Let's start with this: I am not complaining. Life is great when you can be creatively free and be your own boss. However, we are still a small business. And being small means you do everything. The only product in our shop that is being outsourced is pocket mirror. All other items are being designed and made 'in house'. I wanted to share our biggest obstacles that comes with this business and show THAT bit of our daily life.
Issue No 1. Deciding on new styles/colours/prints
It might be easy for a big company with a huge budget to do a research, but it is a bit different when you're small. I think I've already mentioned in my previous blogs that you can create something you really love, but no one will buy it. And you think you know your customers :))
Issue No 2. Holidays/Time off
From time to time you need to get away. Give yourself some time to relax, get new ideas or just chill and not think about business. I try to give an early notice, send email campaign, tweet, Facebook, instagram, but you know... not everyone opens their emails or read our banner or FAQ pages. I don't like unhappy customers and sometimes it is difficult to explain that yes, I am the only one who makes your order. My pair of hands is the only pair that touches your order :)))
Issue No 3. Advertising
Not having a huge marketing budget and completely relying on Facebook/Instagram advertising and repeat customers. It's a constant battle and testing. Very annoying but unavoidable. Also it keeps you up with the current marketing trends and you keep learning new things and that could not be a bad thing.
Issue No 4. Shipping
Using Post Office Drop&Go service is usually very reliable and hassle-free method of shipping your orders. Until one day the bag with 10+ orders just... disappeared unprocessed. We suspected that Royal Mail guy came in to pick up processed items in the grey bags (and we used just the same) and took our (unprocessed) one as well. I had to go back, write down every single thing that was there, contact the customers and hope that they will receive their orders. It took ages, but everyone got their orders. With a extra fee to pay to the Royal Mail (which we refunded obviously). It was extremely annoying but you can't escape from human error I guess. Lesson learned though and we never bring our parcels in the same grey Royal Mail bag again. We use transparent now :)
Issue No 5. Miscommunication
There was a customer once who did not like their t-shirt. There was a splash of paint (intentional) on it, but they thought it was a mistake. They send us an email to which we replied in 6 minutes. They did not see our reply (in which we explained what happened and offered a replacement anyway). They left 1* review, commented on our post how horrible we are and how nobody ever should buy from us. They did see our reply to their comment though. They received a replacement. They did not change anything in their review nor comments. Sometimes there is nothing you can do to please everyone and that's ok.
Issue No 6. Suppliers
Another thing to consider - suppliers. To find reliable, quick and the one offering variety of garments (in our case) - it's not easy. Some of them offers next day delivery if you order by 6.30pm which is very convenient. Some does not say if they have items in stock or not. You can pay for the items just to receive an email in a few days (no, not next day) that is out of stock or worse - discontinued. Our main supplier is very reliable and fast (that is why we work with them obviously!), but because we have lots of different items in our shop (hoodies, t-shirts, dresses, leggings, tote bags, etc) and they all in different colours, styles, etc it is not easy to make sure we have access to all of them. For example, we constantly check our most popular items and try to have them more or less in stock, ready to print/paint. Though there always comes those custom orders or sales of not very popular items.
Hopefully I painted a clear picture of our daily life as ARTsy clothing - independent clothing brand. Don't be shy and ask any questions or ideas what you'd like to hear from us next time!