A Year In Review

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.

 

Panic! At the attic

A few weeks ago I was chatting with my cousin and she was asking me how things were going since I have a show coming up. I gave a noncommittal reply and said things were going. She’s a teacher, so she started to give me suggestions on how to balance my work and I shrugged her off with a ‘yeah, yeah’ answer which lead to me waking up the next day in cold sweats of anxiety that I was pretty much screwed.

It ended up being the kick in the butt that I needed and I wrote tasks for every day leading up to the show so that I would actually have some inventory and not be sitting at the booth trying to sell hugs.

This whole process has been pretty enlightening and I have discovered that I work much better in the morning, and so instead of sleeping in, I’ll have to make time for an afternoon nap instead. #MyHeartBreaks. #FirstWorldProblems. It has also been helpful to see how much I can tolerate to make in a day before I want to throw my sewing machine out the window.

I am rounding the last week, so from this point onward until the show date,  my brain has decided it is time to be filled with complete dread that I won’t sell a damn thing at this show and that all my ideas are actually made of 100% Grade ‘A’ cow dung.

Only Brian truly knows the extent of my neuroses, but it gets pretty bad. I sprayed water at him in the car last week as a joke and he vowed Lex Talionis. Needless to say, I now live in constant fear that he will retaliate by scaring the shit out of me. I absolutely hate being scared and the build-up makes it even worse. Life is basically intolerable until I forget, which is probably also the precise moment he exacts his revenge.

Luuee will be at the Toronto Reference Library for the SummerSixteen Pop-up Market hosted by the Toronto Urban Collective on August 7 from 11AM to 6PM.

The smell of failure

I like to refer to the crown of my head as the ‘smell spot’. I’m lazy and I don’t like to wash my hair every day, so to gauge how bad it is, I have Brian stick his nose in there and smell it. 90% of the time, it’s pretty stank. I could rub the top of my head and smell my hand myself (which I do, because there’s a sick pleasure in smelling your scalp), but it kills me every time I successfully convince him to waft in the odor for me.

I didn’t get into the One of a Kind Christmas Show, and I imagine the failure stinks as bad as two days of unwashed hair.

I’ve been riding this high since I opened my shop. Good sales, Finalist in the Etsy Awards, attending my first show in September, but now, no One of a Kind!

In truth, I wasn’t happy with my application after I submitted it. I’m still searching for my voice and vision, and since I applied I’ve refined it. It still stings though and I’m sad I didn’t get in.

Now it’s time to search for other fall market shows and get my name out there. I’ll be at the Etsy York Region Made in Canada Show on Sept 24 2016, so I hope to see you all there!

In the mean time, I will use my Asian powers of superstition and get a Neko Cat to change my fortune.

I’m a Finalist!

Last week I was complaining to Brian about how the orders were depleting my fabric supply and it made me sad that some of the fabric was going to be gone. I joked that I should just close up shop and call it a day.

Then this morning, a glorious event occurred! I was notified that I was a finalist in the Etsy Awards for Canada!

EtsyAwards_Aboutslide_Country

I stomped, pooped, and did about 60 victory laps before I collapsed on the floor.

I’d like to say that being nominated is enough, but really, victory would be so much sweeter. Please vote for me! The grand prize is 10,000!

Sudo apt-get server-crash-and-burn and other tales

Lately I’ve been feeling sluggish, and while I can make it to the top of the stairs, that’s as far as I will go, and I’ll just sleep there until some kid asks me to go play video games with him and then I’ll get out of my funk.

Things at my shop seem to be going well, and I think I finally have to pick up the pace and get pretty serious about it. This is absolutely terrifying to me, and mixed with seasonal allergies (you know who you are, POLLEN) it is probably the cause of some anxiety and aforementioned sluggishness. Nothing like a few successes to cause you to have complete self-doubt about what you are doing.

So to deal with it head on, I decided to work on my website, which led me to break the whole damn thing. I should have known when it said something about removing applications that the jig was up, but I trusted you apt-get!! I trusted you :(. So I spent all night recreating my server and here I am! I bet your heart light was at a standstill this whole time.

I know I promised other stories in the title, but that was a lie.