Monday, January 2, 2012

Looking Back At 2011

At last, the accounting is done enough that I can feel fairly confident about trusting it. There's still a ton of tiny things to sort out, but nothing that affects the overall picture.

So, let me give a whirlwind tour of the major accomplishments from last year:

December 2010 was the first month that I was independent from my apprenticeship and the income that it brought.

January - Celebrated my first profitable month, thanks to online sales in my brand new Etsy store. This celebration involved buying white yarn and a fantastic tool that I used the heck out of - a cone winder.

February - I wove that yarn into cloth and made garments from them, selling just enough to stay afloat.

March - Ordered blue yarn and started weaving it.

April - Wove a ton of blue cloth. Got a new van!

May - Ordered LOTS of yarn: red, green, purple, brown. Started working toward a new spiritual community with specific other people. Yeah!

June - Ordered more yarn: purple. Replaced the radiator in my van. Announced the new community to our current community. Serpentine is born!

July - Moved into a dedicated studio, brought a new printer, took out a minimal insurance policy. Started acquiring fair-weather booth parts: wood and cloth for a cover. (I wanted a better one, but didn't have the money.) Wove lots of red cloth. Started a Kickstarter project to raise money for yarn. (I didn't mention it at the time, but this was also the month that I started living in my van so I could afford studio rent.)

August - Kickstarter project was a success! Ordered more yarn: blue, purple, and green. Wove more red cloth and started on green. Did the first show using the 8'x8' homemade booth.

September - Wove lots of green cloth. Did more shows with the temporary booth. These paid for the upgrade to a 10'x10' professional booth and some new racks. Kept the van patched together well enough to keep doing shows.

October - Finished weaving green cloth and set up the loom for purple cloth. Did more shows with the new booth. These paid for more booth upgrades. Now there are lights, carpets, dress forms, and more. I upgraded to $1,000,000 in insurance coverage and got a real credit card machine! I also paid for some longterm repairs to the van so it would be more dependable.

November - Moved the studio again, this time into the basement of our winter house. (Not living in a van anymore. Yay!) This included a ton of expenditures: lights, dehumidifier, shelving, and more. Made the last of the repairs to get the van into quite good condition. And, I took a road trip to California to pick up two new AVL looms. One is 60" to help alleviate weaving downtime. The other is a 48" to allow other members of the collective to explore their own weaving.

December - Upgraded the photo studio in preparation for higher-end shows. Now there's a professional backdrop and some neutral clothing for the dress form. Planned the show season for 2012 and found out that all the shows I want to do require their fees to be paid between now and March. If only I had begun the winter with $5,000 in savings, I'd make it easily. Ah, well, live and learn!

Here's another way to look at it - a "net worth" graph. You can see the results of my two goals this year: to pay down debt and to spend money in a way that lets me make more in the future.

Starting in May, you can see that every time I made some money, I paid back some creditors. In August, you can see how much money I spent to get into the show scene. It took two months, but earned it all back by October. In November and December, I didn't make much money, but I did eliminate massive amounts of obligations.

Next year, the sharp upswing in sales (September and October) will not be preceded by large startup costs (August).

And, one more thing about this graph. It makes it look like I have a ton of money. I don't. What I have is a lot of materials and equipment, which roughly translate into opportunity. I don't think craftspeople generally get rich, especially in economic times like these. If I can keep on weaving and keep on getting my cloth into the hands of people who appreciate it, that's what it's all about. And, from the looks of it, I'll get to keep doing it for a while longer.


Jo said...

Wow, it's so impressive how much you accomplished this year and how Serpentine came into being. Congrats, Blossom. Here's to a profitable 2012!

Blossom Merz said...

Thanks, Jo!

I spend so much time looking forward and planning for what's next, it's nice to take a couple of minutes to look back.

Profit and pleasure to you, too!