May 1, 2016

Stamping Destroyed My Life: Chapter 20

To start this story at the beginning, please go here and follow the links. And thanks for reading!  Remember: this is fiction.  No laws, tax advice, stamp advice, or design ideas have any validity!

Chapter 20:  Opening Day

7:00 am:  Too nervous to eat breakfast, so I ate a piece of last night's quiche and a Diet Coke.

Beth and I each sat at our respective computers begging the Beautiful "sale" icon to flash. We had invested so much of our money and time that we needed that icon to flash, and flash often.

Most people don't realize how much it costs to start a small business or how much of your soul is involved. You sit at your computer and press click, or walk into a store and bring an item to the cash register, without giving it a thought. But, there's a ton of work between "hey, let's start a business" to flashing sale icons.

We were determined to be in the 55% - 65% of small businesses that were in business within 5 years of starting. In order to increase our chances, I took a course through my county on developing a business plan. It was kind of boring to go through the steps of writing it all down, but doing so helped Beth and me to literally get on the same page. We began by dividing up our responsibilities. Beth did the product development, art work, and web design. I did the marketing, packing, and money stuff. Regardless, we made all our big decisions together.

I wanted to get the stamps made overseas because it was so much cheaper, but after comparing the samples, Beth insisted that we make them in the US and I gave in. But our biggest battle was over "free" shipping.  I wanted to jack up our prices and offer free shipping to anyone who bought at least $35. That would encourage folks to buy more than they originally planned. Beth said shipping was too expensive and would eat into our profits. She didn't seem to understand that customers spent more with free shipping and the more they spent, the higher our profits. So, we compromised on free shipping if the customer spent at least $50.

7:30 am: Half a piece of the best coconut cake.

I had to get the kids breakfast and out the door. I had no choice but to stop being the CEO of Beautiful and be Mom for an hour.  It was just as well, because staring at a screen that was not doing a thing was torture.

8:30 am:  Cup of tea.

I was back home. No matter how many times I promised myself that I would not look, I ended up back at the computer, staring at the screen. Nothing was flashing. Rebooted the computer just in case it was my machine. Talked to Beth. She was calm.

"We've only been open for an hour and a half, silly."


9:32 am:  The other half of the piece of coconut cake.

Our first sale! Someone had purchased both sets and the blocks. Checked to see who it was. Susan! God bless Susan Raihala. I wasn't sure whether Susan was buying to be nice to me, or because she liked the idea of clear stamps, but I didn't care. A sale was a sale. Packaged it all and got it ready to mail. First step toward taking over the stamping world!!

10:30 am:  Nothing.

Checked Splitcoast to see if there was any chatter about Beautiful.

Silence. Was it time to post using my phony name? 

11:00 am:  3 macaroons.

Tick tock. Checked Splitcoast again. Yes! Someone with the user name 7grls534 posted:

"Anyone hear of Beautiful stamps? I saw an ad here. They are clear?  What's up with that?"

A few minutes later Jadeite8 posted:

"Plastic stamps?  Never!  I'm sticking with real rubber."

I wondered where Jadeite8 lived. I wanted to pay her a visit. Could one anonymous Jadeite ruin our company? 

11:15 am:  Pulled myself together. Called Susan to thank her for the order and asked her if she would go on Splitcoast and say something nice. We needed a known and respected voice to speak up before some Jadeite took us down.  

11:28 am:  One Twizzler.

Susan posted:

"I just ordered!  Love the designs. Will let you know how they stamp, but I have high hopes. It looks like it will be so easy to line up the flowers with the sentiments.  I'll report back!"

I want to marry Susan.

12:00 pm: Lean Cuisine and 7 red Twizzlers.

No, the sale icon isn't flashing, that's just my eye twitching.

4:00 pm.  Empty Twizzlers bag and a few glasses of Chardonnay.


This is a disaster.

My former craft room now has shelves full of stamps, blocks, and packing materials, as well as my computer and printer.  I've moved all my craft stuff to the basement because I no longer have time for stamping. Beautiful has become my life, and we've had one sale and that one was to a friend.

I'm so frustrated. I know that if we sell out on our very first day we will create an enormous buzz and our next release will sell out immediately. Everyone loves what everyone else loves even if no one actually loves any of it.  

I have to move this along. I start buying from Beautiful. At first, just a few sets. Then a few more. We had 500 of each stamp set in inventory. I "bought" 499 of each one. I know that Beth can see the names and addresses of our customers, so I created a different name and address for each sale. I put in my real credit card number so the sales looked real and figured I'd cancel the orders tomorrow.

5:38 pm:  A few Tums.


Beth calls.  She's shouting.

"Oh my goodness, M.  Have you seen what's happening?  The store is going wild! We've sold out!! This is one of the best days of my life!"

I start whooping along with her.

"Beth, this is it!! We are going to make it. I love you, but I have to start printing labels and getting the stuff out the door. Could you please put a sold out message on the store and then go on Splitcoast and tell them we've sold out but folks can get on our waiting list?"

Beth replied, "Oh, M. That's a fantastic idea! You are a marketing whiz! Thank you so much for trusting me to be your partner."

"Now you are being silly, Beth. This was all your idea. Talk to you tomorrow."


During dinner that night, I told John and the kids that we had sold out. I knew that is what Beth would tell her husband and I didn't want inconsistent stories. Besides, it was just a question of waiting. We would sell out soon enough.

Lots of high fives. Then John had an idea.

"Listen kids. This is mom's big day. She's done the impossible and sold out on her very first day in business. She can't possibly get out 500 orders in a reasonable time without help. And the sooner she ships, the happier her new customers will be. Why don't we help her pack and mail all the packages? With all of us helping, we can get this done tonight. What do you think, M, isn't that a great idea?"

Next:   Chapter 21


Jackie said...

Uh oh. Poor M, she just can't catch a break! :-)

Anonymous said...

Best laid plans......ok, M's plans are rarely "best!" LOL!

Debra said...

John is always on top of things isn't he ..

marty said...

Susan bought your stamps!!
Ha!! You are a genius, Joan, not to mention hilarious!!
Thanks for sharing your talents and brightening my days!

marty said...

Oops, I meant M's stamps!! 😛

Julia L. said...

Oh dear!! :D

Leslie Miller said...

Oh, M... the brains are there, the sense is not, tsk tsk. But where would our story be without you?

Glorie said...

Uh oh. Cannot wait for the next chapter.

Gab said...

Hahahaha! Can't wait to see what's next!

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