Wednesday 4 July 2012

Thank You For Your Custom......

Custom orders....mmmmm.  You may remember this post I did back in March declaring no custom orders....well I reneged again.  Over the whole of Winter till now I only managed to knit 6 ready to ship hats for either one of my online stores....some would say how fantastic that you have so many loyal customers that want to buy your hats that it keeps you that busy....others would say different.

It's a fine line trying to balance a business such as mine......reality is I could take it up a notch, and start employing people to help me knit, I have the custom for it, but personally I don't think I want to.....I'm not that driven.  For me it's all about the creativity, design and the colour and just doing something that makes people happy...something that I've created that can be shared with others.

So that's where custom orders can and often do put a stop to the creativity.  By doing 4 to 5 months of custom orders with repeat customers, my little hats don't often get to anyone new.  I've had many many people stop by my Facebook page or send me a message through Madeit or Etsy asking how they can get a hat, but due to being tied to custom orders these people don't get the opportunity or even get close to ever buying a hat because there ain't ever going to be any ready to ship stock because I'm sitting on 50 custom orders that need to be completed.

Please please don't get me wrong I am thankful for every one of those purchases but the time it takes to email colour selections, assist them, guide them, sometimes chase them for non payment takes a huge amount of time that all goes order earlier this year took 26 emails back and forward so the customer got what she wanted.   On arrival of her hat she still wasn't happy....26 emails equated to around 2.5hrs of unpaid work....that's what a lot of people don't realise, the work behind the custom order that in some instances could be put to better use.    A lot of others have advised me that I should be charging a surcharge for custom orders and it has crossed my mind but I have till now not charged and don't want to.

So what to do.....the dilemma.  I think in my heart of hearts, the custom orders as much as they bring in the money, creatively I'm often stifled....I don't get the opportunity to express myself colour wise, and sometimes I do have to knit colour selections that if left to me they wouldn't be colours that work with dover & madden....and by no means is that a criticism of other peoples choices, they just would not be mine and each to their own.

So from now, dover & madden will be a ready to ship hat business....this also gives me the time to step away for a day or two if I choose without having to say...."I've got to fly I have to get a hat in the post tomorrow"  a saying that I'm well known for around these parts.  This also allows me to knit yarn colours that often get overlooked by customers and that I've been itching to get on my accountant keeps telling me I'm sitting on way too much stock!!

I'm interested to hear from anyone who may be in the same boat with their business, how do you cope with it, do you charge extra to do custom work, do you sometimes feel a little bit bogged down with customs, or is your business just exclusively customs, or did you stop customs and your sales slowed down...would love to hear from you.

And lastly thank you to every single customer of dover & madden your support, patience and purchases have got me to where I am now, and no custom dover & madden hat has ever been rejected by a bad colour choice!!

Let's all look forward to some exciting new colourful additions to the dover & madden family soon.

vicki x


  1. Vicki,
    I've been in the same boat! Right now I do exclusively custom orders, but would much rather switch do doing a ready to ship kind of style. The only problem is I don't quite have the demand you do, and I am afraid if I knit a bunch of hats ready to ship they won't sell! I have a mile long list of custom orders, but I am getting bored making the same 3 things, often in colors I don't enjoy.

    I am actually starting to work with a baby boutique around here to sell through them, and I hope that ends up being a lucrative side-deal.

    Hope all works out for you!

    1. I think our businesses our styles and our price points are very different Ali, from looking at what you do, it tends to be that you are happy to knit anything for anyone, which suits what you do. dover & madden has never done that at all, that is not what my business is about, I made that very clear right from the start. You are what makes your business and if you have chosen to take your business down that path it probably will take a time to get it back to where you want it....I believe I do have the demand to sustain ready to ship, I constantly turn back wholesale, new customer etc and due to being way too busy had to end a successful couple of years with an upmarket baby boutique in New York...although with the amount of work it takes to do wholesale, personally it's not worth it for dover & madden. Good luck with your business, hope it turns out to be what you want it to.

  2. You know we love you in our casa and will continue to purchase from you. I cannot wait to see what comes in store and I think that your try fans will still continue to support you, custom or not.

    Well done on creating a wonderful little businesses that continues to thrive in these hard times.

    I love seeing your creations come up on my Facebook wall they always bring a smile and perhaps a little tear that my little ones are growing up. xxx

    1. thanks Maryanne, you've always been a huge supporter, I tend to think I would not have got to where I am now without the support of people like you.

      I'll continue to plod along doing it this way for a while, then maybe it will be time to take the next scary notch forward.

      Thanks again for your purchase, patience and promotion Maryanne.

      vic x

  3. You really need to do what will work for you and each business/maker is in a different stuation! Your work is so beautiful that ready to ship items will be snapped up just as fast as custom spots and as you say this will give you the flexibility to step away if you need to. Perhaps you could ballot custom spots for hats when you're feeling up to it, similar to the bootie ballot?

    1. Hey Sash, thanks for your comments, yeah it's a learning curve that twists and turns, but finally I think I've found what is going to be right for far as the ballots word....Nightmare!! Amazing how a couple of people can sour the whole I've tried it and I didn't like everything will now go "Straight to the pool room"....whoops I mean "Straight to the online store!"

      vic x

  4. I think no matter what path you take Vicki, there will always be a demand for D&M hats. I am actually quite excited that I may now get the opportuntiy to purchase one for Kaizer before he gets too big for your sizes :)


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