field notes from the woolworks
... working at making and other joyful life strategies
Heidi Wulfraat • woolworker • maker • dreamer
I happen to have a seasonal "stitchy" condition which is known to be contagious. So if you're a little squeamish with regards to compulsive stitching you may want to avert your eyes. It's true. Every year I am completely overcome with the need to sit and sew.
It strikes me just as soon as I catch a glimpse of those first bright beams of spring. There's nothing quite like buzzing around the studio in a fresh breeze as the screen door makes it's annual debut.
The shop is chock-full of gorgeous fabrics. A full spectrum of thread, buttons, pins and zippers greets me everyday. My sewing machines are polished and prepped. I've been ultra busy all winter with wool, wool, wool. I'm ready to stitch. How about you?
shop/studio photos. Want to come for a visit? You can find all of the deets here... contact HW WOOLWORKS studio
to all my creative friends, is your humdrum day job keeping you from your heart's desire dream job ?
My personal career soup has been an unusual blend of science and art. As a result I am the ultimate pragmatic dreamer. While part of me strives to analyse, evaluate and classify this organism that is my life the rest of me tends to throw caution to the wind, relentlessly seeking something altogether new, possibly unexpected, not necessarily practical but wholely satisfying.
The pragmatic me would never suggest that you quit your job, take on debt, remortgage or generally put yourself at financial risk in order to chase a dream. But I do feel that the TRANSITION from you're working life to your life's work is not only achievable but essential. I write this from the perspective of having moved from the world of regular pay cheques, healthcare and pension plans to self employment. This change happened over a period of time during which I spent my days fulfilling my employers needs and my evenings, weekends and spare moments creating my dream job. Eighteen or so years later, I can't imagine working at anything else.
If you've been thinking about embarking on a new creative career path you've no doubt considered some of the many inspirational, social-media driven success stories that illustrate the world of possibilities from basement start-up to self made sensation. You know that it can be done. Are you struggling with the transition? I felt the same way.
Here is what I would love to suggest to my earlier self. The things that I would be sure to mention to the nervous, excited, determined, starting-out me.
1. Just get Started. You have an idea but the big picture is overwhelming. With each small step that you take your focus will clear. It can be as simple as making a list, scheduling time for your new project and dedicating a workspace be it an office or a shoebox.
2. Surround yourself with Supporters.
The people who cheer you on in life will become more valuable for your business than any CEO, CFO or CTO could ever be. As a creative you will constantly be making your personal work available for critique and comparison. It's a vulnerable position to be in. Do yourself a favour and spend your time with those who are positive. Nay-sayers are easy to come by, and they can drain your creative energy before know it.
3. Identify your Weakness.
Decide early on in the game which aspects of your business leave you feeling less than accomplished. If accounting, social media, graphic design or web development seem far beyond your comfort zone, budget to have these tasks hired out. As you grow you simply won't be able to do absolutely everything yourself. Focus on your strengths and prioritize hiring accordingly.
4. A Business has to make money.
Because you have decided to enter a craft based business and do something that you LOVE to do, you may encounter the notion that you are not necessarily working to earn a profit. Of course, with respect to the survival of your business, nothing could be further from the truth. Keeping close tabs on your revenue vs. expenses may be mundane as compared to that full-on creative session in the studio, but your business is depending on it.
5.Some of your ideas will sink and some will swim.
And sometimes an idea will not hit the mark when it comes to keeping your business afloat. This is when you're creative juices can be called upon to make changes. Think of your business blunders as exciting opportunities to spark-up new projects.
6. Remember always to save some of your life's energy for yourself, your family and your friends. Like most creatives, you are probably self-motivated and easily consumed by your work. This makes you the perfect candidate for an entrepreneurial endeavour. Unfortunately, this also leaves you prone to over working or even working to the point of burn out. As with most things balance is key. You are the engine that drives your business forward. When you run out of steam your business will roll to a stop. Be kind to yourself and to your supporters. Your business will be better for it.
7. Make it a priority to manage your health and well-being as well as your business. Healthy living is accessible regardless of your workload. Steal 10 minutes here and there, even on the busiest of days, to move your body, to prepare nourishing food, and to rest your mind.
The super power of a maker is to produce an item that is unique. This means that makers also have the potential to be super gift-givers. We've all experienced the pleasure of gifting something handmade to someone who fully and wholeheartedly appreciates our efforts (if you haven't received this reaction you might want to select a new recipient or two). At any rate, gifting can be one of the most satisfying aspects of making. But here's the crunch, running out of time for a gift giving deadline tends to dampen the fun-flame.
This year I've taken a pledge to be prepared for December by making at least one gift each month leading up to Christmas. I've been sneaking in 10 minute sessions here and there, dedicating travel time to the cause, and generally making it a point to take a little time out from "real job" tasks. Let me tell you there is a certain satisfaction in tucking away the resulting goodies destined for those special somebodies in your life.
If, as a maker, the December 25th flag on your calendar seems to pop up and startle you into overdrive each and every November, perhaps you'd like to join me on this gift-a-month schedule. Here are some relatively quick, achievable projects to get you started...
Everyday I try to find a little something that makes life interesting. A good book, a wagging dog, a cool breeze, tea with a friend.
Here are my field notes about making, discovering, and enjoying a simple, slow, handmade life.
Thanks so much for visiting. I appreciate your spending time with me.
STITCHER, MAKER, DREAMER, BOOK REVIEWS summer 2016