imogenwilsonjewellery

Walk with me, every step of the way as i try to grow my teeny craft business into something sustainable… watch this space!


2 Comments

Internalising a really difficult situation in my head

It’s funny how cathartic blog writing can be. Although this is only my third one I already feel it is incredibly good for self evaluation, for looking at yourself from the outside. Last week’s blog was quite eye opening for me, although I wrote it… and of course, lived it… I didn’t quite realise how I had spent my week till I read about it. It’s easy, at the time, getting up at 9.30am and convincing yourself that you are your own boss and you’ll work late (yeah right)… or spending the whole week doing behind the scenes stuff and not creating anything ‘for the good of the business’. Reading about it is a great way to metaphorically kick yourself into action- I highly recommend it.

Writing the blog is another challenge in itself, although i have used wordpress before, each Monday (blog day) brings with it several hours of tinkering, fighting and googling as I try to get my head around tasks others would find reasonably simple. Things like hyperlinking font, hyperlinking photos or re-sizing & adding text to banner’s, I am so un computer savy that it all takes much, much longer than it should. I keep telling myself that I will need to use the skill again in the future and (hopefully) will only need to learn it that once, but only time will tell!

But that isn’t what this week’s post is about…

This week was a total roller-coaster in every sense of the word. I had another whole day reading the internet, this time focussing on Infographics (who knew the same boring information could be so much more interesting if it is presented with beautiful font and layout in a jpg format?). Most of them are only digestible online of course, as soon as you save aforementioned jpg good luck ever reading it again, it will be so long you’ll never be able to zoom enough to read the text again.

Some of the Infographics are interesting, yet totally pointless. Especially if you are trying to learn e-marketing. Fascinating, yet useless.

Some of the infographics are interesting, yet on closer inspection are totally useless, especially if you are learning e-marketing!

I also spent a full day creating, and have FINALLY started two different projects that I have had ‘on the go’ in my head for some time.  But most of the week was spent thinking, fretting and self evaluating- the ol’ ‘can I do this?’ going around in my head. Now that isn’t as procrastinatey as it sounds, I think best when my hands are busy, so I spent most of the week folding cranes. Lots and lots of cranes.

Cranes half way through the folding process

Cranes half way through the folding process

I hear you ask ‘what brought on the sudden self doubt?’ well, I was made an offer, the offer of a lifetime. I contacted what i mistakenly thought was a shop, asking is they would stock my wares, the ‘shop’ ended up actually being a company who represented several brands, a sales agent/ distributor. She was interested in me… she called, you know on the phone (quite novel for me as i do nearly everything via email these days) she wanted to have control of my brand, to a certain degree… She would market it and sell it, it would be part of her seasonal ‘look book’ and i would be represented at THE gift fair. She would pitch to shops (of which she had relationships with over 200), deal with buyers and ship. ‘Gosh’ I can hear you think ‘It’s all Pro’s, what’s to think about?’ I would have to make things in this season’s colours (seems like a great idea), sell them to her at slightly less than my normal wholesale price (umm?) and create like crazy (win!). She also wanted me to say goodbye to the shops i already stocked, people I have formed relationships with over the years… as the shops I would stock under her would need to be ‘on her books’.

It sounded like a dream, my dream, being handed to me on a platter – well kind of. I had butterflies in my tummy, a huge sense of self doubt and bucket’s full of fear. Talking to her felt like i’d been blindfolded and turned in circles, it was so out of the blue and not something i had ever considered as an option- I was so confused. There were so many amazing advantages but so many negatives too…

I called my husband and immediately burst into tears before I could say anything. When I had calmed myself down (gosh i was overwhelmed) I explained the offer. The awesome, awesome offer with many, many pro’s and also the many con’s. After some comforting words of support, his opinion, and the underlying theme of “it doesn’t matter what i think, it’s your decision, I support you whatever you choose” I emailed my parents, two best friends and several fellow makers to get their takes.

The main two things weighing on my mind, as they have been all week…

–It could be huge exposure!                                             -Would i be putting all my eggs in one basket?

