2017 is going to be a lot less careless than 2016, so I thought I’d do a perspective on the things I did, and what I learned.
First and foremost, the handmade community is great. There are a lot of incredibly talented and awesome people being entrepreneurs, and every craft show I go to where I get to meet these people really humbles me and makes me want to be better. I mean, you cast doubt on my own abilities each time because you’re hella creative so I hate that, but I’m grateful for the push! It also helps to have good booth neighbours that keep you sane when you’re outside freezing your ass off, trying to elevator pitch a few people into why they should buy your product. It’s been a week since my last outdoor show and I can still feel the cold.
I have learned that working for yourself, by yourself, can be lonely. I’m an introvert, but that just means I like to socialize on my own terms and not that I don’t like being around people. I went from interacting with co-workers every day, to talking to myself (just to hear a voice) until Brian came home. So I took a chance and offered to help out with the Etsy York Region group and became the Facebook admin. It’s a great team, and I like having an obligation to do something outside of my own work. It was still a solitary job though, and there was one day in September where the loneliness really set in and I panicked about what I had done to get here. I think it was fate that I was feeling this way, because as I scrolled through FB there was an ad to volunteer at the zoo and the deadline was about two weeks out. I decided to apply, and here I am, an official Panda Ambassador. If you’re ever at the Toronto Zoo on a Tues or Wed morning, come by and I’ll teach you what I know about Pandas!
Time management has also been a lesson learned when running your own business. The amount of time it takes to take pictures, edit them, and post items on your shop is shocking! Not to mention the actual sewing of items. It also doesn’t help that I am the world’s slowest seamstress. I sew for two minutes, get bored, and watch a Netflix show. If you own a Luuee product, just know that the overall labour time was astounding, and you’re paying for true dedication!
I’ve done a few pop-up markets, some much better than others, and found it’s really luck of the draw when it comes to how successful you will be at a show. I have learned what seasons my items sell better, and what to promote more at certain shows. Overall though, I feel like my online shop will be my main focus as it generates the most business. How great is it that something like Etsy is around so that you can reach an audience all over the world with your handmade items?
I think the most important lesson I’ve learned is to not compromise on quality and workmanship. I’ve become a much better seamstress and the products are better made now than at the beginning of the year. Also, I get a lot of anxiety when I screw something up, and have learned it’s just not worth the headache. Might as well spend that extra 30 seconds going over your items before you package them up over wanting to rip your heart out later.
What’s to come for 2017? I spent this year goofing around without a real purpose. In 2017, I plan to set goals and projected targets. Someone suggested I do a three-year rolling plan, which I think is a great idea. It’s still an awesome journey for me, and I love being creative. Let’s hope that when I file my taxes it doesn’t ruin my want to be a self starter, and that the next year is even better.
To my family and friends, your support means everything to me. If my sarcasm and crotchety behavior aren’t proof enough of how much I appreciate you (BRIAN), then I solemnly swear to be much worse in the new year. I hope you’re ready.