Hello Friends! I have had myself a very nice break from Etsy. I have a few takeaways from this much-needed breather that I would like to share here…If for nothing else, my own reference. If this encourages any of you out there who may also be Entrepreneurs or work from home Moms or even if you are in the workforce and have ever felt guilty for taking a break, then this might be for you too. Sometimes it is easy to convince myself that I haven’t quite worked hard enough to take that break yet. My problem was that I was forever moving the carrot a little further and further out from myself in an effort to trick myself into getting more and more done, but never could seem to actually take the break that I was striving so hard to “earn”…I am here to tell you TAKE THE BREAK! In the last 3-4 weeks that my Etsy shop has been on vacation, nothing has fallen apart. None of my Etsy followers contacted me to yell at me for my ill-timed vacation or to vow never to shop with me again because I failed to be there when they needed me. No one called me out for being lazy, no one blamed me for needing a break. My Etsy shop did not disappear into a nameless void and I didn’t lose all of my momentum and enthusiasm for work. QUITE THE OPPOSITE. If anything, I am actually enjoying this surge of creativity and passion for my work so much that I don’t really want to go back to my online business just yet. I have taken a step back in order to ask myself some hard questions, such as where am I now compared to where I want to be with my business? Do I enjoy making the things I offer to my customers? Is my aesthetic still current and modern in the face of all the copy cats out there in the retail world? How hard to I want to work and what do I hope to gain in the end with all of those late nights and swallowed tears? Let’s face it…Momming is hard! Working from home is hard! Entrepreneuring is HARD! Balancing it all while still staying connected and in love with what you do is not just hard, but like the Cat in the Hat juggling all of those things whilst atop a circus ball. If any one part gets out of balance, you can bet you are going down. There is even a Ted Talk called The Power of Time Off that I really love. It comes back to me out of the blue every now and then when I am really needing that break to center myself and my work. You can see that Ted Talk by clicking the link above. I have actually opened my Etsy shop Kari Goodwin Quilts with all of my quilts, pillows, and a few other random things, but am trying out the shop without the baby items in it at this time…Maybe I will write a short blog post about that decision soon as well. Folks Linen, The Tree House Kid, and Joshua Treeworks are also live and open for business. Together the four of us make up Goodwin’s Custom Crafts. We all thank you for reading and for all of your support!! Until Next Time!
I was a big fan of Judy Collins when I was a kid. I liked to sing along to her music because I could mimic her voice. My favorite of her songs (or was it really hers, I don’t know) was Everything Must Change…Nothing stays the same…everyone will change, nothing, no-one goes unchanged, or something like that. You get the idea. True words for sure. We’ve had some changes here as well, as Josh has moved on from the woodworking business and is now gainfully employed again. I have restructured by business to bring my Sister and Momma into the fold, and my Sister now runs The Tree House Kid, and my Mom runs Folks Linen, leaving me with one shop…Goodwin’s Custom Crafts.
I have changed the name of my shop to Kari Goodwin Quilts after MONTHS of mentally seeking the shelter of a new shop name. Goodwin’s Custom Crafts was, after all, Josh’s name that he picked for his business forever ago and I just wanted to evolved from that and start fresh. I wanted a name that was cool and funky and defined my shop, but nothing came, so I just chose the simple, straightforward approach, as that pretty much defines me as a person anyway. I am at least straightforward if not simple. So Kari Goodwin Quilts it is. I already like how seeing that name on the top of my Etsy shop makes me think about my work, if it is living up to the name, if I am in fact actually quilting. I just renewed my membership for the Modern Quilt Guild and have signed up as a Super Volunteer for the show in Savannah, so I am super excited to be attending my first ever QuiltCon in 2017. My point is, I’m changing. I am trying to shed old skin and wriggle out the kinks in this new skin. It’s a skin I’ve wanted to wear for a while now, focusing more on my true passion of quilting. I can say right now, at this moment,I have six quilts in some, WAIT, no SEVEN quilts in some stage of the process. I am a little rusty and my work is still smaller than I would like for it to be, but I am moving in the right direction at least. Here just a few pictures of my Works In Progress or #wip, just in case you are an old Judy Collins fan like I was and maybe didn’t know what #wip meant! 🙂
Life is a process of constant edits. Like my Grandmother always says, (who is in her 90’s and I talked to for over 30 minutes on the phone about her blooming flowers this morning!) “Just when you start to make ends meet, somebody moves the other end!” I am constantly trying to reinvent myself, my life, my process, to be more like the pictures I see in my head. Sometimes, that is a very messy and inconvenient thing, but I don’t think I’ve ever thought to myself after such a decision, “Man, I wish I had just left well enough alone and not done that!” I like that process of reinvention because it moves me closer to my dreams. Eventually, you have to accept where you are and what you’ve accomplished, of course, but it’s the little corrections along the way that caught my attention with this project. I thought I was finished with this quilt yesterday. I pulled it off the stack of projects needing attention and found a backing for it that I liked…Indigo because that is my favorite color these days, and I proceeded to put it together, pinning here and there, and thinking of how it would be quilted. I finished pinning it and put it on my desk to begin and I thought to myself, “Wait!! THIS IS NOT FINISHED.” I groaned inwardly to myself, because of course I wait until after I am finished with the basting it to have a stroke of inspiration. I had already cut the batting to size, found the perfect backing, and spent almost two hours getting it to this point. But still, something felt like it was missing. I unpinned everything and decided that adding a big, chunky ol’ indigo border to the quilt was just what it needed. I had told myself this year I wanted to make bigger quilts, and not limit myself to just crib and toddler sizes, so adding the borders was the extra step I told myself I needed to start taking more this year. It would have been easier to just proceed with the quilt as it was, because pinning is not my favorite part of the process and it was already done, but I have learned that I am never happy with myself when I ignore those little voices. So I unpinned, added borders, and picked a new backing material, which luckily, is the perfect fit. So it was an edit…an erase and do-over, but I’m usually glad when I can make that happen, and now, the quilt feels finished! Happy Saturday y’all, and always remember to go with your intuition…You will be glad you did!
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~~~