Creative Tenacity in 2019

Back in 2017 I created a series I called “Creative Tenacity.” It was a series of blog posts I wrote inspired by my experiences running Tangleweeds for 7+ (at the time) years. Last year I had plans to continue with this series, but as I wrote about a bit in my first blog post of 2019, I found myself busier than I’ve ever been, and many smaller goals fell to the back burner.


But this year finds me reinvigorated with ideas for the Creative Tenacity series. Some of these ideas are going to help fuel my dream of starting a podcast this year, but some of these ideas are going to find their resting spot over here: in the form of a good old-fashioned blog post.

Lately this thought keeps popping up in my mind: there are so many things that have surprised me about running a handmade business. Some things have surprised me in good ways and other things have been more complex and have required some soul searching to really understand. Overall I’d say the surprises all have one thing in common: they’ve all taught me SO MUCH about myself. Sometimes I think creating and running Tangleweeds has been the best form of therapy. . . more on that as you read on!

I thought I’d dive into some of these “surprises”. I give you my top three surprises, in no particular order. . .

1. The first surprise that’s currently on my mind has been how many opportunities there have been for business related travel. From out-of-town craft fairs, exhibiting at wholesale tradeshows, big buying events (for raw materials/supplies), and more, I didn’t realize getting into this business that I would have numerous opportunities for travel.

Initially, as the work trips began to present themselves, I was excited. I thought that I could see myself eventually buying an RV or a large van and traveling all over the country for craft fairs for part of the year. But I wasn’t thinking about my true self and what I desire: a cozy homefront to come back to most days, cats at my heals, my creature comforts surrounding me. I’d grown up rarely traveling anywhere (my family wasn’t big on taking trips or vacations together.) Because of this I didn’t really know how any of this was done, and I found much of the planning and prep for trips overwhelming. As I booked more and more Tangleweeds related trips I found myself stressing out BIG TIME every time another trip was looming on my calendar. To my credit, I never cancelled a trip once the plans were in motion, but the stress leading up to it would unsteady me and upset my days in ways that were difficult to manage. These warring feelings: the reality that I don’t LOVE to travel vs. the romanticized vision I had of traveling in a van for Tangleweeds culminated in 2017 with more out-of-town events than I’ve ever done in one calendar year. In a way 2017 became my “travel anxiety de-sensitization” year. I was often a wreck preparing to leave (my worst fear was that something would happen to the cats while I was gone.) Slowly though, each consecutive trip got just a little bit easier.

I’m now at a point where I look forward to trips, be they personal or business. I’ve learned that forgetting to pack something does not equal the end of the world (unless it’s a craft fair and it’s your inventory - I’ve never done that!). Overall my travel anxiety is much more manageable than pre-2017. Tangleweeds trips really pushed me to grow in a way that I don’t know I would have without the added incentive.

Now though, I am much choosier about the trips I take for work. This has more to do with balancing the finances of running a handmade business and less to do with my anxiety - which, as I mentioned, doesn’t keep me from taking trips as it would have years ago. Currently I have a road trip to the big gem show in Tucson planned for early February. Something I’ve wanted to do for years but just have never prioritized. I can honestly say I’m more excited than anxious about this trip!

2. My second big surprise: This handmade business life sometimes gets lonelier than I feel I can handle. In some ways I think this “surprise” is pretty self-explanatory to fellow handmade business owners out there. In other ways it’s more nuanced and complex than it may seem on the surface. This surprise almost completely side-lined me at first. I thought I was an introvert who didn’t know that such a thing as too much alone time existed. But let me explain. . .

On the surface: I mostly work by myself on any given work day. That means I’m mostly at home working by myself five days a week. That’s the obvious. The less obvious: it can be lonely being the only person making decisions and executing plans for the future of my business. If I come up with a great idea there’s no one to high-five me and say “awesome, I can’t wait to see what you do!” There’s no one to give me a little pep talk if I’m feeling down. In my previous jobs I’d always prided myself in working hard and going above and beyond the requirements of the job. Now, if I do that, I have to find the encouragement, satisfaction, and motivation internally. Once again, this is what I mean about my business being the best form of therapy. Working primarily by myself has taught me to find satisfaction, happiness, and joy internally more than anything else in my life has - even more than meditating!

