The Arabs Say: They Have Plenty Of Sand Already, Thanks

I have been looking for a job. An actual proper, paying job. Fruitlessly.

My maternity pay – comparatively generous here in the UK – dried up well over a year ago, and since then, we have all been living on Hubby’s income – and eating into savings. Inevitably, there is beginning to be a certain anaemia of the Hairy Exchequer, and when my credit card bill plops heavily onto the doormat each month, John’s hands start to churn through his hair whilst I watch him anxiously from behind the cover of something solidly mad-axe-murderer-proof.

And joking aside, this sharing-of-one-income thing completely sucks a clown’s balls. John never actually criticises any of my purchases – merely frets over the zeros – but nevertheless, I acutely feel all the consequent mental indignity of this imagined host/parasite situation – and having absolutely no money of my own is a hairshirt total pisser.

Take our garden, for instance. Had I been earning, there would, by now, be a summer house, a patio/deck, some nice stone steps, a soft lawn, a fence and a gate across the drive. Because the only avenue open to me (sans income) is to plead with John – and we’ve been having this row a long time now – to get all the ground work done himself (strong muscles, carpentry & stone-building skills, JCB-owner, etc) all we have is half a lawn and some step-shapes in an earth bank. It’s a sore point, and all I can do is get angry and worked up about it and tell him I feel let down at his lack of motivation. But rather than spend 18 months working myself into a frustrated lather, it would have been awfully nice to have been able to cheerfully raise two fingers to the procrastinating old sod and pay builder-chaps to do it myself. But I can’t, and it makes me feel – well, probably about like Harry feels when I tell him he can’t have crisps for breakfast. Sort of…tantrummy. And small. Low down the pecking order. Not a mover and shaker! But… I didn’t want to go back to work, so I entirely accept this has been a situation of my own making.

The need to inject some more funding into the household budget peaked concomitantly with my personal poverty pissing me right off, so a while ago I began to scan the papers and websites. My background is field sales and account management, but juicy jobs with generous packages, local travel, no shitty aspects and a max of 3 days a week… well, like I say, I’ve been looking awhile. My old employers sound deep in the economic cacky stuff, and have nothing to offer me. The Sits Vac column has been merely a collection of ads requiring people to sell recruitment ad space. I seriously considered re-training for something different, but that in itself takes money, particularly when you have childcare to factor into the equation – plus I couldn’t think of much else to do apart from patisserie (bad back & early mornings) – so I’ve spent a fair while whizzing around in ever decreasing mental circles, with the occasional hopeful progress enquiry from John to depress me even further.

I had advance notice of the 2nd birthday party of one of Harry’s little friends one of the kids we know through babygroup. I sighed and mentally catalogued how many 2nd birthday parties we are likely to attend in the next 12 months: I calculated about 15. I like WH Smith as much as the next girl and more, but at around £2.25 for a card, I was wincing at the sums even before the whole wrapping-paper-and-gift moneypit forced itself upon my thoughts. I decided to be organised (a minor personal triumph) and went online and started searching for the greeting card company I know who bypass the shops completely and sell direct to the public: a girl I used to work with had a sister who was a trader and the cards I bought from her were absolutely lovely and a mere quid each when you buy 10. Bulk buying didn’t look like being a problem for me this year. 

I found them and was looking through the various designs and cooing happily – I like art AND stationery – when I encountered the section about becoming a trader… and slowed down to pay more attention. Your very own home-based business, operated as intensively or as occasionally as you please, in entirely your own time. And I asked myself if, really, there was any reason I couldn’t sell cards. And there wasn’t. I’ve certainly sold stranger things. I once sold a bloke a ladder I didn’t have (I worked for a filter company) simply because he dialled the wrong number and thought I was Screwfix. I sourced a very nice one, sent it to him, and made a clear 45%. I like days like that.

So, I sent off for some information, and scrutinised it closely. I had bought the products over a period of some years and knew they were very nice indeed, but some direct selling firms have – justifiably – had some dreadful press over the years and I was very wary. But I really couldn’t find much to pick holes in. The product designs are lovely, and beautiful quality. The company are industry leaders and have an unimpeachable reputation. 

So I showed it all to John – forced him away from the TV and made him read it all – and we talked. And I signed up. It cost me £150, which was £105 more than it had to, but I wanted to invest in some extra stock. That was 3 weeks ago; I have been selling for 10 days, and I’ve already turned over enough to replenish the depleted bank account – even if it has been about 25% due to my mother desperately trying to indirectly inject cash into her daughter’s coffers by stocking up on her entire year’s card purchases all in one go. Then, she tried to give me them all back again to hold as stock. Bless the woman.

