Supplying My Habit and Purging At the Same Time

Since we last visited, I’ve been weaning myself off caffeine, killed my keyboard by attempting to drown it, nearly gutted my work room, uncluttered my supplies, started making dice bags/pouches, ordered supplies to start on new projects. rebuilt my business plan, and now have some of my items in an actual store.

Over the summer, I spilled a soda on my laptop. I got it cleaned up right away, but the keys were sticking. I popped each one off and cleaned under it with rubbing alcohol, which helped for most of them. I was annoyed by the ones that were still sticking, so I went through the cleaning process again, only this time, it killed the keyboard. The computer wouldn’t recognise it. I pressed every key and nothing happened on screen. So, now I have a new keyboard and mouse that function wonderfully.

I consume obscene amounts of caffeine on a daily basis. There are days where I don’t drink anything but soda. Heck, weeks go by without drinking anything else, and I need to stop. I am not doing myself any good consuming that much soda. I’ve cut my intake in half, some days drinking less soda and more water than others. I do feel better. I’ve had two sinus headaches in the 10+ days of this endeavor, and they haven’t been horrible. So, I’m on the road to being slightly healthier.

I mentioned in my last post that I want to start making products for gamers, specifically Dungeons and Dragons, and Magic The Gathering players – and other similar games like these that I am unaware of. I’ve crocheted about four dice bags so far. I will be making some out of fabric and leather eventually. For now, I’m just crocheting them. Photos in a later post.

I ordered supplies to make more sun catchers because although I realize that people go to pinterest for ideas, and save my items as ideas of what they want to make, once they figure out how much work in involved, and how time-consuming the process is, the likelihood of them actually making it is slim. I have dozens of ideas so I’m moving forward with those. There are beaded bookmarks in the works, as well as polyhedral dice necklaces and key chains. There are a few necklaces listed in my Etsy shop, and many more I have yet to photograph and list.

I am very unorganized and time management is not my forte. Balancing – or juggling – work, family, creative time, and business time is something I haven’t quite mastered yet. I am working on it and I appreciate your patience as I get my act together. That being said, I revisited the business plan I created in December of 2015. Reading through it I noticed that there were parts that didn’t make sense to me. If I couldn’t figure out what my thought process was at the time, it’s doubtful anyone else could. I’ve spent a significant amount of time really thinking about what realistic goals are, and how to achieve them while moving forward in my business. I’ll bore you with those details another time.

I went on a great purge, nearly gutting my work room. I threw out anything that wasn’t actually usable, donated everything that is usable that I just don’t want or need. If I looked at it and didn’t see a project, it went. I’ve been organizing what I have left and it’s still far from finished.

As of this week, I am proud and excited to announce that I have wine racks, wind chimes, and sun catchers in The Hidden Treasure in Longmont, Colorado. I am thrilled to be working with such an amazing shop owner. She is excited to work with local artists. So happy for this!

And now I have a cold and start a new employment venture this evening. Other aspects of life are uncertain, but I keep moving forward. If I didn’t, I would surely lose my sanity.

 

Different Directions

I’ve been pondering for quite a while about taking my business and blog in different directions. I’ve been tossing around new product ideas of things that are more geared toward men, and things geared toward gamers. There are several items in my shop, two types in particular, that I enjoy making but just don’t sell much of. They get pinned and repinned and saved like crazy on pinterest, but typically on boards labelled “things to make” or something similar. I think for those items, I will take them out of my shop, and post tutorials on how to make them. Those items will be replaced in my shop with new products that are more masculine, and for gamers.

When looking through Etsy listings, and looking through booths at craft shows, I see mostly things for girls and women. As the mother of three boys, I feel it’s my duty to make something that they can use. Those boys are also gamers and they have inspired me to make things like polyhedral dice necklaces, dice bags, and eventually deck boxes for their cards.

I’m not sure yet what I will make for men. While what ever it is will not specifically be only for men to use, it will certainly be something that men would use more than a purse, scarf, or hair accessory, or doll clothes. I’ve posed the question on Facebook and gotten a few responses as to what would be most useful for a guy. Something to hold tools was the most popular answer.

I will eventually be posting tutorials here on how to make memo boards and sun catchers. I really enjoy making them, but they just don’t sell because people see them as ‘Pinterest projects’ and think they will make them themselves. I’m sure some people do end up making them, and I’ve had some really great ideas on variations for them.

On the home front, things are almost always in transition in our house. Now is no exception. I am in the final stages of recovering from wrist surgery, so the creative endeavors have been put on hold until I am fully able to craft again. Other things are changing in very positive ways, and new possibilities are on the horizon, but I’m not able to go into detail on those other things right now. I will not leave you in the dark for ever. As soon as there are concrete answers, I will update. It’s all good, and all part of the adventure.

 

What do you think would be a useful product for men?

Not Your Typical Wine Rack

Folks who follow me on Facebook have already seen these, as I made the first one in May and made about a dozen in different sizes throughout the rest of the year. Most people know that I like to make things out of other things. Repurposing is a huge part of my creative process. I do quite a bit of work with mattress parts, too.

Using the springs from a box spring mattress, and a 4″x4″ fence post, some fencing nails, and decorative plaques as bases, I created these counter top wine racks. I’m using a variety of stains, and often way more sand paper for smooth finishes than should be necessary, and creating something useful and interesting.  The following image is more or less a collection of what I’ve made so far. Some will hold four bottles, as does the one shown above. Some hold eight bottles, and my personal favorite is a floor standing, 36″ tall tower that will hold up to sixteen bottles of wine, liquor, or craft beer.

wine-rack-collage

I am really enjoying making these racks. They seem to be pretty popular, too. Several have already gone to new homes, and only a few are currently listed in my Etsy shop. The rest will be listed over the next few days. I’ve also made two custom. I have at least four more in process and I will post photos when they are finished.

