Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Truth Behind "Vacation Mode"

When I put my shop in Vacation last month -- it was painful. I did need a vacation from the shop -- I had told my mother so for a little over a year. But, what it comes down to is this: I wasn't on vacation. I was both mourning and closing down my mother's 'estate.'

But, none of my shop platforms have anything other than closing down completely or going on 'vacation' mode. I wished there was something different -- I wished there was a way to say, I am not just taking a month-long break.

Rather, I wished I could say something like "I need this time -- I began these shops with my mother, and I do not know if I can continue without her." I can continue without her -- in the shops that is -- but it has been very difficult looking at the beads, let alone working with them. I have struggled and wept, remembering which gemstones she chose, and which I told her not to buy but she did anyway.

For over a decade, we went to shows together, and shops, and spent time and money shopping together for the shops. Every single order online was made with her consultation, every single trip to s bead shop either she was there or on the phone with me as I chose items. It's just been hard to get back into doing something that was so entirely "ours".

Mom was the seed bead portion of the shops -- seed beads of change was built for her, so that she could retire with it. She was getting close to retirement -- within a couple of years she would have hung up her hat as a computer programmer and quality assurance manager in order to do what she loved. We would do it together. That's why I built her that shop from the ground up -- making designs she liked, choosing colors that were near and dear to her. She loved purple, she loved labradorite and pietersite -- she loved that which was rare and vibrantly full of life and color.

I look to carry on her shop, rather than combine the two, in her honor. It's why after a long time, and before I was ready in all reality, I chose her birthday to reopen both Etsy shops.

I haven't opened the other platforms (except a little on Amazon -- I will add the link later, once I've built it up) because I am unsure if I can deal with that much at this time. I am not going to lie -- I miss her terribly, she was so much to me, my mother, my business partner, my confessor, my very best friend.

It's going to be a hard year, and I know that. But, I think she would want me to continue. Even though I desperately want to give up -- I think she would want this for me and for her memory.
A photo of my Mom -- taken at Fusion Beads in Seattle, on my Birthday, last year. I made her those earrings. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

I've been working --- no really.

I've had a lot on my plate lately.  And the weather hasn't been all that friendly until the last week or so.  Which -- of course -- drove me outside instead of into my office to take photos in full sun.  It's been painful, knowing I have a ton of work to do (I am still working on opening that beading shop, after-all) but still just longing for spring.   Which I am pretty sure a lot of us are out there -- especially after the weather of the last couple of weeks across the country.

But I noticed, while speaking to a customer who was having me design a pair of earrings for her, how much difference a day can make, when you're this far north and fighting with the overcast nature of the Pacific Northwest.

Let me give you a quick example:

This is an older item of mine -- Green Opal Hoop Earrings.  But, my customer wanted these in a smaller hoop size (totally understand -- I too am not a large hoop person).

So, I made her these:

She contacted me and asked if the opals from the first pair of earrings were available -- and I didn;t really understand, because they are all from the same strand.

Then I looked at this:

This is a green opal bracelet -- also made from the same strands of opals, bought at the same time, from the same vendor in order to have continuity across the designs I wanted to make with them.

The only difference?  The photos are taken in vastly different lighting.  The first on is in a hand made light box -- using a camera phone because my camera battery was dead at the time I needed to get those up.

The second photo was taken yesterday -- an overcast and dreary day, totally altering the light temp of the photo.  And the final photo was taken in full sun, at mid-day, during summer.

As many of my items are made as they are ordered in the shop -- in fact most are -- I didn't understand what my customer was asking (plus I have a little bit of a flu, so I am slow on the uptake this week.).  It took me going back and looking at the photos to realize my error in showing the photos the way I did.  I must take the photos in equal light temp I think from now on -- which is often going to push back my listing dates :(  Kind of a bummer, but part of living in the PNW I presume.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The struggle within

I just read an article that got to me.  I really felt for the writer, and really, really understood her struggle.  While I am not a single mom, I get it and have been putting a lot of thought into things over the last couple of months (where I wrote here but did not publish).  Her post can be found here.

