Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Plans for 2013 (and a little reflection)

Firework image source here
As another year comes to a close, the natural instinct to make plans for the year ahead begins to kick in. In terms of little cloud factory, my hobby/business and blog, I have lots of goals and exciting ideas.

In the last six months I have dedicated a lot of time to creating. I've created new patterns, adapted others, honed my sewing skills and been significantly more involved in the handmade market scene. And I've loved all of these things. I've tried to balance family life, Penelope-life and business life as best as I could. Consequently I feel that what was a hobby at the start of 2012 is now a small business.

I learnt a big lesson this year when I took part in one market. I completed an application with the Dept of Commerce in order to trade on that particular day. A routine application to verify that my stall was handmade/craft. I filled out the business name section little cloud factory and had verbal confirmation from the officer that my wares fulfilled the application requirements. A few days later the officer (very kindly) called to inform me that the name little cloud factory was already registered to a couple in another state and due to recent changes to the business name registration board, I could not trade under this name or register it within this state. The name had been registered in October 2011.

I was so upset with this news. Registering my business name had been on my list of things to do but having had an 18 month break between markets and selling on line I naively kept putting it off. I also felt that my business name was so unique that I wouldn't encounter any problems when I did get around to it. I created this blog in June 2010 and began selling at markets later that year. When you do a google search for little cloud factory the first pages are solely linked to blog posts, my Facebook page, etsy and madeit stores so I was confused as to why someone, looking to start their own business, would choose a name that was obviously quite clearly taken. I guess they liked my name so much that they bought it for themselves. You can read the background story to my name here. So, long story short, little cloud factory handmade is now registered! I actually like that handmade is the additional word that I added to allow the registration to occur as it has positive connotations. I'd like to look back on the last few busy months as ones which turned my hobby into a business. I'm looking to continue 'building' my business in 2013; continue participating in markets, designing new softies and other items, learning from others and  maintaining a balance that makes me feel that I'm in control.

I read this article recently about plagiarism and the handmade community. Within the handmade community there have been a few occasions where I have seen copycats; people using another's creative ideas and practices for themselves, using other people's images to promote their 'future' projects and others who specifically use 'for personal use only' patterns and tutorials and sell them through their business. I had a recent experience with someone clearly using a softie of mine as 'inspiration' for their own and promoting it on their business page. Unfortunately there is very little to prevent others from stealing your designs and ideas. Copying someone else's work shows a total disregard for the time, effort and original idea that someone put into their work/product. While you can find inspiration in another person's work, staying uniquely different is important in order to establish a reputable business.

My softie design process begins with lots of drawing and scribblings of various body shapes and facial expressions. Before turning these drawings into a pattern I look through online stores to see if there are other softies similar to my drawings so that a) I don't appear to have copied anyone else and b) my design stands out as unique. By continuing to be unique and honest with my designs I hope that my handmade business is viewed positively and 'ward off' any would-be copycats.

My 2012 resolutions were:
  1. Learn to crochet - did not get to this one at all. I have some wool and crochet sticks in a drawer waiting for another day
  2. Create new softie patterns - I designed quite a few new patterns this year which forced me to be creative with ideas and new materials.
  3. Participate in a couple of hand made markets- Four markets in four months was a massive effort and absolutely worthwhile for a multitude of reasons. Can't wait to be involved again in 2013.
  4. Learn to use Photoshop (and take better photos with my camera!) - Umm, didn't get to this one either but I did purchase an SLR camera and have improved my basic photography skills.
  5. Make more clothes for my girls- Yes, I made a start on this one, I purchased an overlocker and have begun making simple dresses and skirts. I really enjoy making things for them.
And so to the 2013 crafty resolutions:
  1. Create new softie patterns
  2. Take part in handmade markets
  3. Learn to take better photos (do a photography course? photo editing programs?)
  4. Learn to use blogsy better (there are quite a few things that I haven't worked out yet)
  5. Learn free motion machine applique
Thank you for dropping by my blog this past year, I hope I haven't bored you too much! I wish you a truly wonderful, happy and fulfilling 2013.

Penelope x

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Penelope x