Sunday, November 15, 2009


So, I debated over and over about whether or not I wanted to blog about this. And finally I decided that I might as well. There have been other issues that I have dealt with that I blogged about and suddenly either felt better or got some good feedback from others to help me with the issue at hand. So, here goes… (warning: this is a long one, sit back & grab a glass of wine or a bevo)

For those who may not know, I started a custom children’s clothing line this time last year in preparation for quitting my “real”job. Idle time is not something that I have ever really been good at, and I also knew that I might still want some spending money of my own since the hospital feels the need to pay my husband less than minimum wage for the hours that he works. So, brownie-goose was born. I absolutely LOVE to sew, and I love to find fabrics that are so vibrant, loud and colorful and put them together in combinations that sometimes don’t make sense…but they make me happy. For a humongo ego boost, apparently I am not the only one that likes it since people continue to order from me. The things I make are a bit on the different side, definitely NOT traditional and just downright fun. You just can’t find stuff like that in Target and such, and sometimes you can find them in boutiques, but you will pay out the wazoo for it. Anyways, a star was born with brownie-goose and suddenly grew so much bigger than I ever, ever imagined. In other words, basically I have been tied to my sewing machine in any sort of spare moment I get since about June. I cannot complain really because I still enjoy it and it absolutely MAKES my day when someone tells me how much they love my stuff. I mean, it is like crack (well, I have never used crack so I really wouldn’t know, I’m just saying…) and it just motivates me to do more and more.

So, here I am…at a crossroads with brownie-goose. My husband said to me the other day “Amy, life is what is happening as you are looking forward to the future.” This came in context of when I was telling him that I wont be as nutty (haha) and the house will get cleaned and I will go back to cooking, etc. once I get through the Christmas orders. I mean, I cannot stand for people to tell me my business, especially when they are right. Life is happening, and I am slowly missing out on it while I am in my beautiful new sewing room. So, something needs to give. It has been in the back of my head for a while but I have been so stubborn and just keep letting it go thinking things won’t be this busy forever, right? Torn is about the only word for what I am feeling right now. I’m just absolutely, positively torn. What do I do? For those of my readers who are my biggest brownie-goose fans don’t panic…I am not going to stop. But I am at a point that reminds me of one of my favorite poems from high school literature (for those English buffs out there…forgive me for I know I wont get this completely correct but I am a math nerd, I like number and calculators) that talks about two roads diverge into a wood. Or something to that effect. So I have two roads diverging in front of me. One that I could take would have me scaling back BG to an extent. I will continue to do all my sewing (this is especially helpful for my control-freak manor) but only take specific amounts at a time. I haven’t worked out all the details, but scaling back is the main theme of that road. The other road is sparkly and shiny and has blinking lights when I think of it. Contracting out my sewing and going “big.” This allows me to do the trunk shows that I would love to do, it allows me to actually advertise my business instead of not carrying cards with me for fear of having more orders. It allows me to actually think about wholesale and getting my stuff in stores for the people that have asked. I mean, wow….wow…wow when I think of it. But, I also know that the grass is not always greener. I don’t know all the details of “going big” and am having the most awful time trying to find out information on it. I don’t know any seamstresses (other than friends, and I just don’t want to go there and risk the loss of a friendship) to ask about, the thought of a manufacturer sewing my stuff almost gives me a panic attack…and then, to think would my control-freak self actually be okay with things going out with my name on it without my seal of approval? Would I actually spend time fixing things that I didn’t feel were good enough? Can you kinda get an idea of what all is going on in my head? I just want a good, easy answer.

And then yesterday I went to talk to a lady at a local sewing shop that I just think the world of. She opened my eyes to what I knew my heart was telling me to do. Scale back Amy, keep it in your own hands in your own control. There is always tomorrow to “go big” but for now, keep it real. Keep it “small.” Keep it what I know and ignore all the flashy lights and billboards. So, I knew it. After talking with Ms. Bette, I knew what had to be done, but for some strange reason…I couldn’t accept it. I wasn’t ready for it to be final. I thought I’ve got plenty of time to mull this one over, just let it be and the right answer will make itself known. I am a huge believer of faith and letting the right things work themselves out, but I don’t always have the patience or ability to let go of the reins to let it happen. Then today I added 6 more people to the mailing list and had more emails of people asking when I would be taking orders again, these are people that aren’t already customers. So, I began to doubt my decision. How can I scale back when my customer base is growing? How do I only take orders from a fraction of my customer base? Oh my goodness, I just don’t know.

The funny thing is…I think it was this time last year that I posted a long blog about my uncertainties of quitting my job as a nurse and becoming a stay-at-home mom. I stuck with my gut on that decision, although I was scared to death to not work and be at home, and now I know it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Although I do miss the pediatrician that I worked for something awful on a daily basis. It all worked out okay then, and I know it will all work itself out now, I just don’t know what to do. I’m just torn.

Any takers??


Russ, Anna, Pepper and Vesper said...

Ok, here is my two cents, since you asked, LOL! I do not know you very well, outside of the blog world, but feel like I do. Strange how blogs make us feel like we truly know someone. I can understand how busy you must get sometimes with orders, really don't know how you do it all. I use to sew for Pepper and just don't have the time anymore!

Here are my thoughts on the "go big" theory, but this is not saying which way I think you should go. I agree that if you take this thing HUGE, you will be busier than ever!!!! I just think owning your own "business" that big, will not leave time for much anything else. You will be double checking every little thing, talking to the stores yourself and putting together advertising. These are all things you are not doing now, that in my opinion will take up as much time as sewing, if not more.