See, I've seen a lot of anger, vitriol and animosity around the digital world -- and it hurts a bit.  It feels sometimes like there is no room for struggle, no room to really connect as people.  There's a lot of judgement out there.  And, the mommy wars out there are painful to read about.  I have a lot of expletives in my head about all that drama. 

But -- I also question some of the articles about the mommy wars.  Because while people write about moms who choose to stay home, or moms who choose to work outside the home, there is really very little attention paid to moms who don't make the choice.

I didn't make that choice -- it was made for me.  And, while I am finally coming to the point in life -- my life as a work at home mom that is -- where I am okay with being here even though the kids are getting much older, it was still never my choice.

The kids and I are much closer now than when I worked outside the home -- but they are also much older, so I can't tell you if it's because I am home, of if it's simply that we have much more in common now as they learn about the world around them in more in depth ways. 

The youngest, especially, has blossomed as an individual while I've been home, which brings a smile to my face in all reality. And, what really gets me is that they really see the struggle.  They see the struggle with my "job" (the shop -- and the new one I am opening soon), they see the struggle with the laundry, dishes, getting food on the table -- when, as an artisan, I am making a mere fraction of what I would be making outside the home.

They were used to a standard of living that I can't provide them anymore -- and it's taken a while, but they are getting used to it.  But where can we be really honest with what's going on in life -- to really try an make that connection if there is just so much judgement out there?  How does it really benefit to judge what one doesn't understand -- because we really as people don't have the full pictures of each others stories, not really. 

My closest friend lives 3,000 miles away -- and I love her dearly, but even still I don't know everything about her -- I don't know her whole story day-in-and-day-out, so there is nothing I would want to judge about her.  I am pretty sure it's the same for her.  So, what is it about the digital world that makes everything so judgy? 

Is it just that we can hide, seemingly anonymously behind the computer screen?  I hope not -- I hope it's not that and instead it's that people really don't know how hurtful they are being.  I really hope that it's more simple:  that when someone posts something on facebook or other media about "government moochers" that they don't know the inner struggle of the "friends" they are sharing that with.

It's hard to come clean with real thoughts out there in cyberspace -- which lends itself to creating an online persona that really becomes one-dimensional.  I know it's hard -- and I avoid it like the plague, because I don't really want people to know the struggles of being a work-at-home-mom.

But then again -- I think that being real may be more important in the long run.  Like the gemstones I work with -- I am multi-faceted, and I am pretty sure my customers are as well. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Why My Black Friday Sale Starts Early.

No, I do not want any of you to feel compelled to shop on Thanksgiving Day -- trust me, I will be selfishly enjoying all that time with my family, barely noticing if my phone goes cha-ching. 

But, the Black Friday through Cyber Monday sale in my shop does begin on Thanksgiving day -- and I am partially upset with myself about it.   But there are a few reasons:

1) I set it up to kick off automatically.
     Knowing I wanted the day to not think about my shop -- and spend possibly bringing my tree out of the garage to decorate with the kids before the hubs goes back to work on Friday for a 24 hour shift -- I planned early and was actually kind of off by a day (the date) on my etsy on sale account.

2) I don't think things through all the time
     Knowing customers want their gifts mailed out quickly -- and knowing there is downtime between the preparation of side-dishes, I too will wander onto Etsy to see what is available.  But -- like I said earlier, I had the date wrong to start and when I figured it all out, I didn't go change it.

3) Thanksgiving isn't everywhere
     A lot of countries don't celebrate like we do for thanksgiving.  I personally adore the holiday -- but I know not everyone celebrates.  So for that reason I was also okay with my mess-up on dates as noted above. 

4) I am really okay when I make mistakes like I did above
     So, it starts on Thanksgiving.  No one is working, but you can shop (like I said, I may also online between the making of side dishes.)  But, since this is really just an error on dates on my part -- I don't want to pay again to change it -- so it's there if anyone wants it, and it's there on Friday through Monday also.

What I am really saying is -- I want everyone to enjoy the holiday that celebrates it.  And, I can see if someone is upset (as many are with retailers that start the black Friday shenanigans on Thursday) about it -- but, I didn't mean for it to be that way.  It's just kind of a big "oops" on my part.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Out of the loop...again

I have been absent -- from many things related to my Etsy shop.  I haven't been paying as much attention on the forums, I haven't been adding new items like I should be.  I haven't been renewing items because -- well it's pretty busy work around here these days.

