Oh Hai Thar!

So I was laying in bed with my 13 month old as he fell asleep pondering (as one does) and it hit me. Well, not literally of course. Actually, my internal dialogue went something like this: “Dentist appointment tomorrow means I should probably shower tonight or in the morning. I should really journal about the business and how I’m struggling with various things. Hey, I have that totally neglected blog for Bewhiskered. HEY I KNOW. I’ll write about all the things I’m going through as a newbie business owner. That might be fun.”

So there ya go. I guess I should start at the beginning so if that sort of recap thing bores you to tears you can skip to the end now.

I worked for 10 years as a marketing professional. Then I got pregnant. I’d always wanted to be a stay at home Mom. But I also love making things. And writing. But it was pretty obvious early on that writing was going to be more difficult for me than making things. I just couldn’t get the time and space I needed to get into another world in my head which is what I need to do in order to write. Making things it was!

And boy, did I make things. They started to pile up. So I figured I could open an Etsy store and make a little extra spending money. The initial concept behind Bewhiskered was to make things for pets. It just never clicked. I have a ton of books on making pet toys and even some materials for things like catfish shaped kitty beds, but nothing ever got made. Then I finished my son’s cloth diaper stash and had a ton of material left over, so I made some extra cloth diapers and opened shop. That didn’t click either. I sold a few, but I wasn’t really into making them and the competition was fierce.

They were pretty cute though.

Third time’s the charm, right? I had this tiger rug my Mom latch hooked for me as a baby. With Jake’s six month pictures getting close, I decided I wanted to recreate that rug. I looked for a latch hook kit, and no dice. So I picked up this great book of stuffed animal patterns, enlarged the pattern for a tiger’s head about 300% and whipped up a vaguely tiger skin shaped body for it.

It was terrible. But it looks okay in his pictures.

You'll notice the photographer wisely cropped out the head.

Other Mom friends of mine were talking up these tag blankets so I looked up a few on Etsy. I didn’t like them. They were all small, for one thing. And boring. Cue the lightbulb. I chopped the head off that first tiger rug and used the body material to make the first Ruggle. It belongs to Jake. It’s pretty bad. Thankfully they got better.

So anyway, all of that is to say the process that formed this business was a slow one. It’s actually only been very recently that I started calling it a business. Before I’d say that I sold things online or I made these blankets or some variation of the sort. It was more a hobby. An outlet for my creativity and a way to make a little extra money that was flexible enough to fit into my Mommy life.

The first decision I faced was whether to keep it more of a hobby, or transition to a proper business. I was making only enough money to pay for more supplies really, but I got a big order that let me buy annual passes to the Georgia Aquarium. That was actually really cool. That had me thinking that Bewhiskered could fund other cool things for me and my boys. So now it’s a business. Which means it has to be profitable. And I have to keep good records to ensure that it’s profitable. And there’s all these licenses and taxes and stuff that have to be dealt with.

My record keeping is a dollar spot plastic accordion folder from Target with the sections marked by quarter. I put any receipts for things I don’t buy with my Paypal card in there. I use Outright.com to keep track of everything else, and manually enter the non-Paypal receipts about twice a year. I have an Excel spreadsheet for figuring out my product cost. I made it up so I’m pretty sure it’s lacking in a hundred different ways, but it works. I use free templates for just about everything and make up the rest myself.

I’m hoping 2012 will be the year I turn an actual profit. I’m going to end this post here, since it’s late and my kids still haven’t adjusted to daylight savings time which means I’ll be up at the ass crack of dawn.

I’ve got loads of topics for future posts, and I’m going to do my damndest to put them up on a regular basis. What do you want to know? I’ll be happy to answer with the perspective of a newly minted (bumbling through it) business person.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Pili
    Mar 15, 2012 @ 08:34:36

    I had no idea you had started with pet toys and cloth diapers! I love your ruggles!

    Reply

  2. bewhiskered
    Mar 15, 2012 @ 10:04:10

    I love them too! I’m glad I stumbled on something I can be really proud of, and love to make that’s unique to me. šŸ˜€

    Reply

  3. Jennifer Jade
    Mar 17, 2012 @ 12:41:09

    You are such an inspiration, Kenzie! Great post. The wheels in my head are turning for my own current “hobby”. Maybe I can eventually make something more of it.

    Reply

  4. em4190
    May 20, 2012 @ 20:39:56

    Congrats…you’re doing a great job! I hope 2012 is the year you turn a profit too. Your bookkeeping system sounds very similar to mine. I love Outright.com!

    Reply

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