Welcome to my Christmas Home Tour 2017. I know it’s SO cliche, but ‘where did this year go?’ Didn’t we JUST do this holiday thing for 2016? Time flies, things change, and sometimes I can hardly keep up.
Let’s go inside and take a look around at what I’ve done with my home this year for Christmas. And while we look around I’ll give you a bit of a recap of my year.
At the beginning of this year I wrote somewhere (probably Instagram) that big changes were coming. And that has been such a true statement. I had changes in mind to make in my business, and other things came up that weren’t planned.
The first thing I did was to cut way back on my wholesale side of the business. The wholesale had gotten too demanding and was taking too much of my time. I raised my prices, cut back on what I would offer, and began to make time to be more creative and more productive.
Last January my partner in crime (er – business) and I headed south to shop the Atlanta market. We had a whirlwind couple of days walking the floors of the showrooms, sipping cocktails, and planning a new look for Smith Merchants. If you remember, Smiths was a boutique, handmade, and vintage shop in Arcanum, Ohio, housed in a delightful old department store building from the 1800’s. We ordered new merchandise and made a plan for future changes to the old store.
We made the plans for the store knowing in the back of our minds that there just might be some major changes ahead for the store, and in time those plans took shape. The building was eventually sold, we closed the shop temporarily and now have plans to reopen in a new location in the new year. Lots of behind the scenes reasons this was best for everyone involved. It was a sad day, saying good-bye to that lovely old building with all its creaks and character, lofty ceilings and old wood floors. But time moves on, things change, and there are always new mountains to climb and new roads to explore.
We are toying with the idea of once again going to Market to keep refining and tweaking the look we want the shop to take when it opens once again. I have a feeling some picking trips to dusty antique shops and open air flea markets will be in the mix too!
This past year I filled my calendar with a lot more pop-up shop events than I have ever done in the past. The first weekend of June was the beginning and I had one every month through November.
It created a whirlwind of constant creating, sewing, stuffing pillows, loading and unloading and all the other little details these events include. We dealt with hot weather, cold weather, rain, snow and about everything in between! A broken tent from too much snow and rain, soaked product, grass hoppers, a flat tire, aching backs and feet were among the list of things we look back and chuckle over. Well, we don’t chuckle over the aching backs and feet so much 🙂
There is a long list of the things we count as blessings in this business too. Amazing venues and the people who host these shows, the vendors who become friends, the family who help whenever and wherever needed. The ability to be creative, and make a product that makes so many people so happy. The kids who run towards my set up yelling ‘Pillows!’ The men who tell their wives to ‘buy whatever you want, honey’. To all of my customers – I am so very blessed and honored that you have pieces I’ve created in your homes.
This little business that began as a hobby that brought in a bit of extra spending money, has become a thriving and growing business that has taken on a life of its own! It has completely and overwhelmingly outgrown our home. I try my best to keep it all contained in the one small room I work in. But it is just too small. There were very few days this past year that you didn’t find piles of pillows, props, or other business paraphernalia in this nook area of my dining room. And on table and benches too. It’s even made its way into the living room and you can often find piles stacked in the corners there.
I find myself spending more and more time moving things into piles to clear a space to work. Then when that step is done, I move things all over again to empty space needed to do the next step. We have added shelving, cupboards, an island, and drawers to make things easier and more organized. But it’s just too big and still growing. We’ve been looking for over a year at possible alternatives to having this business in our home. I hope to have some news on that front to share soon. Maybe 2018 will bring more big changes!
I wrote a blog post well over 2 years ago called ‘Business is Bliss‘ and in that post I talked of all the things about running a creative, home-based business that I wanted to share. And then I fell completely and totally silent on the subject. You see, I went through a string of stressful, emotional, and challenging events that affected me deeply. I just could not bring myself to blog about business related stuff. I knew that if I blogged about business while dealing with the challenges I was facing, I would not have the right attitude and I would not portray it correctly. So I left it alone and didn’t write anything.
