Category: Business

Wearing Lots of Hats

pictures handmade quilts

What hats are you wearing today?  I recently talked to Candy Glendening, of Candied Fabrics.  Candy had some excellent insight as to the multiple roles the modern day creative entrepreneur must assume.  Sometimes we find ourselves playing the part of a designer, other times authors, and still yet, artists, bloggers, crafters, teachers, seamstresses, etc. etc. etc. and often along with all this we are mothers and wives.

Why do we do this, Candy and I joked?

It seems that maybe we have to.  It’s something that is within us.  It’s in our blood –we must create.  Candy and I both feel strongly about this.  She would even go so far as to say we should “make things just for the sake of making –that’s how our work grows and evolves”.

Candy Glendening Mod House OrnamentsAfter I got off the phone with Candy, I remembered feeling assured that what I was doing with The Artists’ House was the right thing to do.  You see, I feel people should keep their dreams as the solid foundation of their lives, but often you do need to learn to wear each of those hats to be able to build upon those dreams Candy reminded me.  Candy says, “Although I have many goals in my life, one of my main goals is to continue to grow, develop and evolve as an artist.”  I find that with the busyness of life, we often start to loose our dreams, and I believe that if you are not focused, the chaos of life can obscure what it is you were looking for.

Candy Glendening Messenger BagSo, in conclusion, have your goals in mind, and always be working towards them, but do realize that there are often other roles that you will have to take on to be able to reach those goals.  Don’t let those other hats you must wear sidetrack you, but rather use them to your advantage.  Let those parts of your life connect you to your work and help make it better.  Find how to connect all parts of your everyday life into your goals.  It’s not easy, but if you can do this, I believe you can find success in what you do.

Thanks Candy, for helping me come to this conclusion.

Do you know Candy?  If you don’t, you should.  Candy as a person is amazing, as is her art and her blog.  You can find Candy online through her website Candied Fabrics, facebook page, and on twitter.  Along with that, Candy does a great “Ask Candy” column on A La Mode Stuff.  Also, recently Candy did a great guest post on Scoutie Girl titled “One little house at a time: finding your art, getting published, and going live!” Check it out!

The Honeymoon Stage of Starting a Business

When my husband and I first got married, I learned an important lesson very early on –my husband was not a mind reader.  If I wanted or needed something, I had to ask for it.  Overnight my marriage changed, and my husband is now the most supportive person I’ve ever known.  My morning proof –breakfast in bed.

I’ve come to realize that just like the honeymoon stage of a marriage, when we are in the honeymoon stage of starting a business, we do and think naive things.

A few weeks ago, when I was looking over the strides I made in the first 6 months of my business, and mapping out what I hopped to accomplish in 2011, I concluded that maybe this is the piece of the puzzle that’s missing.  My business will grow much faster if I ask more people to support my work and me.  No more sitting around with the mentality, “if I build it, they will come”.

In 2011, I will help my business grow by asking:

  • Would you like to publish my quilt in your magazine?
  • Would you like to do wholesale with me?
  • Would you consider me to be an artist in your fine art show?
  • May I do a guest post on your blog?
  • Would you offer me some advice?

My moment for this week came the other day when I emailed someone I really admire, and asked her for some help, some mentoring, some advise, and as busy as she was, she said, “Yes!”.

Will I always get a “yes”?  Of course not –maybe that’s how my business is different from my marriage, haha.  Yet, if I don’t start asking more, I fear my business might not grow as fast, or as beautifully as my marriage has.

image credit: PearsonMaron – Handmade Monster Magnets and Miniature Art Sculptures on Etsy

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om [one moment] meet upOM is *one moment* and is a meetup designed to notice & relish a moment in everyday life. The meetup idea was created by Linda at her blog, a la mode stuff.  If you’d like to participate in OM, just click the button and you’ll be taken to Linda’s post explaining it all.

My Creative Odyssey

I want to tell you a story.  But first let me introduce Jessica Van Den from Epheriell Designs; she is running a blog hop called Creative Odyssey right now.  You can also hop to my partner in crime today, City Kitten Designs, and you can check out the full  blog hop list here.  Now back to my story…

Once there was a girl who ate, slept and breathed volleyball.  She had big dreams and goals.  Her senior year, after signing on to play at a small university in Nebraska, she got inured.  This wasn’t a small injury either; rather it was an injury that would take years to fully recover from.  It seemed that maybe her dreams of college volleyball were over.  And instead of resting and healing, she pushed on with all her might; often ignoring the signs her body sent her and the instructions given to her by her doctors.  She thought with pure will-power, she could beat the injury and push on to accomplish her goals.

