Monday, June 6, 2011

Leaping off, diving in

When I first started this blog about two years ago I am going to outright admit that I did so because I fully intended to sew and sell.  I knew my way around a sewing machine and had recently re-discovered a love for sewing and I naively thought I could make stuff and folks would buy it and it would be a fun thing to keep a new stay at home mum occupied.  But not one to jump into anything until I am sure of how deep the water is (obviously) I quickly discovered that "out there" the handmade market is an entire ocean that needs careful and considered navigation, and that like real life I would much, much prefer to sit on the sandy beach in the sun rather than have cold waves breaking over me.  Its taken me a couple of years, many changes of mind and a heap of procrastination before finally deciding to wet my toes. 

Instead I have gone the long way around and spent the last few years at my sewing machine making my way first through things like bedding, simple curtains, cushions and bunting, moved onto making softies for the best part of another year and lately have been increasingly dabbling in clothing.  This whole time I have been gaining skills, self teaching, experimenting, amassing little bits of sewing equipment that make the job easier and the results look better. I have made and made and made for friends and relations and loved the buzz of deciding on what project to make, what to make it out of, the making process and of course the giving.  I have slowly slipped into an ongoing philosophy of always giving handmade rather than store bought.  I have given everything with a kind of shy and bashful "Yes, I made it" admission, hoping that nobody thinks I'm cheap or daggy for doing so and that they appreciate that my time, and my skill, and materials have been chosen and given by me personally to create a gift just for them.  I think I have done OK with it as I have continually knocked back suggestions from friends that I set up an online shop to sell what I make.  What exactly to sell?  How much time should I put into it? What kind of marketplace to sell goods at?  The whole question of originality and uniqueness bothered me, or rather petrified me for a good long while.  I didn't want to give up the pleasure of creation and give in to the (perceived) drudgery of making the same thing over and over again for the purposes of selling.  I didn't want my blog to become focused on a shop, or markets, or sales because I personally don't dig blogs that are an after thought to a shop.  I have instead been spending my time blogging to my hearts content, reading countless other blogs, and commenting and participating, making great friends and loving every minute of it. I have read the posts here and there about this online market place versus that online market place, the posts about copied work and original ideas, the posts about pricing, the posts about why some folks sell and others swear off it entirely, the posts about whether all the work is worth it...and after two years I finally feel ready.

At this moment I have time on my hands, I have better sewing skills, I have a better sense of colour, a better knowledge of fabrics, I take better photos, I have appreciation of the handmade market place, and I don't sweat the small stuff any longer - I have relaxed into a good head space to be comfortable about making a handful of items to sell. I've chosen a format that makes the most sense for me - two days a week dedicated to sewing work, creative freedom to make what I like when I like and the integrity to use materials and styles that sing to me and that I am proud to make and sell using a small shop platform where I don't feel lost and out of place or intimidated, I just feel like me.

So if you're a regular visitor over here you have probably noticed the little "shop" link on the sidebar. Its been there about a month and I haven't even blogged about it, I'm already hopeless about self promotion!  I do admit though that I announced it to family and friends first (who generously supported me and bought out half the shop necessitating an immediate re-stock!).  And now its your turn. What's over there?  I'm sewing some simple clothes for kids from sizes 1-6 under the label of Maika.  I'm combining new and recycled fabrics and trims, all items ready made, one of a kind or very limited quantities...and it feels great.  I'm having fun and am keeping expectations low key, going along for the ride.  And I'm still going to blog about whatever and whenever and not talk shop too much, probably once a month, and that will be enough about that.


CurlyPops said...

Congratulations Caroline!
It sounds like you're going about it the smart way, and making it work for you.
The shop looks lovely!

littlebetty said...

Congratulations on your shop - the stock looks lovely. While I know you may not want to talk about the shop on the blog, I think it's a necessary evil to maintain a little business like this. I try to keep the shop posts to a minimum and only blog the intersting stuff. Good Luck!

Kylie said...

Good on you Caroline! They look wonderful :)

Gina said...

I like your considered and slow approach. You're not going into this with unrealistic expectations and I think that's the key. I've already checked out your shop - I think what you're making looks great! I'm a 'non-seller' for many reasons (and one of those is that, honestly, my skills are not good enough) and sometimes I don't find it easy to respect what some people are selling, why they are doing it, and the way blogs become just marketing tools. But many others out there are making high-quality stuff, enjoying the process and not trying to become famous. And those crafters I am often eager to support. May your shop be frequented and your satisfaction levels high!

Yana said...

congratulations! your shop looks great and you have some lovely things there!! :) i'm hoping to "wet my toes" soon as well and join you in the handmade marketplace :)


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