Paw Print Mugs and Baby Handprint Mugs
At the end of 2007, I had had a frantic but rewarding ten weeks leading up to Christmas. The local paper had published a story about my business which made my phone ring off the hook, and brought me a lot of local orders, especially for the Paw Print mugs. Because of the interest in the Paw Print mugs, I was inspired to create a kit that allowed Mug Revolution to sell the Paw Print mugs online starting earlier this year. A few folks inquired about the possibility of using the Paw Print kit to make baby hand or footprint mugs...aha!-how interesting!...and soon we will be adding a new product to our line up of mugs.
Finally, I Can Relax!
I had truly thought that once holiday orders were filled in December 2007 that my business would slow down, and I was looking forward to a break. At the time I was working full time in a printing company, and the thought of having early mornings, evenings, and weekends free was wonderful--but it turns out it was just a thought.
A few orders had come in after Mug Revolution had either sold out or the cutoff date for the order to be filled in time for Christmas had passed. So, after a nice break to celebrate and relax with family and friends, I got back into the studio to finish the orders and get my inventory of stock mugs back up, thinking that I'd be able to take a break for a couple of months after the firing was done. Once I started making mugs, more orders came in--some of my local customers needed more mugs, more online orders came in, and pretty soon all of the kiln space for mugs was filled up, and I could only fit in a few stock mugs. This pattern repeated itself all year long, much to my surprise. I never did make as many mugs for stock as I wanted to, and in fact sold out of them in early December.
The Power of the Web
In June an online order came in for a couple of Paw Print kits and mugs. Noticing that the customer lived locally, I phoned to say that if she could come to pick up the kits and the mugs I would not charge her shipping and handling fees. She told me that she hadn't realized that we lived in the same town, and that she had been looking at mugs for her company's Christmas gifts later in the year, but saw the Paw Print mugs and got sidetracked. A month or so later, when she came to pick up her order, she said that she would be in touch soon to get a quote for her company's mugs. Well, I got the job, and made them over 250 custom mugs. They were very pleased and mentioned more than once that this was the best gift they had ever given...the folks who got them were really happy to have such a nice mug.
It occurred to me, all of a sudden, sometime during the time I was working on this order, that I never would have had a chance to know about the order unless I had a website. Even though Mug Revolution is in the same town as this company, the first thing they did to find handmade coffee mugs was to Google it. So, folks, if you don't have a website, get one. Best money you'll ever spend for your business.
Finally, I'm A Full Time Potter!
On October 1st of this year, I was thrilled to be able to start a new phase in my professional life-that of a full time potter. Since getting into clay and quickly getting hooked in 1988, I've always dreamed of doing this. Now that it is a reality, I feel like the luckiest guy on the block.
A few months ago I had a few improvements made on my studio and hired Tim, a contractor we've worked with a few times over the years as we've done bigger projects on the house. I told him that I didn't know exactly when it would happen, but I was within a year or less of being a full time potter. Tim looked at me and said "A lot of people will be telling you how lucky you are to be a full time potter." I said something to the effect that I would be feeling lucky if, in fact, my dream did come true. Tim said, "They probably won't have any idea how hard you have worked over the years to make this happen. In my view there's not much luck involved. You worked for it, and you deserve the chance to be able to do it!"
I've thought about this from time to time, and you know, he's right. It's a lot of work. Those of you who have started a business know exactly what is involved. But it's more than that, and it doesn't always feel like work. It's being able to do what you are passionate about, to pour all of your energy into something that you believe in.
It sure makes Monday mornings a lot easier! Happy New Year, everyone. I wish you all the very best for 2009.