Two years in a row, she struggled with complication after complication never letting her body heal.  Her leg soon atrophied.  When her doctors didn’t clear her to play, she felt completely defeated.  After working so hard to “heal” for two years, her spirit was crushed and she quit.  That day she met with the coach, released her contract, cleaned out her locker, and walked back to her dorm feeling defeated.

Six months later, after she had stopped training on a daily basis and finally took time to rest, she noticed that her symptoms had started to subside.  It seemed she no longer had complications.  She slowly started training again, a little here and a little there, and noticed that she was still passionate about her previous dreams.  After taking one year off, she tried out the following season.  She was stronger, smarter, more agile, and she made the team again and for the first time in years, she started her first game at the university level.

Why am I telling you this story?  Well, recently I have received an “injury” –not a physical injury, but rather some disappointing news that had temporarily defeated my spirits.  When your heart is a part of your work, a part of what you do everyday, I believe rejection hurts a bit more than in day to day work.

I think the reality of being a creative entrepreneur is that at times you will face rejection, and during those times, it’s important to stop, and heal.  Listen to your body, the signs around you, and don’t look at the setback as failure –find a new path to your destination.

And so this leads me into my creative goals for 2011:

  • Break the habit of keeping my nose to the grindstone –rather look up, and take time for reflection and healing.
  • Find a mentor, someone who knows the realities of running a creative business similar to mine.
  • Celebrate and notice the little accomplishments along the way.
  • Submit my quilts to get published in magazines.
  • Continue to follow my dreams of getting a book published.
  • Learn new embroidery techniques.
  • Exhibit my work in at least two fine art shows this summer.
  • Share my passions with other people by leading a quilt-a-long on my blog.
  • Sketch more and start playing with the idea of fabric design.
  • Continue to improve my photography skills.
  • Continue to learn illustrator.

Today I turn 30; did I forget to mention that?  However it is with confidence that I step into my 30’s, knowing that this will be my most creative years yet.

image credit:  Niela Photography and Design

9 Creative Women Share Secrets to Succeeding with Social Media

Succeed with Social Media
It’s here, the free ebook I was telling you about, put together by April from Blacksburg Belle. This ebook is packed full of great tips!  And since it’s in ebook form, you don’t have to digest it all at once –instead use it over time, as a reference or a guide.
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Go ahead, take a peak, it’s FREE!

Choosing Social Media Platforms

I have some really good news for you!  Do you remember when you were just a kid, and often when receiving a gift from a care taker you were told, “Go ahead, but take just one.”  Take just one?!

As a child, this use to kill me.  Even as an adult I can’t take just one of anything.  Cookie?  Why yes please!  May I have ten?

social media facebook twitter flickr(Picture from She’s So Crafty Goods on Etsy)

The good news about social media platforms is that you don’t have to pick just one.  In fact, my recommendation is the exact opposite.  I recommend that you try a few out –not too many, but definitely a few, and especially the popular ones.  Give them a spin, like dating, and see which you prefer.  And because this isn’t a marriage, if a certain social media platform isn’t complementing your style, you’re not committed to it.  That being said, I also don’t recommend giving up on a specific social media application too soon. Let me explain.

Social media, like a shy person, sometimes take a few conversations to get to know.  Currently, I’m not completely acquainted with facebook.  We’re still getting to know one another.  I have a feeling that in the future we might become better friends.  On the other hand, and quite to my surprise, I adore twitter.  We hit it off right from the beginning.

When choosing social media platforms, my recommendations are this:

  1. Get on board! Yes, it will take extra time out of your day, but the reality is that this is where we are and where we will continue to gather in greater numbers.  The goal of your business should be to get your products and/or services out there.  You need to go where the people are. And believe it or not, the “If you build it, they will come” motto doesn’t work on the internet.  The competition is fierce and even if you are stumbled upon, without a link to the “person” behind the product, or a recommendation from a friend, most likely people won’t buy from you.  Social media builds both a presence and a reputation, so get on board!
  2. Use your technological devises. Smart phones, ipads, and other portable gadgets are great when it comes to creating a face online when you literally have just a minute here or a minute there.  I carry my iphone with me at all times and just chime in online when I can. It’s natural, enjoyable, and genuinely doesn’t seem like work.  Rather, it’s fun, like texting a friend.
  3. Find a system. It has taken me a little while to find a system that works for me.  And honestly, I’m still tweaking this system, keeping both my personality and the needs of my company in mind.  My iphone apps are an example of one “system” that has helped my situation.  Since I’m also a stay at home mother, my twitter app allows me to “be present” online while I’m also at the park with my daughter.  It’s easy, quick, and over time has big results with little effort.  Another system that works well for me is that I participate in the social media scene during the day when my energy and productivity level is low.  I try to keep my most alert hours for more important tasks, which brings me to my last point.
  4. Know when to turn it off! Another practice that I’ve put into place is that when my daughter goes down for her nap, all my electronic devises are OFF.  Instead, I use this time for more focused tasks like sewing and product development.  Social medial, just like dating, shouldn’t take up all of your time. Those type of relationships just aren’t healthy.

