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About My Parrot Shop - The informal version

Posted by Caroline on

MPS is a little business. A labour of love rather than a money spinner. With this blog I feel like it is permissible to lose the formality required on the Website 'About Us' page. Here's hoping I don't overdo it!

MPS is just me (Caroline - owner) and Vicki. Vicki is my employee. Part time at the moment. She's awesome. We've had other people at MPS over the years including, not least, my old business partner Jen who launched and nurtured MPS with me for the first 7 years!

But right now its just me and Vicki. Vicki has been around for yonks now. Long enough that I need to start budgeting for long service leave! Not long after she arrived Vicki became the face ( or voice really - since we don't get to meet many of you face to face) of MPS. So much so half of you think she's the owner.

Vicki was a god-send for me. She's an extrovert and extroverts are really handy to have around in a retail environment!

Here's Vicki being extroverted. Beside her is Cocky. He's our super awsome soft toy and we love him like a real bird. My favourite thing about him is he, unlike virtually every other pretend parrot out there, has zygodactyl feet (two toes forward and two toes back). 

Vicki's also good at doing lots of different things all in one day. I'm terrible at it. I like to focus on one task till its all done and tend to twitch when I get interrupted.

So anyway the situation at MPS is fluid. Me and Vicki are always changing the hours we're at the factory to work around the business needs and our family needs.

For me the family needs are complicated by autism. In the first few years my life was consumed with arranging, monitoring or participating in the early intervention for my two children, not to mention the hours of driving around to all the different appointments. And then there was attending all the 'parenting' seminars and the hours spent collecting and laminating pictures for communication devices or intervention programs. Needless to say it left very little time for MPS. I also really hate laminating things now.

Things have settled now and there's no longer the never-ending series of appointments and home projects. Just a few appointments per week and otherwise just the regular hassles of getting kids ready for school and getting them there.

So now I'm able to do CPR for MPS which right now is all centred around a new website and the ancillaries that it allows us such as this blog (which I'm enjoying even as it fills me with dread when I think about my potential to give TMI) and a Live Chat app that means I can be available to help people online no matter where I am. We'll see how that last one goes. It's permanency will depend a great deal on whether I'll be of actual help and whether the lanyard cord thing I made (oh, to be a man with a constant source of pocketed clothing!) will keep my phone where I can hear the alert go off. Phones and me have never been the best of friends so...

So what do we do at the factory?

Well Vicki talks on the phone to you guys and she packs orders and shows people around who come for a squiz. She also does all the dying of our wood parts, makes toys, drills holes, keeps me up to date on what we need to purchase, and helps out with piles of different admin tasks. She's had lots of experience with different species of birds through her previous work at Bird Boarding in North Coburg which makes her a great source of information on many things 'parrot'. 

Here's Vicki doing some dying.

I do the accounting, and purchasing and executive decision making (after umming and erring over it with Vicki). I design new toys, research materials and source them. I do most of the toy making. 

Here's me making some Shredaboos.

I use the table saw to cut up all our timber, I go to various local businesses around Melbourne to use their machinery to cut our leather shapes or stainless steel rod. I do most of the writing for the website and the photos and all the background stuff to make a website function. I do most of the IT stuff and drag my husband (who actually does IT for a living) into it when it goes over my head.

On a day to day basis, you'll find Vicki pottering around the factory doing all the day to day stuff, often with one hand coloured blue or red from the latest broken glove during a batch of dying. You'll find me all over the place. I often work at home when I'm focusing on tax or website or database management or a new round of product descriptions. When at home Vicki and I have Skype open all day to text each other for input or help with one task or another. If I'm at the factory I'm inevitably unloading the car of the most recent bunch of toys I made over the weekend or I'm in the workshop concentrating hard not to cut an arm off on the tablesaw or cause a kickback that might permanently disfigure my face. If I'm around Vicki might also take the opportunity to offload an annoying shaped parcel to pack because 'you do it SO well boss!' 

Here's a photo of our factory before we moved in. We didn't get to keep the boat.

At this very moment the factory is only attended on Mon, Wed & Fri from 9-4, but even then you still need to call if you're planning on visiting - 'cos there's always the emergency run to our nut supplier to fufill a particularly large order or sometimes its simply the urgent need for a coffee.

As for calling MPS - well for the past year you've been dependent on Vicki being there and not being up to the elbows in dye to answer it. I tried arranging call forwarding for those days that the factory is empty or for times when Vicki is out and about but it just keeps failing to work. I get despondent super quick when it comes to phones so its possible I gave up too quickly. That's why I've installed Tidio (a live-chat ap) on the website and Facebook. Hopefully it will fill in all the communication gaps because I can monitor it from my mobile or PC.

In fact I just had my first Tidio Live Chat experience! Which was exciting...and then a little disappointing... I think it was a troll?

 Oh dear.

Anyhoo - that's the status of MPS as of Feb 2017

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