Setting Up Shop: Step One

April 16, 2014 § 1 Comment

I am really excited for all of you to go on this Etsy journey with me! If you are interested in setting up your own shop, already have one and just like to stay connected with other Etsy sellers, or are just intrigued by what all goes into starting a new business, I hope that the things I share here will be fun for you to read about!

For me, long before there was an Etsy shop, there was dreaming. I knew I loved creating things and I so envied those lucky ladies and gents who were able to work from home being makers. I’d salivate over posts of others going to the Indie Craft Parade, to South by Southwest, or the National Stationery Show. Yet, I felt in no way capable of making anything that people would pay me to work on from my home.

If you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning, you were actually witness to this struggle of wanting more, but not feeling talented enough to make this “life of the creative” happen. Despite my lack of belief in my abilities, little by little, I latched onto my desire to make. In my spare time, I wrote posts on here, worked on DIY crafts, and observed others in the creative world. As I mentioned in my post the other day, it wasn’t until several months after my dreaming began that I really identified what it is I wanted to do and gained the confidence that I could train myself to become good at.

But that dreaming period was critical. If I hadn’t really wanted a change and identified what I wanted to be doing with my life, however vague it was, I don’t know that I would have just stumbled into the opportunity I find myself in now. That active dreaming, seeking out my heart and the Lord’s heart, and taking risks was so crucial to getting to where I am today.

So practically speaking, how can you go through this process as well?

1. Identify other dreamers in your life and surround yourself with them. Several of my friends were also on journeys to discover what they wanted to do with their life, right at the same time I was. Realizing that our dreams didn’t look the same, but that we were all reaching for that next thing, I started planning dream sessions for us. In my head, I had these grandiose plans to organize monthly nights for all of us to meet, brainstorm about our dreams and network {with wine and cheese, of course!}, but those never really panned out. But I did have regular breakfasts and dinners with friends where we dug deep into what we were passionate about. We shared our hopes with each other, bounced ideas back and forth, and created some serious accountability.

One of my favorite dreamers is Sallie. Sallie and I have been best friends since we met and lived together in college. Both of us have been DIYers our whole lives and we share the same hopes of being moms who own creative businesses one day. We started meeting for breakfasts last year and would use this time to daydream together about the future.

The thing I love about our time together is that it’s action-oriented. After talking through her dreams to open a jewelry shop, Sallie literally left breakfast one morning, went to the Mart, bought a ton of supplies, went home that night, created four or five items, opened her Etsy shop Sally & Bea, listed the items, and started that business. Talk about lighting a fire under me! Watching her take the ideas in her head from dream to reality that quickly was such motivation for me. It was through that experience that I actually took the first step to move towards quitting my job. And since then, she continually pushes me to actually just start working – to tangibly put something on paper, start the Etsy shop, list an item. This kind of orientation towards action is so valuable in a dream friend!

We had breakfast this morning and here are some shots from our dream session.

 

 

And here are a few pictures of the gorgeous jewelry she makes!!

I am blessed enough to have an entire coalition of dreaming friends in my life. What a blessing it is to think big about the future with others that you care about!

2. Utilize resources available to you to unearth your strengths and passions. I’ve mentioned before, but Storyline by Donald Miller was an incredible experience for me. It helped me look at all of my life events up until this point to see what God has been doing throughout my story. It then had me categorize the different roles I play and how God is using each of them to help tell his overall story of saving many lives. It was through this experience that I realized a corporate role was never going to be the best use of my strengths or the gifts I’d been given.

Additionally, Lara Casey has an AMAZING series on goal setting and making things happen. This process helps you find who you are at your core and what you’re all about. It will dig deep and reveal things in your heart you didn’t even realize about yourself.

Consume Ted Talks, Fast Company articles, and books/blog posts from people who inspire you constantly. You’ll start to notice patterns about who you’re gravitating towards and what rabbit trails keep you up all hours of the night because you just can’t stop reading about them.

Take strengths and/or personality testing. I am a junkie of this stuff, but truly believe that assessments like Myers Briggs, StrengthsFinder, StandOut, and DISC are incredible tools to help you understand yourself, what motivates you and what types of careers fit you best.

