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. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

changed profile pic & a creative weekend!

Happy Tuesday!  This past weekend was such a blast, my family and I got to attend a soiree with good friends, spend quality time together, enjoy some beautiful fall weather, and I got to spend quite a few happy hours working on various creative projects.  I worked on a quilt for my daughter, the linen/cotton upcycled quilt for Worthen's, some sketches for the 2011 Sketchbook Project (, and I got to do a little scavenging at my local thrift shop.
In the spirit of the upcoming holiday season I also changed my profile picture on Etsy to an old photo of our store decked out for the holidays.  Its a great shot of the store in general and I love our old Texaco sign!

picture of a similar tin I found on e-bay
Unfortunatley this week I didn't find any good linen or cotton for the quilt at the thrift store.  I did however, find a great vintage Cadbury tin.  I'm so torn about selling it though (classic trait of my family, buy something with the thought of selling it and then end up keeping it for yourself), it really is beautiful.  As of right now though it will end up in the store.  It  is a commemoritve Finger Cookie Tin, says "1889-1989" and features several of their fun illustrations from various advertisements.

Right now I've got a little internal battle raging.  I was on the Etsy forums the other day and someone had asked if they should wait until they could build up their inventory a bit to list them on their shop.  I said to wait because it seems to appeal to buyers a little bit more but everyone else that responded said to just list what you have and build up your inventory over time... I'm so trigger happy it makes me want to start listing my scant items now and not wait for January!

Friday, October 21, 2011

As if I don't already have enough hobbies...

beginner's woodcarving kit from

Seriously, I don't know how my husband puts up with me.  I sketch, paint (every medium, but oil is my favorite),quilt, general sewing, some print work, crafts such as card making, love to do ceramics, dabble in pottery, letterpress etc, you get the idea.  Now I have the sudden urge to try wood carving.  I don't know why, but I do know that if something like this pops into my head it won't go away.  I have to try it!  So, some elementary wood carvings may also be featured at Worthen's Merc. 

Stitches and Flattery set from ohmeohmy design
As far as progress on the shop, I've been doing my homework and I'm happy to report that I can list my items that were rescued from second hand shops and rehabilitated as upcycled items!  I wasn't quite sure on the policies, but someone from the wonderful Etsy staff was kind enough to reassure me that it is kosher.  I'm still trying to decide on a banner and if I want to try making it myself, or if I want to save some grief, spend some money and have some talented Etsian do it for me.  I'm a huge fan of OhmeohmyDesign, so I'm seriously debating on having them  do my banner & such for me, they are so talented!  I am so excited (and scared) for January to come around, I am hoping with every fiber of my being that with hard work and perseverance I can make this shop a success on even a very small level.

Random Worthen's trivia: the store had a nice big Sweets Candy selection.  Unfortunately my family has a renowned sweet tooth and ate most of the profits from that section of the store.

Monday, October 17, 2011

What am I doing?

I want this, I really do.  Trouble is sometimes I sit there and think "this is so overwhelming, this endeavor is going to rule my already chaotic life."  Last night I sat there scanning through the Seller's Handbook on Etsy, there is just so much information that I need to absorb that I'm not even sure where to start.  Do I concentrate on policies, banners, and profile first?  Or do I concentrate on creation?  Should I dabble in vintage or stick with original creations?  Should I focus on one particular area like textiles or paper or kids or should I really just have it be a montage of goods, like a true general store?  Or, or, or.... see what I mean?  So why on Earth am I doing this to myself?

I just read an article today on intuition in my Whole Living magazine, and it talked about using your intuition to steer you to the right job for your personality and lifestyle, getting yourself out of a job that isn't helping you live life to the fullest, etc.  I've been toying with the idea of going all out with my Etsy shop for probably about 3 or 4 years now.  Time and time again I've told myself to get real and just focus on the job I have now that brings home the bacon.  Every time I come to that conclusion and move on with life as it is a little part of me falls on its knees and screams.  And then a month later I'll start toying with the idea again, obviously there is something to the idea.  I'm not planning on on Worthen's Merc. being a huge success right off the bat and enabling me to quit my day job, but eventually I hope it will edge towards that reality (its like Grandma always said, "plan on the worst and if the best happens you'll be pleasantly suprised").

The point is that I think my creative little soul NEEDS an outlet like this.  Its like the fairies in Peter Pan "every time a child says they don't believe a fairy somewhere dies" If I keep telling my creative self to shut up it will eventually fade away.  I'm not going to make part of myself, the part that I'm most fond of, curl up and die.  So, as scary and overwhelming as this whole thing is, I'm going to do it.  Its for my own good.

Crappy Banners - why don't I know any graphic artists?

Tonight (okay, today) I changed my shop name to "Worthen's Mercentile", so very exciting.  I'm so glad that Etsy has made some changes so that folks can see my name and my shop's moniker instead of my childhood nicname that I first signed up with about 3 years ago.  I also struggled with the paint program on my dying PC to make some sort of Banner.  It took me about an hour and it sucks.  I don't know why it is so hard for me, but I also just can't figure out why and how I don't know someone who could whip one of these up for me!!