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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Planning Ahead

Now that I’m back in the swing of things a little more and back doing that pesky stuff we all take for granted… you know, getting up and going to work every day… stock is beginning to pile up, and the scary looking to do list is shrinking rapidly. Amazing how you forget how much you can achieve when you don’t have ‘morning’ sickness all day.

I am currently finishing up a ridiculous amount of new Ex Libris stock (for release in the next couple of weeks) which I am making with leather from a reasonably new partnership with my favourite local shoe company, Minnie Cooper (so neat to add another string to both my ‘locally made’ & ‘re-used’ bow). It’s awfully daunting making stock in bulk that hasn’t been released yet. There is a certain amount of excitement, and a huge mental pat on the back when you see the containers and containers of finished work surrounding you. However with it comes that feeling in the back of your brain, and pit of your stomach, ‘what if no one buys it’. The difference between this stock and the other bulk stock I have made in the past (and recently) is that the other bulk stock is stuff that I have been selling for years, or months at least… and has been flying off the shelves. There is less stress and less on the line, because I know the products are already popular. This is more of a gamble, a big leap of faith, so I’m crossing my fingers and toes that it is popular… but not too popular, I’m hoping it will last me right through Christmas (I wasn’t kidding when I said I’d made LOTS).

Minnie Cooper Embossed Lizard Leather

Minnie Cooper Embossed Lizard Leather

As I just mentioned, I’ve been making bulk stock of other popular items too, in preparation for being out of action after the birth. I have been making like I’m on death row. The whole experience is such a roller coaster. So exciting, and daunting, and to feel on top of it all requires a lot of mental organisation and list making. Nothing like a deadline to light a fire under your bum!

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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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Luke, I am your Father…

I just wanted to start this blog with a wee thank you to everyone for their kind messages. I received a barrage after my last blog, through email and Facebook from both acquaintances and strangers, telling me their own pregnancy, and crafting with children stories. It was lovely to have such encouragement and for you to take the time to share your experiences with me. I also wanted to assure you that this blog will continue to be about being a self employed maker, not become a pregnancy blog… although at times (like the blog below) it will be vital that the two overlap, as my circumstances and the way I go about my day to day has changed.

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It took me the better part of the first trimester of my pregnancy to come to terms with the juggling act that my life had become. That sentence originally read ‘was about to become’ but I decided to change it to ‘had’ as something that surprised me most about pregnancy was the immediate life change that occurs from day one. I have many friends with children and babies and none of them had ever talked to me about pregnancy in, what I consider to be, an honest way. I’m talking about the bad stuff. Perhaps the difference between us is I complain and they don’t… either way… from day one all I did was eat, cry and pee. I lived in the kitchen in a way I never expected. I love food, always have… life has always centred around food for me, so what a surprise it was when all I wanted to do was eat, but the idea of food and the act of eating was boring. It was constant and it was hard to achieve anything when I was either preparing food, eating food or cleaning up the kitchen after I’d finished (rinse & repeat) at all times of the day. Awfully hard to make jewellery stock for after the baby comes (or even to fill current orders) when I couldn’t stay away from the kitchen for 5 minutes. Add to that getting up three times a night (at least) to use the bathroom, means not getting much sleep and having to stay in bed till quite late most days… not very productive sadly. Just after coming to terms with the fact the business might suffer in the long run (you know, in 9 months) I came to realise it had already started to suffer… and there wasn’t a hell of a lot I could do about it. I decided to be proactive. A lot of what I do involves smelly glues, sprays and varnishes. So off I went to the safety store to buy myself a proper protective mask so that baby (and I) would be protected from the barrage of toxic smells. It’s something I should have done a long time ago, although in my defence I don’t usually sit around amongst the smell. I glue and then leave the room, but it’s not a chance I feel I can take any more, now that I’m growing someone else’s brain for them… it all seems a bit more important.

