I'm going to call 2017 "The Year of Challenges That Pushed Me Closer to My Purpose". It kinda felt like a really tough year in general. I'm still here, still pluggin' away. But I definitely had a few moments where I re-evaluated a lot of things I am doing as a creative business owner, in a way that forced me to think really hard about what I really want to be doing with my career. So, the other day, I made a list in Evernote titled: What would it look like if it was easy and fun?
Here's what I came up with.
1. Make more art.
I've already started to incorporate more art making with my #cds100daychallenge project. Since starting it, I've felt more energized and excited about my work and the possibilities. I had to rebel a bit from the urge to make my Instagram grid cohesive, because I realized that I was letting all of the Instagram marketers tell me what to post for optimal follower engagement and I wasn't posting or sharing (or hell, even really making) anything that didn't fit the grid even if I liked it. I do believe there is value in editing, but as a designer who is still developing a style that I am happy with, I need to allow myself to make stuff that doesn't always fit the mold.
2. License my art for products and publications, and take on more design jobs.
This one is big, y'all. I've been saying for YEARS that I wanted to license my work (meaning that I sell it to other companies to use for their products). This may come as a surprise since my entire product line is sewn goods, but I really do not enjoy sitting in front of a sewing machine for hours on end. I really, really enjoy making art. Making patterns. That's the most fun part about what I do, and sometimes I get so caught up in production (and I am so grateful to be busy!) that I don't have time to be creative. So anyway, this year I am making a very focused effort to build a portfolio for art licensing and design jobs for clients.
3. Streamline and automate my product business as much as possible. And stop sewing things. Be a Designer.
I have a seamstress. She is amazing. I have to get on a better production schedule and stop sewing so many things myself at the last minute. I also have people to help me with wholesale outreach who are also amazing. I'm getting better at this, but giving up control of all the little bits and pieces of running a business is hard. Not because I don't trust people, but because I am so freaking last minute on so many things and feel bad dumping last minute need-it-yesterday requests on people who help me. So I want to carry more in-stock items and less made-to-order, and have a system in place for outreach and marketing that takes those things off of my plate (have you checked out the Ready to Ship section yet?) :).
4. Inspire and empower others through creativity.
This is another big one for me. I've always felt a strong desire to let people know what is possible with their creativity. Sounds vague. I know. But, I started a business with mine! I am paying bills with mine! As hard as it can be sometimes, it is the most empowering thing I have ever done and if there is a way to reach people (who maybe feel like I did when I was in jobs I hated) then I just want to let them know what's possible. Maybe it's through teaching in person, or creating some digital courses around creative projects (that some of you have been asking for). I'm still working that out, but my experiences with teaching have been really positive.
5. STOP LETTING OTHERS TELL YOU WHAT YOU SHOULD DO OR WHAT SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE.
Ok, another biggie. I have major online marketer fatigue. MA-JOR. And just fatigue in general around everyone telling me how to be a millionaire (or how to WANT to be a millionaire). Can we all just go ahead and agree that being a millionaire would probably be pretty great. Ok?
Here's the thing: I was getting loads of advice from all angles about what types of products I should make and how to make more money. And most of the advice, while well-intentioned, was out of alignment with the types of things I want to be doing. Yes, I want to make lots of money (seriously, duh). I also want to have total control over my time and be creative. I kinda already have this and it's seriously the best, even on days when I am stressed. I was feeling loads of resistance around some of the un-fun things I was doing in my business because I realized how much more of my time I would have to devote to them to make them million-dollar-makers. But on the flip side, it made me realize that there were things I was doing that I didn't like...and that there were things I really wanted that I wasn't pursuing because I was busy doing things I didn't like to try to make more money. Hence, the drafting of this list. Oh, and I've decided that in order to be happy with what I put out into the world, I have to remember that I am a Purpose-Driven Business.
So, 2018 feels like a fresh start (that's what I love about a new year)! I'll be spending more of my time focused on doing things that I love and streamlining or outsourcing things that aren't my fave to people that do them really well. And all of that means that I'll be able to give more of my best to all of you! Sounds like a win/win!
Thank you for reading and following along!