Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Begining of the End

I started quilting my lovely linen quilt last night.... its slow going - I'm trying to be extra careful so that I don't have any wrinkles in the backing.  I currently dont' have a quilting frame to stretch and baste my quilts on, so I duct tape them to the floor and do the best that I can.  Last night I got about an eighth done, and it looks gorgeous!

As I'm still a beginner (albeit on the high end - this will be my 7th quilt) I'm just using the  stitch-in-the-ditch method - even if I felt comfortable trying a pattern I think I would still use this method though.  It lends itself towards the feeling of simplicity that I am going for.

E's bed and cranes.  You can read more about them here
Another reason progress is slow is the fact that my daughters share a room, and my 21 month old isn't in a crib anymore.  we took a side rail off to try and keep her from just climbing out like the little monkey she thinks she is.  Why does this matter you ask?  Bedtime is now mayhem and madness, short from tying them both down to their bed I'm totally out of ideas of how to keep them in their room and preferably in their beds. 

Every night, we do the routine - we read books, say prayers, turn out the lights and chat for a bit so they can tell me about their day.  I kiss them goodnight and walk out of the room.  And then the fun begins.  For the next two hours I either have to hold their door closed, or like last night, sit down to my sewing machine (I need to give that thing a name) just to get up every five minutes because I hear the pitter patter of tiny feet and giggles.  Inevitably Mommy turns into an ogre, there are tears (from all parties involved) and the girls fall asleep in a bedroom that looks like a tornado ripped through it since I put them to bed - on beds with no covers... you get the picture.  It drives me batty, it makes me sad, it makes mornings less than fun and it cuts into my precious, creative, "me" time.  Call me selfish if you will, but trust me - I'm a much happier person (and mom) if I get that time.

But, despite the obstacles I was able to spend a blissful two hours last night, working on my creation and listening to Peony in Love by Lisa See on my Kindle.  If you haven't read her books I highly recomend them - I've read, and loved them all.  As I sit there and work, listening to something so emotionally charged it led me to understand something about my work - and that I've read about in articles about pricing your work.  I pour so much emotion into my work - and this quilt hasn't been any exception, that I have grown to love it.  Before I put it away in its basket last night I wrapped it around me (getting stuck by a safety pin in my side in the process) and felt the comfort that quilts offer.  But I felt even more than usual (and no, it wasn't pain or the blood dripping down my side), I felt all the love I've poured into it - linen is more difficult than cotton to work with so it has taken more time than any other quilt I've made.  I felt the added wieght that the linen offers, and the odd (but wonderful) sensation it gives.  It is cool, warm, smooth and rough all at the same time.  As I am begining to finish this quilt I am excited to see the finished product, but I am also sad because it hopefully will be going to a new home.  And yet I secretly hope that it won't.  That no one will want it - because of the attachment I feel to it now.

I used to feel guilt and some doubt when I considered the price I would charge for this quilt.  But after last night, reflecting on how much time I spent into searching out used and discarded linen clothing with life still in it, cutting out the pieces, piecing it together, the endless ironing at every stage, etc... combined with the attachment I've developed - I don't feel guilty at all.

I saw a quote a while ago "quality will be remembered long after the price is forgotten".  I want this quilt to go to someone who is willing to pay my price because I want them to value it like I do.  People talk every day about finding the best bargin, but I wonder if they value items that they get for the lowest price or if they just subconsciously think it doesn't matter if they don't care for it because it won't cost them so much to replace it.

here is a treasury with a smattering of one of a kind items
on etsy.  To see more click here.
 My work - and the work of  others on Etsy is one of a kind.  Nothing is mass produced, it should be valued for the individual attention it has been given and the soul that has been poured into it.  All of this said and considered though, the artists on Etsy are probably all underpaid if you look at the hours they spend on a product and what they end up getting paid for it.  I could ramble on and on about this subject but I'll rein myself in (today anyway).  But just consider this thought for a moment.  If I paid myself hourly for this quilt, factored in the cost of materials and then wanted to make a 20% profit I would have to charge somewhere around $1,200.  I'm only going to charge about a quarter of that - so really it is a bargin.  Just chew on that thought for a bit next time you are looking for a bargin on Etsy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Small Milestones

I know it isn't a huge deal... but it kind of is :)

My little mobile made pintrest!

front and center!  I circled it in red if you were having a hard time finding it...

