The industry is changing.
The fiber industry is always changing (as most industries are) but for some time we’ve been seeing a gradual shift that in the last year or so has been undeniable. We’ve had discussions on fair fiber wage for teachers, farmers never get paid well and lately there have been discussions from designers that are talking about changes. It’s changing for the dyers and fiber suppliers too. It’s changing on all fronts. Seems normal enough in the cycle of life for this kind of shift to happen. Still it can smart to know that goods/ideas/information that was worth paying for 5 years ago are no longer considered “worth money” now.
I can’t tell you exactly when this shift started but it was going to happen at some point. There are many things that can contribute to why this shift has sped up though. Social issues, a switch in popular craft of the moment and an over saturation have helped to increase the downhill speed of the cycle. Regardless of when or why, this is where we are now. This post is not being written as a complaint. Far from it. It’s just the facts with maybe a little opinion tossed in.
I am thankful to all the people that kept the fiber industry going during it’s last slow spell.
I am thankful to my colleagues that rose up with me during my 15 years of owning Spunky Eclectic to help make this industry what it is now.
I am thankful to the new folks bringing new energy into the industry.
Designers, Teachers, Farmers, Dyers, Businesses, Suppliers, and really anyone within this industry can probably feel the change. I felt it shift in 2014 and started to make plans then. Of course, I didn’t think the change would happen as fast as it has, or as palpable, or have as many people noticing it so strongly. Here we are. Change is here and now we need to decide what to do about it.
Part of that has been the fair fiber wage. As the industry demand is shrinking, there are places that want to pay less. They still want to make the same profit even if it means squeezing that from others. Sorry, we’re all taking a pay cut. This is how it is now. I’m not going to work for a venue for less than a fair wage. Sure I help some places out for various reasons but no, you can’t step on my back to keep your profit margin the same. I will share your burden but I will not shoulder the whole burden.
So…. where does this leave me, really?
The only thing keeping me in the industry is my love of fiber. I love spinning and weaving and yarns with every little crunchy bit of my black heart. I have been working extra hours just to hope to squeak by one more month. The fact is, I’m working longer hours than I ever have in this business and making less money. I appreciate all the helpful people that have said things on other blogs and such. If you’re not living it, you don’t know. I work when I get up, I work when I go to work, I work when I get home. My kids used to see me doing “things”. Now they see me working. All the time.
It’s actually now at the point where hard decisions need to be made.
Yes, I’m staying right where I am. Spunky Eclectic will continue to exist, dammit
You can picture me with Scarlet O’Hara – Gone with the Wind…. kneeling in my field of fibers and clutching some of it at sunset. No? Too dramatic. I agree. But I plan to keep right on trucking along. Sort of.
I/We can’t keep working these long hours for this little income for our family (fair fiber wage indeed) so I’m restructuring. I need to know if this much work is acceptable to me. I mean, it feels oppressive sometimes and as a team my husband and I are not making a sustainable income this year. Sometimes that’s the way it goes in business but sometimes it’s not acceptable. Jay is looking for work and I have found part time flexible hour employment. My job is only entry level and it will give me some idea (since I’ve been self employed for 20 years) if I hate working out there enough that working in all my awake hours for myself is better than doing any work for someone else.
Why am I telling you all this? Because it’s my blog and I have a habit of going on and on about myself. Also to let you know there are business changes if you’re a customer. If you’re only ever an online customer, you won’t see a difference at all. You can probably disregard this whole posting. The difference is going to come by way of brick and mortar shop hours. As soon as I get my new hours at the new job I’ll be adjusting the hours of the physical store. If you plan to come to the shop, please call ahead.
Now, I’m expecting this shift to be a really really good thing. In the least it will be a learning experience for me and a chance to experience some new challenges. Also, I’ll be leaving the house and talking to adult people on the regular. That’s going to be interesting. Maybe having an outside income will help free up more creative time at work.
I’m not the only one in the industry that’s in this shift. There are some that already have their part time jobs, others that are looking, and I’m sure others yet that some time soon might realize that’s a decision they need to think. There will likely be others that don’t even notice the changes in the industry at all and that’s awesome.
All industries have their ups and downs. The beautiful thing about ours is that it’s a community and even in the low times, a community rallies and holds each other up. I know all the businesses alive today won’t make it through the industry changes (it’s the way it is) but I’m rooting for you all. Those that do change and move on to other things, I’m hoping for it all to be for the better. Those that stay, I hope it’s not a struggle and that you are being fairly paid for your work.
Rock on you gorgeous people.