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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A Tidy Studio, A Tidy Mind

As I mentioned last week, it took me quite a while to settle back into my routine. I think a lot of getting ‘back into it’ was a big old fashioned tidy up. Over the last couple of months my studio has really turned from ‘craft room’ into ‘working space’, I am in it every day, & the supplies I need to survive in my day to day business have been increasing (and it’s always cheaper to buy in bulk) so I have been buying more and using more without changing the look or storage capabilities of the room. The lack of shelving was really getting to me, making me feel claustrophobic, especially as I save boxes as packaging for wholesale shop orders… they were starting to creep up the walls, and I was using the floor more and more for storage… and don’t even get me started on the crap that has lived under my desk for the past two years. As they say- Out of sight, out of mind.

Before and After shots under my desk. Now there is room for the things that are supposed to go there: Feet.

Before & after shots under my desk. Now there is room for the things that are supposed to go there, like feet.

Enter my new shelving, and a solid week of organisation. Just what the doctor ordered. I went through everything in my studio with a fine tooth comb. If it wasn’t going to be useful it had to go. If I was going to keep it, it had to be accessible, which was my last storage solution‘s problem. Yes it looked great, and technically fitted everything I needed… but each time I used something from it I pulled it out and put it down on my desk, where it would stay, until the desk was full (two deep usually) and then I’d use the nearest chair, floor, or balance it on my knee. Not a good way to do business really…

Before and After shots of my ex 'Wall of Doom' transformed into 'Wall of organisation and labelling'...

Before and after shots of my ex ‘Wall of doom’ transformed into ‘Wall of organisation and labelling’…

To the casual observer my new shelving might look as ugly, busy and messy as my previous disaster wall. However I know where everything is, it is all easy to pull out and put back (not like the previous set up which needed an excavation team to get into and out of again). I know what you’re thinking- It’s so big! It’s so tall! Why are there so many boxes on the top? Well reader, those are empty, and for packaging up wholesale orders; they don’t seem so bad now do they?

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Studio Envy – How to make the most of what you’ve got

I feel extremely lucky to have a studio. A whole room to call my own, to spread out my mess and unload my brain onto the canvas of its walls and, most of the time (if I’m honest), the floor. In previous houses I’ve worked out of a corner of the lounge, and I have several friends who still do. There is nothing wrong with doing it that way of course… but now that I am full time I’m so glad I have my own space to express myself in.

Floor biggest shelf

There’s my chair, the one I’m sitting in right now writing this blog, and there is the mess that is usually by my side…

The trouble with living in an age when everyone and his dog have a design blog, a point and shoot camera and a million times more talent in using it than I do. Everywhere online that I look not only do people have amazing photos of their studios, they also seem to have studios that are full of light, are tidy, clean, and beautiful. They are often so beautifully manicured it’s like no-one has ever worked in them. Whenever I see one of ‘those’ studios (don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean) I am filled with jealousy. Jealousy, that these imaginary internet people have such tidy work tendencies.

Beautiful, light, bright and oddly empty, studios- Magazine ready!

Beautiful, light, bright and oddly empty, studios- Magazine ready!

I had a professional photo taken of my studio at the start of this year, the very talented and lovely Alden Williams (a friend of a friend) came over and took this photo of me, below, for a photo essay he was creating about self employed Wellingtonians and their environments. I tidied for weeks, in fact it’s possibly the tidiest my studio has ever looked. But he didn’t want it to look staged so he chose bits and pieces and messed it up a bit so it looked more lived in…

Photo thanks to Alden Williams. Me at work

Photo thanks to Alden Williams. Me at work

Anything I tidy in my workspace is almost immediately messy again five minutes later. I have rearranged it umpteen times making things more accessible (so they don’t need to ‘live where they lie’ when I’m finished with them) but I just don’t seem to have the touch. I also have genetics and years of procrastination working against me; I’m both a hoarder, and someone who has a million projects ‘on the go’ so half they stuff that surrounds me is to deal with ‘later’. While I type this I have piles of half finished collage and a box of wedding bits and bobs to make into an album under my desk,  mere centimetres from my feet. I live in a house with nearly no storage and even though these projects have nothing to do with my business they are art/ craft projects, so they end up here, where they will stay till I have the time to deal with them.

Before and after desk photos, creative people rarely tidy

How my desk usually looks vs. how it should look…

A couple of months ago I started a Pinterest board called Studio Envy & Ideas (you can see it here). I started it to collect ideas so I could give my own studio a facelift. The things I have pinned are storage solutions I think are clever, things I might try to copy…

Pinterest storage solutions a plenty!

