Its been six months since I’ve written anything here, and honestly that is probably the longest I’ve gone without writing about life in decades (and I’m a little ashamed of myself lol)…
But, a lot has happened since last Summer.
The main big event is that I quit my dayjob in October.
But even before that, in August, my partner and I got Covid - for the first time. We had been so careful and cautious for three+ years — even managed not to get sick while we traveled to move across the country. But it finally got us. We were both out of work - unpaid - for two weeks without any PTO. In my fever delirium I managed to offer a sale in my online shop, even though I had very little inventory available (I was in the midst of working on getting ready for a launch when we got sick).. Thanks to my amazing customers, the sale brought in enough funds to cover my absence.
In those two weeks I had nothing but time. To think, to actually stop and relax, to heal (I was incredibly sick) - and to recognize the overwhelming support I had received. We started talking about what we really wanted life to look like — isn’t that what we all do when major things happen?? Reassess?? At the same time my frozen shoulder was in a huge flareup, I was in physical therapy, and generally pretty miserable. I was constantly stressed out and anxious and it felt like it all came to a head.
Sometime when I was stuck on the couch, I made the mental decision to quit my dayjob. I wanted to work for myself instead of someone else. I wanted my income to come from a place where I felt like I worked hard and earned it, instead of just working to get a pay check. And when I did quit my job about a month later, it relieved so many things. A big chunk of stress, anxiety, and physical pain completely dissipated (minus what I expect to be peri-menopause symptoms - still in the thick of those). All my life I had wanted to be self-employed but I could never find a way to commit fully.
For such a long time (ten+ years) I was drowning in debt and wasn’t confident enough that my business could sustain me. I was in and out of abusive relationships and toxic friendships and couldn’t get a grasp on myself enough to do what I needed to do. I wasn’t confident enough. And for such a long time I had the mentality that my business was just a hobby - for years I had people say things like, “people will never understand what you’re trying to do with your art”, “anyone can do what you’re doing”, “its nice that you have a side hobby”… And if you hear those things enough, you start to believe that they’re true - no matter how much money you are spending on quarterly taxes for your business, or how much time and effort you are putting in and how exhausted you are.
I finally decided that it could sustain me, if I could give it all of my focus and attention. I would be able to do what I love, be happier, and be healthier. I certainly didn’t take the decision lightly - I was taking on a whole different lifestyle, to-do list, type of stress, and uncertainties.. But I felt ready to tackle them. I’m organized, work well under pressure, and am amazing at self delegation. I just had to bite the bullet and dive in. Jonathan has been so incredibly supportive of this decision, and honestly he had been trying to get me to do it for a long time now. I just knew I wasn’t ready until now. I needed the extra push that being struck down with the plague seemed to give me.
The last three months of the year I was able to bring in as much income with my business as the previous nine months combined. I had my highest grossing month ever, thanks to the holiday season. It felt really humbling to humanize my business and the challenge. And while I don’t expect every month to be that way, I know that with careful planning and exciting new products etc, I can succeed.
Choosing to be fully self-employed really just feels like showing up for myself. In the last ten years I went through so many ups and downs, traumas, situations where I felt like I couldn’t or didn’t know how to show up for myself in a healthy way. Running a business has been, in some strange way, the best way to show myself self-compassion. To listen to my creative spirit and grow. This kind of growing and stretching can be really interesting through. I still often get bouts of imposter syndrome where I can’t fathom how any of this will work, why anyone would want to buy what I have to sell at the prices I need to put on them - and bits of shame I felt over the years creep in quietly. My old self still feels so unsure and unsteady. But the present me looks at the numbers and the spreadsheets and knows we are okay.
While taking on this big huge scary thing of being fully self employed, I’ve actually been able to make more time for myself in the process. And thats just within the last few months - I’m really excited to see how my time opens up for new possibilities as the new year progresses. Unlike before when I was working two jobs, I’m now able to set my own hours so that I’m not working 12 hour days! I work as much or as little as I want each day, but I most often do not do any work after Jonathan gets home in the afternoon. No more working til or after dinner. Less or no working on weekends.
