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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Blanket Update

So a couple of weeks ago, I posted the deal about creating Mom Cave Designs, and I figured that it was time to give a semi-official update on what's been going on with that.

It's been interesting, to say the least. People have shown a tremendous amount of interest, and I can see that there is definitely a market out there for weighted blankets (among other things). I honestly  had no idea how fast something like this could grow. Since I got started, I think I've completed 3 blankets to order, I have one blanket that is being made, and I have orders for 5 more (that's off the top of my head, but the numbers are pretty close). It might not seem like a ton, but it's been keeping me busy. I got a little bit of a break last week while I waited for supplies to arrive after I ordered them, but that gave me a chance to get some stuff done around the house.

The most surprising thing that has happened though.....I have had several people contact me to basically say "your prices are too low" or "you aren't charging enough for your work" or "you're never going to make any money like this". You get the idea.

It dawned on me that a lot of people who are following me on the Mom Cave Designs page don't necessarily know me as Non-Stop Mom. They don't all know who I am or any of my story, and that helps to explain the low pricing.

I'm NOT in this to get rich. I'm just not. I don't need the money. When my second ex-husband unexpectedly passed away, Daniel and I started receiving Social Security benefits. Those benefits caused a lot of drama for a while because of the people who felt that I didn't deserve them, but that's another story altogether. The reality of the situation is that we receive enough money on a monthly basis to pay all of our bills and have a little bit left over. We are not rich. We don't have much in savings (that happens when you buy an older house) but we survive and we manage to do a little extra here and there. So "getting rich" off of these blankets is not really a priority. Will a little bit of extra money here and there help us? Of course it will. Is it the driving force behind doing this? Not even close.

What we want to do is make them affordable. The blankets do absolutely no good to anyone if they are so outrageously priced that people can't afford to buy them. We want to help people get the blankets that they need without having to sacrifice something else that is equally as important to be able to afford them.

I don't see it as doing anything amazing or spectacular and I certainly don't expect any kind of recognition for it. I just want to be able to sew and create things and help people, and if I make a little bit of extra money, great. It'll be even better when we get to the point that we can start making blankets to donate to those who need them, but that will take a little bit of time yet.

At the same time though, I am a mother first. I have 5 extremely active and involved kids. They are in sports and extracurricular activities and Scouts and church and everything else under the sun. I'm a single mom, and even though The Dude helps me out when he can, he's not here all of the time and so the housework and the grocery shopping and the yardwork and the kid chauffeuring and everything else falls back on me 99% of the time. The Mom Stuff has to take priority, especially when the kids are at home - so when they're here I run around and do what needs to be done around the house, but as soon as they're in bed or at school I head down to the Mom Cave and get busy. Right now I have a fairly quick turnaround on the blankets but as time goes on and I get busier with that, it will probably slow down a bit - but I don't plan to raise my prices any time soon.

Alrighty then....
I'm also looking into the things that I need to do to actually eventually turn this into a legitimate business if it looks like that would be a good thing to do. Right now, it's still in the little more than a hobby but not quite a business stage. I don't want to jump the gun and do all sorts of crazy official stuff until I know exactly which direction we're going and where we might land with all of this stuff.

For now, I'm learning as I go. I know that I can make the blankets and I'm enjoying doing it. I welcome any input or suggestions or critiques that anyone wants to give. I've had people ask if it's ok to share the page or share the blog - please do, because otherwise we won't be able to do this. (For the record, I've thought about starting a secondary blog just for the business stuff, but honestly..... it's so intertwined with me and who I am that it would be hard to separate it...... so it'll all just be contained right here in this nifty little package.)

There are other things rattling around in my skull but for now I just wanted to explain the lower prices a little more in detail for those who don't know the whole story. And just in case you haven't been around here for a while - if you have any questions, just ask me. Seriously.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Start of Something ...... Small to Medium (for now)


If you've been hanging around here for very long, you know that I sew. Kind of a lot. Or at least, I try to when I'm not running around like the proverbial headless chicken all hopped up on caffeine. I've always wanted to get a business going around it, but so far that hasn't really happened yet. A craft show here and there, or a special order once in a while, and that's been about it.

Then, a series of things happened.

