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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Thursday Thoughts: NaNoWriMo and Creative Commitments

It’s probably not very surprising that I know a lot of creative people.  Among my friends and family are various other Etsy sellers, artists, scrapbookers, crocheters, knitters, seamstresses, quilters, woodworkers, and practitioners of just about any other craft you can think of.  Then there’s the people I met when I was a Theatre Arts major, the community theatre enthusiasts, and a plethora of actors and techies.  Most of my gaming friends are into role-playing and have developed elaborate stories for their characters.  Now add in all the writers and poets, computer programmers, graphic artists, interior designers… the list goes on.  So I really shouldn’t be shocked when I keep seeing one friend after another announce that they are participating in NaNoWriMo.

I’ve long thought about writing a book, or several.  I have characters begging me to tell their stories.  I’ve written a few scenes (this one belongs in a romance novel!) and backstories (this one is not for the faint of heart!) for some of my City of Heroes characters, and brainstormed ideas for a series based one or both of the Ashton twins, Jenny (my main character, One Hit Wonder) and Stacey.  I know I should take the “just sit down and write!” advice, but the way my writing process works, I don’t stop writing until the story is done, or at least that part of it.  And I just don’t have the time right now to spend hours, or heck, even minutes, writing anything that isn’t directly related to my business.

I am committed to three craft fairs in November, and am waiting for confirmation on a fourth one scheduled for December 1st.  November is not a month for me to write novels, or even short stories, it is a MUST MAKE ALL THE THINGS month.  I have literally thousands of items in various stages of completeness scattered all over my studio and spilling into the other rooms.  Thank goodness I have a supportive husband!

But I have been neglecting this blog, and my Etsy shop.  So I am going to make a type of writing commitment for November, and into December.  Let’s call it ReBloPoMo+ – Rewondered’s Blog Posting Month-Plus.  I am going to combine my “50 New Products In 50 Days” with my “Five by Five” blog posts.  So every day in November, and the first 20 days of December, there will be a post here and at least five new listings in my Etsy shop.  And I’m going to get my feet wet in the days leading up to November with a few themed “Five By Five” posts, starting with Halloween and gothic items.  It might be a bit late to order for Halloween, but I know there are others like me who think Halloween should be celebrated year-round, or are fans of “creepy” things, like skulls or Cthulhu.

Speaking of ordering, I am running a limited time special on two specific gift certificates.  The big deal is a Groupon-esque discount of over 76% off, where you can get $210 worth of my products (or custom orders) for only $50!  Click the picture below for details:

$210 worth of Rewondered products for only $50!

$210 worth of Rewondered products for only $50!

You can also get a half-price $20 Gift Certificate to Rewondered for $10.  Both of these offers are limited, so get them before they’re gone!  If you’re in New Hampshire, come spend your Rewondered Gift Certificate at my booth at one (or more) of the craft fairs I will be at:

I’ll have lots of items at the fairs that aren’t available online.  And with all the stuff I’ll be adding during ReBloPoMo+ (5 items x 50 days = 250 new listings!) there will be a lot more to choose from soon™.  Rewondered Gift Certificates never expire, you don’t have to use them all at once, and you can even refill them!  Get your holiday shopping done early, and let your friends pick out their favorite items, or get something custom made!

So what are you committed to this November?  Let me know in the comments below!  Are you doing NaNoWriMo?  Don’t write, but love to read?  Then check out NaNoLoMo – National Novel Loving Month.  Have a creative goal you’ve been putting off?  Maybe November is the perfect month to make it happen!  Let’s do it!

Remotivation: If I Can Do It, So Can You

Now that I’ve explained my anxiety issues, I must say that the sunshine and optimism I normally display is just as much a part of who I am.  The skies might get cloudy, the storms might roll in, but I have way more sunny days than rainy ones.  So I want to remind you of something: if I can get past my paralyzing fear to get what I want (however long that might take), what’s stopping you from realizing your dreams?

I hear a lot of “if” and “when” statements from people when they talk about their dreams.  “If I won the lottery…” or “When I can afford it…” are probably the most common.  I’ve said them myself, numerous times.  Yes, I realize it takes money to make your dreams come true, but have you really looked into what it would cost?  Have you figured out what you CAN do with the money you have now?  Can you cut out some expense and reallocate those funds toward your dream?

