Me Time – how taking a break can be the best thing for business

I’ve had a really loooong and difficult week with the kids. They seem to have been inhabited by teenagers despite being aged just 3 years (girl) and 15 months (boy). Add to this the busy work of preparing for an … Continue reading

How do you balance business and family?

It has been a long time since I last blogged. Life has happened. Apart from being very busy in the business side of things (that’s a good thing, isn’t it?) we have had some family things unexpectedly come up in … Continue reading

Self Doubt, Depression and the Unexpected Entrepreneur

Self doubt.

It’s such a powerful thing, isn’t it?

I don’t know if there’s anybody out there who hasn’t experienced a little self doubt before but I know it is something I find myself fighting all the time. It’s not so much because I’m not a confident person. Or because I don’t have any real talent or aptitude for what I do. It’s more a scar of my battle with depression.

{As those of you who have been following my blog will know, I have battled on and off with depression since 2007. I have been brutally honest about this as I am passionate about ending the stigma on mental health that makes some feel that they cannot be truthful about how they are really feeling. If you want to know more about my journey with depression you can read about it here.}

So how does this relate to business?

Lately, I have been feeling a bit of self doubt. Sales have been a bit slow (as is usual at this time of year) and I seem to be waiting interminably for my next market in March. After all the busyness of the Christmas/New year period it’s all feeling a little slow. So those niggly thoughts start coming in…

“I’m not selling anything. Maybe it’s because people no longer like what I do”

“If this keeps going I won’t have any income left to continue with my business”

“I know lots of small businesses fail early on…will mine be part of that statistic?”

“Is it worth spending the money and taking the time to apply for Trademark?”

“Other businesses look like they’re selling well…why aren’t I?”

“I feel so guilty taking time to work on my business when I should be cleaning the house/folding washing/spending better quality time with the kids/etc.”

And so it continues.

Now, despite all the cognitive behaviour therapy I have done, negative self-talk and thoughts still blow through my mind like a whirlwind sometimes, making a big mess of calm and confidence and leaving a big pile of rubbish to sort through. I KNOW in my head what is happening and I KNOW it is not good, but I sometimes feel like I’m standing there helpless as I watch my thoughts get all muddied.

So, in my state of ‘blergh’ I signed up to do an online milestones workshop with Get It Done Mum and Build A Little Biz (two excellent resources if you are a small biz owner!). The big selling point was that they promised to “overcome the overwhelm”…just what I needed!

I scrounged together the time to access the meeting online in between juggling my two young children and threw myself into the exercises wholeheartedly.

What a breath of fresh air through my mind!

Through doing this workshop I found the clarity to discover what I really want (and need) from my business as well as from my personal life and set milestones and strategies to achieve this newfound vision.

Then, last night as I was talking with my husband about the workshop and how I’m feeling about business and all the rest, and I realised that the self doubt I had been feeling was because I didn’t set out to start a business, it just grew organically from a hobby. It’s this fact that has meant that I still have a mental barrier to considering myself as a true and proper “entrepreneur” (or “mumpreneur” if you prefer that term). I don’t yet recognise it subconsciously as a real job. It is the first time I haven’t had a clear job title or written list of responsibilities pertaining to my job, and it’s affecting how I see myself and how I value what I do. When I fill out a form I stumble upon what to write in the occupation part. It used to be so clear-cut and easy – “preschool teacher” fitted nicely and people knew what it meant. Now I find I fall back on “stay at home mum” because it’s too hard to come up with a title for what I do.

Maybe it’s also because there doesn’t seem to be as much social recognition of small home-based business. Yes, there’s the whole “mumpreneur” movement thing but some part of me thinks that it’s not taken as seriously as it should be. This perception could be because I keep having conversations like this with new people I meet:

Them: So what do you do?

Me: Oh, I’m at home with my kids….oh and I have a small business.

Them: Oh really? What do you do?

Me: I make jewellery.

Them: Oh.

Silence. End of conversation.

Is this just me? Is there a better way I can describe myself? Am I “good enough” to say that I am a “jewellery designer”? Will this make people more interested or value what I now do?

And see, there’s that self doubt again. Sneaky, isn’t it?

So I suppose the moral of this story is that I need to take myself seriously. I need to invest (time and…wait for it…money) in myself and in my business. I need to focus on my passion. I need to value what I do.

When I do this, self doubt disappears. The thought patterns of my depression-scarred mind can be changed. I can be proud of what I do.

