February 10, 2015

Good Hair Cards: Running a business, not a charity Part II

"But all I have is $200 for my logo." 

At least once a week, I hear this. Someone wants a good hair cards illustration as a logo and they expect me to spend 10-40 hour creating something unique just for them for $100.00. But this person's attitude reveals they neither value my time or my skills. Time is money, and I can't waste my time working for less than the minimum wage. So I no longer do custom work because it doesn't pay in this new global economy where many want logos for $20 and many more who will do it for $20 (nothing original of course, but that's another story). Yet any business person that expects to get a logo for such a cheap price is someone who won't be in business for long and he/she is definitely not a client I want. Cheers.

February 7, 2015

Good hair cards: A frightening story…

I met a thirties something woman at a department store. We started talking, and she told me she had been unemployed for three years before she was hired temporarily by a department store for the holiday season. She had been an IT worker and administrative assistant for 20 years; but when the economy collapsed in 2008, her job was downsized to part-time, Eventually, she was laid off in 2011. Since then she’s been looking for a full-time job. Yet few companies wanted to hire a long-term unemployed worker even with the best credentials.

The woman said she had applied for a retail sales position three times at the same department store before they finally hired her for the holiday season. Although the job was minimum wage, she was grateful for the position and she made the best of it. Most of her co-workers were in the same boat. They were middle-aged and had careers in other fields that vanished with outsourcing. All were hoping to stay on the job after the holidays, but the store let them all go claiming they had to adjust their budget before anyone could be hired permanently.  The woman looked enviously at the sales clerks. How could she end up like this? Wanting a minimum wage job? Was it really better than nothing? Yes, because all her work experience and college education meant little in this jobless economy.

I felt a chill listening to her story. I had seen this coming 35 years earlier when my father retired early because his factory job had gone to China. I knew it was only a matter of time before white-collar jobs would be outsourced, and I was right. Starting a small business may be the answer for some, but corporate America has broken faith with the American worker and they have forgotten that when we all do well, we all do better. Something is going to happen and it ain’t going be pretty.

It is conversations like this that made me glad I started Good Hair Cards when I did. No, I don’t make enough money from this business to support myself full-time. I still work part-time. But Good Hair Cards is on the right path for now. It will be two years old in April, and I’ve learned a lot about which products sell and which one did not and how to sell and not sell. These days I no longer waste time on social media because it seems as if everyone is marketing a product on Facebook and Twitter. Direct sales work for good hair cards and I have plans to expand my products and reach this spring.

Before we parted, I encouraged this woman to take advantage of every government program she could find to re-educate herself and not to be ashamed of accepting help. After all, when those greedy Wall Street bankers nearly ruin our economy, we taxpayers bailed them out. Now it’s time for Main Street to get their bailout if needed. She is very fortunate to live in New York City where we have a local government that supports small businesses and gives temporary income support to those who need it. I wished her the best. Cheers.

February 4, 2015

I'm running a business, not a charity.

Occasionally, I will do a friend or acquaintance a favor and do some design work for their business. Although I make sure they understand I usually charge a lot more for the work I do, without fail, these same folk will come back and want me to do twice or three times the work for the same low fee. They just don't seem to understand my time is money as well as the skills and tools I use to create my illustrations and graphic designs. Sometimes a job may take 10-40 hours to create, and I don’t work for the minimum wage. After all, I live in Manhattan and as Jimmy McMillam would say, “the rents are too damn high.”

One acquaintance happy with the illustration I had created for his/her business wanted me to do a second illustration he/she wanted to re-sell on a product. This new job involved three times the work I did the first time so I wasn’t all that keen to do it. Besides, I knew this person did not understand the licensing fees involved in creating an illustration for re-sell. I also knew the person did not have the funds to pay for this project. So I simply doubled the fee because of the licensing.

Surprise, surprise, this person was shocked. “But how can you charge me more when I might be able to sell it?”

I did this person a big favor. The product the person wanted to sell probably would not have sold well anyway. Too many people think it’s easy to produce something and people will just buy it because they think people will buy it. All products require research and development to determine if there is a market large enough to make a profit from it. 

I met people all the time who think they will make a lot of money selling tee-shirts only to discover they are left with a large inventory and few buyers. Producing a product is just the beginning. Marketing is another financial investment and without it, your business is not going anywhere. Think about it. Cheers 
from Jeanetmarie of Good Hair Cards.com

February 2, 2015

Introducing Good Hair Tote Bags

I had thought about designing a tee-shirt line, but tee-shirts can be difficult to produce and market and one has to worry about ordering various sizes and storage.

Printing on demand (POD) was an option, but it's relatively expensive per unit (as much $30 a shirt for retail). And most POD printers needs at least 5 days before orders can be printed and shipped to customers. That is five days too long in the retail world. I've worked as a sales associate at a large department store, and often customers were not willing to buy a garment unless it could be shipped right away.

Also, my experiences with POD printers were uneven. The more expensive ones ($21 a tee-shirt before you add on your margin) were great, while the least expensive ones were awful. I just couldn't take the risk of having a printer mail a client a tee-shirt that was off color or smelled heavily of chemicals like the shirts I received from Your Digital Creator.net which specializes in cost low DTG printing. The shirts printed by this company were inexpensive, but they were not retail quality.

So for now, I've abandoned the idea of doing tee-shirts until I can do some more research and development on the idea. Tote bags seem like a better idea since more women will use a tote bag than wear a tee-shirt. I currently have three more tote bags planned for the spring depending on how well the Keep Calm and Stay Natural bag does. Cheers.