Full Circle ~ Calico Seasons

My newest collection is here: Calico Seasons. And I'm so happy with how it all came together. The palette really speaks to spring and newness and light femininity, but with an underlying strength. I'm also playing around with mixed metals again, which is definitely getting my creative juices flowing in a whole new way. 

There's also a small selection of OOAK pieces and limited editions, like the Sepia Seasons necklace (above, middle) and the Serpentine River Necklace (above, bottom.)

This collection, surprisingly (or not, depending on how you look at it) came our of a rather dark place. After the elections in November and the divisiveness that arose in our country, I was walking around feeling over-whelmed, angry, and hopeless. When shit goes sideways so to speak (and pardon my french) I often want to throw my all into fixing things, making things better, and I didn't see a clear way to go about fixing what was now, in my view, broken about our society. 

Slowly though, and with the help that comes from talking about these feelings with friends and those I care about, I started to see that the best work I could do would be to continue to do my creative work. I'm now really trying to put more of an emphasis on connecting with others too, helping other creatives out in whatever ways I can. (Part of that work is with the Creative Pursuit Collective, which you can read more about here.)

There four photos above are part of the Vista Series in the Calico Seasons collection. In particular, the Vista Bangle has quickly become a go-to piece for me and I'm finding myself wearing this piece nearly daily. I love this design (in all three - the earrings, the necklace and the bangle) because it's almost "shield" like in it's shape. It feels powerful. And I imagine that from our vantage point, or Vista, as we rise above the mess of the last few months, things will start to sort themselves out and become a bit more clear. 

As I've been saying, this collection is inspired by "nature's lessons and nature's patience." The designs came out of a confused and frustrating time for me, and a time when I found myself calmed and put at ease by simple things, like sunsets and sunrises, the birds chirping in my yard in the early morning or the light fog cloaking my street as I went about starting my day. 

It's funny how something inspired by very confused and dark emotions can end up feeling so light  and cheery, but that's exactly how this collection came about to be manifested. Or it's not so funny at all and in a way makes perfect sense. . . and shows me yet again how most things in life come full circle if we only give them the time. 

Through Wednesday, 3/22, take 15% off all pieces in the new collection with code nature. I will also be including small, hand-written bits of poetry with each item from the new collection. I hope to convey a certain feeling and idea with each design, and the poetry that will accompany each piece is my gift to you. 

Happy Monday everyone!

LWM ~ Wearing Handmade

Happy Monday everyone! Dropping in with some listening tunes and style inspo. to (hopefully) brighten the beginning of your week. . . 

Listening ~ This was an easy one this week. I've been voraciously listening to Alison Krauss's newest album, Windy City. Every song on the album sounds beautiful, as does her soulful voice. The album is a mix of covers and original songs. 

Wearing ~ I LOVE to wear other folks' handmade goodies. The outfit I managed to capture today was a nice showcase of wearables made by other talented folks. It also continues my trend of more monochromatic outfits as of late.

dress and cardigan ~ thrifted
quilted bag ~ Laura Lee Fritz      
hand-dyed rope necklace ~ Roxanne Young
Full Moon Eclipse Earrings
River Rock Bangles

Making ~ Honestly, this last week had me busy with mostly non-making things. I carved out some time to work on my current weaving project. Which is slowly but surely coming closer to completion. (I might actually sell this one!) The jewelry work was mainly photographing and editing photos for my new collection for spring/summer, which will be available in the webshop on March 15th! The photo below is from the photoshoot.

That's it for now! Have a wonderful week!

Story Behind the Design/Item of the Week

Morning friendly blog readers and Tangleweeds friends! Going along with the general nature of things over here at Tangleweeds headquarters this year I'm shifting things a bit with my Item of the Week series to something that feels a bit more comfortable for the tone, vibe and frequency of my posting here. I'm still going to spotlight various designs this year, along with offering a special discount on the specific piece, but I'm going to shift these posts to less often, maybe once or twice a month. I recently started the Creative Tenacity series and that is keeping my typing fingers busy too! 

