A little while ago I wrote a post on how long it took to make a pair of leggings.
It was in response to various comments about how long it took to receive order for handmade products. I wrote that handmade products were often made to order and I spoke about increasing my turnaround time to accommodate the number of orders I was receiving. I explained that running a handmade clothing business was about more than just sewing. It was about taking time on every item and making sure that every item I made and sent out was perfect. It was about networking, spreadsheets and fitting it all around very active small children.
Earlier this week I took to Facebook to announce that my timescales were increasing once again. It is an exciting time for me and Tutti Frutti Clothing and I wanted to write about the future and explain why, even though my youngest is at nursery and I should have more time to sew, I have decided to increase my turnaround times.
When I began Tutti Frutti Clothing it was because I had a passion for bright colours, lovely clothes and making clothes that enable children to move and play like children do - freely and within inhibitions. It soon became clear that I wasn’t the only one who thought that way and I have loved meeting and chatting with like minded mum and sewers online and at the various markets and fairs I attend.
Yet for all the excitement lately, I have been reminded recently that I also have to work it around my children I can’t let it rule my life. And over the summer it came pretty close to doing just that.
July was my busiest ever month. I had over 40 orders and made over 60 items for customers. It was exciting. It was exhilarating. It was everything I had ever wanted. I was on my facebook page as soon as I woke up. I was planning my Instagram photos and how my feed looked over breakfast and I was cutting out and sewing constantly. I was listening to podcasts on how to grow a business, how to build and brand and I loved it - but I am not sure anyone who was around me during that month loved it as much as I did. Family and friends commented that they never saw me, and my children told everyone “Mummy is always sewing”. Which was true….
It soon became apparent that the level of hard work and concentration was just not sustainable over a long period of time. I needed to work out a better work-life balance and regain control - before I lost it totally. It was time to make a change.
At the start of September, my youngest child started nursery. She attends 5 mornings a week and during that time I am meant to be working. So I bought myself a ‘shop hours’ sign and changed my opening hours on my website. Tutti Frutti Clothing is now open from 9am - 12noon Monday to Friday and closed at the weekend. This is great in theory but I seem to have spent the last fortnight enjoying coffee with friends and looking round the shops! I think it is now time to get down to business…
I started by listening to a lot of great podcasts and joining in with online webinars that help women in business. I am a member of Janet Murray’s Soulful PR Studio and recently joined a webinar with her and Mike Vardy that talked about how to start being more productive and become more efficient and effective.
It sounds really simple. It probably is really simple. But to me it seemed like the most impossible task ever. My mind is never still on one task. I flit from one thing to another and although I can achieve a lot - just think how much more I could do if I stopped faffing around on facebook or Instagram and focussed on just one thing at a time.
Mike’s advice is to have themes - both daily and monthly, professional and personal. My working hours are limited due to childcare and school runs so I have decided that each morning will be dedicated to ‘the business’ and I will use any time I have in the evening to network and chat to customers on Instagram and Facebook! I will spend from 9-9.30am each weekday reading and responding to messages and emails. Cutting out orders, sewing, weekly planning and admin tasks now each have a dedicated day, or days. My monthly themes include preparing new collections and getting ready for Christmas Markets and Fairs.
On a more personal level I have set myself the theme of baking and bathing. I will bake one cake a week for my children to have a snack or in their lunchboxes. I remember the homemade cakes my mum made for us with great fondness and I want my children to remember that from their childhood - not that Mummy was always sewing. I will also take one evening a week (usually a Sunday!) just for me - to have a long relaxing bath, leaving my phone out of reach, and learning to relax.
The Need for Space
Increasing my turnaround times was to allow me space to breathe.
Space to make Tutti Frutti Clothing the best it can be without it taking over my life.
It has allowed me to have it under control.
That extra week takes a little of the pressure off and will help me grow the business at a pace that is perhaps a little more manageable for everyone. It allows me to take on more orders and work steadily and productively, rather than frantically and without direction!
I have exciting ideas and plans to implement that I need time to craft and create to perfection. I am being approached by stockists and retailers - just think how amazing would it be to see Tutti Frutti Clothing in your local children's clothing boutique? And as we head into the Christmas season I want Tutti Frutti Clothing to continue to flourish.
I was recently a finalist in the Blue Patch New Business Awards and have been awarded the Let Clothes Be Clothes Award too. There is so much more that I want to do and achieve through Tutti Frutti Clothing - here’s hoping that through a little more careful planning and productive working the end of 2017 and start of 2018 can be a great time for Tutti Frutti Clothing.
And if nothing else I guess if I keep up my baking challenge I’ll have more cake to eat, right?
I’d love to hear how you keep on top of your work-life balance.
What are your top tips for improving productivity and avoiding burnout?
And what do you want to see from me and Tutti Frutti Clothing in the future? After all, Tutti Frutti Clothing would be nothing without you...!