Search This Blog

Monday, May 31, 2010

My Vision Statement

Ok, I think I've gotten my vision statement into pretty good shape -- what do you think?!

"As someone who has had the pleasure of seeing an expectant mother thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the hand-crafted crocheted baby gift I've given her, I want to help you experience that feeling as well and "be thoughtful" and true to your giving nature.  Gifts of crochet, whether to someone special or to yourself, are a great way to nurture your peace of mind, health, and sense of satisfaction.  In striving to be thoughtful towards you by providing beneficial and beautiful products and services, we at Many Creative Gifts are expanding into other areas also, like recipe books and meditation beads, to take a more holistic approach to health and happiness.  Join us on our journey to enhance and savor beauty and well being in the world through mind, body, spirit, ... and of course crochet!"

I need to tinker more with it I'm sure, but at least it's a start, and I hope you've been working on your own vision statement as well -- even if you're not going into business on your own, it's good to think through these five factors and how they are operating in your life in general.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Creating Vision

So, I'm still trying to recover from all of the travel and the resulting cold, but I think I'm back!  And, of course, the business is always on my mind, and I came across this book "Creating A Vision" by Corey Criswell and Talula Cartwright.  I've talked before about how important it is to really think and know about what it is you are trying to accomplish with your business, but this book really organizes the thought process you should be going through in order to be able to carefully craft a mission/vision statement for your work.

It's worth getting the book, but here's a little bit about what the authors are recommending.  Basically, it's a five-step process to capturing your vision for your business.  You need to think about 1) the big idea, 2) your values, 3) the story, 4) future growth, and 5) change.

Rather than use "rhinestone widgets" as the generic example, I'm actually going to use what I've been putting together for Many Creative Gifts.  First, I really need to articulate the big idea -- the fundamental enduring ideal on which MCG is built.  Thanks to my husband, who articulated it best, MCG is all about "being thoughtful".  I want to be thoughtful towards my customers and provide them with what they are looking for.  I want to help my customers be thoughtful in figuring out gift items for others and themselves.  But, even more than that, it's about being thoughtful, internally and externally, in all aspects of your life -- "mind, body, spirit, ... and of course crochet!"

Next, you want to think about your values -- what do you stand for?  My business is all about thoughtfulness, sharing, and appreciating  and savoring beauty.  I want people to find peace of mind, health, spiritual satisfaction, and to utilize crochet, either by crocheting themselves or sharing crocheted items, to help them achieve these goals.  Crochet can help someone relax and distract her or his mind, get some physical activity (about 100 calories an hour!), give of herself to others, and have fun!

So, what's your story?  What got you to this point where you're sharing with the world of potential customers out there?  I learned how to crochet in 6th grade from a favorite teacher, who taught one of my closest friends and me to make a scarf.  I intermittently crocheted over the years until 2005 when, while cleaning out a closet, I found my hooks and a ton of yarn and decided that either I had to give all this stuff away or really start making use of it.  Since a number of my friends were having babies, I decided I'd start making some (or what I hoped would be) keepsake crocheted items for their shower presents.  It was such a great feeling for me when they would ooooh and aaaaah over the gifts, and I hoped that they felt my love and caring for them and their babies.  My friends encouraged me to try to sell my creations, and this was about the same time that crafting was really making a comeback and Etsy was gaining in popularity.  So, I formed MCG as a limited liability company and I was in business!

Ok, so you've identified your story, where are you planning on going from here?  How do you plan on growing and expanding your business?  Of course, being a "scanner" (that'll be a topic for another post), I couldn't just stick with crochet, oh nooooo, I started to experiment with tie-dye, jewelry, and meditation beads. Now, I've expanded into healthy recipes and gluten-free cooking (more on that later too!).  And, you know, it all fits with my values of helping others with their "mind, body, spirit, and crochet" growth, so it makes sense, at least to me, to expand into these areas.

And, finally, the change factor -- how is your business going to reflect the changing times, and what will you need to do to get yourself moving into the future?  For me, it's going to be about utilizing all these new technologies becoming available to get my message out.  As I've talked about before, I hope to be getting a podcast going soon and making ebooks available.

