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Posts Tagged ‘craftcation’

I woke up on Sunday morning, the last morning of Craftcation, and wandered down to the lobby. The decorations were coming down, the things were all packed up, pop up shop closing, and oh I just felt so sad. Just like last year, a few days in and I was finally getting into the swing of it all! I guess it’s a good sign when they leave you wanting more, right?

I left Craftcation wanting more, but I also left it with a plan! After the amazing “post Craftcation plan” workshop led by Tiffany Han late on Saturday, I felt like I really had a handle on what I wanted to accomplish in the upcoming weeks.

A plan.

It does all boil down to “make shit happen in a big way” but thanks to Tiffany’s amazing workshop, I feel like I have the tools to actually do it.

*****

Captain Sexypants and I made plans to stay an extra day in sunny Ventura, so after bidding farewell to some new friends, I zipped over to the local Amtrak platform to await his train, Americano-for-him and latte-for-me in hand. Because I am nothing if not the best girlfriend on the entire planet, right?

An Americano for him, Latte for me.

Waiting is hard.
Waiting...

Even if it only took about ten minutes for the train to get there once I settled in.

Pulling in to the station!

And then the world was complete.

He arrives!

People should take more trains. There is nothing like seeing your best darling walking towards you across a train platform, and the feeling of bouncy anticipation you get when they get closer, and closer until finally you can throw your arms around them and shower them with 3 days of saved up kisses.

Happy Happy All Together, The End.

We are nothing, if not cute.

And terribly predictable.

Well caffeinated.

The rest of the day passed in a blur of beach walking and long lingering coffee shopping. It really was too short, but exactly what I needed. I have been feeling so terribly burned out by it all, lately. I’m feeling better now. A few days away was pretty much exactly what I needed!

I had joyful reunion with Princess BonBon von Fluffypants von Schnitzeltoes, Admiral Mittens, Duchess Honeytoes von Crankypants, Professor Oliver Plumpypants, Charles Bukatski, and That Mr. Tinklebritches, too.

Vacations are good for everyone.

*****

So there are some big changes coming down the pike for Honey&Ollie Designs. New website and e-shop. Really exciting new designs and an entirely retooled collection on the horizon and of course, to have new stuff we must start saying goodbye to old stuff! I’ll be doing that with a fantastic clearance sale. I’ll be opening that up to my mailing list with a special coupon code, about a week before I open it up to everyone else, so if you want to get up to 40% off on things you may have been stalking, you can sign up here for my mailing list and get the goods before everyone else!

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First off? This part does not suck:

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That’s the view from my window at Craftcation, the crafty DIY biz conference that is going full steam in Ventura CA this weekend. Having the most amazing time here! I started off the weekend with a session about opening up more avenues to earn a living with your art. “Crafty Cash” led by Kathy Cano-Murillo. Otherwise known as The Crafty Chica. She’s delightful and wonderful and also our keynote speaker for the conference. She talked about valuable life lessons and stirring up our inner glitter. And, you know, ways to feed yourself more than ramen noodles on an artist’s budget.

I love this woman. Seriously. When she walked into the conference room, I didn’t actually know who she was. I just saw her smiling and thought, “OMG WHO IS THAT, I WANT TO BE HER BEST FRIEND.” and then she started teaching and I thought, “OMG SHE IS THE CRAFTY CHICA.” And then, my crafty crush was irreversible.

Sorry, Ms. Chica. I totally don’t mean that in a creepy stalker way. Just. You’re shiny. And kind of one of my crafty heroes.

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I have been taking some notes.

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Are you sensing a theme? I’m sensing a theme.

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Totally not the theme. But it was free. And delicious. And I guess it is the theme. There was wine. It was free. I made happiness with what I had. SOUL TRUTHS, people. Deep soul truths here.

It has actually been a really great conference. Last year I was so afraid, and spent all my time hiding in my hotel room. This year, I’ve spent LESS time hiding in my hotel room! Perhaps you remember this conversation I had with myself during last year’s conference?

Me “Mixer.”

Myself: “Yeah! There will be BBQ! There will be wine!”

Me: “There will be… people.”

Myself: “Did I mention BBQ?”

Me: “‘mixer.’ Just the very word strikes terror into my heart.”

Myself: “Pork products cooked over fire and grown up grape juice.”

Me: “Stranger danger.”

Myself: “Oh fuck it. Fine. Have it your way. We’ll go eat alone with a good book.”

Me: “YES! YES! YES!”

Myself: “I was not serious. BBQ.”

You might also remember that last year I went to a bookstore and missed the pork products. NOT THIS TIME. My roomie and I went to the BBQ (hence, the free wine) and I’ve made almost every class session – except I played hooky for the one after lunch because I was in search of a decent cup of coffee WHICH I totally found at Palermo on Main St…. but my point is, I have a roomie, I ate lunch with actual people today, and I’m trying not to freak out when people smile and talk to me during classes.

