It’s Only A Dream

After roughly twenty years toying with this idea of owning a business where I sell the things I make, I’ve come to terms with reality. It’s not going to happen. It sort of happened, in several forms, and even actually took off for a brief moment in time. I really started to feel direction and purpose for that fleeting moment. The spark, the passion, it was there, I felt it, I lived it. I loved it. Even on the most nerve-wracking days, I loved it. It fueled my soul and gave me purpose. Then, it all came to an abrupt halt when we moved. It was like running full speed into a brick wall.

Once we moved, I had to start over. I had to find my niche, find my people, find the shows, the stores; find me. I’m lost. I am truly, deeply, emotionally and spiritually lost. I feel empty, dead, inside. I feel defeated, broken; irreparable. It’s been almost three years and I’m still stalled. I have no direction, no focus, very little drive or desire.

I rarely speak about my personal life here, and doing so now will shed a little light on why I am where I am emotionally. My husband is very fortunate to have his dream career. He worked extremely hard, dedicated years of his life, to get where he is, and he’s doing what he loves, and does it well. The flip side of that is long hours, and the ever-looming possibility of relocating, yet again, on very short notice. The possibility has come up three times in the last two years and eight months since our last relocation. I thought having an online business was ideal because I could take it with me, run it from anywhere. In theory, that is true. In reality, it doesn’t exactly work that way.

I don’t have the financial resources to dedicate to a prominent online presence. The minute online presence I did have proved to be exhausting. I’m starting over in an unfamiliar place, and don’t have the contacts that previously were so easy to build. I’m dedicated to a w-2 job that doesn’t afford me the luxury of weekends off, so finding and participating in shows is virtually impossible. That means I’m not in contact with the experienced professionals. I’m not running into people who know the circuit, the ins and outs, dos and don’ts. While I’ve fallen into a fantastic network of artists and crafters in the area, they are all new to the environment as well. We are all learning the proverbial terrain together. I’ve learned that what is a norm in one state, does not apply in others, therefore, its hard to figure out where my products will be received with the most financial enthusiasm. It also makes planning ahead difficult.

The children are older and demand more time. I thought that when they started school, life would get easier, that I would have more free time to dedicate to my business, but that’s not how it works. Starting school brought on more demands, more things demanding priority, more time involved in other things.

Really, it comes down to time and money. My attention is required by more things now than before we moved. The cost of living is much higher here, causing the need for the job I didn’t have before, and meaning that shows are more expensive. When I have to prioritize, the dream gets left off the list, or pushed off to the side until “later.” Later isn’t coming. It isn’t happening.

I recently offered a huge price reduction in my Etsy shop. I cut prices to the point that I wasn’t going to make a profit, and even took a major loss on one item that actually sold. I sold two items in that “giant sale”. I let it run for about a month, and sold two items. After the second item was delivered, I closed the shop. I deleted all the listings. All my product is packed away, and most of my supplies have been rehomed. There is very little left, and it too, will be gone soon. It will all be a distant memory before long.

Really, it’s devastating. My heart is broken, my spirit is broken. I feel completely defeated. I have no direction. People have offered encouragement by telling me to ‘just take a break for a little while.’  ‘Give it time. You’ll figure it out.’ ‘It happens to everyone, it will pass.’ ‘But it’s your dream, don’t give up.’ Yes, yes it is, but the dream is over. It’s time for me to let go and move on. It’s time to find something else to be passionate about.

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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.

 

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.

 

 

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

 

Processing Wind Chimes

I’ve spent most of the last couple of weeks working on new products. Once I kicked the flu, and felt like a human being again, I got back to work, capitalizing on a huge creative spark. I am very excited about the new ideas I have for this year. There will be many new products, along with new processes. While you will mostly see bits of my creative process in photos, there are many new things going on “behind the scenes.” I’m learning about which tools I need, alternate ways to make things, and how to make completely new products I’ve never attempted. Right now, though, I’m focused on wind chimes.

New Wind Chimes

I started making wind chimes about 13 years ago. I am known Continue reading “Processing Wind Chimes”