This was me, six years ago

 

six years ago

 

I’ve been thinking about how far I’ve come in the last couple of years. On my down days, I feel like I’m pedalling that same bike around that same circuit.

Except I’m not.

Just like Karen Gunton’s lighthouse analogy, it might seem like we’re going round in circles, but we’re actually spiralling upwards. We can tell, because the view changes as we go.

Here’s a little something I wrote six years ago, when I had the tiniest Etsy shop with the baddest photos. Scarlet was my alter-ego, who spent a lot of time sighing and looking out the window, wishing things were better.

 

KAPOW.

Super Scarlet was back in business.
“This is it.” thought Scarlet. “Today is the day.”
Today was mid-winter solstice. “The longest night means that tomorrow, the days will start getting longer. Time for a spring clean.”
She grabbed pencil and paper.
Time to make a to-do list.

Finish 3 more cushions
Make 5 new bags.
Sort some business cards.
Tidy that garden. (oh my, have you seen it of late?)
Sort that bookshelf.
Fix those broken toys.
Do those clothing repairs.
Vacuum that filthy floor.
Wash that school uniform for tomorrow.
Do those dishes…

Oh.

Um, OK. now to prioritise.
Hmmm. She turned the list upside down and sighed.

 

Um, No.

Sure life with a family is a juggle – it always is and nothing’s going to change that. But seriously? Those house jobs are not your business. If you’re serious about your business, that list will stay right way up. No, it’s not easy, and of course you have to be flexible. Factor that stuff in to your timetable. If you’re serious, you’ll find a way to make it all fit.

 

Remember this:
There’s never enough time to do everything.
It always comes down to priorities.

 

Happy solstice x

I Knew I Was In Business When ….

artfulbizcon 2016

 

You know, the actual fact is that I never really had a moment of “I knew I was in business when…” (but I’m totally heading off to THE best women’s business conference in Australia in only two weeks because I am ABSOLUTELY doing the biz thing now!)

It’s been a long journey.

I suffered through a lot of half-hearted attempts on the way. After finishing my Jewellery & Silversmithing degree at uni, I’d tried lots of different things – selling my jewellery (of course), although finding a workshop to work from that didn’t cost too much (or, let’s be honest – didn’t cost anything) was really hard and I didn’t have the persistence required to make that hard thing happen. I got my dad to help me make a small bench, set it up in the shed and got bits and pieces made, but then shipping work around the countryside on a consignment basis was not only expensive, but also disheartening when things got sent back because they didn’t sell (consignment for small handmade businesses sucks I reckon; don’t do it people. Or, be prepared to have lots of work out in lots of shops. And wait.). In the mean time, I’d got a nice safe office job (ewww) to pay the rent, and started to think about other opportunities.

Then, I was offered a PhD candidature with scholarship, so I did that (who wouldn’t, if someone’s paying you to do something you love). I rolled over into training as a high school teacher, which I did for several years, and then had some babies, all the while making things on the side in fits and starts (think, random, scattered, not much).

With babies, the opportunities to make jewellery diminished (they don’t make a good combo with acid, fire, and sharp things). I picked up my sewing machine again. I set up an Etsy shop in the middle of 2009 to the sound of … crickets …. and nearly fell off my chair when something actually sold, several months later.

Let me just say that none of these experiences were in any way encouraging to me. Because I discovered that business is HARD. And you have to be committed and passionate (because that’s what will sustain you when the going gets tough). But I persisted, because I always knew that there was something more that I was supposed to do with my life.

I think I’ve got an inkling of what it is I’m supposed to do now. I’m working on it. I’m building it. The money’s starting to flow.
So here’s my best advice.

You have to have a plan. None of this “chuck a few things out into the world and let’s see what happens” attitude (which is totally what I did. To real life shops, and on the web. Just because you’ve got half a dozen things in two shops does not make for a sustainable business. Just because it’s out in internetland does NOT mean that anyone’s going to see it. You have to tell them about it, duh.) I mean a specific, actionable, PLAN. Where are you planning to be with your business in 1 years’ time? 5 years’ time? Specifically, how much money will you be earning? Be realistic (you’re not going to be earning a million bucks this time next year). What have you got to sell, and how many of those things do you have to sell to reach your income target? How are you going to let everyone know about it? And there’s only so much spruiking you can do yourself – how are you going to get other people (delighted customers and the like) to tell everyone about you?

Surround yourself with people on the same journey as you. Organise a coffee morning with a couple of other like-minded souls, and talk business. Get specific. Bounce business ideas around with them. Talk about what you think is holding you back, and figure out options to move you forward. Show them what you’ve made or written – whatever product it is you’re thinking of putting out in the world – and ask for constructive criticism. Remember you’re not alone; if you’ve got a great brainstrust around you, they’ve always got your back. Keep your eyes and your mind open. Learn, adapt. Invest time in your business. Be critical about how you invest money in your business – you don’t need every coaching course under the sun, nor every app with bells and whistles. Keep your eye on your goal. Filter everything you see through that goal and don’t get distracted by shiny objects. Build your business step by step.

 

Most of all, keep going. Because amazing things are about to happen.

 

I know. I kept going. Finally, it’s working for me. I’m in business.

Julie x

Why.

avi daisies circle crop

 

For all my life I’ve heard the beat of a different drum.

But I only danced to it when nobody was watching.
Because I was always told that Art as a career was not an option.
I was told it wasn’t a “real job”. I spent my time living in the “comfort zone” – squeezing myself into other people’s suits, fitting whatever creative pursuits I had into the space at the sides of my life. Except my comfort zone wasn’t really all that comfortable – it always smelled of dissatisfaction.

