The summer craft show season is fast approaching and for many of you that means replenishing inventory. Here are a few tips for streamlining your production that you can use this summer and all the way through the busy holiday season.
Spring is a great time to reorganize and rethink your workspace. Arranging materials in the order that you need them is a great step to increasing productivity. We are all pretty visual people, and sometimes this can get in the way of designing a space that’s practical. For example, you may want to arrange your spools of thread in a beautiful rainbow when just putting the ones you use most next to the machine would be most efficient placement. Try envisioning a line drawn from one material you use to the next. If the line gets too tangled, you may need to redesign your workspace. Make a list of regular tasks that take place in your studio and prioritize them by their frequency. Make sure your space is best equipped for the tasks you do the most and map our a space every step in your creative process. The less time you have to spend pulling materials out or rearranging materials, the more time you can spend making lovely things.
Make sure your creative space is equipped for the volume you want to produce. A set up for the weekend scrapper will differ greatly from a 40 hour a week handmade business. As much as I want to put materials away so my space appears spotless, I instead found ways to display them on my studio wall and work surfaces so that they are all easily accessible. Come up with a system you can stick to when things get hectic. I have over 100 skeins of yarn in my studio and I arrange them in cubes on the wall by yarn type, then warm and cool colors. It’s not incredibly organized, but I’ve stuck to it for two years and I can always find the yarn I need.
Work in multiples. Last year I felt like I was always behind on inventory. I took a big step when I started making almost everything in multiples. If someone ordered something I would duplicate the item to add to our inventory. This method works best for smaller items and there are certainly many handmade items that can’t be duplicated. If your goal is creating lots of inventory, working in an assembly line fashion can be really beneficial. If I need a crocheted flower for an order, I’ll usually make 5 or 6 and put them aside for future use. Instead of making one bandanna here and there to order, I’ll dedicate an entire day to making 20. This is such a simple idea but also contradictory to my impulsive, creative mind so it’s taken discipline to implement. I have found that my performance actually improves with each item I make, so overall my products are getting better and better from the process making more and more in succession.
Finally, I close my computer when I’m working on orders. This one is rough. The internet is what connects me to my livelihood and I get stuck to it like glue. Still, closing off contact to focus on a task is really important for me since my computer is in my work space. Structuring work time and computer time is an important step towards increasing productivity. Use a stop watch to keep track of the amount of time you spend at the computer versus studio time. It will most likely freak you out. Creating and maintaining a routine in the studio is a great first step to increasing your productivity and keeping distractions to a minimum.
This beautiful photo and amazing studio belongs to Pixie Blossoms , and I found it via the Craft Rooms group on Flickr. Check out the group for some fantastic ideas about how to organize your studio space. Here are a few additional links to some tutorials for DIY studio organization:
Cork covered containers from Design Sponge
Fabric Storage Cube from Obsessively Stitching
Turn a Spice Rack into a Beautiful Bead Storage Rack from CraftyNest
Pegboard Organization from Nancy Riley