Remember to Breathe

Remember to Breathe

*This post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if you choose to click on them and/or make a purchase*

Breathing is definitely NOT overrated.  I lost most of November to a sinus infection, and while sinus infections are nothing new to me, this one added a new twist: asthma exacerbation.  My “mild” asthma became much less so, and pretty much any type of exertion left me breathless.  This was especially annoying considering I live on the third floor, so just taking the stairs was an adventure.  Add some truly excruciating joint pain to the mix and you may begin to understand why I haven’t been a very happy camper.  Writing and typing are difficult when you have shooting pains in your elbow and your fingers are too stiff and sore to hold a pen.  I have a speech-to-text program that I like to use for “writing” down my thoughts, but even talking was too much exertion for my poor lungs.  So I haven’t been able to get much work done on my book, let alone anything else.

*BreatheAir Purifiers for AsthmaBreathe*

It’s extremely frustrating for me to not be able to do the things I want to do.  I don’t like being told I can’t do something, and my body has been telling me “nope” for several weeks now.  (Yes, I’ve seen a doctor.  Yes, I’m much better, thus why I’m actually able to write this now.)  I’ve been forced to slow down, take it easy, relax… and I hate it.  Patience is not one of my virtues.  But it’s given me a lot of time to think.

*The Power of Breath: The Art of Breathing Well for Harmony, Happiness, and HealthBreathe Better Feel BetterBreathing Space: Living and Working at a Comfortable Pace in a Sped-Up Society*

Obviously, the book I’m writing is much on my mind.  Make that books.  As I do my research and go over my notes, I realize this is a much more ambitious project than I originally thought.  The good thing is that just makes me more excited about it.  The bad thing is that excitement makes the frustration of not being able to work on it worse.  I’ve had to constantly remind myself to just take a deep breath and let it go.

*“Take a Deep Breath” by V Sharp Multon*
from: Imagekind-Artwork from independent artists

Since writing wasn’t working, I ended up doing a lot of reading and listening to audiobooks.  I must admit, I love self-help books.  I love how they can make me think about my life, hopes, and dreams, and get me enthused about them all over again.  One that I recently finished and highly recommend is Jen Sincero’s *You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life*.  I have the audiobook version, which she reads herself.  I really like her style, though it’s quite different from the usual fare.  She can be crass and vulgar (she was in a band called Crotch, that should really explain a lot right there) but to me anyway, that makes her seem more real and approachable.  I’m seriously considering investing in one of her coaching programs.

You can check out some of the quotes from You Are a Badass on Goodreads, but there were two that I want to share in this post:

“Life often turns to shit before it turns to shinola.”

“Birthing your dreams is like… giving birth.  Conceiving the idea is the fun part (hopefully), then you go through insane amounts of fear and excitement and dreaming and planning and vomiting and growing and thinking you’re crazy and thinking you’re awesome and stretching and shape shifting until you’re practically unrecognizable to everyone, even your own self.”

Following your dreams is not an easy path.  As the saying goes, if it was easy everyone would do it.  I’ve never been pregnant, but I’ve been around enough pregnant women to recognize the truth of the second quote.  I know that following my dreams has changed me considerably from the person I was a decade ago.  It’s been a pretty wild ride, but I’m not about to get off the roller coaster.

What I found incredibly interesting and enlightening was the chapter containing the first quote.  By really going for your dreams, you are basically trying to completely change your reality, but your reality doesn’t want to change, so it throws a tantrum like a threenager.  It’s like Murphy’s Law on steroids and crack.  But it also means you’re on the right track.  So the sinus infection, my asthma now requiring a daily inhaler, the joint pain I’ll be seeing a Rheumatologist about in January, all but one of the headlights on my car going out, the flash drive with all my notes and references for the book getting corrupted (talk about leaving me breathless!), my laptop BSODing, my credit score tanking because I couldn’t pay my bills and my creditors were breathing down my neck, and what seems like a million other little setbacks are all because I’m finally on my way to making my dreams my new reality.  I’m going to believe that anyway, it helps me to breathe easier. 🙂

Now, back to MY book.  I think strategic planning is extremely important for any business, but it’s also extremely different for a one-person business than it is for a corporation.  First of all, you ARE your business.  You eat, sleep, and yes, breathe it.  It’s very difficult for an artist to detach themselves from their art, as we pour our hearts and souls into each piece we make.  So you’re not just planning for your business, you’re planning for your LIFE.  Because of that, I will be incorporating not only the knowledge I’ve gleaned from my studies on corporate strategic planning, but also from the variety of self-development and life coaching books I’ve read.  I’ll try to keep my rah-rah cheerleader tendencies to a minimum, and because I always put “none of the above” for my religious affiliation, you won’t be seeing any mentions of a specific religion.  This book is about you, your business, and your dreams.

