Tag Archives: blogging

Being business like

A few weeks ago a recent acquaintance asked me if my ‘making ‘ was a business or a hobby. I have been pondering this ever since. A couple of years ago the answer was straightforward- business. I had a plan, I made enough profit that I had to pay tax and there was regular money making activity going on.

Then I had a break for over a year. Little income, no regular activity and no plan. Until 3 months ago when something clicked and I started making again. At first it was just making for making’s sake but it has grown again and while I don’t yet have a fully laid out business plan I do have some vague mental ideas about where I am going! Some of it is instinctual from my earlier time in business and some of it is aspirational because I continue to daydream that my life will magically change to create space for me to have time to be successful. A lot of it is held back by my pessimism/reality checks that my plans are so often undone by family life and my resultant mental health. So I ask myself, like a mantra, ‘hobby or business , hobby or business?’

Where does the line cross from one to another? For me I think it comes with making decisions about ‘making’ in a profitable, repeatable way. My crazy crocheted tea cosies where I create a whole new pattern for each piece? Hobby. I don’t recover the cost of time spent in making each piece if I apply a business model. But do I love making them? Yes!!!! Reusable tea bags? Business. Now that testing has finished I have a repeatable process for making, marketing and selling them.

All the things in between? Some land on the side of hobby, some cross the line to business. What to do with all of that? At this stage my approach is that it is all business. The unique, one of a kind, time intensive creations are attention getters that have a marketing function. The repeatable patterns that can be made in batches cover the costs of making the one off pieces. It all works together to fund materials, marketing and growth.

I also think that for me, thinking of what I am doing as a business helps to add a piece of self esteem back into a life where I previously self-identified as successful through my career achievements – a business is something that is about me, something that other people admire, something I can succeed at. (Because let’s face it, any judgement on my success as a parent and carer won’t really be known until they are grown and leading happy healthy lives!!)

The next hurdle is a mental one. I have products that are ready to wholesale so I can, in theory, start marketing them to retailers to stock. Gulp. But I haven’t. It remains on my ‘to do’ list. Why? Because the last few years have been so much like a roller coaster ride I have an ingrained fear that I won’t be able to keep any commitments that I make. Which begs the next question – why am I worried about letting others down? Do they really have high expectations of me or am I just setting my own bar too high and then self sabotaging so that I don’t reach it? Hmmmm…. self-analysis via writing this post indicates that I am, as usual, my own worst enemy!!

To shift myself fully into that business mindset it is probably time to write the plan down, instead of having vague aspirational thoughts and wandering around making stuff. Time to be a grown up, do the analysis and make a clear decision on business vs hobby. Wish me luck!

(In the background I have been playing with fabric combinations to make fabric insulated tea cosies- getting back to my happy place combining colours and patterns!! I have also been perfecting the cactus teacosy pattern!)

If you also ponder the line between hobby and business I would love to hear your thoughts !

New Page launched!

Resource imageAnnouncing a new page on my site (insert trumpets heralding) – the Resources page!

Over the last two years I have researched topics relating to making, selling, selling online, blogging, and business for many hours.  Along the way I have found wonderful sites that share knowledge, provide guides, invite participation in a community, and support creative businesses.  This page now houses the beginning of a list to those resources that I have found so useful.  I will continue to add to the page, and will start to provide regular posts on ideas, tips and guides that I have found useful in my own business.

If you have any sites that you think should be on the list, please drop me a line (Theresa@alittlebirdmademe.com) so that I can add them to the page!

Now I am heading off to my sewing room to play with fabric make beautiful things!

Have a great day!

Answers to riddles

After the rather obscure references to burnt bits of meat in my last post’s heading, I thought I should clear up some other vagaries in this post!

For those of you who have been reading along over the last year, you might recall that I did my Right Brain business course last year and had all sorts of lightbulb moments that I promised to tell you about.  Then life, and my boy, got a bit chaotic, and all lightbulbs had to be tucked away for a while.  With a new year, and a lovely card (that ironically was in a gift from my ex-husband) stuck to my pin board to remind me that 2014 is my year, I have been dusting off the lightbulbs and adding to them.

The first lightbulb to share with you is that I love making bags.  I love playing with colours, textures and shapes and making those little pieces of art that people get to use.  No surprises there – but a really good reminder about what gives me that zing in my day.

The second lightbulb is that I love to share ideas, to pass on tips, and to help other people to find their creative niche and passion in life.  The first tiny step towards that is my monthly newsletter where I hope to share ideas, tips and links that I find so that you can explore creative ideas until you find ones that resonate with you.  (Heavens knows that making bags was a complete accident for me and now I can’t imagine not doing it!)