If you are interested in purchasing one, please feel free to contact me directly via email (1leftofcenterdesigns@gmail.com), Facebook, or in the comments here.

Catching Up

I noticed that I stopped blogging in February last year. I didn’t realize what an impact starting a part-time job would have on my business, and ten months of silence here is all the proof I need.

Last year, I set the goal to make one new item per day. That certainly did not happen, although I did start a new product line that is doing very well, and I’m seriously excited about it. I’ll be posting later today about this new product line, along with pictures.

I am going to make a conscious effort to post here at least three times a week, not only about my business and new items, but occasionally about other things going on in my world. I don’t like leaving things undone so I will no longer neglect my little blog.

 

What exciting new things are going on in your corner of the world?

2017

It’s a new year. I’ve spent quite a bit of time reflecting on what my goals were last year, and if they were realistic or not. I like to say that having the flu the first week of the year, completely threw off my motivation, but I’m not sure that is entirely true. I don’t think I have completely bounced back from when we moved 2.5 years ago.

I had just found my niche in the St Louis craft show market. I had finally figured out where my target audience was, and which shows would be profitable. Then, we moved to Colorado. I haven’t been able to jump into the craft show scene like I would like to. I learned the hard way that one must research and attend shows before committing to the vendor fee. That process takes a couple of years. I have to admit that I have neither done the research, nor attended shows. I have joined some online discussion groups about area shows, and pay close attention to vendor feedback, and that helps in making the decisions as to what shows to apply to. I have done a few smaller shows (no offense meant to the organizers. I was doing out-door festival type shows in STL, so shows with 15 – 20 vendors are small, to me) and they have been very successful for me. They have been well-organized and advertised. The connections I’ve made are irreplaceable.

As I sit and ponder while crunching stats from last year and the year before, I have to seriously evaluate what I expect from my business, and what realistic, attainable goals to set for this year. My head and my heart want to jump in, full force, head first,eyes closed, but my gut is holding them both back, telling me to tread cautiously, and take the safe route. I know my ultimate goal is a brick and mortar store front. Getting from 16 Etsy sales in a year to being able to sustain an actual store is going to take several years, and I know that. Figuring out the most profitable, cost-effective, quickest route to that store front is key. I would love to have that before I’m 50, but reality says that isn’t likely. I do not have the resources to devote 40 – 60 hours a week to my little business, so maybe by the time I’m 60.

Lots to think about, without giving up, or jumping in and sinking. Treading water like I did in 2016 is not an option this year.

 

 

On the Edge, Off the Avenue

I am a product of the ’80’s. I was in high school when John Hughes movies were shaping lives with their messages, styles, music, and characters. One of those movies changed my life. That movie was Pretty In Pink. I admit that I never actually watched Pretty In Pink, although I had many opportunities. I did, however, have the soundtrack, and I listened to those songs every day for probably close to a year, if not, longer. I still have the cassette tape, and it still works! I memorized those songs and still sing them when I hear them. It’s amazing how Thirty years later, I still remember the lyrics. I discovered several musicians I had never heard of, and found more songs by artists I already loved. The two songs that stood out the most from the Pretty In Pink soundtrack, for me, are Left of Center by Suzanne Vega, and Wouldn’t It Be Good by Nick Kershaw. No, they are not the most popular songs on the soundtrack, in fact, most people wont recognize either when they hear them. That’s just who I am. The elusive B side tracks always speak to me, especially if they are obscure or have a deep meaning.

Suzanne Vega is one of my favorite singers/musicians. She has such a beautiful voice and her lyrics are deep. Her songs speak to me. Left of Center speaks to me more than most of her songs. I feel like it describes exactly who I was in high school, and to a great extent, who I am now. I never have been the mainstream type. While I tried to keep up with fashion trends way back then,lets face it – the 80’s certainly made their mark in fashion history,  I always put my own spin on them. I was always that girl who everyone recognized, but no one really knew. I had friends in all the popular cliques, but mostly stayed to myself; a loner if you will. I was always in the outskirts, in the fringes, in the corner, on the edge. I was never the center of attention and I liked it that way.  When I heard this song, it described me. Finally, someone got it! Someone understood! There was a connection. The bass line and the piano sucked me in, then the lyrics took hold of my heart. it was like left of Center was written about ME!

Even today, I’m still the quirky one, on the outskirts, in the corner. So, when I was trying to come up with a name for my business that described me, and described what I make, I started thinking about how unusual and unique my products are, how they are every day things, just different, just a little off to the left of mainstream; Left of Center. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that one of my favorite songs perfectly describes my work. From that moment, Left of Center Designs was born.

Lyrics:  Continue reading “On the Edge, Off the Avenue”

United in Orange…and blue

I was waiting until after the Super Bowl, to release my two latest wind chimes. Really, I was waiting to see if the Broncos would win. If they didn’t, I was going to wait until the preseason starts. But, they pulled it off and won, so here they are. Each consists of silverware and melted bead sun catchers. I made the discs at the end of 2014, and they sat in my work shop waiting for me to figure out what to do with them. I decided to try something new, and I am really pleased with how cute they are. They are available in my Etsy shop for $24 each. Broncos Silverware Wind Chimes