I changed jobs a lot; I shifted focus. I partied a lot too.

One day, I went to a networking event. It had the usual array of inspirational talks and pictures of big houses and fancy cars, and I came away thinking

 

“Wow, I can do anything!”

 

– I just had to follow their method. I spent time dreaming big – the clothes, the shoes, the lifestyle…

But those riches were always so disconnected from my reality; forever unattainable. And their ‘method’ was beyond me. So I didn’t. Deep down, I never believed I could ever get “there”. So, more jobs.

But the push to Art kept on pushing me. I took the plunge and went to uni as a mature-age student; several years and a scholarship later, I emerged with a PhD in Fine Arts. I was happy as a clam. All that time, I dreamt of afterwards when I’d be teaching adults in the halls of academia. I had purpose, and it was blissful.

Funding at the university shifted; the course changed, and I never got that job.

I taught high school instead. (Please don’t ever put me in front of a group of angsty teenagers again; I have the utmost respect for those of you who can do this.)

I welcomed babies into my life. Parenting is a joy – and a mixed bag of frustrations, with its constant focus on the details of daily life. I needed something outside. I started an Etsy shop. I started a blog. I started another blog.

I joined too many groups, read too many business articles titled “three easy steps”, because of course they had the answer that I didn’t.

Blog/join/read, and repeat.

I’d tried so many things in my life. “Real” jobs were dissatisfying (or worse), and making money as an artist/maker seemed too hard and slow. So I’d kept moving, feeling ever more hopeless about my inability to stick to anything.

But I did go to another conference. And when the speaker asked “Who says you need to stop? ” it floored me. How could I be so tough on myself? Why was I holding myself back?

Why was I such a wimp? I never used to be.

Right there I discovered I didn’t have to stop.
Right there I discovered I could be me.

And I discovered my “thing”. It’s Beauty.

 

Beauty is my mission.

 

Beauty takes a million forms; each one no more or less lovely than another, and each one true to itself.
Beauty is my boat on the sea of life; it carries my every dream, and it carries my every passion.
Beauty is my weapon. It’s my swiss army knife, my light sabre, and my ‘force’.

Because beauty makes us happy, and happiness is worth having.

 

So here I am, full of life experience, and full of vision. Because I can be me.

I’m a teacher, a facilitator and an interpreter of sorts. And as much as I can make things beautiful for you, it’s not going to make as much change as if I teach you how to do it for yourself.

I truly want the world to be a prettier place. So I give my skills to you, because you can change the world.

 

Who am I really? On opposites and self-doubt

daisies1 - avi

 

I’m about to get personal. Inspired so much, in so many ways by the wonderful Karen Gunton, I shared these words in a facebook group yesterday. The response was… beautiful.

I’d like to share it again, because I think it’s important. It’s about what it feels like to live with self-doubt.

 

My life trajectory is pretty zig-zaggy and crooked. I’ve worked in data entry, hospitality, office management, trained as a jeweller, an art teacher, a maths teacher, I’m a mother of three, and a farmer. All of these things have helped make me who I am, but none of them defines me.

It’s how I respond to what’s inside me that has pushed me in these multiple directions. I remember reading somewhere, that whatever quality you like in someone, there’s an opposite way of looking at it. So sometimes I perceive those traits as strengths, and sometimes I use them to beat myself up.

 

I’m an independent spirit. Sometimes I hate responsibility and go out of my way to avoid it.
I’m a teacher. Sometimes I can be bossy.
I’m a dreamer. Sometimes I never get out and actually do anything real.
I’m a lover of detail. Sometimes I forget the big picture.
I’m a listener. Sometimes I don’t speak up when I really should.
I’m adaptable. Sometimes I need to stop blowing in the wind.
I’m a helper and a facilitator. Sometimes I should put myself front and centre.

 

Most days, I feel complicated.

 

But deep down inside, I know that if I keep going I’ll get somewhere.
Keep putting yourself out there. Take one step at a time, even if it’s sideways.
(I think I wrote this for me.)

 

Karen’s response, as ever, was beautiful, gracious, and uplifting.
” it’s not even a sideways step, it’s a spiral! it feels sometimes like you aren’t getting anywhere (you see the same scenery pass by again and again with each pass) but you ARE. you are getting closer to you, closer to the top, closer to your light.”

 

Thank you (again), Karen.

 

 

With love, J x

Music + pictures 1 ~ Asgeir and Hilde Janich

Music + pictures {or even more simply, “music pictures”} is a collection of beautiful from around the interwebs while I’m on holidays for January – at the beach, camping, with my family.

It was hard coming up with my favourite music for 2014, because it seems none of the good stuff has film clips, and probably more to the point, the popular stuff wasn’t that good (or maybe I’m just over pop music). Call me old and fussy.

There were a few bright lights though. Asgeir’s Going Home is one.

 

 

I was going to mix it up and show you a variety of things to go with this clip; but when I found Hilde Janich first up, it just seemed to fit.

Hilde lives and works in Essen, Germany, and constructs her jewellery from dyed parchment and pearls. I love her gentle rhythms and sweet colours, like fallen leaves floating in a magical circle.

You can find more of her work on her own site, www.hilde-janich.de.

 

 

Hilde Janich - necklace

Hilde Janich – necklace

 

Hilde Janich - necklace

Hilde Janich – necklace

 

Hilde Janich - necklace

Hilde Janich – necklace

 

Hilde Janich - necklace

Hilde Janich – necklace

 

Hilde Janich - necklace

Hilde Janich – necklace