Monday, February 8, 2010

about my staycation

Well, there has been a bit of a hiatus on this here ol’ blog, but don’t worry, folks, MAD has been happily thrumming along. It’s time for an update.

Since this blog is a chronicle of the unfolding adventures of my start-up, home-based, be-my-own-boss craft business, part of the discovery process is in figuring out how to integrate it into the rest of my life, while still having a life.

And what I have been working on with intention in 2010 is creating a guilt-free balance in my life between work, non-work commitments, and personal time.

My business being thus far mainly focused on retail sales at vending events there is a distinct annual cycle to my life and work flow. During the past three years it has looked a bit like this:

Starting in early January and going until sometime in March: turn down no opportunities to play outside in the snow or socialize with the friends I don’t have time to see enough from July – December; procrastinate on doing taxes, then eventually do them; tinker around a bit with new product designs; start getting applications in for farmers markets and Spring shows.

Then, a couple weeks before the first vending event in late March, start sewing like crazy day and night until said show has occurred. Then continue all aspects of the business at a fairly reasonable pace until the Summer vending events begin in earnest.

From July until mid-late December continue to sew madly between vending events to restock inventory. Also often get inspired to tweek and invent products based on customer feedback & new ideas taking very few full days off other than pre-scheduled family vacation time away.

Time off gets more and more scarce and sales increase in proportion until my last show around Dec 21st, after which I collapse, congratulate myself, and get into holiday nesting mode. This is not my ideal work/life balance.

So what happened this year, meaning - in early 2010?

Well, Since early September 2009 I’ve been visioning plans for expansion in 2010 that promised to make much more “productive” (read: work-oriented) use of my time early in the following year. But when the kids returned to school after their holiday break, I couldn’t seem to bring myself to kick back into full gear work-wise, despite my intentions to do so.

During this time my friend, glass artist Terry Zigmund, kept posting on facebook about the 3 week trip she was on in Costa Rica. Realizing I needed more exhaling and rejuvenating time, I decided to enjoy a staycation for as long as Terry was away.

I dabbled in my year-end bookkeeping and filed my 2009 sales taxes, but I let myself off the hook and I saw my friends, enjoyed a lot of time with my family, escaped to mid-century Mexico in Barbara Kingsolver’s new novel, La Lacuna (can’t get myself to use the English definite article the title was published with), xc skied over to my neighbors’ several times for friendly visits and went snowboarding as much as possible.

I was good about keeping my Puritan work ethic at bay and not feeling guilty. I was making up for all those times last Summer I didn’t go to the beach with my friends! I thoroughly enjoyed this time of physical, social and spiritual replenishing. Plus we had great snow.

Towards the end of the 3 weeks I was starting to worry a bit if I’d be able to get back into a disciplined work schedule but when the appointed Monday came along, it wasn’t a problem.

I love my work and I feel very blessed and lucky to be able to swing this alternative lifestyle and make so many of my dreams come true.

So here I am happily working away, for about three weeks now.

Much of my work time so far has been spent timing my production of skirts and aprons so I can accurately figure out my labor costs, an important aspect in pricing as I prepare to offer them for sale in stores this year. I am making HUGE batches to be extra efficient and this timed production will be going on for a while. Sneak peeks of the batch in progress are illustrating the post you now read (if you’ve gotten this far – wow).

Other than the valuable data that will come from this project, I just happen to be building up my inventory and that’s terrific, too.

This is also a big spending time of the year as I order all the supplies I don’t have on hand and can’t get at my local thrift stores: serger thread, bias binding, (*ahem*) bolts of gorgeous new designer fabrics. (feeling the palpable excitement?)

I’m very excited about what the year may hold in store. I have plans to work hard, but also to keep striving for balance. 2010 feels like a good strong number. Plus it’s the Chinese year of the Tiger. Powerful, positive things are going to happen. RAOWR!

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