So I have this manifesto from Build A Little Biz stuck up right in front of me at my desk and I am going to read it every day (or several times a day if I need to!) and I am going to keep marching on…

Thanks to Build a Little Biz

Thanks to Build a Little Biz

 

A New Year – Goals for 2013

Happy New Year!

It has been a fair while since my last post as the end of year activities and trips to see family took up most of my time. But I have been here, quietly working away behind the scenes and making big plans for 2013.

We are here now, in a new year, and I thought I would take a moment to share my goals for business with you. I am hoping that by writing my goals down in a public forum will help to keep me accountable…and who knows, maybe one of you out there might be able to help me see some of them through.

So, 2013. What plans do I have for you?

  1. WHOLESALE & OTHER AVENUES FOR SELLING – This has been a dream of mine for a while. I would love to find some lovely boutique stores (online and/or bricks-and-mortar) to stock my jewellery and/or cards. I would love to work with boutiques to create exclusive lines for them. Mumma Necklaces might also be a hit for the wholesale market. My main hurdle with this goal is getting over my nerves and working out how to approach shop owners (any tips of this please leave a comment!).Lustre bracelet
  2. PRICING – This is a contentious one. I have been challenged in my business blog readings to value my own work and price accordingly. This is one area I have struggled with and I know many in the handmade world also struggle with how much to charge for their goods. As I am taking my business and product more seriously and spending time and money investing in it I need to raise my prices. It will not be a huge increase but enough to allow me to afford the fees I pay for business services (website, markets, Paypal etc) and still make a small profit. The increase will also absorb the rises in costs I am experiencing with resources and materials. Fingers crossed the price rise will not affect my sales in a negative way!IMG_9961
  3. TRADEMARKING – As my business is growing I am feeling the need to begin the process of trademarking my name and/or logo. This is the first time I have had the money to do this so I believe it is time. Again, if you have any tips on trademarking feel free to leave a comment!IMG_0390
  4. STOCK MANAGEMENT – After a year of working into the very late hours of the night (or early hours of the morning) while juggling an energetic 2 year old and a frequent night-waking baby I am in need of a new system to manage stock. So this year I will be trialling working in collections. I aim to release a themed collection for sale every 2 or 3 months with other stock being made and kept for markets and wholesale (when I get on to that). Mumma necklaces and my ranges of flower studs will continue to be available for sale throughout this time as a constant. I am hoping this will prevent the mad rush before a market and the fear of “Will I have enough?” when assessing my stock levels. I will still be open for customs but may limit the number of spots I release per month. It’s all about achieving BALANCE.Snowflake earrings
  5. MYOB – The boring but important goal of the year. I have MYOB but need to learn how to use it. At the moment I have about 5 different places for keeping track of sales and my expenditure is ‘tracked’ by shoving receipts into a manilla folder in the filing cabinet. Failing learning how to use MYOB and becoming competent in managing my finances I will have to hire an accountant! Again, any good MYOB tips are much appreciated!Rosa brooch/clip

So that’s about it. I think 5 goals is quite enough for one year. I will keep you posted on how I go with them and if you have any tips or advice regarding the above please do not hesitate to leave a comment.

Also, if you happen to own a shop (online or otherwise) or know someone who does and think that my products would suit I would love to hear from you to discuss wholesaling!

So here’s to 2013 and all that it may bring!

Vintage Sheets, Furniture Restoration & Daydreams – The Reality Check of Taking a Break

Custom Bracelet and Earrings Set

My littlest one is almost 6 months old now. He arrived two weeks early. Not so early as to be worried but early enough to scrap my plans of getting everything organised before our lives entered the haze of newborn-ness again. For this reason I returned to my business as soon as I came home from hospital to organise donations for the charity auction I was holding for beyondblue. It never slowed down.

I am now at a point where I can finally take a breath. I have decided to take a week or two after the Coffs Coast Craft Expo I am exhibiting at this weekend to stop, recharge and get my head together before the rush of Christmas. It’s a sort of belated maternity leave.

So now I am busy, preparing for the expo, catching up on correspondence and finishing custom orders. But in one little corner of my mind, the plans for my break are already forming…

*cue daydream music*

I love op-shopping. I recently found a little stool that I am planning on painting white and fixing up to make a lovely addition to my daughter’s room. I also discovered a set of vintage sheets in a gorgeous buttery yellow floral. Dress and skirt designs are swirling around in my head as I make plans for sewing projects with the sheets. I also found a little tutorial for making your own breastfeeding dress from a top and some fabric here, so I’ve bought the necessary bits and pieces to make that too (I’ll let you know how it goes)!

