hur har du övervägt med andra sätt att sälja, t ex kommission i butik eller -- som nämndes i kommentarerna -- paypalknapp på bloggen? Är Etsy eller liknande sajter det du känner passar dig och dina förutsättningar bäst? Jag antar du redan tänkt igenom det, men annars hade det också varit något att tänka på, vilken typ av säljkanal som passar dig. Med kommission skulle du ju t ex inte behöva skicka till kunderna själv utan lämna in ett antal smycken på en gång och sedan hämta ut ev. intäkter. Men det kräver å andra sidan att man ska hitta en bra butik att sälja i, som passar dina produkter och din prisklass.

En massa lösa funderingar. Jag vet inte om de tillför nåt mer än andra redan sagt...

Rebecca said...

I think Malin that you should have a shop. You only put stuff in there that you have made and would be ready to send out. Then when a sale comes, could you get your husband to help you with that side of things? I'm so busy that i often get helen to post things out for me...could you work out a very simple packaging strategy, some boxes you have at the ready, printed out thank you postcards at the ready, and Mark would know how to put the package together. And like Lori says, you can put your shop in vacation mode if and when you need to. It's not a full time commitment, having an etsy shop, and I think your jewellery is beautiful and you deserve to have all those things on your 1. list!

beautifullybrokenme said...

Malin, first of all, you are a super-talented artist, and it is obvious that creating jewelry gives you joy. The MS can really be frustrating, I'm certain, and it sounds like the one of the most frustrating things for you is the cognitive disorder. I actually know what that is like, as I have some serious health challenges that affect my cognitive abilities as well.

You have received some fantastic advice here, and I just want to go back to what Lori said: if the thought of opening a store is giving you anxiety to the point that it is making your symptoms far worse, don't do it. If it is just a matter of having a plan, you can do it, as long as you stay organized (I know - a tough one!). In order for me to even function as a shop owner, I have to have checklists to make sure I finish a task I have started and not get distracted. It sounds like an easy fix, and it is. If you need help following through with customer service stuff (shipping, customer contact, etc.), make a checklist to make sure you touch on everything you feel you need to do. Don't be afraid to ask for help - either developing your processes or physically completing your tasks.

I have found that, for me, etsy is absolutely the easiest solution, as it basically does everything for me, and allows me to track everything about each individual transaction. I have found that people are generally forgiving when I make a mistake, as long as I am honest about it and keep the comminucation open with them.

I don't know if this helps at all, but, in the end, the decision has to be yours. I just wanted to make sure you know, from one cognitively-challenged person to another, that you CAN do this. Even if you end up needing to put your store on 'vacation' every once in a while, you have control over that, and your customers will understand.

:) Molly

SueBeads said...

Malin, I think maybe opening your shop is just what you need. Maybe it will help you with organization, and keeping things straight? In any event, doing something you love will always help you in having a bright positive attitude!

Anonymous said...

maste kontrollera:)

Malin de Koning said...

Hej Anonym!
Om du tror det handlar om att kontrollera eller ha kontroll så har du inte fattat någonting.

Jag är bara en som råkar vara sjuk på ett sätt som gör att jag har svårt att klara av vissa saker. Jag försöker se sanningen i vitögat och inte ta på mig grejer jag inte kan leva upp till. Det är väl självklart att jag inte kan ha en affär, om jag inte klarar av att leverera det som någon köpt och betalt för. Det handlar inte om att ha kontroll, det handlar om att man förstår vad det är som är kärnan i det man gör. Jag tycker jag fått väldigt bra och matnyttig respons på denna blogg-post på hur jag ska kunna hantera vissa saker. Jag är oändligt tacksam mot dem som bemödat sej med och tagit sig tid att skriva ner sina goda råd åt mej. Och tack vare de svar jag fått har jag kunnat lägga upp en strategi som gör det möjligt för mej att ändå ha en shop på internet. Som jag ju vill, men varit osäker på om jag klarar av. Det handlar inte om några märkvärdigheter egentligen. Bara några enkla små strategier. Grejen var den att jag inte klarade av att komma på dem själv. För bara några år sedan hade jag säkert klarat av det, men nu har min hjärna blivit så skadad av MS-n att den inte klarar av sånt längre.

Jag antar att du är någon som känner mej och som retar dej, men inte törs stå för vad du tycker, eftersom du valt att vara anonym och kommentera på min blogg. Fegis!

Du borde kanske ta och skåda dig själv först. Är det du själv som upplever att du behöver ha mer kontroll? Eller?

Varför dyker ordet kontroll överhuvudtaget upp i ditt huvud när du läser denna blogg-post? Jag nämner ju inte ens ordet. Det säger mer om dej själv än vad det säger om mej. JAG har verkligen ingen kontroll alls. Jag glömmer ju allt, och kan inte hålla reda på vad jag behöver hålla reda på. Jag behöver hjälp med allt sånt. Och det är sådan hjälp jag har bett om att få i denna post. Stör det dej att jag ber om hjälp? Stör det dej att jag har så dålig koll som jag har? Stör det dej att jag ber om hjälpen i detta forum? Tycker du att jag skulle frågat någon annan? Dej? Vad handlar det om? Varför skrev du din kommentar alls?

Förstår du själv kärnan i det DU gör? Fundera på det ett tag innan du lämnar en syrlig anonym kommentar på någons blogg nästa gång.

Och bara så du vet, så tar jag väldigt illa vid mej. Inte för din åsikt, för den är ju befängd. Men för att du väljer att kommunicera med mej på detta sätt. Och för att du dömer. Och för att du inte har tagit reda på alla fakta innan du dömer.

Du kanske tror att jag är gjord av sten, men det är jag inte. Saker och ting gör ont så inihelvete i mitt hjärta. Bara för att jag inte berättar om allt som gör ont så betyder det inte att det inte gör ont.

Du behöver inte sparka på mej, för jag ligger redan så långt ner som det går. Det är en konstant kamp för mej att ens hålla nästippen över vattenytan. Så är det, även om du inte kan förstå det.

Jag är ledsen om något jag har sagt eller gjort har fått dej att känna dej hotad av mej, eller angripen, eller ifrågasatt, eller sårad, eller ... Det har absolut inte varit min mening. Jag, precis som alla andra människor, utrycker mej otydligt ibland, eller lyckas inte komma fram till slutklämmen i det jag vill ha sagt. Och p g a min sjukdom är jag numera ovanligt illa rustad att formulera mina tankar kring vissa saker och företeelser. Du vet, återigen det där med kärnan. Men ett kan jag säga, jag vill aldrig någonsin få någon att känna sej dum eller obekväm eller ledsen eller ... Inte dej heller! Så om jag gjort det vill jag be om ursäkt och säga att jag är ledsen ifall det verkat så.

Jag skulle uppskatta om du ville fundera lite på var skon egentligen klämmer, och ta DEN frågan med mej. På det här viset kan du ju ialla fall inte få det svar som du vill ha. Och du får ingen lindring heller. Eller hur!?!