*Breathing Freely: Celebrating the Imperfect LifeTake Their Breath Away: How Imaginative Service Creates Devoted Customers*

I’m also using the material I’m creating to take a good hard look at my own business.  These last few weeks have given me a lot of time to think and dream and figure out what it is I really want.  I’ll be doing a post about my BIG dream later, but there are three things that I want my business to be about: freedom, creativity, and passion, not only for myself, but for every small creative business.  Painting the Big Picture of Your Creative Business will be all about discovering the passion behind your business and creating the freedom you want in your life.

*Breathing on Your OwnA Deep Breath of Life: Daily Inspiration for Heart-Centered LivingBreathing In, Breathing Out: Keeping a Writer's Notebook *

For me, part of the freedom I want to create for myself and my business is the freedom from worry about money.  Besides the sickness and pain, another thing keeping me from writing is the necessity to try and find ways to make enough money to pay the bills.  Time spent listing items on eBay and Etsy or researching events I can vend at is time spent away from working on my book.  This is one reason I created the Indiegogo campaign, to raise funds so I could work on the book without financial distractions.  The campaign ends today (December 18), and I am nowhere near reaching the goal for the first book, let alone all ten.  So I’ve been looking at other ways to make some passive income, and that’s why I’ve signed up to be an affiliate for some of my favorite companies and websites, like *eBay*, *Amazon*, *Groupon*, *Better World Books*, and *Jo-Ann.com*.  Then I went a little nuts…

*Asthma FreeDarth Vader Breathing Device*

*Asthma For DummiesThe Art of Breathing: Thirty Simple Exercises for Improving Your Performance and Well-BeingThe Breathing BookLet Your Spirit Breathe: Living a Peace-Filled Life*

*Take a Deep BreathWhy Is It So Hard to Breathe?: A First Look at AsthmaBreathing Space: Twelve Lessons for the Modern Woman*

Yeah, I went a little overboard.  You can see them all on the Referrals and Recommendations page (still a work in progress, but let me know if you have issues with any of the links or you can’t find what you’re looking for).  As you’ve probably figured out by now, I am putting an asterisk on either side of any affiliate link.  This ensures that it’s completely obvious that it’s an affiliate link, and also helps me to find them when I’m done writing a post if I don’t put the links in as I go.  And links without the asterisks are non-affiliated.  Anyway, I’ll be seeing how these do and likely will pare them down in the coming months.  I’ll also be doing some specific posts giving more details and reviews of certain products and services, and using some to illustrate some of the other posts I have planned.  Speaking of which, you can get a sneak preview of possible themes by checking out my Pinterest boards.  I’ve been adding products I find on Etsy for each of these “vision boards” in hopes of giving those sellers a bit of extra exposure, plus I may use some of them for illustrative purposes like I did in my last post.  Note that I have no affiliation with these Etsy shops and am not receiving any compensation for sharing their products.  I just think they’re neat and I want to help other artists and small businesses like myself.  Of course, I will add my own products to these boards as I make them, as there are dozens of inspirations running through my head thanks to this process.  “Vision boards” indeed.

*AFI Breathe Spiral Notebook *

I’ve also been looking at other ways to express my creativity and passion.  Several years ago, I set up a Zazzle store that I called Badly Drawn Designs, a play on the Jessica Rabbit quote I play at the beginning of my shows for The Cape Radio and the fact that all my designs are text-based.  I haven’t added anything to it in years, but it’s still generating a little bit of income for me.  I have an Excel spreadsheet with hundreds of other ideas, so I really want to start creating these again, especially now that I have PhotoShop.  Here is my most popular product of all time (42 sold so far!):

*See more Badly Drawn Designs*
*Make your own t-shirts online at zazzle.com*

I’m also using PhotoShop to create images like the one at the top of this post.  The background image is from Pixabay, a site of royalty free, public domain images that can be used for commercial purposes.  I add the word art, using fonts from dafont.com which are also free for commercial use (not all of them are, so make sure you look for ones that are public domain or 100% free).  I really do enjoy playing around with fonts and words, and I’m thinking of creating word art images for sale in my Etsy shop.  These would be digital downloads, so another great source of put-it-up-and-forget-it income.  What do you think of this one?

JustKeepBreathing

You’re probably wondering how this all fits with the rest of my business.  Remember those three words I mentioned earlier?  Freedom, creativity, and passion.  The affiliate links offer me the freedom to work on other things while still potentially generating income, and the companies and websites I choose are ones I am passionate about, related to creativity, or speak to one of my other passions, like helping small business owners and saving the world (even if it’s just *feeding animals at a shelter*… it all adds up to a better world eventually).  Badly Drawn Designs gives me the freedom to create something without having to reproduce or ship it myself.  I’ve always had a passion for words, and playing with fonts and images provides a creative outlet.  I love making jewelry and sewing, but it’s not always possible for me to do so.  And of course, writing Painting the Big Picture of Your Creative Business gives me the freedom to creatively share one of my passions: reworking big business concepts for one-person businesses.

