blog, shop

Fall Back To Work

After a hectic move and a good deal of poison ivy — hello there country life! — pen&thimble is back open with ready to ship crowns, bibs, teething toys, and placemats. (All CPSC compliant because handmade should be made with love, quality, and safety in mind.)

Want to see our new digs? Still a work in progress, but the new studio has a great view, a hanging plant, toys for the girls!

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Want to see more? Check out the video from the live studio tour on our Facebook page. Or pics and daily behind the scenes on the My Story feature of Instagram.

And if you are looking for a stylish drool-stopper for your baby or toddler, shop our new fall organic cotton prints on Etsy: www.penandthimble.com

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So excited the shop is back open! So excited to show you the new ideas I’ve been working on! Stay tuned!

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A pen&thimble Christmas Story

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My 3 year-old daughter told me a Christmas story and I’d like to share it with you all…

I’m going to ask Santa for you, mom, for Christmas. Then my mommy and daddy and my baby are going to say, “What did Santa bring you?” And I’m going to say, “YOOOOOOU!”

So there are two ways my overtired brain can think of to interpret this story:

  1. My daughter thinks that I am the best person in all the land and I’m a gift. She doesn’t need any toys. She has me. (Riiiiight…)
  2. I’m working too much and she is so starved for my attention that she is asking Santa for a more engaged mom.

So to play it safe, I’m taking a little shop break until the New Year. My husband is like, “Cool, so still sewing whenever you can minus the packaging and shipping?” Yes. 🙂

I’ll be back in 2016 with more inventory, more silliness, and some new products I’ve been dreaming up (and am already working on)!

Have a great end-of-December and a Happy New Year!

Love the pen&thimble team!

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My Little Handmade Business: Passion Not Profits

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are approaching. A time for BIG sales and steals! I’m trying to figure out how my little business can join in the fun that is expected during these days. While I would love to offer the amazing deals and price-cuts of big box shops, I’m afraid my little handmade business isn’t built for that.

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But what does that mean exactly? I sell bibs for $12 and $13! Crayon rollups for $15 and $16. Surely, I’m making quite the profit!

The truth is my “profits,” are quite small. In the spirit of being transparent, I calculated the exact material costs of making a bibdana. And I used a stopwatch to time myself at every step of creating a bibdana (stopping the timer when a little one needed me or the phone rang).

Bibdana Materials Cost: $4.61

Organic Sherpa $3/bib
-Can make 5 per 1/2 yard

Designer Cotton Outer $1.13/bib
-Can make 4 per 1/2 yard

Snaps 23¢/bib
-To use three snaps on each bib

Additional Costs 25¢/bib
-Cotton Thread, Needle, Pins, Clasps, Fabric Pen, CuttingBoard, Shears, Rotary Blade, Machine Wear-and-Tear

Cost to Sell Bibdana Online: $1.39

Etsy Listing Fee- 30¢(20¢-40¢)
Credit Card Fee- 74¢
Etsy Sales Fee- 35¢

Bibdana Creation Time: 20mins/$5 (paid $15/hour)

Ironing, Tracing pattern, cutting, pinning: 5min 27sec
Sewing together: 4 min
Clipping, Trimming, Turning, ironing: 3min 47 sec
Sewing top-stitch: 3min 58sec
Snipping, ironing, Applying snaps: 3min 18sec

Materials + Etsy Costs + Creation: $11
$4.61 + $1.39 + $5 = $11

I sell it for $12. So that’s $1 profit!

But wait! I donate 25¢ of every purchase to combat child hunger with No Kid Hungry. It’s not a lot but it is accumulating thanks to you!

So 75¢ profit for pen&thimble! 

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But I haven’t accounted for the other costs and tasks it takes to run my business:

Marketing/Social Media, Customer Service, Etsy Shop Upkeep, Containers and Shelving, Workspace, Electricity, Pre-Washing All Fabric, Organizing Fabric, Finished Product Inventory, Bookkeeping/Accounting, Photography, Listing Items on Etsy, Wrapping, Shipping, Cost of mailers, Cost of bags for local pick-up, Tissue paper, Stickers and labels that are also handmade….

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Safe to say the 75¢ profit is beyond eaten up in these additional tasks and costs.

But I’m passionate about the quality designer fabrics I offer. I love the organic backing on the bibdanas, the sturdy 2mil PUL rather than flimsy 1mil on the snackmats. I love that our drool bibs have three layers to keep drooling babies dry. I don’t want to skimp on materials to make a profit. I don’t want to increase prices and make my items unaffordable. I don’t want to stop donating each month to help fight child hunger.

I offer the best price I can all year round because I care about quality items, want the best for our babies, I want customers to be happy, and I donate a little too because it can do so much more good than few extra Starbucks coffee treats will.

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I get paid in feeding my passion to create fun and functional items for little ones. I get paid in knowing that together we’re giving back–you and me! I get paid in the new friendships I’ve created with customers and other handmade shops. And right now, that is enough. 🙂