I am sitting at home with a large cup of tea reflecting on the weekend that was – the Handmade Market. It was a big weekend – loads of customers, lots of sales and lots of lovely discussions about wool, tea, teabags, the environment, and everything in between! I sold out of reusable tea bags, have very low levels of stock to list in my online shop, and generally need to get back to work to restock – not a bad position to be in! First of all though I need to clean my house – the last week of intense preparation means that once again my housework was at the bottom of the list of priorities – oops!
A few highlights of the weekend in pictoral form – including a photo of me that a customer took and sent to me!
What next? Possibly a market in August, otherwise focusing on rebuilding stock and filling custom order will be my priority over the next week or so! (After I sleep, clean, and catch up on all my messages!!)
My attendance at the Handmade Market went really well! Not only did I sell tea cosies, cup cosies and reusable tea bags, but I was able to talk to so many interesting people over the weekend! I think that the face to face interaction with customers is one of the absolute best things about selling at a market. They get to hear your story and you get to hear theirs, and it fills up my creative soul to have this interaction!
Of course one of the lovely things about selling at a market is the delightful compliments that you get along the way. I think my favourites were ‘You have made me smile’, and ‘I can’t help but be happy when I look at your stall’. Wow – talk about hitting me right in the emotions! What a privilege to be able to give people joy like that!
On the technical side of things I was pretty happy with my stall set up and display options (there is a lot to be said for being in the right place at the right time when it comes to our local recycling centre – the shelves I bought for $10 could not have been made to fit any better!)
Post market is always a time for filling custom orders, some analysis, some housework, and some planning. I added a bit more into the mix this time, as I have started in my new role as a Thermomix consultant so was also looking after customers, bookings and cooking. Then along came a fantastic opportunity that threw a spanner in the works – well, slowed down all attempts to catch up on housework anyway! I had a call from a friend who asked if I could make 30 tea cosies in a space of 8 days to be used at the launch of the High Tea service at Pialligo Estate. They wanted some fabric, some woollen, and for me to be as creative as I wanted in their design. What a dream brief!! Of course I took it – and then sat down to assess what I could achieve in the time allowed. The end result was 20 woollen cosies and 10 fabric dome-cosies. The interesting thing was that my imagination and creativity didn’t diminish as I worked, but actually grew! It was as if letting myself be free to create kept feeding the ability to create – it was so much fun!
I spent hours working out patterns for silly things like puffy hearts, macarons and amigurumi birds, which will never be reclaimed in financial terms but which were massive investments in terms of creativity. My mother stepped in to help by creating knitted cosy bases that I then embellished, and my kids became very used to me saying ‘no – I have to keep working’ when they saw me sitting in front of the fire and TV with my hook in hand and thought that meant I was free to attend to their every need! My Dad kept my wood box full, and drove my son to school. Mum bought me groceries when I ran out of the basics, and I carried wool and a hook wherever I went. And then I delivered them, on time, and with my fingers crossed that they would be liked.
Through this process I truly realised for the first time, despite being told by other people over time, that I am an artist. I take ideas and create them from wool, through a complicated series of knots and twists with a hook, and they are unique, beautiful and works of art. I had started to accept this in my subconscious but delivering my work to a room full of staff who were preparing for their High Tea service cemented it. I am not a ‘crafter’, or a ‘hobbyist’, or even a ‘crocheter’. I am an artist. Talk about a rush of joy and self worth! I highly recommend taking a commission that pushes you to your limits to really learn about who you are artistically and creatively!
I have always found it hard to accept praise and believe it, and have struggled with my own self worth for many years. Taking this step of announcing to myself, and now to all of you, that I am an artist is empowering and freeing. I have worn many labels over the course of my life, and continue to wear many now – mother having been the dominant one for the last few years. Adding ‘artist’ to the list is definitely about something that is just me, and I like it!
What next? Well, I have another stall at the next Handmade Market on 28 and 29 July, some custom orders to fill, a Thermomix business to grow, and a creative force to release! Ha – that sounds scary! What I actually mean is that I have lots of creative ideas continuing to grow and gather in my head, so I need to get them out and into the world. Stand by for more updates!
Today marks a ginormous step in my life. Three weeks short of 22 years as a public servant, from today I am, by choice, self-employed. (Well I did hint at changes that were coming!)
The last couple of years have been particularly challenging at work and at home. One challenge on its own would have been fine, but being challenged on both fronts left little room for respite – which is how I came to be in the state I was at the end of last year. With amazing support from my employer I have been able to take leave for the first half of this year, to rest, recover, and think about how I want to live my life. Having green fields in front of me has been an uplifting experience – I have sorted through so many different possibilities in my mind (sea-change, tree-change, runaway-from-it-all-change) and am very happy that I have settled on the right path for the chicks and I. I am going to spend my time focussed on my family, on building my creative business, on supporting other creative people to reach their potential, and on living life in a meaningful way.
And that, my friends, is why I died my hair blue! That outward expression of claiming my life as my own was a small step towards looking at how I want to live, who I want to be, and how I want to grow. The sense of freedom is immense! My biggest fear is I will get into a habit of slacking off and playing instead of working – but I suspect that my bank account will motivate me to get over any tendencies in that area!
The first step is getting past this weekend successfully. It is the second Handmade Market for the year, and I am working very hard to prepare new stock so that I can have some wonderful selections on offer. The new sewing machine has been in overdrive! It arrived last week, and after a bit of learning, tinkering, adjusting, etc I am getting the hang of it! I will write more next week to give you all the details and do it justice, but for now – some shots of the arrival and set up!
Two very big and very heavy boxes!
I did it! (All by myself!)
I have also been able to use my new teether bits as a result of the new machine. I am very happy with the way they look, feel, and handle – so will be launching them at the markets this weekend! I had a bit of a production line (manned by my staff of one – me) yesterday so have a good range of colours and patterns to showcase the new bits!
It also sews leather and denim beautifully so I am working on executing some of the ideas that I have been carrying around for a very long time in my head!
This bag is made from supersoft leather, with the fabric detailed flap. Sewing the leather was a dream with the new machine!
Other exciting news in this very brief summary of an amazing week, is that the launch of the Human Brochure that I spoke about last week was extremely successful. Since then we have attended a number of delightfully wonderful discovery events and started to get to know each other – and really I cannot imagine a nicer bunch of people to be hanging out with! I will write more in the next week about the events so far as I want to do them justice. At the moment I can happily report that I have a huge crush on a part of Canberra called New Acton, have had my eyes opened to so many, many, many wonderful things in my own town, and am learning on a daily basis! If you are interested in seeing what we have been up to have a look at the Human Brochure website where you will see so many beautiful photos from my fellow humans you will want to visit here straight away!
Phew – this might be the shortest summary of the most exciting week I will ever write – but the sewing room is calling me, and the Market countdown is on….so stay tuned for more updates! (and if you are on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, following @alittlebirdmademe is a great way to see quick snapshots of what is happening during this exciting time!!)
I hope that you have had a great week, and that you are also finding little bits in your life to give you joy and excitement. Just remember – today is the first day of the rest of your life too. Get out there and embrace it.