Actually, it started a couple of years ago when a dear friend of mine took in 3 little boys who were in need of a new home. Keep that in the back of your mind for right now, ok?

I bought this house. And it has this incredible basement that I can almost totally devote to my crafty stuff. Getting it cleaned up and usable has been more than a little bit of a chore, but it's so close to being perfect that I can spend time down there actually sewing instead of hyperventilating over the mess.

Then my friend got another child, the little sister of the boys she already had in her home. One of the boys started showing some signs of autism and other sensory issues, and she has been doing everything in her power and within the foster care system to meet his needs. She called me one day and asked me "hey, what do you know about weighted blankets?"

Huh. I've never been asked that before. So I started researching. I was astonished at the prices and knew that I could make them for less money than what some of these companies were asking. I started crunching numbers and doing thousands of searches online for supplies and ideas and prices and ideas.

The Dude and I talked about it. We talked to friends who have experience with these things. We brainstormed. We drew pictures and talked and discussed and made phone calls and did more research and discussed and bickered (but just a little).

And then we went to Oklahoma to see my friend and these precious children, and to help them move into a new home. The Dude, my friend and I all sat down and talked and crunched numbers and brainstormed some more.

On the way back to Kansas, he and I talked about it some more. We both decided that this is something that is worth pursuing, even if it's just a short-term project. I ordered the pellets needed to weight a blanket, and dug through my fabric stash to see what I could make for her little boy as a prototype.

It took me more than a few weeks to make that first one, as life was too crazy for a while. But then I got it done and had it ready to ship to her. I had done everything except for take pictures of it, and she called me and asked me to come back down to help her - she had just moved again (long story on that one) and was diagnosed with diabetes, and she was struggling. I packed the boys into the Traverse, pulled out of the driveway, went to the gas station, went back to the house to get the blanket, and hit the road.

Once we got there, we basically forgot about the blanket other than pulling it out of the bag to show it to her, and then it got put aside. I don't remember exactly what happened at one point, but her little boy started to have a meltdown. He was extremely upset and was kicking and screaming and crying and flailing all over the place. She got him in her arms and sat down on the couch and motioned for me to hand her the blanket. I tossed it to her and she draped it across him, and as the weight settled on him, he immediately became quiet and relaxed.

She and I looked at each other in shock. We had never witnessed what one of these blankets could do.

I knew right then and there that this was something that I need to do.

I've referred to the basement in this house as the "Mom Cave" ever since we moved in, and as ideas for this have been rolling around, so has a name for our venture. "Mom Cave Designs" was born. I snagged a facebook page for it, but didn't post anything until tonight as I kept working on ideas.

Our (and when I say "our" I mean me and The Dude because he's in on this too) general idea for the blankets is this - while we will have some standard blankets on hand (after we get them made), we will make them to order, because we know that kids (and adults) who need them sometimes have very particular requests/needs. We plan to sell them at very reasonable prices, because we're not out to get rich off of these. We actually want to turn some of the profit around to make more blankets that can be donated - either to kids in the foster care or mental health system, or to families who can't afford to buy them.

We want to make a difference.

Of course, it's going to take a while to get this going full-speed. There are some things that we need to do first to make it easier - small things like getting a piece of wood cut to make a tabletop for the pool table to give us a big work area, buying a bigger ironing board to make working with larger pieces of fabric easier, buying the pellets in bulk to get the biggest cost savings, buying some bulk fabric and thread, etc.... and other things like looking into what needs to be done to turn this into a legitimate business should it grow and succeed as we hope it does. For now, we're going to take it all one step at a time, but I already threatened him that if this takes off, he's going to be learning how to use a sewing machine pretty darned quick!

Mom Cave Designs will be more than just the blankets though. It will be everything that I make, but with a focus on the blankets. As of right now, I have pictures posted of two smaller lap blankets that I made as samples, and also some Trick or Treat bags that I made that I have for sale. I plan to post more items over the next few days, as I go through my inventory and see what I have. Anything that is sold in the near future will help to fund the initial startup costs to get some more blankets made.

As this progresses, I'll be posting updates on the Mom Cave Designs facebook page, so if you'd like to keep up on the day to day progress you can follow me there - but of course I'll always be on my regular Non-Stop Mom page too.

So.....it'll either be really cool, or it'll be a train wreck. Only time will tell. :)