Sunday, April 28, 2013

What's The Deal About Teaching?

As it came up again yesterday I thought today I would post my feelings about teaching....this is why I don't care to teach anymore and why I don't permit teaching of my designs.  Your opinion may differ.

After teaching for a few years and quitting teaching a couple of times due to the demands of the stores I taught in and frankly a group of beaders who seemed to think if they paid $10 for a class it meant I would drive to their house anytime they wished to give them extra private tuition. And, no, I am not kidding.

As the years have past (barely five now) I have learned a lot about myself. I am a designer/inventor.  It's my love, my drive.
Teaching is very time consuming and while I can enjoy teaching a class of advanced beaders someone asking me "What is peyote stitch?" in a class stresses me to panic levels.  I used to have the patience to teach basic stitches but it flew away.

So, designing, illustrating and writing tutorials is what I do now.
Will I ever teach again, never say never, but any student signing up would have to know the stitches in the project or they'd just get handed a basic stitch sheet, some beads and be told to! 

Ok...teaching of my designs.
Quite simply I don't allow I'm told I can't stop someone as long as they are using an authentic tutorial, ie one purchased from me or they have their own copy of a magazine project by me.  
I will argue this point as I don't believe teaching someone else's work is "Fair Use" as it means someone else is making money from my hard work and if I decide to teach then they're in direct competition with me. Or should I sell a license to teach, once again I'd be losing money.  

Whether it's legal or not its highly unethical to use someone else's work to make your money especially when it's against the wishes of the designer.
If you are teaching someone else's designs without their permission you have to ask yourself this question:
"Why don't I design my own projects, write my own tutorials  and teach them?"
If your answer is "I don't have the talent" or "It takes too much time" or "I don't have the name to get me students" or "I won't make enough to pay for all the time it would take to do that"

Then you need to go to the mirror and take a good, honest look at yourself, that is one very unethical person you're best!

Next....why don't I sell a license for someone to teach my designs?
This one is a matter of trust. I don't trust people, I have many, many reasons not to trust people.  I have people say, "But you know me" and I have to say....I knew my father too, didn't stop him from taking from me.  And I won't go into the number of 'friends' that have taken from me.

Trust is important when it comes to allowing someone to teach your work.
#1 you have to trust that they know the design well enough to be able to teach it.
#2 You have to trust that they do supply every student with a tutorial so they can finish the project.
#3 you have to trust them with your tutorial...that they won't go print off as many copies as they like, and when someone says..."I don't have time for the class can I buy the pattern" that they say "No, I'm not permitted to do that you can buy it directly from the designer, here's their shop info" and not just sell it them and put the money in their pocket.

That's a lot of trust.

I did come up with the idea to do a "Teachers" workshop, where I would teach three or four designs that the students would be authorized to teach after the workshop.  That seemed like a practical solution, I'd be able to look into the eyes of the person I'd be trusting with my designs and make sure they knew all the ins and out of the designs.  However, when I mentioned this on Facebook I was met with a lot of people telling me how they would prefer I did, no workshop, no restrictions, they could choose what designs they wanted. There was even mention of forming a committee to decide how I would run my, no!
So, that idea went into the trash can.

So as it stands at this moment no one has my permission to teach my designs.

One thing I am working on....bead store adoption....because it isn't easy running a bead store, especially a bricks and mortar one.
I have already started working with an online store,
I met Sherry who runs it and we got along great, discovered we approached business the same way and when she became sole owner of Beadstalkers I knew I wanted to offer as much support as I could.
I do list Beadstalkers as a bead supplier in my tutorials when using the beads Sherry carries and she in turn will stock specific colors/beads I
When Sherry showed me her bracelet design which became "Pyramids of Giza" I knew another way I could help, so I am now putting together a tutorial a month of her designs which she offers free with bead purchase or for sale.

For my bricks and mortar store, I chose Bead Artistry, which is just a couple of blocks away, I am in process of going through my designs to see which I think would work as classes....and then Bead Artistry will choose a few that they want to teach, and I'll make sure they know all the ins and outs.

I just handed in a Clasp tutorial to be taught by someone else at the bead society too....and sometimes I am willing to do things like that for bead societies.

I do think it's important for us to support each other in the beading community, yesterday I heard of another store closure and that made me sad.
As a designer I do have to make a living from my work and I do feel that by permitting people to sell what they make from my tutorials I am helping them make an income....but I draw the line at people teaching my designs and I hope people respect that. The ethical will. The unethical won't. Just like having laws, the decent respect and abide by them, the criminals don't.

