This month seems like a whirlwind of hurricanes and resulting storms, power outages, food in fridges going bad no matter how little you opened the fridge. And of course, spooks, sweets and finally… FINALLY cool breezes. I told a friend last night that my air conditioning is still on because there’s no snow on the ground yet.
The cooler seasons are always a time to reflect to me… and in my reflections I’ve seen the progress we’ve made as we continue to rebuild our lives from the military to homelessness / joblessness, to now. I saw that we didn’t do it alone — and how asking for help was a humbling experience we sometimes thought we’d never survive. I saw how difficult this forward growth was for us and as we faced hurdles this month, I balked indignantly at the challenges they presented. It just seems that survival should be just a tad simpler in 2018 America. So I sat down and began compiling a resource guide for locals who have gone through similar circumstances to my own. I’ll be sharing more about this once I’ve published the resource.
Change is definitely in the crisp air and I’m loving it despite the difficulties. My wish for all of you this month [aside from overflowing trick-or-treat baskets and a wicked sweet tooth] is hope and a smile.
My name is Laura Weiller. And I have somewhere around 5 incomplete projects in my craft closet. Some are big projects. Like really big. Like monumental. Like… why or how did I ever think I could achieve the end result without burning out?
As a creative artist, it can be difficult to part with any project. It’s challenging to admit that maybe this thingy isn’t going to get done — or at least not by me. Even tougher when I had high hopes for the finished product. Or worse, invested some cash into it.
In 2010, one of my husband’s Christmas gifts to me was embroidery floss and a few other craft-related items from Michael’s. We walked into the store, and I paced in front of the racks of colorful skeins. I used the floss for making hand-woven jewelry — this was a rare opportunity to acquire several skeins which should be carefully chosen or the colors wouldn’t complement and work well together. A complex decision had to be made despite the massive selection presented me.
Fully unaware of the havoc he was about to wreak, my well-intentioned spouse began picking up one skein of each color and dropping them into the basket. When he was done, he probably had over 200 skeins in the basket. He was to deploy a few months later and had no intention of my running out of craft materials while he was away. 8 years later, I’m still working through those 200+ skeins of embroidery floss…
…and I’ve learned some things…
I’m the same person I was as a 12 year old. There are 2 things I like the most: animals and creativity [crafts / art / writing]. I’m happy. This is what I’m supposed to be doing.
It’s not worth it to move with the added bulk of unfinished projects. It’s just going to gather dust on a different shelf.
Stark honesty goes a long way to clearing those shelves of incomplete things… I’m delighted by every creative goal I attempt. I can’t wait to see the finished piece. But if that process takes too long, or if I get bored halfway through… I will pick something else up before I go back to that. And soon, it’s forgotten. Left unvalued.
If I haven’t done it and don’t set aside the time to, it’s probably not something I value as much as other things — and that is okay.
So today, I want to encourage you to clear out some of the clutter of unfinished projects. Some suggested methods of ridding yourself of them are:
Take stock of your projects, and go through them one at a time. Set a reasonable date [2 weeks, a month from now] to have it finished by. If it’s not finished, it has to go.
Invite a friend / family member who enjoys this sort of thing to join in a “traveling project”. Each individual does a bit of work on it. Then the completed project is donated to someone in need.
Yarn / sewing projects [crochet / knitting, etc.] could be donated to assisted living facilities.
The materials used may be able to be sold or traded — here again, I would suggest setting a date. If it doesn’t sell by this date, it goes in the garbage or is freely given to someone who can use it.
Have you struggled to stay on point with a project? I’d love to hear more.
You may be surprised to see me DIYing literally everything about my business. My shop name is hand written on Kraft paper hangers for keychains and jewelry pieces. All artwork on the packaging is drawn by hand. Even my business cards are handcrafted, drawn onto index cards in my own, clear handwriting. I love offering this personal touch — but it seems society often demands an unnecessary ‘bells and whistles’ approach.
I’ve been creating some art since I was a pre-teen. People often asked if I sold my work – the answer was usually no – I had no idea how to start a business, much less, where I would find paying customers. I enjoyed making things for others just for the smiles on their faces — getting paid money was a rare and delightful bonus.
In 2009, I started working to build a business out of my arts and crafts. I quickly learned that the standards some communities hold their sellers to seemed almost unattainable for me as an unemployed newlywed trying to make just a few dollars in spending cash. I suddenly felt a great deal of pressure to have more things…
a cricut machine
a printer and printable address labels
a fancy-ass DSLR camera because according to some communities, only the most finite detail and quality photo will do
a paper-slicer thing-a-ma-jig
pretty ribbon and wrapping / boxes for packaging
VistaPrint business cards
more recently, I’ve been told repeatedly that my products “won’t sell” unless I have multiples of each item [it’s rare for me to make the exact same thing twice].
For years, I’ve beat myself up a lot over lacking or unable to afford all this and more… I felt it could be a reason I wasn’t making sales. It could easily manifest as nameless, faceless voice firmly stating my apparently obvious failures. But I also argued with myself that these aren’t needs. These are extravagances. This is a thing I can do and it’s a large part of what makes me happy.
It’s 2018. For the first time in my life I’m being told new customers will “definitely be ordering again!” and “will be ordering Christmas gifts” from me. It’s truly an honor to be so appreciated. To know that my work has hit it’s mark.
But get this:
my product photos are staged, me holding the item, laying it across my personal desk or hanging it from whatever pretty jar I have available from my kitchen
I take every photo using the 5-megapixel rear camera in my Samsung Galaxy J3 Prime. Maybe it doesn’t pick up all the finer details of a speck of dirt, but is that really necessary for this? I think not.
I don’t edit the photos. I check to be certain they’re not blurred and that the color isn’t off by much and that’s it. When photographing products for the purpose of selling, I try not to use a filter.
I wrap my products in Kraft paper. I got a huge roll at Walmart for just over $4. My spouse has also used it to make origami boxes for items to be hand-delivered in.
My advertising is completely free. I took the time to connect my Google Calendar to IFTTT applets which share each of my products at least once every two weeks.
My shop at Spreesy is also free. I still plan to use Etsy again, but for now, am delighting in the work having a customer base has added to my schedule.
What is all this telling me? We long for simplicity. There is a hunger for a real, personal touch when it comes to the products we purchase. People want to know that time was taken and care given to making them the most pleased patron in the county. That’s what I’m here for. That’s why this is my work.
Have you also felt pressured as a crafter / artist? To market your products in a specific, fanciful way? I’d love to hear about your experiences — comment below, or feel free to reach out to me in some other way.