Enter the Story Behind the Design series. For this first one, I've selected the Wander style necklace. I LOVE this design and wear mine quite often. I make no two of these identically the same and hand texture and sand them as well. 

I was inspired to create this design by my trips to the Eel and Yuba rivers in California, over the last few years. The areas where the river was dried out during the summers (and especially during the drought years) was cracked in such an organic array of lines that seemed almost puzzle like to me. The idea of a river flowing, and movement over this dry area got me thinking about the shapes as "stepping stones". I liked the idea of the dried out parts of the river being metaphoric stepping stones when the water wasn't there. Still a form of movement, just not the rushing of water going by. 

After I decided that I wanted to represent the shapes of the dried out river bed with my own freeform, handcut brass components, I just had to name the piece. I named the necklace "Wander" because it's a word that implies movement but in a slightly freeform way. I thought it echoed my sentiments about the origins of this design, and also the freeform nature of it. 

For the rest of this month I'll be offering all three of the iterations on this design at $20 off. Choose from the Curvy, Slim, or Classic design and simply use the code wander to receive your discount. 

I hope everyone is enjoying these little forays into the inner workings of my design brain =) I'm enjoying sharing these tidbits and stories with you!

Full Circe ~ Simplifying and Making Room

The last couple of weeks I've really been focused on streamlining and simplifying many of my habits and methods around how I run Tangleweeds. One BIG part of this has been buying new equipment for my business, something that now that I've done I wish I had so much sooner! BUT, it's fantastic that I've finally made this investment. It has me looking at many areas of my business with a more critical eye, contemplating how I can make things run more efficiently. 

All of this is being done with an eye on making more time and room in my life for things that aren't necessarily 100% Tangleweeds related. I say this because over the last few months I've come to the realization that I don't intentionally make time for much in my life that isn't directly related to Tangleweeds. This is because I LOVE running Tangleweeds. It is my breath and soul and I am so happy to put my all into it. 

Hand-in-hand with this realization, it came to my attention that I actually get more stressed out on days off from work than I do working days. I think this is a many layered thing that needs time for me to thoroughly address. I know there's a few things going on here that I am aware of: 1. I take time off so infrequently that I put A LOT of pressure on that time to deliver in BIG dividends. (as in, it better be a completely AMAZING trip or small adventure or time with friends, or whatever otherwise it's a letdown.) and 2. I treat the time off much like I treat work time, as in it needs to be "productive". Which is crazy-ness, right?!

Thirdly, I've put so much energy and time into Tangleweeds over the last few years that sometimes I feel like I've become a little bit out of touch regarding what I desire from the rest of my life. I think this is two-fold: I was so busy with Tangleweeds (and happily so for the most part) that I ceased to put as much energy into other areas of my life. Also, and maybe the more subtle, hard to pin down thing that was going on in my head, I think I was subconsciously avoiding making some big decisions about the rest of my life. A little bit head-in-the-sand, a little bit workaholic. 

With the streamlining and systematizing that I am diving into with Tangleweeds, I'm starting to see the spaces open up in my life for other things. I actually feel like I have the mental room to even consider what I might want my non-work/Tangleweeds related life to look like. 

The other day I was flipping through some green/new-hippie lifestyle magazine at the bookstore and I read something along the lines of "it's your life, edit it as you please." And that line has really stuck with me. I used to feel like when I wanted to get rid of something, or stop doing something that I was giving up on that thing or that endeavor. Now I'm starting to see that with every thing or endeavor that we choose to move out of our lives, we make room for something new. I'm pretty darn excited about what embracing my inner "life editor" may look like in the months (ands years) to come!