Now, that’s not to say I don’t still sometimes wish for co-workers in the more traditional sense - because I do! In my own ways I’ve worked to build a community of artists and crafters and makers around me - even if we’re not literally working in the same space (or even in the same city.) I’ve written about the small handmade business group, the Creative Pursuit Collective, that I formed almost four years ago alongside Kyla of Impressed By Nature. This group helps me steer the ship, so to speak, when the weather of running a handmade business gets rough. But more than that, I push myself to find other ways to connect with makers - whether that’s simply having lunch with a friend or going to a craft fair and chatting with the vendors. I’m also finding that there are ways I can more naturally build in community to what I do. Teaching workshops is definitely one of those tools too! (My next workshop is coming up and you can get more details here.)

3. Lastly, something that surprised me to learn about myself: I thrive on routine. (But not too much routine!) Early on, when I first quit my day job and went full time with Tangleweeds, I would wake up in the morning thrilled that a whole un-scheduled day stretched forth in front of me and all I had to do was whatever I needed to do for Tangleweeds. (I’m laughing hysterically in my head as I type this.) That thrill quickly gave way to dread. Why? Because I quickly realized that no matter how much time I had in a day, there was always going to be more to do for the business and there was no such thing as “all done.” My mornings and work days quickly became uber stressful because I had no plan for my days and just figured there was enough time to get it all done if I just worked hard enough. (Once again, complete laughter over this lack of foresight.)

You’d think I would have learned rather quickly that I needed to schedule my work days in order to not wake up every morning feeling such a sense of doom and gloom. No, it took me about two years of blundering through this way to realize I needed to start creating a schedule for myself. Why did I resist it for so long? Because part of quitting my day job and working for myself was me seeking real freedom. And in my head real freedom did not look like a schedule of any sort. Even if the schedule was full of things I wanted to be doing. A schedule equaled no freedom which equaled misery - in my head.

Honestly, I don’t think I would have come around to scheduling things if it hadn’t been for other makers sharing their struggles with time and scheduling. It also helped that I started to read blogs and sign up for newsletters that were geared towards helping makers become successful. As I dipped my toe in the world of scheduling I realized I liked it and that I even thrived on it.

Since sorting out this internal struggle of mine, I’ve played with many different ways of scheduling. Ultimately I’ve naturally fallen into a place where I schedule my work days about a week out, with a loose outline for what the month will look like, along with long-term (1 year+) goals factoring into the big picture. But I don’t tether myself to the the schedules I create. There’s room for flexibility. THAT is a relatively new part and has come out of a recognition that I need to give myself more room to take care of myself and go with the flow sometimes. I guess you could say I’ve found a lot of joy in having the FREEDOM to throw my self-created schedule out the window when it feels like the right thing to do.

And that’s it folks! Three of my biggest surprises about creating and running a handmade business. I think, to be noted, there’s an overriding theme too, maybe the 4th surprise - How this journey has been my therapy in so many ways, how it’s taught me so so so much about myself and made me stronger. Helped me overcome challenges, develop a better sense of myself, and shone a light on my strengths and weaknesses.

I can’t say starting my own handmade business has been cheaper than therapy but I can say it’s been an experience like none other - one that has brought joy, growth, pain, and a sense of purpose.

This is obviously just my personal experience in my business - I’d love to hear about what’s surprised you in the comments!

Looking Back Looking Forward

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. Before starting this post, I felt compelled to look over my posts form 2018. And one thing I noticed was last year found me struggling with finding better ways to work and better ways to balance life and work. I wrote about taking a 10-day staycation and explored my thoughts about the need for social media as a small business. Which naturally led to taking a social media fast for one month. I also shared with you my conflicted thoughts about where I live and my desire to settle somewhere else in the near future. It was a year full of challenges and growth - growth that could only come out of struggle. When I look back over these posts I know one thing that many of you don’t: most of last year I was working harder than I ever have and dancing with burnout in the process.


Last year could have only led me to where I am now. All of our choices are always taking us one step at a time to the next place we need to be. And last year was bound to throw something at me to slow me down:

Welcome in back problems like I’ve never had - sciatica pain, a herniated disc, tingling, numbness, pain so bad it takes an elephant’s worth of will power just to get out of bed in the morning.

I think one of the only reasons I can write about this in any way where I’m even remotely grateful for what I’m dealing with is because a few days ago it seems like I may have passed the worst of the pain. As I begin physical therapy I’m trying to reconfigure my life around a slower pace. Around a TRUE acceptance in my head that to be less busy is OKAY, that relaxation does not equal being lazy.

