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[118] The Only Race is With Yourself

 

Do you feel ‘left behind’ when you look at other handmade businesses?

Do you worry that you aren’t doing enough? That your business isn’t growing fast enough? That you should be where that person is?

I’m here to tell you that this is a super-common feeling. AND that you need to stop looking at and comparing yourself to those other businesses out there.

You can only do what YOU can do. You cannot compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.

That is: maybe you have a job, and children, and elderly parents, and a partner, and hobbies… etc etc. In other words – your life only leaves you with a certain amount of time free to work on your business.

Your free time may be vastly different to that person’s free time.

Stop acting like you’re in a race with other people. The only race is with yourself.

 

 

Quotes and highlights from this episode:

  • Many fledgling creative entrepreneurs struggle with finding what they think is enough time, energy, and resources.
  • There are times when establishing a business will feel onerous and times when it will feel easy.
  • What really matters is that you enjoy the majority of the journey. Otherwise a time will come when it all becomes too hard.
  • “You are not in competition with someone else. You’re not racing someone else. You’re simply racing against yourself.” {Jess}
  • In the words of Mary Schmich “the race is long and in the end it is only with yourself.”
  • It is okay for your craft to remain a hobby rather than a business. (Jess shares an anecdote from a Thriver Circle member who made the decision to close her business and instead pursue her craft as a pastime).
  • Establishing a business is more than just creating your saleable project. You will be spending a large proportion of time learning about marketing, administration, finances, connecting with people.
  • Factor in your time, energy and resources when making goals.
  • “We get frustrated from the disparity between our reality and our imagined reality.” {Jess}
  • Create a toolkit of time management and planning strategies.
  • Building a business takes times, patience and long-term dedication.
  • “Every little step is progress forward. No matter how small it is. It is always a step forward and it is always something to be proud of.” {Jess}

 

Download or listen to this episode.

You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher)

[52] How to Thrive in the Face of Illness and Injury with Heidi Fahrenbacher

Ep 52 - Create & Thrive Podcast - correct

Heidi Fahrenbacher is a ceramicist. She has faced some huge challenges in her business following a fall on some ice outside her studio.

No one knows the stress of facing injury while running a creative business better than Heidi. She makes a living full time from her ceramics so it was a huge deal when she fell and injured herself.

From business success to a painful path to recovery, facing chronic pain and surgery it took Heidi many years to get back on track, and the healing process is still ongoing.

Heidi and I discuss how she stayed positive through some of her hardest days, how she managed her frustration and got her business back on track.

If you have faced illness or injury, are currently on the road to recovery or would like to make sure you are prepared just in case, have a listen to this episode!

Ep 52 quote - Brown Jr.

 

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • Heidi’s small business was going very well until in 2011 when she walked out of her studio and fell on some ice, knocking the wind from her. She thought she would be fine but soon noticed a numbness in her foot. She realised then that she had to get some medical advice.
  • It took years before the doctors could find what was causing the pain Heidi was experiencing.
  • Heidi had to undertake hip surgery and it was at that point she had to stop working.
  • After recovering from surgery, 6 months later she started to feel numbness in her foot again and began physical therapy.
  • ‘I was ready to quit ceramics.’ {Heidi}
  • A foot doctor found that the bones in her feet weren’t aligned and were pinching a nerve. Finally she had found the source of the numbness!
  • Heidi finally  was in the healing stages and it came down to waiting patently.
  • ‘That kind of strain and stress can really bring you down.’ {Heidi}
  • Heidi eventually accepted  what was happening and realised she had to be honest with herself.
  • ‘I would go through days when I would throw a pity party for myself.’ {Heidi}
  • Heidi could no longer focus on her social media and marketing and suffered greatly.
  • ‘It is much easier to self promote when you are excited about what you are doing.’ {Heidi}
  • Heidi soon came to the realisation that it was just work and it was time to cut herself some slack.
  • ‘I was surviving instead of thriving.’ {Heidi}
  • It took a year or so to get back into things, changing the way she worked and some of the techniques she uses.
  • The best practical advice Heidi can share with you is to ensure you are insured especially if you live somewhere where there is no free healthcare, figure out how easy your products are to make in the case that you can’t, and try and have an emergency savings account to cover you through the hard times.
  • Emotionally you need to stay positive. Heidi used to use physical exercise to find stress relief but now reads and listens to comedy to ensure she is laughing as often as possible.
  • Having a supportive person and/or community is also very important for you emotions.
  • ‘You can’t give up, you’re going to want to and there are going to be really bad days.’ {Heidi}
  • You can find Heidi at her website, Facebook or Instagram.