The second step in shining the light of that lightbulb on my world is that I am developing some kits so that you can make your own ‘things’ at home, and learn some skills along the way.  Of course there will be bag kits – with everything you need to make a funky, practical and personal bag for yourself.  But I will also be adding in some other kits so that you can make personalised things (like superhero capes) of your own.  I am so excited about this!  I am hoping to have my patterns with testers by early March, so stand by for updates!  (Those who know me understand that I often want to rush in and do everything at once, so the fact that I am doing this in stages is sensible but excruciating at the same time!)

Then last week I was teasing you with images of me walking around the house with wet bamboo fabric on my shoulders to test absorbancy and wicking.  The answer?  I accepted a commission from a lovely business owner to make some bibs for her shop.  She wanted bandana bibs with teething chews attached as she had customers asking for them regularly.  I brought my analytical brain out of hiding and looked at the problem from several different angles and decided that cotton tops, with bamboo/cotton French terry towelling as the lining would do the trick.  The style of a bandana bib is that the folds that naturally form then trap dribble, spills, etc.  Having the bamboo, with it’s super-absorbancy means that all that wetness gets held in the bib, rather than going straight through onto the baby’s clothes.  As for the teether being attached?  Well – I can now say that I have sewn plastic onto fabric (and remembered to change the needle before sewing cotton again)!  Then the question arose of how to close the bib.  Ah-ha!  My days as a mother using modern cloth nappies (diapers) came to the fore – plastic snaps with two snaps on one side makes the bib adjustable.  So I am now the proud owner of a press and die set to install the snaps.  (And we all know how much I love a gadget!)  The trial run of bibs is on its way to be photographed ready for listing at www.LittleBubbalish.com.au – who will sell them exclusively.  Another bit of excitement!  (And while a small deviation from my bag plans, is a great way to play with fabrics for small people that I don’t often get to use!)

01c47005ab4b32d4d3d92e85aeaaa9bcec1ab4e964

In reviewing my business plan from last year, and working on it a bit more I have been focussing on what is important to me at home, in my business and in my working life (you know – the job that pays the bills!)  I had a think about this blog.  You might have noticed that I have been blinging it up a bit over the last few weeks – creating the home page, adding some other tabs, putting up a shiny new header and tag line.  Hmmmm…..perhaps I got a bit too focussed on the ‘business’ aspect of it all, and forgot the stuff that I like doing – writing to you and talking about what is happening here in the nest.  You can expect a return to ‘normal programming’ soon!  (I am still undecided about the ‘home page’.  All feedback welcome!)

And finally – I have been planning.  Let me explain something first.  I am a list maker – I love to tick things off.  I used to be highly organised  (before I had children) but sitting down and developing plans just isn’t my forte.  So to be working through plans step by step is a little unusual for me.  But I have found a workbook that resonates with me (and will share more about it when I am finished) so am actually using it!  The point I am up to today is to list the things that I will do each day.  There are suggestions in the workbook, that are so simple and obvious and yet reading them gave me such clarity.  I haven’t yet finalised my list, but the ones that resonated (yes I am aware that I am using that word twice in one paragraph) with me were to step away from the computer, to spend 15 minutes each day decluttering a part of your house,  to allocate time for emails, etc.  So obvious, but such a good reminder!  There is also a challenge to reduce emails to 5 lines.  (Thank goodness it wasn’t to reduce blog posts to 5 lines – you know how verbose I am!)

While there hasn’t been a lot of sewing (apart from the bibs) happening, there has been a lot of mental activity going on.  I am struggling a bit with the constancy of children due to the school holidays but am trying to find time each day to just focus on being present with them.  It is harder than it sounds.  I am so burnt out from the emotional demands of the last couple of years that dealing with their demands all day means that I am retreating a bit in order to cope.  But a daily reminder to myself is keeping me from falling away too far.  A three day Monopoly game with the boy was hilarious – even when I finally managed to bankrupt him.  The middle chick thought she would make meringues using a recipe from her Science book.  It was an experiment in more ways than one – the electric hand held mixer I received for my 21st birthday died in a puff of smoke and the smell of burning sugar and rubber.  The eldest chick is doing her own version of planning.  She is writing, cutting, sticking and writing some more.  I think she is making lists to try and help her make sense of the transition we are all going through.  Or maybe she is just her mother’s daughter.

Ah look – another long rambling post from me.  If you are still here – thank you.  I hope that your week allows you time to be present with the people who are important to you.

Interrupting the schedule

It has occurred to me tonight that sticking to a blogging schedule takes the fun out of it. I look back at my first posts and I like them! Now, they feel more like a list of what has happened in the last week. Not paint-drying boring, but not great to read either. So I am abandoning my structure in favour of a more free-flowing blog. I choose to view this as an evolutionary step rather than a reversal! (C’mon, work with me here!)

I started the blog to have a place to talk about my crafting, sewing, parenting and the ups and downs of life. Along the way I think I forgot for a bit that sharing tidbits of life as it happens and impacts on us is so much more interesting that watching the evening news….. hence the decision to take the regulated nature away, and go back to writing when I want to, or need to. Chances are that you will get more photos that way too!!

