November 26, 2008
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A domain name that I want finally expired today. So you might think– well, why didn’t you buy it?
Apparently domains don’t really expire when they say they will. In fact, it could take up to 75 days until the URL is released to the public. And that’s not the worst of it. Depending on the value of the domain name, there might be domain snatching firms (such as snapnames.com, enom.com, and pool.com) that try to grab the domain the very second the name is released into the ecosystem, and if there is interest by more than one party for the name, these domain snatchers put the names up for auction! Pool and Snapnames have a fee of $60 (which you pay only if you get the domain name). Enom has a lower base fee, but their pricing methodology is slightly more complicated.
Godaddy has a backorder system for 1/3 the cost of the their competitors, but you pay upfront regardless of whether you get the name or not, and based on the many blogs and threads I’ve read, Godaddy isn’t a very good option for drop catching names because their don’t have dedicated resources like their competitors do (they aren’t even good at catching expired domains from their own registry!)
So I am left with the dilemma of whether I want the name enough to pay $60+ for it (Yeah, I think I do). I suppose I could also attempt to get the name myself the old fashioned way– check the whois database periodically to see if the domain is officially deleted. However I am not sure if that effort would be worth it given that I am hopelessly bad with timing, and it would be way easier to go with a professional domain snatcher.
It looks like I have some time to decide whether I go with a professional service, or try my luck. I am leaning toward a professional service. If you have tried using snapnames or any companies like them, please let me know.
I learned a lot this week about expired domain registration. I hope you learned something too!
November 25, 2008
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At the risk of blogging too late tonight, I decided to instead blog earlier than I usually do. I’ll save my more educational posting for tomorrow.
I picked up my business cards today. They are pretty darn cool, and much fancier than something you’d get from a site like Vistaprint. They also cost a lot, but given that first impressions are extremely important to fashionista wannabes, I figured that my business cards should make a statement. And that statement is “Legitimate, creative business” (hopefully not “These cards look overpriced.”)
My graphic designer showed me the 4 rounds of proofs for the business cards and explained again the difference between the blue versus blue-green color. And even on his fancier paper printouts, I still didn’t see the difference between the colors. Maybe I am colorblind, specifically to the blue and blue-green hues.
I also finished most of the sketches for the laptop sleeve. I think I like the sleeve designs better than my bag designs. Yay sleeves. Maybe I should change my company URL to jonesmarketsleeves.com. Screw the whole bag thing.
Tomorrow will be the last blog post of the week. Happy early Turkey day to all!
November 24, 2008
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Today I’ve been trying to design a “one size fits most” laptop sleeve, and it’s been quite a challenge. Sometimes it is hard for me to visualize how my bags and cases would open, close, expand, etc., so I’ve been constructing miniature models using Whole Foods paper bags and/or fabric samples. Since I don’t really know how to sew, I use tape, staples, or glue for my seams. I’m actually surprised how good the little prototypes look. Maybe if my business is a flop I can become an ghetto accessories designer for Cabbage Patch Kids.
This weekend my husband bought me an early Christmas gift: a brand new Sony Vaio laptop! He deleted all of the pre-loaded junky software and transferred all of my files. It took him about 8 hours from start to finish. I feel bad that my CTO is doing all of this pro-bono work. Maybe I’ll give him an “Employee of the Year” mug as a thank you.
Tomorrow my blog will be updated really late at night. I won’t disclose why yet, but tomorrow’s journal entry should be educational.
November 21, 2008
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Today I spent the morning refining more of my designs. It’s amazing how much of the designs I’ve changed due to aesthetic preferences, manufacturing considerations, and cost tradeoffs. So after several iterations I’ve adjusted the design so it’s now just variations of a brown recycled paper bag.
For lunch I went to “The Lunchbox Laboratory” burger place in Ballard with a friend. Verdict: not recommended. I’d heard great things about this place from raving fans. Those fans must have never had In-N-Out. The burgers were overpriced, and hard to eat unless your mouth is the size of a fully-inflated volleyball. I feel like I ate a brick topped with bacon, cheese, and 2 fistfuls of mayo. The only good thing about the place was that they had a lunchbox on the wall that I used to have when I was in Kindergarten.
Today I made some more progress with my preferred fabric vendor. This relationship is a big deal to me because they are offering to custom weave a fabric for my company for reasonably low minimums. How cool is that?! Here’s the latest email from my sales rep:
All is a go, the design dept is setting up the designer to the account and will send you product soon.. If they can, they will send you qualities before Thanksgiving, if not, you will definitely see product the following week upon their return
I am not sure what “qualities” means, but I plan to look it up.
I was told by my big-time designer friend that I should take some time off before I get started on my new business. Although I didn’t really take that advice (shame on me!), I do think that I’ve re-energized myself thanks to my relaxed work schedule. I am pretty sure once I get moving on the fabric and leather sourcing that the relaxation will end and a frenetic work schedule will begin. But I am looking forward to what the future brings! And hopefully that will be fame and money.
Have a great weekend.
November 20, 2008
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Today I attended a free publicity seminar at the Seattle Design Center. I know, I spend a lot of time there!
Luckily the lecture was targeted at small business owners and not specifically focused on interior design. She covered topics ranging from press releases to blogging to social networking. There were a handful of students in the room, but I would say the mean age of the crowd was 45, and the mode was like 55. Maybe it was just me, but there seemed to be a bunch of older, opinionated, clueless people in the audience who also had a habit of being disruptive. Here’s an excerpt from the presentation:
Lecturer: As a publcist, I recommend that you have a website and a blog because…
Old person #1: What’s your email address?
Lecturer: Well, my email address is on the handout. If there aren’t other questions I’ll continue…
Old person #2: What’s your website?