 

Download or Listen to This Episode

 

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create & Thrive’.)


6 Tips for Balancing Motherhood and Creativity

 

 

 

 

 

6 Tips for Balancing Motherhood and Creativity

 

Despite giving many talks on signature style, market stall prep and business planning (yikes!) the topic I’m most asked about is how I’ve managed to combine creativity with motherhood. 

 

I’m so glad when this comes up because it’s a topic that’s incredibly close to my heart!

Firstly, let me tell you a little bit about me.

I’ve been creating for as long as I can recall.  It’d be safe to say that it’s in my blood, and it has helped me though many things over the course of my life.

For me, making and creating is a need that feels as necessary to my existence as breathing.

You can imagine then how it was to have my first baby, 10 years ago.  All of a sudden there was no time for self-indulgent weekends filled with painting!

I struggled through the first year uncreatively, yearning for the me I thought I’d have to set aside and then one day I realised I could be creative in different ways to before. 

Ways that would work with my new role, and ways that would fit in to my new timetable.

Jetta

The first thing I did was let go of the idea that my only creative outlet was drawing and painting.

I learnt how to sew and appliqué and made clothes for my first-born, which surprisingly to me satisfied my creative urge at the time.  Time went quickly as it does with a baby and pretty soon we welcomed our second baby into the family.

Not long after this I discovered something that changed everything for me.  I discovered a whole network of other creative mums online!  I connected with them and suddenly I wasn’t alone anymore.

I sketched out and designed complicated appliqué designs and began selling my work at local markets and on Etsy.

It’s now 7 years down the track from that first market and along the way I’ve landed back at my first love of painting and drawing with a little woodwork tossed in for good measure!

I still enjoying sewing and crocheting but now I just do those things for my family.

I look at my 3 kids and see the amazing influence staying true to my creative self has had on them as they see creativity as a normal and everyday part of life.

They are excited and encouraging of my artistic achievements and are most importantly confident in their own creative selves.

 

Jetta 5

Here are my top tips for combining motherhood and creativity

 

1. Relax your mindset

Sometimes you have to change your creative expression up a bit for a short time.

2. Connect

Join a group, make connections with other crafty people and other crafty mums either online or in your local area.

3. Value

Treasure your creative side, it is valuable and provides your kids with different experiences and skills.

4. Time

Create when you can squeeze it in. A quick sketch before breakfast or some jewellery making late at night, if it’s important to you make sure you fit it in.

Jetta 2

5. Include

Create around your family. Let your kids see what you’re doing and they will begin to create alongside you.

6. Let go

Release any guilt you feel from indulging your creative side. Having a mum who is sometimes a bit distracted by her latest creation is much better for your kids than a mum who is sad and lost from not following her dreams.

 

I also recommend reading both editions of The Divided Heart by Rachel Power. 

 

This book made me realise that I wasn’t alone in needing to create and it showed me that being a creative mum is not only possible, it’s inspiring and fun too!

If you’re a mum (or a dad!) for whom being creative is a deep need – how have you balanced this with parenthood? Share with us in the comments.

The Rewards of Having a Creative Business (while still holding down a day job)

 

Balancing a Business and a Day Job

I have a confession to make. Whilst I know I’m not the only one in this position – far from it – it’s time to come clean all the same.

I am living a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde life.

By day I toil away in my desk-bound “regular day job” and by night I alternate to the creative mindset of designing and making handmade craft.

A little over a year ago I started experimenting with felt and turning the creature designs in my head into reality.

Like many people, I wasn’t overly confident in what I was making at first, but eventually plucked up the courage to start a dedicated Instagram account, Facebook page and ultimately an Etsy store, on the back of some solid encouragement from family and friends.

The plethora of you living similar lifestyles know how demanding it can be to turn around the mental drain of your day job, switching gears in the evening in tackling the swathe of demands that come with starting up a handmade business.