Now what?  Well, you've got to put all of these thoughts and concepts into one encompassing statement that embodies your vision for your business.  Ok, I'm going to go work on mine and post it later today or tomorrow -- feel free to post yours!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New York, New York

Well, I'm back from another trip, though this one was just up to New York for a long weekend.  Didn't make it to a yarn store, though I saw a crocheted hat in Henri Bendel's -- it was $495!  I was going to take a picture of it, but the sales girl was hovering a little too closely.  Heck, I could copy that sucker, and I'd only charge half that amount ;-)

Anyway, I also thought about blogging from the train, the Acela Express has free wifi, but I got a little too comfortable and read some magazines instead.  I'm realizing how fast I've been trying to run on the gerbil wheel and how much I really needed to get off.  Even though I did a lot of walking in NYC, I got a chance to get some R&R too.

So, now that I'm back and trying to do laundry, etc., let's see what thought I can leave you with tonight to hold you over until I get a chance to do a proper blog post.  How about record keeping?  If you've decided to give your business "Rhinestone Widgets" a try, it's important to keep good records of all business-related transactions.  Aside from needing good records when it comes time to file taxes, you'll need them for other federal and state filings too.  Plus, you'll need to think about the legal structure for your business.  I know it sounds scary and overwhelming, but there are a lot of resources out there to help you, many of which are low-cost or free.  Here's a great book to get you started:

Friday, May 21, 2010

TGIF I think...

I can't believe it's already Friday!  This week seemed to go slowly, but then picked up at the end.  Still trying to recover from the trip out to CA.  Ended up catching a cold when I got back, so still bumbling along here!  I did manage to put up a customized twitter page, so check it out and start following me!

I'm not sure what else I've got to report.  The newsletter went out, and this month's topic was National Better Sleep Month.  Some really good tips on the types of food to eat before bedtime that will actually help you get a better night's sleep.  Not too late to subscribe!  Either subscribe to the blog in the box to the left or send me an email requesting the monthly newsletter at contact at

I think I might have a baby blanket project underway soon as a baby shower present for a friend of mine.  I'm discovering how pricey and difficult to find bamboo yarn is!  I'd really like to make her something of natural fibers, but it's challenging.  It really should not be!  I need to do more research on this...

Ok, you'll see new buttons at the bottom of my posts -- please give me your feedback, it's for your own good :-)

Monday, May 17, 2010


It's funny how things ebb and flow in life (yes, prepare yourselves, Phyllis is going philosophical on you today!).  About 4 years ago, I was meditating more regularly and exploring Eastern religions and philosophies.  My friend Jean is a practicing Buddhist and was sharing with me her specific practice.  She follows the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, and I wanted to give her something of meaning to enhance her practice, so I made her a set of "juzu" or prayer/meditation beads.  I picked out specific gemstones and crystals that would enhance her health and peace of mind, and I threw in a few for wealth and her love life too!  (Yes, these are yet other areas of interest for me -- gemstones, crystals, astrology...).  I found a great wire product by the SoftFlex Company because one of Jean's complaints about previous sets of juzu is that they're not sturdy enough for daily use and break often.  And, through the process of ordering and using SoftFlex's products, I ended up applying for and being selected as one of their Featured Designers:

As a result, I ended up with some new customers for juzu, one all the way from England!  And, recently, she "friended" me on Facebook!  So, that's what got me thinking and blogging about getting back into the juzu business.  I love making sets of meditation beads (and I've made rosary sets and other prayer beads as well) -- feeling and choosing the right beads for the recipient, arranging them, and assembling them is just such a soothing experience for me and knowing that the recipient hopefully is going to experience the same soothing and satisfying experience from using them just makes it such a worthwhile endeavor.

So, look for more details about the juzu sets and customization services that I will be offering again here and on the Many Creative Gifts Facebook page or feel free to contact me with any requests you may already have!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Oh, So... Tired!

Man, this week has been rough.  It's been busy at work, and then I get home to piles and piles of laundry (with only 2 loads done so far :-(

I have been working on the newsletter -- May is National Better Sleep Month, so that will be this month's theme.  I'm really feeling the effects of not having gotten consistent sleep recently.  It really does make such a difference, and the research I've been doing for the newsletter has been eye-opening (would it have been better if it were sleep-inducing?! LOL)

Ok, I know, not so funny, but it is Friday morning, so all is good!