Creative Tenacity: Attitude, Mind-set, and Craft Fairs

Morning you guys! I’m happy to be back with my next addition of Creative Tenacity! Thanks to everyone who read my first post and commented, emailed me, or just said “thank you.” I do hope that this series is resonating with people. Writing it is also eye-opening and expanding for me, as it gets me reflecting on my own way of handling things, and how I might be able to do things better with Tangleweeds in the future. 

I decided to move into arts and crafts fairs with this next post as it’s an area I have a lot of background with. Long before I started Tangleweeds I had a small handmade jewelry business called Designs By A Hummingbird. I also sold at craft fairs under my first business, and while it was also jewelry, it was a very different type of jewelry. I feel like these two different businesses helps to give me a well-rounded perspective on events. (With all of that said, this is of course all from my perspective and my perspective alone and is in no way an exhaustive, all encompassing account of everything you need to know about craft fairs!)

There is also SO MUCH to cover in this arena! I’m only going to cover a section of topics related to craft fairs in this post. More will come in later posts in this series. 

Choosing An Event

Choosing your events can be much like a game of chance. It’s pretty much impossible to know if an event is going to be a good fit for you until you try it. Yes, you can ask fellow artists and vendors for their experiences, yes you can walk the event and get the lay of the land before you apply (for the following year or season), yes you can google the shit out of the event and look at an endless array of photos from the event, analyzing and picking apart if you think your brand will be a “good fit.” Ultimately all of this will only give you a relative idea if the event will be profitable for you. 

I have done events that should have been hugely successful only to find that my sales were mediocre, and I have done events that were small and new and in a weird location and done fairly well. My advice on choosing events basically boils down to this: If you want to try out an event, do your homework and look into it by all means, but you really need to DO IT in order to know anything about it. You of course will need to assess the risk factors: How much does the event cost? Is there travel involved? Will you be okay if the event is a complete bust and you don’t even make back your booth fee? These are important questions to ask yourself and should always inform your decision to do an event or not. 

As an aside - initially, in the beginning, you will need to be prepared to do events and not make a profit. You will be in the initial “figuring it all out” stage and you will be learning a lot. Sure, there are brands and products that do amazingly well from day one, but you should be prepared for the possibility that this is not how it will go. (Enter: the day job or side job!) The more you set yourself up to be okay with taking risks the more room you are going to have to grow with your handmade work and your business. An example: in general I find that while it may be scary to put down $300+ for an event, these are typically the events that make the most money for me. I know this sort of craft fair price tag is a bitter pill to swallow in the beginning, but oftentimes, the more expensive events are the ones that really bring in the buyers and sales. There are EXCELLENT smaller and less expensive events as well, nothing is absolute! 

As far as finding out about events goes, there are many ways. One of the easiest is to join your local Etsy team and ask others in your group about events they would recommend. Also, one way that I will search for events online is to simply Google the name of a particular city I would like to do an event in along with the words “holiday craft fair” or “summer arts and crafts fair” or something similar. This is a good way to expose yourself to new events that you haven’t heard of, and it’s always a positive to try a new locale, especially if you feel like the locales you have tried have not responded that well to your work.

Attitude, Mind Set and Unsolicited Advice

This is an area that I really wanted to cover, as I think it’s one of the most important and possibly the most elusive when you’re first getting started selling your work, and especially at in-person events like craft fairs or other pop-ups. 

In general, craft fairs and other shows are A LOT of work and can be both physically and mentally draining. But there are things you can do to alleviate some of the stress and make for a more fulfilling experience, regardless of how the event goes sales-wise.

Before I talk about attitude, a bit about my experience selling at events: When I first got started selling at events I felt so incredibly awkward. Everything from the load-in, to creating the display to talking to customers about my work was stressful and anxiety producing. It was all too easy tolet how I did financially at an event affect how I felt about myself. That is a terrible spot to be in.

But I kept at it for months and then years until I go to the point where it all started to fall into place and at times even feel effortless. I am now at a place in my life where I can sincerely say I LOVE doing events. That love has come from years of culling together knowledge from my lived experiences. 