So much of the literature available to us “little guys” seems to be based on our desire to either become one of the big guys or sell our business to them.  But what if that’s not our goal?  A lot of small, creative business people just want to keep their business something they can handle on their own, maybe with a little bit of help now and then, but they don’t have any desire to deal with employees or investors or IPOs.  I am designing Painting the Big Picture of Your Creative Business for the individual artist and crafter who wants to define success on their own terms.  Strategic planning can help you whether you want to make a million dollars a year or just want to help put food on the table.  In fact, I would say that strategic planning is vital to the success of your business, however you define success.  And it doesn’t have to be hard, or confusing, or frustrating.  It can be an extremely fun process!  Plus, you can pre-order today for as little as $5, so what do you have to lose?  Take a deep breath and click that Contribute Now button. 😉

*Breathe for Life: How to Reduce Stress & Enhance Your FitnessBreathe In, Breathe Out: Inhale Energy and Exhale Stress by Guiding and Controlling Your Breathing*

I couldn’t resist adding one last thing… who knew bad breath could be so cute??  🙂

Giant Microbes Bad Breath Microbe

*Giant Microbes Bad Breath Microbe*
from: StuffedAnimals.com























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Reawakening Dreams

I was six or seven when I wrote (and illustrated) my first book.  It was about the first Thanksgiving and had a bright pink laminated cardstock cover.  I think I was in my Strawberry Shortcake phase at the time, so pink was my favorite color.  My teacher entered it in some contest, and I won.  I don’t remember much more than that about it, but it was likely what fueled my early ambitions to be a writer.  Around that same age, I also remember saying I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.  These dreams lasted until my teenage years when various circumstances made me pack them away, along with my dreams of being an artist.  But these dreams never really died.  I’ve added a few more to the box they’re stored in: life coach, librarian, used bookstore owner, professional cosplayer, fashion designer, world traveler, and a handful of half-formed thoughts of “wouldn’t it be cool if…” and other vague ideas.

It’s time to unpack the box.

Heart-shaped box of dreams

From KinkySpot on Etsy

I’ve always been a big proponent of following your dreams and working to make them come true.  While many of my dreams have had to be put on the back burner for health or financial reasons, they’re still simmering.  I’ve talked about my mental health issues a few times as well as my belief that if I can follow my dreams in the face of them, anyone can.  So I’ve decided to unpack five dreams from the box: writer, teacher, life coach, world traveler, and Director of the Rewondered Creativity Center (more on that later, since I apparently deleted the original post about it).

Never let it be said that to dream is a waste of one's time, for dreams are our realities in waiting. In dreams, we plant the seeds of our future.

From VinylMasterpieces on Etsy

I’m writing a book to teach other creative solopreneurs like myself how to use strategic planning for their very small businesses.  I’ve spent the last couple of weeks looking over my notes and finding a few more resources to explore.  As the book has started to take shape in my mind, I’ve realized that it’s not just a business planning book but also a life planning book.  Which is fitting, as I believe most artists, especially those operating a one-person business, have difficulty separating themselves from their work.  We put pieces of ourselves into our art and our business and personal brands are irrevocably intertwined.  So our dreams for our business are also our dreams for ourselves.

Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.

From StandardStamp on Etsy

Now, those who know me well and/or have been reading my blog all along know that the universe loves to laugh at me when I make plans.  So me writing a book about planning might seem a bit oxymoronic (or just plain moronic).  But strategic planning is a bit different (in my not so humble opinion, at least) than just “making plans.”

Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans

From SoulfulSayings on Etsy

Don’t let the term “strategic planning” scare you.  The title of my book is Painting the Big Picture of Your Creative Business because that is what you’ll be doing while you create your strategic plan.  I had also considered calling it Dreaming Your Plan, Planning Your Dream as that is another apt description.  Strategic planning is a process of dreaming big, deciding what you really want and care about, creating a vision for the future of your business (and your life), and then figuring out how you’re going to make it all happen.

Dream your biggest dreams then wake up and chase them like crazy

From WallDecalsAndQuotes on Etsy

November is National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo.  While this book is not a novel, I do want to use the idea behind NaNoWriMo and make a pledge to write every day this month.  This will include blog posts like this one as well as the updates for those who choose the In the Loop perk from my Indiegogo campaign.  I want to have the first part of the book done before the end of the year so that you will be able to use it when you do your planning for 2016.