I grew up very poor, so not having money is nothing new to me.  My family was one of the recipients of those canned goods you put in the donation box every Christmas (for goodness sakes, stop putting canned beets in those!) and I never could afford anything that the “cool” kids had.  We shopped at thrift stores and had things handed down to us.  I got pretty good at reinventing things and adapting them to my own style, a skill I use now as the basis of Rewondered.

Every cloud has a silver lining, and being poor taught me to get creative and to adapt.  To hold on to the things that are really important, like family and friends, and to not put too much stock in material goods that might not be there tomorrow.  To be grateful for what I do have, and not whine about what I can’t afford.

So let’s start with that… what do you have now that’s most important, that you’re grateful for?  Number one on my list is Lorne (go ahead, say “d’awww” or gag on the sweetness, your choice 😛 ).  I am eternally grateful to have found someone who gets me, who loves me exactly as I am, who supports and encourages my dreams, who makes me smile and laugh every day, and who is just an amazing human being that I want to be around for the rest of my life.  The wedding is three weeks away now and I’m excited (and flailing about getting everything done in time, but that’s another story).

I’m grateful for my family and friends, and for the technology that keeps us in touch, as most of my family is on the opposite site of the country and most of my friends are scattered across it.

I’m grateful for my creativity, my adaptability, my resourcefulness, my crafting and sewing skills, my organizational skills, my determination, and my optimism.

I’m grateful that I can use all of the above on a daily basis to at least try and support myself.  I’m grateful that my creations are gaining more exposure and more popularity.  I was checking out my stats on Etsy and in all of 2011 my shop and listings were “favorited” 48 times.  As of this writing, in 2012 my shop and listings have been favorited 247 times!  And there are still five months left in the year!  Sure, these numbers aren’t huge, but they do show me that this business has potential.

I could go on forever about the things I’m grateful for (and I really should get back to posting my daily gratitude lists).  But let’s get back to the dreams, and my assertion that if I can live mine, you can live yours.

Of course, my dreams still have a long way to go.  My business isn’t supporting me yet, but I have faith that it will.  The point is that I do something every day to work toward that.  Now, I’m not telling you to stop everything you’re doing, quit your job and go chasing after your dreams (unless that’s what you really want to do and don’t mind the risks involved).  But tell me, what have you done lately for your dreams?

  • I went to Ohio to collect more supplies for my creations, and items to help me organize my studio, as well as things I can use for the wedding.
  • I am organizing all my finished jewelry and supplies, figuring out an exact inventory so that I can use those numbers in my business plan, which I will take to my local Small Business Development Center and see if there are any programs I qualify for that could get me some funding.
  • I put out an offer on loan terms, where I will make payments of 1% of my sales for every $100 loaned to me, until I’ve repaid $110.  I may not be able to repay it fast, but I will repay it. (This offer is open until I raise $5000, contact me if you’re interested).
  • I got up early and set up my jewelry at the Farmer’s Market my town puts on every Saturday during the summer.  I only sold a couple of things, but that’s more sales than I had when I woke up, right?
  • I gave some thought to the Gypsy Faire idea.  Who else might be interested in it, what it would entail, if we could have it actually travel around… perhaps pick one weekend each month and host it in a different state?  I know people in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire, at least, who would be interested in this type of thing.  Still mostly just in the pondering stages, but I’m really liking the idea.
  • And though it’s not related to my business dream, I made a decision on my educational dream.  Starting next month, I’ll be working on a Bachelor’s degree in Independent Studies.  After that, I’m going to get the Master’s degree I always wanted, in Library Science.

Have my dreams come true?  Not fully, no, but in some ways at least, yes.  Am I living my dreams?  Yes, every day.  I don’t spend my time wishing I could have my dreams, I spend it working on having my dreams.  And if I can do it, so can you.  Go out there and do something, anything, that works toward making your dream come true.  Then come back here and tell me about it in the comments. 🙂

Restraint

So what is this nifty new item that I saved for last, the fiftieth of my 50 new products in 50 days?

