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Things I've learned about craft classes

The city I live in has a bipolar existence. In the winter it is busy with all of the people who come to escape cold temperatures. In the summer they are all gone, not to mention the locals who can leave as well, like for vacations. This means that businesses have to make enough money in the winter to last through most of the summer. Even being bipolar, we still have 3 big box craft stores, and one lonely quilt shop.

Teaching creative classes has been on my “To Do” list for a while. A while ago I went to a big box craft store and found the education coordinator in the store. I started the process to become one of their instructors. Paperwork included the necessary forms to fill out, agreeing to a background check (paperwork done online), and when I would be available in the summer.

After the background check came back I went to sign the contract. I also signed off on the class schedule she had outlined for me.

Although I have yet to teach a class, I have learned some things in this whole process.

I already knew that one of my friends told me that she didn’t teach at that chain because the students often pay a discounted price for the class. (The teacher gets a certain percentage of the “take”.) I also knew that the amount I would be given for teaching a certain class wasn’t comparable to what I make as a nurse.

This chain requires the teachers make samples for classes. I went in one day to work with the education coordinator on dyed samples. We were stuck for a long time trying to figure out which dyes we were supposed to use. We found most of them, but one we just couldn’t find. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to find the supplies I need to use.

Teachers are given a discount card that they can use on top of whatever sale or coupon they might have when buying things from the store. I got tired of waiting for the discount card and finally went and bought the supplies I needed to start my samples. I spent about $73, using 50% and 40% coupons for everything that wasn’t on sale. I didn’t realize how many samples I would need to do, nor how much it would cost me.

Since the samples are due in the store by a certain date I basically dropped my other “work” projects and started them. I’ve spent a good amount of time on the samples. I did know that I would be assigned samples for the classes. I didn’t have a grasp on how much time it would take to make the samples.

I don’t yet have access to the chain’s website for instructors, so I was given printed instructions on making the samples. The instructions were printed with black and white photos. The instructions for the adult classes had a different format than that of the children’s classes. I found out how poorly the project instructions were written.

I was told that unless the sample were to sprout legs and walk away, that I would be getting the samples back at the end of the scheduled classes. I didn’t realize that the children’s crafts would be similar to what I have seen Cub Scouts do. I don’t know why I didn’t think about it, but I didn’t. I didn’t realize that I would be buying supplies to make children’s crafts that I wouldn’t want to keep.

I was assigned some adult craft samples. I followed the instructions, thinking maybe I would be able to sell one of them in my Etsy store. As far as I’m concerned the yellow color they chose for a project is hideous. I am of two minds about listing it for a nominal price in the store. I didn’t realize that I may not be able to sell the adult samples either.

The whole idea of making samples is for advertizing. Presumably customers will see the sample, and want to take the class. If the class is held, then I am paid. I take the time I spend preparing and leading the class, then add it to the time making the sample, and divide it by the amount I am paid. That puts the pay rate quite a bit lower than it first seems. However, if the class is cancelled for lack of students there will be no income for the class. That means I would not be paid for making the sample. I didn’t realize that I would be required to provide labor for free.

Making all of the samples has taken me away from my other business – Thread & Wood. Teaching the classes will, of course, take time. Autumn is a busy time for health screenings, and I need to be available to do that, not to mention some of the other contracts I’m trying to acquire for my nursing services. I can see providing my own samples and instructions for a class that I develop, but that would be for the future.

Moral of story: I'll teach the classes I've contracted to do. I’ll be happy to teach future beginning crochet classes, but that’s about it (no samples). Maybe I’ll allow myself to be talked into making crochet samples and teaching a few other crochet classes, but that’s it. I need to not overschedule myself.

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