Monday, June 30, 2008

If I Rent It, Will They Come?

I saw what is to become my new workshop today for the first time, and it got me really excited! The biggest draw of the space for me is that it has a full kitchen, which I will be spending a lot of time in. Of course I forgot to take pictures, but that's OK because it is currently under construction, and I would rather post pics of the finished space. Mama isn't exactly in a financial place where taking on another monthly bill is the best idea, so this is a big leap of faith. Which is more than a little scary in our unsteady economy. However, I really do feel that having a space where customers can come see me work and interact with me is a big part of the sales process for an independent designer. One of the hardest parts about working at home is that I feel completely disconnected from the people who use my products. I'd like my customers to understand the work that goes into making everything. A $15 lotion isn't cheap, and people should understand what they're paying for. Plus, having their feedback about what is working and what isn't, is invaluable for making my line the best it can be. Mary has been kind enough to let me get started with a 6 month lease, and since we're approaching the holiday season, which is the busiest time for Mama, I'm hopeful that I can at least cover my investment. Of course I'm striving to go way beyond that.

I have a multi-prong plan to try to get Mama out to more of the masses, and when I look at all there is to do to make this happen, I kind of want to crawl into bed and put the covers over my head. I'm pretty good at big picture planning and making tons of lists with action items, but I have a terribly hard time prioritizing these lists, and I tend to get overwhelmed and anxious about how much there is to do, which can be paralyzing. I've been looking for ways to combat this unproductive behavior, and I recently read something helpful about how athletes approach a race. When running a marathon, you don't start off thinking about making it to the finish line. You set a smaller milestone for yourself, and focus on achieving that, and then do it again and again until you reach your goal. It seems like a no-brainer, but I've been creating anxiety inducing lists for years, so it's going to require some undoing of these unhelpful habits. And like many creative people, I have a considerable amount of ADD that I'm constantly trying to keep in check. Another technique I've been trying out lately is visualization. My mom sent me a great article that was written for people in her field, but can easily be applied to anyone trying to achieve a goal. It talked about visualization being a key component of achieving success, and that simply setting a goal wasn't enough. So whenever I get overwhelmed, or start to succumb to the inner demon of self-doubt, I close my eyes and picture myself in my new workspace, with 5 mixers going at once, and hundreds of empty bottles lined up on the counter waiting to fill a throng of orders.

I move into my space July 15th, so I have a lot to do to get ready! One thing at a time...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Time to start a blog

After a long period of contemplation, I’ve decided it’s time to hop on the blog bandwagon and start one for Mama. Mama has been plugging along at a turtle’s pace for the last 4 years, largely due to a lack of time on my part. It has been a labor of love and an exercise in patience, which I liken to watching my garden grow. Small victories here and there, but ultimately it moves at the indeterminate pace dictated by nature. In this case, the nature of my life. Like many determined women, my efforts to HAVE IT ALL are constantly doing battle with Father Time. I have a demanding full-time job and a DIY house renovation forever in progress, along with a husband, 4 pets, and the many other things of life. So Mama has taken a backseat for some time. This has been a frequent source of frustration, because it’s one of my very favorite things. I recently watched an Iconoclasts episode with Madeleine Albright, a woman I admire greatly, and she made a comment that really stuck with me: “I believe women can have everything, just not all at once.”

As these words have rolled around in my head, I’ve summed it up as, it comes down to priorities at different stages in life. Where my life is right now, the job is a necessity. And given the state of the economy, I’m very happy to have it. Our house is great, and I’m very happy to have it too. And the people and the places and the things in life are all important as well. So it all comes down to: where does Mama fit in? It hasn’t. So I’m fitting it in. Mama is becoming a top priority, because it’s really important to me, and I’m really REALLY ready to move it to the next level. Whatever that may be.

One of the exciting developments of my “Make Way for Mama” phase is that I am signing a lease on a workshop space. Throughout my residence at the Beehive Co-op, I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of other designers with whom I share a lot in common. One of my Beehive cohorts, Mary from Felted Heart, just bought a building and Mama is going to rent some space from her. Mary, who is a designer of beautiful childrens’ clothes, has been a huge supporter and one of my best customers, and I’m so excited to be joining forces with her. I’m hoping to move in sometime in July. More on this as it progresses.

Since the handmade aspect is a big part of the appeal of my products, it has become evident that sharing the behind the scenes could be beneficial to its success. As well as fun and therapeutic for me. Which means it’s time to make time for a blog. And this brings me full circle.