I still fail at networking, as I forgot my business cards for the second year in a row. I aim to improve that at next year’s conference.

My favorite class so far? Great googly moogly, how can I pick one when they’ve all been SO GOOD? This morning I started with a class led by a designer who works with the store Anthropologie. She talked about display and design and making things out of what you’ve already got, repurposing and thinking outside the box for creative display solutions. I’ve been feeling like the shop at Crafted is a little beige, so, this one was a lifesaver. I’ve got some great ideas for spicing up the store, now.

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The morning class in Sane Social Media led by Tiffany Han was mind blowingly great too. She offered some great tips for effectively utilizing social media in your business but also advocated getting OFF social media and just being smarter about it. With tips like “go outside” and “log off” I knew it was the right class for me. I’m so burned out lately, struggling with feeling creative and doing All The Things. I know this will help free up some mental space.

I also took an amazing class on branding led by Steph Cortes. I’d loosened up a little by this time, so of course, my questions were about things like, “Is it okay to talk about baking cats into pies** and selling my children to gypsies on my blog?” You know. Like you do, at a business conference.

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I think the biggest thing I took away from this one was the reassurance that you can’t be afraid to be yourself, in fact, you MUST BE yourself and that’s definitely something I’ve struggled with here on the blog and in my online presence around Honey&Ollie. I dunno, it’s like I stopped knit blogging and started making jewelry/selling, and thought I had to change things about my online personality. Which is a bit ridiculous, but there you go. I miss my sense of humor. And knitting. I’ve been feeling like the blog has been a bit beige lately too but don’t worry, I’ve got some good ideas about that.

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Tomorrow is set to be another full day of classes and the beach and the gorgeous weather we’re having here in Ventura.

The social stuff, it’s still hard. I’m still spending a lot of time struggling with the onslaught of people. I skipped the mixer in the bar tonight because I just wasn’t feeling it. I am on the fence about the 80’s party. It’s so brilliantly, fabulously overwhelming, this conference, so much color and personality and noise. Tonight I needed a quiet dinner in my room to balance out the day. Tomorrow, I’m planning to have a quiet walk on the beach in the morning to see if that won’t help me feel more grounded in all the tumult. Maybe start the morning with a decent cup of joe

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So many artists, personalities, creative folks in one place and me there feeling a little like a bit of flotsam or jetsam, buffeted around by all of them… Craftcation is one of my favorite places in the ‘Verse to be. Waves and all…

A note to my readers, I have never actually baked one of my cats into a pie, Duchess Honeytoes Crankypants, Professor Oliver Rumblestein Plumpypants ESq, Princess Bonbon Fluffypants von Schnufflestein and Mr. Tinklebritches are just fine. Seriously.

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I was talking to a friend the other day, about a class we’re both taking on creative business. There are SO many “experts” and so many classes on small business available online. And we, we are Brave Explorers, traveling in uncharted waters. Being an entrepreneur is scary and it feels like such a relief when we realize that someone has a map. That someone has been there, done it, and all we have to do is grab on to that lifeline.

In the last two years, I’ve worked with several graphic designers and coaches, taken classes in running a jewelry business, classes in running a creative business in general, classes in jewelry making techniques, photography, photo editing and oh so many classes in so many other things. I’ve gone this way and that way, spent this money and that money, tried this and that, all in the name of succeeding. I’ve spent thousands of dollars and listened to a LOT of people telling me that $their way$ is the right way. I’ve gotten a lot of great information out of it and some not so great information. I have spent my dollars wisely and sometimes not so wisely. I have faithfully followed their advice, when it felt right and when it felt wrong. I did that because I’d paid for it and they were an expert and so it must be true, right? But here’s where I went wrong. I wasn’t listening to the expert on my business, no, I was listening to some other expert on some other business. And I forgot that.

The point is this. You are the expert on your business.

I had a really disappointing experience in a class recently. Stuck and needing to find my way through the work, I asked for guidance on a particular point and it was not forthcoming. My feelings were so hurt! Was help getting unstuck so much to ask? Had I not paid for this guidance? I was putting so much time and heart into the course-work, didn’t the instructor care? Well… sure. She’s put together something fantastic to help people succeed. Obviously there is care! But on the level where I wanted someone to take a personal interest in me and in the problem I was having? I’m not sure it was fair to expect it of her. She’s an artist and a creative entrepreneur, just like me. This class? It’s part of her business, just one iron in the fire, among many. I think, to quote Scotty (my favorite Starfleet Chief Engineer), she’d given it all she had to give. I’m still working through my feelings about it but the core of my upset was that I’d handed over my authority to someone who declined the invitation. She wasn’t taking responsibility for whether or not I got it and getting it was gonna be up to me.

