Friday, November 25, 2016

Big feelings about small business

I'll start with a thought, which you, the reader, may relate to, be surprised by, be upset about, or compassionate toward, a thought which I have finally embraced: while it may be an easy decision to do what you love, it is not always easy to make it happen.  In fact, sometimes, it is the most difficult, last thing on your endless list.  I find myself often looking back at what I had built two years ago (which was only a start) with my business.  I had customers come to sales just to see what I had made (which feels amazing). I had family support of my endeavors.  I had a bigger dream to do bigger shows with more prestigious fellow crafters.  I was about to invest in licensing, and I was finally finding the customer base that fit my style and my brand.  I had a system for making, a long list of sketches to bring to fruition and to meet the needs of client suggestions and requests, and a Pinterest board worth pining over.  I had started something, and it was going decently well.

...and then the rug slipped out from under my feet and I fell.

I stopped making.  Without going into detail, my studio flooded.  I had begun a masters program.  I had given my spare time to teaching, my family, my boyfriend, and my other hobbies, and even if I devoted less time to all of those things, it wouldn't get me back to where I was because the truth is, all of those things give me purpose, and I love them.  I kept telling myself that when my studio was set back up, I was going to explode into a whirlwind of creativity and production, but what I didn't see was that getting myself to that point would be so impossible.  This time of year, as a craftsperson, I feel a lot like I'm being locked in my room when there's a party going on outside.  It is during this season last year that I heard all of the feedback that made me feel like I was doing what I loved.  I loved seeing that every time I unpacked for a show, my brand was more clear and my booth was more organized, and it's sad to think that I'm missing it this time.  

People say that having no time is not a good excuse for skipping the gym.  Make the time, they say.  I can't help but feel like this applies to me in a crafty-sort of way.  And I definitely love making pots more than going to the gym, so it is inevitable that I'll have weekends booked with craft sales again like I did a couple of years ago, but I am writing this blog, and intend to continue to write, so that you know that I'm still here, and that I will always be a maker.

The trouble with being a maker, though, is the same thing that makes it one of the most special and incredible occupations that exists.  As the sole maker of your things, you are the only one who can see them through to completion.  If you fall, which you may, your business will fall, too.  But the good news is that when you get up, which you will, you will lift your business as well, and probably with bigger, stronger muscles.  What you've gained in your *down* time is reflection on what was and what you've been through, and a new set of goals to accomplish.  As a maker, you never stop learning from what you see.  This is who I am.  A sponge for things I can use.

Because it is so hard, small acts of support go a longer way.  Be compassionate toward any one seeking to accomplish their dreams.  We need encouragement, congratulations on what has happened for us.  Not a scoff at a price you think is too high, or a judgment on a career path.  We need a follow, a like, and a share.  It is that support that keeps us going, that makes us proud of being where we are, even if we haven't quite accomplished that whole dream.

Last year, my holiday MMcCeramics social media posts were all about shopping small and supporting makers of handmade items, and I still believe in this.  But in addition, this year, as you visit your local little guys, and your Etsy shops, I encourage you to tell the maker or the owner that you love what they offer.  It means a lot, and it doesn't cost a thing.  Happy shopping, happy holidays, and thank you for your continued support.

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