The Bazaar Story

About 8 years ago I came home from my mother’s house where we celebrated Christmas, and took a good look at my business.  I realized I had a lot of garments that were not for sale on the site.

There were garment samples that I bought and dyed, but didn’t want to carry on the site—probably a couple of large boxes of those.

And there were another couple of boxes filled with shirts that didn’t make the cut to sell at the store.  I’ve always been pretty picky about what I’ll send out to a customer, which automatically left shirts that weren’t sent.  They might even be really good shirts, but didn’t fit the categories I was selling.

And then there were all my experiments, and a bunch of stuff on hangers in the closet, and if I ever got there, there were several boxes under my bed.

So I just started taking pictures and ended up taking four hundred that winter.  Then I found a program to batch process the images and figred out the html to display a product.  I set up categories and the Tie-dye Bazaar was born.  Over the next couple of years the Bazaar doubled and tripled in size, and even now after many sales has over 800 pieces.

In 2009 my son, Goerge and I decided to move to Tennessee.  We were looking for a little warmer weather and we had relatives here that we wanted to see.

I knew that we were going near Christmas and would have to sell tie-dyes before we could set up a dye shop, so I photographed all the stock I had available and added it to the Bazaar.  We had over 22 containers of tie-dyes when we moved, and for the first few months the Bazaar was the only part of the site offering sales.  Then I revised the store and set it up again so that we were offering a much bigger variety that often had to be dyed-to-order.

I guess the latest change was adding the Bargain Basement, but I’ll write more about that in my year end wrap up

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Pricing of Tie-dyes

I get three questions about pricing tie-dyes.  Why do I charge so much?  Why do I charge different prices for different patterns?  Why do I charge extra for some background colors, and for custom orders?

First why do I charge so much?  My prices are not high if you consider the labor and care that goes into each product, and  I have to compete against people who practically throw the dyes onto the shirts and sell them very cheap.

I spend the time it takes to check how far the dye has gone into the material so I can get each pattern the way I want it to be.  It takes time and care at every step in the process  to make my tie-dye products. 

 Many people have quit tie-dyeing as a business, because they found that it was too labor intensive.  They loved tie-dyeing, but it just took so much time to make their products, and they refused to do them sloppier.

Second, why do I charge different prices for different patterns?  It takes longer to make some patterns.  Stars and mandalas, for example, take more time than spirals, and  star-yokes take even more.  If I charged the same price I would lose money on the more complicated patterns,  and I didn’t want to stop making those patterns, so I had to charge more for them.

Third, why do I charge extra for some background colors.  White backgrounds are the original color of the shirt, and colored backgrounds take more time.  There are also differences in the cost of the dye going into the backgrounds. For example, it costs a lot more for a black background than a light blue or pink background.

It is also a matter of fairness to the customer.  Why should someone buying a spiral pay more to subsidize more complicated patterns.  I am also going to start charging extra for custom color combinations for the same reason.

Finally, I can assure you that I do not make a large amount of money with any of my tie-dye products.  In fact most of the time I just make enough to survive.  I don’t have a car, and I rent my house/shop.  But I am happy, and I’m glad I’m self employed through this current economic mess (adjustment?).

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Personal Update–Health Issues

I turned 69 in March, and I have two health conditions as well, so I want to give everyone as clear a picture as I can.  I have definitely not been able to keep up with business as fast as I need to, but I am catching up.  I currently have about a dozen orders that I’m working on, and several returns or exchanges to process.  I’m going to email the worst cases, but if you have anything I should have taken care of, but didn’t, please email me and call if necessary.

I’m grateful to  have this business which I can do from my home.  Tie-dying has certainly not made me wealthy, but it has given me a way to get through an amazing variety of circumstances.

I’ve been a type two diabetic for about 10 years. About a year ago I decided to start using insulin. I take a small shot of long acting insulin at night and Glyburide twice a day which encourages my pancreas to make some insulin. I also test my blood fairly frequently and adjust the amount of carbs I’m eating to stay within bounds.

Last winter, I’d been getting pretty good control of my blood sugar, but I started wondering if I had something else wrong.  I was often tired and frequently short of breath from just walking across the house, so I made a trip to the VA Hospital where I was diagnosed with atrial flutter—a step down from atrial fibrillation (both types of cardiac arrythmia). I was prescribed two medications—Warfarin, a blood thinner and Diltiaxem, a circulatory muscle relaxer. The Warfarin is to protect against strokes which can happen with these conditions.