Pinterest storage solutions, so many great ones, how to choose?

Of course there is also a handful of beautiful (and functional) studios that I can gaze at and daydream. I lean toward the full, busy, shelf filled studios not the stark, white ones (as shown above)

Organised doesn't have to be empty...

It’s not about how much you put into a space, it’s about ho you organise it

My studio needed better storage, shelving, and a bit more order on the walls… I knew that keeping it tidy would be a whole different challenge but I thought I could at least set myself up a bit better to succeed. I took some ‘before’ photos then started to rearrange (which really means that I took everything off my desk and put it on the floor where it stayed for two days because I hadn’t thought it all through properly and I wasn’t sure how to put it all back). I added some more shelves, put everything back and have been working like that ever since.

Before shots

Before shot

I still have grand plans for the space, but I’ve realised what the creative community really needs isn’t another photo of a beautiful studio, it needs an honest one. So today, this is how my desk looks (side by side with how it looked several months ago when the picture above was taken…) . It’s closer to two bikini before photos than it is a before and after… but it’s honest…

before and before

Before and after, not much different really other than some messy looking (yet highly useful) shelving…


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No man is an island- The pitfalls of working alone

I have always been quite a social person, put simply, I like to talk. At school I would distract others with my babble, at work I would distract others with my conversation… in life… umm, yeah, I’m sure there’s a pattern here… I don’t tend to go in for the Astrological, but I am a perfect fit for my star sign- Gemini- The twins. I talk enough for two of me.

Although I didn’t particularly like working in hospitality, or retail (the fields I’ve worked in for the last ten years) the social aspect of them made them both bearable. Customers to talk to, workmates, in the trenches together, battling it out.

stand alone

The concern I heard the most from friends when I declared boldly that I would be quitting my 9-5 job was how solitary it would be, would I cope with not having people to talk to for 8 hours a day? I assured them I would be fine, regular outings to meet people for lunch, dropping things off and picking thing up from the post office, these everyday tasks would make it less solitary surely? Plus what’s giving up a bit of conversation in the grand scheme of things if I get to live my dream, follow my passion, and do what I want. I would just have to make sure I saw more of my friends, had better quality time with my husband…

All of that was awesome, in theory. In reality however… I have been so determined to make this work I have been working more hours a day than I imagined and have less time for my friends, not more. I hope this will change once I get into the swing of it, get used to the weekly demands and plan my weeks out a bit better. My husband has been unemployed, and been in the next room, the whole time I have been self employed (the pressure I felt as a result of that, in the early weeks, is a whole blog post in itself). So while I’ve been working at home, in my studio, he is never that far away. Although we take turns making lunch for each other, we often don’t eat together, and the majority of the day is spent apart. Unless I need an opinion on something, it’s like working alone, but the fact he is so close means I have never felt it.

Print from 'FebruaryLane' on Etsy

Print from ‘FebruaryLane’ on Etsy

Till today.

Today is his first day at his new job and before lunch time I have already managed to psych myself out. I thought I would enjoy the time alone, I mean that’s what I signed up for isn’t it? Drinking my morning coffee (made for me by him) felt normal. Till the last two sips (after he left) which felt closer to drinking a shot of vodka- my head spun, my stomach hurt. It was akin to a panic attack but with no panicked breathing… It took me two hours of feeling that way to connect the dots, maybe I missed him. Nahhhh surely not, that’s ridiculous. Maybe I’m worried about working alone? That’s closer to being possible… what a wimp.

When the vomiting started I realised that no, not even I was that pathetic.

Being alone is one thing, having food poisoning a whole other…


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Sick Day Blues

Travel Posters for Lazy People by H. Caldwell TannerI have always been quite a sick person. As a child I had every cold, flu and ailment known to mankind. Sniffles were regular, sore throats common. If it was out there, I caught it. As I grew up, sadly nothing much changed in that department, and as a result sick days were commonplace, such a normal part of life they weren’t worth mentioning. However all that changed this year.

Perhaps because I’m happier? Perhaps because I come into contact with less people, after all I worked retail or hospo for as long as I’ve worked, both people saturated industries. Despite the change, the crazy amounts that went on and that I organised and have achieved I have been sick a total of twice this year, a record in my books! The second time snuck up on me, and hit just last week.

