A few weeks ago, there were some comments and questions posted in the Quernoholics Anonymouse group about why it was so difficult to adopt the wee creatures, and why the various events I run seem so complicated. That gave me pause, as it's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of things, and so I put my thoughts down in a post about the journey Quernus has been once since 2009. What follows is a reworking of that post in the QA group, with an update following the launch of the first ever Quernus Lottery.
Although it's hard to believe, Quernus has been on the go since 2009, shortly after I left my 15 year career as a lawyer far, far behind me. It can be easy to forget the journey that we’ve all been on since that time. So I thought it might be an idea to set out a bit of background about how Quernus got to this point, and what's ahead.
In the early days of Quernus, I had online shops on Etsy, Folksy and Artfire. Yes, there was a time when you could roll up to my Etsy shop and find a wide selection of wee creatures available to adopt! I was also able to take on commission requests, and make creatures to order, and I also travelled around the UK going to various craft fairs and events. I also didn’t have much of a life outside work, working 100 hour weeks and rarely leaving my house. But over the past few years, the popularity of the wee creatures has grown to such an extent that demand has very much outstripped supply, and anything I listed in my shop sold out in a matter of minutes, sometimes seconds. So I had to look at different ways of selling the wee creatures to make them as accessible as possible. I also knew I had to change the way I was working, because I was in danger of burning out.
The various ways of selling the wee creatures have all been created in response to comments from those who want to buy them. The easiest thing for me to have done (and which I have seen many other successful artists do) would be to simply make what I want, sell them in my shop, and not bother too much about the cries of disappointed people. Or I could hike the prices so much as to make them beyond the reach of all but the most dedicated collectors. But I didn't want to go down either of those routes (I still don't), as the friendships I have built over the years as a result of the wee creatures are very important to me, and I also want to keep the wee creatures affordable and within the reach of as many people as possible. So, a few years ago, I started looking at ways of making things fairer to more people, whilst still having a life myself.
I started off with the Creature Events, where I got together a collection of 50-60 creatures and made them available to buy at a specified time and date in my online shop. But the way my shop checkout is set up (which is the same as Etsy), the first person to complete the purchase was able to buy that wee creature, which led to a lot of disappointed people who had a wee creature escape from their basket at the last minute. So in response to that, I set up the ticket only events, on the basis that it was less traumatic for a ticket to escape from your basket, rather than a wee creature you’d set your heart on! These ticketed events have been running since February 2016, with all ticket sales going to charity, and we have managed to raise over £1,600 for a variety of good causes since then, which I think is absolutely amazing!
The principle behind the ticket events is that once you bought a ticket, you were guaranteed at least one wee creature, and there were two different kinds of events depending on the level of customisation, etc. These events involve a lot of extra admin for me, but it was worth it because of the number of happy people who were able to adopt a wee creature of their choice.
In addition to the ticket events, I also do Random Creature Listings, where I make a few creatures and list them in my shop at random times. This works if you’re on Facebook a fair bit, because I usually give a heads up in the QA group shortly before I add them to my shop. But if you’re not on Facebook, I appreciate it’s not easy to know when the creatures are available.
Because of the relatively few tickets I could sell, and the fact that trying to catch a Random Creature Listing proved pretty hard for most people, I recently came up with the idea for the Quernus Lottery. I’ve seen this done by one of my favourite glass artists in Japan, and it was also the way tickets were allocated for the 2012 London Olympics. Basically, the Quernus Lottery is pretty much like the original Creature Events, in that I make a bunch of wee creatures for adoption, but instead of the dash for the checkout, there is a period of time (currently 5 days) in which to apply to buy up to five wee creatures (there's no fee to apply), and at the end of the Lottery, I choose one person at random for each creature on sale, who will then be able to buy that wee creature. There’s more chance involved, but the Lottery will suit those in different time zones, and those who couldn’t make the ticket sales events before.
The first Quernus Lottery ended on 25th November. Over 200 people applied to take part, with applications for over 750 wee creatures. I made 57 wee creatures for the Lottery, and I've spent quite a long time going through all the applications, making sure I had details of everyone who had applied for each wee creature. It's been interesting to see which were the most popular wee creatures this time, and here's a list of the top 10 most popular, with the number of applications received in brackets:
- Little Snowflake Polar Bear (31)
- Little Reindeer Polar Bear with Gift (29)
- Little Holly Wreath Mouse (white) (26)
- Little Christmas Bauble Panda (24)
- Little Christmas Bauble Arctic Fox (23)
- Little Hot Chocolate Guinea Pig (22)
- Ticket for SQCE #9 (21)
- Little Millefiori Dragon (21)
- Little Poppy Mouse (white) (19)
- Little Holly Wreath Guinea Pig (19)
To select the winners I used the Random Number Generator website, so that everyone had a fair and equal chance when taking part. I've spent today sending emails out to the winners with details of how to buy their chosen wee creature. The feedback I've had about the Lottery has been overwhelmingly positive, and I'm already looking forward to the next one!
And so, going forward, I will keep listening to what people say about how they want to adopt the wee creatures, and I will do my best to give people as much information as possible about how to go about it. And in turn, if you want to adopt a wee creature, you can sign up for my newsletter, join the Quernoholics Anonymouse group on Facebook, check out what events are coming up (both here and on Facebook), and just keep in touch generally :)
Next up, tickets for the last SQCE event of the year go on sale on Monday 9pm GMT 28th November 2016 - this will be a smaller group than usual, while I get caught up with the Lottery adoptions and work my way through the wee Christmas creatures I'm making for the ongoing MiCE event. I'll also be doing a few pre-orders where you can sign up for a particular design of wee creature (the first up is Brandy the Christmas Pudding Snail), and after Christmas, I'll start a waiting list for joining the commission events. Sleep?! What's that?!! Surely I can do that over Christmas?!
Thanks to all the Quernus supporters, both new fans and old - I'm just so delighted that the wee creatures are so popular, and bring so much happiness to others :) I'd say that's a rather wonderful way to make a living - so much nicer than being a lawyer!