Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Great Things are Happening

I have known for a couple of weeks, but was not allowed to tell folks - but now I can. I am going to be a grandmother! My daughter and her boyfriend are having a baby - she is just under 11 weeks along. How absolutely amazing this is for me and Elaine. We both feel so blessed, it's difficult to put into words. And.....she's asked that I be her birthing coach. I felt like my heart was going to burst when she asked. 2008 has been such a difficult year for me in so many ways, but 2009 is looking much better. I was in a craft show a couple of weeks ago and every time I went to look at other people's work, I found myself drawn to baby clothes - especially little booties. They are so cute. I have to boost my sales a lot to cover the cost of keeping this little kiddie garbed - especially OsKosh jeans and tie-dyed t-shirts. Happy New Year everybody.

Friday, December 26, 2008

It's Nice Having a Break!

I had a great holiday this year, choosing to have a quiet day with Elaine, watching movies and eating foods I love, relaxing with no stress.  Our daughter was on call Christmas Day so we celebrated a week early.  The older I get the less I want to take part in the commercialism Christmas has become.  No gifts, no craziness, not once did I step into a store, avoiding the hectic pace.  In the past I used to love being apart of the chaotic experience, but no more.
I haven't been in my studio in three days, which is very unusual for me.  I let myself relax and found that I didn't feel pressured or guilty.  Typically it's difficult for me to "just sit around" and not be working on some aspect of my business.  I seem to work more hours on the business than I ever did when I had a "real" job.  I did sit with my laptop while watching movies, playing around with the website.  There was a momentary panic when I changed something in the template HTML code and my website became horribly wonky.  I panicked for some time before I realized I could use the back button to find the previous version of the code.  I know better than to fiddle with things without having a back-up.  Maybe I was too relaxed!
My next big project is going to be working on building an email list for better marketing, and sending out regular announcements - talking about jewelry parties, new items, giveaways, and classes etc..  I have really enjoyed teaching small groups of women how to make their own jewelry and I think it's a great way to get my name and product out.   I bring all the tools, findings and beads.  It becomes an intimate gathering, sharing stories, and having fun.  Of course there is always one or so who worries about "doing it right" or not catching on to the technique, but as the afternoon goes on people seem to worry less as they relax.  I sure identify with feeling awkward when learning something new.  It used to stop me from doing things I couldn't do well right away.  Another wonderful aspect of growing older, I no longer worry about it - it is what it is.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Somedays I Hate the Website

I spent most of the day yesterday posting earrings to my website. I finally got through all the ones that match necklaces, but none of the ones on my 4 earring racks (each of which hold 70 pairs). I don't think those will ever make it to my website because of the amount of work it takes. Plus I am not thrilled with how they look. I seem to love everything posted on the website having consistency - which doesn't work with the earrings - whaa! I never thought of myself as being so obsessive but I sure am when it comes to my business. Some of it's a good thing, like wanting my pieces to look just right and to know that the jewelry will hold up well for years to come. But there are other aspects to my business that aren't so great, like obsessing about how my earrings look on the website, or how to learn html code to have a spot for people to sign up for a newsletter, and of course how to make my business profitable enough so that I can stop worrying about money. All these huge issues can keep me awake at night. As if I didn't have enough problems already! I will say, though, that I still would not want to be doing anything else. I love how I feel when creating, and I appreciate the wonderful community of beaders that I've gotten to know - I am so fortunate.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Digging Out from Under

I think we got 18" of snow. It is so gorgeous outside (of course I can say that because I am inside) so much snow, my backyard looks like a winter wonderland. My little dog Eddie goes out and his legs freeze up and I have to go rescue him. Not fun being out there for either of us. I took advantage of the day indoors yesterday working on ways to photograph earrings for my website. I have felt that I was doing okay with photographing jewelry - but earrings never looked right. If I keep them lying down in my light box they seem flat, and standing them up never seemed to work well either. My website has been up for quite some time but no earrings for sale. Yesterday I put them on a black vase and it seems okay - but not great. It's a lot of work managing my website - between adding all the meta tags, writing descriptions, coming up with names for the jewelry, and photographing them all, it feels like I have a second job. Here are some of the earrings I shot:

Saturday, December 20, 2008

We've received a foot of snow in the past 24 hours. I've used my time fairly well, having posted 20 pieces of new jewelry to the website. As the year winds down I can feel my anxiety rise as the start of a new year is never a good time for my business. November and December were very good (especially given the economic state of this country) and now I need to focus on other avenues to bring in business if I want to be able to survive as a small business owner. I am doing as much networking as I can muster, given that it is not natural for me to try and "sell" myself or my jewelry. If I could I would likely have a PR person doing that for me so that I could stay in my studio and create. But alas, that's not my situation. I'm usually signed up for a number of craft fairs by this time of the year, but I haven't committed to anything for next year. My fear and hesitation is that it may not be a good year for shows and I don't want to commit the money until I have a better sense of what things will be like. I will likely apply for some, but not as many as in the past. I believe I did 20 or more shows this year. It was exhausting, and only half of them were successful financially. I would love to hear from others who are struggling with similar thoughts.
Here are a few of my newer necklaces that I feel great about.
Well, I've finally jumped in and started a blog. I am planning on posting regularly, showing some of my jewelry and sharing some of my learnings, struggles and musings about being a jewelry designer, especially trying to run a small business in this economy. My jewelry is mostly made with semi-precious gemstones, freshwater cultured pearls, and sterling silver. I've been working with sterling wire more and am loving how it feels to work with wire. I would say that I am still a newbie, but there was a time when it all seemed new and anxiety provoking. I suspect with time my technique will continue to improve and I will expand what I do. I have a long list of techniques that I want to learn - from more advanced wire work, to PMC (precious metal clay) and if I manage to get a kiln, lampwork and dichroic glass making. There never seems to be enough time to get to it all. I maintain my own website (, take all my own photographs, and create all the pieces myself. Add to that the marketing and networking pieces, and it is not difficult to see why I have little time.