Moving your handmade business by Jess Van Den, Epheriell

10 May 2016

It has been a hectic week for me as I move Plushka studio back into our living room. I got so excited when I heard that Jess (the editor of Create & Thrive) is moving her Epheriell studio too. I jumped at the opportunity to ask her to share some tips with us on what to do with a handmade business when you move. Enjoy! x

A little about Jess: Jess Van Den  has been a full-time creative entrepreneur since 2010. She and her husband make eco-conscious, contemporary, handmade sterling silver jewellery under the Epheriell label, and blogs about her jewellery and other beautiful things at Epheriell.com.

Epheriell

My husband and I recently moved both our home and our handmade business – Epheriell – after being in the same place for over 6 years.

Before we moved, I had to ask myself some questions about what we were going to do with our jewellery business while we moved.

My husband Nick and I both work in the business – and we are silversmiths, so we have quite a bit of messy, bulky equipment and tools that allow us to turn raw silver sheet and wire into rings and other jewellery.

For us, there were 2 main considerations.

One – we were moving into a brand-new workshop, which was way bigger than our old one, so we had an opportunity to set things up differently – more efficiently.

Two – we were not only planning on doing the move ourselves (with our van, a trailer, and the help of some family with their own 4WD) BUT we also knew we had to do a bit of renovation (painting, buying new furniture etc.) before we fully moved in, which would take even more time than the move itself.

So – I decided the best thing for both us and our customers would be to close the business while we moved. I did this so that we could focus fully on the move and renovations without the additional stress of trying to keep up with orders.

Epheriell studio space 2014

Epheriell studio space in 2014

For us, it was absolutely the right decision! It meant that we were freed up from working on orders, and also freed up from the administrative work that went along with it. I could also just let the marketing side of the business take a rest (though I did post an Instagram photo or two during our closure!).

If you’re planning to move your home and/or studio soon, here are some questions to ask yourself in order to decide what to do with your business during the move.

How long will the move take, and how much of the packing/moving/unpacking will be your responsibility?

Is it just going to be a few short days? Are you getting movers in to pack everything/move it/unpack again, leaving you free to work?

If so, you might get away with running your business as usual. Just make sure to perhaps increase your turn-around time by a few days for each order you take during this time-frame, to account for any unforeseen hiccups.

If you’re doing the move yourself, and you’re doing the bulk of the packing/moving/unpacking, will you realistically be able to do all of that, and run your business properly?

Be wary of disappointing customers because you can’t keep the promises you’ve made to them. It will come back to bite you, and the few orders that you might ‘lose’ during a closure will be worth not disappointing a customer by getting them their order late or not made to your normal exacting standards.

How much of the other elements of the move are your responsibility?

Don’t just take into account the physical aspects of the move – what about everything else? The administration that comes along with selling and buying houses (or renting), cleaning the old place, updating addresses, etc. All of this will take up time you usually allocate to other things.

If you can rely on someone else to be ‘in charge’ of the moving process, it might give you enough spare time to keep the business running.

Do you need/want to upgrade your studio when you move?

Moving is such a great opportunity to change things for the better.

Epheriell studio space 2016

new studio space, set up and ready for business

If you’ve been working on the kitchen table, this might be your chance to finally have a whole room to yourself! If so – do you need to shop for new furniture/decor/tools/equipment?

That takes time. And it’s much more enjoyable to do all of this and put your new workspace together when you’re NOT still in the midst of making things. It allows you to spend some time thinking and planning how best to arrange your space.

So – do you need to close your business while you move?

To make the final decision, consider the following questions:

– Can you realistically provide good, timely service while you’re moving?

– Can you physically make your items while you’re in the midst of moving?

– Can you handle the additional stress of trying to run your business and please customers on top of all the stress that goes along with moving?

– Is the stress of remaining open worth it?

Always remember, if you’re afraid of closing for a few days (or weeks!) it won’t mean the end of your business! When we reopened, we got a few orders immediately, then it took maybe a week or so to get back up to normal order volume. And, just for more backup on this, we have actually closed the business for months at a time in the past when travelling overseas – and we’ve always seen the same trend – business has picked back up almost immediately after closing, even when it’s been a few months!

We are established, so this trend will vary depending on your particular business.

Epheriell pieces

If you do decide to close your business while you move, here are some tips to go about that

Give as much warning as you can, everywhere you can. Your blog, social media, shop announcement, mailing list… anywhere your customers might find you, put a notice.

Make it clear what your cut-off is, and that customers who order before then will receive their items before you move. We always ‘close’ at least a week before we need to be moving/going overseas, so we have time to catch up on all our outstanding orders. And we NEVER ‘cheat’ and take a late order during this time. It’s not worth the stress!

Give yourself longer than you think if you are closing! We ended up staying closed a week longer than we’d planned, because we just weren’t ready to open again. The paining took longer than we thought it would, we were caught up with other moving chores that took time away from setting up the studio… but we decided it was better to stay closed for those few extra days than reopen and be disorganised and not quite ready.

Whatever you do, remember that your customers need to be top priority – but so does your mental health! Moving is stressful enough, so if you can, do seriously consider taking time off from the business while you move.

You can catch Jess on twitter @JessVanDen

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