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I'm going to attempt my first 5k this spring.
Even being a vegetarian for nearly 18 years, I'd seriously have to stop and think of which I'd seriously choose. That's how much running has never fit into my life.
So choosing to run in a 5K is a pretty big deal for me because I never thought I'd ever come to this day where one of my goals was to run. I always just assumed I'd buck up & run if I was being chased.
I'd see people running as I drove passed them & always thought, "Power to them, I could never do that". Well, I guess now I'm hoping to do that!
So now you're probably wondering, "well then, why the heck are you going to attempt this if you hate it so much?"
Great question. Like so many other people, I want to drop the weight. I want to become a healthier version of myself. Running can help me get there. One thing I like about running (right now this might be the only thing), is the fresh air. I get to get up, get out and breathe in freshness. That's good for my soul.
I also want to challenge myself & try something new. Sure, after this, I might still hate it. But what if I actually enjoy this? I hear of the mythical runners high & I want to find that suddenly. I need to not knock it until I truly try it. Yes, I've run before but only in gym class when we had to and I graduated high school nearly 9 years ago. So I'm going to give this a good, real try so that way I can truly profess my feelings on running.
I think those are solid enough reasons & motivational points for myself! Don't you?
So, the first thing I did was recruit some of my favorite people to do this with me, all non-runners. I've always found that working together in this type of situation is always better. You can encourage each other, workout together, have somebody to talk to when you have a bad day or get a high five from when you hit a milestone!
But here's my thing, where do I even begin now that I need a game plan? Obviously one of my first steps is to do research. I mean, I need to start slow, very very slow; ease my way into this. But how slow is the right slow? Is there a right place to even start?
How much do you actually run in your first week? What additional workouts should be done? What kind of diet should I be following? I have so many questions which means I'll be seeking out advice from those who have been where I am on top of research. And then it'll all begin before I know it!
So join me on this journey from a person who loathes running to a person who actually might enjoy a good run! Who knows!
If you have advice, please, leave it here in the comments! If you're a new beginner too, lets work together to make this happen!
WELL, WHAT A YEAR IT HAS BEEN...
2015 for me in so many ways was a year where I needed to refigure pretty much everything out. It was a year for me where I needed to readjust, find my footing and move forward. 2015 was my year to step up.
Love Struck was one of my very first things I had to reassess. Keeping a stocked inventory & booking shows just wasn't giving me the kind of business I was aiming for. It became increasingly more difficult to figure out what people wanted with what I was doing. Events were so unpredictable & throughout the year in my area, they weren't steady. Yes, the holiday season was jam packed but a June show was so hard to come by. So what did I do in June when there were no shows & the inventory on my website wasn't selling?
So, 2015 meant I had to completely change the way I ran my business.
It was beyond intimidating going from what I was comfortable with for numerous years & jumping into a whole new plan. But I figured, I had to give something new a fair try. So one magical day, Love Struck turned from your ordinary online store to a custom based business.
That meant, I had to readjust my entire website & the entire structure of how I approached potential customers. But after I took that leap of faith, I found that my business grew tremendously. Not only was I creating orders as I went, which for me was easier than stocking inventory at bulk rates, but the number of returning customers increased too. Those were 2 of the biggest goals I had had when I started Love Struck. To start seeing those results happening steadily, made me proud.
One of my overall goals was to sell more T-shirt quilts. They just might be my favorite item to create. I find that T-shirt quilts are so personal, they tell a story & for me, it's a great way to get to know my customer. But because of the more pricey nature of them, they weren't one of the go to items for my customers. But late this year out of nowhere, I was making numerous each week! One client alone, I made 3 for! This was huge for me! Word of mouth is a tremendous asset & it has allowed me to now have T-shirt quilt orders lined up for next year too!
Another aspect of Love Struck I wanted to focus on this year was my Etsy shop. What's great about Etsy, is it broadens my reach. Not everybody knows who we are & by searching T-shirt quilts, mugs or party decorations on Etsy, they're going to learn more about us! I've had an Etsy shop since 2012 but didn't really utilize it until now. Adding the majority of my products to Etsy has driven more traffic to my website & has increased my sales with certain items. Mugs & party items have been selling better at my Etsy shop than on my regular online store! There is still room to grow here, and I'm excited about growth in 2016!
