How are you keeping? Has anyone seen September? Where did it all go so fast?? I may be 25 forever (on the inside anyway... teehee) but time does seem to pass much quicker with every year for me. No wonder I have troubles catching up with myself these days... Yes, I have been working hard, playing hard, and loving hard. It's like I don't know any other way. If that makes me a "hard woman", well then you better believe it. But I'm getting ahead of myself yet again, even as I write this. So let's unpack, shall we? You better sit down and spike your cuppa with some strong stuff...
You know the way when you go through the motions of life but really, in your mind, it's an altogether different story? This has been me for a while now. Life does throw me these curve balls in different forms and I react, stubbornly hoping for the best, never one to duck down and wait it out. So, what does it all mean? Well, it means things are going to change. How much or to what extent is yet to be seen but, overall, it comes down to "holding on" versus "letting go" and deciding which one it's going to be for different elements of my life and, ultimately, business. Scary stuff - perfect for spooky season or so you'd think.
I haven't felt all that spooktacular lately though and no, it has nothing to do with a post-birthday anticlimax per se. It's rather about me taking stock (yet again) to see what changes autumn brings. As the leaves are beginning to change colour or fall, it's getting cooler outside and clouds drift speedily through a crisp sky - change is literally in the air. I really feel it deeply this year. Just as I can't catch up with myself, I have to face the cold, hard truth that I can't compete with the expectations that so many people have about what I make. So I won't any longer.
Staying ahead of myself is tiring and not rewarding enough, truth to be told. I'm all for being honest and straight forward so it's time I'm honest with myself about this: I really want and have to slow down. Maybe change course ever so slightly... especially since I'm still very much learning the ropes of running my own business. I love my work and what I do (a lot) and, in order to keep it that way, I have to go BIG ON KINDNESS to myself. Yes, you read that right. I have always taken pride in my personal dealings with patrons and thrive to deliver what I set out to do. So far, so good. What's not so good is that expectations of what I can human-possibly do have gone disproportionate to what real life should look like, in my book.
Let's talk straight: it can't be about making more, faster, for less. I refuse to be part of this problem any longer. What I do is making unique, precious creations, alone, by hand. This takes time. As does running even a small business on my own. And all of this has a price. Whatever any of my makes cost, it's worth it. You can take that literally as well as figuratively.
So here's the deal, the word "deal" already suggesting it works both ways: I work hard, using precious valuable materials the cost (and material value) of which are constantly increasing, not to mention the time that goes into all of it. I have to pay a price for this, happily I may add, but so do you and that's where it's getting tricky. You expect to get something you want to have for less than it's actually worth - led by misinformed, unsustainable consumerism. Sorry to disappoint but it just doesn't work that way. Nor should it. Please hear me out...
Again, I slowly and painstakingly handmade every single one of my creations, here in Ireland. If that's something you value and appreciate, then please put your money where your mouth is. This is a business appeal from someone who has heard "can you do it cheaper?", "that's quite dear" etc a little too often - and not just in relation to my own creations either but to that of many fellow traders' wares as well. This needs to change. I start with myself because that's something I can do right now and needn't wait for. Doing weekly markets has been an eye-opener, for sure.
Nobody forces you to buy anything that you can't afford or simply don't want. We all understand the dynamic, it's not always the right time, we all like a bargain, etc etc. However, if you do want it and can afford it, then PLEASE PLEASE buy the best you can afford. Don't waste your hard earned cash on something that isn't worth it and has little or no intrinsic value. It's just not as good, doesn't feel as satisfactory, and - ultimately - will only contribute to a vicious circle of mindless over-consumption of something that never was the real deal in the first place (and never will be). Invest in handmade quality, you won't regret it. Most importantly, don't give hard working craftspeople a hard time for wanting realistic pay for what they do. Isn't that fair enough?
Now that that's off my chest, you may understand a little better what I mean by "letting go". I'm letting go of trying the impossible, ie pleasing everyone at the cost of my own sanity and business. That may seem harsh to some but is honestly nothing but good common (and business) sense. End of.
Which brings us to the "holding on" part of these pivotal changes in my life which may be a little bit more complicated to explain right now, since it's more personal than "just" business. Not that it ever is "just" that, mind... but I guess I made that point. I have been quietly working on some other projects, not entirely (or at all) jewellery related. Some of these projects have been with me for these past few years, others even longer if you can imagine that. In order to focus on certain aspects of my life, they have been on the back burner but never quite forgotten. Slow going would be the understatement of the century but at least I managed to keep them going at all... I still haven't anything I can show to you or write about (ha!) at this moment in time, simply because nothing feels properly "ready" just yet. I only felt like I should put it out there for accountability, on the one hand, since these projects are and will be taking up a good chunk of my time. On the other hand, I wanted to put these intentions into writing for personal motivation as well as a fair warning to you - in case it all takes over too much and has you wonder what I'm up to or how I spend my time. See, I just like to keep it all real while keeping you in the loop.
Now take from these autumnal ramblings what you will but please also know and don't forget that I am forever grateful for every single one of you who takes the time and interest to read this, stop at my market stalls, orders a commission and buys from me online (my online shop will be more frequently restocked from now on, just saying). It means a lot and that's not something I would just say. You've heard (or read) enough of my frankness at this stage to know this to be true, I hope. I simply do not want to undersell myself any longer. Those who appreciate what I do and respect me as a human being will surely understand. So please and thank you, do the right thing. All of us small, independent artists and businesses are grateful for your understanding, I'm sure of it.
That's it for now, slow or not, there's still plenty to do and I can't wait to share it all with you in due time. Hang in there, we can do this.
With love, gratitude and warm hugs,