One year ago, I released my first 6 patterns. I can’t believe that it’s only been a year. It feels in some ways like it’s been so. much. longer. I mean, when I stop to think about everything that has happened in the last 12 months it seems crazy. On the other hand, there are so many things that I still feel so inexperienced in–especially on the business side of things.
It’s been a crazy journey from the get-go, and I’ve learned A LOT. In hindsight, there are some things that I would have done differently, and things I’m glad I stuck to my guns on. Here are five things I’ve learned:
I have been amazed at the overall generous response from companies when I ask for things. This isn’t because I’m a big deal, at all, because I’m pretty darn new to this whole thing, and most of them have probably never heard of me or seen my work. But here’s the thing: they want their products used and talked about and out there as much as I want to use their product. It’s really a win-win. It doesn’t hurt at all to ask. The worst they can do is say no.
Whether it’s making sure you have enough fabric before you start quilting all night, or triple checking that you are sending the right file to the printer, it will save you a lot of time, frustration, and heartache to double and triple check things. Of course, this applies to things like having each pattern tested thoroughly, but also applies to spell checking, hiring people, and receiving information over the phone.
Whether you’re asking for something, complaining about something, or declining an opportunity, there is absolutely no reason for meanness. Just remember, someone has contributed their time, talents, creative energy to whatever it is you’re complaining about/declining/asking for. If you jump in with guns blazing and words spewing you may get what you want, but you won’t be a better person for it. And certainly, you will have hurt/offended/disheartened another human being. If nothing else, it’s karma, baby.
You will make them. They will embarrass you, haunt you, and follow you around for a while. They will inspire mean emails (see #3), make you want to quit, make you question the sagacity of starting your own creative business in the first place. They are also an incredible opportunity to grow, if you can work through them. Acknowledge your mistakes, publicly if necessary, do what you can to fix the situation, and then do everything in your power so you don’t make the same mistake ever again.
You have worthwhile things to share with the world. Starting a business, especially as an artist or creative can be emotional, and scary, and can make you feel more vulnerable than you ever imagined possible. However, there is also nothing like seeing your work make someone else deliriously happy. Be courageous and put your best foot forward. Don’t be afraid. You can do this.
PS A week full of Happy Anniversary fun starts on Monday–including some giveaways you won’t want to miss!
It was a long night. With two little sickies and a thunderstorm, I think they were up at least every hour. You all know that kind of night, for whatever reason: kids, insomnia, stress, weather, illness. You also know I bet, what the morning feels like after one of those nights.
Scratchy eyes, oversensitive ears, a temperament that’s less than pleasant, everything is overwhelming.
Kind of Exactly like you’re walking around trying to be conscious while your body is still asleep. It takes a while to wake up on these mornings.
I’ve been thinking about this concept though, in the creative arena. How it takes a while to “wake up,” so to speak.
As a business owner, I’m fairly new to the scene. My first patterns were just released last fall. I’ve been to market once. I’m still in that “just waking up” phase in regards to meeting people, blogging, and marketing. Taxes make my eyes hurt, and my temperament less-than-pleasant. My ears can get oversensitive to other people’s opinions, and yes, things can get overwhelming sometimes.
In other arenas, though, I feel like I’m fully awake (finally!). I’ve been designing things for others for years, but am finally hitting my stride and solidifying my own style. I’m in a place where I like what I design, and know what I don’t like, even if it’s popular. My ears aren’t as worried about criticism these days, and my eyes can pick out what’s not working pretty quickly. Designing makes me happy, especially when I can really take the time to do it just right. I do still get overwhelmed on occasion, but it’s not a constant state anymore, and it’s not a despairing overwhelmed, it’s a life-is-so-full overwhelmed. (My darling friend Sarah just talked about this, here). When I feel like that, my sweetheart Jacob will always remind me to just do one thing at a time, intentionally, and with focus. Whatever the most important thing is.
Oh, and assigning all the Quickbooks work to Jacob.
Maybe that’s the solution in both the “I haven’t had enough sleep” mornings, and the early mornings of a new endeavor. Take it one thing at a time, on purpose. Step-by-step, waking up a little more with each action.
You know what I mean?