imogenwilsonjewellery

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


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Baby on Board

You may have noticed I have gone quiet recently on the blog front. I started the year slowly, finding it hard to get back into it after truly relaxing over Christmas, as my tardy first blog post explained. I re-organised with new shelving determined that would be the kick in the bum I needed to get moving. It worked for a short time but my energy levels just weren’t there, the motivation was gone.

I was still making stuff, doing my accounts, emailing and filling online orders… but the motivation to write about it, and the passion and excitement behind it… gone. Then I started sleeping more than normal, eating more than normal… and worrying what was becoming of me. Had the freedom of working from home finally sunk in, to my detriment?

Yes and no. I discovered I was pregnant.

What followed was bucket loads of tears and more hormones than you could shake a stick at. I was happy; this is what I had wanted, what we were trying for… it was a good thing. Then why did I feel like such a failure? Mixed in with the joy, an impending dread filled the pit of my stomach. Why did I feel like this? It took me over a month to figure it out, and even longer to admit it to myself… or say it out loud. I felt like I had given up on my dream. Like by having a baby, I was taking the easy road out. Don’t get me wrong, I know having a baby isn’t going to be *easy*, I just mean an easy way of ducking out of self employment, like I hadn’t really given being fully self employed a good enough shot.

Origami Pram By Dominik Meissner

Origami Pram By Dominik Meissner

A mixture of this overwhelming sense of failure, mixed with a mild case of all day ikkyness (other wise known as “morning” sickness) put me into a funk. A ‘sleeping till 11am, staying in my PJ’s, not going out very much’ funk.

I tried my best to make new things. I knew I needed to work extra hard to build up stock levels so once the baby came I would have loads of stock prepared so the business could continue to function, relatively easily, even if I was too busy to be very active in its running. But the funk had taken hold and instead I moped around the house.

I told several friends, none of them creative, how I felt. That I was worried I wouldn’t have time once the baby came to continue the business. They all replied with a dismissive wave of the hand “You won’t have time for that”. Was I doomed?

So I turned to my creative bible, Create & Thrive, for an answer. I wrote to Jess  and asked for advice from people who were/ had been in a similar situation. What did they do, how did they feel, did they have advice for me? The post was answered by Katia, someone in my position… also pregnant, also worried, although a lot more positive that I was being. It helped immediately feeling like someone was in my corner. What helped even more was the comments section, which to this day I refer to if I’m feeling a bit sad, scared, tired, or I’m worried about the impending future I have created for myself.

The comment that struck me most was “Be kind to yourself”. Such a simple, obvious idea, and yet something that hadn’t occurred to me. My due date is mid October which means the three hardest ‘mum’ months (the maternity leave months), are also the busiest of the year in my creative business, the lead up to Christmas. One of the reasons I was so freaked out was I was imagining the Christmas rush AND a new baby. But of course this isn’t tenable. Yes my business will continue, yes I will have a baby, it will be a juggling act… but I’m up for it, if I don’t expect too much, prepare as much ahead of time, and I am kind to myself.

You can read the Create & Thrive post here, thank you to everyone who commented, and of course Jess for fielding my question and sending it to Katia for answering!

 

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Brand Juggling

When I create jewellery, generally its stuff I would like to personally wear… it doesn’t usually fit with the fashions of the moment, or the colours of the season. This works both in my favour and to my detriment. I like to think it doesn’t matter as the kind of jewellery I create is fun, quirky, and classic in its own way.

I created the brand Imogen Wilson Jewellery around my crane earrings. They were the first origami jewellery I made, they started to sell, I made more. I created packaging, a logo, a brand around them. They continued to sell so I continued to make them, I added new colours, patterns, eventually expanded the range (slightly) to include origami butterflies. They were doing so well that I wanted to expand further, make different origami to add to the collection, monthly, seasonally, hell even yearly would do. But I never seemed to have the time. Just as I felt comfortable enough with where I was, on top of the work, to expand something would happen. A big order, the Christmas rush, a new client, so I just kept doing what I knew, recreating the same things again and again. If it ain’t broken don’t fix it, as they say.

Colourfull array of Imogen Wilson origami jewellery

Colourful array of Imogen Wilson origami jewellery

So when I quit my job to do this full time I thought it would be exactly the time I needed to expand the range. What I didn’t count on was my mind being so fickle that although I did have loads of new ideas, none of them fitted into my pre designed, pre marketed brand. The brand I had spent a long time working on making cohesive, whole, rounded. None of this new stuff fitted my aesthetic at all, it was so all over the place in fact that some of the new stuff didn’t even fit the other new stuff. What was I to do? Some people I discussed it with said I could have collections within my current brand, but I didn’t want to dilute the work I had put into the look of my brand, my website, my Facebook pagemy Felt shop, my Etsy shop. The Japanese theme, the bright colour, none of that tied in with the new stuff. What do paper cranes, books, and space have to do with each other? Nothing (well OK, there is the paper element in the first two- but you see my point).

So I decided to re-brand. Not once, but twice. Looking back (and forward, as the work is in no way done) it was very clever and also a totally stupid idea. I forgot how much work is involved in starting from scratch… First I read the Etsy rules about multiple shops operated by one person… then did a Google to make sure the names I wanted weren’t taken. Not wanting to leave anything to chance I started an email account for each, a Facebook page for each, an Etsy store for each, and a Felt store for each. As I realised immediately that if I was going to go to the trouble of doing logo and design work for two new companies I better save the shop names NOW not later when they may be taken and it may be too late.

Then I had a lie down. Was I nuts? This was going to be a lot of work. I keep telling myself at least I’m doing it now, while business is relatively quiet… that’s what I tell myself anyway, it helps me sleep at night.

Three brand Juggling act. Am I nuts? Only time will tell...

Three brand Juggling act. Am I nuts? Only time will tell…

New brand #1 is called Ex Libris. It is, as the name may suggest, book themed jewellery. You can check out the Facebook page here. I’m currently focusing on slowly growing a following as only some of my IWJ fans have come over so far, I don’t blame them really… there isn’t much to see yet. I plan on releasing the jewellery in September, to the public and to the shops I stock. I’m going to give myself a couple of months to get used to juggling two brands before introducing the third, called Major Tom in early November (all going to plan). You can check out the Facebook page here (and get in on the ground floor, as there isn’t much to see yet, in fact anything, this is the first time I’ve told anyone about it, you are the privileged few)

All going to plan both will boom, Christmas will be a crazy juggling act and in the New Year my lovely computer wiz husband will make websites for both of them. At the moment we are holding fire on the website as I don’t even know myself if three brands is too many for me to handle. Only time will tell… which I suppose is why this blog is called ‘watch this space’…


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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!