One Year Later: 10 Things I Learned
....And I hope that next year I will be a different person than I am today.
One of my biggest inspirations are quotes. A good quote has the power to challenge and motivate me and help me stay focused. I have an entire Pinterest board full of my favorites. Today, I got to thinking that instead of just letting them live there alone what if I choose one quote each week that stands out or resonates with me and write a little something about it; what it means to me personally and perhaps I will be able to grasp a deeper understanding of myself and what it is that I hope to accomplish. I imagine that if I am responding to them, surely others will too.
I wish that I would have started this blog when I began this adventure and opened the studio last year as a way of documenting the progress. Of course there is no sense in focusing on the coulda, woulda, shoulda's, so I will take it as a lesson learned and instead focus on what I can do now. I know that I have learned A LOT in the past year and I have changed in ways I never could have imagined. So this quote got me thinking; how exactly am I different and what are the lessons that I've learned? So, I came up with a list of the 10 most important things from the past year.
1. How to say 'No'
I used to think that every opportunity was a good opportunity and that if something presented itself I had to say yes in order to gain exposure. I finally realized however, that when it comes to building a business I have to do things that are right for me and will contribute to my long term goals. When I was saying yes all the time, I was spreading myself too thin and the quality of my work suffered as a result. This goes for social media too, I decided to choose a couple that I really respond to and enjoy using and try to make them as great as possible.
2. How to hear 'No'
This one was and still is really hard for me. Hearing 'no' when it comes to your work hurts and it can be really discouraging. As an artist, I hear no more times than I hear yes. Unfortunately, we can't expect that making work in our studio and then sitting back and waiting for someone to discover us is enough. We have to put ourselves out there every single day and allow ourselves to be vulnerable. As as designer that means making my rounds to the boutiques and asking them to sell my designs in their store. It means applying to as many 'Calls for Entry', art and design shows, competitions, and design fairs as possible. it's a lot of work. My portfolio constantly needs to be updated and I have to try and convince a panel of judges or a shop owner that my designs are good. For every 10 submissons, I'm lucky if I get one yes. Hearing 'NO' is hard but it's part the process.
3.People think my life is easy
"You get to make things all day long. How lovely, you're so lucky." Just because I'm doing something that I love doesn't mean it's easy. I wish I just got to sit around and make things all day!! If only that was the way this all worked! The actual making of things is only about 20% of what I do. People will always make assumptions and there isn't really anything I can do about that so I've learned to let it go.
4. It's ok to take a day off
Sundays make me anxious. Sunday's are usually, (kinda, sorta, although I still usually end of doing some kind of work) my day off, yet somehow I feel like I don't have time to take a rest, there is so much to do but a break is important and helps me be more creative. I'm still working on this one, even though I've learned this, it's not easy to put into practice.
5. Not to feel guilty for getting paid.
In the beginning I was just happy that people wanted to buy what I make and I was pretty much willing to basically give it away at any price they felt it was worth. What I learned is that if they don't want to pay the price I am asking, then my work is not for them. Just because someone else doesn't value what I do doesn't mean its not worth the price I am asking for it. I have to be willing to let those people walk away, the right people will come along. I can't please everyone and honestly, I don't want to. I have learned be more confident when people ask me how much something costs and I know that I am worth it. This is something that I have only recently come to terms with, but it's actually liberating and a very powerful feeling.
6. Even though I thought I knew how hard it was going to be, I had no idea.
Yes, really. Until I was actually in it, I just didn't know. I never expected it to be easy, but I had no idea it was going to be this hard. I imagine it's a lot like having a baby. I had this idea that my life was now going to be prefect and fulfilled and everything would be great. And even with all the joy and reward that comes with it, it has to be my first priority, I have to feed it and change it and give it every ounce of love and attention that I have. I have had to sacrifice things that were once important to me and make compromises I never could have imagined. I have lost sleep, I have gained weight and I have spent all of my money.
7. I would want to give up, almost everyday
Because it's harder than I ever imagined it would be. But I will never give up, I don't know how.
8. Not everyone thinks I'm fabulous
Really, it's true. I know, I can't explain it either. But it turns out that there are people out there that don't respond to my work, they think its too big, too colorful, too playful and that no one could possibly ever wear it. And there are people who do not want to see me succeed or who really don't care either way. Good thing I'm not doing all of this for them.
9. How to ask for help
As much as I would like to think that I am superwoman with incredible super powers, the fact is that I can't do it alone. I count my blessings and remember how lucky I am to have such a rockin'- kick ass support group. Friends, family, two amazing interns, and the world's greatest husband have all been essential to getting this all going. When I feel like giving up, they are there to remind me how far I've come and to quit my whining and get back to work! No, but seriously, being surrounded by people who believe in me is essential. Really, thank you guys.
10. I am exactly where I am supposed to be
And I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. With all the struggles and challenges that have presented themselves this past year, I have never been more sure of my place in the world. I have found a passion deeper than anything I could have imagined, a position that feels natural and worthy. I am confidant that the progress that I have made in this past year is moving me closer to my goals and that it happened at exactly the right pace. Of course we all hope for immediate success, but I can't imagine things moving any quicker than they have. This first year has allowed me to build my foundation in which I can now confidentally build from. I can't wait to see what happens next.