Friday, February 08, 2013

USPS Saturday Mail and What it Means

USPS Parcel Post Unchanged

USPS announced that they will no longer be delivering First Class Mail on Saturdays. Our initial reaction here was, "WAHOO! No more Junk Mail on Saturday." Then, like most people, we had a mild case of panic set in. As it turns out...

...the changes announced by USPS do not change package delivery...

Parcel post will still be delivered on Saturdays. And USPS will still be open on Saturdays for package drop-off. In other words, shipping here at Cozy Rhody will continue to work the same way it has in the past.

So, after amending our initial statement, Cozy Rhody had this to say: "WAHOO! No more Junk Mail on Saturday. And if the Post Man shows up on Saturday, WE GET SHINY THINGS! SQUEE!!!"

But, Wait! There's More...

Before we sign off for the weekend, Cozy Rhody would like to make a special statement:

Due to inclement weather, shipping will be delayed 1 day for orders made February 8 - 10, 2013.


Cozy Rhody will need an extra day to "work off that excess energy" the adopt-ees are going to have after being cooped up inside for 48 hours.

We here at Cozy Rhody believe in safety for all! Please remember to bring your pets inside during harsh weather conditions. Fido feels just as cold as you do when that wind blows! Not to mention he's too damned short to see where he's going when it snows more than 2".

Stay Safe!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Seasonal Adjustment

The Shop is open for business, again! We've restocked our Triple Town Bears and Lovecraftian Cozies. For the concerned, many of our phone cozies fit the newfangled iPhone 5! How convenient.

This season, we're running a gift tag promotion. Every purchased item comes with a free unique handmade gift tag! Gift tags are mostly blank, save for a "TO:" and "FROM:" label. Every gift tag is different, like snowflakes. Some even have snowflakes. And Cozy Rhody has made all of them.

Lastly, we've updated our Shipping Policies in the shop. We wanted to make sure people knew up front whether or not they can get it by Christmas. Cozy Rhody uses USPS exclusively for shipping. Because we use USPS, we're beholden to their shipping time frames. Luckily for us, USPS released a nifty calendar with shipping deadlines on it! We factored in our pack & polish time to come up with the following deadlines (to guarantee delivery in time for Christmas):

Standard US Domestic
Orders must be placed and paid in full on or before December 19th
Expedited US Domestic
Orders must be placed and paid in full BEFORE 12:00 PM EST December 21
Standard International
Orders must be placed and paid in full on or before December 1
Express International
Orders must be placed and paid in full BEFORE 12:00 PM EST December 10

These deadlines are hard deadlines. While we would like to be spongy and fluid with the rules, we cannot make any guarantees that orders placed outside these time frames will make their destination in time.

A note on Expedited Shipping: Shipping stuff fast is not cheap. We were looking at prices for US Domestic Express Mail and choked on our coffee. It's roughly $33/pound to ship Express Mail in the US. Shipping express internationally is an order of magnitude more expensive. It makes you wonder if it really IS that much more expensive to put a package on a plane today rather than tomorrow.


Sunday, April 08, 2012

Squids Are Coming

Cozy Rhody is excited to announce that we will soon be adding a new product to the shop: STEEV from SQUIDS (c) The Game Bakers.


I'm in the final round of design


The only thing left is to ensure the hat is up-to-specs


Look for STEEV in the shop in the coming weeks. For the overtly excited, you can submit a Pre-Order for STEEV by contacting us through the shop. Include in your message that you would like to Pre-Order a STEEV. STEEV will be $35.00 + $5.35 shipping (same as our Triple Town Bears). STEEV includes a removable hat with lovely felt lightening bolts. Cozy Rhody will accept a maximum of 5 pre-orders for STEEV.

