Thursday, January 27, 2011

another sneak peek

I spent a bit of time yesterday photographing our new bag (you're going to love it!) - my soundtrack for the afternoons? oh, since you asked, it was a mixture of MNDR, M.I.A. (have you downloaded VICKI LEEKX yet? you should.), Loretta Lynn, Samantha Crain, Suicide and ummmm....a little Grizzly Bear.  hmmmm...weird mix. Anyhow, here's a sneak peek at the new bag!!!!
It should be available beginning perhaps tomorrow...perhaps Monday...depends on how long it takes me to edit all the photos and how many re-shoots I need to do. I'm just so anxious for you all to see it, I can't wait until tomorrow! It's combining The Duffel and The Letter Clutch and is sized to fit an iPad or Kindle or to be used as a smaller shoulder it converts to a small tote and is made of waxed canvas...gah! i love it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

What we did different last year

I typed this up just a few days before Christmas...our busiest time of the year.  When I wrote it, I was very tired and thought it best to tuck it away for a few weeks before sharing with you all (a self editing of sorts).  I just came across it while looking for a different file on my computer (funny how that works) and think it might be a good time to share.  Sorry this is such a business heavy post...I'll share some other fun things later this week.  For now, here it is...I decided not to edit the tense and just leave it all as though you were reading it the day I wrote it. Hope it's not confusing!



When I began this business in beginning of 2007, it jumped off with a running start.  Within 7 months I had quit my day jobs and focused solely on Moop (the fact that Jeremy had a full time salaried job was a big factor in this….we had a cushion to rely on…Moop certainly was not making enough money to support anyone then) - 2 weeks after quitting, Etsy got in touch and wanted to feature us.  I was so thrilled!  The feature was slated for the Monday after Thanksgiving….Cyber Monday.  Sales went through the roof during the few days of the feature and continued for at least 2 weeks at that pace.  It was overwhelming, to say the least.  We flew in my mother in law, Jeremy was spending all of his time outside of work helping me, I had a wonderful assistant (word up, Meaghan!!) but we were made upon order with a 3 week turnaround and had a backlog of over 100 orders and a custom wholesale order of 75 bags that was not going so well.  I was sewing from 6am to midnight everyday from November to March.  Most of the orders placed during that hectic time did not ship until a few days before Christmas and even more did not ship until almost a month after Christmas (and still, everyone of you were so patient!!)  But, even with all of that work, we were not making much money.  It was an exciting time to have so much attention pointed at Moop and so many super nice and encouraging emails from friends, customers, colleagues and strangers - but I still cried every single day!  I was doing everything wrong.  (i'm sure you all remember those blog posts about how tired i was)

First: working in a made upon order business model works if you have one sale every few days.  You can make one item every few days and it not drag you down.  But, 30 sales a day..all made upon order?!  That does not work.  You become less like a studio and more like a sad factory.

Second: When pricing the product you are making, the whole endeavor cannot be simply a labor of love.  And I had priced everything as though it were.  We were loosing money on many many many items that shipped out of our studio (home).  That! is not good.  I was interested in running a business and a business must be profitable in order to remain in business.  I learned a lot about running a successful business during that first year.  We've since worked out all of the pricing problems, found reliable suppliers, designed an ongoing line that accounts for what we can realistically make, removed the option of custom orders (which we only ever always loose money on) and have built a workspace that is solely about Moop (not in our living room, though we do practically live there).  This is healthy for us, means happy bags are made for you and means my creative energy still exists within me.

Third:  The grasshopper and the ant.  We were a weird mixture of the two.  We would sew and sew and sew to be filling a backlog of 3 weeks worth of orders all the time and still not be ready for the winter holiday season.  Every November the number in the backlog would more than double, but we would attempt to keep to a 3 week turnaround so our already heavy workload would have to double.  You can imagine the stress this would cause.  The holiday seasons were so exhausting that I had a hard time enjoying the time spent with family (i was always the one asleep on the couch).  My daughter's weekends and days off for school breaks would be spent watching me sew and sew…there just simply was no break.  But, this year - and largely because Jeremy joined me for one full year of kicking into shape - we've been able to make this holiday season virtually stress free.  It's three days before Christmas and every single order that was promised for Christmas shipped 3 days ago..we've managed to keep to our 2-3 day turnaround and we still have a stock of bags!  In fact, aside from what has come in since yesterday morning, there are no outstanding orders!  And our order volume is up 60% from last year!  So, this year, we get to be a family of ants, taking a few days off because of 3 years of hard work.  