The title is a good hint, but first, let me tell you a little bit about The Cape Radio.  For those unfamiliar, it’s a small internet radio station that caters to players of City of Heroes on the Virtue server.  I’ve been a DJ off and on for nearly eight years, and I’ve seen a lot of players come and go.  I’m constantly amazed by the community we have and I’m happy to have remained friends with several people even after they stopped playing the game.  What makes us such a great community and awesome friends?  Well, we all seem to have at least one thing in common.  We’re all crazy. 😛

I don’t even remember how it started, but when someone new joins the global channel, I greet them with “Welcome to the asylum!  What color/pattern would you like your straitjacket?”  If I’m not there, they’re told to see Wondie for their straitjacket.  We can get any color or pattern we want and people are pretty creative.  I’ve always said mine has flames on it, since my main character and DJ persona, One Hit Wonder, is a fire blaster.

Which inspired me to create the Straitjacket Hoodie.

Straitjacket Hoodie - Front

Straitjacket Hoodie – Front

Straitjacket Hoodie - Back

Straitjacket Hoodie – Back

The straps on the sleeves can be buckled into the bottom row on the back.  The rest are just decorative.  Obviously this isn’t meant to really restrain anyone, it’s just for fun, and is otherwise a functional hoodie.  And of course I can make them in any color or pattern combination.

Want one of your own?  Make a $50 contribution to my IndieGoGo campaign by 11:59pm Pacific time June 29th (that’s in about 9 hours!).  After that, we’ll talk… just lie down on this couch over here…

Monday Musings: Back To Work

It’s Monday!  I know most people hate Mondays, and most Mondays tend to hate people back.  But I think most of my friends would describe me as a bit of a Pollyanna, an optimist who always looks on the bright side of life.  So I don’t subscribe to the “Mondays Suck” newsletter.

Don’t get me wrong, I really didn’t want my weekend to end.  I don’t take a lot of weekends completely off (and admittedly, I did some posting about my IndieGoGo campaign this weekend, so I guess I didn’t take this one completely off).  But I thoroughly enjoyed just hanging out with Lorne and playing Diablo 3 and petting the cats we were taking care of for the weekend.  It was a great weekend without much more to do other than making sure our friends didn’t have to worry about cleaning the litter boxes or having clean sheets and towels when they got home from their vacation.  We thought about putting mints on their pillows but it was kind of warm and coming home to melted chocolate in their bed would have totally ruined the effect. 😛

So here it is Monday and I’m happily puttering away in my studio.  I really enjoy what I do, taking something “useless” and making it wonderful.  That’s another aspect of my Pollyanna personality, I see potential and inspiration where other people see junk.  I took a torn t-shirt that was way too big for my anyway, and created a cute summer top by cutting off the sleeves and tying up the back and sides.

Rewondered Tied T-Shirt Top - Back

Rewondered Tied T-Shirt Top – Back

Rewondered Tied T-Shirt Top - Front

Rewondered Tied T-Shirt Top – Front

I took a pair of men’s pants and some scrap fabric and lace and made a skirt.

Rewondered Skirt from Mens Pants

Rewondered Skirt from Mens Pants

I took a plaid jumper and made a bag out of the top.

Rewondered Jumper Top Bag

Rewondered Jumper Top Bag

And I took two skirts, one denim and one velvet, that were way too small for me and made a new, two-tone skirt.

Rewondered Velvet and Denim Skirt

Rewondered Velvet and Denim Skirt

This is what I love doing, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life, this is how I want to make a living.  And this is why I’m pushing my IndieGoGo campaign.  Because in order to be successful, I need the money to implement my plans.  The blood, sweat, and tears I continuously pour into this business will only take me so far, unfortunately.  As the saying goes, you need money to make money.  Thank you for spreading the word about the campaign, thank you to anyone who makes a contribution, thank you for helping me make this dream come true.

I have a wide variety of perks available, but if you have an idea for something I could make for your contribution, email me and we’ll see what we can work out.  I am definitely open to suggestions! 🙂

Going For It

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about and looking into crowdfunding for Rewondered.  And I’ve decided to go for it.  I’m going to use Indiegogo because I like the way they do things and the whole system is easy to navigate.  I’m still working on my pitch video, but I should be taking the campaign live by next week.  I thought I’d give you guys a preview of what I have planned.  Below is the copy that will appear on Indiegogo once my campaign goes live:

***

Repurpose – What are we doing here?