Being an owner (temporary, MIL’s house, etc) of a nice view, which people are often telling me they would like to come have a look at, I thought I would make the most of the new situation and re-take the dining room back for my own purposes. It now looks like this:

Rack

and the boys are Not Allowed in my inner sanctum. I sit in there and drink coffee and lovingly pat my boxes of stock! The hall has been tidied. There are even pots of pretty flowers either side of the front door and all the trailer-park-trash has gone to the tip. I am now Open For Business on Saturday mornings; I am booked in for local fetes – a big earner, apparently, although I’m a little late in the year to jump on board with many. I am thinking whom I can persuade to do charity coffee mornings – I don’t mind giving up some profit to a good cause and building a customer base in the process. I have dropped brochures and samples off in my local villages and my doctor’s surgery. I have sent my best friend off to work this week with a nice wicker basket crammed full with cards, note cards and gift wrap – and a commission offer that she has kindly declined, because she loves me. I am tracking down WI meetings and ladies’ lunches and begging for a slot. I am planning card parties for the evenings, particularly as we move towards Christmas (Don’t groan! The season starts in September!). I have been to one of the bi-annual company roadshows which fortuitously fell last week, and met – and liked – the owners and directors. I have been working stupidly late in the evening, because I have a lot of initial set-up gubbins to busy myself with.

And I’ve really, really been enjoying it. I have a new interest in life apart from the family bowel problems, which are beginning to oppress me mightily. This is my very own business, it’s a job that I know, that I’m confident I can make work – not least because the things really do sell themselves most of the time; something to appreciate when your previous career has been slogging uphill selling either industrial products in an overcrowded market or expensive marketing services. Those jobs had chunkier salaries, it has to be said, and this project is not going to have a great deal of impact on our budget until I have established a decent client base, but I can do all this work without significantly deviating from the weekly routine Harry & I have. (I am donating 10% of all of my own profit to BLISS, the premature baby charity, which pleases me as I’ve been able to give them very little of late). My own sponsor – my upline trader and moral support – does the majority of her business stood waiting to collect her two sons from school, scouts, swimming, etc.

And now, of course, because I’m all bubbly and enthusiastic about it, I want to show you what I’m selling!

www.phoenix-trading.eu/web/ann

Now… I would hate for you to be recoiling in horror by this point, feeling all sticky and used, and thinking that I am about to start abusing my bloggy integrity boring you to death for the purposes of filthy lucre – so let me assure you that I will shortly stop banging on about this, and will return to my staple output of toddler-terror, and whatever other crap it is that I customarily waffle about.

I would, quite seriously, be mortified if you leave here with the impression that I expect anything other than your good wishes in my new endeavour – and I don’t actually even expect that, it’s just that I know a little about quite a few of you by now, and I appreciate your collective loveliness, moral support and kind comments.

However, I am not one to turn my back on opportunities, if opportunities there be – I drifted into sales in my 20s for a reason, after all, and there is just the tiniest element of CMOT Dibbler’s unrelenting greed about me, and I do need that garden fencing put up – so I will keep a tab up at the top there with some details on how to buy.  I do not exhort you, naturally! Some of you like spending more money than you absolutely must for quality products in this economic climate, I’m sure… Local customers are where this business is designed to centre, not the far-flung corners of the internet, but if any of you are extremely desirous of purchasing lovely (cheep! like the budgie) cards from Wifey – postage within the UK is not horrendous. Even with a couple of quid tacked on the total for Royal Mail’s cut, they are still significantly cheaper than the high street. I could include some genuine Stratford-upon-Avon air – the air that Shakespeare himself broke wind into! – in the envelope absolutely free, gratis and for nothing. If you live further afield, then the postage and payment element becomes significant, and I will likely be regretfully obliged to send you nothing more than my very best wishes and the news that if you live in the USA, France, Australia or New Zealand, you can buy from your own local traders. And I will make nothing! *lip quivers*

If any of you – UK, USA, or Antipodean – think that I might be onto a Particularly Good Thing here, and would like more information – then you must, of course, make up your own minds after careful scrutiny and consideration. I am very keen not to actually encourage you. All I can honestly assure you of is that the products are delightful and inexpensive, the organisation is well established, sensible and respectable, and that they do what they say on the tin. I can’t say that this would work for you: money generally has to be earned the hard way in this life, sales never achieve themselves and you always need a business head on you. It’s too soon for me to know how well I will succeed at this myself (although I am conceited enough about 1) my own willingness to slog hard at things I really want to happen and 2) the fact that I’ve succeeded in sales before, to feel confident) – but if you are the friendly type and have a wideish circle of female acquaintance/know lots of men who are prolific card-buyers – then you could consider having a go.

