An Apology, Please Read.

IMG_5517I’m not quite sure what happened, but I can see in hindsight what has caused the delays.

Six months ago the world came to my rescue. They saw a man in trouble, doing his best to use his talents to survive. There was no Federal or State assistance granted to me, so I had to push using my little knitting needles to get life back in order. YOU came to my rescue, you all came rushing in to show that the world is beset with more kindness than ridicule and hate. You proved by your generosity that we, as a human community, do care about those who purposely do their best to face hardship head on and reclaim pride for themselves. I believe that is what this story of mine has been all this time. We fight for those who wish to fight and contribute solidly. We help those who desire to help others. We only need each other, or better yet, we only needed a connection with each other.

I happily, gratefully accepted more orders for bears and before I knew it, I had my first home in years. My own four walls, my own little place to cook food, my own little place to wash myself daily….and the orders kept coming. I could have stopped them, and said that I simply couldn’t take any more orders for a while, but I had no choice. I needed the money to keep this little apartment for Mario and I. I just decided that I would have to work harder. But, I found myself slowly winding down the harder I worked. The more I knit, the slower I got. With no downtime of any kind, I found myself knitting slower and slower. In a day I was easily able to knit up 2 to 3 bears…..then I found myself struggling to finish just one. Sleep doesn’t come easy, seeing half a dozen half knit teddy bears in the corner, knowing that people out there are upset that their bears are not arriving when they wanted them to. And for this, I apologize from the bottom of my heart for letting you down. I still send out my teddy bears at least every two days. Sometimes I’m able to send 2 boxes, sometimes just one. But, I continue to push through this, knowing not only the obligations I owe to you, but the reminder that this is my last thread of hope. This is what I do. I knit teddy bears. And without it, for the moment, I’m done for. I have no other options right now. Not right now. Someday in the future, yes there will be others, but for right now, these little bears are what feed me, keep me in a home and off the streets….and even more importantly, these teddy bears actually make people smile with sheer delight.

So, I have to keep selling them. I have to. Without them right now, there is no income….but, I also feel that without them, something dark has taken over. The ambition I had was not to be a rich man off of this, but to simply survive in my own little way, and to make people smile as they clutch their teddies.

This is my open letter of apology to you, for the delay in having some of the bears make their way to your homes. This is my plea for not only forgiveness, but for patience with me. Nearly 900 bears have been shipped out to their homes over the last 2 years…..and I think that is a great indication that I will come through for you, I promise you that. I just need a little time.

I understand if some of you leave. I certainly do. But, I implore you to stay with me. I implore you to have faith in me, to allow me the honor of providing you with myΒ  little sad faced bears. Please stay.

To my die hard supporters I can only ask that you continue coming back, that when you need a teddy bear for someone you still think of me first. I beg of you to return again and again (as many of you have!) to snag a little teddy bear, adopt him, and give him a home. For when you do, you allow Mario and I to keep ours.

I can always be reached at madmanknitting@gmail.com.

I’ve gotten a touch teary eyed while writing this for two very important reasons. The first is the most obvious. The last thing I want is for all of this hard work to amount to nothing, and it crumbles, crashes, and little Mario and I are back were we started. And the second, and most important. I never ever want the feeling ever again of having disappointed you.

Gregory

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34 comments

  1. if only the entire world were so humble.

    a writer would call it ‘writer’s block.’ and artist – ‘artist’s block.’ you reached a knitting block.

    the 7 habits of highly effective people has one great pointer for you to ponder: remember to sharpen the saw…

    continue knitting the love into each bear, and your bears will be worth the wait!

    lisa/z

  2. Yes, I too will wait for mine! I have 2 on order! I to know how hard it is to motivate oneself. I have scarfs that I am doing. For friends and family. And I have to finish one before the 7th of Aug. and now that you reminded me, I shall go work on it. See you inspired me!

    Please keep us updated. That is all most people need to hold on.

    Still faithful! Never give up!

    Kathryn

  3. Can you hire someone for some of the early yarn arranging work before your creativity comes into play? You are moving into “big time” and the product demands will be greater. Of course, you are tired. Think big and take care of yourself. Blessings.

    1. I was actually thinking of the same thing, but to find a volunteer to help you in exchange for learning. That’s how I taught a friend to knit. I showed her, and told her I would help her do it on one condition, I get her first scarf! Mistakes and all. There are a lot of people who would love to learn. And it is great when you get their first one! Dropped stitches and all, then I taught her how to fix them. Put an add in the penny saver!
      It might just help you and give motivation!
      Let me know what you think.

