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*Opinions wanted!* Crowdfunded local roving and handspun yarn

 
Posts: 609
Location: SE Ohio
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Hello! I am planning a kickstarter and I've hit a bump. I have everything just about all planned out but it's bothering me that what I need seems so much simpler than running a kickstarter. This is likely just me, as I prefer simple exchanges or deals instead of a big hoopla.
I need $ to have my wool milled into roving. I pre-sell half the expected roving will cover costs. Then I have the half to sell as usual.

*I really like the idea that someone or a couple people pitch in for the half or shares of roving. When the roving is milled I split the half or shares and the 'investment' people get their roving. Simple. Money in, product out. Done. ($560)

*Kickstarter, I need to ask for 270% more than what I actually need to have the wool milled. Accounting in fees, shipping, margin of error, packing assistant,... If I'm going through the work of running a kickstarter then I'm accounting in "sheep business Katie" gets paid for the wool, then "fiber business Katie" gets profit from selling the roving. Not even accounting paying myself to weight out portions of roving that will be the rewards, or the handspun rewards I had figured for the higher tiers.
To be safe I have rounded up estimations of cost and rounded down fiber return. Rewards are limited to half the estimated fiber return (ie, the high processing loss estimation). I didn't want to put more than that available in case I would have higher losses for some reason, I wouldn't be leaving myself stuck with more people needing rewards and not enough fiber.
($1500)

Here is a sort of preview of current description and rewards:

Pledge $14 or more  
Roving Run 1
4oz roving. The first run of roving is a mix of white texel wool, white shetland wool, and blue-grey wool from one of my ewe sheep (Pigpig). This will be a medium fineness overall and I expect it to be a light grey blend.
max 10

Pledge $14 or more  
Roving Run 2
4oz roving. The second run of roving is a mix of white fleece (won first prize 2018 great lakes fiber show), white shetland/cormo from my ram sheep (Butthead), and border Leicester that was hand dyed teal blue by me . This will be a fine fineness overall and I expect it to be a nice touch of blue blend, since the dyed locks are appx 12% of the total fiber.
max 18

Pledge $14 or more  
Roving Run 3
4oz roving. The third run of roving is a mix of three fleeces my on ewe sheep and one fine cream alpaca fleece. Mary (shetland/cormo/other), 184 (shetland/border cheviot), 185 (shetland/cormo/border cheviot). This will be a fine fineness overall and I expect it to be off-white.
max 14

Pledge $14 or more  
Roving Run 4
4oz roving. The fourth run of roving is a mix of many fleeces from my flock. Some are fine fleece shetland, some shetland/cormo, some other crossbreed. It is made up of two cream fleeces, one light brown, two light grey, one dark grey, one black. This will be a fine fineness overall and I expect it to be a cinnamon-grey blend.
max 22

Pledge $40 or more  
Handspun Run 1
I will handspin 4oz of roving from Run 1 into a finished 2ply yarn for you. Yardage will vary but estimated 200yds-ish. Handspun rewards will be shipped later than roving rewards to allow me spinning time.
max 2

Pledge $40 or more  
Handspun Run 2
I will handspin 4oz of roving from Run 2 into a finished 2ply yarn for you. Yardage will vary but estimated 200yds-ish. Handspun rewards will be shipped later than roving rewards to allow me spinning time.
max 2

Pledge $40 or more  
Handspun Run 3
I will handspin 4oz of roving from Run 3 into a finished 2ply yarn for you. Yardage will vary but estimated 200yds-ish. Handspun rewards will be shipped later than roving rewards to allow me spinning time.
max 2

Pledge $40 or more  
Handspun Run 4
I will handspin 4oz of roving from Run 3 into a finished 2ply yarn for you. Yardage will vary but estimated 200yds-ish. Handspun rewards will be shipped later than roving rewards to allow me spinning time.
max 5

Pledge $60 or more
OOAK Handspun, Hand knit hat (Run 1, 2, 3, 4)
I will handspin 4oz of roving from (Run 1) into a finished 2ply yarn. Then knit it into a simple, but always stylish, hat with ribbed cuff. If you like a rolled brim to keep your ears warm or leave it unrolled, single layer brim and slouchy length. (One Of A Kind)
max 1 (OOAK one for each run of fiber)

Who am I?

