Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Crafting a business plan.

I was thinking the other day about how I never once wrote a business plan for Red Prairie Press. Should I be admitting that? I'm not trying to go public here, and sell my stock options. (I don't even know what that means), but I do hope that my intent with this business (provide well made, well designed apparel to women as a way to project my art in a utilitarian way and make a living through creative means, and working for myself doing so) is clear to my customers. I've decided to keep a list of the main goals of this company, and a list of things I'm willing to compromise to have those goals met (think "outsource the sewing" not "sell body for food") There are plenty of moral dilemmas when you float between the world of handmade craft (where it's a sin to have anything produced for you anywhere but your living room, even if it means you can't produce enough to make a living), and the world of fashion (which tends to look for the cheapest, fastest solutions - often compromising your own hands-on control in exchange for larger quantities at lower costs). I saw this diagram by Alex Lightman online recently, and couldn't help finding it really helpful in thinking about these things, and what matters to me most in terms of the DIY code of ethics. I talked to illustration seniors last week at MICA and over and over the discussion of working with other people on projects, and how as a freelance illustrator - you will likely be working with a graphic designer, a publisher, a product developer - rather than doing everything yourself on a project. While I don't plan to grow Red Prairie Press to the size of a big box store, I do think there's something relatable from those conversations in regard to our company. Just because I'm an artist, and a confident printer, does not make me an expert pattern designer or seamstress. These are things that - were I to take them on myself, would downgrade the quality of my product, make it far more expensive, and use up time I could have spent working on the aspects of the product that I'm good at. In order to make the best business plan, you have to have a nice balance of doing what you love, doing what you're capable of, and providing a resource that people want. Replace all those "You"'s with "I"'s and you'll have just been a fly on the walls of my brain. Which FYI, are covered with hand screen printed limited edition 8 color wallpaper. I made it myself. It took 30 years.

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