Lecturer: That is on the handout too. So, as I was saying, websites and blogs are important, and as a publicist I must emphasize how important social networking is too. How many of you do social networking?
Old person #3: I hate LinkedIn. I don’t recommend it.
Old person #4: I like LinkedIn. When people look for me in Google they can find me on LinkedIn.
Old person #3: Well, I HATE LinkedIn.
Old person symphony: Me too! Me too!
(Loud murmurs then fill the room)
Thorough the 2-hour session I tried to keep my cynicism at a minimum, and as a result I learned a lot. The lecturer provided several “do it yourself” publicity websites that I plan to look through as I develop my marketing communications plan. One of the best things she provided was a list of do’s and don’ts that I think will be very helpful for someone who hasn’t really done PR before.
BTW I received ONE set of swatches today. I hope I get more tomorrow, otherwise the Incredible Hulk side of me will wreak havoc.
Adieu until tomorrow.
November 19, 2008
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Still haven’t gotten any swatches or samples in the mail. Most of my vendors said that they sent the samples last Thursday and Friday. I will do my best to wait patiently till end of week, and then I will go on a nagging rampage. Have you ever seen me in nagging mode? Very few have. Trust me, it’s not pretty.
Today I spent most of the morning running errands, and then in the afternoon I cranked out a few designs. I think my revisions to older designs are much better, and I even tried to sketch out some product line extensions. I actually enjoyed drawing this afternoon! I just wish these sales reps would move a little faster so I could get started on my prototypes.
My graphic designer wants to get started on my website. We decided it should be in html (vs. flash), mainly because of load times. I will also need to look for a photographer who can do product shots and maybe some “lifestyle” shots as well. If anyone has any recommendations for photographers (good amateurs welcome to apply)– let me know!
November 18, 2008
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I should have gotten several packets of swatches by now. So far I have received zero.
This late delivery could be because of several reasons:
1) Many of the textile people I have been speaking with are on the East Coast
2) Large textiles companies don’t see small companies as a high priority
3) These companies are inefficient
Regarding the last point, I spoke to a local sales rep this afternoon who told me that their corporate office in NY gave him my number, and faxed him the application that I had faxed to the corporate office. So the faxing went like this:
Corporate –> Suzanne –> Corporate –> Local Sales Rep (“The fax I received was illegible”)
Then the sales rep asked me many of the same questions from the application form, and said that as soon as my new account was opened, which I was told would be just a few days, he could send me a sample book from their ecofriendly fabric line.
In the meantime my logo guy has been asking me which color I prefer more: light blue, or light blue-green. I looked at a PDF of the two colors and couldn’t tell the difference. So I just went with his opinion since he probably thought more about it than I ever could.
That’s all for today. Bye.
November 17, 2008
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I’ve come to accept that nearly everyone in the textile industry prefers to use fax machines over email. I’ve had several folks offer to send me new account applications by fax or mail. And when I ask about email, they are quick to say that fax and mail are more preferable. And this sucks, because I don’t have a fax machine. It’s bad when the FedEx-Kinkos guys know you by name.
So I’ve been faxing a lot. I’ve faxed more in the last 2 weeks than I did in my entire 3 1/2 year stint at Microsoft.
I’m feeling a little ancy because I am waiting for fabric swatches and leather samples this week. The textile business seems like it moves REALLY slow, which is totally different than the pace of technology and advertising. Right now the pace is ok, I’m getting used to it.
I’m not tearing my hair out.
November 14, 2008
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OK, I may eat those words, but I think I may have had a breakthrough moment for my business, thanks to the crappy economy.
I spoke to a textile mill today who is interested in creating a fabric for me that would meet all of my crazy standards. Fabric mills usually don’t work with small business like me– normally I would need to go to a secondary distributor, which people in this industry call ”jobbers”. Also, most mills require that you purchase 1000 yards of fabric to even do any sort of customization, and my sales guy quoted me only 60 yards!
And the best news is that I think the cost per yard will actually be less expensive than some of the other vendors I was looking at. The main tradeoff, though, is time. He said it could take up to 8 weeks to get the fabrics woven and then finished with eco-friendly protectant. That’s a longer delay that I was hoping for, but given the existing fabric options, I will be ok with the wait.
The sales guy implied that this wasn’t the company’s usual practice, so I can only assume it’s economy-related. Thank you George W for opening up my creative options!
I am happy.
Have a good weekend!
November 13, 2008
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Today I spent all morning sending out more email requests for samples, and spoke to several sales reps. One sales rep even read my blog and sent me words of encouragement (how cool is that).
In the afternoon I headed back to the Seattle Design Center, and was harangued by a random middle-aged woman who was taking an art class at a nearby community college, which of course made her an expert in all things artistic. She overheard my conversation with the sales rep and offered me multiple suggestions on fabric designs. The best one she picked out had earth-toned circles and squiggles on it, and felt like cheap chanille. It was basically the opposite of what I was looking for in a bag fabric.
She then suggested that I work with her on another project making canvas covers for sketch books. She said she had shopped the idea around and needed a partner to help with manufacturing and sourcing. When I tried to explain I didn’t have time for– or have any interest in– making book covers, she gave me the stinkeye and finally stopped talking to me.
I have decided not to solicit any new textile vendors for samples, I think I have gone a little overboard with my textile requests– I’ve contacted over 20 suppliers. I need to slowly step away from my email and work with the leads I already have. I wonder if I would have been any good at finding dates on match.com with my overzealous outreach. Maybe Jones Market can diversify by being a bag manufacturer AND a match.com date retrieval service.
I think I might be going a little delirious.
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