I looked at my shop stats this week and saw that I had some traffic from Pintrest.  I did a litle search and viola!

Anyway, now that Christmas has come and gone I can turn the focus to Worthen's again I'm pretty excited, I just need to find a brown linen dress or a couple pairs of slacks at the thrift store so I can make the binding, I should be done within the next week or so! 

Pictures are pretty much done for everything in the shop, I just need to get them off my camera!

Speaking of Christmas, I can't even describe the mad fear that overtook me the last couple weeks.  I know most people really worry about the money aspect, but that wasn't even my biggest issue.  I look forward to December all year and then when it finally comes I am just scrambling to make everything perfect like I want it to be.

Lovely rustic Christmas decor by Martha Stewart
  So, this year I'm trying something different.  I'm taking a break until February 1st, when I start my Christmas Club account at the bank (it is a term desposit that you matures November 1st every year).  Then I will also be starting to make Christmas cards & tags (I didn't send out and cards this year and my wrapping wasn't very exciting.  I know it sounds dumb, but it matters to me), I'm going to write down what we want to do this next year (Christmas light excursions, polar express in Heber, etc)

Cute little houses made out of natural materials,
Also by Martha Stewart

I'm also going to start on my homemade gifts  in the next couple months so that November doesn't hit and I'm just barely deciding to make two quilts, do a sketch, make a cloth playhouse, paint a ceremanic nativity, church and house, and do a canvas painting.  Didn't bode well for my sanity this last year.  So hopefully, next December will hit and I can sit back, relax, enjoy the season, and be martha for one month a year.  That is really all I'm asking!!

What I'm realizing more and more as the time goes by is that my entire year revolves around Christmas.  Birthdays are great, I'm kind of "meh" when it comes to other holidays, but Christmas is... magical, meanigful, fun and it is my goal to make not only little kids jump up and down and squeal with excitement, I also want to see the lights turn on in the eyes of "grown-ups".  it shouldn't cease to be magical just because the cruel realization that parents place presents under the tree and not Santa.  I think when we go out of our way to make Christmas personal in the decor, and in the gifts that are lovingly selected and (hopefully) a suprise when they are opened it really opens something in our hearts.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Still here

As much as I love the holiday season it sure tuckers me out.  I'm still around... progress has kind of halted though, until Christmas and then I'll be able to find more time to post something a little more informative and entertaining.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jumping the gun...

Just a note... I've put two spoons up in my shop.  I'm not good at waiting so I guess I'm kind of open now, but my quilt and the other big items won't be up until January 14th.

You can see the available items in my shop in the little window on the left from craft cult

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fairy Tales

With the end of the Autumn and Thanksgiving season and the opening of the Christmas season I have so much to be thankful for, and so much to look forward to.  My shop is scheduled to open in 38 or so days and while I’m still a scared little rabbit I’m also that thoroughbred chomping on the bit ready to prove myself. 

Josh and A wandering about in
a picnic area in Central Utah

 I’ve been so happy and grateful that reintroducing art into my life has not complicated my schedule or added any more stress onto my shoulders, as I discussed in a previous post it actually lifted some of that stress from me.  But I think my greatest blessing, my greatest asset is my family.  I have two daughters A & E (for their protection and my peace of mind I’ll just refer to them by their first initials) who are healthy, smart, and even though they have a stubborn and sometimes rebellious streak in them (how could they not, they are my kids!) – they are sweet, empathic, social and generous.  I really can’t ask for much more.  But most of all I am so overwhelmingly grateful for my husband.  The man is patient, loving, sensitive, smart, strong and supportive.  I honestly could not do what I do what I do on a daily basis without him. 

Every day I listen to the men I work with complain about their wives, about how much money they spend, about the time they spend on hobbies, about how their cooking isn’t sufficient, etc  and it just embodies the very reason why ten years ago I would have told you that I never wanted to be married.  I knew that so many girls were just expecting a prince to sweep them off their feet and live happily ever after and I just had absolutely no faith in that vision.

Beautiful Solitare ring at Wrought Gold
on Etsy.  Check out the listing here 

  I didn’t want to be married to someone who would tell me what to do, criticize me and not allow me to be myself.  It took a few years but Josh showed me that it isn’t like that for everyone, that with a selfless attitude, love  and a “mend it, don’t end it” attitude that the fairy tale kind of love is a very real thing.
I see myself as a very flawed creature, I suffer from depression and anxiety, I’ve ran the entire gamut of eating disorders in the past decade, and I have a plethora of random health issues; despite all of that he seems to think that I’m perfect, he enjoys watching me work on my projects, admires the finished product and has always encouraged me to follow my dreams, pledging his support to whatever I want to do. 