Basically my point: if you’ve had a few terrible events, try to learn from it. I bet there are ways you can make events in the future more fulfilling and worth your time. In the meantime, here are some of my suggestions for doing just that. . . 

1. This bit has served me very well over the years. Treat everyone who comes into your booth or up to your table at an event as if it does not matter if they buy something. In other words: treat them with respect, act genuinely interested in connecting with them, and be nice! Now, obviously it helps to WANT to do these things. Because if you’re being nice just to be nice or following this advice because you think you should that’s all going to come through and you’re going to come across as fake and kind of plastic-y. 

For me, I look at events as a way to connect with people. I truly enjoy this part about events. Yes, some folks are going to be not so nice, or say slightly rude things, but this is true in every aspect of life. You shouldn’t let it scare you away form craft fairs. I’ve met some wonderful people at events, and I don’t honestly think I would be able to connect with folks in the same way if all I saw when they walked into my booth was a giant dollar sign above their head (or two or three dollar signs =)

2. This next part is going to happen to you at least once in a while and can be a tricky topic to navigate: the unsolicited advice. (insert dramatic, tense music here) Yes, there are going to be customers who think they know what your next product should be, how much something should cost, how you should display things differently, and so on and so forth. In the beginning I think this kind of advice would rankle my nerves so much because I was filled with a lot of self-doubt about what I was doing. It was easy for me to see other people, having what they thought was a better idea about how I should be doing things, as a threat.

Now, when someone has advice for me while I’m at an event I try to respond politely but in a way that makes it clear that I know what’s best for me/Tangleweeds. (Because at this point in my trajectory I do!) I will say something like “I hadn’t thought of that, I’ll have to keep that in mind for the future.” I think it’s important to clarify something here: it’s not about placating someone, but rather remembering that most everyone means well. When I used to work in coffee shops and had to deal with problem customers, I tried to remind myself that everyone is doing the best that they can at any given moment. Sometimes someone’s best is going to rub us the wrong way. In the end, just remember that it’s you making the decisions about your product and your biz at the end of the day, and let the suggestions and advice roll off you like water on a duck’s back. 

3. Which brings me to my last section about attitude and mind-set and that’s talking about your work/product. This is where listening to your customers, even the ones who don’t buy anything, and taking in that well meaning “advice” as graciously as you can is really going to pay off. 

When I first started selling at events, I was super nervous talking about my work. I usually didn’t try to strike up a conversation with a customer unless they initiated one first. As you can imagine, my sales weren’t that great at many of my early events. Over time though, as I listened to the people who would come into my booth and paid attention to how they were describing my work as they spoke to me or to there friend/shopping buddy, I started to see my work through the customers’ eyes, which started to illuminate the talking points for me. 

Obviously you’re going to want to filter out the outliers and the bits of feedback that are idiosyncratic to one person and one person only. But over time you will notice over-arching themes that you can begin to incorporate into how you talk about your item. 

As an example: One thing that I started to notice when my customers would try on my earrings was how many people commented in a complimentary way about how lightweight they were. I quickly came to realize that this was a huge selling point as many women (myself included) don’t want heavy earrings weighing down their ears. I was so close to the work that I didn’t realize that something I was intentionally doing (making earrings that were by design lightweight) was an important talking point with my customers. . . at least I didn’t realize it until they made me see it! 

If you’re really wanting some initial talking points though, and don’t want to go into your first event with nothing to say, my recommendation is to start with the obvious and remember that customers most likely know little or nothing about your work when they walk up. Saying something as simple as “I make all of this (jewelry, ceramics, pillows, etc.) myself in my home studio in San Francisco” opens many doors for conversation. You’ve just clarified for your customer that yes, your product is handmade and (if the event is in the SF bay area) you are local as well. Other good talking points:

  • point out your current favorite design and why (the back story) OR point out your newest designs
  • talk very briefly about why you started making what you make (keep it simple because you don’t want to overwhelm the customer)
  • tell the customer that they’re welcome to try anything on/pick anything up to have a closer look
  • mention any sales or promotions that you may be having
  • and always remember to say “hi” or “good morning” or something else simple when they walk   into your booth/up to your table. Acknowledging their presence is a HUGE plus and amazingly something that many vendors simply don’t do. 

