A new year, a new direction!
We're already half way through the first month of this new year and this is often the time when those New Year resolutions start to slip! At least they do for me, which is why I no longer make resolutions because I'm so rubbish at keeping to them and then end up feeling bad that I've failed. Instead, I think out some longer term aims and ambitions for the year ahead, and this shapes both the direction of my business and my personal life. Sharing them through this blog is a way, I hope, of making me more likely to achieve them!
I think for everyone, this should be the year when we step up to the mark to reduce our carbon footprint for the sake of the planet. My husband and I have been trying to do our bit for many years now: from solar panels to heat our water and photovoltaics to generate electricity, to walking and using public transport in order to limit the amount we need to use our hybrid car; from growing as much of our own produce as possible, to reusing and recycling items that would otherwise be thrown away. And each year it gets harder to know what more to do. We aren't extravagant in what we buy or consume, we make sure that we minimise any food waste, many of our clothes are bought from charity shops and we are careful with our use of heating and lighting.
But there is always more that can be done, so here are some of the extra things we will be doing this year:
growing more fruit and vegetables and making sure that more of what we buy is sold loose rather than in plastic containers
eating less meat- at least 4 meat-free days a week
reducing the amount of emails received by unsubscribing to those of little interest
using ecologically friendly cleaning products
spreading the word more about the need to take care of our planet
And what about the aims and ambitions for BarMadeBags in 2020?
The philosophy behind the business has always been to make bags that I enjoy designing and making and which are unique, beautiful and eco-friendly. In my decisions on what to make, I've been influenced by my own desire to create particular appliqued designs, or by the fabric offcuts and upcycled fabrics that I have in my stash. And while many of my creations have sold, some have failed to appeal in the way that I hoped they would and haven't found a new home.
I don't like waste, and bags sitting unused in a box are a waste of space and, ultimately, of the time, effort and resources that went into making them.
With that in mind, I've decided that I'll no longer speculate that what I want to make is what you, the public, want to buy. Nor will I be led into producing bags just to fit in with the trend of the moment, in the hopes that there's more likelihood of them selling. Instead, my focus will be on made-to-order bags.
Made to order, or bespoke, items means less waste all round, and a win-win situation.
For you, the customer, you get what you want. For me, I'm making with a definite purpose while still having the enjoyment and satisfaction of creating individual designs.
And the environment wins because I'm not using energy (albeit solar-powered electricity when the sun shines) or using up fabrics (albeit reclaimed) to make bags that don't sell!
I do, however, feel slightly daunted by this change.
I know that I'd rather buy something that I can see and, importantly, know exactly what the cost is going to be, and I suspect the same might be true for many potential customers.
The bespoke bags that I've made in the last few years have been made to my customers' specifications and have been complete unknowns before I started to make them. This has taken a degree of trust on the part of the customer that what they get will match up to what they wanted, and on my part that I'm able to make the item for the price quoted. So far, this has worked out happily all round and you can see some of the bags I made here.
While I'll continue to offer this service, there will also be the opportunity to order bags similar to ones that I've previously made and sold through my Etsy shop. That way you'll be able to see (more or less*) what the bag will look like and know what it will cost you.
This change will be a gradual process and I'll continue to have existing ready-made items available to purchase from Etsy, Folksy or the Age UK shop in Bradway, Sheffield. However, the first such made-to-order listing can be seen here.
(* there would probably be some variations in the fabrics used due to using off-cuts and other reclaimed fabric)
Here's wishing you all a successful and eco-friendly 2020, and do drop by to let me know what you think of this new direction! (Remember, you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest!)