Ok, on the other hand, scale back, here is my idea. This may be something you have already thought of or even tried and not worked. What if you did one or two, or however many you decide, trunk shows a season and that is it?! You could get fabrics, design, everything ahead of time. Then either have a trunk show at your house or someone else's at the beginning of the season and that would be the only day and place you take orders. Then you would have a little time to get those orders out and be done with it for a bit, until the next season. Those that wanted some brownie goose would have to be there to make an order. Try it out, see how many orders you get, and do as many trunk shows as you could handle the orders.

Ok, those are my thoughts. Hope I didn't cross the line on giving too many opinions. Best of luck to you in your decision! You are right though, the right thing always seems to work its way outf

Sara said...

I really like that idea. Two or three trunk shows a year, maybe even a limited amount of orders taken... first come, first serve, no advance orders and you have to attend to order. If you can't come, tough, make plans to be at the next one. The exclusivity of it all could be a great boost to going "big time" eventually.
I also agree that owning and managing usually isn't a less time-consuming job. Could add work and definitely add stress. It could just mean that you could serve all your customers, but you yourself still wouldn't get a break.

handbags*n*pigtails said...

First of all, congratulations on building a successful business!You've done very well at what youre doing...thats a big blessing.
I know this crossroads youre at far too well.:) Ive been in those shoes a couple of times over the years, both from the corporate world and now with my own sewing business.
Of course no one can decide this but you(together with your hubby, Id imagine). But remember, as the gals above have said, when you take on that higher position, with it comes added responsibility.
Its so hard to think of "scaling back" when you have people knocking down your door asking for more. It feels great(and rightfully so) to have your work so sought after.
You have to do what is going to be right for you and your family. No amount of orders can replace how precious they are and how fast little ones grow up before we realized it was happening.Im experiencing that myself right now! Already mine are 4 and 6 and I cant tell you how that happened.;)
I'll say a prayer for you now.This is definitely BIG no matter which direction you decide to take. Wishing you the best and the right decisions for you and those you hold dear.

the heat said...

that poem you were talking about it robert frost...and he chooses the road less traveled by...(it's called "the road not taken"...haha). anyway, with that theme in mind, i would say you should scale back. the road less traveled is certainly not one that leads to mass production...and you seem to already realize that your personal imprint will become more and more diluted. since i am marxist (haha), i would say that becoming alienated from the product you produce will only create a distance that won't make you nearly as happy as you are now...YOU go straight into your work...and that's extremely rare these days...

Playing Sublimely said...

You should emphasize BEFORE you move in for sure ;)! Loved hearing from you reminds me to head your way...LOVE your blog!

Jason said...

From one stay at home mom to another (even though you do not know me & I am one of the recent adds to your list!) Remember the reasons that you decided to stay at home in the first place.
They grow up so fast!! My vote is scale it back...keep it small & when all your babies grow up & you are an "empty nester" you can take it big then if you still want to! What I would do is decide how much spending money I needed a month & only do that much work!!

I will say a prayer for you,
Nicole Hindman

Penny Ginn said...

Hmmm .... Amy leaving some of the sewing she loves so much in someone else's hands? I can't see happiness blooming there. I think the real answer is to the question, "Who am I trying to please? a) my customers, or b) myself and my family?" I vote for (b) and I think that's where your heart is as well. Yes, people will be disappointed that they can't get the Brownie Goose they want so badly. But you know, they'll get over it; if that's their worst disappointment, then they surely are blessed!

I'm so glad to see all your friends who are praying for you - I'll add you to my list as well. After all, that's the best source of advice, coming from God. (Now if I could just get Him to give his answers on a big billboard ...)

Love, Aunt Penny
(Yeah, I know this doesn't SOUND like me. I must've taken mushy pills this morning.)

Penny Ginn said...

Oh, and one more thought. If you opt now at the fork in the road to take Downsize Lane, that certainly doesn't preclude you from later in life taking a different road that leads to Bigtime Boulevard. "No" is not the same as "Never!"

Ashley said...

Two roads diverge in a yellow wood and I...I took the one less traveled by...

Wowzas. What a great problem! Here's my opinion: many would kill for the skills/talent you have AND you have fans and you don't want to lose them. Go big or go home. Just do it! I know you can! If you try to scale back, it will still take up all of your time and you will feel bad about it and take "extra" orders anyway and you will be stuck right back where you are again.

Just have fun making the samples and leave the work to someone else!

kosekcasa said...

Hey Amy...I'm kind of with Ashley on this one...go for it! But, I'm a go for it kind of person (and I know you are too). I can't sit still and I would never be able to scale back on something that had so much potential to be huge! I really don't know all the technical business that will go with going big, but for me this would be a dream come true.

Hamad & Kristin said...

well, Amy... that is a pickle... but a great pickle to be in! you are successful because you are super talented and because of your bright personality... so yay! i am of very little help though... i have no advice, except what you already are doing im sure... pray! you are on my list :) will be curious to see what road you travel... if you go the scaleback route you know there will be some serious catfights at the order desk of your shows! love, kristin

Hamad & Kristin said...

ps. i love your aunt penny's billboard idea... i hope God gets right on that :)

Jennifer said...

It all comes in time to those who believe!!!

Playing Sublimely said...

It sounds like maybe you are not as torn deep down as you think :)...I know, I have been there on this one!!! Really loved reading your thoughts!