Monday, April 29, 2013

Self Employment Paychecks...

I am officially the worst boss ever.  And since I'm my company's only employee, I am directly punished for any upper-management issues.

Up until yesterday, I hadn't been paying myself.  See...told you...worst boss EVER.  I factor my pay into my pricing, so, theoretically, I should be giving myself a cut of every sale.  But I don't.  I end up reinvesting it back into the business.  It buys entry fees to shows, labels, packaging, new ingredients to try out.  But those things are factored into my pricing also.  So I've essentially been cheating myself out of my own paychecks to help build up the business's bank account.  Because there's a ridiculously fine line between personal and professional for the small business owner, there are times when this behavior is OK.  But it's not OK to do ALL the time.

So yesterday, I took out $120 and took myself shopping.  I know, big spender, right?  But I do most of my shopping at 2nd-hand shops so that I can still get high quality stuff for way less money.  And also, because I just read this article that totally horrified me.  So I didn't want to spend my hard-earned dollars supporting companies that treat their employees that way.

Anyway, here's what I came home with... (the dog was already mine, but wouldn't get off the clothes)
From left to right:
~J Brand jeans for $35.00, retail for $202
~Banana Republic jeans for $18.00, retail for $90
~Franco Sarto sandals for $39.99, retail for $69
~Martha who has cost us a freaking boatload over the last 2 years.  Absolutely zero bargain with that one, other than her insane cuteness.
~American Eagle shorts for $12.00, retail for $39.95
~Oscar de la Renta sunglasses (not pictured due to Martha's inability to not break things) for $9.99, found a sale price of $70 online.  who knows what the original outrageous price was.

Considering that, if I had bought all those things at retail cost, they'd have totaled up to $470.95, I'm pretty pleased with what my first paycheck bought me.  Martha is very pleased with all of it as well, which is, of course, what matters most.

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, April 22, 2013


Keep it Simple - 8x10 Motto collection
by evajuliet on Etsy

When first started HOUSE 54, I put an enormous amount of pressure on myself to do it all.  I thought that, in order to be successful, I needed to have a bazillion products to offer, so that everyone under the sun would want something I was making.  And I thought that I needed a brick-and-mortar retail place in order for people to take me seriously as a "real" business.  I turned out to be completely wrong about both of those things.

I think people can tell what is a loved product and what isn't.  My best-selling products are the ones that I put the most effort into, and feel the most proud of.  And when I pared down my line to just those items, my sales actually increased, instead of decreased.

And I spend most of my time in my shop filling orders from Etsy, wholesale accounts, and making enough inventory to bring to markets and shows.  I end up putting a sign up on my door while I walk to the Post Office to mail things out to people all over the world.  So one day, I had this epiphany... THAT'S A BUSINESS!  That's making money by selling my products to people who enjoy them.  That's exactly what I wanted to do.  And I didn't need to rent a storefront to make that happen.  So, while I finish up the lease on the shop space, we will be working on building a new workshop on our own property.  Hubby and I decided that if we were going to pay for a space for me to work, we were going to do it once, and be done with it, instead of paying for it every month forever and ever.  Too much overhead is a killer of profit.  Who knew, right?!

Now if someone could lend me a pair of those hindsight goggles to prevent my next major whoopsie from happening, that would be pretty swell.

Thanks for stopping by,




Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ramblings and pretty things...

This is the time of year in Vermont when the tourists start to go back home, the locals are all shut in their sugar houses boiling up a storm to make the last of the season's syrup, and there aren't any other major holidays for a good long stretch.  In other words, it's a SLOW time in the world of retail.  So these are the times that usually start the "dream" discussions.  You know, like when you look at your husband and say something like, "what if we converted the woodshed into a studio space, so I didn't have to pay rent at the shop anymore, and I could be home again?"  Usually when I say things like that, I get "the look."  You know the one...the did-you-do-drugs-today look.  So imagine my shock when he said, "OK."  I think that may have actually be worse than if he'd just told me no.  At least then I could have saved myself the time that I've instead wasted, falling into the rabbit hole that is Pinterest, collecting images of "backyard studios."  I dare it.  You'll want one too.

OK, so, seriously, it would probably cost me many years worth of rent to take the dilapidated chunk of lumber in our backyard that we currently call a woodshed, and turn it into a usable workshop.  And the whole point of me moving the business stuff out of the house in the first place was so that I could concentrate and get stuff done without being my usual overbearing self and interfering every time the baby whined.  BUT, my idea didn't fall on deaf ears either.  Hubby's been wanting an excuse to turn part of the shed into a pottery studio for a while also.  And having a space that was detached from the house would mean that I could be home, but not within earshot of the goings on in the house.  I think, basically, we both have dreams of having creative spaces, but never really put those projects as high-priority items on the to-do list.
guesthouse outbuilding by roji
Perhaps one of these wildly cute little places would be welcome addition to our property in the future?  A girl can dream, right?

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Changes to "Open Shop" hours...

I've decided to make some temporary changes in my shop hours.
After the whistle blows on today's workday, Open Shop Hours will be done a little differently until about mid June.  Basically they'll be by appointment and/or whenever you drive by and the "OPEN" sign is on the door.  "But you JUST opened!" you're all yelling.  Well, yes, BUT I opened a workshop for the production of my products which also happened to have a retail area in it where folks can pop in and buy goodies.  And since my shop moved out of my home, I've been able to get wild amounts of work done in pretty short amounts of time.  And since about 95% of my dollars come in from online sales and wholesale accounts, there's not really much sense in me hanging out at the shop if I'm done my workload for the day.  

So here's the deal... If you live locally and have a hankering for some wicked awesome lotion, or some crazy-good perfume to make you feel on top of the world, then hop on facebook, or shoot me an email, and say, "Hey lady!  I need some of that stuff you make!"  And since I'm super cool, I'll say, "okey doke!  I can meet you at my shop whenever is convenient for you."  And by all means, feel free to pop in if the sign's on the door when you're driving by.

Oh, and on a slightly different topic, some new fragrances will be introduced to the line in the coming weeks.  Super excited!  Can't wait for you to try them!    

PS:  The random photo of the plant is simply because I'm so impressed with myself for having this one at the shop for a full 4 months now and not killing it!

Thanks for stopping by,