Tuesday, April 16, 2013
I will be selling at this event on Sunday, April 21!
It should be a good time, as long as the weather holds up, and I've been teamed up with a wonderful jewelry seller!
This time, I will only have my photo prints, cards, and a few photo boxes with me, as I wanted to minimze duplication and ensure that my partner's and my items complement each other.
If you're in Maryland that day and like books and art, it would be a great time to stop by!
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Things are really picking up! I have two shows coming up in the next two weeks! My mind is already blown with the excitement. I will share the details in the next few days. On the 21st, I'll be doing the Gala CREST show, which is running in conjunction with the Kensington, MD Day of the Book. I'll be there from 10am-4pm. The 28th, I'll be doing Paws in the Park in Gaithersburg, MD. I'm very much looking forward to these two shows!
The photo above is of my birthday present from my boyfriend! I've been complaining for a long time about being stuck with my kit lens (Nikon D60). While the camera takes decent pictures, I outgrew that lens very quickly. I was just making do until I could afford something better. Well, I didn't have to! :) I'm over the moon about this, and it was a total surprise!
Sadly, the camera's not working well, due to having been dropped last summer. The photos it takes are passable, but in certain situations, the quality is bad. Bad. Things are quiet enough for me this coming week that I can finally take it to be looked at. I've already established that the problem is with the camera and not with the lens. If it's going to cost too much to fix, I'll have to replace it. That's OK, because I'm about at the point where I want to upgrade, anyway. (Naturally, it will go into the shop with its kit lens!) Because of this situation, I'm not doing shoots right now.
I've also picked up a new volunteer blogging gig. It's been a while since I left the last one, and I feel sufficiently recovered, so when the leader of one of Etsy teams approached me recently to do some typesetting, I agreed. I literally just started, so we will see how it goes. I do know that I want to blog about a recent trip my BF and I took, and it would be perfect for that blog, and I'd like to blog the Paws in the Park event, as well. I really try not to overextend myself, and I've gotten better about saying "no" and not committing to things if I'm not sure I can meet those commitments, but I do like to keep my writing machine oiled.
Finally, I believe I've mentioned this, but I am exploring doing stand up comedy! I've been going to meetings at a comedy writing group, and it's going well. I've written and shared a couple of things, but I won't be getting on stage for a while yet. I go to the meetings about once a month and occasional special events ,and I'm active in their online groups. It's a very supportive group, and I've made a few friends. I'll do this until I don't want to do it any more, and if I'm successful at it, then Yay! If not, I'll be able to say I tried something that scared me to death. ;)
I hope that everyone is having a wonderful Spring! Maybe I'll see some of you locals at my shows!
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Thursday, February 21, 2013
This photo was not taken by me.
It's cold here in Maryland. Really cold. Windy, too. I really need a scarf and a hat, so today, I went shopping. See, I used to have two or three of each, but I have developed a habit of losing them, sadly. Now, my ears and my cheeks freeze whenever I step outside. Naturally, the first place I went is Artfire. Since it's my primary selling venue, I also make sure to look there first when I want something for myself. The sellers there usually don't disappoint, nor did they today! I found what I wanted, and I am confident I will be cozy for many winters to come!
Though money is tight for me, I dropped a good amount of money on my accessories without blinking an eye. I was reminded, as I paid for my purchases, of the many folks I've run into at shows who have made comments like, "I could make that myself", or "That's expensive!" or "Gee, I wish I could afford this. These prices are so high!" These comments, even when they were not made about my own items, always used to chafe. To me, the prices that handmade sellers place on their goods are perfectly valid, and here is why (I am speaking as a buyer of craft here, not as a seller):
-I am paying for genuine, American-made items. I know that the person across the table (or Internet) from me is taking the money I give him or her and putting it back into the American economy. I know that he or she is not using slave labor. I know that the items are made here, on American soil.
-I am directly helping a genuine human being, not some faceless corporation. He or she may be feeding a family or supplementing a limited income or just putting his or her art out there for people to appreciate.
-I am paying for something made by hand. I picture the seller in his or her studio, maybe with a cup of coffee near at hand, toiling away on these labours of love. I picture him or her poring over materials, some of which also may be locally sourced and even possibly made by hand. I feel the hours and hours of work and attention that went into each piece.
I don't mind one bit paying for any of that! By comparison, I find store-bought, mass-produced products to just feel empty and shallow. I can't meet all of my needs via handmade, by any stretch, but when I need something, handmade is the first place I look if it's something that can be obtained that way.
Next time someone complains about your prices, just remember what I've shared here, and most importantly, remember that there are buyers out there who will not question why you price the way you do. They will not balk at paying for what you have to offer. They will simply appreciate what we do, and if they are in a position to, they will buy something they see and fall in love with.
