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Honour the Child

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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Monday, 31 May 2010
May 29th marked the third anniversary of my Etsy shop. I am proud of our success to date (2100 sales, #8 top toy seller on Etsy)! For a business that started out rather by accident (too many tie dyed clothes for one kid to wear!), it has become a big part of our lives and I thought I would share a few learnings.

In reflecting on this time I realize how critical it is to love what you do and do what you love.  And that is not just trite sentiment.

In terms of running a business (in addition to parenting and working full time!), if you don't LOVE it all of the minutiae will eat you alive.  The marketing, the photography, the listing writing, the endless packing and typing and all the other things that go along with the creative aspects take a LOT of time and energy and must be done WELL. But if you spend your creative portion of your time making things you aren't in love with (process, concept, materials, whatever) you will quickly burn out.

Another aspect of loving what you do, is honouring yourself and your time.  Your time is worth something. At the end of the day I would rather make one item and pay myself well, than make two, sell them for the price of one and feel resentful about it! This took a while to to accept. It took a growth in confidence and a letting go of the need to sell, embracing instead the need to create. I still use this as a touchstone for potential projects, wholesale requests and so on... is it worth my time that could be spent otherwise (say, housework?! haha). And I follow my gut.  I say no a little more often and it really doesn't hurt at all! As my daughter says to me "sometimes you just have to say no.".
Also, when you love what you do, you have the opportunity to connect with others who share your passions and interests~ and you can engage in community with them wholeheartedly.  It isn't about 'targetting your niche market' it is about living along side like minded folks and creating items to support your shared values and lifestyle choices. I am so blessed and enriched, and so often taught by, the women (and men) I have met along the way with BTRT.
Other bits of learning? Developing good marketing skills and a brand identity *are* important.  Good photography is a must.  Collaborate and cooperate with others:  I spent a lot of my time early on (less work to do!) featuring others, doing collaborations, building a network.  Do as much as you can for yourself, but you don't have to do it all~ it is far better to pay for what you need than to waste time/ money on something that is simply not 'in your wheelhouse'. Communicate well with your customers. Have fun. Have fun. Love it or don't do it.

I'd love to hear the things that you have learned if you have a creative business, too!


Campbell Jane said...

Congratulations on your Etsy Anniversary and being an inspiration!

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