I know I should have prepared better for the holidays -- I know I should have focused more on the shop.  But, these days, I am of the mind that I have enough items.  I struggled enough for the keywords and views and really, what I like is my customers.

I love when someone asks me if I can find something for them -- something special.  I love when someone says "This is for my mom," or "this is for my best friend," and tells me what is special about them choosing my shop to order from.  I've been working a lot one-on-one with customers and find it difficult to concern myself with SEO and exposure and other things I concern myself with generally.

But -- more than that, I've been busy, busy, busy.  I've been in a Veterans writing class for a long time now -- well over a year.  I enjoy it immensely and am a little miffed that because of the holidays -- I don't get to go as often. 

That's me being selfish right there.

I am preparing for the holidays and everything is still up in the air.  I don't know if I am cooking here -- or if we are going to family's homes.  It's just not cemented.  And that, is stressful.

I've been diligently completing my thesis -- finally, after a year off from my MA program, it was tough to get back into academic writing.  Really, really tough considering I am also in the creative writing type groups for Veterans.  The writing in the Vet classes is pretty cathartic -- so I find myself going there instead of my shop, or my thesis -- so I am always frustrated with running out of time.

I recently lengthened my processing time to 1-3 days, so that I can have that little breather if I need to write.  But, I still try to get items out within about a day.  It's just a personal breather for me to know is there.  And, more often than not, if for some reason (like we recently had a power outage that left all the kids at home and me unable to get to the post office) I can't get your item off until the 3rd day -- I will probably upgrade your shipping without you knowing to Priority.

But, back to the creative writing -- it's done nothing more than make me wish I had not gone to all these communications programs.  I know that sounds horrible -- but it's no longer my first love.  I now wish I could sit in a room and read and write -- and get paid for it, lol.

I often hear "do what you love" and I agree -- but I wonder, what if what we "love" changes often?  Is it okay to move between things like that?

I can't remember where I found this -- but I think it was on Slate.com

Friday, November 7, 2014

Shop Unique for the Holidays

It's not all about me for this one -- as much as I would like it to be sometimes.

I am going to ask you to shop unique for the holidays -- even if it's not with me.  There are so many wonderful shops out there, on Etsy and off that deserve a bit of a look.

I am linking to a facebook post here so that you can find  a list of shops doing amazing things -- with the new ways of working on Etsy sometimes the most wonderful creative and ingenious designs are lost in the shuffle.  With this list -- it's easier to find them through the noise.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Weekend Giveaway!


Normally, we would be giving away a piece of jewelry -- but we are trying something a little different this time.  We've joined forces with a few other bloggers to create this giveaway for either a $50 paypal cash amount or a Amazon gift card. 

For THREE Days ONLY we are offering this Flash Giveaway!
One lucky reader will receive $50 USD Paypal Cash or Amazon Gift Card!!

This giveaway is for THREE Days Only! Enter Now!

We are making it easy peasy to enter! Just use the form below.

Remember, this giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Nov. 9, 2014! Tell your friends so they can enter, too!
Good Luck!

Disclosure: This giveaway is organized by Giveaway Booster.com. The participating bloggers were not compensated for this post. We are not associated with any of the companies named above. No purchase is necessary to enter. Void where prohibited by law. The odds of winning are based on the number of entries received. Must be 18+ to enter. Confirmed Winner(s) (by Random.org) will be contacted by email. Winner(s) have 24 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law.  My blog is not responsible for product shipment/delivery. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements. Entrants must only enter with either one email address, IP address and/or Facebook account, anyone found violating these rules will be disqualified. It is at the sole discretion of the admin of the giveaway if the winner has met the rules or not.
If you have any questions about this giveaway please email Tina at branchpropromotions@gmail.com.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Sometimes it's all about the subtle colors -- which is why I love those Ethiopian Welo Opals so much -- they are fiery and subtle all at once.    But this trasury -- called "blushing" -- is just elegantly subtle.

Blushing by DMarieTrevinoDesign