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.