I always like to take some time at the beginning of a new year to write about what I hope to realize and bring into being in the new year AND what I would like to let go of. The things I wrote about this year are less things and more ways of thinking:

  1. To be more accepting of what I am capable of doing in a given span of time (be that an hour, a day, a month, a year, heck, even a lifetime.)

  2. To let go of guilt. Whether that’s guilt for taking time off or guilt because I actually do love my work and sometimes, when it feels right, I WANT to work all day (now, the caveat is, so long as I’m not overworking my body.) To realize that all of the pieces and parts are necessary and not anything to feel guilty about.

  3. To run with the things that spark my excitement and imagination and let go of many of the things that drag me down.

  4. To better embrace the “middle” and transitional times in life. Whether that’s when I’m in the middle of a work-related goal and don’t know when the dream will be realized, or just in the middle of a big closet clean out. I tend to be bad with “middle” energy. I’m all excited when I’m getting a project started and feel very proud once I’ve realized the goal/dream/clean closet, but overall I just end up trying to rush through the middle. The middle is where a lot of the good stuff is, and I know that when I’m rushing through it I’m missing a lot of life.

And so, I move forward, one foot in front of the other, seeing quite clearly that slowing down is the only REAL way to enact REAL change in my life.

This year is off to a bit of a muddled start. I had a tradeshow very early in the month, that I had to be prepared for. And so I put on my big girl pants and I got it done, even while dealing with an immense amount of pain. I will report: the show went well. And I can happily say there are some new stores that will be receiving Tangleweeds goods for their shop in the weeks to come. But as soon as that show was over I slowed the train down. I’ve mostly taken the last week off and it’s felt great. I even took some time to really clean up my workshop and it now feels like a space I am excited to (carefully) get back to work in. Maybe I’ll even offer up some more mini-tutorials on Instagram like I did last year.

Overall though, Tangleweeds isn’t going anywhere. There are some significant changes ahead, but given that I’m not quite sure how quickly things will happen around here for now, I’m not going to offer up any timelines.

What you can expect to see from Tangleweeds this year:

  1. A remodel and pairing down of the online shop. Many designs will be discontinued and overall the shop will have a new, more shopper friendly look. (I will of course announce the re-model and design discontinuation with plenty of notice in case there’s something you’d like to get while you still can.)

  2. A new series of limited edition pieces. These will be released on Instagram on a schedule that I have yet to set. I will announce all of this on IG as I refine this way of releasing designs.

  3. A PODCAST!!!! I’m beyond excited about this idea. It’s my way of continuing to further the building of the handmade/maker/artisan community, especially as I consider moving out of the bay area this year.

  4. More workshops. Definitely my Metalwork Made Easy class, along with some other ideas in the works.

  5. A more paired down craft fair schedule. I most likely won’t do any events at all until April or May of this year. This is both to give my back time to heal and to focus on other areas of Tangleweeds.

  6. A different focus on my newsletter - I want to grow the arm of Tangleweeds that is about finding the beauty in the everyday. And I want to share it with all of you!

That about wraps up my thoughts for 2019. I could write an equally long post reflecting on 2018, but I’ll just leave it at this: I realized a lot of my goals. Now the challenge: continuing that journey towards new goals while incorporating more mindfulness, more self-care, and heaps more “living in the moment” types of energy!!!

Tell me about your new year goals. Or conversely, how do you feel about the way 2018 went? I love the practice of looking back/looking forward.

My Antidote to Finding the Stress in the Everyday

Last year I started a little feature in my newsletter (and sometimes shared here on the blog) called “The Tangleweeds Tool Kit.” This tool kit was full of suggestions for finding the beauty in the everyday. I’ve loved putting these tool-kits together and plan to continue with them this year (come late February/early March you’ll see them back in your in-box.) As I consider the different things I’d like to include in the 2018 tool-kits, I realized I wanted to share my reasoning behind my message with Tangleweeds: the message of “finding the beauty in the everyday.” While I hope that my jewelry embodies this idea - with pieces that easily fold into your everyday lives - I wanted to more directly address where this message sprang from in my life and business. 


I think my back story is one many of you can relate to: I’m really f*$#ing good at finding the stress in the everyday. Some days I’m better at it than others. Over the years, as I grew Tangleweeds from a hobby without a name or much focus and eventually into the sustainable business it is today, I only grew more adept at finding the stress in the everyday. 

