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The Story of A Small Business Fail

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Around 2007 or 8 I realized that the store I was using (Miva) was not going to be able to support my online business as it just didn't scale very well. I was growing so fast. Business had quadrupled in one year. We looked all around into various solutions and companies to work with to make my website thrive. On the recommendation of a friend we went with https://www.itpdx.com to redo the backend of our website. It was all downhill from there.

I didn't do my research and depended heavily on what the professional told me. ItPDX advised me to move to Magento for its scalability and robustness. ItPDX was supposed to build out a custom module and an incredible (tremendous) new store in Magneto. The transition was going to be smooth with these professionals, right? We sat down and I went over what I wanted. I thought we were on the same page but the solutions weren't coming the way I had specified. Very basic usability issues. The project kept going over budget. As it continued, it began to dawn on me that perhaps Brad, the owner, was not able to convey my specifications to his developers or he didn't have a solid team of developers behind him.

The professionals also failed to work into my new site a solid redirect plan. It was never even mentioned except for them to reassure me that after a couple of weeks, google would index my new site and I'd be back. So after launching the new site my business began to plummet. I began doing research and discovered it was due to losing all my juice. Because there was no plan in place for site redirects it was impossible to write code to automate them. I began the formidable task of manually redirecting over 15k urls. My rank dropped from #1 to #3 and then to the 3 or 4th page. With the flood of new competitors on the market with cool baby clothes I never regained my position.

As time went on I had to let my two long term employees go until it was just me managing a beast of a store. For anyone who has worked in Magento you know what I speak of. I hired developers online through odesk.com. I worked with Marcin in Romania for over 4 years.

After he moved on I went through a series of other developers. The problem was because I didn't understand how Magento was set up, I didn't have much say in the solutions various contractors came up with and on odesk, contractors are often just trying to find the quickest solution to your one issue. It continued to cause more damage to my website but after a certain point it was so dead it didn't seem to really matter. Plus, I had two kids, was playing music, writing, painting. It all got away from me and didn't seem a worthwhile endeavor to continue working on.

But, my guy, a Microsoft developer, finally talked me into redoing my store myself and learning how it actually worked. I decided to jump to Magento 2.1 as I was going to be attempting to learn the entire file structure, css, javascript, ssh, php anyway.

It's been an interesting journey thus far as a lot of my time has been finding workarounds to the bugs in Magento 2 and I am so grateful to the online community at stackexchange and github.  Anyway, the end result will be a very simple store with no customization and very few bells and whistles. Over time I will be adding in new features like my products, gift wrapping, my blog.

But, I am also excited as it has pushed me delve into coding which is so very far removed from making t-shirts. I hope you all stick with me through this journey.

Hopefully this story ends well.

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IRS scam phone calls

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I just got a recorded phone call from the IRS informing me that they are filing a lawsuit against me. It's their final notice. They told me to call them at 509 2283481

I had to think about that because I've received two bills from the IRS. 

One I received shortly after having called the IRS on another matter where they kindly informed me that they showed that they had not received my corporate taxes (although they had received everything else) for 2013. I did not owe them any $ that year and I immediately sent in another copy. 

Shortly after I mailed it in a second copy, I received a bill for a late fee as apparently they charge you $180 a month for every month you are late for an entire year...without letting you know they are doing this. That came to $2,160. 

I now certify everything I send to the IRS. 

Then, this month I received another bill for over 2k from the IRS saying that for 2014 they had a different amount reported on the W-2 from my corporation than what I had reported on my personal income. The last quarter of 2014 I stupidly switched to a bookkeeper who was not familiar with payroll and had decided to use Intuit to run my payroll. Intuit apparently printed the wrong amount. Still trying to sort this one out with the help of my fabulous accountant. But, it's already cost $300 in just paperwork fees

Anyway, when I got this fake phone call I thought that they were really coming after me!! 

I emailed my accountant asking what I should do and his assistant told me this was an all too common scam. 
Just so you know, the IRS will NEVER contact you via phone or email. They only send you letters. 

Anyone who is bored, please phone this number and cry irreconcilably into the phone and then talk about the gun you have in your house and how you can't go on under all the pressure and then click this link.

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Copyright & Trademark & Free Ideas

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I believe ideas and concepts to be ethereal (without ownership) until they are brought into their physical forms. Their physical forms can take on a multitude of shapes. The same ideas sit in our collective consciousness and it is only the way each individual manifests it that he/she should hold any rights to.