I get up as early or as late as I want in the morning, feed myself, tidy the house, and then once everything feels comfortable I start my work for the day. I thought that being alone all day every day would feel lonely, but I spent so many years alone - creating - that it feels like an old friend coming to visit. I work best when I’m alone. It was a big change, though, not going to work with Jonathan everyday. We went from spending everyday all day together for the last few years, to just seeing each other in the evenings and on weekends now. I know thats how most people do it, but we were so used to just doing everything together all the time. At least it makes the times we do get to spend together a little more cozy.
Goals for this new year feel so different, with this big change. I actually set fewer goals than usual because I have more time to spend actually working than trying to squeeze it all in. Goals just feel more like a to-do list this year. And honestly, they’re similar to the same goals I have every year lol.
My first big goal is to sew from my stash and scraps as much as possible. I’m setting a very limited fabric budget for myself. (I also need to remember that I can dye fabric for myself any time I need/want, and I so rarely take advantage of that! It is, after all, the entire reason I started dyeing fabric in the first place - before I ever sold it!). I’m still figuring out the art of business spending/expenses etc, and trying to find the best ways to work with what I have vs constantly having to buy supplies.
I’m actually setting a limited spending budget for myself this year overall. We have a few house projects we are hoping to save up for that are quite large, so the more money I can save and put toward making those happen, the better … I’d also like to work on paying down some credit this year that I wasn’t able to tackle last year.
I’m hoping to continue making as many quilts as possible - I was able to make 10+ last year, including a couple of gifts, and to keep trying new techniques. Its been really exciting to give myself the space to play around and try things I might not otherwise without all the extra time. Quilting has been in my life for 30 years and I feel like I’m just now able to try some designs etc that have been on my radar forever. Quilted goods will be a big highlight of my offerings this year, since thats truly where my creative soul is the most happy.
I’m also definitely going to focus on my dyed fabrics (and the FQ fabric subscription I offered for this year, which was wonderfully well received)… and although I want to keep doing some dyed wearables, I’m brainstorming and trying some new things with them to make them feel a bit more like me and what I hope to offer moving forward. With so many other quilters and dyers out there, it can be tough to stand out - but my main goal is to stay true to my creativity and the authentic ways I share with the world. Wearables are super fun to dye and I know so many folks love them - but I feel like I’m constantly trying to figure out how to a) feel like I’m not contributing to the fast fashion mess, b) offer things differently than everyone else, c) stay true to what I want my brand and business to look like.
Winter here so far has been strange - unseasonably warm and wet. I know that changing climate etc means having to adapt to the extreme weather. Instead of scenic and cozy snowstorms and days spent snowed in at home, we’ve had to deal with floods and water in the basement. I still dream of someday having a studio outside of the house - honestly the biggest daydream is having a quilt fabric shop/dye studio - but I’m so thankful to be able to work from home. To have a place where I can do all this work and be comfortable and not have to pay extra etc.
I get really emotional about our home, and our ability to be here. I think back to sewing quilts and huge pillow cover collections and dyeing fabrics in my one room casita in the desert, and how I felt like I would never be able to have anything better/bigger - that I’d never be able to make changes to be more comfortable. And here we are — in a home that is ours. That we can make however we want to.
I know that our ability to do some much needed bigger house projects (basement waterproofing work, driveway redo, kitchen renno) will only be possible if I bring in the extra money we need. Which really drives me to work harder. To try offering some new products that are really special. I know the direct correlation between the work I put in and success. So, in 2024, this is where you’ll find me. I hope you’ll join me here, support however you can, and please know that any and all support is truly affects a real person who has been trying to have this kind of life for so many years. You are literally supporting a dream that I am determined to finally make come true. Thank you.
I have the first special small and limited wearables launch coming soon - ASAP! by the end of this month! - which I am really excited about.. and a big themed fabric launch coming up likely the first week of February. I’m hoping to start Q1 out as strong as possible and know that its only onward and upwards from here.