This year I conquered some fears and doubts I had about myself and my business. In a large part due to some amazing and wonderful people I met through business who encouraged me and gave me the confidence I needed to push on. I am forever grateful for the support of family and friends who have helped me keep going and overcome obstacles!
I would love to once more find the time to blog. In the new year I have plans for a new online shop that will streamline my work and make the shopping experience much better for everyone. This blog needs a good dusting off and some redesign. I’m considering hiring a VA so if you know of a good one please send them my way!
I’m also considering hiring a marketer. I have to be careful and not jump into too many things at once. Plans to spend money more wisely and get marketing into the budget are being worked on. I tend to get a new idea for a new product and want to immediately run out and buy all the stuff and get going! I’ve found myself in the past with too much invested too early. I have to plan better, work wiser, and stay focused!
We are applying to some new-to-us shows for 2018 and hope to take our travels to some new areas. We do have our first show on the books already for 2018 – HobNob Market in March! I’m so excited to be doing a show so early in the year. And it’s right at 3 months away so I really need to get working on stuff already!
This year I also worked harder at marketing myself online. I’m growing my Instagram community and I love hanging out there. I love the beautiful photos as I scroll through my feed. I love sharing more of my heart there and the response and support I’ve received from so many amazing makers, vintage finders, and friends. If you don’t follow me there you should be!
Can I share a secret with you? I don’t love marketing. It’s my biggest downfall in this business. I find it hard to put myself and my product out there and promote it. But I’m working on it and pushing through my fears of failure on that front!
This year I worked more on developing my line of wall art. And on the best way to create those in an efficient and affordable way. We started out with my husband making me some wood frames to staple my canvas onto. But it took a lot of his time and I wasn’t overly happy with the long-term results of the canvas I use as wall art. I did some research and testing and have come up with a solution my husband and I are both happy with. I have yet to bring the wall art to the online shop but hopefully in the New Year.
A highlight for me this year was buying my own trailer! We no longer hassle with renting a trailer before a show, picking it up, and then getting it returned as soon as possible after a show. We can arrive home, grab the few things we need out of the truck and go relax a bit! No more unloading immediately, cleaning out the trailer , and returning it quickly to avoid getting charged an extra day.
It also is much nicer to be able to leave all the props loaded. No more loading them before each show and unloading and finding places to store them after a show. As I get pillows made for a show I can now put the inserts in them and get them loaded in the trailer. No more huge piles of pillows in my work room. Best purchase I’ve made for the business yet!
A new product this year was aprons made from vintage tablecloths. These are so fun to create. I listed a few online when I first created them but haven’t found the time to keep up with the demand. Hopefully I can get some online again in the new year.
On the home front, as I’ve tried to keep up with things there, I’ve hired someone to help out with the cleaning. And I tried out Plated for awhile. I loved having all the ingredients for a delicious recipe all in one place and an easy-t0-follow recipe. It made me take the time and go fix dinner. We got to try new recipes and I learned the amazing art of roasting. Roasted veggies and potatoes are some of the easiest and most delicious dinner options! It’s not cheap, but the convenience is wonderful. If it’s something your budget can handle I say give it a try. The box shows up on your porch with the meals you have ordered and everything is there that you will need. (oil, salt, pepper, and cooking utensils you have to provide but I assume in most kitchens that is a given)
In October we packed our family up and headed to the Beach. Toes in the sand, sun on my face, it’s definitely my happy place!
We spent 5 days in Rehoboth Beach, walking the boardwalk, sitting in the sand, watching the waves, playing in the water, eating delicious food. The beginning of October is an awesome time to be at the beach. The crowds have thinned, the weather is still nice, and the water is warm from the summer sun. We spent a day in Gettysburg Pa. on our way to the Beach and a day in Washington D.C. on our way home.
As Christmastime approaches, I’m doing bookwork, planning next year, and working on new designs amongst all the bustle of Christmas orders, Christmas shopping and Christmas decorating. I love this time of year. And I bought myself a new, long, down coat with a big warm hood so I can enjoy the running around without freezing 🙂
I hope your year has been a good one. And I pray the New Year ahead is blessed.