What’s my recommendation?  Just try it! Start “dating” and over time you’ll know what’s right, the good news being that you don’t have to pick just one.

Nine Amazing Woman Share Their Secrets

Angela Flicker, Tara Gentile, Jessica Swift, Imaginative Bloom, Madeline Bea, Miss Malaprop, Heartmade, Meredith, Blacksburg Belle

Good morning.  I have some exciting news for you today.  Over the next two weeks, a fabulous group of women (including myself) will be blogging about how social media has helped them and their businesses.  You don’t want to miss this!

April, from Blacksburg Belle, has organized this fabulous event.  Check it out by clicking on the link below…

Introducing “Get Connected” – A Social Media Blog Series

Here’s the schedule…

Tuesday, September 21st: Meredith will write about the importance of relationships on Smaller Box.

Meredith says, “Social Media has been a great way to connect with our fans daily. We use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and our blog to share funny content we find online, photos, videos and stories from behind the scenes of our business. It’s a great way to get to know our customers, let them get to know us and quickly get feedback from them on projects we’re working on.”

Connect with Meredith on Twitter @smallerbox and on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 22nd: April will write about creating useful content on Blacksburg Belle.

April’s thoughts on social media, “When I first started using social media, I was skeptical, thinking that I was entering high school again. Once I realized I could make connections with other mixed media artists I’ve admired for years, Twitter, Facebook, and blogging opened new doors for me. At this point, I couldn’t imagine my business without social media.”

Connect with April on Twitter @blacksburgbelle or Facebook.

Thursday, September 23rd: I will write about choosing social media platforms on The Artists’ House.

My thoughts on social media, “Social media is important because it tells the story behind your products and business.  When selling online, you’re at a bit of a disadvantage concerning personal interactions.  When people come into your “shop”, physically they aren’t greeted by anyone.  Through social media, you can create a face and a narrative behind your online business and the products you sell.  Along with that, you’re able to connect with like-minded individuals.  Together, using social media, you can learn and support one another.  These two factors have transformed my business in a valuable way.”

Connect with me on Twitter @TheArtistsHouse and on Facebook.

Friday, September 24th: Tara will write about building a following on social media on Big Thinking for Small Businesses.

Tara says, “Social media has given me something that I – as an introvert – has never had before: a window into the world. Instead of living in a bubble of my own creation, social media has given me a platform for building a successful business, meeting influential people, and introducing me to innovative ideas. Social media, for me, is not something separate from my daily life but an opportunity to live my “real life” to its fullest.”

Connect with Tara on Twitter @scoutiegirlblog and on Facebook.

Monday, September 27th: Mayi will write about blogging on heartmade.

Mayi says, “I like to engage in social networking. It’s a fun + effective way to stay in touch with my clients + fans of my work. I like to use the tools that I enjoy most (Facebook + Twitter + Stumble Upon) + can commit too. I personally like to share healthy glimpses into my indie business + snippets of my personal life + bits of the things that inspire me + I’m passionate about.”

Connect with Mayi on Twitter @mayicarles and on Facebook.

Tuesday, September 28th: Mallory will write about twitter on Miss Malaprop.

Mallory says, “For me, social media has been instrumental in building a successful brand. I started my blog in 2006, always with the goal in mind of building up to an online store and later a brick-and-mortar retail boutique. Through the use of my blog, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, I’ve found a community of like-minded people, and having that network already in place when I launched my online store earlier this year has made that process so much easier than if I had to start everything from scratch.”

Connect with Mallory on Twitter @MissMalaprop and on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 29th: Maegen will write about Facebook on Madeline Bea.

Maegan says, “I had been sharing my life and my journey through motherhood, creativity, and photography for years online through my blog and Flickr. But when I opened the doors of my portrait photography business this past summer, my substantial online connections weren’t helping me get local people interested in me and my photography. Facebook has allowed me to connect my online and local worlds and therefore has expanded the reach of my online messaging into my town and community…my potential clients!”