I had started to feel I was out of ‘firsts’ when it comes to the crafty self employment game. Although as soon as I typed that I realised what a silly thing to say that is, I’m so new, there are a million ‘firsts’ waiting. Perhaps it’s more correct to say I have become complacent about all the firsts I achieved before quitting my 9-5, things I already know how to do now that it’s my full time gig.  But last week was a definite first, my first sick day(s) where there was no one to answer to except myself. No one to call, to make my excuses, no matter how real or fake…

That’s something I always hated about the inevitable sick day phone call, no matter how real it was, no matter how close to death I felt, I always felt racked with guilt. It was never guilt about them having to get someone to cover me, or about not being there to do my job. Even though I was genuinely ill, I was always terrified they wouldn’t believe me. This has been true of every sick call I have ever made, in every job I have held.  Although there was the simple beauty of after ‘the’ call putting the phone down and that being it, back to bed, no more guilt, no more responsibility… time for more sleep, and healing of whatever sort.

sick days actually sick imogen wilsonWhat I discovered last week was although I could wake up, feel like crap, and go back to sleep instantly (without having to drag myself to the phone for a split second of acute guilt). The trade off was three days spent in bed with the dull thudding ache of guilt in the back of my head. I had one of those flu’s. The ones where you can’t achieve anything. Scrolling through Pinterest makes your head spin to the extent where you think you might throw up. Where you can’t concentrate on reading, where TV makes your brain strobe and eyes hurt.  So all I could do was lie on my back, with my eyes closed, hoping for sleep but instead thinking about all the things I could be doing if I was well.

One of the things I didn’t have the brain strength for, through the snot fog and brain throb, was writing my blog. I don’t write it a week ahead, or even a day ahead. I write it the Monday I post it, perhaps something I need to change as my Monday posting was thrown out the window totally last week.  Luckily the only person who brow bashed me for being out of action was me… the customers who’s orders were postponed a day or two were very understanding, and my lovely husband picked up the slack where he could…

Now to put a couple of practices in place to cover me in case it happens again… I’m off to write next week’s blog, in draft form, just in case, although knowing me next week I’ll probably start from scratch on a whim…


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The Kitchen Conundrum

Time management is hard for everyone, especially if you are self employed and working from home. So many distractions at your fingertips, be them “work” related like Pinterest *ahem*, computers, TV’s or kitchens to tempt us…

We’ve all been there, when we’re at home for too long, we inevitably will end up in the kitchen. You ALL know what I am talking about.

It could be because you’re bored or maybe procrastinating. You get up from what you’re doing and before you know it you are standing in front of the fridge, you aren’t really hungry but it’s there… so you open the door. You stare for a while, close the door. Maybe you open it again, convincing yourself you are hungry, maybe you actually pull something out to eat (even though you aren’t hungry). Maybe you actually ARE hungry and you’re there for a purpose… but when you are home for long periods of time you always end up at the fridge, it just seems to be human nature.

When I became self employed the prospect of working from home (literally from home as that is where my studio is located) worried me far more than working for myself. Of the many fears I had the one I couldn’t shake was the fear of ending up in front of the fridge, every day. I have always loved food, food and I have a good relationship… I like to eat it and it likes me to be eaten by me- win, win.  I mean food! What’s not to love? As long as I can remember I had been as beholden to random trips to the fridge as the next person… so what would it be like being home, just me and the fridge, all the time. Would I need a poking stick by the end of the first month?

"The fingers you have used to dial are too fat. To obtain a special dialing wand please mash the key pad with your palm now"

“The fingers you have used to dial are too fat. To obtain a special dialing wand please mash the key pad with your palm now”

Luckily for me all the little bits and pieces whizzing through my head as a newly self employed person makes my mind wander, which (so far) has taken the power my stomach had over my feet away. Instead I find myself standing in the kitchen not knowing why I am there. Our kitchen and lounge are connected and open plan style so I will often go to the lounge to get something I have left there and find myself standing in the kitchen with no idea why I’m there. I’ll notice the bench needs a wipe and before you know it the kitchen is clean, or I’ve started the dishes and lost half an hour. Not once have a stood in front of the fridge though… staring blankly into space… not yet…

What is it about the kitchen that draws us in? We know the contents of the fridge have not changed in the last hour… and yet we go back, again and again…

For now, I am thankful that my full, forgetful brain seems to be giving me a break from eating everything in sight… or maybe it’s that as a newbie to self employed life I don’t have that much money to buy food so I can list the contents of my fridge on one hand, subconsciously, and know without getting up that if I succumbed to the above ‘kitchen conundrum’ I would end up eating mustard off a spoon… not a snack I relish*… yeah, that must be it…

Not what i had in mind when i got married, or started working from home... also luckily not at all what i look like cleaning... or ever...

Not what i had in mind when i got married, or started working from home… also luckily not at all what i look like cleaning… or ever…

*Or relish off a spoon. This is a no condiment off a spoon house. Yuck.