As I work to grow and develop my business, I am finding the most difficult part of things is to find balance.
While the past year has been difficult for many, I am grateful to say that both Keith and myself have seemed to be busier than ever. I think that with people being home more and not being able to do socializing because of restrictions, they have looked towards other ways to spend their time. Many have turned to creative outlets like woodworking, art, and sewing.
This has been positive for us. As pattern designers, we have seen a modest growth in our businesses. We feel very fortunate that we are able to do what we love from the comfort and safety of our home, and feel very positive about our future.
I have noticed a particular increase in a demand for wood surfaces that I offer for decorative painters. I am not sure whether to attribute this bump to a growing need for the above stated reasons, or that many of the smaller companies that provide wood for painters are closing their doors, or that word is getting out about my Tole Painting Designs business and people are liking what I do. It is probably a little bit of all of the above.
The difficult thing is that the part of the business that seems to be growing fastest is also the most labor-intensive. It takes time to cut, pack, and ship orders and as the volume of orders increase, it is sometimes hard to keep up. Because I do everything myself, I am able to keep my prices at a ‘reasonable’ level. If I were to have to hire someone to help, it wouldn’t really work because I couldn’t afford to pay them a reasonable wage and finding someone with a skill level equal to mine in this area would be hard. Not to mention the ebb and flow of orders as well as the amount of time that I spend cutting and packing. It just wouldn’t make sense.
So I try to balance things as best as I am able. I find myself not pushing too much in the ‘advertising’ department and allowing people to more or less find me. I work with less designers than I used to, and that seems to keep me plenty busy. And I am still looking for a bit more time for me to design my own patterns and kits as well as keep up with my Facebook Group as well as my other social media outlets. It is a constant time of trial and error as to see what will work best for the time being, and it is always changing. It can really be quite a challenge and sometimes can feel a bit overwhelming.
I know I am not alone in feeling this way. I have many friends and colleagues who are also find themselves in similar positions. They are looking for (and achieving) success with their artwork and find themselves a bit frazzled or pulled in several directions at once. They are loving that others appreciate and love their work, yet they are finding they are spending a lot of time trying to catch up with things and also enjoy their life and families in the process. I think the biggest complaint between us is that we don’t have enough hours in the day to do all we want to do. We all seem to feel like that from time to time.
So what is the answer to this dilemma?
I guess there is not perfect solution other then allow yourself to be adaptable so that you can go with the flow of things that are coming your way. As a goal-driven person, I used to find this a lot more difficult to do than I do for now. (I must be mellowing! Ha!) I find that while making goals and lists is still a vital step to keeping on top of things, I may do the list in pencil now instead of ink. Expecting change and adjusting accordingly has become a way of life. Letting go of my stringent self has made things a lot more pleasant and palatable. After all, change is part of the growing process. We can’t really expect things to be the same for us as they were a year ago if we are growing. Can we? That change that we sometimes fear so much is in reality what reaching our goals looks like. So rather than fear it, we need to embrace it.
That is my plan, anyway.
With that said, I have been doing pretty well with letting go of some of the old ways I did things and embracing some of the new. I have pretty much decided that I will do “One batch” of cutting orders per week. This makes more sense than what I was practicing in the past. I used to do two to three batches of orders a week, as they came in. As the work load increased, however, the batches would be larger and take longer and I began to feel like I was climbing up a sand dune in a windstorm. I got to the point where I could never really get to the top and have time to relax and create. That was not what I wanted.
But now, with one batch of work a week – usually starting on Monday – I can finish in a few days and it leaves the end of the week and the weekend for me to do some creative and/or family things. After all – what are we working for if not to just enjoy our lives? Things would be pretty bleak. As a result of that bleakness, it would be hard to feel happy and creative. And thus, things would spiral downward.
So far this is working for me and it has allowed me time to do both things around the house as well as planning my new designs and patterns. I have several things I am working on now for autumn and I feel good about getting them done. It is never too early to start thinking of the holidays, either.
Last week, I decided to change the light fixture in my bedroom. The one we had in there looked like it was from the 1950’s or so:
I really didn’t like it and while it was functional, it didn’t go well with our room.
I nearly bought a new one, but Keith reminded me that we had an extra one in storage. I brought it out and while I liked the curved glass shape of it, I didn’t like that the trim ring above it was white. I wanted something with a contrast to match our dark bedroom furniture.
Enter my large stash of DecoArt paints!
Because the trim ring was white metal, I thought that I would use the Satin Enamel paint on it. I love the Satin Enamels! They are durable and already contain a finish, so all you have to do is paint and you are good to go. I used a fine-grain (about 600 grit) paper to gently rough up the surface and I decided to go with the black paint.
After the three – the finish was opaque and beautiful.
I wanted something a little softer than the black though, and I decided to use some of the DecoArt Metallic paint to give it a lighter look. I applied the metallic with a sponge, and left it looking rather streaky.
I think the result was just perfect! The darker base really made a difference in the overall look and made the light look richer and matched my furniture perfectly!
Sometimes it is the little things that make us happy!
The total time for this project took under an hour. Yet I feel the result was significant.
DecoArt has so many lovely lines of home decor paint to choose from, there seems to be something for every project on my list. (And my list of little projects like this is somewhat long!)
So not only did I complete my ‘work’ for the week, but I got to check off a home project, too. As I write this, it is only Friday afternoon, so I have the entire weekend left to create. I would say that for this week anyway,I did well.
By continuing to adapt and go with the flow of my business, I feel that my life is more in balance. I am always so grateful for those who are my customers and help me keep doing what I love to do. I also feel so fortunate to live in a beautiful place (Nova Scotia) and have for my home and neighborhood a place that people come to for vacation. To me, it is like living in paradise!
I hope you enjoy seeing this little makeover. I hope it inspires you, too. We don’t have to take on huge projects to make a difference. Sometimes even a little change can make quite a significant difference.
I wish you all a great weekend.
Until next time . . .
(You can find DecoArt products at your local hardware stores or craft suppliers, or purchase them online through craft suppliers or at www.decoart.com. I am a proud member of DecoArt’s Helping Artist program and given samples to use in my designs and creating.)