I've gotten dinged for making baby shirts that say "You're Old", "Caution, I Bite" and the latest ding is for my "Turnip The Beet" design.

The woman who has made the "Lettuce Turnip The Beets" sold so many of these shirts that she decided to pursue a copyright (does not protect phrases no matter how clever and witty) and also a trademark (by using this phrase on all her branding.) I understand her desire to hang onto this money making phrase. I also understand her anger at a major kids clothing manufacturer (Gymboree) who directly knocked off her idea.

Here is her design:

Here is Gymboree's take on the shirt:
Personally, I don't find it very attractive.

After I had produced my shirt, I noticed a bumper sticker that said "Lettuce Turnip The Beets" and I thought, wow that is even more clever than mine and then I saw the phrase "Peas Turnip The Beets" somewhere else and I thought that was darn cute too. I felt like I was riding the popular vegetable wave that had taken hold of Portlandia with all its varieties of kale, love of beets and gosh darn it don't we know how to cook up some collards now.

The owner of the trademark for LTUTB came after me with cease and desist via Amazon and I was flummoxed until I did some deep Internet sleuthing. I am assuming she feels that I am infringing on her trademark that she has gone through so much effort to put into place and protect.

So, I am considering changing my phrase to say something other than Turnip The Beet. I'm thinking "Squash The Beet" might be too negative. "Olive The Beet" is a twee contender. My Beet Box with a box 'o beets on the front seems very hip...or how about my favorite?...."This Shirt Is Beet."

*I went ahead and made a 'This Shirt Is Beet' today because this morning my daughter begged me to please not buy her any clothing unless she was with me. I want to give her this shirt.

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Friday, October 30, 2015

I get why Lego's refuses to sell their blocks to Ai Weiwei. It's because in America, as a corporation you are not allowed to make any moves that may negatively impact your sales and I am sure supporting an artist and political dissident who brings attention to Freedom of Speech and Human Rights does not lie in their manifesto right? Except when I look at their company slogans over the years it seems that they need to append their slogans with "....as long as it has nothing to do with Politics."
I Can Build What I Want
Just Imagine
Make Your World Possible

No, no, I get it. Childhood is supposed to be free from power struggles and filled with building Ninjago kits.

It is an interesting event and one I do not intend to let pass without bringing my son's attention to Lego's refusal to sell in bulk to him. I am also excited to show him the donations pouring in from around the globe via social media #legosforweiwei and also to show him the wonderful things you can build outside of a Lego kit.

I made this special shirt here for fun. You can buy it on my site because I am only beholden to myself and so I can be political. Sort of like Donald Trump. ha ha

PS I am reminded that Dissident is a good word if social policy is wack, which it is.

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No Sleep Till Brooklyn Adult shirts

Thursday, October 29, 2015

After many a request I've finally turned this design into an adult shirt. It's for all those new parents who are transitioning from being free and easy and watching all the girlies shaking to begging your baby to sleep while the front of your shirt (this shirt) is covered in baby poop and expressed baby milk.

This wonderful gift set prepares the new mom or dad to be by letting them feel sort of cool at home. It comes with a matching gift bag and a hand stamped gift tag. Get it at my website. Made in Portland Oregon with a lotta sympathy and love for the new dad and/or mom and/or dad and/or mom.


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Knitmare on Elmstreet

Friday, October 16, 2015

I completely forgot that I had turned this amazing fabric into a Peasant Dress. It's an exceptional piece and one of a kind because they don't print this fabric anymore and I don't sew out this dress any longer. It's on sale, it's the perfect toddler Halloween Dress and if you buy it, you get 15% off your entire cart by using gift code DAYOFTHEDEAD.
Don't lose out on this one of a kind dress featuring skeletons, dogs eating yarn and a confused boy.

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Day of the Dead Shirts

Thursday, October 15, 2015

I don't know why I like this Day of the Dead design so much. It's quite simple and the orange pops out on really well on all colors. I like it best on the black toddler shirt or the red baby one piece. Here is a picture of the design on an old Alternative Apparel shirt that they used to sell when they had a kids line. It was called the burnout shirt and is was so fantastic because it was incredibly soft. I sure do wish they hadn't dropped their kids line.

Another day of the dead shirt design that I really like is the Day of the Dead Biker. A shirt made for the real bike enthusiast.