Failure is always a possibility when one begins on a journey like this, and I fear failure almost above all else.  I don’t think I’m alone in that either, we are taught from such a young age that failure is bad instead of looking at it as a learning experience.  Without the proper support system I just don’t think it is possible for most people to take the nerve-wracking leap to start a small business.  While I need to thank my mother for always running out with me and helping me buy supplies for my latest hobby, and the art teachers who taught me with such enthusiasm. 

one of my favorite pictures of Josh and I

 But, more than any of them my most valuable support is my wonderful husband because I know he will always support me, if I want to quit he will remind me why it is important to me and if this does turn out to be a complete and utter flop he will still love me and will point out the positives – the lessons I learned.  He will encourage me to redirect my energy and try something else.  I don’t think anything is more valuable to a budding shop owner.  Everyone needs that person behind them who believes in them 100% and helps to tame the fear, and if the unthinkable happens will comfort them and help them heal.  Thank you my love.  For the unconditional love and support you show me.  For telling me when we were dating to disagree with you, to stand up for myself and taught me to have the confidence to look people in the eye to listen to their doubt and sometimes discouraging words but follow my heart anyways.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

They just don't make them like they used to

Hope it has been a fabulous holiday (or just plain 'ole week outside the US) for all, my family and I had a lovely time visiting the ancestral abode.  Nothing quite says home like that valley, tucked in the mountains of central Utah. 

On the colorado plateau, breathing some of the most
pure air on earth, it is easy to pretend you are the only
person on earth
In the clarity of mind that only comes to me when I'm away from the catacophy of strip malls, LED lit billboards and the constant hum of I-15 I was able to look around and gain an increased awareness of what handmade means to me.  The house that I call our "ancestral abode" was built by my Great Granddad.  He spent a few hundred dollars on the stuff that he couldn't make, nails, windows, wiring... but everything that could be handcrafted, was.  The basement was dug out with just a shovel and his sweat, the arched doorways, built in bookcases and cabinets, beautiful wood floors, and the well in the basements was not only done by hand, it was done with love and pride.

Today, even though backhoes, cement mixers and other large equipment is heavily involved in new home contruction, a great deal of the work is still done by hand.  So why is it that so many homes built today lack the quality and charm that homes built 70 years ago posses?  I'm convinced that it is that love and pride that makes the difference.  Many craftsmen working on homes are paid by the project, not the hour so they can't afford to take their time.  They can't afford to care, they need to make a profit and prices for the homebuyer need to be kept low and competitive.  Maybe there is also an issue of some mentors who have a less than stellar work ethic, so their students are not learning to take pride and enjoyment out of their work. (framers, contractors, finish work carpeters, general construction workers etc... please don't think I'm blasting you folks, so many of you are amazing and I envy your talent)

Love this shot of the store... it was obviously not taken this
past week - look at that gorgeous grass!

When my husband and I bought our current home (a condo) my husband noticed several points of shoddy construction work.  When he pointed it out to the foreman the response we got was "well, if it was a custom home we would have done it right."  Another instance of you get what you pay for?  I don't know, but we sure paid a lot of money to have things done wrong.  What I do know is that if I could do it all over I would back out of the sale right then. 3.5 years later, those same things that my husband pointed out to the foreman still scream in his face every day when he walks throught the door.  We've contemplated doing some pretty hefty changes, like making built in features.  But, we just don't know if it would be worth it, it can't totally cover the flaws and it wouldn't really increase our resell value.  We will probably just leave them as is, save our pennies and put our time and sweat into our next (and hopefully last) home.

So, as I sat in our home watching my daughters, the fifth generation of our family to be in the house, I gained a deeper understanding of what hand-crafted means to me.  Handmade does not just mean assembled with two hands.  There must be a heart behind those hands that loves their work and really wants others to love and enjoy it as well.  It means taking such pride in your work that it would be painful, unthinkable, to take shortcuts resulting in anything but the optimal results, and never putting flawed work out there with your name on it.  Except for "ooops" sales.  Love those. 