I’d love your opinion on the matter, if you are a maker, have experience or just want to share your two cents. All opinions welcome- if you were me, what would you do? Please leave something in the comments if you want to! More on my decision making and amazing support network (the people who i literally would be in the loony bin without the help and support of) next week!


4 Comments

‘7 Simple Ways To…’ shut your browser

There were several factors that lead to my decision to be self employed, to make what i love and try to live off it. The first I read around a year ago, it was a blog post that I stumbled on purely by chance called ‘5 Lessons learnt from a Defunct Jewellery Business’ (written by Brooke McAlary) on Jess Van Den’s website. When i clicked further and further into Jess’ website i became more and more inspired. Jess makes a living from her successful jewellery business Epheriall, but she also teaches and inspires through her website/ blog Create & Thrive “If you want to turn your handmade hobby into a full-time business – to create AND thrive – you’ve found the right place to help you turn your dream into a reality! It’s a long road, and a lot of hard work… but it IS possible.” Jess’ approach is so honest it’s refreshing, she doesn’t paint a storybook picture of doing a tiny amount of work for a huge pay off, or of working from home so you can eat Bonbon’s in front of the TV while the money rolls in. She tells you how she succeeded, how much work it will be and how it won’t be for everyone (or necessarily work for everyone).

Jess van Den, manning her Epheriall stall

Jess van Den, manning her Epheriall stall

After discovering Jess I was inspired, packed with drive and I worked harder than ever. Receiving her weekly newsletters helped too, it was like I had a backer, someone who had been where I was and succeeded but also like a gym buddy, someone who made it easier for me to succeed as they had gotten up at 5am to go to the gym with me (if you’ll excuse the metaphor). I still hadn’t formed the connections that i would quit my job, but maybe if I’m honest it was a niggling idea at the back of my head. Who doesn’t dream of quitting their job and following their passion occasionally, right!? Then six months ago I discovered and devoured Kari Chapin’s book Handmade Marketplace. It was like it was written just for me, the advice was easy to understand, easy to digest and quite a bit of an ego stroke as i had already achieved half the things in the book. I suppose that was it, the moment the seed was officially planted and of course it helped that (mainly due to the Christmas rush) business was already booming. The timing was a bit rubbish as momentum was growing and I was planning on going away for nearly three months (probably not the cleverest move) but i made it all the same, here i am, self employed… week one.

Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin

Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin

Just to be clear I am under no illusions. I am no Jess van Den, no Kari Chapin, i am not writing this blog to inspire or help you grow your craft business (although if it does that is an added bonus). I am a humble maker and I have written it to document my own journey, and when I say to document I mean everything, when I am successful and when I fail. Hopefully we’ll have some laughs along the way and it won’t just be at the expense of my spelling…

My first week was far harder than I was expecting, but not for the reasons i was prepared for. I had no trouble getting up in the morning (my original concern), I was at my computer rearing to go on Monday morning at 9am (ok, ok, 9.30am). On Sunday night I had written myself some guidelines, a schedule if you will, for how Monday would ‘run’.  Not just Monday really, how every day should run, finding a balance is important and I thought I had found it. It went a little like this Morning: Read/ update social media/ internet. Middle of the day: Fill orders. Afternoon: Create new things. I had even written in scheduled food/ drink breaks, I thought it was genius, how could I fail with such a timetable!?

Everything I had read up until this point about growing or creating a successful craft business says you have to have a large internet presence. That you are pretty much dead in the water without one, both Jess and Kari spend a long time talking about it so i decided i better listen! That was my first job, THE INTERNET. No pressure. So i started by joining Pinterest, Pinned things, Pinned more things, Tried to close Pinterest, was unsuccessful. Started Blog. Wrote blog. Changed template about 6 times (and subsequently had to re-size/ re-colour/ add text to 6 different sized banners.) Banged head on table and said “this isn’t for me” several times. Joined Google Analytics’s, watched YouTube video of how to add the code to my website three times, banged hand on head in frustration, forwarded code to Lindsay (husband and website designer extraordinaire) to add for me, Lindsay informs me he installed Google Analytic’s when he designed the website, banged head on table again. Started collecting stock for three shop orders, made piles on the floor, even though I need the money very badly decided they could wait for tomorrow. Stayed in PJ’s all day.