If you can keep some of the above points in mind, I think you will find events to be a fulfilling and rewarding experience, even if they don’t start out initially as profitable as you might like. I do acknowledge that craft fairs and other events of this ilk will not be a good fit for everyone’s brand and product, but I do think that you have to give events everything you’ve got before you can safely say that retail events are not right for your biz. 

On that note, I’ll wrap this post up! I know we’re moving back into fair season for many of us soon. Mine really starts to get underway in April, although I’ll have a couple of events in March. I’d love to hear what anyone else might have to say about how they keep a good attitude when they’re at a selling event. Feel free to leave a comment (or a question!) below. 

Happy Tuesday!

LWM ~ Different Shades of the Same Color

My first Listening-Wearing-Making post of the year! I honestly wasn't sure if I'd continue this series this year. I hit a point last year where I simply felt like I was listening to all of the same music all of the time and wearing the same small section of my wardrobe. I did feel like I was making a lot of new designs tho! But like all things, I think we seek comfort and familiarity with some things when life gets a bit bumpy or busy, and the last quarter of the year is nothing if not busy for me! 

Listening ~ On to the good stuff! Please, oh please, if you are a lover of bluegrass/folk/americana music go and listen to Rayna Gellert's new album Workin's Too Hard. I'm in love with this album that's a mix of old-timey traditional and original songs. (If you love Gillian Welch I think it's safe to say you'll love Gellert.) 

Wearing ~ Lately I've been especially into monochromatic anything, including outfits. There's something subtle and textural to an outfit that is mostly varying shades of the same color. I like the rusty-red orange of this tank top with the brick red of this skirt. (I actually changed to a ruddy  red brown nubby sweater before I left the house for my day.)

Outfit details:
~ tank top, sweater, skirt, and boots - all thrifted
~ River Rocks Necklace
~ Akin Earrings
~ Stepping Stones Bracelet
~ Twist ring

As an aside, I seriously cannot believe sometimes how long my hair has gotten in the last year. I think I just got so busy with things I'm passionate about that I stopped paying attention to it, until one day I realized I could practically sit on it!

Making ~ This month I've been very focused on creating the prototypes for my next collector for spring/summer. This collection is going to be very feminine and fun, with bright juicy colors and more limited edition designs. Below is a sneak of something I'm pretty darn excited to debut, and can't wait to model for you guys! I'm going to have the new line available by March 13th. Follow along on Instagram if you want to see more sneak peeks as that date rolls closer. 

Happy Thursday everyone!

Item of The Week ~ Effortless and Elegant Petal Earrings

It's been fun featuring a new weekly item these last few weeks! There's always so much that goes into each design, from mining my life for inspiration, to figuring out how to streamline the production, to creating a prototype and giving it a test-run (which basically means I wear the piece for a few days to see how it wears, then I make any necessary tweaks to the design), to photographing each piece for listing on my web-shops.


This week I'm featuring my Petal Earrings. These are such a great classic staple for any wardrobe! I was inspired by flower petals (specifically lotus flower petals) in creating this design, hence the name. With their monochromatic coloring and small, delicate nature you can throw these on and just about forget you're wearing any earrings at all. 

As my offer to you this week, these earrings will be available at 1/2 off in my shop through next Monday when I'll have a new item-of-the-week for your enjoyment! That makes them only $16.50 per pair (plus shipping and any applicable taxes of course.) Simply use the discount code petal and you're on your way to your new favorite pair of everyday earrings. 