The purpose of this campaign is to allow Rewondered to introduce new product lines and wedding designs, many of which use repurposed materials.

Rewondered – What is Rewondered?

Rewondered is a one-woman handmade fashion business specializing in items for anyone who wants to express their style in a distinctive and unconventional fashion.

When I decided to start my own business, I wanted it express my creativity, as well as do some small part to save the world (I’m not a superhero in real life, but I play one online). I started designing jewelry using a variety of new and used materials, old broken pieces, found objects, leftover craft supplies, and anything else I thought was interesting. I try to reuse and recycle as much as possible, thus keeping perfectly good objects out of the landfills. I love taking something that could be considered “junk” and “rewondering” it into something… well, wonderful.

I have been planning to expand my product lines for some time, but Rewondered took a bit of a back seat when I relocated to New Hampshire last summer. However, I now have a studio set up and I’m ready to start bringing my ideas to life. I’m getting married in August, and plan to make as much of the attire and decorations for the wedding as possible, so these designs will also be incorporated into my new product lines. In addition, I’m planning to start a line of “rewondered” wedding and prom dresses. I would love to create one-of-a-kind pieces for other brides and special occasions. A once-in-a-lifetime day deserves a once-in-a-lifetime dress!

Request – How Can You Help?

My campaign here on Indiegogo respectfully requests your assistance in helping me get these product lines made and available for sale. I think everyone deserves to express their own distinctive style however they wish, and it’s my goal to provide them with products that can help them do so. I love doing custom work, and particularly look forward to helping brides bring their vision of their perfect wedding to life.

There are several phases to my plans for Rewondered, and this campaign’s goal is to raise money for the first phase, at least. Additional funds raised will allow me to implement additional phases. All money raised will go toward Rewondered’s expansion plans and operating expenses. If I don’t reach my fund-raising goal, I’ll implement as much as I can and any leftover monies will pay for things like listing fees and supplies.

Reveal – Phase 1

I’ll be adding pictures to the gallery of my new designs as I get them done.  Here are just a few of the new product ideas I’m working on: earrings, bracelets, corset jewelry, corsets and waist cinchers, shrugs and jackets, skirts, tutus and petticoats, bustles and overskirts, vests, jabots and neckties, fabric and paper flowers, brooch bouquets, boutonnieres, framed text-based art prints, veils, fascinators, wedding favors, decorations, key chains, photo booth props, “flair” (buttons or pins), and tote bags. Posting 500 new products on Etsy will cost me $100 for listing fees and one year of my online store subscription is about $240. I will need ink for my printer, labels, cardstock, and plastic bags to create tags and packaging, as well as mailing supplies. I’m estimating another $160 for these. Total Reveal phase: $500.

Reclaim – Phase 2

When I moved to New Hampshire, most of my supplies were put into storage in Ohio. This includes tons of old jewelry and beads, scrapbooking paper and embellishments, clothing (including some formal dresses), fabric, miscellaneous craft supplies, and some furniture that I could use in my studio. Phase 2 is reclaiming these supplies and moving them from Ohio to New Hampshire. I am estimating this will cost around $500. Total Reclaim phase: $500. Total of Reveal + Reclaim phases: $1000.

Reconnect – Phase 3

The next phase is connecting to my customers in person. My goal is to have a table or booth at at least one convention, festival, or fair each month. I would love to return to Ba-Con, which is at the end of June. I am estimating that vending fees and travel will cost approximately $350. I am planning on appearing once a month (June-October) at the Concord Arts Market. This will cost me $200, plus I will be required to have a 10×10 canopy and 25-pound weights for each leg, which I found on Amazon for $188. I’ll be looking for things I can buy used and/or repurpose for displays, such as garment racks, wire cubes, jewelry displays, hangers, and mannequins. I’m not sure exactly what I need until I figure out what products I want to take to the shows, so I’ll estimate $262 just to bring me to an even $1000 for this phase. Total Reconnect phase: $1000. Total of Reveal + Reclaim + Reconnect phases: $2000.

