Howdy do once again, Craftocados. Whatcha makin’?
This week, we talk about crafting and finding success and having that success bite you firmly on the butt. I’ve been following the saga of The Blue Brick Crafts, a small scale Toronto yarn dyer who teamed up with knitting designer Vector Knits to create yarn for Wingspan, a shawl he designed that looks like feathered wings, pictured in the header image.
It’s a very nice shawl. I want to make one for myself. Going into this, Blue Brick was a one-person operation working out her home. In advance of the pattern and kits becoming available, the promotional photos for the shawl on social media went viral among knitters. Blue Brick wound up receiving thousands of orders. Naturally, being snowed under, she fell behind on dying, and orders have been delayed.
Through it all, Blue Brick has been handling it well. She has been very transparent about delays and has been updating her progress. She has since rented a commercial space and brought on help and stepped up production. She’s catching up, building her business, and is managing to turn the extra attention into a success, even with some bumps along the way. (For example, among catching up on orders, she dyed some yarn for a charity fundraising event and people freaked out at her for daring to do something else while she was waiting for a batch of ordered yarn to dry.)
I’ve seen this happen before, often with Etsy shops. Unfortunately, not everyone is equipped to expand their business like Blue Brick has. Someone’s popularity takes off, orders come rolling in faster than a single person or couple of people can deal with, they don’t do well with the customer service part of it, and everything goes all to hell. They become uncommunicative, or tell lies to buy time, and once-patient customers become angry. I’ve seen shops go completely belly up because they simply couldn’t recover from it. It’s sad to see. (The worst case I’ve ever seen was a yarn dyer who pretended to have leukemia and then faked her own death. Things don’t usually get quite that dire.) At home crafters who start up shops usually go into it expecting not much more than funding their hobby or making a little side income. If they find real success, it can be hard to handle. I hate seeing people get crushed.