A book is a dream you hold in your hand

From ATArtDigital on Etsy

That tells you a little bit about my dreams of writing and teaching.  Life coaching appeals to my cheerleader side, sharing my positivity and enthusiasm while helping you to ignite yours.  So I’ve included perks where I will personally help you work through the material I’ll be providing.  Perhaps I’ll even dress as a cheerleader for those that choose the Face Time perk. 😛

I am and always will be the optimist. The hoper of far-flung hopes and the dreamer of impossible dreams.

From SonnetDreamArt on Etsy

I’ll be expanding on my idea for the Rewondered Creativity Center in a future post, as it is part of my own strategic plan and big picture vision for my business.  So that leaves world traveler.  I’ve never been outside the United States, though I’ve been to 80% of the states and lived in eight different ones.  Thanks to The Cape Radio, I have friends from all over the world, and I’ve always dreamed of visiting them.  I don’t even have a passport yet, but I have looked into what it would take for me to travel to Australia and will be putting a portion of my product sales and proceeds from my Indiegogo campaign into a savings account for that trip.

Adventures are calling and I must go

From FebruaryLane on Etsy

Which dreams would you like to reawaken?  Which dreams are you living right now?  Have you even figured out what your dreams are?

It’s time to wake up, and start dreaming.

Don't quit your day dream

From maybesparrowphoto on Etsy

 

 

Choices and Challenges

Wow, October already?  I kind of feel like I blinked and September was gone.

I was much busier in September than I had originally planned to be.  I ended up vending at an event every weekend, and two of those events were in my top three sales events for this year.  Awesome!  But it’s a lot of work to set up every weekend, and as amazing as my husband is, dragging him out of the house early every Saturday isn’t quite fair to him.  So the first choice my title is referencing is that I have decided to take October off from live events.  This should give me some time to concentrate on organizing the studio and getting new things up online in my Etsy shop (finally!)

This leads me to choice #2: deciding what order to put things up in my shop.  I sort my jewelry into various themes for my displays at live events, but I’m redoing what I’ll be taking to indoor shows this winter, so I decided I’d just start with one theme and list everything in that display, then move on to the next.  I asked people to complete a poll for me, choosing their top three themes.  Looks like I’ll be starting with Toys, Games, Fantasy & Geekery.  There are a lot of ties for the other themes, so if you haven’t taken it yet, you can still do so here.  When I get done with the first theme, I’ll see what has the second most votes.

I’ve already decided to limit the events I’ll do this holiday season, and I’ll be getting my applications out over the next week or so.  Right now, it looks like I’ll be doing only one, maybe two shows each month in November, December, and January.  My next choice involves what exactly I’m going to take to indoor events.  I got my outdoor setup pretty well figured out by the end of the season (you can check out the pics of a couple of events on my Flickr) but indoors is a whole different ballgame.  For one, I’ve been used to having a 10×10 foot space, while the indoor events I’m planning offer 6×8 or 8×8 foot spaces.  I also won’t have my tent frame to hang stuff from, so I need to find new ways to display some of my items.  So I’ll be limiting my products to some specific categories, and pointing people to go online and check out my Etsy shop.

Now, I have some choices to make for my Etsy shop, too.  I’ve been renewing items after they expire, mostly because I haven’t been able to list new things.  I’ve been thinking about no longer renewing items and instead posting them in my online store, which totally needs some attention and products.  I noticed that a bunch of my Christmas-themed items end on December 14th, and it seems rather silly to me to renew those for another four months that close to Christmas, so as of December 15th, I will no longer be renewing expired listings on Etsy.

So that’s a look into the future, but what about October?  I’ve got a few things planned…

If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Twitter, you’ve probably seen my Item of the Day posts.  For October, rather than just picking a random item to be featured, I’ve decided to go with a theme… or rather, three themes, so you’ll be getting three items each day.

  • Pink Item of the Day – By now, everyone is pretty well aware that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  What you might not be aware of is that my own family, like so many others, has been touched by this disease.  We lost my Aunt Linda in 2002.  Her children started Play for the Cure Oregon in her honor.  This month, I will be showcasing one pink item every day, and I will donate 10% of sales from any item with pink in it to the Linda L. Vladyka Breast Wellness Foundation.
  • Rainbow Item of the Day – You also might not be aware that October is LBGT History Month, too.  I’ve been pretty vocal in my support of LGBT rights and marriage equality, and I look forward to every National Coming Out Day (October 11) as I tear up watching all the love and support for myself and so many of my friends.  So I’ll be showcasing one rainbow item every day, and I will donate 10% of sales from any rainbow item to the It Gets Better Project.
  • Halloween Item of the Day – My favorite holiday is Halloween, and it being the last day of October, it’s perfect (in my not so humble opinion) to celebrate it all month!  My Halloween Item of the Day will feature items that can be used for costumes as well as all the “scary” icons of Halloween: bats, spiders, skulls, and a little bit of Cthulhu thrown in.  I can’t think of any Halloween themed charities, but that leads me to another choice I recently made…

I have decided that any time my monthly product sales reaches $500, I will donate 10% to charity or an IndieGoGo campaign I feel deserves it.  And speaking of IndieGoGo campaigns, a friend of mine is doing one right now that only has a few days left, so if you could help him out, I’d greatly appreciate it!  They’re a long ways from their goal, and I’ve already donated all I could (though if I get a TON of sales in the next couple days, maybe I can do more).