Redesign – Phase 4

This is where I implement the Rewondered Wedding Dress product line. Three adjustable dress forms (small, medium, and large), will give me the ability to customize to a wide range of sizes. These will cost around $300. A portable washing machine that I can use to dye fabrics will cost about $100. I’ll need a supply of wedding dresses I can alter, so a $500 shopping spree at various thrift stores should net me 5-10 dresses to start with. I’ll also need additional material, trims and embellishments, thread, zippers, etc. so I’m adding another $500 for supplies. Total of Redesign phase: $1400. Total of Reveal + Reclaim + Reconnect + Redesign phases: $3400.

Rediscover – Phase 5

While all of the above will help me get my name out there, I’ll still need to do some advertising. I want to become a Lifetime Member of OffbeatBride.com ($50) and get listed as a vendor for one year ($345). I’ve received some good traffic from Facebook and Google ads, so I’d like to try spending $100 a month on each for six months ($1200). Total of Rediscover phase: $1595. Total of Reveal + Reclaim + Reconnect + Redesign + Rediscover phases: $4995

Repercussions – What will fully funding this campaign accomplish?

What this will do for me is get my business off its training wheels and riding down the big hill without fear. My dream is to run Rewondered full-time and actually make a living at it.

What this will do for my customers is get them something uniquely “them” at an affordable price. Those who own my necklaces often get complimented on them. And those who get one of my Rewondered Wedding Dresses can be confident that they are getting a truly unique dress, custom designed to their taste and style, and they’re not breaking the budget to get it!

What this will do for the world is keep more items out of landfills. I will also be offering designs to various charities that I believe in, which they can auction off for their cause, as well as creating special signature pieces where the proceeds will go to a specific charity.

What this will do for you….

Rewards – What’s in it for you?

Ah yes, the perks! First of all, everyone who contributes at least $5 will be Regarded and receive a special thank you tweet from @Rewondered on Twitter or a thank you post on Rewondered’s Facebook Page, as well as their name listed on a special thank you page on my website. Everyone who contributes at least $10 will receive a $25 gift certificate which they can Redeem in my Etsy shop or online store.

Then we get into the items I will custom make for you.

  • For a $20 contribution, you can choose a necklace or a bracelet, custom made for you with up to 20 charms or beaded sections.
  • For a $25 contribution, I will send you an autographed 8×10 from my photo shoot last December, and a 2-minute recording of me reading from one of the erotica stories by Teresa Noelle Roberts.
  • For a $50 contribution, you can choose between a custom made Rewondered skirt or floor-length tutu, or a 75-piece photo booth prop package, consisting of new, repurposed and handmade items.
  • For a $100 contribution, you can choose either two bouquets or two centerpieces, custom made from a variety of materials such as fabric, paper, brooches, beads, wire, or whatever else your imagination can think up.  I’ll work with you to make something truly “you”-nique.
  • For a $500 contribution, you will be one of the first to get a customized Rewondered Wedding Dress (or other formal attire) or a customized Cosplay Outfit or costume of your choice.
  • For $4995 (and thus funding all 5 phases) I will Rewonder your entire wedding. This includes ensembles for the wedding party, such as dresses, jackets, vests, veils or fascinators, headbands or other hair accessories, jabots or neckties, and jewelry. It also includes bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces and other decorations, wedding favors, invitations, and programs. I am restricting this to ONE person, with a wedding party of no more than ten people, a guest list of no more than 200, and a wedding date of no earlier than October 2012. You also must agree to provide pictures of your wedding and allow me to use them for promotional purposes (so be sure to discuss that with your photographer, or get some really good candids).  I will also be posting on my blog about my progress on what I’m making for your wedding.  Here is your chance for a handmade wedding, using as many repurposed materials as possible, for a bargain price!

Redistribute – How else can you help?

One great way to help is to spread the word about my campaign to everyone you know through Facebook, Twitter, email, or however else you want to communicate.

Another is to contribute your unwanted jewelry, craft and sewing supplies, fabric, trims and embellishments, clothing, wedding and prom dresses, costume pieces, curtains, blankets, home decorations, and any other items you think might be useful to me. I don’t care if it’s broken, ripped, or out of style! Do you have a 10×10 canopy you’re not using? Something that will make a good display piece? Adjustable dress forms, portable washing machine, sewing machine, or serger? Things I could use to make the perks I’ve mentioned? If you live within a 2-3 hours of Hillsborough, NH or along the route between there and Columbus, OH, I can arrange to pick things up. Otherwise, talk to me about arrangements for shipping.