I think this is another reason that I love handmade.  When you buy handmade items you are supporting someone who is likely to poses good work eithics and is possibly raising (or influencing) children who can in turn learn that valuable concept.  I think our world could use a few more folks with those qualities.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A quick sneak peek

I'm currently packing for a family trip, I'll be out of WWW range until Saturday, Yea!  But, I thought I'd just post a quick sneak peak of the goregous quilt I've been slaving away on.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gone but not Forgotten

Buy Craft Inc. at

I know it has been a whole week since I last posted so some folks probably figure I've given this up as a lost cause... well maybe I did that with the first two or three blogs I started, but not this one!  I've made some pretty awesome progress on my quilt, one third of the blocks are now together and it is looking better than I had hoped.  I've also been reading some books on business and spoke to some friends who have gone through the process of starting their own business and it has been very educational. 
I just finished reading Craft Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco, it received a four and a half star rating on Amazon and I appreciated the information on figuring out if you are small business owner material, how to ease out of a conventional day job into purely your own business, marketing strategies and some other gems Meg shares, a great deal of this book though is irrevelent for me at this point in time though.  She goes through the process of getting a business license, tax id, copyrights, tradeshows, selling wholesale, etc. so most of that is way off in the future at best for me.  One fantastic feature of this book that I found especially helpful and inspiring was interviews with folks who made it big after striking out on their own sprinkled through out the book.  It is an informative resource that I think will become more and more valuable to me as time goes on.

Another accomplishment this past week was getting my business card design.  Sarah at OhmeohmyDesign is just amazing, I wanted to give her a shining review on the Etsy feedback tool but we bundled my purchase with a recent design purchase that I had already given feedback for.  But, let me show
off her lovely work!  She is incredibly talented and pinned the tail right on that donkey as far as my taste goes.  Thank you Sarah!

One of my favorite moments this week, however, was a nightime ephipany that hit me a few nights ago.  It actually motivated me to get up, flip on some lights, sketch out some diagrams in my notebook and whip up a little mock-up prototype.  Then, and only then did this little thought allow me to crawl gratefully back into bed and sleep peacefully.  The next morning I wasn't positive that it had actually happned until I spoke with my sister.  Apparently I sent her a jumbled text message at a rather ugly hour of the night.  I'm  telling you this because it is hillarious... and yes to peak your interest.  A teaser if you will.  Shameless?  Yes, but at least I'm honest about it!  I'm not revealing this marvelous creation until a date very close to opening day.  It will be magnifica sorpresa and I am very excited about it!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Suprising Impact of Creative Endeavors

I was so terrified when I first decided to make my dream of an Etsy shop come true.  I was so worried that by adding one more thing to my plate I would completely overload my brain and have a complete and total mental breakdown with long lasting results.  The mental meltdown equivalent to Chernobyl.  Which is why I am so astounded at what has actually taken place.

 In the last week or so since I last posted I have worked really hard, I’ve put time in every day working on products or on other shop issues and I’ve been shocked to discover that the effects have been the exact opposite of what I expected.  I feel invigorated, excited, motivated and content.  I haven’t felt this way for years.  As I’ve grown up and taken on adult responsibilities I’ve had to cut so many things out of my life that I am passionate about.  Hockey, horseback riding, backpacking, snowboarding, art.  The physical things have mostly been because of a lack of money and my deteriorating musculosketal structure.  But all of them have been eliminated from my life because I was felt like I didn't have time for them.  I felt like I needed to cut everything out that wasn’t essential so I would have time and energy for the important stuff (kids, family, work, housework).  Up until a few weeks ago I was still stressed out, I still didn’t feel like I had the time or energy for those things and I was looking for other things to eliminate. 

Enter determination to start shop:  I am so surprised that I now feel so good, that I think I’m actually spending better time with my daughters, I’m a little less restless at work, and the housework… well that one is kind of falling by the wayside but it isn’t bothering me like it normally would.  I’m now able to cheerfully walk past a dusty, cluttered living room to my creation corner (okay, it started out as a corner of mine and my husband’s bedroom but it has now overtaken the entire room except his side of the bed and a drawer in the bathroom, sorry sweetheart) and work on projects with my girls and my dog sitting on the side asking about the project and having fun little conversations with me while I work.
I guess I really shouldn’t be so shocked that doing something that I love would make my life more pleasant and relieve some stress but it really has made a dramatic difference.  It is just one more reason I see that schools shouldn’t cut back on art programs and physical education.  These are the things that people care about, that can fulfill us in ways that math & science just can’t. 