And now, Challenges.  I’ve decided to use October to challenge myself.  Since it’s the tenth month and 10 is one of my favorite numbers, I’ve decided to work on “Ten Things” challenges.  Some of these will be accomplished in one day, some will take several.  Some are baby steps and others are more intensive.  My goal is to complete at least ten of them by the end of October.  They’ll be things like “Create Ten New Products” and “List Ten New Items” as well as “Organize Ten Areas” and “Read Ten Marketing Articles.”  I’ll be blogging about these as I get them completed, so that’s another challenge, “Blog About Ten ‘Ten Things’ Challenges.”

But the biggest challenge is going to be “Less Talk, More Action” so I better stop writing and get to doing, yes? 🙂

Tu-Tu Additions: Some New Takes On an Old Product

A conversation about my Long Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt inspired me to create some new versions, so this is how I spent my Sunday.  We had talked about two changes: 1) making it shorter in the front, and 2) making a more “tattered” look.  My tu-tus are made with strips of tulle, so I took 1/3 of the strips it takes to make a long tu-tu and cut them in half to make the shorter part.  This results in a slightly fuller skirt, as there are more strips attached to the waistband.  Here is an even high-low tu-tu tulle skirt:

High-Low Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Front View

High-Low Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Front View

Basically, you have my Regular Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt in the front, and the long one in the back.  Since this uses the same amount of materials that the long one does, I’ll be charging the same amount, so if you want to order one like this before I get a new listing up, just order the Long Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt and include a note in the comments that you want the High-Low version.

Here’s a side view:

High-Low Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Side View

High-Low Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Side View

And here’s the back view:

High-Low Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Back View

High-Low Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Back View

For the more “tattered” look, I took the shorter strips for the front, and instead of folding them exactly in half before attaching them to the waistband, I folded them haphazardly at some random point, so each piece ended up with two different lengths.  It turned out like this:

High-Low Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Front View

High-Low Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Front View

Since this one also uses the same amount of materials as the Long Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt, you can order that one and just put a note in the comments section that you want the High-Low Tattered version.  I really love how this color combination turned out.  This is technically a three-color skirt, I just used the same turquoise for two of the colors, so there’s twice as much of it as there is of the mint green.  I think it ended up with a gorgeous water-effect look!

Here is the side view:

High-Low Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Side View

High-Low Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Side View

And here is the back view:

High-Low Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Back View

High-Low Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Back View

Then, just because I wanted to see how the skirt would look overall with the tattered effect, I made a Regular Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt and applied the same haphazard technique all the way around.  This is what I ended up with:

Regular Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Front View

Regular Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Front View

And the side view:

Regular Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Side View

Regular Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Side View

And the back view:

Regular Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Back View

Regular Tattered Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt Back View

This version uses the same amount of materials as the Regular Tu-Tu Tulle Skirt, so if you want to order a tattered version, just order the regular one and put a note in the comments that you’d like the tattered version instead.

Eventually, I’ll get separate listings up for these versions, but I’ll need to get more pictures first.  I just wanted to get these posted so you could see what I came up with!

These would be great for several different Halloween costumes, but please remember that I need 1-2 weeks for processing and it could take another week to get to you in the mail (longer if you live outside the United States) so order early!  And if you do order one, post a pic on my Facebook page so we can all see the full costume. 🙂

Monday Musings: Time Flies

How the heck did it get to be September already?  This year has just flown by, and all my plans have flown with it.  I keep trying to get a handle on my schedule, and it keeps slipping away from my grasp like a greased pig.  I’ve done fairly well with the “this is the one thing that I must get done today” but that one thing has generally been something time-sensitive like finishing up a paper to turn in before a midnight deadline.

My studio is still a disaster, though not quite as bad as it was, so there’s been some progress, just not as much as I’d like.  Last night, I finally fixed the tension on my sewing machine so I can use it again.  Now I just need to clear out the area around it…  I’m hoping that this week without classes will allow me to get some organizing done.

So this year has definitely not gone as planned, and I still feel like I’m digging myself out from the pile caused by being so ill earlier this year.  My health is doing a lot better since I’ve been able to go to the doctor and started taking the new meds.  My next step is an evaluation for Adult ADHD, but I’ve been too distracted (ha!) to get the paperwork done and turned in.  That’s on the list of “one things” for this week.