You can also check out the products I currently have for sale in my Etsy shop and online store. Feel free to pin the stuff you like on Pinterest or share it on Facebook or Twitter! Also check out my website, like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and subscribe to my blog.

And don’t forget to use the Indiegogo share tools!

Thank you for taking a look at my campaign, and thank you for your contribution (monetary or otherwise).  I very much appreciate it!

***

The phases I’ve described are also my Road Map to Success and exactly where I want my business to go.  I’m excited about it!

So what do you think?  I tried to come up with some interesting perks (like me reading erotica – fans of my radio show will get a kick out of that idea, I’m sure) as well as a good mixture of things to choose from.  Which one interests you?

Letting the Cat Out of the Bag

Well now.  You know how I’ve been completely ferret-brained lately?  There is actually a good reason for at least some of my distraction…

I’m getting married.

 

Wow.  I’m getting married.  After my divorce in 2005, I seriously doubted I’d ever say those words, and here I am.  Seven years ago I never wanted to get married again, and vowed that it would take someone really special to change my mind.  Lucky for me, I found someone really special. 🙂

I actually knew I was going to marry Lorne about a month after we officially met in person.  For those that don’t know the story, we’re both DJs for The Cape Radio, so we’ve known each other online for about six years, but we only met in person last June, at the station’s annual meet and greet in Chicago.  A month later, I ventured to New Hampshire to spend a week with him, and ended up staying nine days.  He asked me then how I felt about marriage, and I knew in that instant that I wanted to marry him.  We agreed that we needed to live together a year before we got married though, so on August 22nd, 2011, I moved to New Hampshire.

Since then, he’s actually proposed several times, but always included the caveat that he was going to propose properly.  Last Thursday night, he proposed again, but this time he told me “this is not a drill.”  Of course, just like every other time, I said yes. 🙂

We’d actually already begun discussing possible dates before the “official” proposal, and I’d jokingly suggested August 23rd, since that would make sure we fulfilled the one year agreement we had made (though we really don’t need the whole year to be sure anymore).  We thought about May, but figured that would be a little too soon to get everything together.  The “June Bride” thing is a bit too conventional and overdone for our tastes, and July is out because of his birthday and the trip to my high school reunion.  As we looked at the calendar this past weekend, late August made the most sense.  But the 23rd is a Thursday, and we wanted a weekend wedding, so we will be getting married on August 25th, in the backyard of Lorne’s best friends’ house in Massachusetts.  Since the majority of my family is in Oregon and likely won’t be able to travel clear across the country, we will be having a second ceremony out there next year, for our one year anniversary.  Oh, and legally we’ll be getting married in New Hampshire sometime before the wedding in Massachusetts (I’m still saying the 23rd would be appropriate!) so that’s actually three weddings all together.  Though the New Hampshire one will probably be the short short version. 😛

Three weddings in three different states with practically no budget to speak of?  Yeah, I can do this.  I’ll be making a lot of things myself, relying on the help of many of our friends (we already have the venue, catering, officiant, and a case of champagne pledged by our generous friends!) and keeping things as small as possible.  My event planning and organizational skills will be put to the test, and my creativity will have quite the workout!  But it will be fun, and give me the excuse to try some new designs for Rewondered too.  I might even post some samples and have a poll to determine what actually makes it into the weddings.  Seriously, I have way too many ideas for my dress, even with three weddings!

You’ll be hearing a lot more about this over the next (gulp!) five months as we firm up our plans and put them into place. My goals are to NOT be Bridezilla and to keep Lorne from freaking out (his eyes have already begun to glass over a few times) so this blog will be a bit of an outlet for me.  You’ve been warned! 😛

OMG OMG OMG I’M GETTING MARRIED!!!

Rising To The Challenge

I have several friends in the SCA and I’ve been hearing for years that they think I’d enjoy it, thanks to my background in theatre and my love of cosplay.  I’ve never really looked into it though.  But now I live with someone who is very involved with her clan, have other friends I see on a regular basis who are members, and my SE calls himself a “camp follower” so it was inevitable that I’d be dragged along to an event.  Of course, by “dragged along” I mean “go quite willingly!”