Eventually the law will catch up, I do believe that, but what is a law?
Something a group decides is a rule to be followed or be really, if the bead designers could agree and get together on this we could make law. It only takes one case in our favor to set a precedent.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Morning Latte

Yesterday saw me do one of my reward thingies, I'd been meeting and passing my goals so the fund for a new espresso system had become fully charged...YAY!

I'm not a huge coffee drinker but I do have to have mu morning latte. Times past I would stop at Starbucks at 6am before getting on the freeway to drive from Santa Monica to Disneyland for work.  It's my treasured morning ritual.
Of course, even at one a day, it's not an inexpensive one and being a frugal Yorkshire lass investing in a machine seemed like a great idea.

When my first espresso machine literally blew up, spewing parts across the kitchen, it had saved me a few thousand dollars during it's life. I actually sat down and figured that out...ok, so it was to justify buying a new one on a tight budget.   Of course that one eventually died too and it was during the dark days when I couldn't afford a new one.  So, I picked one of those non-pump ones up at Big Lots for $10 and have been making do.

In January I started saving for a new one.  When Starbucks came out with their Verissimo I was excited....and when they were going to be demoing it just down the street I was there. But all it netted me was disappointment, did not care for it at better flavor from my $10 one.
I was window shopping in Williams Sonoma when I saw the Nespresso machines and thought the Pixie was just so dang cute and neat but couldn't imagine getting a decent espresso from it.  The guy that came over to help me asked if I would like to try it...well, ok.
I was very surprised at the espresso he was good, really good.
Then he showed me the Aeroccino which I truly wasn't interested in but that blew me away too.
So now I knew what I was saving for.

When we went to Williams Sonoma yesterday while I was showing Mom
the gal came and demoed the machine for us and even Mom was impressed, not by the coffee, she's not a fan, but by how dang cute it was.
When the gal told me they had one on sale because the color was being discontinued and that color was lime green....that was it. SOLD!

It works with pods, which if you join the club aren't too expensive but frugal little me did find some refillable pods I can put my own coffee in and Amazon are shipping them out to me today :)

All well and good, you say...happy for you, you say...but gee wish I had something nice, you say.
Ok....but you have to keep it a secret, this is for people who read my blog only.
All this week Sunday, 4/21 to Saturday 4/27 when you buy one tutorial I'll let you choose another of equal or lesser value for free.
Here are the have to leave a comment on this post, and in the "notes to seller" when you order type
along with your choice of freebie :)

Just's a can tell people...."Mikki wrote a great blog post" but you can't tell them about the secret....ok? Cool!

Have fun...I'll be sipping on a latte :)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Q: How Do I Make It Pay?

As this is a question I am asked a lot, how to make a living from beading, I thought I'd address it here.

The most important thing about any business is the product, if you don't have a good product no amount of 'business tips' will help. Whatever it is you make/sell be sure it's original and well put together/crafted. that's out of the way....

When someone asks me how they can make more sales/money from their business these are the questions I ask

What's your daily/weekly/monthly goal?
How far short of it are you falling?

Imagine you're going on a road trip, do you know where you're leaving from...A? Know where you're going....B? Plan a route to get there...A to B?
We all answer those questions just to go to the grocery store and yet, when it comes to our business they tend to not be thought about by many.

What are you making now?

How much are you making right now?  How many sales?  You need a starting point and what you're making right now is your A.

How much money do you really need to live and do this?

You need to start by figuring this out, be realistic, allow some $ for the unexpected and some for savings and don't forget a tax fund, because paying taxes should not be unexpected.

Once you know what you need you have a goal....your B.

Plan your route!

Let's say your sales are $1000 a month and you need $2000 a month, that means you have to double your income!!!  And it may seem impossible when you look at it in that big lump.
You're probably not going to make that increase in a month....but how about in a year?
Get your sales make that $1000 a month solid.
Once you are regularly making that start increasing your goal.
Add $100 to your goal for next month. If you meet it, add another $100 the next month, and every time you meet the goal add $100 for the next month.

If you make more than your goal one month....then you have a head start for the next.

"Ahh....but how do I do that?" you ask.