Last weekend was the one year anniversary of my wedding to my beloved Lorne.  Hard to believe it’s been a whole year, and that it’s only been a year.  It’s difficult to imagine my life without him, and I am eternally grateful for his love and support.  I thank him constantly for putting up with me, and my business as it spills into our bedroom for lack of space in the messy studio.  I could go on forever about how awesome my husband is, but I’ll spare your teeth and pancreas. 😉

It’s been two years since I moved to New Hampshire, and I still love it here.  I keep thinking I should go take some pictures of the scenery and history that surrounds me and blog about it here… but there’s that “time” thing again.  Still, some shots of one of the old cemeteries around here while the leaves are changing would be incredible, so I really should do my best to make that happen.

But now that it’s September, I really need to start thinking about the holidays and gearing up for the season ahead.  I need to figure out exactly which events I’m going to do (I don’t think I’m going to do quite as many as last year, but I’ll probably still do at least three or four).  And I definitely need to get more products up in my Etsy shop.  I also need to figure out what kinds of new products I should concentrate on, so I’ve put together a little survey.  It will probably take you about 5 minutes or so to complete it, so please help me out!  A little direction helps to minimize my distraction. 🙂

I do have something new for you guys, but I’m going to put that into a different post… stay tuned!

Time Flies comic by Something of That Ilk

Check out http://www.somethingofthatilk.com for more comics!

Monday Musings: HALF!

It’s been way too long since I posted anything here, and for that, I apologize.  Those that follow my personal Facebook know that this first half of 2013 has not been very kind to me.  My husband and I have both spent at least half of the time sick.  His car has needed some work, each time blowing all the money we had hoped to spend on other things.  I’ve been struggling with school and feeling overwhelmed as I try desperately to get caught up.  My studio is a complete disaster area and has absolutely no workable space.  I haven’t created anything new in months.

All the plans I had to post more products and introduce new product lines have fallen at the wayside.  Weekly themed posts for this blog have not been written.  I haven’t even been able to squeeze in the time to post my daily gratitude lists, even though most days it seemed like my list consisted of 1. We’re still alive. 2. We still have each other. 3. We still have our friends.

Even that last one was besmirched a couple weeks ago when I heard that my friend, Tre Chipman, had died.  I’m planning on a memorial post here but it’s been difficult to write.  Soon™.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.  I have health insurance now, and drugs that, maybe for the first time in my life, allow me to BREATHE.  It’s kind of amazing to not constantly feel like one of those alien face-huggers is getting friendly with my nose.  I have a CT scan scheduled for next week where they’re going to see if anything else is going on in my sinuses and what they can do to fix them.  Isn’t modern science wonderful?

Speaking of modern science, my husband got sick soon after my friend’s death, which led me to no end of worry.  Especially when the doctor sent us to the ER because she didn’t know what was wrong with him!  They threw around scary words and did a CT scan where he frightened us all by having a bad reaction to the contrast they used.  But thanks to the miracles of modern science and drugs, they had him back to normal (well as normal for him + being sick is anyway) and figured out the problem, which they never would have guessed without those scans: pneumonia.  Who the hell gets pneumonia in June?  My husband, Mr. Special Pants, that’s who!  😛

So we’re both finishing up our antibiotics, him for the pneumonia and me for the CT scan they want to make sure doesn’t show any infections, just chronic problems.  We’re both feeling better and on the road to recovery, and hoping that we’ve met our quota for the year and don’t have to get sick anymore.

I’m done with Spring Term and classes for Summer Term don’t start for another week.  My grades aren’t the best, but they’re not the worst either.  I’m still on track to graduate at the end of next Summer.  Just one more year!  Then I’ll be entering the MLIS program at San Jose State.

I’ve been pretty worried about my business, since I haven’t been able to add new things or implement any of my plans, but things have been going okay.  I’ve done three live events so far this year, and put in my application for one this month.  I’ve been getting a few orders here and there from my Etsy shop.  I’ve been selling my duplicate and unneeded sewing patterns on eBay.  The money has been trickling in while the business has basically been on autopilot.  I’m taking that as a good sign.

But what’s really a good sign is if you compare the numbers from my first six months of business last year, to these six months, just one year later.  I’ve been keeping track of my Etsy numbers, so this data is only from Etsy, but as that’s my primary selling outlet, I think it’s a good litmus test for the entire business.  My total amount of views is up 177%, while my total amount of favorites is up 125%.  Nice, but look at this one: my total amount of sales is up 518%!  Holy cow!  What’s even more interesting though is that I’ve already made more than I did in all of 2012 not including December, which had about 60% of my total sales for the year.  In fact, I’d hit that point before May was over.  So if that’s how my business runs on autopilot, just imagine what will happen when I get the chance to really take the wheel again!

