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Looking Back - My Handmade Journey

Sunday, January 23, 2011

This week has been spent enjoying some bits of sunshine, cheering on Jack's new accomplishments, and putting in some major time writing my book.  I've always wanted to author a book, though I thought it would be some sort of autobiography charting my tumultuous childhood. But, I'm happy to see my draft, a guide offering advice to others hoping to launch or re-launch an Etsy shop, taking shape.  Part of the process has been reflecting back even more on my experiences....or rather, trial & errors.  It has been a journey for sure....and I am so thrilled to finally feel like my shop reflects me. It's like we've grown into each other. 

A few, somewhat embarrassing, glimpses looking back: 
2005: One of my very first bags. Simple & plain & quilted but it did the job toting my teacher stuff to school each day in Boston. This is one of the bags that got the ball rolling....soon other teachers begin requesting their own bags and then I realized, Aha! I could really make + sell something. 

Summer 2006: My first of a summer long series of disappointing & difficult craft shows. This one, in Sisters, Oregon, proved to be the most inspiring. But lo and behold, a lot of money was lost that summer on booth fees and travel. But I did gain some valuable insight into my market, my bag designs, and my salesmanship. Here I am scrutinizing my first pitiful little booth. 

Happy, empty booth. 

Carefully, nervously preparing for all the sales to come ;) 

2006: my first logo, designed by my hubby- meant to reflect the quilted nature of many of my bags and my sewing roots in quilting. I soon outgrew this name. Lesson learned. 

2007: Sold bags through word of mouth & simple website my husband set up. Spent most of my time teaching but tried my darnedest to take great photos. Here's a rudimentary photo box we developed....another drop of tears in the bucket. But, looks like someone in the family put it to good use :) 

2007: Pregnant & preparing for baby. Sewing for friends & family and the few random orders coming my way. Here's an updated bag from that time, also with some updated (sort of) photography. 

2008:   Three months post baby, I opened my Etsy shop & decided to really give things a go to stay home with my son & earn extra income. Here's me nervously fussing with my items at a Portland Crafty Mamas Bazaar. I had no idea what I was doing. 

2008: My shop began taking shape & I got things going a bit by offering new bag designs & improving my photography (though perhaps not evident in these photos :) 

Early 2009: A shop in Portland, Grasshopper, took a chance on me & began offering my baby collection in their store. woo hoo!

Me, pretend sad (and inside very jittery), that they had nearly sold out of all my items before I got there to take photos! 

So there it is, a little peek into some of my most vulnerable & scary times starting out. I am so excited for the changes I've made & the shop I've become. Writing this book is like a little bit of therapy maybe- a dash of confidence, a speck of inspiration, and a whole lot of introspection! 

I so look forward to sharing it. 

Now that I've bared my crafty soul, feel free to link to any photos or posts sharing your beginnings!  


Live a Colorful Life said...

This was a great post. Thanks for documenting your journey. We have learned many lessons with our fused glass business, which is currently in hiatus. We have done a lot of out-of-town weekend shows. Wow, does that eat into your profit!

I'm so looking forward to your ebook!

eamylove said...

I love this post and enjoy your blog so much. I'm in the early days of my Etsy business and see myself in your past. I hope I'll grow and learn as you have! Can't wait for your book!!!!!!!

Candied Fabrics said...

Thanks for sharing your nervous moments! (Actually, it's amazing you have some of those photos! It's so hard to remember to take those when doing a show!)

i don't think I have any posts to share, but you've certainly planted a seed in my brain, cause I should blog about these type of things myself!

BebeBlues said...

Stumbled across your blog... Your bags are so cute! I LOVE the green corduroy looking one!! Best of luck to you and your ventures. Seems to be doing well for you. :O)

Take Care!

GemsGreenGems said...

I was given a bib and burping cloth set from a friend and they are such high quality and really beautiful! I love them. It is from that that I found your blog and have been following you ever since. I'm inspired! I have a 3 month old baby girl and looking to try and do something creative from home. Not 100% sure yet as I'm just starting out but it will probably be soft furnishing focused. I'd love to read your book when it's out, please keep us posted. Thank you x

Violet Craft said...

Hey! That crafty mamas booth - is that at Milagros's? We didn't meet there did we? I remember meeting a couple of really nice people.. but it was a long time ago. I have a series of similar photos from my days gone by. Love the idea of going through them as a timeline. You've come a long way baby! Miss you!!!

Allisa Jacobs said...

Thanks for all the lovely comments! what a journey it's been :)