Also, look for more Triple Town Bears this month, too! They sold out during the final days of March. Tragically, I am not so great at taking my own advice, so there's a minimum 2-week wait for restock. In the short term, Cozy Rhody is offering to all interested parties the opportunity to Reserve a Triple Town Bear. All you need to do is contact us through the shop indicating that you would like to Reserve a Triple Town Bear. Those who reserve a Triple Town Bear will have their orders filled before new bears are listed in the shop. The first 3 reserved bears are guaranteed to be filled within 2-weeks.

Lastly, an extra big THANK YOU for everyone who bought out my bears. It was a pleasant surprise! Now if I can just find some amazing Cthulhu Enthusiasts...


Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I enjoy yarn, probably too much. So during April, Cozy Rhody will be participating in Knit & Crochet Blog Week 2K12. (See what I did there?) Participants are entered into multiple chances to win yarn. They can also win other "knitting gears" and some books. I don't particularly care for knitting related items for me. But I have knitters I know and winning a free knitting-related item means I don't have to think about nor purchase items for birthdays/Christmas/Wintereenmas/Pandafest/Etc.

This week has been mostly filled with non-shop related things, which is bad for my custom orders that I need to fill. The work I've been doing is code related. Cozy Rhody's owner, moi, is a Programmer. I went and got schooled in all the wondrous things of programming --- compilers, data structures, operating systems, maths, etc. And after a long hiatus from industry (Nov 2010 until about now), I have not been paid to do any programming. Until now. I've done plenty of side projects, of course. But all were sweat equity in hopes of one of two things:

  • Investment capital
  • Graduating my friend the PhD Student

The latter has been accomplished. The former is a WIP with positive outlook. But, enough about me.

Triple Town Bears are hot! Only two left in stock. Going to have to trap me some more bears for a re-stock before too long. And, even though I've completely failed on my end to list anything for 2 weeks, I have plenty of things to list on the shop. However, in lieu of a supposedly accepted craft fair application, most of those items will not be listed until after May 19 or thereabouts. Whenever the day after the craft fair is.

Weather has been unseasonably agreeable lately. Temps have been in the mid to upper 70s for two weeks now. And it's not projected to drop back down to "normal" for another week. I suppose it's only fitting that after we replaced a boiler in the "studio", the weather would get crazy warm and it would be unneeded. Slept with the windows open two nights in a row. Probably going to make it a third, fourth, and fifth before the week is up.

Lastly, but not leastly, I have started training for a very long cycling trip in August. Because of training, odds are not likely that same-day-shipping will occur for purchases from the shop. Worry not, however, as next-day-shipping will occur instead. At, like, 8:00 AM.


Monday, March 12, 2012

A Day Late

Daylight Savings Time is upon us. What does that mean? INSTANT sunlight at dinner! I can deal with that.

Cozy Rhody had a not-so-great-week last week. The gas boiler for the "studio" went 100 miles south of very very bad last Tuesday. Everyone, of course, is fine and safe. But, there was no shop work done all of last week due to boiler installation & repairs --- the place was smelly. Consequentially, there are no new listings today. This also marks the first late blog update. Expect them to occur from time to time.

Cozy Rhody is excited to announce that we mailed our first application for a local craft fair. With a bit of luck (and a "generous bribe" for "booth space") we will make a most grand appearance at the Coggeshall Museum's Rhode Island Wool & Fiber Festival on May 19th.

In lieu of no new listing(s) today, we will instead spot-light an item in our shop. Tunisian Crocheted Cthulhu Phone Cozy - White Cotton with Black Buttons.

I lovingly refer to this model as "Moby". He is very much the "white whale" you have been searching for your whole life. Moby the Cozy is made of very soft white cotton yarn and sports two shiny black buttons for securing your treasures within. Moby will eat nearly any smart phone out there, with the exception of some of the gargantuan models being marketed as a cross-over between tablet & smart phone.

It's a whale of a cozy!

Last, but not least, Cozy Rhody would like to remind everyone that this weekend is St. Patrick's Day. Everyone knows that in honor of St. Patrick, you must give the gift of cozies! So belly up to the bar, folks! Order before Wednesday at 10:00 AM EST, and your order will make its by destination Friday.