I would wake up most mornings and instantly my brain would start churning on all of the things I needed to do that day. “Ugh, there’s still that pile of dishes in the sink, and I need to write that blog post, and shoot, I forgot to get back to 100,109,560 emails yesterday, and oh-my-god Christmas is only 6 months away and I haven’t EVEN STARTED prepping for the holiday season!!!” Basically I’d wind myself into this tight ball of stress over things that weren’t even real, or certainly weren’t worth the added stress.  

Even more significant was that many of the “to-do’s” were things I was very excited to get to. But I would over-think and over-stress myself so much that it would take much of the joy out of the things I wanted to do (designing new pieces), let alone the things that were pure drudgery (book-keeping). 


Somewhere along the line, around the second or third year of running my business full time, I simply started to realize that I was making myself miserable. That, yes, there were many things about running Tangleweeds that were stressful, but that ultimately I was making the situation that much worse with my constant worry and need for control at all times. And, of course, you can bet if I was being like this with Tangleweeds I was also being like this with most other areas of my life. 

Slowly I learned to stop worrying so much, and to cede control when it was possible, and to not shoot for perfection all of the time. All of these things are easy for my conscious mind to understand, but not as easy for my unconscious to unwrap. Many of the tools I use are similar to the tools you will hear many experts praise: I make time to slow down, I meditate, I schedule off-days from work. And maybe, most importantly, I schedule down time within my work day. Just yesterday I was listing to a show on NPR and there was this time management expert on. (I’m not 100% clear what his area of expertise was but he said something that really stuck with me.) He said that (paraphrasing here) basically it’s not the amateurs in life who take breaks or step away form work when they’re tired, but it’s actually the seasoned experts who do this. That to acknowledge the need for rest is actually an incredibly mature thing to do and that the idea of just “powering through” is the amateur’s way. I heard this and honestly gave a sigh of relief. I think the more that the mainstream can soak up this message the more it will begin to be accepted in all areas of life. 


Hand-in-hand with allowing myself to slow down, came the ability to appreciate the small things more. I wish I could point to a moment when all of this just became easier, but as I described above, it’s all been a slow process, one that is still unfolding. Finding the beauty in the everyday became my own personal mantra and naturally became the underlying message I wanted Tangleweeds to embody. Whether it’s a pile of un-raked leaves in the fall (a personal favorite), or the smell of damp cat fur when one of my feline babies have just come in from the rain, there are too many small moments of beauty everyday to count. 

I’m looking forward to continuing my adventures in slowing-down and appreciating the everyday, and most of all I am excited to share them with all of you this year!


Changes Ahead in 2018

Oh, the new year! For me it’s always a similar feeling: I’m jazzed up about the momentum I feel to make new changes happen, but I’m also intimidated and daunted, afraid that I’m going to let myself down. I usually have to temper that second part or I’ll stress myself out so much I manage to make nothing new happen.

Can you relate?

Wearing some of my favorite Tangleweeds pieces. 

Wearing some of my favorite Tangleweeds pieces. 

I’ve realized over the years that part of making the new happen means letting go of the old. This isn’t always easy - many times the old masquerades as SUPER important. Mainly because it’s what I know and am familiar with. Oftentimes, sorting out the old that I want to hang on to and the old I want to release involves list making. Almost every time, when I make the first list, there is literally nothing I can see as non-essential, or ready to be released. It usually takes coming back to that list a few times over a few days or even weeks for me to finally begin to see the openings - the old things that can be let go of to create openings for the new. 

All of that is my way of saying, this year I’ll be discontinuing quite a few of my designs. I’m still culling that list, sorting through what I think I need to hang on to and what I really want to hang on to. 

Stepping into the new year in my brand new boots.

Stepping into the new year in my brand new boots.

You guys, my valued Tangleweeds collectors, mean a lot to me and through all of this I’ve had you guys on my mind. With that said, I plan to offer a sale along with an announcement in the coming weeks with the specific date at which you will no longer be able to buy these designs. 

I’m also offering the sale because come February, I will be raising my prices across the board. It won’t be a dramatic price increase, but it will be noticeable. I strive to and make it a top priority to keep my prices as low as possible. I haven’t raised my prices in a while, so the time has come to adjust them to better reflect the current costs of running Tangleweeds. 

