It’s October 31. That means it’s my daughter’s birthday and it’s supposed to be the last day of my 31 day series. I’ve missed a few posts because of some guest posts that fell through, but I do have one more post for you tomorrow.
For today, I have one more interview for you. We’ve talked about several different business models, and I didn’t want to close out the series without giving you a glimpse into the world of selling physical products online. In particular, we’ll be talking with my friend Caroline Allen, of Deborah & Co.
She’s got some interesting things to share so we’ll get right to it.
What are the basic start-up costs?
I started with $1,000 to invest in fabric and website fees for Deborah & Co. It can be expensive up front to invest in wholesale fabric, but you get better prices overall. That is a very small investment, but I have had to come up with significant money since than to grow the business. At that time it was nowhere near capable of providing for our family, it was just a little side hobby.
What ongoing costs can I expect?
I am continually investing in new products, paying my seamstress, and I have year website fees for my shopping cart. It is important to keep money set aside for all these costs, and keep money back to invest in new fabric and inventory as you need it. I also have an employee hired that comes and ships all our orders, so I need to make sure and have money to pay her.
What skills are required?
It is not imperative to have sewing skills, but very helpful. I started out the business doing all the custom skirt orders myself. Once the business grew I then hired someone else to do it. Computer skills are a must, as well as a good personality for dealing with customers.
Tell me about the learning curve.
It was hard learning how to set up the shopping cart. I spent time reading tutorials, on the phone with customer service. I think most people could easily learn it though. The hardest part is trying to learn how to manufacture items in mass (something we are just getting into), deciding what your size is for your company, and learning the design lingo.
You earn what you put into it. Starting out a few hundred dollars extra month was great, now it is obviously more than that, if it supports our family. Even now it wouldn’t be quite enough if I wasn’t also a blogger, and doing great as a consultant with Lilla Rose. It takes time to build your business and bring in the income.
What are the time requirements?
I pretty much set my own hours. Can you give us a picture of a “typical week”? Sunday afternoon I generally take pictures for my Modest Monday link up and get that post ready in the evening. Monday I try to catch up on emails. Wednesday our shipping employee comes over, so I have to spend time printing off all the orders, making sure everything is clean and organized for her to come. Then we run the packages to the post office (normally getting there 5 minutes before closing!). During the week I have to blog, answer business questions with Deborah & Co. and Lilla Rose, and see if I need to order more inventory.
What are the general pros/cons
The Pros are that the business has huge potential, and I hope to keep expanding it. I love what I stand for (modest fashion) and hope to be able to offer even more clothing in the future. It is a job that I can do from home, with my children there with me.
The cons are that it does take a lot of time, and I’m not able to keep up with the house and the meals as I would like. We do more workbooks with our homeschool, and I would like to incorporate more Living Books in our school days. I hope to be able to slow down next year once my husband graduates, and be able to spend more time with my children actively doing things with them.
Caroline Allen is blessed to be a wife to her beloved Sean, and mother to five children. She was home schooled all of her life by her precious godly mother, and now has started the whole adventure over again with her own children! Having been raised with a heart towards modesty, she started Deborah & Co., a clothing company that offers maternity, women, and girl clothes. Caroline is also a consultant for Lilla Rose where you will find beautiful hair clips. She would love to visit with you at her Blog, The Modest Mom and chat with you on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.