Connect with Maegan on Twitter @MadelineBea and Facebook.

Thursday, September 30th: Irene will write about email newsletters on Imaginative Bloom.

Irene says, “One of the most popular strategies that has always been essential to reach new readers, is advertising. Since all these social media platforms were born, we are able to easily, quickly and virally interact with hundreds and thousands of new – and old – contacts and spread content maintaining a constant connection with them. And it’s free!”

Connect with Irene on Twitter @ImaginativeB and on Facebook.

Friday, October 1st: Jessica Swift will write about Flickr on Jessica Swift.

“Social media is important in my business on a variety of levels. On a personal level, I work at home alone every day, and social media allows me to stay connected with others and have mini conversations throughout the day. On a business level, I’m able to use social media to connect with my customers and grow my audience and community. And on yet another level, social media allows me to stay tuned in to and learn about what’s happening in my world by following and listening to other people. The importance of social media just can’t be exaggerated!”

Connect with Jessica on Twitter @jessicagswift and on Facebook.

I’ll leave you with 10 reasons you need to follow this blog series and use social media:

  1. It is estimated that over 50% of new business will come from social media and internet marketing efforts over the next five years. That base number could triple by 2020, according to the Microsoft Small Business Summit 2008. (from Success Secrets of the Social Media Marketing Superstars)

Head over to April’s blog to read the rest…

Be Realistic About Your Success

Yesterday was just what I needed –a day of rest, a day spent with my husband and daughter, a day to clear my mind and refocus my plans, and a day to be realistic about my success.

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Lately I’ve been struggling with direction.  My spirit is so ambitious that often I want to do everything, all the time.  Every idea that pops into my head, I think yeah, I should do that too.  I’ve always been this way, even as a child.

More importantly though, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that being realistic about your desired success is just as important.  Often if I’m not realistic about my goals and ambitions, I feel disheartened when I do not accomplish what it is I have set out for myself to do.  What?  I can’t clean the entire house, can those 10 quarts of tomatoes, take care of my crazy, into-everything daughter, and finish an entire quilt in one day.  Well why not?

Last night, after spending a beautiful day at the zoo, once Monet was asleep and the house was finally picked up, my husband sat down with me and helped me to finish my S.M.A.R.T. Goals. By getting my husband involved, I was basically assigning him two roles.  One, he was responsible for making sure my goals were both realistic, plus a bit risky.  And two, he in now responsible for holding me accountable to my goals, along with being my cheerleader along the way.

Here are a few of the S.M.A.R.T. Goals I set.

  • Bring a line of textiles and sewing patterns, designed by me of course, to an International Quilt Market before the end of 2012.
  • Be accepted and sell at 2 major Fine Art Festivals and 5 craft fairs/street markets before October 2011.
  • Before October 2011, get publicity from 6 media sources including blogs, magazines, and newspapers.

And because these goal are such big ones, they are accompanied by numerous sub-goals.  Here are just a few sub-goals that accompany my first major goal…

  • Learn Illustrator by taking a class before the end of year 2010.
  • Attend the 2011 International Quilt Market in Salt Lake City as a visitor.
  • Doodle with my daughter on a weekly basis.
  • Continue to sell patterns on-line and to local quilt shops.

Check out this great resource, a “goal planner sheet”.  It can help you break your larger goals into sub-goals–a great way to track your progress along the way.

Well, I really should be going.  I have a big list of goals to accomplish and a daughter to take care of.

How are your goals coming along?

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

“Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never organized their energies around a goal.”  -Elbert Hubbard

t.v. image with vinyl letters

Design Divas Vinyl Lettering and Wall Art on Etsy

Do you remember my homework assignment —set some goals and organize a plan. Well I’ve been thinking a lot about that these past few days, while chasing my daughter around the house, and I’ve come to the realization that it’s easy to “set goals”.  People are always talking about their goals.  But if you aren’t setting “S.M.A.R.T. goals“, if you aren’t breaking bigger goals into smaller steps, if you aren’t taking your goals seriously and checking in on a regular basis, well then, why set goals at all?

In the past, as a teacher on the first day of school, I would always set “S.M.A.R.T. goals” with my students each year after reading “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss.  A S.M.A.R.T. goal” is this:

S = Specific – Don’t just decide vaguely what it is you’re going to do.  Rather, be specific and include the who, what, when, and where.

M = Measurable – If you can’t measure a goal, how do you know when you’ve reached it?  Vague words like “good” and “awesome” are examples of words I had to teach my students to stay away from.  Rather, I encouraged them to use a measurable number.  Instead of saying, “I’m going to be a good math student this year” a student should say, “I will have a math score of 92% or higher at the end of the quarter”.  See the difference?

