Sunday 15 June 2014

Handmade Monday 172

Hello and welcome to another Handmade Monday!  We've had some fabulous weather here this week (hope you have too!) but interspersed with rain... still, it wouldn't be Britain without copious amounts of the wet stuff, would it?

My personalised fish and chip cones are always a lot of fun to design.  I draw them out the traditional way on paper and use alcohol-based markers to add colour to them.  They then get scanned and emailed to the customer, who then prints and assembles them ready for their celebration.

I've been meaning for a long while to get some generic ones done too and I finally got round to a couple this week.

But all this might change soon.  I've been shocked to hear about new EU tax laws, coming into play in January 2015.  It appears that anyone selling pretty much anything digitally will need to charge VAT at each individual customer's country's rate and it also appears there is no threshold - which is the really scary bit, because my little digital art business really doesn't make enough money for me to start jumping through complicated international VAT hoops.

I'm not sure what the new laws will mean for the future of Handmade Harbour.  I don't even know if it's viable for Handmade Harbour to have a future as a digital crafts supplier.  I mean, even before we get to the laborious and time-consuming gathering of 28 different countries' taxes (with records needing to be kept for ten years!) how do I charge different people different prices?  Do I have a drop-down list on every product with every country's VAT rate calculated for people to choose from?  Could I just charge everyone one rate and would that even be legal?  Could I block sales to non-UK EU countries? And how would this work in practice? Would it still be necessary to get embroiled in VAT?

Blocking sales to other EU countries currently seems the way some digital artists will choose to go - certainly not in keeping with the idea of a common market, but possibly the only way to stay in business?  It does seem HMRC hasn't considered small or micro businesses or indie artists at all.  If you do know more, please share.

I just want to create!

What's running through my mind now is this: is it really worth continuing to sell digitally?  I have a few months to make up my mind, and explore my options.  There is a Facebook Group set up to discuss this, if anyone is affected and wants to know more.

Quentin news

Guide Dog puppy Quentin is doing really well in most areas of his training, but he still gets very excited at times - completely normal for a puppy but sometimes difficult to manage.  The worst times are when a stranger pets him while he is out.  Even if he manages to contain his excitement at the time and not jump up, a few seconds later he is jumping up and taking chunks out of me.  Not good, especially at the checkout in Sainsbury's!

So we've been doing a lot of practice with reinforcing the sit and wait commands.  He's really good at these, but needs much more practice when there are distractions around him, so we're sitting and waiting everywhere I can think of.  Out on walks, I've been sitting on benches so often, he looks expectantly at any bench now whenever we pass one!  I think I should add here that it's me who sits on the bench and Quentin sits on the floor!!

It does seem he's improving with visitors to the house.  He jumps up less and is a little calmer.  The strategy of visitors ignoring him when they first arrive seems a bit mean (and is difficult for dog lovers!) but definitely works in encouraging more acceptable behaviour.

Otherwise, he's just delightful and most of the time he really is quite calm and well-behaved for such a young pup.  He's patient in the car, stands on command for me to lift him out, and never gets over-excited having his lead on for walks.

It's been a bit of a long post this week - sorry!  It's over to you for Handmade Monday now.


Free Spirit Designs said...

I love your custom chip cones Wendy, they are such a fab idea! I'm sure you're inundated for requests as they're a lovely way to personalised a celebration.

Thanks for the heads up about the new EU laws re selling digital artwork... i sell digital craft papers too over on Etsy, i'm going to have a look on the blogs and forums over there to see what they're suggesting... i'll report back if i find out anything useful!

Quentin is such a lovely boy, puppies are full to bursting with enthusiasm aren't they :) x

Stephen said...

These new EU laws seem to come around far too often. Fingers crossed an easy solution turns up. Would be a shame to see all your digital work vanish.

Wendy said...

Thanks Natalie. Feel free to join the Facebook group. There's a VAT specialist on there, although even he seems to think the HMRC wording is open to interpretation and a little vague.

Wendy said...

Thanks Stephen. Yes, they do - this one is personal though! I would be devastated if what I think might happen actually does. It would close down a lot of small, independent businesses. A real shame as we all know it's already hard enough to earn a living creatively.

Chrysalis said...

Hi Wendy - sorry to hear about the new laws - how frustrating and worrying for you! I love the idea of the personalised chip cones, and great to hear how Quentin is getting on. What a good boy - and well done you, for persevering with him. Have a good week, Chris x

itsamistry said...

The new law changes are going to affect so many people. I don't know how the businesses dealing digitally are going to handle this - the US taxes differ from state to state so anyone dealing with that side of the pond is going to be having nightmares unless the government agree on one tax charge across the country. They've obviously not thought this through and how it's going to affect small/micro businesses.

Aww your puppy is so cute. I'm sure you're doing a great job with training him.

The cones are a great idea - print and cut.

Sorry I've not been around for a while - life gets in the way sometimes.

Sum of their Stories said...

I love the chip cone idea - very cute! I have no idea what HMRC are up to. It sounds like there are a few groups out there where you can get advice. What a palarva! They say they want to encourage enterprise and small businesses but then make it so difficult for everyone.
I'm sure you'll get it sorted eventually.

Unknown said...

The tax laws seem very complicated and not something a small business should have to contend with. It would be great if they thought about these things before imposing them on everyone!

Love your cones, what a fab idea! x

MadBirdDesignsUK said...

Sounds like a real headache with that nasty Tax problem. Surely the Tax should be set at the Country of Sale rate? But the Red Tape bods rule!

I'm worn out weeding so going to catch up over coffee tomorrow.

Jan said...

I love your cones, such a great idea for so many occasions.
It sounds like this new tax law is complicated, thanks for the link.

Jan x

Unknown said...

The VAT news sounds very worrying for you, I hope it becomes clearer and you manage to find a workable solution.

Jumble Tree said...

sorry to hear about the impending tax changes -sounds horribly complicated and really worrying for small businesses like yours. I do hope there's some clarity soon, though when it comes to taxes (and the EU) that's rarely the case. Love your fish and chip cones, such a brilliant idea x

threads 'n' shreds said...

Omg that sounds a total nightmare! ! It's alright for big companies that have people to deal with the logistics but laws never consider the little people. I hope you find a way to keep going xx

Bev Newman said...

the chip cones are brilliant, ideal for a child or adult birthday party!
The EU regs look very complex. I am in the process of exploring how to run online knitting or crochet classes, which I was going to record for future use, but looking at the info on the facebook group that may not be possible.
Its going to affect alot of people! Its a typical eurocrat rule with no thought for how it will be implemented. Thanks for the link to the group, sm going to share it in the art group I belong to as well :-)

Lucy Blossom said...

Your fish and chip cones sound like a brilliant idea. I can imagine they'd also be great for popcorn etc at kids parties. Pleased to here that Quentin is keeping up the good work.