Thursday, September 17, 2015

If only.........., behind the scenes as a small business owner

This has been on my mind for a long time, just not really sure how to express it.  I am a small business owner, I have a small, local artisan boutique and I am a goldsmith.  My hope is that you take what I am about to express in a positive, constructive manner and move forward with it.

Often, especially on social media, I see comments regarding small businesses in the sense of if only they had different hours, if only they offered different items, if only they had a better facility, etc......

Most, if not all, small, local, independent business owners are NOT the same as large corporate businesses like the WalMarts of the world, who can take a loss in one store to support another.  There is no one who would like to make their customers happier with more open hours, more options, more benefits, etc....  than your local store owners.  I can guarantee you that each and every store, restaurant, service business has experimented with all the above, changing hours, changing menus, changing services, and what they have at present is what is most cost effective for them.

I say this because as a sole proprietor, you do everything.  You have to run your business, order your merchandise, clean your shop, make your products, pay your taxes, do your books, market your business, offer customer service, etc..... and your costs usually cover your expenses if you are lucky but rarely cover labor costs, most small business owners work for free at least at some point of their business.

I say all this to express the following, the more you can support and shop your local small business when they are open, they would have more income, that would allow them to hire out some of the services, such as accounting, thus employing others, and using their freed up time to expand their hours, or hire an employee to work and expand hours or provide more options in menus or services.  It is a balancing act that depends on all aspects working to be able to function effectively.

I have seen so many comments on social media that can negatively affect a local business to the point of actually closing them down.

A word of advice I received once from a very wise man said, "Before you act, speak, complain, ask yourself, what is the end result I want? because sometimes it is worth the fight, comment, etc, and sometimes it is not".

In the end, my request is that you support your local businesses when you can, they provide character, life, and interest to your communities.  Before you make a negative comment, ask yourself is it warranted and remember that your comment may be the one to close their doors, and is that what you want?

We all want to improve, grow and provide more for the community, so please, let us know how to do that in a positive, constructive way not in a negative, destructive style.  And with that, thanks for listening to a small, local business owner, I appreciate my customers more than you will ever know.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 15, Preganancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day - Remembering Elizabeth

Today is the one day a year that people all over the world light a candle at 7 pm to burn for an hour to keep a wave of light across the world.  A pretty cool concept for a not so cool reason.  If you have lost a baby to stillbirth or miscarriage or another reason, you are part of this unlucky club.  For me, it was my first pregnancy that ended in a stillborn baby girl, Elizabeth Helen, 16 years ago.  Yes, 16 years ago and somedays it seems like just last year, other days it seems ions ago.

I just read a blogpost,  that focused on the delivery of a stillborn child.  A story no one really wants to tell, and frankly, no one probably wants to hear.  This is the really hard part for us mothers.

This is something I would like to share, something that I feel needs to be said.  My family and close friends know about my daughter, they talk about her and I am able to share her with them.  Those who are a bit farther removed from my inner circle may or may not know about her.  Somedays I will mention something and then feel the need to explain.  Sometimes it is just easier not to talk or mention.

Here is the thing, I was pregnant with Elizabeth for 9 months.  I had morning sickness, I got large, I bought maternity clothes, I had weird food cravings.  I went through labor and delivery.  I had an epidural, I gave birth.  Unfortunately, my child was born still, but she was still born.  I then had an entirely different experience in the delivery room.  We got to hold her, keep her in the room until we were ready to let her go.  Family members got to hold her.  When we were ready, they took her away. Then we had to make funeral and burial arrangements.

But I remained in the labor and delivery area of the hospital, where I could hear other babies cry.  Where there was a leaf with a raindrop on it on my door, to let the nurses know what happened to my baby.  

I tell you these things not to make you sad or to make you feel sorry for me.  Elizabeth was a blessing.  Because of her I am a different person.  Because of her I have met a wonderful support group who have had the same experience.  I tell you my story so that when we talk about mom things, about pregnancies, etc.  you understand that even though my child did not live, I had the same experiences you did.

I have been in conversations, especially before I had my other 2 children, when I would chime in to a pregnancy conversation about pains, or kicks, or cravings, or labor, or epidurals and everyone would get quiet.  They would look at me like how would I know,  I have no children.  I am not quite sure what they thought, that just because my end result was not favorable, that the prior nine months of my life just got erased?  So I share so that maybe it is better understood that mother's like to talk about their kids, all of them.  We share our ups and downs.  We share our experiences, and it is OK.  I know my baby is gone, some days I am sad, some days I count my blessings, but most of all, some days I just need to acknowledge that she was here, at least for those nine months inside me.

So on this day of remembrance, remember not just those babies that have gone too soon, but also their parents, be kind, listen and just try to get past the uneasieness and try to understand and just let them share.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bead Soup Blog Party Time....................

