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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Down in the Garden Shed…

Along with everything else going on at the moment making my head spin, we decided a wee while ago that we need to move. What’s a girl with a home studio to do!? We currently live in a 2 bedroom house up a million stairs (which will be much harder to navigate when I’m very pregnant or with a pram). It isn’t very large, but it has been a good size for my husband and I, too small for two and a half people though.

This kicks up a whole host of questions, problems and creative solutions for the ‘at home self employed jeweller’. Do we look for a three bedroom house which will cost quite a bit more, or a two bedroom with better access and I share an offsite studio with someone else…

The three bedroom will probably cost more than an offsite studio but I will have the luxury of working any time night and day (with the baby asleep in the next room, or playing on the floor…) a luxury the offsite studio does not provide. However I like the idea of it being a more serious work area, not mixing home and work too much so I keep focused and serious about what I’m trying to achieve. I tried to mix these two ideas together… what about a two bedroom house with a shed on the property. Now I’m not talking about a cold, damp, small, dark, garden shed. But something a bit more flash… with electricity, insulation and (at least one) window! Seems like the perfect solution to me (although of course a big catch would be finding a property with a big enough yard to house this magical dream shed) I researched it and it is very doable, as I’m sure you can imagine… but is VERY expensive and not hugely easy to move when we decide in coming years that we have to move (as we will be renting, not buying). There is also the awfully annoying fact that the range of a baby monitor probably won’t stretch to my wee creative shed… but I really do love the idea.

Roald Dahls shed

Roald Dahl’s shed

Back to the drawing board it seems.

We have looked at many houses over the last couple of months and I’m starting to feel a bit like goldilocks. One is too small, then one is too cold, where is the one that’s ‘just right’? I got so worried that my girth would increase to a size that would make me very unhelpful by the time we find somewhere perfect that I have started packing boxes now, while I still can, and I’m quite surprised how calming it is. It’s also quite nice having a good ‘ol cull. Still no idea where we’re moving too of course, or when, but at least my books are packed…

 

 

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Letting go of the Holidays- The slow beginning to 2014

When I decided to quit my job and become self-employed full-time it was a whirlwind of busy. I quit, got married, went on honeymoon then got home and threw myself into it 100% from day one. I was originally worried about self motivation, time management, and most importantly… getting up in the morning. I was worried I would sleep the day away, surf the net, be lazy, go shopping, see friends… and not do the necessary knuckling down to get stuff done. To my delight the opposite was true. Last year I worked harder than I ever have, I worked long days, I pushed myself and I worked – longer hours than I imagined, structured days, timetabled weeks. I learnt HEAPS, made new connections, got stocked at new shops, launched two new brands and… as you can imagine, was a bit exhausted.

When my husband and I decided to go away for a week over Christmas I thought it would be stressful preparing, December is the busiest month of the year after all, was it a good idea in my first year of self employment going away? I wrote lists, I filled orders, I made sure all the brick and mortar shops I stock were full. Multiple customer orders (via Etsy, Felt, email and Facebook) came in every day, and I was able to fill them easily as I was busy through winter making stock for just this reason. The closer it got to Christmas, the week I was worried about taking off, the calmer everything became and I had a lovely time. Totally the opposite of what I was expecting. I had never thought about it that hard, and of course shop wholesale orders slow down closer to the big day, as stuff needs to be in store well beforehand in order to sell, and online customer orders slow down as shipping time is an important factor. Imagine my surprise that my busiest Christmas to date, my first as a self-employed maker, was also my most relaxing, my calmest.

Open Book by Elizabeth Mayville

Open Book by Elizabeth Mayville

The week before Christmas I put my online shops on ‘holiday mode’ and tidied my studio. My plan of attack for 2014 slowly formed in my head and new collections, ideas and promotions slowly swirled and came slowly into focus.

Then we flew North, for a week of reading in the sun, drinking beer and sleeping in. It was bliss. I took my workbook with me, and some printed out calendar months, thinking I would start writing down my plan of attack for 2014 while there… but instead, I didn’t. I relaxed, truly relaxed, for the first time in over a year. No work talk, no work planning. No making of any kind. I love my job, I love what I do… but it was WONDERFUL. Thanks to Facebook’s new ‘scheduling’ function I didn’t go online for the better part of the week either, which was a new kind of bliss I never could have imagined.

When we got back I decided to give myself one more week off, as my husband still had a week of leave left. We relaxed a bit more, caught up on some chores replied to pressing emails and pottered in my studio when I felt like it…

A week into January Lindsay (my husband) went back to work, so I decided I would too. I had a handful of customer and shop orders in my inbox so attended to them first. I used some of the $$ made from holiday sales to buy in bulk all the necessary packaging and findings to see me through till (hopefully) mid year, then when I was finished with all of that, I treated myself to a half day and read in the sun.

Every day that week went a little like that. Sleep in, a bit of work, a bit of play, a bit more work, finish early. It had gotten to the point where I was getting worried that I may have lost my momentum from last year. My productivity was out the window… even though I was filling orders I wasn’t moving forward with anything new… paper work had gone completely by the way side too. Till late last week. It took a whole month of chipping away at it, but finally I’m back to some kind of routine. Who knew it would be such a relief, almost better than the holiday… knowing I’ve pulled it together. Must try harder next year…


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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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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.