Today's feature is from a fellow dyer who I have respected for years.
It's incredibly hard to balance your business with a day job and still come out on top. It's hard work and at times stressful... but it really can be done. Steph continually strives to push her business forward by putting the work in and always putting her customers first!
Let Me Introduce To You Steph from Perran Yarns.
1. What inspired you to start Perran Yarns and how did you make it happen?
As with lots of micro-businesses, my love of my hobby gradually drifted into a business. My Etsy shop was originally named Loophole, selling my ready-made hand knit and crochet accessories and my original patterns for them. I started to dabble with handdyed yarns for myself, then listed one or two in my shop. I loved the handdyeing process and results - I always wanted to be able to paint and draw but didn’t like the results on paper, so this was my version, painting on yarn, and I love these results! The yarns really took off, so I now focus on them almost entirely and have changed my shop name to Perran Yarns. It’s named after Perranporth beach which we live so close to & love to spend time there watching the glorious sunsets.
2. What’s the most difficult part of being your own boss?
Time - there’s never enough of it. I always have so many more ribbons to package, photos to take, items to list, colourways to try, etc than there could possibly be time for. At an overview level, I don’t often get chance to look at the big picture and plan ahead, which I know I need to. I now make sure I have Friday evenings off, when I sit in the lounge with my husband, a glass of wine & usually some chocolate, to watch a film for a couple of hours together. It really helps to switch off from it all for an evening.
3. What has been your biggest shining moment so far?
Attending the latest Cornwoolly event here in Cornwall in March. It was a brand new wool and fibre show so none of us knew what to expect, but it was amazing! It’s such a fantastic feeling getting lovely comments about the yarns from customers, seeing them sharing pictures of them on social media, seeing finished projects, and getting wonderful feedback. It always gives me a boost when somebody loves my handdyed yarn so much that they want to buy it!
4. How do you plan your business to work alongside your day job?
I work in IT 4 days a week, and Friday is my dye day! I always make sure that customers know exactly when they can expect to receive a custom dye order, or when something will be back in stock. I stick to that as much as possible, and always notify customers when delays happen. I think good communication is vital for happy customers.
I have the ‘Sell on Etsy’ app installed on my mobile phone, so I can respond to customers messages quickly, even if it’s to tell them that I’m at my dayjob and will get back to them in the evening.
I also encourage communication with retailers etc by email, so I can respond in the evening rather than trying to respond to telephone calls in the day when I don’t have the required information to hand.
Each year I review the shows and events that I’ve attended, and check the costs against income to see if it’s worth booking for the same show the following year. Events take up a lot of extra time in preparation for sales and re-organising family commitments, as well as the time there, so I attend only a handful of shows that have proven to be worthwhile previously. I also always keep looking to see if there are bigger or more focused shows that I can try.
5. How important is it to you to set business goals?
It is important as I’d like my business to grow steadily, at a rate I can cope with whilst still enjoying the whole process. It’s difficult to allocate time for planning as well as keeping up with the making and promoting aspects, so it tends to happen sporadically. That’s something I need to change going forward!
6. What is your next business goal?
To get my email list up and running. I’ve done the initial setup, but now I need to put a schedule together of what I’m going to send out and when. I’ve heard mailing lists recommended many times, and now I need to add it to my routine.