Of course, the creative outlet which my business provides, and the humbling feedback from customers make it all worthwhile.

When it comes to running a business, designing and making products is simply the beginning. I’m fortunate that when it comes to many of the administrative and commercial aspects, the skills from my day job actually come in handy.

I’ve always enjoyed design and craft – long holding a latent desire to convert on previous study in industrial design. It’s really satisfying when you put it all together and see the final product out there in the hands of customers.

I’ve been incredibly inspired by the sense of community amongst handmade makers and those who appreciate craft. The comments that I see daily on Instagram, Facebook, and craft blogs are so refreshingly positive, it keeps me going!

It’s wonderful how many people you can touch across the globe with creations you’ve made from the comfort of your own home.

Every week I set myself a challenge to design a new creature to add to the family. Inevitably the true challenge is not in finding inspiration, but rather time.

I have a myriad of plans for new creatures I’d like to develop, and other types of products to grow my range.

Stay tuned – I hope that we can inspire each other in our Jekyll and Hyde lives.

 

6 Tips to Focus Your Business and Life

 

 

6 Tips on How to Focus your Business and

I’ve been feeling a little bit guilty lately that I’ve let things get away from me with my business and my life.

About 3 months ago I had everything stable and in a great routine.

I was working two days a week on my passion projects, the local Community Centre, as well as being the Assistant Editor here at Create & Thrive.

I was getting my recently re-branded soap business This Soap Smells Good up and running from home and my mini-store, Handmade High Street (HHSt) at Southside Antiques where I work one day a week while I look after their website and social media.

I was also running 4 creative workshops a month which go hand in hand both the Community Centre and HHSt.

Plus, on the back-burner I had a few other little projects which I’d been dabbling in including a market which I organise twice a year for traders in my local neighbourhood

My plate is full.

But it doesn’t feel full most of the time because I’m used to it and I have a pretty strict routine which helps me to keep all the balls in the air.

We live in sunny Brisbane and my husband worked at the local Children’s Hospital which was only 4 minutes drive away and we had one car, our little house and two rascally pups.

I also almost started a Graduate Certificate at University this Semester but I have now deferred until 2016.

Recently, husband has started a 6 month stint at a hospital around 1.5 hours away from our home and we have moved part-time to my family’s house which is close by. (It does mean that I will have to do that 1.5 hour journey once a week for my Centre job but it’s not so bad). 

He has also started studying again so he’s going to need my help to get his work done and that piece of paper signed off at the end of it all.

Now I can feel those juggling balls slipping out of my fingers: I feel like I am trying to grip each too tightly, not giving me enough time to catch the next one in line.

I looked at the list of things which I am responsible for and I had a sudden realisation:

I’ve lost my focus.

I’m a ‘yes’ person. I love to do more, try everything, never say no!

But in reality, consecutive rather than concurrent will give each project, task or job more clarity and will ultimately make you feel more accomplished and on the path upwards rather than in the wiggly track I’ve found myself on.

So here’s my tips for getting your focus back if you’ve got yourself into the bother that I have and need to streamline your business and life… and even cull some of the extraneous tasks or jobs to help you have a better work/life balance.

Focusing is about saying 'No'.Steve Jobs

1. Write down every project, responsibility and job you currently have

Make sure you write down everything.

Don’t leave something off to make your list look easier or more achievable, that’s cheating yourself and you’ll lose clarity.

Here’s mine as an example: believe it or not, there used to be more on it.

  • Community Centre
  • Fundraising and Grants Portfolio
  • Creative Workshops
  • Town Hall Meetings and Annerley Support Meetings
  • Annerley Junction Traders Association Markets
  • www.annerley.org
  • Create & Thrive
  • The Thriver Circle
  • Business Coaching
  • This Soap Smells Good
  • Handmade High Street Mini Store
  • Southside Antiques (media and marketing)
  • Zibbet
  • Idle Zine
  • Grad Cert Community Development
  • Weekend Notes
  • Look after Husband when he’s working long shifts and studying
  • Look after two dogs
  • Keep the house tidy and household happy
  • Look after me

You can’t focus without specifics so it would be a good idea at this point to drill down on each of these jobs and projects with individual tasks and the time it takes you on average each week to achieve them.