  Last night I finally got to lay out the squares of the queen size linen quilt that I’m working on and it is gorgeous!  I need to figure out a way to get the pictures from my camera on here (my computer isn’t working so well right now) the quilt is going to be a generous queen size, 85x95 inches and all the squares are Linen.  Hopefully I can find good linen to make the border and binding out of, and then the backing will be cotton.  Most of the colors are varying shades of brown but I also have some really stunning blue and green in there too, they are actually a linen-silk blend and have an incredible texture.  I cannot wait to see this quilt finished, and I can tell it is going to be difficult to part with.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Positive Profiling

Hi there, another month come and gone and I’m that much closer to January!  This past weekend was a good productive creative one.  My weekly stop at the second hand shop turned up some good treasures, I found some old linen clothes in beautiful colors, a 1961 Early American Pyrex bowl in mint condition and…

Drum roll please…

"allure" photo from

"poppy" photo from
  Two beautiful spoons!  Now, before you roll your eyes, these aren’t just any ‘ole spoons.  They both caught my eye in the silverware bucket because amidst all the shiny stainless steel they were a dark orange-brown color.  I snatched them up, paid $1 total for them and took them home to clean them up and find out who they were.  Turns out that the first one I found is a Teaspoon from the Rogers Co 1959 “allure” pattern.  The second is a R&B (the lower line for Reed & Barton) berry spoon in the 1914 “poppy” pattern.  They have both cleaned up BEAUTIFULLY, I was afraid at first that the silver had rubbed off them (they’re plated) and was looking into having them re-plated but after some TLC they are still silver and just lovely.

My family suffers from some sort of disease which makes us seek out vintage goodies with the intent of selling them but after finding our treasures we find ourselves physically paralyzed when it comes time to sell them.  I’m fighting it with all the technology modern medicine has to offer.  I’m keeping the bowl, but I’ll sell the spoons.  I had to reason with myself that if I sold the bowl I couldn’t sell it for much more than $10 but I would pay more for that for it.  Plus if I sold it I run the risk of having it break in the post.  The technology was no match for that particular rational that the disease supplied.  With some very potent medicine I was however able to purge a boring bowl out of my cupboard so that my disease didn’t develop into full blown hoarding.  The spoons however, can’t serve any immediate purpose like the bowl (besides looking very pretty amid all my clutter) so my plan is to sell them and keep looking for others to sell and maybe someday I can afford an entire set.  Preferably in that 1914 poppy pattern.  Thanks medical technology.
Any who, the topic I’m looking at today is writing a good profile.  I want to be one of those etsians who has such an engaging profile that you feel like you know them and you want them to come over for Sunday dinner with the folks.  Luckily the Handbook has an article for that.

The article is “Getting To Know You: Tips and Tricks for Writing an Engaging Profile”, written by Stacey Brook. I consider myself a fairly good writer but I am concerned about the exact thing that she talks about in the opening paragraph, getting tied up because the subject is me.  I want to present myself in a positive light but I am concerned (probably rightfully so) that I’m just going to sound fake, or obnoxious or like a complete nutter. Ms. Brook also states what I had already suspected. That a good profile is critical for being successful on Etsy.

While it is just plain lovely (I suppose) that shoppers can browse while sitting at home in their skivvies on the settee they completely miss out on the sensory experience of a brick and mortar establishment. You have to supply what you can of that with your shop appearance, item descriptions, and profile. It also helps to give your products some personality and history. If I’m looking at three bowls online, one was mass produced, one was handmade but I’m not really sure what the artist was like, and one was lovingly hand carved by an artist living in the Ozarks who loves iguanas and velvet I’m much more likely to go with the hand carved. They’re just more appealing when carved in the Ozarks surrounded by iguanas.

So, based on some guided questions here is who I am:

I’ve been creating little things my whole life but never thought of myself as an artist until high school when I began taking art classes. I happily let Art dominate my schedule through high school and into college. I have a B.S. in Public History which is fun but pretty much useless until I add a M.S. and Ph.D. to the collection. All of my free time (an endangered species lately) is either spent outside with my family or surrounded by piles of “stuff” engaged in some sort of creative process.
"Even for a seasoned wordsmith, writing about yourself can be an intimidating prospect. As with any self-portrait, it’s tough to capture yourself at the perfect angle and incorporate all of your best attributes in the frame.”

