An open letter to our Customers
To all Customers of Off the Beaded Path:
A few days ago I was surfing Facebook and came upon a post in one of my beading groups that shocked me. Someone made a post and then others started chiming in. In the post there were a lot of accusations thrown around about designers and Youtubers in general. No one particular person was spoken specifically about but most of the comments were geared toward those of us who post beading content on Youtube. At first I was very angry about this post and wanted to comment. Instead I took a few steps back and took a couple of days to think and pray about the comments that were made. It just amazes me how people can sit and make accusations or comment on people that they have never met before. After thinking about everything I decided to be completely transparent with you about me and my company. Upon reading this very lengthy post I hope that you will have a better understanding of me and how I run my business.
One big misconception about my business is that we are a big company with big money to throw around. This is not the case. I personally own my shop in Forest City North Carolina and am the sole owner. I am the only full time employee. My husband, Sammy, is the person who does all of our shipping and takes care of the website. My Mother In Law Patty helps two days a week and I have two other people who come in and help on a volunteer basis. My shops physical location can be found at 2270 College Avenue in Forest City. We have been in business for almost 16 years.
When I first opened my Bead Shop we only had our local customers to support us. I love my local customers! Over the years I have built some great relationships with some of them. In my 16 years in business I have had customers move away but still wanted to take classes and learn from me. This is where my youtube channel was born. When I first started my channel I was one of the only people at the time doing youtube videos on beading. I started out with a few followers and have since gained up to over 160,000 followers. I now have two families.....an online family and a local family. I have built great relationships with people whom I may never get to meet face to face. That's whats so great about the internet! With that being said, there is a lot of pressure that comes with 5 people trying to keep 160,000 people happy. If you've ever worked retail you understand that it's hard to keep a few people happy much less thousands of people happy. Its impossible! We may not always get it right but we sure will try. When we drop the ball we try to take ownership of that and make it right.
When I first started my business I didn't have to worry about keeping a large inventory. I kept what I knew my local customers wanted and needed. As my youtube channel started to take off and my online community started to build I started to order more and more product. I got myself into more and more debt. I was sinking in debt of bead inventory. Then one day Dave Ramsey came into my life. I started living the debt free way and worked my tail end off until I had my business debt free. Now mind you I still have rent, power, etc but I got out of debt on credit cards. Ever since then I have tried to live this way. I don't order more than I know I can pay for in a months time.
Since we are a small business and order product the way we do, we take custom orders for products from our customers. If you ever need a product that we are out of it you can call us at 828-245-0306 we are happy to take down what you would like and the quantities. When I order I try to order these products first. When product arrives the customers who made custom orders are sent their product and then what's left is then put on the website.
One of the things that take up a lot of our stock and money is seed beads. We only carry two brands of seed beads in our store. We carry Toho Seed Beads and Miyuki. Our delica beads are all Miyuki brand. Our 15/0, 11/0, 8/0, and 6/0 seed beads are either Toho or Miyuki. If they are Miyuki it is listed in the title Miyuki. If the title doesn't say Miyuki then you can bet your bottom dollar that it's a Toho brand. On our website, almost all of our Delica beads have their DB number listed in the title. After listing the size, color, amount, and DB number the title can get long. To see the full title you will need to click on the title and it will show you the full title with all the info you want to know. As of right now some of our Miyuki and Toho seed beads also have their Manufacturer numbers in the title. Over the next few weeks we will be working to add the numbers to all seed bead titles. We didn't not put the numbers to hide them from you, honestly we just didn't think you cared and that it was a big deal. We call our colors exactly what the main manufactures call the colors. We don't make up our own fancy names to sell the beads and we didn't hide this information so that you would only purchase from us. I know that there are times when I am sold out of stuff and you need to purchase elsewhere. Hopefully some of these new changes that we will be making over the next few weeks will aid you in knowing the manufacture numbers and make our website more user friendly.
Speaking of our website, Sammy and I are the two people who created and maintain our website. We understand that not all the pictures on the website are great pictures. We are constantly working after the arrival of every order to change pictures on our site to more updated pictures. This is a process that we are working on gradually and will take a little while. We have spoken with our distributors and they are allowing us to use their photos of some of the beads. This way you see what we see when we order. These photos will give you the best representation of colors that we can possibly give you.
Another important thing about our website is that you register for an account. If you purchase instant download patterns and you check out as a guest you will only be able to download the pattern once. If you have an account you can log in at anytime and download your patterns, see orders made, and track shipping of your products. Also, always pay attention to the main page of the website. The main page is where we advertise any upcoming coupon codes and sales.
I get some slack from a few people who get very upset when they watch a video and then I sell out of product in a day or few days time. When I make a video I have no idea if the video will be popular or not. Running my business the way I do I refuse to invest in tons of pricy inventory that may or may not sell. I try to keep in stock what I feel will sell. Over the last few months we have adopted a new policy of pre-orders. If a video does really well and we sell out of a product very quickly we try to do pre-orders. This way you can purchase the product and be assured that as soon as it arrives back in stock you will be the first to get it. Mostly we get the supplies in the next day or a few days later and those who have pre-ordered get the supplies sent out ASAP. What's left after that is listed online again. Please understand that we can only stock what our main suppliers have in stock. If a video does really well and we purchase all they have of an item, we have to wait until they have the item in stock again. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about the availability of products from our major suppliers.
For each of my videos you see there are hours of work behind them. I work to come up with a new project, test it several times, write a pattern for it, and them film the video for it. I film all of my videos with a Cannon HD video camera and Sammy edits and uploads all of them. For every pattern I write and video I made we learn something new about the process. One of the things I am learning is that you all really want to know colors and manufacturer color codes for colors I used in videos. I don't always remember to do this but this week I am going to make myself a check list of what all needs to be in a pattern or video. Hopefully this will help me to be more consist in both for you.
One of my more current videos is the Key for a Cure Pendant. In the video I say that I will be raising funds for the Look Good Feel Good Program of Rutherford County. I've had a few questions as to how much I intend to donate. At the end of each week we are tallying up the total amount of keys, instant download patterns, printed patterns, and kits sold from that week. We then take 35% of that cost and put it in the donation fund. My goal is to donate $500.00 but would love to donate more.
At this point I know that there are some of you who are wondering why I even felt the need to tell you all of these things. Unfortunately in the social media world if you put yourself out there you will get talked about in a good or bad way. There are a lot of people who will criticize you for your hair color, your weight, your nails, your designs, even how you run your business. These are people who have never even met me face to face but feel the need to talk about me and tell me how I SHOULD do things. I get these comments and on daily basis and mostly just let them roll off my back. You have to grow a really thick skin when you are on social media. After reading the facebook post that day I just felt the need to be completely transparent with you so that hopefully you will understand me a little better. I'm just a 37 year old woman trying to run a business and family. Like I said before I don't always get things right but I do try to make things right.
There are MANY of you who are very supportive of me and I am VERY grateful! You send lots of comments and suggestions that are uplifting and loving. For that I am eternally grateful. The supportive viewers are the reason I continue to make videos and put out content.
For those of you who made it to the end of this letter, thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope you have gained a new understanding of me.
Off the Beaded Path