Well...that depends on you product. What's the average price of what you sell?  If it's $100 then you need to make an extra piece a month to be able to sell it.....or if you have lots of stock you need to make that extra sale.

A tip here is that not everyone has $100 to spend so can you develop something that can be sold at, say, $25? It can be easier to sell four $25 pieces than one $100 piece because more people can afford to buy.

Maybe you can't make anything small like how about investing in a bulk buy of a special bead or fabric you use? And sell that in your store, it might just push you over that goal.

Another tip is to do new photos, use different props and switch them out so your piece looks fresh and maybe catches the eye of someone who overlooked it before.

If you do what I do, write tutorials, then it might be as simple as making a sample in a new, on trend colorway.

Customer Service doesn't matter how great your product is if you don't fulfill orders quickly, answer customer contacts promptly or are too full of yourself it will effect your sales.  It truly does not pay to be an asshole :)

Break it down

That extra $100 a month breaks down to about $3.33 a day, now...does that look more doable?  Have a daily goal and be determined to meet it.

If you miss it one day....maybe an extra posting on Facebook or Pintrest will bring you back up to speed.  Miss it for a few days straight? How about a 'flash sale'?  For those of you thinking "What's a flash sale?"
A "flash sale" is a sale like '20% off the next item or say five' items sold or 'buy one get 50% off one on the next five orders'. 
It can bring you back on track just like that!
Now, that's not to say you want to be doing them every day or even every week, because if you do that you will train people to wait for the sale, in effect devaluing your product.
You also might try e-mailing your previous month's customers with a discount code.


I am a firm believer in visualization, I do think it helps.
See your sales grow in your mind....but, once again, do it in baby steps.
Don't go imagining your next day being double your last because you'd be setting yourself up for defeat.  Breaking things down to a daily goal makes the increases small and achievable. Small steps to a big goal.


Plateauing is a good thing, it is what will keep your business growing and earning. After you meet a big goal, don't go setting another one right away, give it time.  Make it consistent. Have the same goal for a few months.
After that, don't make your goals as big......if you have grown $1000 a month to make what you need then maybe set the next goal as an extra $200 a month....which at the end of the year would pay for a vacation....or a new wardrobe :)


Rewarding yourself is important.
So, you managed to double your income, YAY you!
Reward yourself...just don't go overboard.....maybe 5% a month can be allotted to your shoe fund or dinner out....or maybe just that bead storage system you've been dying to get :)

Anyway...these are my tips, I hope they help you, and if you follow me you'll see me use them, no doubt :)  

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Beading Space

Beading spaces tend to attract clutter (come on, I know it's just not mine), the put aside projects, beads from the last project, or three, that didn't make it back to their allotted place, those invoices that need to be filed, tools, thread and the scraps of paper or note books ideas get hastily scribbled into.

If you're lucky enough to have a beading room you can close the door on that mess when visitors stop by but if you bead in your living room you may find yourself pretending not to be home.

I am lucky enough to be able to use my second bedroom as an office/bead room however when I was ill sitting upright in an office chair was painful and I wasn't able to do it for more than 30 minutes at a time. I had planned only to use my office to write tutorials, the beading would be done in the living room from my spot ("it faces the television at an angle that is neither direct so that it would discourages conversations nor at an angle that would causes a parallax distortion"...Sheldon Cooper).

So this is my spot.

And as a beader my spot has to have easy access to my beads, all my go to beads are right there and .....hidden here...

To keep it all tidy I found the wonderful 'Bento' boxes, this one not having any projects in it's pockets so far :) And those pockets fold away too.

The tray lids have become my new project boards, lined with a bead mat and I have more lids than boxes because they stack nicely and I can have multiple projects going without having work trays everywhere.

Now, I will tell you there is a down side to this....the corners on these trays can grab your thread as you work, if you're anything like me my thread manages to get wrapped around anything within three feet. That said, it gets less so the more I work with them and the tidiness I get from the trays outweighs the thread catches.  And yes...that little white tray holding the current beads in use is a water color palette, 79c from the art store.

Another little thing I have at my beady little fingers is a thread catcher.

My! Just a sticky paper rolled on itself and stuck on the side of my cube shelf but boy, it's great for storing the usable bits of fireline that used to get lost or trailed across the room.

So, there you have I keep my beading area tidy enough for visitors.  Of course the rest of the living room is covered with Bella's toys and the kleenex she just tore up so I may pretend to not be home for that reason....but Bella's fault!