With this last instalment of Sheepish history, I want to revisit some great (and not so great!) decisions over the past 5 years.
One of the most exciting moments at Sheepish Creations was finding out that we had been featured on the cover of the Spring 2013 issue of Spin Off. We had no idea this was coming!
In addition to the gorgeous photo, the article itself starts with a wonderful description of our fiber:
While browsing some of my favorite fiber haunts on Etsy, I came across a hand-dyed merino combed top from Sheepish Creations. As I was spinning the singles, the undulating hues reminded me of the ocean…
It was a huge honor to be featured and we certainly appreciated the bump in sales too!
Although the creation of this website required a lot of time, sweat, and tears, creating our own e-commerce portal has paid huge dividends over the last few years. We increase our google visibility and correspondingly, our market base.
By performing the design ourselves, we kept costs down and retained total control. Although we were hesitant to take such a big project on ourselves, it's been so much easier to manage and troubleshoot the site on a one-off basis.
Looking back now, I can't believe we waited so long to stake out our own e-commerce territory.
Although few would now dispute that etsy is the premier marketplace for handcrafted and artisanal products, that was not always the case. Back in early 2009, etsy was just one of several marketplaces fighting for market dominance.
It was in this context that Sheepish Creations did the (now!) unthinkable - we opened a Hyena Cart shop. My plan was to sell our hand painted yarn through that store front, while our roving would continue to be sold through etsy. Needless to say, this was not a sustainable plan. With two online storefronts, advertising was a nightmare. Further, segregating our product lines meant that we missed out on the synergy of a broad product line. (Most people who spin also knit/crochet!) After only a few months, the Hyena Cart store front was shut down and all of our online offerings migrated (for the time) to etsy.
After having established ourselves in the fiber community, I decided to jump into the "club" format which was popular at the time. For those of you not familiar with fiber subscriptions the general idea is that the purchaser subscribes to a recurring shipment of roving without knowing the details in advance.
Typically, clubs are themed and include extra "goodies" that match the theme of the club. I decided to follow this traditional format and a chose a theme of "Broadway Musicals of the 1940's." To me, this is a perfect theme--I love musicals!
Needless to say, the theme was rather less well received by the general fiber-buying public. In addition to choosing an unpopular theme, the club suffered because it required an upfront purchase for 3 months of fiber. For many interested people, this upfront cost was just too much at one time. Although we had a few subscribers (who uniformly loved the theme and the fiber!), we were unable to generate the type of interest we were initially hoping for.