My sexy new mask

My new, not so sexy, Darth Vader mask

I decided instead of stressing myself out with could have, should have, and would have been- I’d map out the year. New products for Imogen Wilson Jewellery, Ex Libris and Major Tom, what they would be, what I needed to do and buy to make them happen… when they would need to be photographed, and released and how I would tell the shops I stock that I would be on maternity leave right over the busiest time of the year (Christmas) and how I would deal with it. So really mapping out over a years worth of work to complete in six months… what’s stressful about that?

Must be time for a lie down…


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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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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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Time flies when you’re having fun- 2013 in review

I can’t believe Christmas is just around the corner and it’s nearly the end of 2013! I have mixed feelings about the impending new year as 2013 has been such an amazing year I’ll be sorry to see it end.

As they say, time flies when you’re having fun…

This year has been one of the most amazing years. It has been FULL of change, something I am usually scared of, full of terror and triumph, happiness and fulfilment, living on the bones of my ass, and of travelling overseas- a year of opposites in many ways. This year I ‘jumped’ into the unknown with no net by quitting my full time job, I also got married, spent all my savings on a honeymoon (while new husband and I were both unemployed) …making my jump into self employment as challenging as humanly possible. My husband got a new job (one where he works ridiculous hours most of the time… throwing me into a new kind of solitary, a new kind of isolation). This year I learned to self motivate, to time manage, about SEO, online sales and photography. I learnt that it’s important to stop to smell the roses and also how to bet on myself. Most importantly I learned what an amazing bunch of people I am surrounded with, and how I couldn’t have done any of this without them, without you.

Oh yeah, and I also launched TWO new lines, Major Tom & Ex Libris and was featured in a book!

Emily McDowell

An awesome card that says it all, by Emily McDowell (Etsy emilymcdowelldraws)

This year has overwhelmed me on every level, from what I am capable of when I put my mind to it, to the support and understanding of the people around me. It’s been a hell of a ride and I feel so grateful to everyone for coming on it with me. From those who I know in person who encourage me with their words and thoughts, and for taking what I do seriously (especially my ‘work wife’ Ria who keeps me sane in the day time). To those of you who like my Facebook posts, read my blog, stock my wares in your many shops, and of course those of you who buy online, straight from me. You can’t understand how much each one of those actions mean to me. So thank you.

This will be my last blog for the year, while I wrap up my internet orders for the year and have a couple of weeks off with family… but this Christmas I will raise my beer and say…

Here’s to all of you! To 2013, to working hard, kicking ass, and taking names.

…and of course all that 2014 will bring!

Happy New Year by Natali Strelchenko

Happy New Year cleverly made from paper by Natali Strelchenko


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2013 Christmas Gift Guide- Something for Everyone!

Well it’s that time of year again, fair season, gift season, when the weather warms up but the shop windows and TV advertising still features trees covered in snow and snowmen. It’s a weird hemisphere we live in.

The busiest time of year for everyone, but hopefully also the most fun in lots of ways!

To make shopping for the perfect gift easier I have created a ‘Imogen Wilson Jewellery 2013 Christmas Gift Guide’ as having three separate lines (and therefore shops) can seem daunting to navigate at times (even to me) I have compiled an easy to navigate, thorough guide with suggestions from the three lines for everyone from your wife to your boss, and don’t worry there are ideas for men in there too!

christmas_bunting_hero

You can view the guide here

For your Sister- Imogen Wilson Jewellery Yellow Crane earrings!

For your Sister- Imogen Wilson Jewellery Yellow Crane Earrings!

Making the guide was loads of fun, and a tiny bit challenging. First I made a list of all the people you might buy for, then I made a list of all the gifts that might be appropriate from each line… then I edited and whittled the gifts down to the perfect one for each person… it felt a bit like playing Santa…

For your Brother- Major Tom space cufflinks!

For your Brother- Major Tom space cufflinks!

Next year I will make the list a little earlier, as I left it a bit late this year. Also fine tune it a bit as I worry it’s a bit long… But I suppose that is/ can be the beauty of the internet… Ctrl F is your best friend!

Ex Libris orange brooch- sSomething for everyone, either sex

Ex Libris orange brooch- Something for everyone, either sex

I hope you enjoy it!