Hi, I'm Katie and my day starts with rolling out of bed and heading outside to feed the sheep. Farmer and fiber artist, my animals and crafts are lifeblood to me. I've been raising sheep since fall 2015. Starting with just three sheep I have now grown to 20 ewes and 2 rams, along with the 20 lambs born in April. Being a crafty minded person when I found fiber arts I dove right in and became a member of the local Spinner's and Weaver's guild. In 2012 I started teaching myself to knit, in 2013 bought a spinning wheel and have been fiber crazy ever since. I also dabble in needle felting and weaving. Last year I took a workshop course on judging handspinners fleeces. The course was geared toward judging fleece at a fiber show, but also about what to look for when buying fleece and understanding the technical side of how sheep grow wool. It was so much fun and I am putting the knowledge to use with my own flock of sheep, as well as in crafting blends of fiber to be milled.

What am I making?

Starting out in farming is difficult, and while I am lucky enough to live on the family farm and been granted a small area to use, I don't have a sum of money to make a large investment. This Kickstarter is to allow me to send my fiber to be processed into roving. There will be four runs of different fibers and colors.  
*Run 1 is a blend of three fleeces: white texel, white shetland, grey crossbreed. It will be a light heathered grey roving and is a medium fineness.
*Run 2 is a blend of three fleeces: white shetland/cormo, white unknown fleece (won first place in it's class at Great Lakes Fiber Show), teal blue dyed (by me) border leicester. The blue is only about 15% of the blend and I believe it will lend a lovely blend of color.
*Run 3 is blend of three of my sheep's fleeces with alpaca: Mary (shetland/cormo/crossbreed), 184 & 185 (half sisters shetland/border cheviot). The wools are white and the alpaca is a soft cream which I believe will make for a soft, off-white roving.
*Run 4 is a blend of the flock's fleeces. 2 white, 2 light grey, 1 light brown, 1 dark grey, 1 sun tipped black. The blend of natural colors I expect will turn into a heathered warm grey. A mix of fine fleece shetlands, shetland/cormo/crossbreed, and crossbreed sheep's fleeces.  

Budget

*Fiber cost- $400
*Processing cost- $400
*Packaging, supplies, packing assistant, margin of error,...- $400
*Fees- $300

Timeline

(??) If I decide to go through kickstarter I'd do a 30day campaign. Say June 20-July 20. About August 4-ish I'd be getting funds if it's successful. About August 20-ish I could take the fiber to the mill. Estimated processing time would put roving finished about Nov 20, then a few days mailed back to me. Roving rewards packed and shipped out starting Dec 14-ish. Handspun rewards will take time for me to spin after the roving comes back, I would think I could have them all mailed out by the end of January.
 
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*I really like the idea that someone or a couple people pitch in for the half or shares of roving. When the roving is milled I split the half or shares and the 'investment' people get their roving. Simple. Money in, product out. Done. ($560)



Kadence, could you explain your idea for 'shares' a bit further?  
Is $560 the total 'share' or the amount split between several folks?

 
kadence blevins
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Judith Browning wrote:

*I really like the idea that someone or a couple people pitch in for the half or shares of roving. When the roving is milled I split the half or shares and the 'investment' people get their roving. Simple. Money in, product out. Done. ($560)



Kadence, could you explain your idea for 'shares' a bit further?  
Is $560 the total 'share' or the amount split between several folks?



$560 is how much I need to send the wool to the mill.

