I am getting excited about my tour about town tomorrow, seeking out all of my favorite local businesses to support on Small Business Saturday! I support small year round, but I do understand how exciting it can be for a small business to have a banging start to the holiday season, so I am going to do my best to hit up all of my favorites. Speaking of hitting up your favorites (wink-wink!) I would like to share our own small business specials and events coming up. Josh and I both are offering a sale in our Etsy shops through Cyber Monday for 10% off $100 purchase, 15% off $200 purchase, and 20% off $300 purchase! That’s a pretty big sale for us, so if you wanted to do any holiday shopping with us, it will not get better than this! UNLESS you are within driving distance and would like to come shop with us in person this upcoming weekend, December 5th and 6th. We will be at our annual Big Oaks Winter Sale out on the lovely 300+ acre farm of our friend Carey and Brant Slay from 10am-5pm both days, and you can get directions if you plug this address into Google Maps: 10747 UNION PLEASANT GROVE OMAHA, GA 31821 In addition to all of our work, Carey will be selling all of her wonderful wood fired pottery. We will have a friendly, open buffet of snacks and tea to eat while you browse, chat, and take a break from the holiday chaos under the mighty boughs of the Big Oak trees. We offer great in-person discounts and will have a variety of items from all four of the Etsy shops on display. I love to “clean house” at the end of the year to make room for new products, so a lot of things will be greatly discounted. This is a great opportunity to shop small and get lots of beautifully made gifts for your friends and family. These pictures from last year’s show speak for themselves and we hope to see you there! If you would like to see links to all of our Etsy shops in one place and start shopping early, click here.
Let me start by saying that it’s been a GREAT Halloween season. This year was a little different because my Mom was coming over a couple of times a week to help me snip threads, cut out designs, and wrangle the little ones while I pushed through the workload, not to mention this is the first season that Josh has also been working from home and available to be my back-up. All in all, I am coming out on top of the game this year. That is not always the case, trust me. The harrowing Halloween truth is that this time of year, the volume of business which I am simultaneously SO grateful for and slightly terrified of, nearly ruins me. No matter how prepared I am, no matter how many extra capes, crowns, and masks I have put back throughout the year, it always has a way of sneaking up on me. I go from having fewer and fewer little moments to relax to all of a sudden, I realize I haven’t signed a kid’s school folder for weeks, haven’t been in the kitchen for days, (I have only cooked about one homemade meal a week for the last couple months, which is horrible for me because I LOVE to cook and it is so cathartic to me!), and have nearly given up running and biking altogether…All the little things that make me feel grounded and centered and pulled together, in other words, get forsaken during this season. And while I have gotten so much better about taking care of myself and maintaining good familial relationships during this phase, there have been years (this is my fifth Halloween on Etsy as a costume designer) that I have felt like a vessel for all the work that passed through my hands and nothing more when it was over. Literally nothing left inside me. Hollow, empty, sad, tired, and so in need of a break and some down time that I didn’t even realize it anymore. You all know the feeling. One day of needing a break goes unfulfilled on top of another and another and before long you are wondering why did I want to work from home again?…If you don’t know the feeling, I will only say that it is soul wrenching and quite hard to recover from. Add to that stress the fact that I LOVE this time of year for what it affords my family, and am usually eager to reopen the shop after Halloween because I am able to save money, fund Christmas, birthdays, and extracurricular sport activities, and get on top of things going into the new year with the revenue earned this time of year, (No time to crawl under a rock and nurse your wounds, I can tell you that!!) and one busy season easily flows right into the other. And speaking of wounds, there have been plenty. There was the one year I dropped my spring-loaded thread trimming scissors and in trying to catch them, I stabbed myself (deeply!) in the leg, the countless callouses on my not-so-dainty hands which I have given up ever getting rid of, the aches in my hips and back from sitting in a chair at the sewing machine for hours and hours every day, the broken needles popping off and ricochetting off my face….The concept of pouring your blood, sweat, and tears doesn’t just remain some distant cliché, but a promise here during Halloween and then again for Christmas business. All is not dark in this tale though! Of course I wouldn’t be in my fifth year if that was all there was to the story. That is but a small part that I usually keep to myself and those closest around me. This year, I am coming out on top, though! With Mom and Josh’s help, it has felt like a different year. Not to mention, unsurprisingly, the longer I do this, the easier it seems to get!
Now that I have revealed the ugly truth about this time of year, I will reveal something else too. The counter story to this one. The uplifting, gratifying, happy version. The version where I get a picture from a customer, whose child has just tried on their costumes for the first time and they are glowing! Or the review from a Mom who said her kid doesn’t want to take their costume off, or wanted to sleep in it every night! The endless inspiration I get from customers is such a source of renewal and rejuvenation. They come to me asking for what they think will be the craziest idea, but to me is a challenge that is like a bright light bursting through the clouds. In my house we talk about “The Bucket”…That internal source of joy and happiness that can be filled or emptied by certain experiences. My Dad always called it “The Internal Well” and it became a metaphor for self-care and guide for who to let into your life. Does someone help fill your bucket, or drain it? And the same goes for experiences. I will make the distinction here that all my customers, all my orders, all my success fills my well. Fills it so high! The only draining part is the longevity of the process…The 16 hour days and aches and pains that go along with it. I love ALL my customers so much and am so grateful to them all. Having said that, I now say that there is a special place in my life for these custom order requests. They fill the well in double measure and fuel so much of the creativity I draw on throughout the year. It really is a blessing to have people come to me, to entrust their kids’ visions, dreams, and fantasies with me to make them a reality. I changed The Tree House Kid slogan this year after having this thought to: “THE TREE HOUSE KID, Turning Fantasies into Realities Since 2011!” I know it’s a fitting one because I’ve looked at it for months and haven’t gotten tired of it yet, and I think it helps define TTHK pretty perfectly. As a tribute to the end of Halloween Season 2015, coming out on top and in better and better shape every year, and to all my customers, big and small, old and young, custom and not custom alike, I share these with you now. Enjoy your Haunting and Long Live ALL The Tree House Kids~~~
Today’s featured item came from a custom order request from a repeat customer who had already ordered a green crocodile mask and tail set. This time the little boy wanted an albino alligator! Apparently there is a famous one at the zoo near their home, and it had endeared itself to this little boy very much. I love getting custom order requests because so often folks can come up with awesome ideas or color combinations that I might not think of myself. It always provides fresh inspiration and leads to new creative outlets. So I set to work thinking of this costume and how it would turn out…At first I was a little discouraged from the project because, well, how fun could it be to make an ALBINO alligator. It’s all white, right? Most of my costumes are full of over-reaching color and this one had me a little stumped at first. But once I started pulling out my various shades of white, I started to see something very peaceful and unique emerging. She wanted it made out of pure wool felt. I LOVE working with wool felt and started offering it as an option in The Tree House Kid late last year after I had several customers request it. I can make it out of Ecofelt as well, but this one in particular was built from pure wool felt. I like for my animal costumes to carry some realistic features, so the first thing I do when I design an animal costume is look the animal up on Wikipedia or in my animal field guides. I use a compilation of pictures to draw a sketch of the face, then a more refined version that can be reduced down to simple mask features. I start with the eyes and build the mask around the eyes, which is ironic because it is the eyes that are empty in a mask, but also what MAKES it a mask. I was really happy with the way this set turned out. They liked it enough to get one for their son and a friend as well! So out there somewhere, there are two little albino alligator buddies probably visiting this rare and precious animal in its habitat, hopefully learning more about the animal through the experience and of course, through their play. Peace to each and every one of you on this evening.