I’m glad it happened. I’m GLAD she declined the invitation. The whole process has triggered a lot of thoughts about letting “experts” and “craft-lebrities” tell us what we should be doing. It meant I got a good smack in the head about personal responsibility. No matter how nice that lifeline looks? It’s still on me.

My thought is this. Yes, take all the helpful classes you need. It can be really fun and it builds your creative community like nothing else. It’s a great way to make new friends and learn new things. Glean all the wisdom you can, learn all the skills and put all the tools in your tool box. I advocate classes and coaches and all of that. Good stuff! But remember that the good people who are running these classes are still just like you. Creative entrepreneurs. They are your peers and I think keeping that in mind can help shift how we approach what they have to teach us. I think keeping that in mind can actually help us get more out of the learning process.

It is entirely up to you to see how it all fits in your world, or if it fits at all. It truly is on you to get it and what that looks like is different for each one of us. It isn’t someone else’s fault if you don’t get it. Let it go and move on or keep trying till you break through, but don’t put it on the “expert” and get frustrated if something isn’t fitting just right. Blame just bogs you down. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, as they say. Take what works and discard what doesn’t.

You get to make adjustments.

YOU know your business better than anyone in the world.

You’ve got to keep paddling your own boat through your own uncharted waters. It is up to you to chart them. And you know what? You can totally do that. Use the classes and the coaches to help you do it, but don’t drop your paddle and expect someone to tow you out because it isn’t going to happen.

You are the boss of you. Isn’t that why you are outside the box, running a creative business in the first place?

On that note? I will be heading up to Craftcation in Ventura, this coming weekend. Four days of classes and workshops, led by folks in various creative fields, all about how to make our creative businesses thrive. This year, unlike last year, I’m feeling pretty confident of fitting in, of being able to hold my own. I’m running a successful creative biz, on my own terms. It will be a lot easier to walk into those conference rooms, this year. I’m looking forward to spending 4 days with my peers, to finding the things that fit and saying no thanks to the rest. Also? I don’t plan to hide in my room the whole time. I have an actual roommate. I know people who are going. I even think I’ll make it to the 8o’s party…

See you in Ventura!

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I finally hit my stride today with this whole traveling/conference thing. The morning dawned bright and early and I knew that THIS… this was the day. This was the day of Awesome. And it sort of was, and then some.

The first thing I did was go find some coffee. I realized yesterday that I hadn’t had a cup of coffee since I got here on Thursday, and now it is Saturday and that is a LONG time to go without coffee if you are like me and drink it every day. I do have tea in my hotel room but it is not the same. So coffee and a muffin to get things started and my spirits were much improved.

On my way to coffee, I was struck by how lovely the downtown area is, and especially by this gorgeous brick building which I’d noticed the night before. The architectural details and embellishments were a lot more apparent in daylight. Just gorgeous.

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Ventura reminds me a bit of Humboldt County, namely the city of Eureka where I grew up, but with a little bit more Spanish Mission thrown in. I’ve got tomorrow and Monday morning off to toodle around town a bit and I’m really looking forward to doing some exploring and touristing around. Our workshops were held at the lovely City Hall, which is also a very pretty building. A very pretty building with a lot of stairs.

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in the foreground there you can see a statue of Father Junipero Serra, I have helpfully highlighted him for you. Many people think of him as the founder of the California Missions. I think of him as that but more as the guy who pretty much wiped most of the indigenous California population out. He’s not my personal favorite, but the city of Ventura is proud of him and also of their Mission, and so he has a statue overlooking the hill that runs down to the ocean.

So much to learn today! I can sum up the bulk of my day in five words. “Accounting: You’ve Been Doing It Wrong.” Okay, that’s six words. Maybe I begin to see one of the fundamental issues with my accounting… at any rate, I’ve got a lot of changes to make and a lot of work to do when I get back. And may I just add, accounting workshops are always better when led by cute, young and personable funny guys in khaki trousers.

I also popped in to take a workshop that was topically a little lighter than Accounting during our lunch hour, but still just as terrifying to me as any spreadsheet.

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I am a creative, y’all. The workshop said so.

Aaaaand, apparently that is no excuse for all this running about in ratty cargo pants, knit caps and ancient Firefly tee shirts. I have some closet revamping to do when I get home. The speaker was really sweet and personable and also not much older than my oldest child (that happens more and more these days) but she had some good points and gave us a formula (I *LOVE* formulas) for putting together outfits that don’t suck, so you can all look forward to a much more fashionable me.

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Yep. Okay, yeah, well, maybe baby steps. I like my knit caps.