The thought I will leave you with today is photography.  Do you have some amazing pictures of your rhinestone widgets?  If not, and believe me I know how challenging this is and am still working on it myself, this needs to be a priority item.  Potential customers want to see what your product really looks like, all the angles and sides, with details really showing up clearly.  One thing I haven't been able to do yet is get real people to wear my products and take pix, but that is really is important too.  There are a lot of tips available on the web to help you take the pictures yourself, or try contacting a local photography school to see if students would be willing to take pictures for you in exchange for $$ or maybe a special rhinestone widget of their own.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Knitting by the Sea

Sorry to not have posted for longer than usual, but I was in California!  We flew into Monterey and visited Carmel and Pebble Beach -- what beautiful places.  Of course, before going, I did a search for yarn shops and found a wonderful place called "Knitting By the Sea" in Carmel (I gave the owner a hard time about that name, but she assured me that it was on the books before she became the owner and that she herself is an avid crocheter!)  Unfortunately, her local California yarn supplier hadn't made a delivery recently, so I didn't bring home any yummy new yarn, but I did pick up the cutest little project bag with the store's logo on it.  Oh, I should take a picture and post, but in the mean time, here's me in front of the store and with the owner, Maurya McBride.  Be sure to stop by and check out her lovely shop!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Mmm, making progress on the 101 Crochet Tips in 101 Days!  Check out the site, I just added a whole bunch of really good tricks and techniques ;-)

Also, a necklace to go with the bracelet is almost ready.

I missed the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this past weekend.  Every year, something seems to come up that prevents me from going.  This year, I think it was sheer laziness!  It is quite a trek to get there, so what can I say?!  At least there's another festival coming up in the fall in Virginia, so perhaps I'll pull myself together for that one.

Ok, I'm keeping it short this post, but let me leave you with yet another tidbit to chew on -- have you done some research on your competitors?  Who else out there is selling rhinestone widgets?  What are the differences between your product and theirs?  Hard to believe, but the fact that there are such sellers out there is actually a good sign for you -- it means there's a market for your product, and if it's trending up, then there's room for you too.  So, get to your research!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

What's in a Name?

Ah, finally, the end of a very busy week.  Though, now I am trapped inside, trying to catch up on things that didn't get done during the week, on this beautiful day.  Well, I'll probably sneak outside a little later to catch some rays and fresh air.

So, I don't have too much to report at this point.  I'm working on a necklace to go with the golden bangle.  I still have to finish Mom's Vest (yes, I know, I know...) and I've got tons of ideas swimming through my head, but a lack of time and energy.  Yes, the energy is lacking because it's all been going into trying to get the 101 Crochet Tips book done!  I'm happy with my progress on it so far, but it feels like there's still a lot to do.

But, let me leave you with another entrepreneurial thought before I go:  What's in a Name?  I know, a rose smells as sweet no matter what you call it, but you need to think about a good name for your business, one that will make sense to your potential customers or at least grow to make sense.  I chose Many Creative Gifts because I wanted to leave room for other items besides just crocheted ones.  I liked the play on words too (my many gifts in terms of creativity as well as the many potential gift items I hope to be able to offer customers).  You, however, might want to pick a more descriptive name if you are sure that you want to concentrate on one type of product or service.  Back to our example of rhinestone widgets -- you might want to go with "Rhinestone Widgets" if it's not already taken.  Or to personalize, you might want to say "Phyllis's Rhinestone Widgets".  Some people just use their own personal name as the name of a business (doesn't seem to have hurt Martha Stewart or Jonathan Adler!).

It's not like you can't change your business name later, but to avoid losing time, money and creating market confusion, spend the time up front to choose a business name that you think captures the essence of your business and what it has to offer (and will have in the future).  Oh, and another really important thing, do NOT search for availability of names on domain name services until you are ready to act -- if you search for a name and then a day or two later, go back to register it, it will most likely be gone!  Computer programs are set up and ready to purchase searched names, and then, they are more than glad to sell you your desired name, for a premium of course!

Ok, back to work for me (or is it time for that outside break yet?!)