Hi, all! Long time no see! It's almost time for me to come back from maternity, so I thought I'd make an official post about my timeline and some updates going forward. For those of you who missed my two social media updates, my lovely baby boy decided to join our family five weeks early, so I took my full maternity leave abruptly and unexpectedly. After he was released from the NICU, we have been focusing on adjusting to being a family of four with two under two. Up until last week, I was at home without my computer (hence all of the pre-scheduled posts and no response from me).
Now, as February approaches, I'm slowly testing how much work my son can tolerate while being strapped to my chest. It's admittedly not enough for full work days, but it's enough for me to get the ball rolling on some of the backup while I've been gone. I'll be starting slowly by answering the messages that have built up since my leave started in November. Please be very patient with my response times. There's over 200 messages across the different platforms, so I'll be responding over the next two weeks since I alternate between caring for the tiny baby and a few minutes on the computer at a time.
During this time I'll also start attending to the orders placed before and during my maternity leave. I have at least 40 orders that I've received the printing for and will be working on finishing and packaging those up. I've also had a fair number of orders come in during my leave, so I'll start ordering supplies and printing so I can start on them as soon as February rolls around.
For important dates coming up, I'll be attending Anime Expo 2019 as vendor in the main exhibit hall July 4-7. While I'll be focusing on selling my printed lines, I will be taking kimono dress, wrap dress, pinafore, and commission orders in-person at the convention. In past years in the Artist Alley, this has set me back 1-3 months during which I don't take any online orders. I anticipate the actual exhibit hall will generate more business than the Artist Alley, so you'll want to plan your cosplay for the year very carefully. If you have a September convention, plan on ordering in May so I can finish your order before I start preparing for AX.
Until then, I plan on taking orders as usual with an order acceptance date once a month or so. I'll also be consistently releasing new designs, so I won't stagnate just because it will be a busy year. I'm going to try and get the store's Darling Dollars rewards program up and running before I fully return in February, but it might take a little longer before it's running smoothly. I hope you guys like it, though, since it will give you guys points towards coupons you can use in the store (which is pretty much the only way to get coupon codes).
In bigger news, I started the process of opening a satellite store on Etsy right before I went into labor; it's what I was actually doing when my water broke! The Etsy store will only sell some handpicked printed designs that are already available to purchase on the main store at any time. The traffic and sales from the satellite store won't impact wait times since I will not be accepting kimono dress, pinafore, capelet, skirt, order wrap dress orders on the Etsy site. The rewards program also won't work with the Etsy store since that's only for orders processed on DarlingArmy.com. It's really just a way for me to extend my audience and maybe pick up a few extra orders to help me keep Darling Army alive since being a full-time mom has made it hard to generate enough profit to keep it running. I'm not ready to give up working to be a full-time, stay-at-home mom quite yet! Darling Army is my baby as much as Jellybean and Tiny Baby are!
Anywho, I'm super excited to start designing again even if I'm terrified of playing the catch up game with a baby strapped to my chest! I'll keep the pre-scheduled social media posts running until I get back up to speed, but I'll pepper them with actual updates now that I'm working on returning. See you guys, soon!