Friday, January 18, 2013
Wow. It's a new year already! The answer to your unspoken question, dear readers, is "yes and no." I'm ready for 2013, but I'm not. How did it get here so fast? Looking back at what went awry last year and looking forward at where I want to take this show, I've been thinking a lot about what I will be doing going forward. The word for this year is "refinement".
To be sure, last year was an off year. Due mostly to personal reasons, I just was not able to focus on my business as much as I might have wanted to. Life just needed tending to, and the business suffered a little for it. (Not too badly. I think if I could have devoted more time to it, it could have been one of my best years to date!) This does not mean I didn't learn anything or think about ways to improve. Goodness knows, when I can't get into the studio, I'm certainly thinking about it! Thinking is good!
This year, there will be some changes to my offerings. One of them is not a welcome change, but that's just life.
-I love making jewelry and bags. I really, really do; however, those will become more occasional offerings. Because I sew by hand, my bags take me a long time to complete. Truth be told, it can take me a year or so to complete one sometimes. Sometimes, I don't get time to sew. Sometimes, I find myself working on the bag and needing to go back and redesign. A lot of things happen, but it's clear to me that this is not a primary focus for JLP. Will I still be offering them? Occasionally. Will I still take custom orders for bags? Absolutely! When I do get them made, I will also still post them. It just may not be as often as I'd once thought.
Same thing with the jewelry. It does not take me anywhere near as long to make my jewelry, but the inspiration to make it doesn't hit as often as it used to. I will still take custom orders for it, and I will still list some when I make it, but again: Not the primary focus.
-I won't be offering photo shoots for at least the next six months. I did a dumb thing last summer and failed to secure my camera while hiking. Yup. I dropped it. After a lengthy email discussion with a local camera shop, I learned that it is most likely"borked." I'm going to have them look at it, but it may cost at least half the retail price of the camera to fix what's wrong. I will probably end up donating it. There is another camera I will be able to use, but I will need to take time to get used to it. I'm not one of those people who can just pick up any camera and go. If I am going to offer shoots, everything needs to be as close to perfect as possible on my end.
Additionally, I'm interested in getting into pet and band photography, so I will be focusing my studies in those areas. That is not all that i will shoot, but that is probably where I will be offering my services for hire in the future.
What I will be doing is using this "down" time to prepare some of my older, archived work for sale. I have tons of photos that you all have not seen yet! Stay tuned!
-My craft offerings are going to change a bit. This past year, I separated out my more whimsical, colorful work into a separate shop. This is not because I feel that work is inferior, but because I'm starting to see a more cohesive theme come out in most of my work. The work in my my main shop is taking on more earth tones and is becoming more nature-focused. (This is where I wanted to go with my work.)
This year, I will be adding more animal-themed work to both sites, depending on how the pieces look. One of the major things I learned last year is that I do much better at pet/animal-focused shows than I do at "regular craft shows." While I don't make stuff for pets (more on that in a minute,) I got a lot of requests for things like pendants to hold ashes from a beloved pet and breed-specific jewelry,etc. at one of the shows last year. This year, I will be returning to that show with more animal-themed work, and with a few pet toys! The toys won't be going up in my online shops until after (whatever I have left over will go up on Blujay.) I don' t want to become a pet toy maker, but the charity project I did in November clued me in that this would be a good thing to do for these specific shows. I'm even thinking of offering jewelry that incorporates a favorite pet's name for these shows.
My focus for the bulk of my offerings will be on my prints, on my decorated boxes, and on my note cards. The boxes are one of my favorite things to work with, and they get raves. I will be incorporating my own photography into these more and more. Will this up my sales? We shall see!
-I am back to beating the bushes for advertising opportunities. I've already got my links up a few places, and I intend to scope out more. There's not a lot of money in the advertising budget, but I intend to do what I can, for the art and the vintage. I'm always happy to do link exchanges, if nothing else!
-While I won't be closing my current vintage shop, I will be testing out a second venue. Views have been very low this past year, and my sales really dropped off. (I did not close my shops while I was dealing with last year's crises.) I'll start with just a few items that have not been listed yet and just see how they do. At the end of the year, I will compare and go from there.
-I am exploring the idea of trying stand up comedy! This is something I have wanted to do for a very long time--like, since college--but have been too afraid. I've joined a local comedy writers' group, where you can just go and learn and get feedback, and there is no pressure to perform or even share your work, though they prefer that you at least share something, if you're going to give feedback to others. I have some material that I am going to work on developing this year, and we'll just see how it all goes. Since I'm not going to push myself to actually get on stage, it's more exciting than scary. Before I do get on stage, I will be doing some reading, attending some workshops, and maybe taking a class or two (not necessarily all this year.)
