Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Pursuit of Happiness...

The French poet Guillaume Apollinaire said:

Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.
Incredibly powerful words, especially for those of us who constantly look to the "what's next?" and oftentimes have the inability to enjoy the 'right now'.

When you make the commitment to start your own endeavor, it's impossible, it seems, to take a break from re-thinking just about every aspect of your business on a constant basis. I came to a point this month where I just wanted to bag it all and walk away.


Then what? My oldest child is entering the first grade, my youngest is in preschool two days a week - full day. My 'me' time is, in most part, comprised of running The Pretty Peacock. Is it relaxing? Hmmmm, no. But it fulfills me in ways that I knew existed, but did not expect to ever fill, and fulfills me in ways that I did not even know I was missing.

What I needed (and will need) is to remind myself that there must be time taken to just breathe it all in. To take that step back and pat yourself on the back for all the accomplishments you have made - and just the accomplishments, not the "but I could have done x, y, z..." and just be freaking happy!!

Why is it so hard? I'm not necessarily a perfectionist. I never thought of myself as someone who is just never satisfied, but I find myself in constant competition with myself. Maybe it's healthy - but what isn't is never being proud of yourself and/or taking only positive inventory.

So, with this new month ahead of me, I'm going to make sure that I don't just trudge along in this pursuit of happiness. I am going to make certain that, even if it's just for a moment, that I pat myself on the back and say, "Dude, you are a Rock Star."

Hope you'll take some time to do the same - and share it with me so I can be inspired!
Feed Shark

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Random Frustrations...That Might Just Have a Point

Back in June, one of my favorite bloggers wrote this post in response to this post by double X regarding and how it "peddles a false feminist fantasy" by making women believe that they can quit their day job to "make quilts". I spent the last couple of months mulling this all over because it irked me so freaking bad that I had to take a minute to really figure out why I had so much emotion in the first place.

It wasn't because I disagreed with double X's sentiment that the majority of sellers on Etsy are female, SAHMs, who have husbands that pay for the 'real' bills and therefore they have the luxury of choosing to charge only enough to pay for their supplies (which I think is flat out ridiculous) and that there is a teeny-tiny percentage of sellers on Etsy that can actually sustain themselves on the income they generate by selling their wares.

There were several points made in the doubleX article that spoke to me and bugged me, but I think what really put me off is the same reason that my fellow blogger took the time to write her post:

I'm irritated with the notion that women do not value their time (by and large) the way that their male counterparts do.

So, I'm writing this post in efforts to make the mom-preneurs out there take note: take yourself seriously, for pete's sake.

That is, if you are actually attempting to make your creative endeavor a profitable one. The thing is, you have to educate yourself.

There is a huge difference between sellers who have come from a corporate background, and those who have not. You really need to have a game plan (i.e. business plan), the discipline, and the drive to make your business - on Etsy, or anywhere else - succeed.

I don't mean that you need to, necessarily, go out and get your MBA, or dabble in a corporate career if you have never had one before - but you do need to pay attention and learn from those who have the advantage of these experiences.

~ Do not be afraid to ask questions. ~
~ Do not be too proud to ask someone to be your mentor.
~ Do not assume it will be easy.

If you consider yourself a 'business' and you are not turning a profit, or only covering the costs of your supplies and you are satisfied with that, super. Just don't call yourself a business.

doubleX's article brought up how there is a slim-to-none number of male sellers on Etsy and correlated it to the fact that men (on the majority) realize that they would never fetch the price they required for the necessary time and effort it took to create their art.

I don't necessarily believe that. I think dudes, in general, aren't super excited about getting their wares photographed, listed and then maintain their shops...but I'm generalizing and speculating and doing all that stuff you're not supposed to do.

What I do know is that every venue has its market - Etsy's is not filled with customers looking to spend over $100. On anything. There is absolutely no reason for your creative endeavors to be sold in one spot, in fact they shouldn't be (because that's the whole "don't put your eggs in one basket" thing that you are not supposed to do). There are a ton of venues - online and in 'real life' alike. Research and figure out which venues are suitable to sell your art.

