From the beginning of my journey as a business owner, I never really sat down and asked myself what I wanted my business to be. I kind of stumbled into it, making decisions as I went, treating it more as a hobby than anything else. Five years on, when I decided to change directions and create Gather & Moss, I got a little more clear on what I wanted to create, but I still never thought it through as much as I could have. I knew I could not keep up with the sewing any more. I knew I wanted to create something that blended my passion for the environment with a desire to teach our children about the world. I knew I wanted to send that message via pyjamas and I wanted my pjs to be Australian made. I did not go much further than this, but I think that is totally normal - what we want evolves over time and half the time we don't even know what we want until we are in the thick of things.
This year though, after a series of unfortunate (and expensive) errors in the production of my first collection I have realised a number of things, which have really helped to crystalise what I want from Gather & Moss. What I want it to be and what I want it to create for me. So here is my list to myself (which I thought you may also enjoy); What kind of business I want to create........
1) I don't ever want this business to be more than just me. I don't want to hire people. I don't want my products to be sent out from a distribution center and to go from a factory to you without ever being touched by my hands. I actually want to pack every order. To check every order. To see what I have created before it is sent off to its new home. Despite a move to outsourcing our production, I want to stay right in the business.
2) I don't want to have huge clearance sales at the end of every season (sorry about that), because I need to "get rid of stock". To give you a bit of insight into this one, I am not a hoarder. I am a "if I haven't used it in 6 months, off to the op shop it goes" kind of gal. SO the idea of having boxes and boxes of stock sitting in my home that I need to work really hard to move is just not me.
3) I don't want to wholesale. For a start I can't afford to with the prices of manufacturing in Australia. I would also like to focus on producing small amounts rather than increasing my quantities to lower my production prices, which means I need to bring on wholesalers to be able to move all of my stock. I would rather pay those higher manufacturing prices and have my pjs exclusive to me and be free to produce in small amounts
Enough of the don'ts. Here is the kind of business I have realised I do want:
1) I want to grow a community of loyal clientele who know that what I stand for is great quality, ethical production, transparency, unisex and fun designs that teach our children about the world. I want people to love our prints and designs but i want it to mean more than just that.
2) I want to stay small. I want to produce a limited amount of fabric each season and once that fabric is made into pj, that's it, its finished. If that means my production prices remain higher because I am producing small amounts, that is ok. The point here is minimising waste and producing what you need and what people want. I want to work out a system that will allow me to sell these limited seasons without me having to put them on massive clearance sale and try to "get rid of them".
3) I want my pjs to be exclusive to me. This is in part to do with costs and the difficulty of building wholesale pricing into high manufacture costs, but mostly because i want to be able to tell the story of Gather & Moss my way. To make sure that the purchases people make are meaningful and personal to me, because every one of them is packed and sent off by me.
4) I want to work out the income I would like to earn from Gather & Moss, translate this into a number of pieces that need to be made and sold, and slowly work my way up to making that number of pieces. I want to work out that magic number of producing just the right amount of stock so that it can be managed by just me.
5) I want to have a set of ethics at the core of my business that i can refer back to whenever I am struggling over decisions.
6) I want flexibility. I want to be able to run this business on my terms and in my way. I want to be able to change things and make decisions without consulting anyone else.
SO there it is. My manifesto to myself (and to you), so on those tough days when it all seems too hard and I cannot even remember what matters to me, I can read through this and remember what I am trying to create xxx