As I told one of the group leaders tonight, the first order of business will be to find out if I'm even funny! ;)
I'm also hoping to get my two chapbooks to the point where I can think about publishing them. I talk about writing all the time. I need to do more of it.
This all means that I'm going to try to get back to the rotating schedule I developed. It worked reasonably well when I instituted it back in 2011. Last year was just too chaotic. This year already feels like a better year, so I think I'll be able to settle back in.
So, there's my "This Year" post for 2013. Hopefully, you haven't fallen asleep reading all of this. As always, comments and questions are welcome. (Comments are moderated, however, because the spammers have been really aggressive lately!)
So...Happy 2013! I wish you happiness, prosperity, and most importantly, creativity!
Sunday, November 25, 2012
For a while there, I worked on Holiday cards. I got a few made for my show earlier this month, and I'm happy with them. I have one on my desk in progress, now.
This past week, however, one of my Etsy Street Teams decided that we would donate money and toys to some shelters in NY and NJ that are still suffering the effects of Hurricane Sandy. We got word that these shelters have had a lot of food donated, so a number of us have been making toys.
I have been working since Thursday (my boyfriend and I don't celebrate Thanksgiving), cutting, tearing, knotting, and sewing goodies for the poor dogs and cats who are hunkered down in these shelters. It's been incredibly fun and rewarding!
Tomorrow, I will get one last day to work on them (I've been sick, so I'm staying home tomorrow to recover for one more day.) They'll be shipped out, most likely, on Tuesday.
I don't normally make pet toys to sell, but as I've been working on these, I have actually named some of them. One or two people have asked me if I sell my toys, as of now I don't. I am now, however, thinking of making some for a show I hope to do in April. It's an animal-themed show, and it would make a nice tie-in, I think.
All of those affected by Sandy --human and non--are in my thoughts and prayers. If this one, little thing I'm doing makes a few lives better, then I feel really good about that!
I hope everyone has had a great Holiday weekend! After tomorrow, it's back to the cards for me!
Thursday, October 25, 2012
We all have them: "off years." Those years when things get away from us, and we just can't seem to focus on the path we've chosen. Though not entirely bad, 2012 has been one of those years for me. Since early Summer, things around me have been so crazy that I have had little time to devote to JLP, and oh, how I have missed it! During the periods when I was not in the thick of something, I was recovering from something. Everything just came at me so fast this year that I have not been able to stay focused.
This post is not a whine, and it's not a bid for sympathy. It's an opportunity for me to catch you all up a bit on what's been happening this year for me.
-There is my job search: I am employed full time already; however, I have been actively looking for another job for a long time. Results have not been forthcoming, but to be fair, there have also been periods when I have not been actively looking, for one reason or another. I'm glad I have a job and am able to pay my bills, but I know that I could be doing better.
-My parents: If anyone has been having a tough year, it's my parents! They had plumbing problems in the house earlier in the year. There was flooding, and this resulted in extensive renovations, including mold and mildew rehab. In the process, they were robbed. (Insurance covered most of the cost of the renovations, if not all of it, from what I understand, so there's that.) They were robbed, they believe, by the rehab contractors, but they had no proof.
Later in the year, we had a scare with my step dad. This was a real scare. I ended up having to take a week off work to go and stay with them and help Mom out while he was in the hospital. We were honestly not sure he was going to make it. Diagnosis: Congestive Heart Failure. His lifestyle is very different now!
Later in the year, they were robbed again! From what the police say, it was a different crew. The MO was totally different. As of now, all parties have been caught, and my parents have recovered some of what was stolen. My parents now have a home security system installed, I am happy to say. We were all blindsided by this, you see, because my parents live in a very rural area. What has changed recently, other than the cost of living going up everywhere, particularly in urban areas, is that the suburbs are spreading outward to more rural areas, so you can't behave the way you used to out in the country. No more leaving your doors unlocked. No more leaving your car unlocked. You just never know any more. I'm very grateful no one was hurt. For a while, I was scared that the perps would come back, but luckily, they did not. (Equally luckily, they did not run into me.)
Most recently, my mom had a knee replacement, and then there were complications in the beginning of her recovery. She was back in the hospital this week (the surgery was last week, and she first went home on Sunday,) but she is back home now and seems to be doing fine. We don't know if it was a drug reaction, a drug interaction, or just a matter of her having been released too soon, but I'm happy that she's doing OK now.
The closest of us kids live about 40-45 minutes away from them, and I'm beginning to think that maybe we all need to start to think about how to manage their care. They are both very sharp still, but as time goes on, there are just things they are not going to be able to handle the way they used to. I go over and see them about twice a month. More recently, it's been every weekend, and I'll continue that as long as is needed.
