29 April 2008

at a snail's pace

I'm feeling a bit like a broken record here. I think I first mentioned wanting to have a shop update in early March. It's now, ahem, just about May. And I am finally working on my first pieces to sell that I've done since December (aside from a couple of small custom orders). So here we are, a snippet of my progress on three new bags. I now have no excuse at all to continue procrastinating as I am signed up for a craft fair that is in just over two weeks and have very little to show for myself at the moment.

I feel like I'm at an interesting place with my crafting. I've come so so far in the last year even with my sewing. It boggles my mind to think that I haven't even owned a sewing machine (much less known how to use one) for three years. Seriously, this is not meant to be any kind of bragging, but just a recap of how crazy I've gone over this sewing thing. I really love sewing. And I love designing new products, whether it's a little zippy pouch or a dress. I enjoy selling my stuff, but I have barely had any motivation for that since December.

Last year, I did eight craft fairs (I think, there might have been another one or two) and that was insane. I learned a lot...mostly what not to do (you may recall this nightmare), but it was too much. I'm definitely not stopping my crafting for selling at all (if anything, I need some method to fund my fabric addiction), but I'm not sure where I'm going from here with it. I do actually have a full-time job and many other projects (including, but not limited to: gardening in the summer, yoga, a significant amount of volunteer work, and oh yeah, a life, sort of), and sometimes it can all feel a bit overwhelming. Especially when I get into a mode of constantly comparing myself to other amazing crafters out there who are constantly updating their shops and making and selling tons of crafts, but who do not have "full-time jobs", or who actually have crafting as their full-time gig. No wonder I get anxious.

In any case, I am curious what you all think about this topic, as I know it's something that many of us in this crafting community struggle with. How do you find a balance? And how do you not get sick of crafting for selling? In the meantime, I am working on lots of new things (for real this time) and may have some up in the shop before my fair. If not, whatever is left will surely make an appearance.


  1. hey julia -

    my "craft business" has definitely ebbed and flowed since i started selling my wares 2 years ago. i've gone from selling wholesale and doing lots of craft fairs to having the very occasional etsy shop update. i think the nice thing about having a side business (and not necessarily needing the cash to pay the mortgage) is that the only stress that exists is the stress you put on yourself. i have all good intentions to get some suitcases in the shop, but i know realistically it probably won't happen until the kids are out of school and i'm done w/my job for the summer. and comparing yourself to others is NEVER a good idea (not that i've never done it - it's hard not to when your a bloggy/flickr addict). but it's toxic.

    and i think if you get bored w/something, move on and explore somthing new.

    and i think this is the longest comment ever. sorry!

  2. This topic has been floating around my mind for quite some time. I'm at a point with my business where I don't know where to go. Expand, decrease... there is just so much work that it's not as fun as it should be.

    I think we all go through times like these.... When I find it hard to work I know that somethings gotta change. The reason I started crafting and selling my crafts was to have fun... not to be a slave to it. So just step back. Realize what is important to you... and don't let anyone else influence that.

    I just decided today that I'm pulling out of Johnstock. I already have 3 weekends in a row of shows and I just feel like I'm loosing myself in the work. If possible I'm still going to come as a shopper.. that'd be nice for a change. If your free after the show I'd love to get drinks... I think there might be a few others who want to go out too.

    Anyways... hang in there... I think feeling sluggish about work from time to time is just a crafters life... plus you have to give yourself a TON of credit for working a full time job and living... those things take time and energy!

  3. I'll start by saying that I'm not selling any of the stuff that I sew, and I don't have any plans of doing that.
    But reading your post I was just thinking, that I have been sewing since February, and it's amazing how consuming it already is now. I love sewing, and it relaxes me in a great way, as well as I like to see, that the stuff I make gets good use. However, on the other hand I'm most definitely becoming a fabric addict quickly, and I spend lots of time thinking about what to make next, or how to combine fabrics. I haven't had time to sew for the past two weeks, and that fact has actually become a stress factor to me - which is kind of absurd...
    Since I started, I have had two people ask me to make something for their children, and I have actually decided, that since that would put extra strain on my hobby, I'm going to say no to that kind of requests generally - I want to keep enjoying it and taking it at my own pace.
    And those were just my thoughts when reading your post. ;o)

  4. Wow, you are so right on Julia (and I really connected with Meg's post, too).

    It's so gratifying to see my business and Etsy shop grow when I put the time into it, but sometimes I really need to step back and take the pressure off myself. There just aren't enough hours in the day after my full time job. I've learned how to say "no" over the past year--- as much as I hated to, I declined quite a few shows and custom orders.

    The other thing I found that really helps (beside pursuing unrelated loves like yoga and cooking), is to balance quick projects that also tend to be "best sellers" with more involved projects that I can really slow down and enjoy. It keeps me interested in what I do without feeling like a one-woman sweatshop.

  5. I've only had one bad craft fair experience and I'm verrry cautious about doing another, but I hear you on comparing yourself to other bloggers. Right now I'm doing my best to hold myself together, crafting is on the wayside except a few quick stitches on knitting when I'm waiting for something or on the phone... If you _must_ compare to someone, take me for a while. :)

  6. oh man!
    I could not feel you more on this. I've been on the blog/swap/etsy/craft scene for about three years and feel like I've been slowly moving in a different direction for the past nine or so months. I was going good, selling stuff and then that little voice inside me just got to me-I felt like my stuff wasn't original enough-too crafty-not enough arty-too boring-and I just stopped.
    I had to take a break from the constant comparisons (which were self inflicted always). I lost a lot of blog readers-and that's fine-I stopped defining myself as a "craft blogger" and felt like I was able to reclaim my blog as a "journal". It feels really good. I may venture on to etsy again, butfor now-I'm glad to have no craft expectations for myself-if that makes any sense. Oh well-this is the longest comment ever-sorry julia-hope you have a great weekend!