After another financial workshop I was really tired, aching, my brain was going to explode from too much information and I really just needed to get out of there, so I did. Missed the last two workshops of the day, but that’s okay. I was done.

My weather widget said it was raining in Ventura all day today.

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Just miserable. Seriously weather widget, what gives? It was GORGEOUS! Warm and breezy, with the salt and sea tang in the air, the most beautiful day ever. I went back to my hotel, threw open the sliding glass door and took a 2 hour nap.

Then I skipped the 80’s Dance Party Mixer and went and had a quiet dinner alone.

sushi

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Heaven. Koba Sushi in Ventura on East Main Street, a bit south of the Downtown area (you have to drive). Best sushi I’ve had in ages. So fresh and well prepared. I lingered over raw fish, hot tea and miso soup, wrote in my journal and relished the quiet.

I haven’t spent this much time alone since my first child was born.

then I went down to the oceanfront by my hotel and took a walk while the sun went down and the lights went on.

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Bliss.

So what if I didn’t make every workshop? I learned so much at the ones I did attend, I’m not sure I could hold any more information. I have so much to take back home with me! A rediscovered joy of painting and the desire to get into my studio and PLAY. A newfound appreciation of how to do PR and reach out to the media, and a better understanding of how to make email work for me and what tools are available for my small business. SO MUCH ACCOUNTING. And wardrobe tips! That’s a heck of a lot right there. In addition to all of that learning, I have had long delicious naps, walks on the beach, amazing food, and I’ve done exactly what I wanted to be doing every minute of every day. I’ve taken care of myself when I needed to, eaten what I wanted to eat, put myself first at every turn, and been utterly selfish with my time.

Going on a Craftcation ROCKS. I can’t wait for next year! I’m so grateful I had the chance to do this.

Tomorrow the conference is over. Captain Sexypants will be joining me sometime mid afternoon, and we’re hanging out till Monday. Gonna go out for breakfast, eat ice cream, walk around town, explore shops and see The Hunger Games. I can’t wait for that either.

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I slept through Happy Hour and missed another mixer.

Okay. I might have sort of meant to sleep through Happy Hour.

Well see, not exactly What I mean is, I didn’t exactly sleep through Happy Hour on purpose with intent. I figured, if I woke up in time for Happy Hour then I’d go down to the hotel bar where the mixer was happening. The terrifying mixer. I had a plan! My plan was, I was putting my mixer attendance in the hands of the gods, and fate, and random chance and also whether or not I would wake up from my fibro-fogged, exhausted, not feeling so hot, nap. Obviously, the gods had other plans.

Like they so often do.

I made it into two completely amazing workshops today! Met up with the totes adorable Rachel from CRAFTED at the one on email marketing (don’t worry, I’m not going to turn into a spam monster now that I am armed with all this knowledge, but I might just develop a super awesome monthly newsletter with secret sales and coupons for my loyal Honey&Ollie pals) put on by the folks at Mail Chimp. I also took an incredible workshop on DIY PR with a really fun speaker. We were treated to an hour of the charming Gustavo Arellano (author of the column “Ask a Mexican” and an editor at the OC Weekly). He primarily focused on topics like working with the print media, press releases, how to get into magazines, etc – but delved into some other areas as well. Things like, talk to people at mixers instead of looking at your shoes!

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Um. Yeah.

Obviously I back-burnered that point.

There was another workshop on social marketing that came after his, one that I was dying to catch, but that’s when the nap attacked me.

I’d planned to hit another workshop on SEO earlier in the day as well, but I was out getting lost in Ventura trying to find a CVS pharmacy, and didn’t make it back to the hotel until exactly when Gustavo’s talk was happening. Really bummed I missed the SEO. That would have been good to know. But, I needed Stuff From A Pharmacy. Priorities sometimes mean we have to make choices. Choices mean sometimes we miss SEO in favor of toothpaste.

Tomorrow it is all financial stuff and that’s what I really want to be 100% healthy and alert for.

On a personal note and all humor aside, it’s been a really challenging two days. I’m full on in the grips of what might be the worst flare I’ve had in over a year, with all the attendant things that come with that. I’m far from home, missing my kid, missing my cats, missing Captain Sexypants and there is this very busy schedule going on. It is proving to be a most challenging exercise in self care. Which brings me to my new blog series – self care for the crafty and DIY, for entrepreneurs who are also dealing with the reality of chronic pain and illness. I’ll be posting that in April. A lot of us work from home at creative businesses precisely because we deal with challenging life issues like chronic illness, pain, maybe we’re caring for a child or an elderly parent. Self care is important. If you’re anything like me, it’s a constant balancing act and something like this throws you all out of whack.

I miss this face.

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And this face.

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And this one.

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