-My other projects: Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that I was working as a journalist for a while (volunteer). For two years, I was a reporter for a religious news bureau. There is a national organization, and then there are the bureaus in different parts of the world. My official title was Editorial Coordinator. It was my job to copy edit and proof things, to be the bureau chief's right hand, and to liaise with the editorial staff at National. For 23 months, it went swimmingly. Though I did not get to as many events in person as my colleagues (there were five of us,) I did manage to attend some wonderful events and cover them (to positive feedback,) and I had the opportunity to conduct some really great interviews. People looked forward to our posts. We clicked and worked like a well-oiled machine. My work with this organization--when it was going well--did not interfere with my operations for JLP. In fact, I considered it one of my JLP projects (my work for the organization, not he organization itself.)
Sadly, in August, the bureau chief made a unilateral decision and ran a story without the rest of our input. He worked directly with national and did not communicate with us. I was not happy, and some others were not, either. There were a lot of phone calls and a few Skype meetings. In the end, I left the bureau. The good news is that national was very impressed with my work in the past, and they asked me to keep an open mind about working with other bureaus. I said I would do that, but I am taking a break until about mid-November.
My recovery from that situation, to be honest, has eaten up a lot of my time since. My illness is triggered by stress. In the immediate aftermath of this parting of ways and the drama involved, I was very, very tired. For a couple of weeks, I simply did nothing creative. I took a break.
I'm happy to say, at least, that most of my friendships formed when I worked with the bureau are intact. In fact, some of us grew closer through it all. Some are no longer speaking to me, and I'm OK with that. I still care about those people, and maybe in time we will be friends again.
-My bathroom renovation: A couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend decided to renovate our upstairs bathroom on his own. I've been talking for a couple of years about how I have wanted to have it completely redone, but did not have the money. He came up with a compromise. He is redoing everything except the tub and surround! He has already ripped out the flooring to the sub floor and re-tiled, and it looks really great! He also redid some of the drywall work. We replaced the vent cover and the toilet. In November, we are probably going to replace the sink--a job he also thinks he can do himself, and we may paint then, too. I'm over the moon! It really looks fantastic, even though the tub and surround are still in (they are white, so they don't really clash, and they are not in terrible shape.)
Unfortunately, this has meant that I can't get into the attic. There are building materials in the way. That means that, after my show on 9/29, I could not put anything away. Everything from that show is still piled up in the studio. My desk/work table is buried under mountains of stuff--partially finished projects, mail that needs to be filed, supplies that need to be sorted, etc. I can't get to my workspace, so I can't work right now! That has been driving me crazy, but I'm making the best of it. I got an order last weekend for some note cards, so once the prints come in, I'm just going to have to move the mess around so I can get the order done. I also have a show next weekend. Fun fun!
I'm not complaining, though. He has saved me thousands of dollars, and we are both learning a lot. (He wants to redo my kitchen himself!) He also says he's been having a lot of fun with it. I'm even getting a "new" coffee table out of the deal! The glass in our coffee table (inlay) was broken in one corner. Today, he tiled the surface of the table! :) He's going to get molding to go around the tile work, and then he's going to sand the original surface (the edges around the tile work) and stain the wood all one color. Right now, the tiles are down, but he has not grouted yet. It's going to look very cool. I will share pictures of this and the bathroom reno on my other blog.
So this has been my 2012. I'm not really upset. I'm still making a few sales here and there. I've had a couple of near misses, too. One was a potential photo shoot that did not happen, and the other was negotiations for a part time writing and editing job where the client just went incommunicado all of a sudden. Both are very frustrating, but tire kicking is part of the process, especially in a down economy. I was annoyed, but now I'm just moving on.
This just was not my year to kick ass and take names, but that's OK, because I'll be that much more ready to do it next year!
I am not putting this year to bed yet. Don't get me wrong. I'm just facing some challenges that I have not faced in the past. I'm still doing it, though, any way I can!
There has been a lot of good this year: New connections formed; older connections solidified; bonding with colleagues; two shows, each of which brought in more money than I've made at a show before in each category (one show for vintage, one for crafts/art); my first sale on Etsy for my current shop. (It took two years!); new bathroom; closer relationships with my parents and with my boyfriend; and finally: I still have a job, even if it's not the job. I'm thankful for that!
I think my boyfriend will probably wrap up in a week or so, and at that point, I can probably get my studio back. Meanwhile, I will do what I need to do. Right now, what I need to do is sleep (I hate insomnia,) so I will wrap this post up here.
Thank you for reading and for your support and interest in JenniferLynn Productions, LLC!
Photo: "Conclusion" (c) 2011 Jennifer L. Moore. Do not duplicate.