Inventory Lists: Part 1 - To Do List

August 12, 2023

Just a quick reminder that tomorrow August 13th is the second Sunday of the month and that means it's time for the Belle Aire Market from 9-2. I am going to try out a way of doing a Seconds Sale this weekend. I have some pieces that just aren't what I envisioned for various reasons. They will be out on a table and I'm asking people to pay what they think they're worth. Minimum price is $1 only because I don't want to do anything with change.

A couple of weeks ago I responded to a post on Facebook where someone was asking how you don't let ADD take over in the studio and get intentional about making. I briefly described my process, but now I'm going to share with you how I use Excel to manage the process.

I love Excel. I don't really know when I learned it, it was just something that always made sense to me. I've ended up teaching basic Excel skills first at college and then at work. There are people who I haven't worked with in years who will text me when they have an Excel problem. I don't feel like I do anything all that fancy, but it is a really helpful tool.

I use Excel a lot when I prep for shows and when I am deciding what I need to make. This is only my second year of selling, but because I kept track of what I sold last year I had a good idea of what I needed to make the most of this year. I'm going to share with you how I use Excel to keep my prices, inventory, and pack for fairs. I absolutely know I could get more anal about this than I am. I could keep a lot of this in Square, but this way makes sense for me so it may make sense for others.

I've broken this down into 4 parts:
Part 1 - To Do List
Part 2 - Master Price List
Part 3 - Packing for a Fair and Prep
Part 4 - Tallying after a Fair

I've also created a sample file that you can use for your own studio. I do recommend downloading and using Excel vs Google Sheets as some of the formulas may not work, or work differently, in Sheets. The images and descriptions for this blog post are in the ToDo worksheet (or tab) at the bottom of the workbook.

Last year was my first year doing shows so I started by collecting data. I kept a tally of what I sold at each show. I also paid attention to what was selling vs what wasn't. I adjusted prices show to show until I found what felt like the sweet spot for a particular item. At the end of the year I summed each item across all the shows I did and that's how I created my initial To Do list for this year.

Last year I tried to keep track of inventory as I made things, bisqued them, and then glazed them but it was just too complicated. This year I've simplified it to just look at how many do I intend to make (the count column) and how many have I made to date. This gives me my "to do" as Excel automatically does the math (yes it's simple subtraction but sometimes I really fail at that). As I have sold things at various shows I will make notes on my clip board about what I need to add to my To Do.

I made probably 6 crab mugs last year and sold them all. I made 12 to start with this year and I have found that they are one of my most popular items. I make those in batches of 6-12 now and just add to the count when I need more.

Inventory Lists: Part 1 - To Do List

The priority column is there just to help me focus. I can filter on To Do and unselect the 0 then filter on Priorty = 1. This gives me my first to do list that I can write on my small whiteboard in my studio. When I make an item, I wipe it off the board and then update the Excel on my phone or later at my desk. Once all the priority 1 items are done, I can move onto priority 2, and so on.

As I've been getting more intentional about what I make and my time to make it I have found that by making the various styles that I do in groups that glazing goes faster. I will make a bunch of crab things together so that when it comes time to glaze, I do all the crabs at once. It can feel a little tedious at times, but I'm also finding that I'm getting better at making pots and at glazing them by doing things in bulk like that.

Inventory Lists: Part 1 - To Do List

I use multiple clays in my studio because I like all the different looks. What I don't like is getting brown clay on my white clay. So I try in a given week to only be using a single clay body so that I can do a deep clean before I move onto the next clay. This helps limit cross contamination.

If I go into the studio and abandon my list and randomly make 5 soap dispensers with a new cutter I got from De La Designs then I will add that to my To Do list. It's like writing something on my list and immediately checking it off. If I make just one thing and I don't know if I'm going to like it or sell it, then it doesn't immediately go on the list.

In the next post in this series I'll talk about the Master Price List and what it drives in the rest of the spreadsheet.

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