Breaking things down into smaller parts makes it clearer how much time and energy they are taking up in your day.

I’m not going to bore you with mine – we might be here all day!

2. Decide what can go and what must stay

What’s the bigger picture here? What do you want to get out of your business and how will that balance with your life?

After writing that list I realised something really important.

Look where I put the words ‘Look after me.

There I am, right down there at the very bottom.

We’ve talked about self-care many times on this blog and I’ve realised that I’ve slipped out of the routine of looking after myself.

Also, where can I fit in my ‘useful distractions’? Things like hanging out with my friends and going out to dinner with my husband are important for overall happiness in my life.

Now, it’s time to decide what’s going to stay on that list and what’s got to go.

You’ll know what needs to stay and I bet you can look at my list and make the same decisions I would. Some things are so important that you can’t take them off the list – I can’t just stop looking after my dogs, my husband and myself can I!?

But there are going to be some things on that list that you’ll realise straight away are time-eaters or might be able to be postponed to a time when they are more achievable.

What can you put on the back-burner for while? Or maybe get rid of completely?

3. Make a Pros and Cons list for the things you’re not sure about

I have been thinking about some of my roles for a while and I just can’t seem to make a decision about whether or not I should keep going with some of them.

The important part here is getting out all your emotional, practical and logistical thoughts about each project or job and thinking critically about whether you want to do it, should do it or can do it… or not!

If you’re really into analysing your data, there’s a great post here about how to write an amazing Pros and Cons list.

After you have made your list for each task, really think about it with your heart – can you bear to let it go? Are you really invested in it?

If you feel like you can let go, it’s time to make a move on culling those things in your life which just aren’t working for you – at the moment.

You might find some of them can be left on the back-burner whereas others are now-or-never kinds of projects and roles. Make sure you take this into consideration.

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4. Start a calendar and plug in times for each project, job or task

Phew!

Take a break and make sure that all sits well with you. It’s a really tough thing to do but finding Focus takes… well… focus!

Now is the time I start looking at my time and a calendar is a really great place to start.

I looked at all the tasks I wrote and ‘drilled down’ on in the first place and see how much time each one of them takes.

I use Google Calendar but you could just as easily use a paper calendar or make one yourself.

First thing I have done is lock out Saturday and Sunday. I don’t want to work on weekends and that’s part of the reason I own my own business and have such a flexible work situation.

I want time off with family and friends on the weekend when everyone else is free.

Then I have slotted in things which have set hours so that I know those times are booked out and I can’t schedule other tasks there.

I also have multiple Google calendars so I can turn them on and off if I’m taking a holiday or having a break from one of my projects or jobs for a week or two. Plus I can see them all on my phone when I’m not near the computer.

When and how do you do your best work? Make sure you’re slotting things into your calendar at times and in timeframes that will allow you to give the best output.

You might realise after slotting everything into your calendar that it’s still a bit cramped.

5. Streamline each Project or Job

Go back to the beginning of this list and see all the jobs and projects you now have on your plate after your cull.

Look at the tasks that go along with each one: where you ‘drilled down’ and elaborated on each job.

  • Are there things which you are doing which might be able to be dropped or at least put aside for now?
  • What can you outsource or get help on?
  • Can you take a little extra time now to work on streamlining a process which will save you time in the longrun?
  • Could you ask someone in the same industry to help you find a quicker way to get a task done?

You could also do the exact same process we went through with your Pros and Cons earlier but on a deeper level of your list.

Once you have streamlined these tasks, you can rethink how much time you spend on each job or project and help you to prioritise time into your calendar.

6. Review, review, review

Now you have taken a step towards a more focused life and business, you can sit back and ride the wave of success.

Not really.

You’ll need to keep an eye on your jobs and projects within your business and other aspects of your life or things can have a habit of creeping up on you.

This is exactly what has happened to me!

If you feel like things are becoming too much, you can’t keep all the balls in the air or you’re simply not getting enough ‘me time’, take a deep breath, and start from the beginning of this post again.

I feel much more secure now I have really thought through all my roles in life and made decisions which will make me happier and healthier in body and mind.