Sunday, March 04, 2012

An Overnight Success

I completed my first custom order this week on Tuesday. I received a request for 10 Triple Town Bears:

First of all, W.O.W. 10 bears! Awesome! Second, did it in 7 days --- 3 days faster than my quote! I accomplished this by pulling an all-nighter on Monday (Feb 27). Soothed by the sweet sweet song of Buffy's voice, I crocheted into the darkness... and into the light again, passing out briefly between the hours of 8AM and 1PM from exhaustion and the oh-so-preventable mistake of taking a hot shower and eating a warm breakfast at 7 o'clock (sequentially, not at the same time.) Full tummy + warm body = sleepy time.

My first custom order was a wonderful learning experience. There were lots of things I did wrong. And lots of things I did right, though I couldn't name them for you because I really only remember & focus on the screw-ups. Looking back, I thought I'd share some of the things I feel I could improve upon. May my experience contribute to your wisdom. Or at least comfort you in knowing you're not the only one who did that...

#1 Quote Realistic Time-To-Fill

I said "10 days". What I should have said was, "10 business days". This is the equivalent of 2 weeks. Though, in all reality, I really should quote it as 2 to 3 weeks. Lesson learned: give yourself a buffer. I did it in 7 days, but that's because I pulled an all-nighter on Monday, crocheting for nearly 18 hours straight. Had this been broken out over multiple days, I would have needed an additional 5 days to finish the project --- more than 10 consecutive days. Scary thought.

Another factor I did not think about was me time. To fill this order, I sacrificed a lot of me time. On the whole, it isn't as bad as you think. I just didn't make it to the gym, like, at all. I also didn't get any laundry or house cleaning done. Factoring in my house wifely duties and me time into the Time-To-Fill equation is a must for future orders.

Time-to-fill sets expectations for your customer and yourself. So, it would make sense to factor in BOTH the time you can dedicate to the order AND the time you need for everything else. Also, should you pull it off earlier, you blow your customers' expectations out of the water and really set the standard for customer service.

#2 Keep Extra Supplies on Hand

Keep extra supplies for things that take a while to get on hand. Safety Eyes, buttons, yarn, anything that requires buying something from somebody else. I did not have enough safety eyes to fill this order. To make matters worse, I had completely bought out the local Joann's. So, it wasn't like I could just hop in the car and run to the store. I spent the first 48 hours looking for a solution that wouldn't cost me an exorbitant amount of money. I found my solution, 6060 on Etsy.

If I hadn't come across cheaper to ship venues, I would have had to drop nearly $25 in shipping costs to get $10 of plastic in time to fill the order. Also, buying safety eyes, etc, through venues NOT Joann's is incredibly cheaper on the whole. I can pay $9.99 at Joann's for 10 pairs of safety eyes, or $6 at 6060. Savings, please.

#3 Crochet More Than You Need

This builds on the previous two topics. I did not have any extra bears on hand ready for assembly or shipment. I had one bear, which is currently listed for sale in the shop. But that bear is reserved for whoever orders it---it does not ship in a custom order. No other bear parts were to be seen. Everything was still just balls of yarn, so all my time was spent crocheting bear parts. The assembly process is short. I can stitch together a bear in about 30 minutes.

Truth be told, I did not expect to need parts for 10 bears on hand. I was quite content with having 3 already made for the shop. I told myself, when I'm down to the last bear, I make 3 more for the next listing. That mythical "when" is now. Had I been through this experience already, I would have had 9 bears on hand --- 3 listed, 3 for the next listing, 3 for a buffer --- and parts for 15 more in a box. While I have completed the custom order for 10 bears, I am not done with everything I need to have in place.

