As one year draws to a close i am super excited about the next for one main reason – ill get to that soon…
2016 started with a much needed change up in my business as i’d just suffered symptoms of severe stress at the close of 2015 which led to cancelling a lot of personalised orders. My business (then Babee Blocks) started back in 2010 doing mainly customised products and that continued through for 5 years, but which steadily got to the point of total overwhelm resulting in a hospital visit. I am not one to dwell on negatives so i took away whatever positives i could and made a lot of changes including no more personalised products.
I am now grateful for making those changes as it has resulted in a much less stressed lifestyle and little changes here and there in business direction. Stress affects our bodies in so many ways and it just keeps building and building while we keep soldiering on until one day it gets to much. I am now suffering physically and mentally (anxiety) from the direct result of stress and it takes time to recover – a lot of time. I cringe when i hear of businesses pulling all nighters to get orders finished and even then they aren’t making hardly any financial gain either, because prices aren’t high enough – i thought i was bad enough working until 11pm most nights back then so can’t imagine what working all nighters is doing to your own body let alone to your family and those around you. Of course i say this in hind sight but hopefully someone, somwehere will take it onboard and make changes now before it gets too much and causes some serious issues. I know what its like to feel like you can’t have a night off working let alone a whole day or weekend – and if you want to get out of this cycle feel free to message me.
I made changes for ME and for MY business not because i thought it was what i ‘should’ be doing or what customers necessarily wanted. It is super important in a business to do what’s right in yourself as that will shine through in return in what you do. Ive learnt to work ‘smarter’ not necessarily harder – perhaps that’s another blog post!
A major setback in 2016 however was finding one of my main products being copied and sold on the likes of Aliexpress in China. I was absolutely heartbroken to discover this as designs take months to go from an idea to release and continual sales. It absolutely makes me wild that people in countries like here in Australia are actually buying them as well – some even buying and on selling here – even on selling on sites like Etsy. I just don’t understand why customers are buying products from those sites at all for their kids – they are not safety tested and by the price are using poor fabric, probability toxic dyes, maybe child labour…. why aren’t they thinking of this when they buy?? I can’t fathom it at all. Oh and the design they’ve copied is even missing bits on their’s plus they use MY images to sell it! Its a constant battle now and cost a lot of money in lawyers fee’s and im sure a lot of potential sales. Just horrible. But i wont give in.
This year I got my teethers/toys independently safety tested to Australian and EU safety standards which i’m super proud of. I was always confident in my quality but wanted something ‘official’ i guess and that would set me apart from so many other ‘handmade’ business’s. There are so many around selling products who have no idea on the mandatory safety standards let alone have had them tested – its actually quite scary and i wish customers would ask more questions or were more aware that toy products need to comply to these standards to be sold so they can ask the seller.
I introduced some new playmat designs, cushions and toys such as the Lets Play mat and table top mat, lion rattle and softie, Wakul Mat and cushions (in collaboration with Yukul Art). I also started a little clothing range which was months in development as i created patterns from scratch and had samples out getting tested for a while before i released them. Which brings me to the coming year…..
2017 will be BIG! And this is because i am heading to off shore manufacturing! I am ridiculously excited about this turn as it will get me to where i want to go. I am still passionate about locally made but for me and where my goals are its really the only way to achieve them. I will still have several products being locally made at least for all of 2017 and my new line will be bought in during the year in stages. Its been a massive decision and one which wasn’t taken lightly and which has required a lot of thought processes! I will only use suppliers that are fair trade/ethical and GOTS certified organic for everything and my listings will clearly state this as well as any products that are still locally made. I will always be transparent about my products and will be ensuring they are of only the highest quality. If there is interest i may do a post on my reasons for heading in this direction.
So there you go – my year and what’s coming. What are your thoughts?