A Tangleweeds classic - the By Chance necklace

A Tangleweeds classic - the By Chance necklace

I am extremely excited by what this next year holds for me and Tangleweeds. I feel like some things are becoming more defined in my mind, that my vision for what I want Tangleweeds to look like and feel like has never been more clear to me. That also means that as I usher out some of the old, there will be much new to welcome into those openings. These new things will include offering creative classes, a recycled sterling silver collection, lots of great newsletters and blog posts full of stuff that, I hope, will help you all find the beauty in the everyday a little bit more easily. I also hope to explore my jewelry design process some more and am excited to see that comes out of this endeavor. We’ll see where this all takes me and I hope you’ll share the journey with me!

At the annual retreat for the Creative Pursuit Collective - a small women's creative business incubator that I helped found almost three years ago. 

At the annual retreat for the Creative Pursuit Collective - a small women's creative business incubator that I helped found almost three years ago. 

For now there are no specific dates. I will announce all of the specifics via my newsletter first, so if you haven’t signed up, now is a great time to do just that (click here to be directed to sign up for my newsletter)! Roughly though, any designs being discontinued will be pulled from both web-stores (Etsy and my shop) by the end of February. 

In the meantime, I’m going to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Trying to build on what’s already there to realize the dreams I have. That’s all any of us can do, right? It makes me think of the motivational quote that goes through my head often, when I’m feeling over-whelmed: “Starts where you are.” I love the simplicity of the statement, but also the raw verve it suggests. It challenges you to simply start, to acknowledge that nothing ever happens without first starting something. Coupled with the “where you are” comes the acceptance that we all have restrictors on our time and energy, and that to set our own pace and carve our own path at our own rates is what will give us the deepest satisfaction in life.

Thanks for joining me in this path so far! Here’s to a wonderful 2018!


Changes Ahead for Tangleweeds

This year has been full of shake ups for me, and by extension, for Tangleweeds. There have been the obvious changes, like moving and the always evolving process and journey around getting older, but there have been more subtle shifts for me as well. About a year and a half ago (I think) I started up a small handmade business support group along with another talented lady (Kyla of Impressed By Nature.) This group has been such a morale boost for me, as well as a kick in the pants in realizing my goals. In part because of this group, I'm committing myself to making some big changes within Tangleweeds in the next year. 

sawing bird shape at workbench 2010

One of the first steps on this leg of the Tangleweeds journey is going to be to commit myself/Tangleweeds to less in-person selling events, be they craft fairs, art and wine strolls, First Friday in Oakland, or other trunk shows and pop-up events. I need to free up my time more to allow the better development of the online and wholesale sides of my business, which have suffered under the heavy and constant demands of events nearly every weekend from April to December for the last fours years. 

I still plan to do events, I'm simply going to be choosier about how I decide which events to do. One to two events (maybe three if it's around the holidays or another really busy time) per month will be my max. This will mean mostly good things for you Tangleweeds collectors out there. I plan to start releasing more limited edition and one-of-a-kind (OOAK) pieces, and I plan to release new work online on a much more regular basis. 

trays of turquoise and brass beads

As Tangleweeds has evolved over the years I feel like I've gotten a bit off track from what my original vision was for my business. I still am incredibly proud of everything I've put out to date and absolutely stand behind my designs and work. As I begin to pivot with Tangleweeds though, I will be discontinuing many of my current designs to make room for the new work to come. This will be a slowish process, so don't panic if there's a classic Tangleweeds piece that you've had your eye on for months (or years!) that you want to grab while you can. You'll still have plenty of time for that! 

Editing down my classics (or the "core" Tangleweeds pieces) will allow me to more readily release new, more limited collections on a regular basis. This part I am quite excited about, as you can imagine, and is a big part of how I hope to steer things in the coming year and on. 

tray of turquoise and glass beads

Tomorrow I will launch a big sale in my Etsy shop for those of you looking to pick up one of my older designs. I will have a new section in my shop titled "oldies but goodies." This is the section you'll want to check for the designs that will be discontinued the soonest. I can't say exactly how soon all of these designs will be discontinued as it will entirely depend on my stock level for each piece. Most likely I will post again, here on the blog and on other social media, as the cut date for these designs draws near. 

At the heart of things, Tangleweeds will remain the jewelry business you've come to love: great jewelry for everyday wear with an earthy/rustic quality. Pieces that are unique and hand-crafted by me and my assistant. That will never change. 

To everyone out there who has supported me and Tangleweeds on this handmade jewelry journey thus far, a sincere thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope you choose to accompany me on this next part of the journey as well!