Capitol Reef National Park is just a short drive
away from my family home

I am a born and bred Utah girl, except for a few years as a child I have always lived in Utah and I love it. The nature that surroundsme is inspiring and I also have the incredible opportunity to be near my ancestral home in central Utah. It really was my ancestry that inspired my shop. My forebearers were a fun
bunch who did what they wanted and did it passionately. My G-G-Grandpa’s family was once criticized by a neighbor for having too much fun in life. I want to create, so true to the family legacy, I’m going to create. I’m going to seek out vintage treasures and only sell half of them, because that also runs in the family. The original Worthen's Mercentile was my Grandpa's store and it is in his honor that I call my Etsy shop by the same moniker.

Ilove to recycle old linen and cotton clothing into quilts. My quilts are simple, I use lots of solid colors and simple quilt patterns. I truly believe that they will be a favorite item in the recipients' home through the decades. The cotton and linen I use is gently worn so itis already soft but it is still durable with plenty of life still in it. I love picking out raw material and then carefully transforming it. For example sometimes I’ll find a shirt made out of the softest linen of the prettiest shade but it has a hole or stain which makes it very difficult/impossible to rehabilitate it for wear. I love taking the material that is still good and giving it a new life as a quilt. Every time my grandmother gave someone a quilt she would tell them “now you can be wrapped in my love any time you want, even when you are across the globe.” To me quilts symbolize love.

I love selling vintage for the joy of transformation as well, it is such an exciting feeling to spot that beaten and bruised item, take it home and clean it up so it can stand proud again. Sometimes it is hard to part with those items because I’m just so happy that I could keep them out of a landfill that it is hard to let them go. But, when I have no use or room for them it is very fulfilling to know that someone who loves it is getting it.

So, there it is. My profile. I know it is long… but hey it gives them a good glimpse into the inner workings of my grey matter. Right? If it is too long I welcome comments…

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fear is #1 on Creativity's black list.

  I've mentioned in other posts how some days I just don't know if I can do this.  When I say I'm afraid or I think I'm crazy it is not just because I'm afraid of adding something to an already hectic life.  It is also because I have that mean little person in the back of mind sitting there on her barstool sipping some snooty beverage telling me that I'm not good enough and never will be.  I want to tell that little person to shove it, but sometimes I let them get the best of me.  Today as I was browsing through the Etsy handbook I found a really great article, Fearless Creativity.

Looks like my frightened self.
 Image from:

“The enemy of creativity is fear.  Creativity has other opponents, but fear is definitely at the top of creativity’s sh*t list. So be a warrior, and know your enemy.”

The concept of fear being the arch nemesis of creativity never occurred to me, but now thinking about it, it seems so obvious.  Why am I afraid of going through with this, with starting Worthen’s Merc.?  Because I’m afraid my stuff will suck and nobody will buy it.  But, when I ask myself “what is the worst that could happen?”  Maybe no one will buy my stuff – then I’ve got a whole bunch of stuff to give as gifts.  Maybe someone does buy something but gets it and says its crap – I tell them to ship it back and I refund their money.  Would I be sad?  Sure, but nobody died, I can try again.  Very worst case scenario I can think of is that the two scenarios above happen and I just decide that I’m not Etsy material.  Sad, but I can still create for myself, just because it makes me happy.

The article goes on to describe the forms our fear can take and how they sabotage our endeavors if we allow it:

  Snobbery – if your inner snob is constantly turning their nose up at your work as you just begin, shut it in the closet.  Later when you critique your work it is okay to let them out but as you just start brainstorming and playing with ideas is not the time to have them around. 
The Taskmaster – the stick in the mud, the uptight frazzled pest in your head that gets her knickers in a twist when you don’t follow a daily routine and your to-do list.  When you get a creative bubble flitting through your mind she wants you to put it in a jar until the dishes are done and the laundry folded.  As long as there isn’t anything critical (i.e. picking the kids up from school) you have to do, give yourself an hour to entertain that little bubble an
d see if you can coax it into something bigger.  Or at least have fun popping it.

