Well, it's been just over a year since my last post and things have really changed around here! That Etsy front page feature helped launch my little business (even though I had been selling online for a couple of years at that point) and it's been slowly growing ever since. I have SO many projects to feature but thought I would first post a little general update.
This is my little man! He'll be two in a couple of months (EEK). He still takes up most of my time but he started going (very) part time to a childminder just after he turned one and that has given me a bit more time to focus on printing. Speaking of the printing, I just logged onto my Etsy store and noticed that I have reached 350 sales!
I never actually see these round number milestones so I'm quite happy I caught this one. Anyway, the press awaits so I'll end this here, but I will be back soon with pictures of a few of the many projects that have been keeping me busy over the past year.
The weather this afternoon was absolutely glorious -- blue skies, double digit temperatures, daffodils finally opening up. Spring is definitely on the way!
BUT... that wasn't the best part of today, oh no. Today one of my items was featured on the Etsy European homepage!! I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw that my personalised letterpress notecards (available here) were the first item on the front page, and I immediately took a screenshot on every device I have :)
When I woke up this morning and looked at yesterday's Etsy stats I was so pleased that I had broken 100 views for the first time. Today, thanks to Ilene's treasury I have had 652 views so far! I haven't made any sales from the feature, but one of the hardest parts of selling online is getting people to see your products so this has definitely helped in that regard. Here's to hoping that people will come back to my shop again after having seen it this time.
A couple of week's ago I posted about The Design Trust's monthly challenge to get creative businesspeople thinking about how they run their business. On 1st February this month's prompt was posted and I've been working on my response since then. It's a bit of a doozy, divided into two parts, so I decided to split my answer into two posts. The first part of the challenge asks:
More specifically Patricia asked us to spell out our 15 WHY's -- why we are working for ourselves, why are we a creative, why are we a designer/maker, etc. I've decided to split my "Why's" into three categories: personal, practical and soulful.
1. I want to run my business so that I can stay home and raise my son. I want to grow the business and earn some money for the family, but understand that the growth will be controlled and I don’t want to take on more than I can handle while still giving him the attention that he needs.
2. I LOVE letterpress printing because I get to use many different aspects of my creativity (messing with the machinery, computer designing, troubleshooting the press to get the best results)
3. Why am I a sole trader? Before my husband and I moved to the UK I was working in an office, as a legal assistant at a large law firm. They paid me fairly well to be a paper shuffler, but I dreaded going into work every day. When we moved I wanted to find a way to make a bit of money without going into an office and working for somebody else. I'm so lucky and grateful for the support of my husband in this endeavor.
4. Creating in all its forms (be it cooking, knitting, doing home DIY or printing) is a wonderful outlet and I feel most like myself when I have the time to work on projects.
5. I loved getting married but the planning was not the most fun. I want to be a practical wedding vendor who makes the invitation process as easy as possible for the couples that I work with.
6. I love making beautiful things but projects that take ages to get a final result start to bore me and I rarely finish them. With letterpress printing, the results come as soon as the inked plate meets the paper.
7. I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to things that I make. With projects like sewing or knitting that results in lots of frogging or seam ripping. With printing, I am able to make small adjustments while printing and most of the time I end up with a result that I am happy with.
8. For practical reasons, I decided I wanted to start my creative business as a letterpress printer (as opposed to other crafts I enjoy) because there is a market for fine printing of wedding stationery that I hope to tap into.
9. Another practical reason I chose letterpress printing is that with I was worried that I would get very tired creating the same product over and over again (if it was something like sewing handbags). With printing, even though the process is essentially the same, the final product is so different it makes it exciting to print every time.
10. The UK letterpress market isn’t as saturated as the US market so when we moved over here I saw a good opportunity to get myself into an emerging market.
11. As mentioned in point #3 above, I worked in an office for 9 years after graduating from University and every day doing uninspiring office work made me feel like I was dying a little more inside. There are, of course, many aspects of running a business that don't feed the soul (hello TAXES!) but the creative side of things balances out the boring admin parts.
12. Being a creative is in my blood -- I've ALWAYS been a crafter, I grew up watching my dad run his own custom furniture biz, and since I was a small child every gift from my Aunt (my dad's sister) included craft supplies because she is also an avid crafter. I've run the gamut of craft and love all of them -- sewing, knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, oil painting. I just can't help but create and I'm happy now that I've found something that I can (hopefully) earn a living from.
13. I want to work with people that appreciate the things that I make and understand the value of handmade.
14. I want to spread the joy of letterpress so the technique doesn’t die out... Letterpresses stopped being commercially made over 50 years ago and if people don’t rescue and use these beautiful old machines (my big press is from the 1890’s!) they will disappear.
15. I want to succeed so that I can finally believe in my creativity. Pshew! Well, it's taken me almost three weeks to get through the first part of the challenge so I better get a move on for part 2. It's shorter but probably the more difficult part of the challenge so I hope I'll be able to get it up before the end of the month! Wish me luck!
Select one word to guide you through your year.
What is your guiding word?
And how will this come to life for you? Add 5 examples how you this word will play a part in your life this coming year.
So, I know I'm a bit late, already missing 1/12 of the year, but I think the challenge could be good for me so I'm going to play along. Therefore, my word of the year is...
The 5 examples of how this word will play a part in my life (both personal and business) are:
1) Literal growth of my little person - Matthew is 9 months next week and the growth and change that we see in him every week is absolutely amazing! I'm sure the rest of this year will be mostly taken up with ensuring he grows up properly.
2) Growth of my personalised stationery business - My main biz goal this year is to grow the custom letterpress aspect of Cerulean Press. I really enjoy making the greeting cards but, like I've mentioned before, I want to print (at least) one wedding invitation order this year.
3) Growth of my confidence - like many creatives, or really anybody that is putting themselves out there to be judged by others, I constantly worry that I don't stack up against my competition. I imagine that all other small biz owners have so much more training/experience/etc and they'll wonder what this interloper is doing trying to be a letterpress printer. I think the easiest way to get over this fear is to get myself out there and meet more people in the community, possibly by doing some craft shows.
4) Growth of my garden - One of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon is out in the garden planting, weeding and generally prettifying the place. In addition to enjoying the "final" product, spending time in the garden is a wonderful way for me to relax and spend time with myself. Since having the baby I haven't had much "me" time so I'm going to make a more concerted effort to find time to do some things I enjoy, just for me.
5) Growth of my online presence - In addition to trying to blog more, I want to start re-engaging in twitter and facebook, and I want to try to get featured on a couple of blogs. Most of these are fairly simple goals, but I think many small changes will add up and I hope that by the end of the year I'm in a bigger and better place than I started. Do you have any goals for the year ahead?