So Saturday I went to a private clan gather.  I borrowed some garb from my roommate because I didn’t have time to sew anything (though I did manage to get out the fabric and patterns for three outfits, my ferret-brainness didn’t get me any farther).  Unfortunately I didn’t think to take my camera so I didn’t get any pictures, but the SE and I looked pretty good.  I had been told I could take some of my necklaces to offer for sale, so I packed up two small tubs full and a bag of supplies to work on a few more if I got the chance.  We arrived at the event, said hi to the people I already knew, and the SE introduced me to a few of his friends that I had not yet met.  It was a fairly low-key, informal event so I we just hung around and chatted with people.  I sat down at the table where my friends were playing cards and worked on a couple of necklaces, and even managed to sell two of my Simple Charm Necklaces.

Now, you’re probably wondering where the title of this blog post comes in, as I doubt you see much of a challenge in what I’ve described so far, other than that of a socially awkward person going into a new environment with lots of unknown people.  Sure, that is a bit challenging for me, but after attending ten different schools (1st-12th grades), I’m kind of a pro at it.  I’m still pretty shy, but I’ve learned to work through it.  Of course, those that know me well will laugh at the notion of me being shy, as I am anything but around my friends!

No, the challenge I’m speaking of was issued to the clan before I arrived.  In the wee small hours of the morning, the hall was decorated with Mardi Gras beads and they were challenged to create a piece of art from them.  I learned later that the challengers were expecting something along the lines of a mosaic, but the clan had other ideas.  Knowing that I am a designer who works with beads, my help was enlisted.  The idea?  A beadkini.  Yes, a bikini made out of Mardi Gras beads.

It took me about four hours, but in the end I had created a bikini top using gold and purple Mardi Gras beads.  I joined the design together with the jump rings I had brought with me (thank goodness I’d thought to bring that bag of stuff to work on and my tools).  My “partner in crime” attached strings of beads to a piece of rope to form a sort of loincloth.  Once I’d finished, my model was brought in and I tied her into the thing with pieces of string and decorated her with more beads.  We covered her with a cloak and preceded out into the main hall for the unveiling.  I was introduced as the main artist and the model was introduced as our canvas.  Needless to say, when we removed the cloak there was quite a bit of surprise!  And cheers and applause, of course!

Now, I don’t have any pictures of the model wearing the outfit, but I was given the beadkini to take home with me.  Here’s the top:

Mardi Gras Beadkini Top

Mardi Gras Beadkini Top

 

My first SCA event, and I’ll probably go down in clan history.  I’ll forever be known as “the one who made the beadkini.”  I suppose there are worse things to be known for.  And I heard that at least one person was thinking they should commission me to make a belly dancing outfit after seeing what I could do with limited materials in a limited time frame.  I am happy to do custom work, and can make something much better with the right materials!  Feel free to email me with your ideas!

And yes, I will likely be attending more SCA events.  I’ll need to come up with a persona and garb of my own.  Just what I needed, another project. 😉

Music And The Muse

When I was little, I had a record called Havin’ Fun with Ernie & Bert. I would listen to this record, doing all the dances and activities, as often as my mother could stand it. But there was one song on the album that has stuck with me throughout the (more than I’d like to count) years: Imagination, sung by Ernie.

Ernie encourages us to close our eyes and tell him what we see. The unimaginative Oscar the Grouch says, “You can’t see anything with your eyes closed,” but the other characters shush him and begin telling us what they see: blobs and stars and oceans and birds. Then Ernie starts singing about what happens when he uses his imagination. I still get goose bumps listening to it today.

This song was probably one of the first links I had between music and creativity. How listening to a song can spark new ideas. How a single line can inspire a new design. How the underlying melody and beat can make my fingers itch to pick up my tools and start creating. I often listen to music while I’m working on my jewelry, sometimes I can’t work without it. Music invigorates and motivates me, and helps me get in touch with my muse.