  4. Not only is your story inspiring, so is your honesty and humility. It’s so easy for those of us in our ‘instant gratification’ world to think that all things must be given to us upon demand. Thank you for this reality check, this perspective. Don’t be discouraged, you have friends out here! πŸ™‚

  5. I’m not going anywhere… I’m patient and I believe in YOU! It’s okay to take a break and take care of you… honest! So… take a break… relax for a bit and keep doing what you do best! Big hugs and Blessings to you!

  6. I know what you are going through as I knit scarves and crochet hats to order. When I started doing things that took longer like lap blankets I started to get behind. I will wait for my bear as long as you still have him on your list. Maybe you can send out an e-mail to those who have ordered that says “BEAR STILL IN PROCESS” so just like when you are on HOLD On the Phone and you hear Music you have a good feeling that someone will at some point answe.!!!

      1. agree.keep in touch with the customers…these cute teddys are worth waiting, but do not avoid the personal touch of a reply..it helps people not to worry.

      2. Agreed, Maybe you can have your friends help with that. As long as you keep in contact, people will be patient!

  7. No worries. Really and truly. Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed irate messages on your blog and I don’t really understand them. I suppose if someone doesn’t know anything about you and sees you as “just a business” then one could be upset when an order isn’t filled. But this isn’t just about the bears. You’re right on when you say we like to help those who help others and I wish I could do more. In the meantime, please accept my best wishes, patience, the knowledge that I look forward to reading your blog and the good karma I try to send your way. xoxoxo

    1. Well, that’s just been my dilemma. Its not that the bears aren’t filled, just filled late. And I generally allow all comments to be let through…..because I think its only fair. If someone is upset with me, or my work, then by all means, let them say so…Just as long as I get a fair chance to fill the orders, or even to defend myself.

      1. Gregory –
        First off I have to say as one of the people who left negative comments for you I have to admit it was not about you just being a business or being mean or rude. I feel in love with your story and your bears and of course what an awesome gift to give someone. A handmade bear that was made with love and also giving with love. Such and amazing feeling. Why else would I buy it? I think I was trying to be patient waiting for my bear and tried to contact you several times…that’s where we had the issue. Months had past with no reply…3 month actually. I never heard from you…if you needed time to package/ship or whatever, that is all you had to say. Communication is key.
        I am so sorry if I hurt your feelings. But honestly my feelings were very hurt as well to have no response from you.

        I have since received my bear and LOVE him so!!! I was sooo very excited to see my box on the door step when I came home. I LOVE LOVE LOVE him ❀ He is so adorable and I have him on my guest bed at the moment to great my guests when they come to stay with us. I will send a picture soon πŸ™‚

        Thank you so much for making things good πŸ™‚

  8. I could make my own bear, but I always thought I’d order one just to help you out financially and, well, to have one of your awesome bears, of course! The art of crocheting is not as fun for me when I’m doing it for money. You will do well! And, to borrow the words of my husband – Word Harder! Produce More! LOL!!! [seriously, someone made him a banner years ago that said that]

  9. I hope that my post the other day wasn’t taken as negative, just wondering.. I think sending a note with an update maybe when the bear is ordered. I knit too and have no idea how you could have done more than one in a day. I also think you need to charge a little bit more πŸ™‚

    Maybe the note should read Bear is in Hibernation πŸ™‚

  10. I totally get what you are saying Greg! I have a quilting business and the more orders I get the more overwhelmed I sometimes feel. I know that I have to work as hard as I can to help pay my bills and to keep my wonderful customers. But I also realize that I sometimes need a little TLC and Me Time. It’s hard to take that time for ourselves but sometimes without it we are doing more harm than good. We can only do our jobs for so many hours a day without causing overload.

    Stick to it my friend and don’t be afraid to take time to take care of yourself. I am sure most customers will stick by you and understand where you are coming from. Knit along….

  11. Dearest Gregory,
    You know I love you. I could never be mad at you. You are a complete delight. Please, increase your prices and decrease your workload.
    You make my heart soar at getting such lovely sentiments from you.
    I cannot imagine anyone being mad at you. Patience is a virtue, and we are all purchasing a handcrafted piece of cuddly work.
    My teddies have been all over the world with me, I will send photos this week for you,my dear and cherished FRIEND.
    Love,
    Dixie

  12. Gregory – I have not ordered any of your bears, yet, but I love what you are doing, love reading your blog, and the whole idea of a person being able to survive on doing something he does well, in a small way, without having to go corporate and big production! God will provide – keep faith in what you are doing. I agree with one of the earlier comments someone made that we are a society of instant gratification. Good things come to those who wait! And when the time comes that I need a bear for someone, I hope you will still be making them.

