Now that we have a whole year behind us (wow!), there are several things we want to accomplish in the shop; they include: organization to increase workflow & productivity; staying well ahead of upcoming seasons & holidays; spending a set amount of time each night in the studio; strengthening our brand; cutting the fat (explained below); and staying active online.  Let's branch these out and get out what's in our furry minds for the upcoming year!

Organization

Photo of irons and art
Irons and art
During 2012, we had lots of storage bins in the studio that held other non-Bax Cat & Co.-related craft and art supplies.  These supplies were strewn around in various different storage bins and drawers throughout the room. 

Our fabrics and other daily use items for the shop were in bins and drawers that sometimes did not make the most sense; since we use these the most, it would make more sense to put them in bins that are more easily accessible. 

Admittedly this seems like a "duh" moment, but it is not something that time permitted us to tackle in 2012!

Good news!  The storage bin organization was completely overhauled over the weekend!  All different fabric types now have homes, and our day-to-day use items and materials are readily available.  There are now even drawers with labels on them to clearly show what is in what drawer, without even opening up the drawer. 

A bunch of little changes like this were made, but all totaled, they have a very nice impact on the space.  All of our fabric was taken out, re-folded, and then re-stored too.  It was nice to have everything out, to see old and new favorites together.
Photo of fabric rainbow
Fabric rainbow at Bax Cat & Co.
Next up: re-organize the bulletin board where all of the patterns are kept.  It would be great to see all the patterns in individual labeled bags, grouped together in a way that makes finding the different patterns a very easy task.  Putting them in bags will also prevent them from having push pin holes, allowing them to last a little bit longer.  This is a task that will be tackled this year; looking forward to this one!

Finding a new home for the thread spool holder is on the list, too; right now it is on a shelf, but it would be ideal to mount it to the wall a bit closer to the sewing table.  Moving it to the wall might also make the space a little more user-friendly.
Photo of spools of thread
Thread spool holder

Staying ahead

In 2012 we were primarily working on getting the shop situated: filling it with items, creating accounts online for it, etc. and not focusing too much on whatever the next upcoming holiday was (as bad as that sounds!).  We opened in January 2012, so didn't have to worry about the December holiday season until many months later.  Prior to the December holiday season, we aimed to get several new holiday-inspired items into the shop.  The holiday rush was so fun (loved seeing that much activity coming through)!

From that experience, we will definitely focus on stay ahead of upcoming holidays and seasons prior to their arrival, so that our shop has related items well ahead of time.  So far so good with that - all the Valentine's Day items are listed, and St. Patrick's Day-inspired items are waiting in the wings to list. 
Picture of Christmas tree catnip toy
Christmas cat toys
Picture of heart cat toy
Valentine's day catnip toys
Cat bandana
St. Patrick's day cat toys & cat bandanas, too! (coming soon)

Daily studio time

It may sound silly or (unintentionally) slacker-ish, but we have not been setting aside a designated amount of time each day to go into the studio and sew.  Spending one hour per day so far in January has freed up time on the weekends, has helped us create a bunch of new designs, and could be really beneficial in the long run. 

It's nice to have a set amount of time to work, because it makes us stay focused within that time frame: "Ok, one hour tonight will be spent cutting... drawing up new patterns... ironing... sewing... packaging..." etc.  Breaking it down into smaller daily blocks of time is a great tool to use (and we plan to continue to do so!)  Now weekends can be the perfect time to spend on taking and editing photos, and listing the items that we've made in any given week.

(Look at all of these tools for making us more efficient by leaps and bounds this year - exciting stuff!)

Strengthening our brand

Throughout the first year, we have really notice how great it looks when shops are branded across all online platforms.  When the same photos are used on FB, Twitter, Pinterest, as Etsy, you can really begin to recognize someone's shop (and brand presence) in each different avenue.  This also trickles down to matching brand packaging (stickers, business cards, etc). 

Things we did in 2012 for branding, and any changes we want to make in 2013:
- 2012: Had a banner made for the shop when it opened / 2013: new and improved banner is in the works, along with matching graphics to use.  We feel really good about this update!
- 2012: Had custom fabric labels made (see below) / 2013: continue to use fabric labels, they are a great addition to our items!  Need to look into whether the new graphics can be printed as the labels so that those match as well... branding!
Photo of fabric label Bax Cat & Co.
Our custom labels

Don't spread thin, but remember to trim the fat

Last year when started out, we signed up for a lot of different free avenues/accounts.  Each one offered a potential audience of people who were interested in our products and our mission (we were still learning how all of this stuff worked).  Lesson learned: spreading yourself too thin makes it nearly impossible to keep up with signing in and maintaining multiple accounts. 

Trim the fat; keep the accounts that work best for your shop's needs open and focus on those.  By spending more time with fewer accounts, it will allow those accounts to thrive (we're looking at you, trusty Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts)!  Our shop now has a very focused set of accounts that raise it up and help it thrive, instead of making us rip our hair out trying to keep up with a million other avenues. 

It took a while and a lot of diving in to figure out what different sites are best for the shop and run with those.  If there's one important thing we've learned, it's that we always need to keep evolving/changing/growing as our shop does. 

Who knows, our set of go-to sites will probably change somewhere down the line as the shop's needs change too.  We are ready for the ride!

Active online presence

Further to everything mentioned above, we think it's important to make sure our shop has a strong online presence (something we are constantly working hard at!). 

Elements and key parts to an active online presence to consider as we move into 2013 will be (in no particular order)
- Reach out and find blogs that would like to feature our shop or one of our items
- Find our stride (whether slow or fast) and keep the stream moving!  The visual of a stream through the woods is helpful - some areas it runs faster, some slower, but it's always so happy with whatever pace or bend it encounters!  And minnows, let's not forget the minnows!  (Disclaimer: no minnows will be used in any of our shop's items, it was a metaphor!)
- Try our best not to neglect our blog!  It's another great resource to use, and allows people to stay connected to the shop
- Continue to interact with fans and keep them informed of shop happenings (this includes FB, Twitter, and the like). 
- Active participation on Etsy teams

In conclusion...

...the first year of our brand's existence has been quite a fun learning experience.  We look forward to the years ahead with Bax Cat & Co., and will strive to stay productive through an organized space, keep ahead of holidays and seasons, spend dedicated time in the studio with fabric, maintaining a strong brand, trimming down accounts and staying focused, and staying active online! 

We hope you and your kitties are all having a great year so far; we thank you for your continued support & enthusiasm! =^-^=
1/17/2013 12:15:07 am

your products are darling and appear to be super well made and charming. LOVE the label...precious!

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1/17/2013 01:17:07 pm

Thanks Caren (and Cody!) you always leave such nice comments - much appreciated =^-^=

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