What’s Next for Lady and the Carpenter?
Life has a way of throwing curve balls you would never expect. What a crazy time of mixed emotions, victories, frustrations and new beginnings.
First, I have to say that this is definitely not where I ever envisioned Lady and the Carpenter, with me at the helm, but I am so grateful for the opportunity. Most people who lose a spouse that is the primary “breadwinner” do not have the chance to take up that job and continue. Kevin was a master carpenter who loved creating wood items that brought joy to others. I am a teacher by trade and have recently been out of work due to the school closures. This being said, clothespins were not a particularly hard challenge for Kevin, so I figured maybe it would be something I would find challenging but doable.
It has been a steep learning curve, which I will be honest has involved both yelling in frustration and yelling in victory. God is with me through it all and just when I want to quit, I get a call or note from someone saying how much they love our clothespins, and it encourages me to continue. As I learn how to use each machine, I realize I can actually do this! In a few weeks when that first set of clothespins, made by my hand, come off the line there will be an amazing sense of victory and satisfaction.
I could not have done this without some of the amazing people around me that have supported me through this time. In particular, there are three men that have shared their talent and skills with me to help me get things running. They have patiently helped me learn the skills I need so that I can continue making clothespins on my own. I feel incredibly blessed. Through backordered part delays, learning a whole new skill set and time needed to restore inventory, my customers have been amazing and my wholesalers have been understanding. I am amazed by this large gathering of people who have become my cheering section. Thank you everyone!
A few questions people have been asking:
When will clothespins be available?
My goal is to make clothespins available in June (if back ordered parts arrive and no new problems arise). My goal after we have relaunched is to continue to keep them available. It has always been our commitment to keep our Factory First Clothespins in stock. This is the first time since we started in the summer of 2015 we have ever had to mark our clothespins “out of stock” on our website.
Do I plan on keeping the name Kevin’s Quality Clothespins?
Well, Hilary’s Quality Clothespins does not quite have the same ring to it. Plus, Kevin is the one who came up with the process we use to make them. They are still his and so we honor him by keeping the name unchanged. We will continue the have the commitment to quality that he did and continue to make a clothespin people can love. I will also be keeping the company name, but now I am both…the Lady and… the Carpenter.
How much are you having to learn in order to make clothespins?
In short, a lot! My knowledge was limited to basic tool usage. It was a bit surprising how many items in the shop that I could identify their purpose but all the machines we use for clothespin making I have had to become comfortable with. I have been doing several of the steps of clothespin manufacturing since we started. However, Kevin was the one who completed all the woodworking steps. I usually took it from there (oiling, sorting, assembly, packaging…). There are 12 steps that have to be done between the wood arriving from the mill to them being ready to ship.
In the last several months I have had several wonderful men come and help me learn. They have given of their time and talent freely and I am deeply blessed. Much of the process was in Kevin’s head, so they helped me fill in the blanks and helped me learn how to use equipment safely. We automated two machines, so I was physically able to use them. Due to a vital machine needing some replacement parts that were on backorder, there was a rather large delay. However, during that delay I worked on learning other parts of the business and getting more comfortable with using basic woodworking tools. It has been an interesting road to travel and has had its share of difficulties, but God has been my constant comforter.
Do you plan on doing this long term?
Of course, I do not know what the future holds. In fact, I never saw me standing in this future. However, I plan on manufacturing clothespins for at least the next 3-5 years. Then I will reevaluate my personal goals and how they will relate to clothespin making.
Are any of the other products going to become available again?
My plan is to only sell clothespin related products including clothespins and clothesline bags at this time. The other products will be only available as the supply lasts.
A huge shout out and thank you to all of the people who have been so supportive and encouraging. To those who wrote notes on orders… to those who made phone calls… to those who gave hugs… to those who prayed… to my amazing friends and family that have been there for me in so many ways… I can only say “WOW. You have all been God’s tangible hand in my life. Thank you is not enough to say. There are not any words that can adequately describe how thankful I am for you.”