I think this calls for a celebration!  And since I still can’t drink because of the antibiotics, I’ll just have to do it by offering a discount in my Etsy shop.  If you’ve been eying something there for a while, now’s your chance to snap it up at HALF OFF!  Just use the coupon code CELEBRATE when you check out.  I’ll be running this special through Independence Day, as this business is a celebration of my own independence.

This week I’m tying up some loose ends and working on getting my studio back in order.  Then I can really jump into the business again.  I really need to start making things again, it’s been way too long since I let my creativity out of the box.

I’m getting there, slowly but surely.   If there’s one thing people know about me, it’s that I don’t give up easily.  Okay, okay. they call it “stubborn” but really, it’s the same thing!

Want To Be Featured On This Blog? Here’s Some Interview Questions

For an assignment in one of my college classes, I was asked to interview people in the field I’m majoring in: e-Commerce and Internet Marketing.  I thought this might be a good thing to use for my Featured Friend Friday series as well, so if you have an online business or offer internet marketing services, I’d love to hear from you and feature you on this blog.  Here are the questions, just send your answers to rewondered@gmail.com and I’ll let you know when I’ll be posting them!

 

Background

1. Please introduce yourself and your business.

2. How did you get started in your business?

3. What was your education? What educational background or related experience do you think would be most helpful to someone wanting to start their own online business?

 

Work Environment

4. Describe your work environment. (Attach pictures of your studio/office if you want!)

5. What is your typical work schedule? (Daily/Weekly/Monthly)

6. Describe your typical day.

7. What skills/abilities do you use to operate your business?

8. What websites/venues do you use to operate/market your business? (Please provide links!)

9. What other tools do you use to operate/market your business?

 

Lifestyle

10. What obligation does your business put on you outside of the work week?

11. How much flexibility do you have in terms of work hours and vacations?

12. How do you balance your work with your life?

 

Problems

13. What are the toughest problems you deal with in your business?

14. How do you overcome these problems?

15. What problems does the industry as a whole have?

16. What is being done to solve these problems? What do you think can/should be done to solve them?

 

Rewards

17. What do you find most rewarding about your work?

18. Are you able to pay yourself a salary? If so, how long were you in business before you could pay yourself? How do you determine your salary?

 

Potential

19. Where do you see yourself going in the next few years?

20. What are our long term goals?

 

The Industry

21. What trends do you see for this industry in the next 3 to 5 years?

 

Advice

22. What advice would you give someone wanting to start their own online business?

23. What resources would you recommend (blogs, websites, professional organizations, trade publications, books, software, tools, other people, etc.)?

24. Any other advice?

 

Permissions

25. Do I have your permission to share your answers to these questions on my blog? If so, are there any answers you do NOT want shared?

Revelry: February is Party Time!

My birthday is February 10th, so I like to do something to celebrate in my Etsy shop by offering some kind of special deal or discount.  But this year, I have an even better idea.  Let’s have a party!

I’ve been a consultant for Pampered Chef and Stampin’ Up! in my somewhat distant past, so I have some experience doing the “home party” type of thing: someone hosts the party, I come in and demonstrate my products, the guests buy, and the host gets rewarded based on those sales.  I’ve thought about doing something like this for Rewondered, bringing samples and inventory to someone’s home and basically doing a mini-craft fair for their friends.  I’m still interested in that (and if you want to host something like that, let me know) but this is going to be an online party.

Here’s how it works:

  1. If you want to be a host, email rewondered@gmail.com
  2. I will send you a personalized coupon code.  This coupon code is good for 10% off anything in my Etsy shop and expires when I get up to turn it off on March 1st.
  3. You can use the code yourself and pass it along to your friends so they can also get 10% off.  Remind them they need to use the code in order to get their discount and for you to get credit for their purchase, and they need to make their purchases in February.  The code can be used as many times as you and they want.
  4. On March 1st, I will tally up all the sales made using each coupon code (using the amount after the code is applied), then send the host a gift certificate for 10% of that total.  For example, if $100 of products were purchased using the code, the amount after the code is applied would be $90, so the host would receive a gift certificate for $9.  And yes, this works for ALL purchases using your code, even your own!

I’ll be adding new products throughout February, so if you see something you think a friend of yours would like, send them a link and include your code.  Share your code on social media and via email.  Put your code and the link to my Etsy shop on Post-It notes and stick them everywhere.  😛  However you want to promote your party is up to you.

You can sign up to host anytime between now and the end of February, but the earlier you do, the longer you have to collect orders.  Due to limits on the number of coupon codes Etsy allows me to have and my own sanity (don’t laugh, I think I have a few shreds left!) I can only allow the first 50 people who sign up to host.  So what are you waiting for?  Email me now! 😀

Oh, and if you don’t want to host and don’t know anyone who is hosting, but want that 10% off, just use the code FEBRUARY10

Featured Friend Friday: Coming Soon!

