01 Nov Failure
A couple of years ago, I joined a local handmade goods group on Facebook. I started seeing all of these super cute things that people were making and selling, and I thought to myself, “I can do that.”
I’ve always been a really crafty, creative person, so I figured it would be easy. I saw a sign on Pinterest that I thought would be fun to make, so I went to my local craft store, bought a pre-cut piece of wood, some paint, and some carbon paper and I went to work. It was pretty simple and I thought it turned out pretty cute:
And it was cute for a first try. I hung it on the wall and took a picture and posted it to the handmade group, saying, “Now taking orders…” I sat back and waited for the orders to roll in. I was certain there would be tons. Over the next several hours, I checked my Facebook incessantly. Not one order came. Someone commented that it was cute, a few others liked it, and that was it.
To say I was discouraged is putting it mildly. I KNEW I had the talent these other women did. But I couldn’t figure out what they were doing that I wasn’t. For the next couple of years, I sat back and watched. I watched women who were making signs and teaching classes and making so much money that they weren’t working over Christmas or during the summer, or any time their kids were off from school.
I bought their signs and took their classes, and kept wondering how.
Last November, I was in a class when I overheard the gal teaching it tell someone else in the class she had a vinyl cutter. It was like a light went on. THAT’S how they were getting such nice images! THAT’S how they were getting such clean lines! It all finally made sense.
I did some research and decided to buy a vinyl cutter of my own. I really only bought it for personal use. (At least that’s what I told myself.) I wanted to make some signs for around the house and maybe as gifts for friends. And for a long time, that’s what I did.
Meanwhile, I was feeling really unfulfilled with my life. I have two amazing little boys and a wonderful husband, but something was missing. I had this nagging feeling that would keep me awake at night. I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing, but I didn’t know what I should be doing instead.
I reached a turning point while my husband was home recovering from surgery earlier this year. He could see how unhappy I was professionally and he knows that I’m happiest when I’m able to be creative. So, we had some serious heart-to-hearts and I decided to launch my business.
The main focus in the beginning was on refinishing furniture. I immediately bought a bunch of furniture from estate sales, craigslist, and VarageSale and I was ready! I did a small side table and a kids table and chair set. I loved the kids set so much it was the first thing I posted in that same handmade goods group.
Again, not one bite. I couldn’t believe no one wanted it. I was so discouraged I didn’t even post the side table.
My plan for the business was to make hand-painted signs as well, so over 4th of July weekend, I decided to paint the one thing everyone in Colorado agrees on – the Colorado flag. (We’re a little nuts about it here.) It came out awesome and I posted it to my friends on Facebook.
And what do you know? People started commenting and saying they wanted one. It just snowballed from there. I posted that flag in the same handmade goods group and people ordered them. I couldn’t believe it!
I’m so busy now with the signs that I have a garage full of furniture and absolutely no idea when I’ll get to it. And it’s awesome.
But it’s also a little terrifying. I’m afraid one day all of this will just stop. That people will stop ordering my stuff or stop liking it or that I will fail again. As I type this, I’m preparing for my first really big craft show. My goal was to have 200 pieces ready for the show, but at the rate I’m going, I’ll be lucky to have 150. What if it’s not enough? What if it’s too much? What if no one likes what I’m doing? What if everyone loves it? What if I sell out? What if people want something I don’t have? What if someone steals my ideas? What if, what if, what if?
It’s enough to make you crazy. So is failure, though. So is ignoring what you know you should be doing.
For me, this whole thing is about doing what speaks to me. What makes me feel fulfilled. I hope you’ll subscribe to this blog and follow along as I do this small business thing. I’ve already stumbled and fallen so many times in four months, and I’m sure there will be more of that to come. I’ve also had some amazing successes and some true victories, though. Hang around for the journey. So far, it’s a good one!