Imagination and creativity can be tricky things, elusive and stubborn one day, flooding us with ideas the next. For me, music can help to direct my inner artist, riding the waves of crescendos and diminuendos, dancing along the chords and verses, moving to the rhythm. Try putting your favorite music player on random or shuffle and close your eyes. What do you see?

“I look inside and discover things,
That are sometimes strange and new,
And the most remarkable thoughts I think,
Have a way of being true.” .

And that’s one of the best things about being an artist/designer/crafter/creative person. Taking those strange and wonderful ideas and bringing them to life.

You can open your eyes now, kids.

I Am An Artist, And So Are You

Discover the art you create on a daily basis, without picking up a pencil or a paintbrush.

I remember going to my grandmother’s house for the weekend when I was a young girl. She would hand me a stack of blank paper, a set of watercolor paints, and a big box of crayons, and by the time the weekend was over, my drawings and paintings would cover every available surface. I considered myself quite the artist, and my grandmother encouraged my creativity.

Perhaps it was with her death, when I was nine years old, that the dream of being an artist began to die. I know I looked at my art a lot more critically as I got older, and finally put down my paints, pencils, chalks and crayons, deciding I’d never be good enough to be a “real” artist. I still did other creative crafts, such as sewing and cross-stitch, but to me, “art” was something you would find in a museum. It was a drawing or a painting, a picture that was conjured up in one’s mind, then put to paper or canvas, framed and hung upon a wall. Or it could be a sculpture, something carved from stone or shaped in clay. I had a very narrow view of art. I think many people do.

But art is not just paintings, sketches or sculptures. Art is everywhere, in everything we do. We just don’t always see it in the rush of our everyday lives. We are so busy doing “stuff” that we fail to see the beauty around us, or the skill and mastery we use to accomplish all this “stuff.”

I create and sell jewelry on Etsy.com; this is my most obvious art. But I am also a DJ for The Cape Radio, a small internet radio station for players of City of Heroes, so the play lists I create and the banter I engage in on the air is another form of my art. My “day job” is as a photographer for a portrait studio; this is also my art.

Okay, so jewelry-making, music and entertainment, and photography can be forms of art; I think that is something we can all agree on. But what if you’re not creative? What if you don’t “make” anything? How can I say that you are an artist? Because I am still saying that you are.

The first definition on Dictionary.com states that art is “the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.”

More than ordinary significance. What a concept these words are! Think about what you have created in your life that has more than ordinary significance to you. What do you love? What gives you satisfaction? What are you really good at? What do people compliment you on?

Let’s look at what you do for a living. I’m sure a lot of people will say they absolutely hate their jobs, but even if you are one of those, I bet there is some aspect of it that you excel at. In my various past jobs as an administrative assistant, my coworkers marveled at how organized I was. Even if I had piles of folders and stacks of papers on my desk, if someone came to me and asked for something specific, I could put my hands on it in seconds. I always knew what tasks in a project had already been completed and what still needed to be done. I knew what resources were available and where to find them. I knew exactly where to go and what to do in order to fulfill a request for information or complete a report. I got things done quickly and was a model of efficiency. Organization is my art.

Perhaps you’re the only one in the office who can deal with that one problem client that drives everyone else up the wall. Your diplomacy is your art. Perhaps you can always convince people to give a bit more to a fund-raiser or spend a bit more than they had originally been planning to. Your salesmanship is your art. Perhaps you’re the one who always has a smile, who brightens everyone else’s day just by being there. Your sunny disposition is your art. Perhaps you learn new programs quickly, can figure out how to make them do what you need them to do faster than anyone else. This aptitude is your art. What points on your resume are you most proud of? I bet they have something to do with your art.

What about your life outside of work? Perhaps you’re the one that all your friends look to to organize events for the group. Party planning is your art. Perhaps you can always find the best route to take to get wherever you need to go. Your sense of direction is your art. Perhaps you make the best chocolate chip cookies your family has ever tasted. To someone who always burns the bottoms of cookies, making good ones is definitely an art!

What have you made that has more than ordinary significance to you? Perhaps you’ve made a comfortable home that your friends and family love to hang out in. Perhaps you’ve made some fantastic friendships that have stood the test of time. Perhaps you’re a parent, and what parent doesn’t think their child is a work of art?

More than ordinary significance. You ARE an artist. So what is your art?

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