A thinking, feeling, planning, legal, financial process

Mar 6, 2017

Maybe it’s the allergies talking, but today is one of those days where I’ve just been feeling really meh about this project, these kits and patterns for the quiet pages. 

For one thing, in order to use any of the non-fabric pieces (i.e. plastic buttons, magnifying glass, play money coins, etc.) I either have to pay to have every single item tested for lead content once a year (and obviously the test would have to come back clean) or I have to get statements from each of the manufacturers/distributors saying that they already do the testing themselves and they’re willing to share with me that they’re compliant for children’s products in the US. For sanity’s sake I’ve narrowed it down to two companies that seem reputable and worth working with.

It was three, but one of them has already failed me, claiming that the ages listed for the product were a typo on their website and that it isn’t intended as a children’s product. A little discouraging considering it’s a company that sells educational toys and tools intended for use in classrooms. I hate to call anyone a liar, but I’d be surprised if they were really telling the truth there.

Anyway, the other two companies have both been very polite and forthcoming and happy to work with me, at least in the conversations I’ve had with them over the phone. One company–the most promising so far–has even issued me a statement of compliance already and from other online research I’ve done they really do seem to be a good company that does their testing, but sadly for me, the statement was too general for me to be compliant and I had to ask for specific information for each of their 15 products I’d be using. It was one of those moments in life when you know exactly how annoying you’re being and you’re trying your best not to bother anyone, but really I’m just crossing my fingers they email me back with the info I need in order to use their products. Actually, it isn’t crossing my fingers so much as straight out praying for it. Though I’m not basing my testimony on their response.

Part of it feels completely backward to be trying to collect all these documents and things before I even start working on the digital pattern designs, but, really, if it turns out I can’t use these buttons or coins or magnifying glasses and I either have to find something else or give up on plastic parts entirely, then it’ll be an even bigger waste of my time to design patterns I’ll never get to sell. But in the mean time I’m playing a game of how long do I wait to call back and bother them again and risk them being willing to work with me at all.

Really, it would be infinitely less complicated if I just had all the designs be made entirely of fabric (which includes pretty much any kind of regular fabric, string, felt, velcro, etc.). Then I wouldn’t have to deal with these compliance statements or be so reliant on other companies. The downside is that it’d be felt coins in the piggy bank instead of plastic coins that are just plain more fun to play with. The backyard bugs page with the magnifying glass would go out the window entirely since both the magnifying glass and buttons are, ya know, not fabric. The rest of the pages would mostly just need minor changes, but maybe not be quite as cute and engaging. Which isn’t the end of the world and might very well end up being what I have to do, but there’s just a big sigh factor there.

On top of that, there’s the cost of start-up that feels a little daunting right now, especially when we just put a big chunk of money toward buying a house and we know there will be several more minor expenses related to the house that will add up. I know it probably seems like overkill to most people for me to want to hire a lawyer to organize the business and help me make sure everything’s set up right, but having done it backwards before (unintentional and uninformed as it all may have been), I just know now how much it’s worth to get that all squared away in the first place and make things easier and better organized from the start. But lawyers cost money and that cost feels a little on the crazy/frivolous side right now.

There’s also the cost of buying materials in bulk so I can actually put the kits together. Not that it wouldn’t be a good investment–I think it would–it’s just still a good little chunk of money all at once. And I suppose I could just get the patterns ready and release those before I have any kits to offer, but I just feel like I’d have better momentum if I offer the patterns and the kits all at the same time and offer a better variety to my customers from the start.

But is it worth it to wait to offer everything at once if it means I have to wait several months to get started? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little worried that someone could run off with my ideas and try to rip me off and sell them as their own. And with that kind of conscience and business know-how they probably wouldn’t be bothering with a lawyer or child safety compliance so of course they’d be up and running long before I would. And of course I could take down all of my ideas from instagram and hoard them away like a nervous squirrel, but if experience has taught me anything it’s that people who are going to steal are going to do it whether you hide your process and ideas away or not, so you might as well take Austin Kleon’s advice and show your work. The people who would follow you and care about what you’re doing and buy from you will just be all the more loyal and loving if you do.

