I'm not one for New Years Resolutions. All earthy things are temporary and it's a challenge - and part of our spiritual evolution - to accept change throughout our lives. Not just in the New Year.
However I've been through some changes over the past 6 months that, if I didn't mention, would be false representation. I've gained a valuable lesson too which I would like to pass on, if possible, as I try to acknowledge it in my life.
It started a year ago when I had a thirst to grow Tiny Land, providing more work for local mums.
I felt like a mad scientist, constantly creating new potions that provided different creative effects for my customers. I wanted to create a candy shop for Art!
A Willy Wonka esque smorgasboard!
Oh the works of Art they made with them sent me into a spin! I was constantly inspired.
Here are some of my favourites (the ones I have managed to capture and store anyway).
(This blog post could go on and on, and I know time is so precious so I'll try to simplify my experience and write a separate post on my spiritual lesson during this transition)
I tried to provide the products at wholesale, cutting my margins so thin it barely kept me afloat. But I recognised the investment and estimated that higher volumes, together with new efficiencies I discovered, would generate a small profit for me to pay myself an income and contribute at home.
The response was overwhelming. Wonderful companies - the best in the industry - not just accepted my products but sung their praises throughout the world. Here are the wonderful supporters by name - thank you all to them and the customers that sustain them!
Nest.ca in the North America/Canada markets. Progetto Rudolf Steiner (https://www.rudolfsteiner.it/) for Italy. Jedimumtricks.com for Australia. Yesbebe.co.uk for the UK, as well as fairkindchild.co.uk, Consciouscraft.co.uk, Helpinghandscraft.co.uk, learningbugs.co.uk, thecuriosityapproach.com Sensoryplayshop.co.uk, littlewhispers.co.uk, eco-tots.co.uk - SO many!
Although I had 2 part time helpers, I didn't do 1/3 of the work. The accounts, marketing and communications plus all the legal documentation was still my job. I also started to understand that to grow to new markets and bigger audiences also meant purchasing bigger and bigger volumes of ingredients, then slowly getting refunded for this by the sales, then buying again in an ever bigger volume. (To simplify - the money I recieved for selling 10 jars only contributed to buying 20 etc). Hello negative cash flow! Eek!
I learned so much about business on different levels, I am writing a whole new post about that soon for all you entrepreneurs out there!
It got to a point I was also so busy that not only was I struggling financially but I would work in the morning, sort the children out for school, work till I had to pick them up and then duly put them in the living room in front of the tv or books while I carried on with the orders, having put the mandatory easy-pizza in the oven. After their bedtime I would return to the Studio again for more. The kids got in the way!
While slapping myself around the face with this fact, I had also been making mistakes that I wouldn't normally make. I'd check the orders were complete, and packed ok, but from time to time I missed that last item that - if I scrolled down a bit - I'd have seen. I had standardised processes for efficiencies but I didn't tailor certain process that were irrelevant for some customers but relevant for the rest. The administrative complexity that came with multiple products across multiple customers and various types (Wholesale/retail/drop- shipping etc) was not being adequately supported by me. Some items arrived damaged. I replaced them all of course. Mistakes are expensive!
I decided to put things on hold for a while to check back in with the family. Working around THEM was the reason I did what I did. And we know that life is not about suffering now for an anticipated future far off, it's happening NOW to be lived and enjoyed NOW.
So I started selling off the existing stock, shipping off only what was on the shelves, and going back to home cooked meals, bedtime stories, and after school games.
I didn't want to leave this world! Any mention of work made me recoil!
How do I motivate myself? I knew I needed to be inspired, but even the most beautiful of ideas just appeared to me as another 'thing to do'. Work had become a souless To Do list to be avoided.
I spoke to my sister who lives in Cyprus (https://www.ravelry.com/designers/lorraine-pugh).
She spoke to me about her own business and how it has liberated her, not confined her.
There is freedom to be found in work - not in a totalitarian way - but when done right, it can be a method of expression, and a source of financial independence. We must guard ourselves against making it a means to an end.
The process itself, the way you spend your day, MUST have joy. Joy is found when we feel connected to the present moment, to something eternal and greater than ourselves. A higher purpose. Not focusing too much on projecting thoughts into the future..not sacrificing now for the next moment, as a stepping stone is used. If we live in a constant state of sacrificing our lives for what is essenntially just an idea, then the future will be no different than now. We will only do the same then too...and what would we have done with our lives other than wait to live? Although I follow Eckhart Tolle and know these things to be true, I needed it to be more real, to feel it. Life has a way of waking you up to reality.
So I began paying more and more attention to life. To the birds in the trees - who we can see more of while there are few leaves to hide them. To how my children are, what they are eating. I re-read A New Earth. I checked in with my soul.
Happiness is always there, we just need to remove the layers we pile on top of ourselves!
So Tiny Land re-opened and with slight trepidation I started looking at the model from scratch. I was too attached emotionally to it before - I knew that. So to look at it from a perspective of caring a bit less was actually a gift! I could look coldly at the figures, and design a new way of working.
And the thing that surprised me the most? I thought, I am going to have to work really hard to gain sales again after messing everyone around by closing over Christmas.
And yet the customers were all still there, happy for me to have had the time off and placing orders! What a lovely, caring and considerate community I am connected to! And will be forever grateful for the support. Thank you xx
I am drawing up my new business model which will include selling only Wood Stains, Glues and Sealants. A friend of mine (Lynne from @Marvelousresources) said - you CAN still have your smorgasboard - the Wood Stains ARE IT!!
So I now have a small children's set of Wood Stains to use as sample sets or watercolours. They are very effective in layering. Noah used them to improve his pencil (brush) grip and control! Some exciting ideas will be shared soon on all the uses for them!
I may release a thick paste paint again, but I am developing one that can be watered for a posterpaint, like the Faux Acrylics and Wonderpaints in 1. I love this development stage.
I also plan to spend more time on painting and crafts myself to demonstrate the techniques and upload videos. I plan to have more fun!
I'll let you know how it goes!
How have you made changes this year? Have you found inner joy? Do you feel you have no choice but to be slave to a joyless job? I'd love to hear from you! X