Finally, I’ve heard Jennie Allen writes amazing books that help you uncover what God’s created you uniquely to do. I want to read Restless immediately. And checking out her blog, she looks my age, which makes me super inspired to read her stuff because how cool that someone my age could be a published author?!?! So cool.

3. Find a mentor. Once you’re nearing the culmination of your dreaming and you have an idea which direction you’re going in, seek out a mentor. Cason and I struck up a fast and easy friendship at my corporate job. Sharing a love for all things colorful and sparkly, we knew we were destined to be friends. Cason began an Etsy shop {When It Rains} three years ago with her sister selling bright and fun paper products. Watching her artfully juggle a booming small business at home, while kicking ace at her 9-5 was inspirational, to say the least. So when I started thinking about a paper business as well, Cason became a go-to mentor of mine. We had regular dinners, along with two of our other favorite dreamers, Lauren and Emily, where we’d dream and I’d learn from her. Cason, her sister, and two of their insanely creative friends recently started an awesome blog called You Can Sit With Us – you should definitely check it out for some creative inspiration!

It’s always such a blessing to have others that have gone before you who are willing to share. In addition to Cason, Mattie at Puddleduck Paper Co. was an amazing encouragement and help to me. Her stuff is gorgeous as well! Be sure to check her out on Etsy or on her website.

4. Talk to someone. Last but not least, counseling. Y’all. I know that working on our mental health can have a really negative stigma even now in our anything goes society. People don’t want to be seen as crazy or unstable. But I truly believe everyone should meet with a counselor. It is so good for your well-being. My particular counselor helped me cut through the clutter of the “shoulds” and the shame I felt over wanting something different and helped me to realize that God might be calling me in this new direction. If you’re interested in meeting with an incredible counselor in the Atlanta area, I can’t recommend Mazi Robinson enough. Breakthroughs happened y’all. So good. Also, she is certified to teach Brene Brown’s The Daring Way Workshop and has one coming up in May. If you want to really get vulnerable and dig deep to find out what you’re made for, you should so attend!

There are so many other dreaming resources available, but this is a good list to get you started. This dreaming is so critical to finding what unique thing you feel made to pursue. Doing this heart research also prepares you to put forth the time and effort it’s going to take to get a business off the ground and to keep it running for years to come with joy and excitement each day.

Dream away with me and share your journey, please! It would make my life!

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Bring Back the Good Times, MK and A!

April 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

Since my last Side Note Saturday was into the week and about a celebrity looking like a Disney princess, I thought I’d keep that trend going. Y’all. This just makes me super happy.

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After scouring the web, I can’t find who the original was for this. But please help me give credit where it’s due.

How much would you love for them to come back and do another one of their movies from the 90s? I mean, Passport to Paris, Holiday in the Sun, It Takes Two, or New York Minute?? Those were the days. Can I get an amen?

Loving Lately: Mornings

April 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

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I am not a morning person. Like at all. Joel and I thankfully get along in this area and just avoid any and all verbal communication prior to 10 am. It has worked really well for us these past four years.

But ever since quitting my job and having a little bit of a later alarm clock, this very interesting thing has happened. I have started to enjoy my mornings.

{Insert GASP!!!!!!}

I don’t really sleep in much. I usually wake up by 8:30 or 9 {if that sounds like sleeping in to you, you should see what our weekend alarm clocks are… shameful}. Then I go for a run. Doing it first thing in the morning just makes me feel like I have the whole day ahead of me. After that, I come in and read my Bible. Then I shower. And then I get started on whatever work I need to be doing for the day.

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This time has become so precious to me that I find myself getting excited to get out of bed in the morning. It’s crazy!

I think having the choice of getting out of bed or not and having it on my terms certainly helps with this whole thing. But I’m really quite happy about this recent shift.

What about you? Are you a morning person or a night owl? What are your favorite morning rituals?

Well Hello There!

April 7, 2014 § 1 Comment

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeyyy everyone! I have so. many. things to tell you. Life has been in-saaaaaane over the past few months and I’ve wanted to tell you everything, but so much of it required silence until the right moment. So instead of getting on here and not being able to talk about the things on my heart, I decided to just stay silent until I could really share. So here we go!