All of us, I am sure, have questioned the 'worth' of our work. We are our own toughest critics - and we should be. But that doesn't mean that we should just give away our art.

Take some time to think about it - I do on a weekly (at least) basis. Are you undervaluing your work?

** The picture shown at the top of this post is the Goddess Saraswati ~ The Hindu Goddess of Knowledge and Arts. You can click the picture for more info **
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Don't take it Personally...

This is one of the BIGGEST lessons I have learned since I started selling my work. Art itself is such an emotional endeavor, that forcing yourself to separate feelings from the pieces you make and sell can prove to be difficult. But, it's mandatory.

We have probably all shared in some or all of these scenarios:

~ You receive criticism or disappointment regarding a sale.

~ You look around that vast sea of wares on Etsy or Google search your general category, only to find that someone has ripped off your idea, emulated it very closely, or used the same language you did in title/description. And you get irked. Big time.

~ Your friends/family think you are wasting your college education and/or are neglecting your motherly duties and/or have lost sight of your priorities. (double irk)

BUT take heart: if you are going to succeed in your creative endeavor, you must grow a thicker skin.

CRITICISM ~ If/when you receive less than glowing feedback from a customer (so nice of Etsy to track that for you!) ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALLLLWWWAAAYYS make sure that you look at the situation from his/her perspective before replying in a terse, stiff-lipped manner. Thank the techie-geek gods that you are (more than likely) able to reply via email and not by phone because that buys you the time to take a step back and evaluate: rationally.

EMULATON ~ I create personalized jewelry and considering jewelry has been adorning mankind for centuries, I am more than likely not creating anything so out-of-this-world, brand-spanking new in every detail, that I am allowed to get all bent out of shape when I see something very, very similar in cyberland, because after all, it is the artists 'touch' that is recognizable and the aspect that should be blatantly obvious/different. BUT - when I have created a piece that I designed, has my feel to it, and I scoured the internet to make sure there was nothing else like it and I see someone try to replicate it (or even go as far as copying my product photo), then a 'cease and assist' letter - but I do not (read: try despeartely hard) dwell.

That kind of anger can eat you up, monopolize your time, and paralyze you from moving forward. And who needs that? It stifles creativity and just puts general bad juju in the air. Don't do it. Move on.

FAMILY/FRIENDS ~ I have a really awesome family. Despite the shock and initial disappointment from my parents that the girl who did nothing but babble on about law school since she was 14 has tossed that idea out the window after her undergrad, LSATs and spending thousands on law school applications...they have been nothing but supportive. Yes, I think it is safe to say that most people believe that pursuing your creative dream is not 'practical'. But it is possible. And that is what matters.

However, if you are combating disapproval from those that matter to you, it makes believing in that dream incredibly difficult. Your family needs to support you. I need my husband to believe in my work, in my ability to run my business, and to be that soft place when things get overwhelming - I do not need him to criticize, judge, or ridicule my efforts (and he would not, or he would NOT be my husband!!). It has nothing to do with needing approval, it's about needing the positive energy to move forward. You will judge your work and your ability to 'do this' more harshly than anyone else possibly could. And with your negativity exponentially increased by judgments made upon you by loved ones, how could you possibly make it?

If your family/friends are not providing you with the support you need, then get involved with a group of like-minded, fellow creative entrepreneurs. Etsy (I'm focusing on Etsy here, but several other online sellilng venues do the same thing) provides an excellent resource that hooks you up with teams either locally, or in the same material/method of art that you work with. Or, if you need to chat, check out their forums, it's instant gratification.

It is almost impossible to have a thick skin against those who are closest to you. Just realize that it's probably coming from one of two places: Concern or Jealousy
Think about it.

I thought being a creative entrepreneur would eliminate the need of playing politics, dealing with idiots and lazy co-workers, and just doing what I wanted. Hmmmmm, no. The games all remain the same, but this time, you are the ONLY one in charge.
Feed Shark