And anyway, at least I’ve got apples and oranges on my side. (For those of you who haven’t read Austin Kleon or have and maybe just don’t remember that one specific chapter or sentence or whatever it is I’m referencing, there’s this part where he talks about focusing on things that no one else is thinking about. If everyone else is thinking about apples, go think about oranges.) It may be sewing patterns, which are common, and a children’s item, which is common, but the specific quiet pages (and even just keeping them as separate pages rather than a book) that I’ve been working on aren’t something I’ve ever seen before. And I’m certainly no expert, but I’ve seen a lot of things.

And then of course there’s also the fact that we’ll now be moving in just a couple months and having a baby very soon after. Not to mention Olivia will be home for summer break and there will inevitably still be lots of unpacking to do.

I’m afraid of two things. On the one hand, I’m afraid of starting this up and putting in all the work only to come to my senses and realize I’ve bitten off more than I can chew in trying to get this all going and ship out orders with a newborn and all that. On the other hand, I look back at the last year, even with all it’s out of state moves and up and downs–the year that I spent between starting on these quiet pages and thinking “hey, I could make patterns for these” before actually moving forward on any of it–and I’m afraid of letting another year go by. And then more likely than not, several more years and then it’s just a what if, wondering what opportunities for growth or learning or gain or fulfillment I might have had had I just taken the plunge and gotten through the crazy part at the beginning. And if I don’t do this does it mean I’m just going to walk away from this part of myself? Will I be afraid to start anything ever again?

This isn’t some fakey thing. I honestly don’t know which way it’ll go. I hope I can get it started and do it really well and have it be a fun and positive thing. But I also honestly don’t know where the start up money would come from right now or if I’ll be terrible at trying to design the digital patterns myself and I genuinely worry about it all coming out looking sort of lame and ok-ish. And perhaps even more than that I worry that if that were the case, people would still support me and tell me it was great even if it really wasn’t. It’s like worrying that maybe your baby won’t actually be cute, but knowing that you’ll love them too much to ever know and that nobody else is ever going to tell you.

I suppose my point in sharing all this and being so transparent about it is to say that it’s a process. It’s a thought process, a feelings process, a planning process, a legal process, a financial process, and then it’s a whole new process trying to actually make it all work. Even for something as simple as patterns and kits for quiet pages. And thinking about it all without knowing if I’ll actually be able to do it the way I want to tends to leave me feeling a little meh. Not that I don’t want to do it, just that it’s a lot to figure out and it can be mentally exhausting.

Add that to seasonal allergies and pregnancy and, well, there you go. And here I go to bed.

7 thoughts on “A thinking, feeling, planning, legal, financial process

  1. emcondiegmailcom says:

    I don’t have any great insights on this but I do think it is very admirable that you are taking all the time to make sure everything is done right. Even if you end up not finishing the project at this point in time, I still think that is really admirable. It would be easy, and I think a lot of people do this, to say “forget it, I’m just going to go ahead and sell these and probably nothing will happen so I won’t worry about it.” BUT, doing it right, really right, is admirable. Love you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • katielewisstudio says:

      Yeah, the legalness is a factor if I’m selling anything that’s intended to end up in a child’s hands. So if I’m selling a kit to make a quiet book, it’s ok to include a hand sewing needle & thread because they’re not intended for the child, but any buttons, zippers, play coins, etc that are intended to be part of the finished product for the child to play with have to be tested for lead content in order to be deemed safe for use by children in the US. The only way I wouldn’t be subject to all that is if I was selling patterns only (no kits). I could leave a list of materials suggestions, but even that I just personally don’t feel good about doing if I can’t get confirmation from the companies ahead of time saying that their products have been tested and are indeed safe.

      Like

  2. kathyhaynie1954 says:

    When you were 4 and I was in my 2nd year of college and looking at THREE MORE YEARS if I actually went through the whole education process–and let me just interject here that I NEVER intended to become a teacher because I was NOT going to be like my mother– not that I didn’t love her and all, but I wanted to be my own person–I was talking with a friend about my options and she said, “Well you’re going to be 3 years older no matter what you do, so why don’t you do what you really want?” In other words, don’t give up on the process just because it’s longer than you wish it were. Over 20 years later, I’m so glad and grateful that I took her advice. Following through on that long and challenging process of getting my degree (and raising 5 of the best kids in the world and getting a divorce and you know, living life) not only poised me to do work that is meaningful for me all these years, but it has changed who I am and how I see myself and others. We never get to see the end from the beginning because it’s never the end anyway, it’s just the next step. Loved reading about your thoughts and this whole complex process in this post! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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