Thanks for reading! 

Item of the Week ~ A classic: Swoops Earrings

This week I chose to feature a classic Tangleweeds design: the Swoops Earrings. I love this design. It's one that I am especially proud of and that my customers seem to love (thank you!) Last year I rolled it out in even more stone options, like the moonstone pictured below.

I remember when this design came to life. I was still working in my garage studio (which was also my living space - yes, folks, for the first year and a half running Tangleweeds I rented a garage bedroom that doubled as my studio!) It was a rare afternoon where I had some time to mess around with creating metal components. I had made a bunch of these curved metal bars and simply decided to turn them vertical instead of horizontal. 

The nice effect of this design is the way they swing and dance as the wearer moves about. They're also very lightweight - one of my Tangleweeds signatures. 

My *special offer* on this design is 35% off with code swoops through next Monday. Click here to shop the Swoops, or click on either of the images above. 

And, P.S., these make for a great Valentine's Day gift for any gal that likes long earrings!

Creative Tenacity: Hard Work, Smoke and Mirrors, Connections, and Time

Welcome to Creative Tenacity! My new blog series that I hope will be full of helpful advice for those of you looking to sell your handmade wares. . . or maybe even start your own handmade business! 

For this first entry I wanted to dwell on some general thoughts and feelings I have, and that many others in the handmade business realm share, about what it takes to make it all work, and especially, what you need in the way of guts, stamina, and gumption to even get started. 

Pretty much all of the advice I’m going to offer here I wish I had taken a bit more seriously when I was first getting started!

1. You’re going to work harder and longer than you ever thought you could/would and it’s not always going to be fun or even make you happy. Yup, that’s right. Especially if you quit your day job and now have the added pressure of paying your bills with your business. Now that doesn't mean it won't be hugely satisfying and rewarding - it will be! - but it's going to demand more of you than sometimes feels possible.

I can remember, when I still had a day job and would day dream about working at Tangleweeds full time, thinking that once I could, then nothing would be too much. There would be plenty of time and I would always get EVERYTHING done on my to-do list. And I thought I would do it all serenely, while walking around in a Zen like state everyday, perfectly content and happy in the mere fact that I worked for myself. 

Boy-oh-boy was I wrong! Very quickly I realized that most days I was barley going to skim the surface of what I hoped to accomplish and that no, I wasn’t going to serenely go about my days completely free of all stress. I struggled with this. I thought that once I was working on Tangleweeds full-time I would find unlimited satisfaction and happiness in my life. I thought that because I struggled so much at first, that I was doing something terribly wrong. (When I look back on the first couple of years of Tangleweeds I think the only thing I really did wrong was simply be too hard on myself.) As time went by I learned the invaluable lesson that I had been pinning unrealistic hopes on Tangleweeds: that my career with Tangleweeds would fulfill me in all ways, would be my ticket that declared I was a worthy person. (As a side-note: one of the enormous perks about being an entrepreneur is you will learn so much about yourself if you’re paying attention on this journey.)

So, in total: Know that you’re going to work very hard for possibly longer than you anticipated (like, years!) and that you might not always be thrilled with every step of the journey. AND, maybe most importantly, just because the journey is hard and at times discouraging, doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong or that you should give up. Quite the contrary, it means you’re doing it!!! The hard work pays off in little bits over time. 

2. There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors in the handmade business world so don’t compare yourself or your business to others. 

Now, when I was still working my day job (coffee shop for those who might wonder) I loved to read Etsy’s “Quit Your Day Job” series and pour through blogs by folks who had made the big break to pursue their passion full time. At the time that was actually great fuel for me. It energized me to believe that it was possible to sell my jewelry full time. But something I realized very quickly when I did quit the day job was that I had to distance myself, at least a little bit, from keeping up on how everyone else was doing selling their handmade jewelry, clothes, dolls, etc. If I wasn’t careful it quickly became a game of comparison that would do the exact opposite of energizing me. It would deplete me and leave me feeling like a failure for not being further along with my biz. 