    Allison Cunningham

  13. I know what you are going through, in New Mexico I was crocheting to support not only myself, but my children as well. I took every order that came along and even with school and my girls I had to work hard to fill my orders. After awhile the hobby I loved became such a demanding job, I feared that my finished projects wouldn’t have the love and attention to detail simply because I needed to keep up. There just wasn’t time to take a break! I found that if I just kept in contact with each of my customers, let them know that I was working on it and it may be late they were very understanding. Go through your list and let them know that you are working on it and it may be late, and try to take an hour a day just for you. Sleep at a good time, and end the business day so you can stay rested. Your beats can’t be made with love if you don’t take time to refill it by loving yourself enough to take good care of yourself.
    BB )O(

  14. First, the encouraging bit. Do not ever think of yourself as being a disappointment. I know what it is to be driven by a desire ‘not to let people down’ and, believe me, this is a hard task-master. The reality is, we will all make mistakes and occasionally slips and trips willk happen that may cause disappointment. That does not make you a bad person, nor does it mean you personally are a disappointment. Quite the opposite, you are one of the most inspiring people I know.

    Secondly, the practical stuff.
    (a) Manage the expectations of those buying from you (to use business-speak). In real language, this means that you need to stop over-promising. If you know you are knitting slower, then extend the delivery time. Even if only for the time being. It is not admitting defeat, or letting people down, it is being realistic, and there is no shame in that!
    (b) As you say, sharpen the saw. Some people are saying ‘work harder’ (tho tongue in cheek, I believe). My advice would be to ‘work smarter’ (yet more business-speak!). You know what I mean. I am guessing you would not try to use your laptop without charging it up, and little Mario wouldn’t stay happy and bouncy without his requisite many, many hours of kitty-sleep. What makes you any different, eh? As I type this, I am in the middle of a ‘day off’ that I have permitted – no, make that gifted to – myself. Yes, there is still plenty to be done, there always will be. By the end of this, tho, I hope to be far less tired, grouchy and unproductive, yet far more creative and energetic. You may not be able to afford the luxury of a full day of rest, by you owe it to yourself – and those waiting on those lovely bears – to take some time out and recharge. Right? Right!

    That’s me off for now. Await another e-mail from me, one is coming!

    Love and God bless,

    Dith x

  15. Gregory,
    I am going to second some of the sentiment above. You need to increase your prices. $25 cannot be covering your time and materials, plus a profit. Yes profit – you are running a handmade business and you MUST consider making a profit as part of your business plan. Think about the cost of materials, the cost of your time and then double that. So for example if materials cost say $5.00 per bear and then you pay yourself $10 an hour and it takes you two hours to make a bear, then that is $20. So total of $25 just for materials and your time – then double that – $50 per bear. YES, $50 per handmade bear. I just took a quick look around Etsy and $50 for a hand knit bear is very reasonable. Now if you don’t want to double your price because you think that is too much too fast, then at least raise the price to $35-40. And something I remind myself all the time – if someone complains about my prices (I make purses and bags and sell at craft and art fairs) then that person is not my customer because they don’t appreciate the work put into and uniqueness of my bags.
    Also, maybe add to your store site a specific message that says something like – “Each bear is handmade by me with love and care and may take up to 4 weeks for production and delivery”. And then offer is someone needs it sooner, then they pay an extra $10.
    You do great work and your bears are truly unique and special. Be sure you are getting fair compensation for them!!
    Big Hugs to you!!

    1. I WOULD like to charge more….I would. I just so worry about knocking myself out of the market. And you’re right about reminding people that I do make these little bears with these two scrawny hands filled with a great attitude and zeal for putting something worthwhile into the universe. Thank you, Liz!

  16. Gregory – I say to you – Stand up, close your eyes and take a very deep breath. Hold it a few seconds/minutes and then exhale and say “Thank you Lord” – if you remember, God rested on the 7th day and as my Grandmother used to tell me, “Nobody is perfect”…….I knit baby sweaters for two gift shops and outside orders and I say at the beginning, ‘you are on my list’…I also tell them they are welcome to a sweater already made, but I cannot possibly here on Tuesday have a sweater ready for them for Friday night’s baby shower.and have anyone be happy with it……….people understand quality hand made items take time………………..and your little bears are ‘top quality’ so, stand up straight, close your eyes and take a deep breath – the bears are worth waiting for !! Continued good luck comes your way.

  17. If I wanted a bear on a date or to a short time scale I would take an inferior machine made one! I am happy to wait for a proper bear, always!

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