What I'm learning...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Over the weekend, Shawn and I met with our business mentor about some exciting potential opportunities for Brighter Day. It stretched us to have to put together a sample package of our most common fabrics, our packaging, and some sample purses to present for this opportunity.

Our business mentor is an entrepreneurial genius and has experienced the blood, sweat, and tears that small business owners have to endure before a business really takes off. What was so encouraging to me is that that's ok. The 14-hour work days, the difficult customers, the paying-way-too-much-for-shipping mistakes, the deadlines... all of these things can feel pretty overwhelming (and have often made me want to throw in the towel). But they all provide such opportunities for growth.

I've often found myself looking at other small businesses and thinking they must have it all together. Glowing reviews, flawless product photos, new product lines coming out all the time. But what I don't see is how much they've struggled along the way... which is exactly how they've learned what they know.

I get emails almost daily asking me questions about certain aspects of what I make to sell - mainly where I get my jewelry/purse supplies or if I'll share my patterns for my purses. While I understand why people ask, I sometimes want to reply, "It will be so much better for you if you do the work... if you struggle a little. It'll be so worth it! You'll learn so much more that way!" If I handed out lists of my suppliers and tutorials for all my bags, I'd literally be giving away my business - but I also would not be providing anyone an opportunity for originality. There's just no shortcut for reading your sewing machine manual, checking out small business books from the library, doing tons of google searches for the best prices for packaging, and a whole lot of trial and error. (I can't emphasize that last part enough.)

So my tip of the day: Try, try, and try again. Be original and creative. Don't give up. If you're passionate about what you make and sell, stick with it! I would even go so far as to say to stop looking around at Etsy and blogs to give you inspiration... create something that's uniquely you and that you're proud of.

Don't be discouraged, friend. None of us have it all figured out... I feel like I learn so much every day and it's almost exclusively by making mistakes. And I'm learning that, simply put, that's ok.

7 comments:

  1. Great advice, and I love hearing it from someone like you with excellence and success. You are so right that it would be more meaningful to really build something than to emulate someone else! I wish you continued success!

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  2. Go you two for doing so wonderfully!
    My brain doesn't even fathom the time & patience it must take!
    Eat Cake

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  3. This is so good and true. Applicable to many parts of life. Even hits me where I'm at in parenting right now. :)

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  4. That is very a good tip. Sometimes I wished there was a big a website that provided all the information and assistance for handmade items but in reality it's all about researching and putting in the effort to find suppliers, test out fabric, test out patterns, etc.. there is a lot of work involved that most people don't care to do themselves.

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  5. Thank you sooo much for this post! I have always loved DIY and have often dreamed of selling my designs "some day". I've recently felt God pushing me to take that leap and start now! A quote that has been circulating Pinterest lately has helped me a great deal - "Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” - Ira Glass. Your blog is what gave me the courage to start believing I could do this, so here's a big thanks to you! =)

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  6. What beautiful photos! I love the bows :)

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