This is a huge post about changes and shifts in the way we plan on running the business going forward, with a bit of more current news regarding the holidays and a Etsy updates sprinkled in as well. It's a doozy, so you might want to grab your preferred warm beverage and get cozy. All right, here we go!
I'm going to give you the bullet point version first and follow up with elaborate explanations after. In a nutshell:
- Chunky Update! There will be a Grey Label Chunky Update this Friday, Dec. 4th at 9 am EST. All the yarn is dyed and ready to ship and will be mailed Monday through Wednesday of next week. Etsy orders placed before Monday should be received in time for the holidays.
- TFA Website orders: Canada Post has posted their holiday delivery schedule and based on that + our processing time I'd say that if you live in Canada and are hoping for a pre-Christmas order you should place your order by the end of the week. If you live outside of Canada we cannot guarantee that orders placed from here on out will be delivered before the holidays.
- We will be closing for an extended after-holiday break from December 27th until late January. Just like we did last summer. All orders placed before Dec. 27th will be dyed and shipped asap. EDITED :: we had to move our closing day up to Dec. 14th.
- There will be a big Boxing Day Etsy Update on December 26th again this year. It will feature loads of everything! Yay!
- When we re-open the shop after the holidays it will look quite different. We currently offer 51 colourways in 10 different bases available all the time on our site. Going forward only Blue Label Fingering Weight, Yellow Label DK Weight and Green Label Aran Weight will be available permanently on the TFA site. All of our other bases will be available in limited quantities in Etsy updates, special blog updates, etc. All of the kits will be sold the way that we currently handle the Mini Sock Yarn Skein sets. We will make up kits in a variety of colourways and yarns and will list them in the quantities we have when we have them rather than always having them available as a dyed to order item.
- When we re-open the shop after the holidays there will be a price increase on every yarn we stock. I refuse to put that in bold because it really bums me out.
Ok, so... there ya go! Now to elaborate. Points #1 & #2 don't really need much added do they? Orders take time to dye and ship and be delivered, dyed to order items a little longer than ready to ship items. One last Chunky Update before the holidays means that maybe, just maybe, you'll be able to squeeze in one last knitted gift!
#3: We're taking some time off for a bit of a winter break. With the changes that we are planning (see point #5) we feel that taking some time to clear our minds, to get re-organized and to start fresh will be very helpful. Though we will not be accepting orders we will be home, unlike in the summer when we vacation out east. We will be home working ahead on new things. I envision it being a very productive month with *hopefully* a little bit of R&R peppered in there too.
#4: The annual Boxing Day Etsy Update has become a tradition for us. It's a crazy time of year to do our biggest update but it's become part of the Christmas chaos that I love! It just wouldn't be the holidays without a house full of OOAK's. This year's will feature lots of OOAK colourways as well as lots of our permanent collection colourways on bases that we won't be stocking as regularly (I'll expand on this in point #5).
#5: OK, so this is the big news. This is the thing that I have been turning over in my head for months, nay, years! The thing is, our current system just no longer works for us. Frankly, it's more than that, our current system is kind of impossible. When I started TFA 8 years ago I never imagined that we would reach a point where we would be receiving more orders than we could process. It just didn't seem possible. But, here we are. Having all of our colourways available in all of our bases all the time means that the possible order combinations are practically infinite. When we started out and a few orders would trickle in over a week the system worked fine, but as the business grew and orders started coming in more regularly it became obvious that we wouldn't be able to keep this up forever.
It's important to us to be able to continue to offer our permanent collection colourways on our best selling bases. If you wake up on a Tuesday and realize that you desperately need 2 skeins of Yellow Label in Lilac to knit a sweater for your cousin who's baby shower is just around the corner, well, you don't have time to wait for the next Etsy update and hope that a suitable yarn will be featured. And I don't want to leave you hanging. So, our 3 best selling bases, Blue Label Fingering Weight, Yellow Label DK Weight and Green Label Aran Weight will continue to be available the way they are now: all the time in whatever quantities you need. The rest of the bases will not be, which is why we will be featuring loads of our current colourways as well as OOAK colourways in the Boxing Day Etsy update, so you'll be able to stock up on your favourite luxury base before they are less readily available.
By "less readily available" I only mean that they will not always be available on the site like they are now, but I do intend to do very regular Etsy updates featuring all of our bases. They are not being discontinued or anything. They will be featured in Etsy updates and blog updates in limited quantities. And limited quantities does not necessarily mean "small quantities" it just means that like all of our Etsy updates, we'll dye and list what we have and when it's gone it's gone... until the next update. Our hope it to be able to have Etsy updates more frequently, surely every month isn't unreasonable. As for the kits portion of this shift, this is a simple switch up that I don't expect to be too noticeable.
In my heart I honestly feel that this change of direction in terms of how our business is organized is a very good thing for everyone. It opens so many doors to us creatively to be able to experiment with new colourways, bases and kits. With our current set up, adding a new base meant dyeing and photographing it in all 51 of our permanent collection colourways, which is an epic undertaking. Adding a new colourway or kit is also a mammoth task, and it's not the work that we're afraid of, it's the maintenance of having so many items always available that was really holding us back from adding new things. Going forward, adding new colourways should be easier. Experimenting with new bases and new kits will be much more realistic knowing that we don't have to always have them available in unlimited quantities. It gives us the flexibility to try more, which I'm incredibly excited about.
So, lastly, point #6... I've been trying to avoid dealing with the inevitable truth that prices need to be raised for some time now. Our manufacturers have raised their prices on us, and over the years we've managed to deal with it without passing that price increase on to you, but for the first time in 8 years, it's time. We will be raising the prices across all our bases by a few dollars (more or less depending on the base) when we re-open after the holiday break. For the rest of this month and for the Etsy update the prices will remain the same. Take advantage!
In conclusion, 2016 is going to be a year of changes and experiments for TFA. As business' grow, change is inevitable. Sometimes I feel down about the fact that we aren't able to maintain the model that I set up for us, but then I kick myself in the pants and realize that there is no way I could have known what direction this little business would take us in way back when I started. I have to be open to opportunities as they come. Not only have we, and our business, grown and changed, so has the online environment in which we operate. It only makes sense to adapt.
I also want to mention that I'm in the process of developing new yarns. It's something that I really enjoyed doing with our new Grey Label Chunky yarn and is something that I hope to continue to do as my knowledge of yarn and fiber grows. I have big plans and grand visions for our sweet little TFA. 2016 is going to be an exciting year for us. Change used to make me nervous, but when I think of it as growth rather than change, it's incredibly exciting!