If I had a few people interested in several pounds of roving so that I could circumvent kickstarter and fees etc.. I was thinking the shares would be up for $40/# roving (that's $2.50/oz). Regular price is $3.50/oz.
I would need to presell at least 14# at the shares price to cover milling. I don't want to presell more than comes back though so I would not presell more than 19#. And of course it would be picked between the different runs. Doing it that way it would be...
Run 1 up to 3#
Run 2 up to 5#
Run 3 up to 4#
Run 4 up to 7#
...available for presell at the share prices. Total 19#.

I am working on washing the fleeces. Once everything is washed I'm going to pull locks from each run for sample pictures. Locks, hand carded, and spun up for sample pics.
 
kadence blevins
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I'd also like to add some other info for anyone interested..
I'm working on putting up more fence so that I can better rotate pastures. I am working on implementing more regenerative and permaculture practices to have healthier animals and land, and able to offer products that are healthier. Not only by buying better grown and washed wool, but by raising the sheep to be more carbon negative to offset shipping and processing electricity, etc.
I am still early on so I'm running entirely in the hole. Any money coming back in from sales goes right back into the animals and land. Profits made from sales of this fiber will go toward...
*Buying coats for the best fleeced sheep. Cleaner fiber, better quality, less washing work for me, and less work if someone wants to buy raw fleece. (appx $450)
*Buying a new ram. I have a mostly crossbred flock and would like to bring in a new ram for both wool quality and body stature. I love my sheep but in order to make it I need to have a meat lamb market and my little sheep aren't filling that market.
I'd like to bring in BFL (bluefaced liecester) or mini cheviot ram. ($300-400 each).
*electronet fence. This is something I've waffled about since before getting the sheep. Given the wooded and steep banked areas here I've decided that long term I will need to invest in some eventually. I could easily utilize the permanent fencing for the ewe flock then utilize the electronet fence to move the weaned lamb flock around other areas. This would also be better for my permanent fenced rotation. ($1000)
 
pollinator
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My experience with Kickstarter is that not many pledges are directly from people finding the campaign on Kickstarter, but from friends, the Permies community, and other awesome people and websites that have similar ideas to what the campaign is about.

One benefit of Kickstarter is that it's an established name that people trust, so people feel more comfortable backing things on there, than people you don't know personally might feel about investing in something without Kickstarter's name and guarantee.

One thing I noticed in your budget is that there was no set amount for shipping costs. It's worth finding out exact costs including packaging to send things, as it can vary a lot. To help get people enthusiastic about sharing your campaign, a budget of around 10% for affiliate links or Kickbooster can help too.

Your wool and campaign sound really good, and I wish you success with the crowdfunding.
 
master steward
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Oh dear, I have opinions.  

Are you sure you want them?

The first opinion - it's a great idea.  
The second opinion - you are very close, however, the idea needs some more work.  

A successful Kickstarter needs
  • a really good story
  • proof that you can make it work
  • most of the work done before the Kickstarter launches


  • My experience is that the Kickstarter took about 500 times more work than the actual project.  It's worth it.  But it is a lot more work than getting an extra wage job and doing the work myself.  A Kickstarter is also an opportunity for promoting the project.  If a lot of people like the project, then more people will like the project.  

    I've been thinking of doing something like this myself, not the same, but along these lines.  So I've been looking on Kickstarter at all the campaigns that are remotely similar.  I'm espcially looking at the failures.  There's a lot to learn there.  

    Your pricing for the rewards are a bit high, which makes me wonder if you can get the cost down some more.  Most people won't pay higher than retail in a venture situation.   I'm also thinking that rewards that need making like One Of A Kind (most people probably don't know what OOAK means - it's some sort of wood, right?) took a lot of energy for me.  I don't think I'll be doing anything like weaving towels again for less than $250 backer level as that was a huge stress.  But rewards that can be measured and packaged worked well.  

    I have more opinions if you want them.
     
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    https://permies.com/t/115886/permaculture-projects/Taylor-Zach-Bootcamp-Journey
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