I still remember the days I prayed for the things that I have now.
One of the best feelings in the world is when someone wants to buy a huge amount from you. You’ve prayed for this. You’ve prepared for this (hopefully), and as soon as the purchase is made, the reality begins to set in. You start getting anxious because you’re up against a tight deadline, this could be your first huge order, you’re anxious about whether the client will like it, or maybe you don’t have everything you need.
I’ve had to make bags for a bridal party of 6 and all the way up to 46 bags for a small company that was passing out gifts to their employees. You never know whose going to come across your site or how much time you’ll have to make it.
Here are my steps on how I get through small, medium and large orders in my Etsy shop!
- Check your inventory. This goes for your completed items and your supplies. If you’ve made a certain amount of bags already for your shop, will you be able to use some of this inventory for your project or will you need to make more? If you need to make more, do you have everything you need? Maybe you do not have 50 identical zippers laying around that you can use for the same style bag. So stay ready or get ready! Amazon and Etsy Marketplace are great places to buy bulk items that ship fast with little or no cost to you.
- Get organized by numbers. A lot of times, your deadline will be tight, especially around the holidays. So for an example, you have to make 30 bags in 7 days. I recommend using 2 days for prep, mistakes, wiggle room or early shipping and 5 days to make 30 bags, with 6 bags per day.
- Trust your process. You’ve made this item dozens of times. It’s your most popular, so trust your process. Avoid doing new methods or adding unnecessary bells and whistles, if you can.
- There is a method to your success. I know I just said don’t change the method, but you can alter your methods and processes for efficiency. Let’s go back to the example of 30 bags. To recap, you have 7 days to make 30 bags. On day 1, you will cut your pieces for all 30 bags. On day 2, you will interface all of your pieces. On day 3, you start sewing the first batch of 6 bags. And you can narrow down your processes to make it more detail oriented. While you’re making the bags, complete one single step at a time for each bag before moving onto the next step. For example, I recommend sewing all of the zippers for all 6, then sewing up the side seams for all 6, then you sew the lining for all 6. And before you know it, all 6 are completed! I found this method to be especially helpful if I’m changing the thread color between steps or even the type of foot I’m using on my sewing machine. See my example below.
- Stay in your creative lane. Never commit to something that you’ve never tried before. I was once asked to make a veil for a wedding. It was for a close friend and it broke my heart to pass on the opportunity but I never made a veil before and at the time it was beyond my wheel house. This doesn’t mean that I will never make a veil, it just means that I was not about to use her special day as an experiment.
- Enjoy the process. Yes, that part. I sew because I enjoy it. And yes, there are days that are more challenging, but when you are sewing something for someone else you have to find joy in the project. I met this lady at a fabric shop one day, before I opened my shop, and she told me that if and when I decide to make something for someone else, that I should always put a piece of myself into the work. And she warned me that if I wavered from that, then I would be miserable for the entire project. I have never tested her theory to find out if it was true -because I just know it to be true. I once had a request to design bags made from a sports team pattern. I respectfully declined. Not because I couldn’t do it, but because I knew that it would be a very daunting task if I was to make a bag out of fabric that I had absolutely no connection to. So even with custom items where the client has a lot of creative freedom, still be consistent in your vision and execution as well.
- Anxiety helps no one. It would be insulting to say that you shouldn’t be anxious about the project. However, you shouldn’t doubt if a client will like something. They ordered 30 bags from you, they probably made special requests, asked questions and even took their time investing in it -of course they like it!