So even though i worked an eight hour day it wasn’t quite the day I was expecting. Surely this will get easier, the balance will come.. however the rest of the week went a little like this…

Spent the morning with 15-25 tabs open in my browser, every management/ biz tip you can imagine. How to be more productive, how to handle fear of failure, how to handle un-productive days (ironic), how to market yourself through: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Blogging, Websites, Newsletters and how to do it successfully, with a market in mind, what works for what, which is better (comparing each against each other). How to take a photo, how to Photoshop a photo, create a cohesive Etsy shop, follow up on an Etsy purchase, make Etsy friendships, connections, craft groups, interactions. Why interactions on all of these sites can make or break your business. How to choose yourself, why fear is good, why fear is bad. Why SEO is important to your business (quick Google search: What is SEO), why you are nothing without SEO, How to use SEO on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Blogging, Websites, Newsletters, Etsy and how to do it successfully, with a market in mind, what works for what…

I read them all.

Most days I missed my scheduled lunch break (who knew I’m such a mean boss!) because i was reading these ‘helpful’ tips. Then towards the end of the week I had a breakthrough moment, an article called ‘Ways to be Insanely Productive’ informed me (paraphrasing of course) that people procrastinate/ don’t achieve things because the things they are trying to achieve in the first place aren’t fun enough and we should just ignore all the boring stuff and only do the fun stuff. BAHAHAHAHAHAHA. It was an enlightening moment, I had been sucked completely into thinking everything I was reading was written by an expert on the subject, that it was important stuff for me to read, to know. That i was learning. Although I’m sure that is true in some cases, reading this gave me a much needed laugh and a jolt back into reality. Oh yes, and the oomph to shut the ridiculous number of tabs i had open. Well, all but one…


6 Comments

The Beginning

Hello and welcome to my first Blog post.

Ok, that isn’t completely honest. I, like so many of you, have blogged before. Years ago when i travelled around Europe i decided a blog was the best way to keep my family and friends in the know without sending the dreaded ‘group email’. If you’re interested in taking a trip down memory lane (my memory that is) the travel blog ‘Travels in a Teacup’ can be found here: http://imogenwilson.wordpress.com/2010/06/ but enough about the past, we are here to talk about the present and this new exciting blog!

…first a bit of background info though…

For the last three years i have been making jewellery and selling it at craft fairs and a handful of shops.

Me at Craft 2.0 in Wellington 2012

Craft 2.0 in Wellington, 2012

In fact the Europe trip mentioned above was how i got started, looking for something that i could make and then sell at fairs to fund the trip (on top of my 9-5 job). While at my first fair i was approached by the owner of a shop and asked if she could stock my creations! The rest as they say is history.

My first stockist Rex Royale, Cuba St, Wellington

My first stockist Rex Royale, Cuba St, Wellington

Fast forward three years and i find myself planning a wedding, planning a honeymoon, stocking ten shops, AND working the Christmas rush at a different 9-5 job (that didn’t challenge me). So i decided to take a leap, a rather large leap, and quit the 9-5 job. To most this wouldn’t be much of a leap, quitting a job ‘so what’ you’re thinking! But my plan went much further than that- i was going to quit and try to support myself on the money i make from my craft business. As if this wasn’t enough of a challenge i planned on putting everything on hold for two months while i went on honeymoon, all the craft business momentum i had worked so hard to build lost while i jet set around Asia.

That brings us roughly up to speed. I returned three days ago from a whirlwind, sweaty trip around sweltering Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and tepid Japan, to freezing, windy Wellington with no ‘job’ but lots of ideas, passion and a belly full of fear.

In this blog i intend to take you along every step of the way as i try to grow my teeny craft business into something sustainable…

…watch this space!