Right around Christmas 2012, I started thinking a lot about the fact that I didn’t really have dreams. As a person who likes to live my life with whimsy (hence the blog name), it just seemed odd that I didn’t have a big vision for my life other than becoming a grandmother. While I still feel that is the most exciting life accomplishment ever, I still have about 30 years in the meantime to do stuff. And when I thought about those 30 years potentially being spent in a corporate office day in and day out, it made me really sad. But, I didn’t have anything else identified to work on for those three decades. I knew motherhood was high on the list, Lord willing, but I also knew that I’d want to have other work that was mine to be doing.

So January 2013 began the journey of figuring out what my dreams were going to be. I prayed for the Lord to make it clear to me what his calling and purpose for my life was. I asked to know more about him and how I fit into his overall story. As I mentioned in my New Years post, be careful what you wish for. While I asked for what I should do first and then for me to know him better, I only felt like I knew what to do after he taught me some very difficult lessons about the type of person he wanted me to be. And after listening to this sermon, I realize that is probably the way he always works.

To my utter dismay, just as I embarked on this journey to discover my dreams, work only became more difficult – and not just because of my new revelation of potential 30-year corporate sadness, although that definitely contributed. I had been moved off of work and a team I loved and received an entirely new role that was not even remotely related to my skill set or background. And while on paper it should have been a good fit for me, I nearly fell apart every day coming to work. I learned that a lot of this had to do with my personality type {an ISFJ through and through}. Through learning more about how I function, I realized that being a “big ‘L’ leader” {I now hate this phrase} is not something that I desire or that will ever come natural to me. People with my personality type are much happier when working hard behind the scenes, creating beauty and helping others {several ISFJs become counselors, social workers, interior decorators and administrators} – and these were all callings that felt much more comfortable to me. This was the first step in learning where I needed to go.

At first, I thought that I really just needed to get back into my previous role that I loved. That way, at least working in a role I felt qualified to do, I could buy some time to figure out what I wanted to do long term. So after working up lots and lots of courage, I had a discussion with my then boss to figure out if we could make a transition. It didn’t go very well. I walked away from that discussion feeling discouraged and like God really wanted me to stay in this tough work for a while. So head down, I grinned and bore it for about six more months. In the meantime, I suppressed my dream journey, thinking I really just needed to go through this season of dissatisfaction at work because that’s what God wanted for me. I prayed through this time to find joy in my circumstances and for the Lord to make it clear to me when that time of pushing through could be over. But honestly, I never really felt like I heard from the Lord. He felt really distant to me, which only made things harder.

Well in September, I went to a ladies retreat where this counselor spoke about living life well. She talked about how as women, we often live lives full of worry and shame, but that isn’t God’s best for us. The words she spoke just shook something deep inside of me. Those dreams I had been striving to identify earlier in the year started whispering in my head again, saying “remember me! remember me!” I didn’t know what I was supposed to do yet, but I knew that what she was saying was meant for me and that I needed to really do some soul work with her. So I started seeing her monthly and just digging deep into what was happening. Why was I, a person normally filled with positivity and general excitement about everything, living this flat-lined life, numb to things going on around me, purely to try and keep myself from feeling this pain?

I realized a lot of things.

I first realized that I was ashamed to be so upset about work. It revealed idols in me. And I didn’t want to be a person who idolized work. So this shame had just been keeping me from really engaging with any of it.

Once we got past the fact that work was an idol for me, really brought it out into the open, it didn’t eliminate the fact that the work I was doing was sucking my soul out. Once I really started dealing with my thoughts, I realized I didn’t believe the work I was doing was important, and on top of that, I didn’t feel good at it or qualified to be making the decisions I was making. So you’d think that would be enough for any normal person to say, well this is obviously NOT a fit, so why don’t you just go get another job?

Well then we got to an even deeper heart thing – I have never known another career outside of this one. In fact, I had been basically groomed for this company since I was a wee one. This was my “destiny.” And the company is a fantastic one. They do incredible things, treat their employees beyond anything you can imagine and actually conduct business based on biblical principles. It’s a place people work their whole careers to get to. And I had gotten in straight out of school. Why would I ever want to leave? The voices in my head kept saying, “You can’t leave. You’re being naive. You’re being ungrateful. You will never have it better than this. You are stupid to think leaving will make you happier. The grass is always greener. God wants you here. You can’t leave.” And more than that, many people on the outside were saying the same thing. So it just reinforced the thoughts in my head that I must stay. It became this really beautiful glass prison. More than anything in the world, I wanted to leave. But I just kept reminding myself that was the absolute most foolish thing I could ever think. I had to stay. Once we got here and I said these things out loud – I knew it. They were lies. Not all of it – it really is a great company, people really do work their whole careers to get there, and leaving should not be taken lightly. But having to stay to be happy and successful wasn’t true for me. And God did not require me to stay to be doing good work. I could leave and still be working towards good things.