 Apathy – the Negative Nancy sitting on the couch in the dark recesses of your mind moaning “why even try, I’m not as good as so-and-so, and I’m just not that creative.”  Tell her to pop a Prozac and get that curious little kid mentality out to counteract the dangerous ideas Nancy spawns.  Danielle from Etsy says:

Let’s say there may be no point, you may not ever be as good as blank, and maybe you are not “creative” (not true), and what if you did it anyway. Aren’t you curious to see what might happen? What if you sat down and made yourself sketch right now. Don’t you want to see what you might come up with? Not everything you create needs to be shared or consumed; sometimes we can create just to give form to our own weird inner beasts!”
Danielle also offers some suggestions to conquer your fear of creating:
Love this book.  Buy it here

Teach.  Teaching something you enjoy to a beginner can be inspiring because not knowing the methods and material that you do they may be a little more open minded.  They haven’t created limits in their heads that you may have (unintentionally of course).  Just remember that you don’t know everything.  The day you think you know it all is the day you stop growing.

Practice; make yourself do at least one creative thing every day to keep the creative bubbles coming.
Study.  Find books out there by authors like Keri Smith that are full of little creative projects that can open your mind and fuel your curiosity.

And, my favorite – Go big or go home, even with failing.  I can’t phrase it better than Danielle did so I’m just going to quote her directly:

“The worst part of failing is that moment of shock — things were supposed to go a certain way and they didn’t. That moment of the unknown is what’s so frightening. Picking up the pieces is the easy part. We know where they landed, now all there is to do is clean up this mess and move on.  Keep that in mind as you create. Why fail a little? Make a splash, if you fail, you’ll have to get out the mop either way, right?”

image from TV play videos

So, with that in mind I’m going to do as Ross from Friends does, give myself a little shake and an odd squeak/grunt and move on with my creative process and planning for Worthen’s.  Not to say that my fears are completely conquered, but I definitely feel more empowered now that I have identified the fear and what it does to me.  Thanks Danielle.

***For any man out there reading this I apologize for the female-centric analogies feel free to insert something more masculine as you read it***

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Brand Identity... serious homework.

Today I am trying to focus on creating a Brand Identity for Worthen’s Mercentile.  Etsy’s handbook has an entire very helpful article on this topic along with some excercises to help the budding shop owner.   
But what is a brand? It’s the promise that a shop makes to its customers. Your brand tells your customers what they can expect from your products and what differentiates your products from your competitors’. Simply put, your brand is a combination of the image you are trying to project for your business, plus the associations and memories that your customers bring to the table when they encounter that image.”
I want Worthen’s to give people warm fuzzies.  I want them to feel like they are in a friendly small town store.  I want folks to feel like they can trust me to deliver only quality handmade goods and vintage finds, that what they see on the screen is exactly what they will get.  I want Worthen’s  Mercentile to give a cozy, rustic, whimsical, but sophisticated vibe.
 When people visit my shop I want them to be intrigued by the history of  Worthen’s.  When someone compliments them on one of their purchases I want them to tell a bit of the story and be excited about it.
My shop’s values:  Quality, honesty, originality, fun, history
bolt of raw linen from
Unique features & benefits:  I haven’t seen any other up-cycled quilts that use linen, there isn’t much linen on Etsy in general and that is one of my favorite materials to work with.  The story is unique too, Worthen’s has history behind it and I plan to take pictures of my goods in our physical store to give it more of the feel.
Target Market:  This is a tough one for me.  I’m currently guessing mostly women between the ages of 20-40, they are into the up-cycled movement, try to limit their possessions and put a lot of thought into their purchases.  They have a median income, probably are living in more of an urban and suburb
an setting.  I’m guessing they are single, or married with one or two kids… this is a hard question.  I’m going
 to have to read: To really nail my target down.

come on in, I'll be with you in a moment!
photo from:

What do I want my customers to associate with my shop?  What are the emotional and somewhat intangible attributes that my customers can  experience and identify with?   I want people to associate my shop with comfort, good conversation, trust, class and down to earth sensibilities.   
Whew.  Clearly I have a lot to do to figure out who exactly I'm marketing to and an eloquent and articulate way to present my shop.  If anyone happens to read this entry and has suggestions for me please share.
On another note, my random project obsession for the day.  Antique Silverware.  On Saturday when I was at our secondhand store I happened to pass by the 6 bins with flatware in them.  I had my girls in them so I didn't dig too deep but now I have the itch to learn a little more about vintage patterns and do some more digging.