The reason this sort of comparison is so pointless is for one basic reason: you don’t know what resources, circumstances, support system, etc this other person you’re idolizing may have at their fingertips. You also don’t know how long they’ve been at it. Oftentimes 10 year handmade businesses can look like overnight successes, especially if you discover them one night in a half-drunk, pity-party Pinterest binge. I know folks with 10s of thousands of Instagram followers who are barely making a dime off of their business. I know folks with a measly following of 50 on Instagram who have ben supporting themselves and a family for years. The surface of things can be deceiving at times, hence what I mean when I say there can be a lot of “smoke and mirrors” when it comes to running a successful handmade business (or any type of business for that matter.) Remember to focus on what you’re doing! If it’s helpful, give yourself social media “black out” periods where you can truly hone-in on and focus on what you’re doing, and especially what makes your work so wonderful.

There are many other resources and opportunities that are going to vary with each person’s unique set of circumstances and lifestyles. Everyone has their own unique set of limitations on their time and money as well. After about two years of full-timing it with Tangleweeds I would often start to get frustrated that I wasn’t feeling “further along” and a large part of this frustration came from comparison (who is it that once said “comparison is the thief of all joy?”) I think though, the best antidote to the unhealthy comparison game that we can all easily get sucked into in today’s social media age is true connection with others who get what you’re going through. . . which naturally leads me to my next piece of advice. . . 

3. Talk to your peers and to others doing what you’re doing. This part is SO important! And it took this naturally inclined introvert a couple of years to realize the importance of it. 

Being an introvert I was totally cocky about working for myself. So many people warned me I would be lonely, it would be hard working by myself and for myself. That I would miss the camaraderie of a true “workplace.” I thought that none of that would get to me. Boy was I wrong! The re-affirming nature of just having someone to give even just 30-second feedback completely evaporated. I didn’t fully realize how much I was missing work cohorts until I started to connect with other makers at the arts and crafts fairs I would sell at every month. Over time those connections grew into something truly sustaining. Many of them are now friendships that criss-cross our business lives and are some of the most valuable relationships I’ve made in my adult life.

Now, I did say your “peers” and not folks that you look up to who are already successful and this is for a good reason. Folks who are where you’re at are often a better immediate resource for info that is relevant to your concerns in the present. They are also a lot more likely to be able to relate to where you’re coming from with your struggles than someone 10, 12 or 20 years along. (As an aside: I do think that asking for advice from folks whom you look up to is a great idea, it’s just not the exact point I’m making right now. It’s also something that I have loads of advice on, but that’s for another time =). 

I think maybe the two most significant things I’ve done since starting Tangleweeds that have really helped create a community around me of like-minded and similarly employed folks, has been -

  1. joining the San Francisco Etsy Team
  2. to co-create with Kyla of Impressed By Nature a small business incubator group that meets monthly and provides daily support for each other as we navigate our businesses and our lives. We named the group Creative Pursuit Collective, and I’ll share more about that group in a later post, but feel free to ask any questions you might have in the comments!

At this point in my Tangleweeds career I feel lucky to say I have a wonderful and supportive group of people around me who help me get through the tough times and offer feedback and advice when I need it. If you’re not sure where to start regarding connecting with others, here are my top three suggestions:

  1. if you sell on Etsy, join the Etsy team (https://www.etsy.com/teams) for your local area. I know not all geographic areas have their own Etsy teams, but you can always look into joining the one that is closest to your locale.
  2. even if you’re not ready to participate in some of the larger, more expensive craft fairs, look into smaller events like pop-ups and local street fairs. Then, bring a friend or a family member along to help you out so you can get away from your booth for a bit and talk to other vendors (while always being mindful that they are there to work and sell their product, so if they’re busy with customers, make sure to graciously step aside.) Sometimes just the briefest of introductions is enough. If you can grab a business card of theirs you can connect with them later, after the event is over via email or other social media.
  3. work on those close connections. While joining groups and meeting people through social media is wonderful, there’s nothing better than one or two people whom you can really connect with, who really get you. I highly recommend making time for lunch or a coffee date with a single real life person once a week, or maybe twice a month, if your schedule will allow for it. And I don’t just mean with folks who run handmade businesses as well. I’m talking about the connections you hd before you ventured into this territory. Fostering and nourishing these relationships is important too!

