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:
If you want something, ask.
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.
Kindness works better. In every situation.
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.
Learn from your mistakes.
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!
A couple months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Scott, of Blue Nickel Studios, at spring Quilt Market in SLC. He was kind, and gracious, and even had a beautiful quilt being shown at one of the manufacturer’s booths. A month or two after that, he emailed to ask if I’d like to participate in a little project he was putting together. I said “Count me in!” and the rest is history.
For the first 16 days in October, one of 16 different quilty bloggers will share an original block with you. Scott sent us the fabric (more on that later), and a set of guidelines, and said “Get to work!” So we did, and now we’re (almost) ready to share them with you!
Here’s the lineup:
Oct 1 John Adams (Quilt Dad)
Oct 2 Kaye Prince (Miss Print)
Oct 3 Karen Linton
Oct 4 Konda Luckau (Moose on the Porch Quilts)
Oct 5 Amy Lobsiger (Mrs. Schmenkman Quilts)
Oct 6 Ryan Walsh (I’m Just a Guy Who Quilts)
Oct 7 Scott Hansen (Blue Nickel Studios)
Oct 8 April Rosenthal (<—that’s me! Prairie Grass Patterns)
Oct 9 Cara Wilson (Cara Quilts)
Oct 10 Heather Jones (Olive and Ollie)
Oct 11 Susan Sobon (Chickenfoot)
Oct 12 Jan Peoples (Sew Sow in Love)
Oct 13 Erin Singleton (Two More Seconds)
Oct 14 Charlie Scott (Qubee Quilts)
Oct 15 Emily Cier (Carolina Patchworks)
Oct 16 Rachel Locke (Sweetteamom Designs)
Be sure to follow along and get each of the block patterns each day. They will be available at each blog as a PDF download. Plus, I think there just might be a giveaway at at least one of the stops. Just sayin’. The Uberfest button in my sidebar will bring you back to this post so you can get back to the list quickly each day.
I can’t even stand it anymore, I have to show you this. First off, I have to say I’m biased a bit toward this fabric. I mean, I did the printing and website for Sarah Jane for nearly 2 years. Not to mention that Sarah is one of my sweetest, most talented friends, and she’s right here in town with me! So really, I HAD to make something from her first fabric line, Children at Play, for Michael Miller.
Both versions should be quilted, bound, (and ironed, ahem) in the next few days, and then, more (better) pictures. Promise.
What are YOU working on right now?
I was standing in my workout clothes in the middle of the gym.
I worked at a bank at the time, which of course was a tricky place to be in the middle of a crisis. We had to be there. To be confident and appropriately “cheerful”. To help people not panic and pull all their money. There was absolutely no options for staying home, or even keeping abreast of the news. Having a TV on, or even the radio was not an option. To say I was frustrated is an understatement.
Although I did not suffer personal loss in the events that day, it was perhaps the first time I felt connected to a community outside my own. Connected in a way that defied distance, ideology, or age. And when, eight years later, I was able to stand in New York City for the first time, I wanted to somehow tell those people there that I knew. That I had seen and remembered. That despite the fact that we were complete strangers, we were neighbors, too. Brothers. Sisters. That back home in a little city, we were praying for and loving them. Putting messages on our billboards. Raising money. Because that’s what people do when they love each other. They take care of each other.
And we love you, too.
PS Billboard pictures were taken with a black and white film camera one year after, out the window of a moving car. Pardon the focus.