The meds have helped me and I have more energy on average than I did before the diagnosis. The hardest part for me is that the fluttering is erratic. I’ve had a couple of times when I knew my heart was acting up all night, and I felt more tired when I got up than when I went to bed.  Now I stay up for awhile to calm and regularize my breathing by meditation which helps. And then I might have one or two good days when I feel “normal.” I’ve actually felt so good a couple of times that I could over do it and burn myself out a bit. The only regularity is that I tend to alternate good and difficult days or groups of days. I used to be able to work late and start early if I needed to fill orders, but those days are long gone.

It was also confusing that the atrial flutter feels a lot like low blood surgar. I realized there were times in the past when I felt like I had low blood sugar and ate some carbs only to find my blood sugar was very high. Now I know that when I thought my blood sugar was low it was the feeling of the atrial flutter.
A couple of days ago I realized that low blood sugar can trigger the atrial flutter as it seems any stress can.

So I’m reinventing my business once again.  We used to half-jokingly say we were remarketed hippies, but now we’d be remarketed, remarketed, remarketed hippies.

I’m switching from doing most of the work myself to orchestrating the work of myself and others. Fortunately I currently have two part time workers helping me. They are both art majors at MTSU, and they are learning very quickly.  They are getting so well trained that I can let them take over big chunks of production.  This will free me up to take care of the deskwork that has piled up, and write more books.  The books are important because they are my “retirement plan.”  I don’t really plan to retire, but I do have to slow down quite a bit and I’d love to have more time to experiment. Comments welcome!

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Google Update

You might want to read the prvious post, Dumped by Google, first.

I’ve been putting a lot of work into trying to get our google ranking up.  I found a site,, that analyses web page ranking.  They said it could be because our domain name was about to expire so I renewed it for 5 years.  I had hoped that when Google spidered the site again it would improve, but they  spidered it again on the 29th and we are still on page 3.  I’ll keep trying to improve it, but I doubt that  I can get any results before Christmas, so I’m contacting as many customers as I can through email, Facebook and Twitter.

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Dumped by Google

For almost 10 years Dyed in Vermont Tie-dyes has been number 1 or 2 on a google and yahoo search using the key words tie-dyes or tie dyes.  Recently we were knocked to 3rd, because Dharma Trading has popped up in number 1 on almost all searches for tie-dye in any spelling.

There were other things that made us less visible in google.  Google started putting paid listings at the top.  Most people don’t click on these, because they know they are there because they paid, not because google thought they were extremely relevant.  We go to the organic listings which google has graded for relevance and closeness to what we are looking for.  We were still number 3 in the organic listings, but the shopping listings also got in the way with another block of links, and we ended up under them which is pretty respectable, but still harder to see.

By the way I just checked Yahoo and we’re number 1, right at the top.  Yahoo must be a better search engine, and I think we should all use it and never go to google–it’s a revolution.! OK, maybe I’m a little upset at google.

So I decided to work on the site and see if I could bump us up to number 2.  I added some text.  I took off the flash slide show, because google can’t read flash.  I added some notes on navigation which I thought would be good for both visitors and google.  I signed up for and started using google analytics, and put the code on my site.  Google analytics gives you an analysis of web site traffic.

So I went to check.  I searched under the word tie-dyes and I’d dropped completely off page 1.  I did find us that day at the bottom of page 3 although we were later dropped from there too.  I never went to page 4; I might’ve cried–it’s the wilderness, noone goes there.

I have no idea what I did wrong.  Did I use the word tie-dyes once to often and google decided I was a spammer?  Did I dilute my use of tie-dyes as a key word with to many other words?  Should I take all my changes back–but I’d probably stay the same and still wouldn’t know what happened.  I am going to investigate more, and if I can find out what happened, I’ll be sure to write a post about it.

The last insult was when I read that I should be posting “keyword rich posts.”  Maybe if I threw in a “tie-dyes” once in a while we’d rank better. So if you comment be sure to include the word tie-dyes :-{) .

A word to Comment Spammers–We know you like to post comments on posts so you’ll have a link back to your site, but if you are reading this, which I doubt, you will have to post a meaningful comment or you go to the spam box which I understand is getting a little unsavory–only spoiled spam could be worse than spam.

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Another Day in Tie-dye land

I’ve been thinking about this blog, and I can’t just make it a business blog.  Me and my business are so intertwined that I couldn’t do that anyway and I want the freedom to just write.

It’s a cloudy chilly day in Murfreesboro, TN.  I’m pretty much dedicating the day to working on the site.  My son George is going to take me shopping this afternoon.  I don’t have a car at this point which I’m actually enjoying.  The ‘Boro actually has a nice bus system.   They’re small buses and they’ll stop for you or let you off anywhere along the route.  Being a senior citizen I can go wherever I need for 50 cents.