I have been in a great space for the last couple of days. I have been soaking up the sudden onset of Spring weather and am sure that it is all that extra sunlight that is making life seem so achievable again. I have also decided that I need to find an au pair. I looked at this at the beginning of the year when my usual babysitter took up a full time job, but was worried that further instability would disrupt the boy. As it turns out, the introduction of an au pair would probably have made little difference to the boy, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. So now I am focussed on the benefits that would come from us having an au pair, even if it just until Christmas. I could go out at night occasionally – whoa! A radical concept! I could also have time to get my sewing done while the kids were still busy, happy and occupied! I could also have more flexibility about my office hours, and be in a better position to give my team time when they need it. (Don’t worry – I am sure that there are downsides too, but listing them would bring me down!) So the search is on – feelers have been put out on websites, through family, and on facebook. Now to find the magical person to be part of our crazy, colourful, creative family life for a few months! Wish me (and the chicks) luck!

Part of the Spring energy also means that I want to make lists and get organised and clean up the house and garden. I also want to sew, and research, and design and plan. My solution to all of this? I have made a list. Yep – a stroke of genius! I have planned what I want to have made for my market stall and mapped out what I would like to make each week in order to reach that target. I think it is doable. The hope is that with a plan I will have time for a camping weekend or two, to work on the garden, and to keep the decluttering process going. And the list is pretty too. It is on a proper piece of paper, rather than the back of an envelope. That has to make a difference!

Before I go to clean up my sewing area and prepare for making something new (I think I will start with some small zipped purses/pouches) I can share that the creativity suitcase for my special little friend who is turning 6 is finished. Her mother, who commissioned it, collected it today and has promised photos of it being unwrapped on Friday morning. I can’t wait!! I made it using the tutorial prepared by ‘By Night’ on the Whip-Up site for a creativity suitcase

The photos were taken with my phone, at night, but you get the general drift I hope!

I hope that your week is going well and that you are also finding happiness and focus.

Another step

This week has been quite wonderful so far. I mean that in the true sense of the word – I have wondered and marvelled at all the lovely things that have been happening around me!

On Monday I had a great day at work, including a lovely visit with my career mentor, a good session with my chiropractor (who is helping with an injury to my back/neck/shoulder so I felt much better), a visit with a lovely friend (which enabled us both to laugh uproariously at the expense of her ever-tolerant husband), a great phonecall with another friend and an impromptu visit from another. All of those events on their own would have made it a great day in my books (even if only one of them had happened!). But wait – there was more! Some pendant making kits that I had ordered from Etsy arrived, another one of my bags was on the front page of the Etsy website, and my house was clean when I got home (courtesy of my cleaner, the miracle-worker/housekeeper). Then…I received an email from Sian at Janes Apple asking if I would like to be featured on her blog! Her site is great – tips for blogging, features on Australian artists, and links to her own shop where she sells lovely fresh original cards. I feel so humble to be asked – and so excited! What a great finish to a lovely day!

In the middle of all of that, those lightbulbs from the workshop on the weekend were continuing to pop, sizzle, flicker, burn and be fed by support and ideas from my amazing friends. I am so lucky to be surrounded by people who not only allow me to get excited by the things that make me happy, but encourage me and add their ideas to the mix. I have been working on my homework from the workshop and, if I follow my action plan, I should have some new ‘products’ to share with you within the next 6 weeks or so! I don’t want to give too much away now, but the ideas are fuelled by things that I am passionate about. Part of my homework was to prepare a statement of my ‘passion and purpose’. I thought it would be hard….. but the words kept flowing!

blog4

One of my first tasks was completed tonight (and much easier than I anticipated!).  This website is now officially a ‘dot.com’!!!    So my address is now www.alittlebirdmademe.com.  (My sister and her husband helped, so I need to give them credit!).  The next step is to register for an ABN (an Australian Business Number) which makes me even more ‘business like’. I feel sooooo grown up!!

As a result of all of this activity – no sewing to show you tonight.  Instead I can share the lovely prints that I have purchased for the girls’ bedrooms.  They are by Kelly and Adam from Colourscape and are just beautiful quality.  I highly recommend!!

These two are for the artist-in-residence as part of a set of three.  Words that I hope she will take to heart as she grows.  Words that are good for all of us.  Dr Suess.  A very wise man.

blog2 blog1

This one is for the eldest chick.  I am soooo tempted to keep it for myself.  It certainly says what I believe (as well as being a quote from one of my favourite bands, Mumford and Sons).

blog3

There is a new decoration on it’s way for the boy too….. nothing like these.  More Star Wars, glow in the dark, green and wise…..  Once it is up on the wall I will share the giant Yoda wall decal with you!  He will be so excited!

I hope that your week is wonderful too.  Remember to do more of what makes you happy.