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Blogging About the Biz

I just found a brand new blog via an email from one of my favorite online fabric stores, Sawyerbrook, and I’m really excited about it. Barb’s Blog.

What’s neat about this blog is that it gives us a glimpse into the concerns and functions of being a fabric merchant in today’s retail world. Since I am the retailer of what my company makes, and we are a manufacturer of mostly wooden educational materials, I am very aware of all the support activities that a merchant must do to serve the customers and get the product out the door, delivered in good condition, and supported for years to come.

I’d love to see more blogging about the businesses that brings us our ability to make fashion when we choose to create it ourselves. I have a few favorite fashion blogs not listed in my links like The English Cut and A Dress A Day I don’t list them because they are so very well known and linked by many other blogs. Of course my total favorite is still The Sewing Divas for obvious reasons. How can you beat 6 major talents in one location? And I very much adore and am grateful for all my friends who work to create and write about it.

We are fashion watchers, yes, and pictures of “who” is “wearing what” are readily available on TV, online, in magazines and newspapers. There are many blogs that are simply photos of what Ready-To-Wear is being worn on the street. I do drop in occasionally to see what trends are happening outside of my little corner of Tennessee but these types of blogs are not my favorites; to much of a “spectator sport” to suit me.

We rarely read what the manufacturers and retailers do during the day…why? Because, generally, they are way too busy to take the time to write. And it does take time. And, as a manufacturer myself, I can tell you that we don’t take this time generally because our time is money. If we write then the cost of our goods go up because we are not working, doing the hands-on work that relieves our payrolls.

In other words we don’t write so that we can deliver goods to the public at a little less cost.

Yet, the fact is that online selling is served by online blogging about the concerns of delivering “the goods” to our customers. I really like reading what Barb has to say about fabrics and what she does as a retailer.

I’d love to know even more about the mills that produce the goods and the sources of the fibers. We are involved in a fascinating and world encompassing economy. Do any of you have fabrics in your stash that were made from bamboo or soy? I do and I’m really waiting for the inspiration to sew them up!

In my case, I had to carved out time for my own pursuits for my own sanity’s sake. My husband is the primary manager of our company, which only makes sense since he started the company in 1982 and is the trained Montessori teacher. I am the legal, business and systems person and the only sewing machine operator. I design the sewn products line as well.

I try to keep my company time limited to troubleshooting and to making the sewn products line. If I limit the time I charge the company (and I do charge no matter what) than that leaves more money for another employee to get a raise. Seems fair to me.

As a matter of fact, the best thing I ever did was to remove myself from the more-than-full-time participation.

My being available every day and for an absolute certain meant that most people could rely on me to do jobs they didn’t want to do: learn how to take and order and handle customer inquiries; pay bills using the accounting software; organize vendors records and purchasing; tracking receivables and payables; even filing, mail sorting, making sure the packing is done correctly and shipping regulations are met, and yes, even cleaning the bathrooms and offices, etc, etc, ad-nauseam.

The plea was always: “I can’t remember how to do it on the computer”, allowing for computer illiteracy to rule the company and me 24×7. The more manual tasks always brought a major attitude problem along the lines of, “Ain’t my job, lady!” In a small country community I couldn’t afford to lose any help so firing and replacement was simply not an option.

Most of the time it was easier to do myself. But that attitude darn neared killed me, and my marriage. So, one day, I left, I simply didn’t return to work. I toughed it out through all the complaining and recriminations. I had spent 4 years training on the computer but no one had paid much attention so after I left I ended up doing countless hours of training via the telephone.

My company had to hire consultants to replace my work. And my company learned the value I had brought to the organization the hard way, I guess. My hours spent on the company have yet to drop below 20 hours per week averaged over the fiscal year. So, I can’t say I’ve “retired”, yet! And I probably never will.

In this way I began my return to sewing. I was priviledged to have Lucile Dearborn for a mother (picture coming) who was trained as a dress designer at Traphaugen School of Fashion, now closed, a small but well respected fashion design school in NYC. I was raised making my own clothes and home dec and had wanted to become a tailor until I realized that I might have to actually fit a total stranger.

In my heart I felt that by vacating the daily running of the company, I was letting go of the “baby” I had raised. I even took the online name of “maryletsgo” and I still use it in some forums.

It’s a good reminder that I need to do what makes me happy, not just take care of others and make them successful.


About Mary Beth

I am fascinated by changing patterns and colored threads. I sew garments and am teaching myself to machine knit. Since selling the building that housed my workrooms, The Stitchery, I'm searching for a place to set up the knitting machines again. There must be room here somewhere!

2 responses »

  1. Great Link and insightful post.Thank you

  2. Hi Marybeth,

    Regarding your comment about bamboo and soy fabrics, there is a supplier in my town (just read an article in the local). I haven’t tried to purchase any roll ends yet but I am looking forward to the day I can!

    They are called SYKA, a wholesaler located in Mission, BC, Canada. Toll free at:
    1(800) 901-8260

    Web address is:



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