This evening, when I get the best TV, I’m going to finish tying for my dye-day tomorrow.  I’m working on a Christmas colored spiral pattern.  Red and green are not a great color combination although it is better than orange and green.  I think I’m going to keep the red fucia, and the green somewhat to the blue side so they won’t clash too much.  They will also be separated by white in the pattern I developed for the red, white and blue shirts. I hope to have pictures up on the site soon so you can see the results.

I’m also working on a “Star of David” pattern.  I actually had to use the Pythagorean therom to calculate the dimensions.  I found I can’t just do a six point star, because it doesn’t look anything like a Star of David so I’m drawing the shape and accordion folding around it.  We’ll see what happens!

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What happened to our ecconomy

I finally found a logical and truthful explanation about our economy.

After WORLD WAR II we were the only ones left with a huge manufacturing base and we thrived, because we could buy raw materials and sell manufactured products back to the 3rd world.  Two things messed this up:

1. As we learned to create  higher levels of income, i.e. financial , Media, hi-tech, etc., and  we were happy to let other countries take over the more menial jobs, and for the jobs we couldn’t outsource we hired “illegal” immigrants.  This goes way back to the 50′s when  we called them migrant workers.  They followed the harvests.  We where quite willing to let them do this–we didn’t want to bend over and pick the vegetables.

2. Increasing productivity means making more stuff with fewer people.  Back in the 50′s we called it automation, and a favorite science fiction story was about a jobless society where the machines did all the work.  Our businesses had no choice–they had to automate to survive.  We’ve all seen videos of modern car plants where robot programmable arms do most of the work. 

But we adjusted; we just started living on credit, and it was us, “the consumers,” who kept it going by consuming.  This recession is the bill coming due.

This is not just a recession.  It is a global economic realignment.  We can expect unemployment to last for a long time, and the only way out is massive innovation. Even there we’ll be playing catch-up for a long time.

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Dress Sizes

Long Sleeve Dress
S         35              52                   
M        38              53.5
L         41              55
XL       44              56

Link to Dharma’s page with more information

Sleeveless Long Play Dress
S 35 51 35 40
M 38 53 38 44
L 41 54 41 48
XL 44 55 44 50
XXL 47 57 47 52
XXXL 50 58 50 53
Link to Dharma’s Page

Bolivian Sun Dress
S 34 54.5
M 36 56
L 38 57
Dharma Link

Rayon Long Sleeveless Dress
S 37 55 9
M 38 55 9
L 44 56 10
XL 45 56 10
2X 48 56.5 10
Dharma Link

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Tiger Woods–Missing the forest because of the trees

I’ve been watching all the stuff about tiger woods today, and I think there is an essential and broader point that is being missed.

What happens to people when the go from poor or modest means to very rich.

It goes along with “why did so many rock stars OD”?  Why do so many sports stars have affairs, take drugs, gamble, or whatever.  You could call it sudden riches syndrome, SRS.

Suppose you go from poor to rich overnight.  Of course you buy a nicer house and car etc., but what then.  What perks do you personally  get for your accomplishments.

Many people have been destroyed by riches.  They’ve been struggling for years to get there which gave them direction and purpose, but what now.

Tiger Woods  said he felt entitled, and that’s exactly what I’m talking about—you  made all that money—shouldn’t you be personally entitled to SOMETHING?

From outside, or from our point of view he has it made.  He has all that money, a beautiful wife, and doesn’t have to worry about all the financial things that we do. But that is just seeing it through our eyes.

But from the inside it looks like, I did all this and what do I personally get.  A lot of the things we want aren’t very satisfying once we can have them as many times as we want.  Once you know that you could go to the wonderful restaurant every night it loses its allure.

So people in this situation tend to go after the subconscious things they could never get.  Many beautiful women, more and better drugs, fancy toys, and then when those don’t work anymore they are really up against it.  “I must deserve something, but what’s left?”

It is one of the basic existential situations of our culture where what matters most if the external.  If this were well known and discussed, it would be easier for these people to know what is happening to them, and we could feel more compassionate for them.

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1st Post of the “Rest of My Life”

It’s hard for me to post regularly, but I’m going to try again.  If I have to, I will just make short twitter-like posts.

The company name has to stay the same.  There are hundreds of sites that link to Dyed in Vermont.  This I’ve learned is the hazard of naming a business using geographical names.  So anyway the location is different, but the name’s the same.

It’s a beautiful day in Tennesssee–sunny and hot.  I have a huge amount of work to do today.  Bills and paperwork–tieing production with George and Alethia–measuring for insultion on the second floor–going to the library to exchange books.  The list just goes on and on…

I want to set this blog up so that it will automatically post to Facebook, Twitter and  My Space, but today I’ll do it by hand, or not.

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