A = Attainable or Achievable – An important step  to consider when trying to achieve your goals is all the smaller steps and benchmarks that your larger goal breaks down into.  By breaking your goals down into smaller goals, you can slowly step towards the bigger goal, as well as track your progress along the way.

Check out this great resource, a “goal planner sheet” to help you track your progress along the way to achieving your goals.

R = Realistic – Personally I like to add “Plus a Little Risky” to this one.  It’s important to to set yourself up for success, yet at the same time challenge yourself beyond what you think you can do.  “Realistically” I can’t make $100,000 this year considering I’m the primary care taker for a child who only takes a 90 minute nap on a good day.  Yet at the same time, if I don’t set goals that are a little risky, I might never be challenged to stretch myself.  Be careful to find balance between the “realistic” and the “risky”.

T = Timed – And lastly, make sure you clarify when you will reach your goals, otherwise you might never reach them.

Today’s assignment, sit down and think about one thing you hope to accomplish in the future.

Do you think that it’s important to share your goals with others as a means of accountability.  I do!  And that’s why I’ll be sharing a few of my goals with you next week.

Won’t you share one of your S.M.A.R.T. goals with me?

Note:  Tara Gentile from Scoutie Girl just launched a FREE 8 part mini e-course on creating action out of inspiration – moving you past procrastination & into accomplishment.  Guess what her first lesson was on?  That’s right –goals!

Back to School

“Back to school” seems to be all the buzz these days.  Back-to-school sales fill our stores, kids have backpacks filled to the brim with new back-to-school supplies, and moms talk half excited and half sad about how their kids are going back to school.

red apple

"Red Delicious" Fine Art Photograph by Erin Reynolds Photography on Etsy

“Back to school” has a little different meaning for us here at The Artists’ House. Since I quit my day job as a teacher last spring, in order to take care of my one-year-old daughter Monet and pursue other more creative ambitions,

for the first time since I can remember, I am not going back to school.

First as a student, and then as a teacher, the first day of school has been part of my yearly routine since I was three.  And while I’m not going back to school, my husband still is, and I suppose this is still a significant change for me.  Over the summer months, Josh and I shared child-care responsibilities for our daughter Monet.  When we weren’t traveling as a family, often Josh would watch Monet in the mornings giving me time to sew in my studio.  He also was a significant helper when it came to daily chores like watering the garden, getting groceries, cooking, and laundry.  But now that Josh is back to teaching, my responsibilities have increased significantly,

yet my ambitions have not calmed one bit.

Right this moment I sit in bed, typing with one hand, as I hold my precious, sleeping Monet (who woke prematurely) and I wonder how I’m going to manage it all.

Today’s assignment, set some goals and organize a plan.

What are your goals for this upcoming school year?

Now get back to class, teacher’s orders.

The Ingredients for Success

I can’t get sewing out of my head.  I feel like a teenager in love, always thinking about sewing, obsessing about it really.  Wait, is this a diary entry or a blog post?

love, heart, girl

"Complete" by Shira Sela

In all honesty, and putting all silliness aside, I am absolutely smitten and in love with me job.  I had my first big show this past weekend and I did quite well.  Besides getting a few big sales, I now have two stores interested in my work, one carrying my patterns, and one my finished quilts.  Along with that, I might even have a great connection to a big name gallery in our area.  And all of this buzz has just been fuel to my fire, my passion, my obsession.  Last night I was dreaming about quilts, my ideas taking form, and when I woke this morning, I jumped right into sketching.

All of this obsessing and passion has really got me thinking about the ingredients for success.  While I’m currently in love with my job, if I can’t eventually turn it into something that does well for me and my family, well, I might need to find a second job.

And then I heard this podcast and was convinced: Radio Lab Podcast: Secrets of Success

Here’s a short description:  Malcolm Gladwell doesn’t like Gifted and Talented Education Programs. And he doesn’t believe that innate ability can fully explain superstar hockey players or billionaire software giants. In this podcast, we listen in on a conversation between Robert and Malcolm recorded at the 92nd St Y. Robert asks Malcolm if he’s a “genius denier,” and Malcolm asks Robert if he’s uncomfortable with the power of love, as they duke it out over questions of luck, talent, passion, and success.”

Ingredients for Success

  • 1 cup talent
  • 4 cups time
  • 10 cups determination, passion, and love
  • pinch of good luck

What do you think the ingredients for success are?

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