This time of year I always do some ruminating on my business plan and how I can do a better job at B'sue Boutiques:
I think about how the decisions I make affect the people here, who have my back. Like this guy:
Here's Rob who never misses a day of work, even if the weather is terrible. He is my nephew. He does all the computer maintenance and a lot of the shipping, and some of the inventory. I can count on Rob to always be patient and make me smile, even in a crisis.
And this guy, who doesn't work for us....but who really does, in the long run. He's the guy that fixes everything and patches up everything that goes wrong. This is my husband, John, shown last summer taking apart the old picnic table where I used to sit in the summertime....and make jewelry. It was kind of a sad day, seeing that table full of old memories, go.
Did I ever tell you, John used to be very heavy? He was a really large man. One day after he had had a heart attack, he realized that he had to do something drastic. A life of yo-yo dieting hadn't helped him. He elected to have gastric bypass surgery, and went from 309 to 175. He is very diligent, and he will never be heavy again. He is now a skinny, skinny man!
He says he did that for me, because I need him, so he has to be well and healthy to help me. He even does most of the cleaning here!
Then there's this fellow and his wife:
My son, Jordan, and his wife, Lauren.
You may have seen Lauren in the video we made after we got back from our last buying trip. (That can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJrK_qg_V4g
This May, they will be married five years, and she'll have been working here five years. Jordan came about three years ago. He is my head shipper and does a lot of the number-crunching....and pretty much anything else that needs to be done, including hold me up when I'm about to fall down!
And then....there is Shelley:
Shelley says she is NOT my best friend, that there is no way to define our relationship. That's probably true. She's like a best friend, big sister, mother!....all in one. She has been with me since 1999 and is my office manager.
They all deserve my best.....and so do YOU.
I really appreciate the support you have given our little enterprise, and I am always looking for ways to make what we do better for YOU, even though we don't have the bells and whistles the big box craft sites have, or the household names.
I don't believe we have to be big to do a great job, and be a trusted, reliable resource.
B'sue Boutiques is like the Shop Around the Corner, where you can come and get some good conversation, some stuff you need, some new ideas, and a pat on the back---a place to come and feel good. **I am commited to promoting the work and enterprise of those artists who use our products.** If you share pix of things you are doing with our goods, many times I will put them on Facebook, in my newsletter, in my blog.
Some of the changes at B'sue Boutiques for the next year will be that we are going back into print advertising, as well as continuing with social media. I am working now with a remarkable graphic artist, Cyndi Carlson, to make some great ads that pop and that feature new product every time. There is also a space to feature something *I* have made.
After we do several runs with the new ads, I am going to cull a photo from the B'sue Boutiques Creative Group (with the owner's permission) that I feel represents B'sue Boutiques and feature that artist in our print advertising, with full credit. I will announce when I plan to do that. The ads would appear in Belle Armoire Jewelry, Jewelry Affaire, and Stringing.
My web designer, Lucas Bernesser of Addsight,LLC will be making changes to our home page once again. Some of our colors are about to change, and the logo will be streamlined.
There will be banners with links on the front page that will swap out every 30 seconds, to highlight new goods as well as our YouTubes and the Creative Group. Project Ideas will become TUTORIALS, and the material inside will be organized by subject.
Some of the photos on the site will change and we will break out more categories, as well, for easier navigation. One new category we hope to introduce very soon will have to do with best-sellers and beginner's lots/kits, as well as bulk goods. Hopefully all these things will be implemented by January, some sooner.
NONE of the perks we currently offer are going away. ;-)
Our shipping is 3.95, flat fee, ANY size order shipping in the US up to 100.00. If your order is 100.00 and shipping inside the US, you get FREE SHIPPING.
If your order is 100.00 or over you also get TEN PERCENT OFF. No code is needed; this applies to everything on the website, right across the board. It pays to load up your cart at B'sue Boutiques! Free shipping and the ten percent off is a chunk of money back in your pocket! If you are outside the US, the discount will help you to offset shipping costs.
Did you know that if your order is 500.00 or more, you get 15% off?
I honestly don't spend much time the rest of the year checking out other supply sites because I have my hands full with my own. Besides, I am not interested in copying anyone else's business plan or in trying being like them.
I did notice, however, one site that promised to give you 75 pieces of product (stampings) if your order was 500.00. I can't say, but I wouldn't think that's 75 pieces of expensive filigree, LOL
At our site, an order of 500.00 in the US would get 75.00 DOLLARS off, and free shipping, too. You could take that 75.00 savings and choose your own goods, and get the stuff you really need, with your next order. Hmmmm.
Also, we still send the little treats and small samples with every order, and when your order is 50.00 or more, we send tea (Organic Tea by Kate, when we have it on hand!) goodies and larger samples. Could be something clearance, something vintage, or something that just arrived. Anyway, it's truly free, a gift from me to you.
Some have noticed that our prices have gone up in the last year or so. I regret it was necessary:
brass went up 75% in the last two years.
Russian goldplate and silverware silverplate carry HUGE surcharges because the plating bath is high-content precious metal.
Ice Resin has gone up. I will keep the price where it is, however, til 2012.
Our finishes are industry best, by design. I didn't scout out a cheap finish so that I could maximize profits. Why? Because I want the best for my work. Why should I keep all the high-end stuff to myself and throw a lesser finish out there for you? No way! You want the best, too....and you shall have it.
That's why we discontinued our old pewter ox finish (for the most part---we still have a few cuffs done in pwox), also our old gunmetal, which was a crummy finish--most glossy gunmetal is, quite frankly awful!--it is brittle, ghosts (iridizes) and is full of nickel. I did without a black finish until we started the Rusty Black which is one of the most versatile finishes on the market....it's nickel free AND! it has a copper core. We discontinued most all of our old silver semi ox, which was quite nice and more economical....but NOT the quality of silverware silverplated finish. I have not seen an antique goldplate ANYWHERE that measures up to our Russian goldplate.
I've been in this business 23 years. I have seen trends come and trends go, rock stars ascend and then disappear. I'd like to be the constant, the one you can count on. I'd like to offer you what I have learned from all these years of banging my head. IT IS possible to do what you love for a living.
It will work out better with diligence, patience and humility. You will wake up in the morning ready to learn and grow---and enjoy!!-- instead of worrying about what the guy next to you is doing. I think that's the biggest lesson I've learned, and I'm still learning it.
I appreciate all your input throughout the year and while I can't implement every suggestion sent to me, I listen carefully to them all and consider each one. Why?
Because YOU matter.