#4 Don't Shy From Shipping

I absolutely hate asking for the money I need for shipping my products. I don't know why. It's not like I don't know what to tell people: $6.50 for phone cozies, $8.00 for Triple Town Bears (packing supplies + shipping). I ship Priority Mail, flat rate if the order fits in the box, with Delivery Confirmation (aka, tracking.) You get your item in 2 - 3 days from the moment I drop it in the post barring unforeseen circumstances: plague, baby pandas, holidays.

Right now, I'm eating part of the cost of shipping for everything I ship. I can do one of two things to remedy this: raise the cost of my items or raise the cost of shipping. Since raising the cost of the item won't adequately reflect what I'm doing, I'll have to raise the cost of shipping. At the moment, it doesn't make any sense to charge a little for shipping in the item price AND charge shipping.

#5 Be Wise With Time Else You Work All Night

Two words: Time Management. No matter how much buffer you give yourself, no matter how many weeks you quote the client, it's critically essential that you manage your time wisely. All the extra supplies and money in the world can't help you if you've whiled away your time for 3 days and made little progress. I don't know what it's going to take to get my time management under control. Perhaps a calendar or robotic prison guard. Scheduled crochet time? Less Internet, for sure. I can waste a year watching my "shop stats".

If it comes down to a few days before a deadline and you are not in the final mode of putting that last stitch on the duck or heading downstairs to start the washing & pressing process of your order, you are in trouble. It would be at this point that I'd recommend pulling an all-nighter to catch up. The all-nighter is a powerful weapon. It's like having a nuclear missile or truffle salt. If you use it all the time, you'll ruin life as you know it. But, when applied sparingly, it can be quite effective. Also, it's OK to pull an all-nighter. I found it kinda relaxing and fulfilling. Alarming. But not terribly bad. The best part? Should you come out the other side all caught up, you can spend the day napping in the sunlight.

Wrapping Up

I'm very satisfied with how everything turned out on this project. Not only did I meet my goals, I made my customer happy as I was able to complete and ship the product in time for their needs. I'm going to do whatever it takes to keep this shop going. I want to turn it into a profitable venture with an excellent reputation and decent customer following. MY own business. When I graduated from college in 2007 with my BSCS, I NEVER thought I'd be here. But, I am. Cool.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Achievement Unlocked!

Hooray! I did it! I don't know how I did it, but I did it! As of February 22, my goal of having 4 sales total for February is fulfilled! Anything else for the month is just gravy on the cake. Or is that icing on the broccoli? Cheese on the mashed potatoes? Spam in your ham?

The Shop is doing pretty well. Monday listing went off without a hitch. We listed a new Cthulhu Phone Cozy in our most popular color(s): variegated greens. This one has "slitty eyes". Sorta looks like giant black flat-head screw tops. Exciting!

"Squinting into the distance..."

At some point in the middle of the week, I got a request for a Special Order for 10 Triple Town Bears. Holy Frijoles! My first bulk order. It's both exciting and horrifying. Crocheting that many bears for a big order, while also attempting to finish simultaneous crochet products for listing Monday (some bears; some cozies), is a bit nerve-wrecking. That being said, I'm pretty far along. With any luck, I'll get these bears all wrapped up in time so that they can be at their destination by March 2nd. In general, bulk orders like this require 10 days to fill. However, I am pulling "overtime" in a way to get them out the door sooner. I have my incentive --- visibility (the GOOD kind.)

I got my eyes order for the bears on Saturday. I bought them from 6060 on Etsy, a US-based Etsy store. 6060 gave me the best customer experience I've ever had online. Not only did I get upgraded shipping, but the eyes were shipped same day at noon. 6060 was also super duper awesome fixing the mess I made with the purchase --- made purchase BEFORE shipping changes were applied to the listing. Oops. Etsy seriously needs to add in the ability to pick a shipping preference, partly for people like me who get over excited and screw up, but mostly so those who offer a variety of shipping options can do so in the listing instead of in the shop policies. I will be ordering my eyes exclusively from 6060 hence forth. Now if I could just find an exclusive dealer for buttons...