Speaking of mugs, that was one product who's popularity seriously increased in 2015. The engagement mugs were always a pretty popular product, but expanding my product choices is always a time consuming thing, so I had to find time to do this. But when I did, creating more couples mugs & adding solo mugs and group mug sets, has been a great choice! Solo mugs & group mugs have been doing great, they've been getting tons of hits on both my website & my Etsy shop & I've shipping mugs all over the country this past month!
So overall, 2015 was a great year for Love Struck even with so much transformation happening! Being where we are right now wouldn't be possible without you guys! So THANK YOU!
But I still have a lot that I want to accomplish in 2016. Here are my top goals:
-Grow Facebook followers to 2,000; grow Instagram followers to 750 & Pinterest followers to 1,000
-Increase regularity of our blog up to 1-2 times a week, every week
-Work on growing sales for every product & adjust or eliminate products that are lagging
Here are some 2015 product highlights:
I had an interesting conversation the other night with my mom in regards to the pricing of my products. She was worried my prices for many items were too high. I have recently adjusted many of the prices of my products. Some products, the price decreased, and others the price went up. There's a reason for it all.
I had completed a t-shirt quilt for a friend of my moms before I changed the prices of the quilts, so her friend paid a pretty reasonable price for a 24 T-shirt quilt with extra large patches. After completing this quilt among other t-shirt quilts is when I decided the price was just not where I needed it to be as a business owner.
The thing about T-shirt quilts especially, is that they are very time consuming. It takes roughly 1 hours worth of work per T-shirt. So, a 24 T-shirt quilt will take me anywhere between 20-24 hours of hand work. I could skip out on a few steps, but that would compromise the quality & then your quilt just won't last as long as it can & should. I refuse to compromise quality of your order in order to save myself a few hours.
So I broke the price down. I realized that after the countless hours of work, the cost of the backing of a quilt, the interfacing (which prevents your t-shirts from stretching over time) and thread, I was only making $5 an hour.
$5 an hour for really hard work that not everybody could sit down and do. When I said that to my mom, she was astonished. How many people who could control how much they make in an hour would actually work for just $5?
Pricing my products is hands down the most difficult thing for me. Often, I get so stressed out that I have my sister do it for me. But a lot goes into the price of each product I create. I think of first, well how much would I pay for a handmade item like this? What are other places; retailers & other small businesses selling this for? What price can I keep it at that will make my time worth while creating this product?
All of those factors have caused products to no longer be made and they have opened the door to other new products. It's such a delicate process for me to choose a price of an item & I don't take it lightly.
When you order from a small shop, whether it's a small boutique in your neighborhood or from an Etsy shop, you have to think about what goes into all of this? Chances are, you might be spending a few extra bucks, but those few extra bucks go a much longer way than you think. But then again, the prices might surprise you.
For example, I searched Walmart's website to compare coaster prices. A set of 4 coasters, handmade & customized from me is $8. The least expensive on their website, was $13.33 for a generic set of coasters.
Or I compared our Makeup Case prices to those at Victoria's Secret. You can get a large makeup case from us for $10 or a large case from them for $24. For $25 from us, you can get a makeup case set of 2, a coordinating tissue pouch & a sunglasses case. Just one more example; let's compare some prices of notecards. All of our notecards for any occasion are $2 each (prices will decrease if you order multiple), where the average cost at Hallmark for one card is $3.49.
Sometimes us small businesses can surprise you!
Small businesses have the ability to work directly with customers in a way that large retailers just can't. All of my products can be customized & the majority of them require me & my customers to talk. I work with you all for customization, whether that is picking out fabric for a makeup case, adding wedding dates to engagement mugs or discussing a plan for T-shirt quilts, I am here for you.
Working directly with my customers is a big part of the reason why I love doing what I do. It makes creating each product even more special for me. My local customers I will often meet in person for delivery & seeing the expression on their faces is priceless. Having repeat customers or talking to customers who were referred to us is a feeling like none other.
So next time, if you have some shopping to do, skip the chain & check out what a small business can offer you. Give us a chance. Don't just assume you're always going to pay a ton more for products. Sometimes you might, sometimes you won't.
And before you critique the price from a small business, ask yourself;
what goes into this made to order item?
to learn more about supporting small business vs large business, click here!
My name is Kristina and I'm the founder of Love Struck. Read about how Love Struck came to be, see how I make it happen or just read a random thought I just might have! Anything can happen at our blog & I wouldn't have it any other way! It's time to get Love Struck, and what better way to start than right here!