This was a massive breakthrough for me. Massive.

But it still wasn’t the end of my journey. Knowing I could and should leave was great. But what on earth was I going to leave for?

So I just started soaking up resources to help me unearth what would really bring me to life. I read everything I could on my personality type. I read Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller – his new book on work. I soaked up podcast after podcast, and Ted Talk after Ted Talk. I scoured the entire Fast Company article set on work life happiness. I went through Storyline by Donald Miller with my dear friends. Storyline really helped me to see that corporate life was never going to be consistent with who I am as a person. I needed to be doing something that was more about the heart than the bottom line. We were getting warmer!

Then I got to design the rehearsal dinner invitation for my sister and brother-in-law’s wedding. And it was so fun. And people liked it. And it just got me thinking – I could do this. It’s what I did in my free time. For years, on my sick days at home, I have download fonts all day and made random things. I pin 10 prints to every one other type of pin on Pinterest. I get super excited about gorgeous hand-lettering. These are the things that get me excited.

I never heard a big voice from heaven calling out, or even giving me a small sign, that this was what I was supposed to do. But feeling like both options were good and could serve the Lord, I felt the freedom to just make a decision. So after some serious talks with Joel about finances and reality, we made the decision that I would quit my job this year and we would embark on this journey of creating my own business.

And the second we made that decision, the Lord just snow-balled everything. Connections came out of the wood works, resources laid themselves at my feet, and a job became available. One that would help me get out of the 9-5 grind and into a creative setting at fewer hours. One where I could be inspired and learn and come home and build this thing. We weren’t expecting it to happen so soon. But after some serious prayer, we realized that it was the right moment. Why not quit now {even without a single bit of the business started} and start building it? Even if we are poor for a little while, we decided better now than when we have kids and I have no time to build something new.

So at the end of February, I gave my notice and I was out the door by mid-March. Insane.

So now my days are spent going to my little part-time job, crafting all day, and then I come home and work on building my Etsy business. I don’t want to grow an empire, Lord willing, I just want to create a small business selling wedding invitations, save the dates, birth announcements, Christmas cards, and other life happening announcements. My big dream is to eventually start a non-profit where I {and hopefully other creatives} create prints with inspiring quotes and verses that we give away to women going through difficult times living in different types of institutions {think homeless shelters, nursing homes, prisons – is this even possible?!? I have no idea!}. If I am so encouraged by these words beautifully laid out as a reminder to my heart, maybe some of them will be too? And then I will hopefully be able to give back so that those women can receive counseling as well. So we’ll see what the Lord does with all that!

It’s been a crazy journey – but I have such peace that this is what the Lord was calling me towards. I had a lot to learn before it was time to venture out. Most importantly, I think the Lord taught us that we craved control too much. We have always had these plans about finances. We needed to do A in order to be ready for B and thennnnn we could achieve C. Because then we would never be in an uncomfortable situation. I think this is good to a certain extent. We should be wise and good stewards of the gifts we’ve been given. But as much as we wanted to be, we were not asking for the Lord to be in control totally. So I think that silence from the Lord I mentioned earlier was intentional. I wanted him to tell me what to do so that I could be 100% sure it was the right thing and know that he would take care of us, because that’s what he wanted for us. Instead, he stayed quiet and required me to just make a decision. A decision that may or may not be the right one. But that would require me to trust him. To trust that if it were the wrong thing, he would catch us and take us to where he wanted us. To have some faith. To be brave and know that he would be there for us.

So here we go, trying to be wise and plan a little, but ultimately to trust him to provide. It’s going to be a crazy journey, I’m sure, but I’ve never felt more excited about what the Lord is going to do.

I plan to chronicle my journey through creating an Etsy business here so that any of you hoping to do the same thing in the future can use it as a resource. Others have been so gracious with sharing their time and experiences – I want to do the same. So please be sure to check back and go on this adventure with me!

Where Am I?

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