This is a brand spanking new idea I got so excited about, I just had to drop everything and post about it right away!

I know a lot of small business owners and creative types, and I’m always encouraging people to follow their dreams and make them come true.  Here’s a small way I can help, by promoting them here on my blog!  Hopefully starting next week, I’m going to let one of my friends tell you about their business or creative endeavor: what they do, how they got started, how you can help them with their dream, etc.  So stay tuned!

Friends, want to be featured here?  Here’s what I need from you: write up a guest post about your business or creative endeavor.  This is your chance to gush about your dream, and why it’s important to you.  Feel free to include links to your website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  And pictures!

Send it to me at rewondered@gmail.com and I’ll post one every Friday, in the order I receive them (I reserve the right to bump someone up in the queue if they have something with a deadline, like an IndieGoGo campaign, they need to promote, but will let you know when you’ll be appearing).

This will be fun!  But now I need to get back to work… the sewing machine is calling me!

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorited Items December 25th – 31st

Wow, what a year 2012 was!  I ended the year as I have for the past five years: broadcasting on The Cape Radio for my annual New Year’s Eve Marathon.  I only lasted 13 hours this year, as I woke up from my nap before the show with someone else’s voice and otherwise was NOT at 100% physically.  So I did my best, but fell into bed a little after 8am.  I’m now on my new show schedule on Tuesdays from 4pm Eastern time until sometime between 7pm and 8pm, whenever my husband gets home from work and is ready to do his own show.

So that gives me a fairly busy Tuesday now, doing this weekly post and my internet radio show!

This week’s Tuesday Top Ten includes items that were favorited in my Etsy shop between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.  Fourteen items received a favorite, with four of those receiving more than one and ten tied for 5th place with just one favorite.

Repeats from last week:

The other eleven:

Rainbow Christmas Lights Necklace - Handmade by Rewondered D225N-00273 - $28.95

Rainbow Christmas Lights Necklace – Handmade by Rewondered D225N-00273 – $28.95

Steampunk/Vintage Style Turquoise and Copper Necklace - Handmade by Rewondered D225N-00353 - $24.95

Steampunk/Vintage Style Turquoise and Copper Necklace – Handmade by Rewondered D225N-00353 – $24.95

Silver Key on Silver Chain Simple Charm Necklace - Handmade by Rewondered D225N-00282 - $7.95

Silver Key on Silver Chain Simple Charm Necklace – Handmade by Rewondered D225N-00282 – $7.95

Black Bat Snap Barrettes - Handmade by Rewondered D202B-00002 - $7.95

Black Bat Snap Barrettes – Handmade by Rewondered D202B-00002 – $7.95

Small Brown Flower Post Back Earrings - Handmade by Rewondered D225E-55505 - $4.95

Small Brown Flower Post Back Earrings – Handmade by Rewondered D225E-55505 – $4.95

Pepperoni Pizza Slice Post Back Earrings - Handmade by Rewondered D225E-55507 - $8.95

Pepperoni Pizza Slice Post Back Earrings – Handmade by Rewondered D225E-55507 – $8.95

Hockey Stick Simple Charm Necklace - Your Choice of Black Cord or Silver Chain - Handmade by Rewondered D225N-25102 - $7.95

Hockey Stick Simple Charm Necklace – Your Choice of Black Cord or Silver Chain – Handmade by Rewondered D225N-25102 – $7.95

Hockey Wine Charm Set of Four Wine Glass Markers - Your Choice of Team Colors - Handmade by Rewondered D643W-00006 - $14.95

Hockey Wine Charm Set of Four Wine Glass Markers – Your Choice of Team Colors – Handmade by Rewondered D643W-00006 – $14.95

Black Round Button Hair Pins - Handmade by Rewondered D202P-00001 - $4.95

Black Round Button Hair Pins – Handmade by Rewondered D202P-00001 – $4.95

Hockey Skate Simple Charm Necklace - Your Choice of Black Cord or Silver Chain - Handmade by Rewondered D225N-25101 - $7.95

Hockey Skate Simple Charm Necklace – Your Choice of Black Cord or Silver Chain – Handmade by Rewondered D225N-25101 – $7.95

Hockey Skate Simple Charm Earrings - Handmade by Rewondered D225E-25101 - $8.95

Hockey Skate Simple Charm Earrings – Handmade by Rewondered D225E-25101 – $8.95

*

As horrible as that craft fair at the hockey center was, it seems the skate and stick charms I bought for it were a good investment!  I’m looking for some field hockey and soccer charms now, as I have had requests for those.  Any other sports you think I should be on the lookout for?

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