Most of all, remember that like most things in life, building a supportive community of people around you will take some time. Be kind and gentle with yourself as you navigate this new way of connecting. 

4. And lastly for today: give yourself lots of time. By which I mean, give yourself plenty of time to hone your craft/skill, etc. 

I recently started weaving. As a hobby. I am not interested in trying to sell my weavings any time soon as I want to cater to the creative freedom that comes from not putting too many demands on a passion. I made jewelry for at least 7 years before I ever sold a piece. Mainly because I was so passionate about the work that I didn’t really want to pull any energy away from the sheer act of creating. 

Once you decide to start selling your work, and especially if you decide to start a business, you are always going to have a lot of balls in the air at once. Making time for pure creative experimentation and exploration will no longer be your main priority (don’t get me wrong, you’ll still need to make time for this). There were moments in the first couple of years full-time with Tangleweeds when I craved the time to simply mess around creatively with no concern for the consequences. In the beginning though, I had to push that time to the outer edges of my schedule while I figured out all of the practical business stuff.

In short, if you’re just getting started on your craft, don’t rush into making a business of it right off the bat. Selling your work a little bit on the side though can provide invaluable feedback. I encourage you to give your creative muscles the room they need to grow before launching into creating a business from your handmade work. 

There you have it! The four pieces of advice that I think are pretty damn invaluable to anyone starting out selling their handmade goods:

1. Be prepared to work harder than you thought possible
2. Don't compare your journey to anyone else's.
3. Connect with folks who are doing something similar.
4. Give yourself time to hone your skill/craft.

Now, I'd love to hear from you guys! Leave a comment on the post below about your handmade business adventures. What's the single best piece of advice you received? And maybe, if you were like me, a good piece of advice you didn't take heed of at first but wish you had? 

I'll be back in mid February with my next Creative Tenacity post. In all honesty, I'm not sure what I'll cover in that post just yet. But it'll be something brought to you from my unique perspective, honed by 7 and 1/2 years running Tangleweeds. I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post and found at least some of it helpful!

New Series * Item of the Week Feature

Eons ago, back when I didn't have a website and I still blogged over at Blogspot/Blogger, I used to run a special "item of the week" feature. I've decided to bring this feature back because I love how it allows me to really put the spotlight on one particular piece - to give more detail behind the design and why I love it! I'll also be offering the special item at a discount for the week it is featured. 

For the first item of the week I chose the Desert Fan Earrings, a personal favorite of mine from the Earth Relics collection that I put out last year. Last year I was really finding myself drawn to larger, more organically shaped stones and wanted to find a way to showcase some of these stones in earrings. That alone is a challenge as larger stones have a quite a bit of weight to them. I prefer to design earrings that are lightweight and easy to wear. These particular rutilated quartz stones I used were the perfect size: large enough to showcase the natural beauty of the stone, but small enough to not be too heavy for earrings. 

I also knew I wanted to incorporate elements of beadwork into the design with some hand-forged metal components. The soft palette of these reminds me of a sunrise over the Arizona desert, and an overall softness and softening of my approach towards life that needed to happen at the time.  

If you love these and want to get a pair before they sell out (there are 3 pairs left, all of the Earth Relics pieces are very limited editions), then head on over to my shop and use the code "desertfan" for 40% off now through next Monday, when I'll release a new item of the week!

And happy Monday to all!