It is that time of year, when Lori Anderson coordinates hundreds of people to swap a set of beads with a partner and create some beautiful pieces.  This year my partner was Patty Miller of Cabari Beads.

This is the beautiful bead soup that Patty sent me:

so many pretties!!  My favorites were her hand etched copper pieces, there were also some lamp work beads, some red creek jasper, crystals, copper chain, some blue chips, etc...... Such a wonderful mix!  

It was so hard for me to decide on what to do, I had so many things in mind that I could do, I wanted to experiment and do some different mixes.  The first piece I made was a pair of earrings, earrings are my favorite, these include some etched copper moons and lampwork beads.

This then inspired me to make a necklace, my second favorite jewelry item, because I wanted this focal to really stand out, I kept the piece minimalist and I got to use the beautiful copper clasp:

My next piece took me back to my beading days.  I just loved putting beads together.  I really love natural stones so this piece was fun to do. 

Now, this is where I have to prepare you for part two.  I had such a great bead soup, I decided that I needed to do a part two, so in a few weeks I will reveal my next set of pieces, they involve the blue beads and lamp work beads with more copper pieces! yeah!  Here is a sneak peek of one of pieces that hasn't fully reached maturity yet!
Thank you Lori Anderson for coordinating this very fun and interesting event every year and thank you Patty Miller for the wonderful bead soup and being a great partner!  Make sure you go visit Patty's blog to see what I sent her!   

Then make sure you visit the rest of the Bead Soup Blog Party!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

It's Bead Soup Time………………...

Every year, Lori Anderson coordinates an event called Bead Soup Blog Party.  It takes much effort to pair people from all over the world into partners and then we send our partners a collection of beads and they use their creative juices to mix the soup up and create some beautiful end results.

This year I am paired up with Patty Miller of Carabi Beads.

She is a lamp worker and metalsmith who loves color!  I am so excited to be paired up with her!

Here are a few of her pieces from her Etsy store

I just sent my bead soup to her, trying to get it in the mail before we left for spring break, I can't ruin the surprise but here is a sneak peak of what is on the way!!
so, I am off to the beach and when I return, we will begin to simmer our soup!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Valuing Yourself

I spent years in school to get a good education, to get a nice job and to earn a good living.  Then, I got pregnant and my thoughts changed, now I wanted to be a good mom to my kids and so I gave up my career to be their mom.  That was a wonderful choice that I was lucky enough to be able to make.

With that choice, I immersed myself in being a mom and being a mom is all about doing things for your kids.  Slowly, you start to not do things for yourself.  You tell yourself, it can wait, maybe later, I don't have time, ..........

And here I find myself, 13 years after giving up my career to be Mom, my kids now in high school and middle school and an independent jeweler with a great business.  I find joy in making jewelry and love when others find joy in it and buy it, it validates to me that what I make and love, someone else does too.

Pricing your pieces is hard and I would venture to guess that most everyone who handcrafts something underprices it.  Partly because you have a sense of obligation to help your customers afford it, sometimes I find myself pricing things by how much I think people will pay not by how much I think they are worth.  Another part is that is it boastful to put large prices on something you have made?  Whatever the reason, we as humans probably undervalue ourselves in everything we do.  We as a species seem to always want to pull down instead of lift up.

This past month I have had some incredible things happen to me that have me changing my thinking and actually feeling much better about myself and my work.  First, I was asked to donate something to the Jackson Center for Conductive Education's annual fundraiser, The Grape Escape.  I had just finished a piece, following an idea by Pam East, and decided to donate it.  They included it in their live auction and I am happy to report, it raised $800 for the center.  I was thrilled!  Later, someone came up to me and whispered in my ear, I think you underprice your jewelry (with a very happy tone).

Then the next thing that happened was I decided to enter the Fall Foliage Art Show, this is not something I had ever done before and wasn't sure exactly how jewelry fit in.  They were so kind and helpful.  Well, when I attended the Awards Tea, there was my jewelry with a first place blue ribbon on it!  I was so excited.  And then, the next day I found out my pieces had sold (and for a very fair price).

This has all just solidified in my mind that I do have value, in what I do, both as a mom and artist.  It is all good and that I am starting to understand the real values of my work.  This week in the class I teach, my students asked me how do I price my work.  I started talking about all these things and decided to share in print what became very clear during my talk.  I share because I am sure we all struggle with these types of thoughts and I truly believe if you do what you love and do it the best you can, it will all be good.  If you take value in your efforts and your work, others will also.  But always value yourself and be good to yourself, remember someone is watching and will be following your lead!

***Disclaimer:  These are all my thoughts and there has been no scientific research done to prove any of it