And Fourth:  Have good people work with you.  I've had various assistants from the very beginning.  They have all been great, wonderful, fun people who I love dearly.  When we moved to Pittsburgh it was just Jeremy and I, toiling away at Moop, spending all of our days and nights and weekends and holidays making our name in a new place, trying to grow our business.  Last year's holiday rush was definitely the hardest.  Our sales were much much higher than the year prior, our studio was not in our home, our home was a cold renovation project with few fully intact walls and we were both working 6am-midnight bringing Parker to the studio after school (there was a cot in the back room where she would fall asleep at night before we headed home).  We were more than tired from work - we were exhausted from life in general.  Last January, we brought on Jeremy's Mom to be our shipping manager.  Boy, was that a good idea!  And then we hired a studio assistant.  Boy, oh boy, was that an even better idea.  We all spent full days sewing and sewing, building our stock, slowly shifting from a 3 week turnaround to 2 weeks to 5 days to 2-3 day service (which we now are).  It took us until late summer to accomplish this…but our investment in studio help prepared us for this holiday season.  We now have a stock room with completed bags all ready to ship.  We have all still worked 6 days a week and plenty of overtime hours in order to fill every holiday order and have had little time for much else but we will all be able to take a few stress free days off to spend with friends, family and loved ones and that makes us all very very satisfied.  

The lesson in all of this is: do not run your handmade business in a made upon order fashion.  You will find you'll have more customers, you will be able to make them happier, you will be happier and you will enjoy much more the very thing that led you to start your business in the first place.  It's taken almost four years to get here, but I really look at the last few years as a kind of self imposed business incubator that helped me build the business I plan on running for many years to come.  So, if you're still with me at this longwinded point in my narrative, here's a quick video tour of Moop studios.  I just got a new iphone and I love love the HD video feature!  I guarantee there will be many more Moop videos.  This one was taken yesterday..and as you can see, we've been pretty well cleaned out of bags.  Typically there are piles upon piles of bags in progress but everything we've made has shipped out within a few hours of being finished.  So, thanks for reading and I wish you all the very best, most happy, joy filled days.

xoxoxo a million times over,



Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Our current temporary home

About two months ago we moved out of the house we are renovating and into a temporary rental a few blocks away.  I know I never fully came out and said it (on the blog anyway), but I was on the verge of a mental breakdown.  For me, living in a de-constructed cold (in every way) house for a year and a half, with no comforts of home, while also doing a gut renovation of our studio space was not a good situation.  Only a few of our friends had the opportunity to see us living there...the consistent comment (both verbal and non-verbal) was, "I can't believe you're living here."  But, whoa boy - that is now old news!  We are all very happy again living in a house that is not being renovated.  We'll get back to renovating that other house...eventually.  In the meantime, here's a glimpse into Moop's home base.  I've taken a few photos of our main floor (our bedrooms are still just a few mattresses thrown on the floor..nothing interesting to see..just a pile of blankets a dirty laundry...which I suppose this is too...just some books and a few tables...but, anywhooo).  They're up on flickr here.  All smiles in these parts!  Hope you are all smiles, too!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Waxed Messenger in Gray and Teal!

We've just added The Waxed Canvas Messenger in Gray to our shop.  It's as awesome as the very popular brown...just gray!  You can find it here.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Oh...if this isn't home, I'm not sure what is.

Found this via Indiefixx's Twitter feed, who found it via NPR.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A, B, Cheese

Just like Skinny Laminx, I have been avoiding really kicking off the new year.  It's not that there isn't anything to talk about, either.  In fact, there's A LOT to talk about!  Nothing earth shattering, just some overall fun-ness that's been about.  Like, for instance, receiving the most 100% charming self published book ever (that's right, EVER!) from our friend Paul Koob. 

It's called A,B, Cheese and it's the alphabet of cheese from A-Ziger.  Filled with adorable and funny illustrations of two mice who depict the alphabet in cheese.  Not only is Paul one of the funniest people I've met in real life, he's created two of the cutest and funniest mouse peoples I've read about.  The only thing better than this book, would be a fully published glossy version of this book (any publishers out there should definitely talk to paul).  You can order one for yourself and your cheese loving friends here.  If you're like me, it will make you want to seek out and sample all of the cheeses in A, B, Cheese, then throw a cocktail party to show off your new found knowledge (friends, that cocktail party will happen soon soon!).