I mention all this purely because the way the company expands is fairly organic, with enthusiastic customers tending to be the ones who evolve into traders – and any new traders become the responsibility of the trader who originally introduced them the product. You would, therefore, inevitably belong body and soul to me, continually have me on your back, have to attend my monthly sales meetings where there will be cake, be a part of my team. I am not actively looking to establish my own team at all until I get my sea-legs underneath me – but anyone actually reading this who might genuinely be interested in selling the products, sends off for info –  and doesn’t quote my trader number – will oblige me to hunt them down with a large bowie knife and a exceedingly murderous look in my eye. I get my £25 registration fee halved next year if I sponsor anyone, and I’d really rather it didn’t have to be my mother!

And lastly: in case you’re sitting there feeling all awkward and uneasy and soiled, and thinking that buying cards from a random internet stranger is the last thing you want to do, ever, and you want to say something about something to break the tension but don’t quite know how to slide gracefully off-topic without, you know, actually saying no in any way, shape or form… here are cutesy photos of John and raspberry-stained Harry (the sweet, innocent, deserving family that I am attempting to ward poverty and incipient starvation away from) teaming up to build the new sandpit and discovering that raspberry canes are self-service yummies

sandpit

sandpit construction

raspberry canes

so perhaps you could say something nice about them instead, if you wanted to?!

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18 Responses

  1. Aha! At last we find out what the hell you are up to!

    YAY! Goodest Luck! And may your cards bring ALL the boys (and/or girls) to the yard.

    *Goes to look at cards*

    The welly boots! The welly boots! The cuteness! I die!

  2. The new header looks great and the cards are really really cute! I wish you lots of luck selling lots and lots of cards! Congrats on starting your own business!

  3. As a US resident (and someone who almost always forgets to buy cards), you can exhort to your heart’s content with no effect on me. However, if you wanted to set up a service wherein you could troll my mental calendar and send off the cards to all the deserving people in my life without my interference, I would be eternally grateful!

    Congratulations on your new business. You sound very well organized, and I’m sure you will be enjoying cool drinks on your lovely patio in no time at all! Much luck!

  4. Sending my very best good wishes from across the pond. Although we are still very friendly to HRH where I’m from, I’m afraid postage would be prohibitive. Otherwise I would gladly purchase some lovely cards from you. All the best in your endeavours although I am concerned that your bowelly problems are still causing some trouble. I hope everyone is tip-top anon.
    And I have breathed the air in Stratford and sensed not a whiff of dear William’s, ahem, contributions although the house where he was born is quite lovely.

  5. I wondered about the change of blog header, and now i know why! Good for you!

    Sounds very exciting and seriously, it might be something I could consider. We’re only a matter of miles apart, it could work at some point in the future!!! Slight hurdle of my August cycle to get over first, but let’s talk baby!

  6. Had a quick peek and identified at least one fire engine that will be essential for a soon to be 3 year old…..

  7. If you need 1,000 elephants, I know a guy in Howondaland who can get them for half price, and that’s cutting me own throat…

  8. Your initiative is inspiring! Good luck with it all..
    (I find it very mean of Royal Mail to charge so much to post to Ireland – and they’ve done away with surface mail too. Hmph!)

  9. Are you allowed to diversify? Only I remember being incredibly impressed by you general craftiness and wonder if you are having a stall at fetes and the like surely a few Nappy-cakes etc would be a welcome addition?

  10. Oh, I think this is great! I hope it becomes a huge success and eases much of your money woes.

    I am guessing Alaska is too far for you to send things too, and that makes me a little bit sad. 🙂

    And very sweet pictures of your men. There’s nothing better than building things with Dad, then enjoying delicious fruit.

  11. Horrbily soiled here.

    Wait, that’s just the babes.

    🙂

    g

  12. I love it! Good luck and hope business starts booming soon!

  13. I admire your fortitude. Congratulations! And I am green with envy that you have raspberries growing in your garden.

  14. More good-luck wishes from across the pond… Again, I LOVE stationery & would likely buy some if we occupied the same continent, but I’m going to try the next-best-thing: send a linky-link to my MIL in St Austell & ask her to pass in on…

  15. Well done you!

  16. I love phoenix trading cards, I have a small stash that special people get (I actually prefer them to the high street jobbies. I will be in touch when I’ve recovered from the end of term!

  17. First time here but I just wanted to say good luck with your new business – two of my friends successfully do the same, the cards are wonderful so I think you are on to a winner!

    I will definitely be back again to visit.

  18. Oh how exciting! I am very impressed by the ladder story.

    Lots and lots of good luck with it all.

    A/B

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