Thursday, May 16, 2013

I has the dumb - Explanation and Lessons learned

Here is the art design but with a 5 inch gap in front

On Sunday (Mother's day) I got a message from someone on Etsy that had their commission through another leatherworker fall through. They needed a custom armor jacket and they needed it for a convention (CON) in Chicago on Friday. Could I help them?  Thus begins the saga.
Yes, I can do it (Won't probably again without a rush charge and a custom job charge).  We chatted, we shared images, we discussed what could be done and what was wanted and we ended up agreeing that it was a strong possibility, which turned into a commission (YAY!). It was needed for ACen in Chicago on Friday, so it had to arrive by Thursday if they were still going to make it on time.
This took between 21 and 25 hours of work.  I did it around my day job.  I labored, Ray labored, and Kasha tried very hard not to pout that for two entire nights we pretty much ignored her.  Monday we worked till Midnight and Tuesday until 2:30 in the morning..and still had more to do on Wednesday which was my drop dead shipping date.  My total profit may end up being less than $10 and sadly, I am concerned that we did not end up creating exactly what was wanted.  Ray said the customer called with some concerns after we shipped it off and sent the final photo's and as of today we haven't heard a word confirming that it was received or that it fits.
Seriously. I worked my arse off and Ray's arse off and no one may be happy about this deal. I got nada, and the customer that I wanted so badly to help might be unhappy. That's what is bothering me so much.  But I have learned some integral lessons.
1) Don't sell myself short. I threw in shipping for free. And a Nerf Gun Holster (that turned out BEAUTIFULLY!). And didn't charge for the rush.  And I didn't charge for the custom commission.  And I ended up not charging him for my time...or less than a dollar an hour for my time...let alone Ray's.

2) Don't be nice/Don't be desperate. See above. I really wanted to be nice to this person, so I kept trying to sweeten the deal. And I think I really wanted to get a sale, so I threw myself under the bus to get it, when I should have priced it more reasonably for the supplies, work, and labor.

 3) COMMUNICATE.  With a custom job you can't be sure that the picture and the description you were given are exactly what they just can't. So next time I need to make sure I send more in-progress photo's and make sure that the person is getting exactly what they want.

4) Never take a custom Rush job on a completely new product.  If he had just wanted some bitchin shoulder pauldrons in a custom color with special pattern - EASY. I could have guaranteed his success and happiness.  With the rush I needed to put my head down and pull, working hard and long, rather than taking the custom work approach of sending each step in pictures and checking to make sure it would fit.  A custom job should have the customer trying on a paper version of the armor, should have adjustments as we work to ensure it's perfection...a Custom job and Rush job are not compatible in my work :(

5) Be happy with what you did. - Ray and I made some awesome armor. This jacket really is very cool and the nerf holster is amazing (I am sure Ray wants at least one of his own now).  The pattern for this armor will help me make others...and they will be awesome!

6) Learn and grow.  If I remember to apply these lessons I will have a better Etsy shop and be more effective as a business person.

7) Mr. Bear looks awesome in armor.

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