Vintage Sheet Love

I am also picturing trips to the park with the kids. Painting together in the sunshine. Play-dates. Building train tracks around the coffee table.

Then there are the odd jobs around the house. Sorting and storing the kids’ clothes that are too small now. Vacuuming out the car. Backing up all the photos on the computer. Updating the budget. Finally hanging up those last couple of pictures that have been leaning against the wall since we moved in January.

All this (and probably much more) in just one week or so. Hmmm…

Sometimes in all the planning we (or rather, I) forget to just be. Stop. Smell the roses. Savour the moment.

This is a skill I’m not very good at. I’m the kind of person who’s always doing. Multitasking is a natural way of life for me. Even as I’m writing this I am feeding my son and trying to prepare for bath time!

So, as I prepare to take my break I will plan to…take a break. The only way for me to remember to take a moment and stop is to plan it. Schedule it in. Then maybe it will actually happen.

So, I’ll be back in a little bit. Maybe with a new dress or skirt to show you. Maybe with a nicely restored stool to borrow from my daughter for photo shoots and markets. Maybe with a nicely organised house (ok, maybe not….I am mother to a toddler and an almost-on-the-move baby). But hopefully I will return relaxed and refreshed and happy in the knowledge that I had taken time for me and my family.

Fingers crossed. x

Taking the Plunge – How a Love of Vintage & Jewellery Became a Business

Welcome to Vintage Cordelle! My new little blog to give you an insight into my business Cordelle, the inspiration I find around me, some crafty DIY projects and the vintage treasures I unearth in my virtual travels.

First, a little bit about me. I am first and foremost a wife and mother. I have two children, a girl aged 2 years and a boy aged 5 months. I have always loved art and craft, and grew up trying every new thing that came into fashion. Growing up I also loved old MGM musicals and the movies where the actors/actresses were stars not celebrities. This is where my love of vintage came into being, often believing I was born in the wrong era (the ’80s didn’t really offer the same style and glamour that I coveted)!

One of the crafts I enjoyed doing was jewellery making. Just simple beaded jewellery at first, making pieces to match my outfits. My very supportive colleagues at my job as a preschool teacher encouraged me to sell the jewellery I made as they often admired my creations.

OK, I thought. I’ll give it a whirl.

I made a few things and listed them on eBay. Nothing.

I tried Etsy. Nothing.

I held a little open house market in our tiny flat and invited friends and family. I sold stuff! Oh the elation of making those first sales! Of finding out that other people like what you make and want to wear it or give it as gifts!

Selling personally to family and friends became the main way I traded my handmade jewellery while I worked full-time. Then, in 2010, I went on maternity leave and had our first baby. Struggling with not working for the first time in my adult life and wondering how to stop my brain turning to mush while taking care of a newborn, my thoughts turned to making my jewellery business a serious endeavour. In between feeding, nappy changing and doing sudoku (my other non-brain-mush activity) I researched starting a business and how to make a website.

By January 2011 I had (painfully) built a website and without thinking too much into it, started a Facebook page to help advertise it.

‘Likes’ started rolling in. Friends at first. Then people I didn’t know started popping up on my page.

The snowball had started rolling.

It wasn’t long before I started making sales and the number of likes hit triple digits.

I got to know my customers. My style developed and soon my love of vintage started seeping into my work. The response was incredible and ‘vintage-inspired’ became my aesthetic.

‘Likes’ increased past 1000. Sales increased. And that amazement at people actually wanting to wear what I make still caught in my throat. It still does!

My maternity leave finished and I returned to work part-time, but now I also had this growing business to take care of, not to mention the world’s most adorable baby! The juggle began and somehow I muddled through and continued to make my business grow.

The beginning of 2012 saw a move to a new city and another baby on the way. As I had to leave my teaching job I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to take on my business ‘full-time’ (because a toddler and a newborn aren’t full-time enough!).

So here we are today. We are now a family of four. My business branding has been updated and a new website has been (professionally) designed. I have started selling at local markets too. I still juggle, it’s just that the balls in the air are slightly different now.

This blog will be a sharing of my journey in business, insights into my inspiration and new product ranges, as well as a showcase of other vintage-loving businesses that I stumble across along the way.

I do hope you’ll join me on this ride and maybe even leave a comment or two if I post something that interests you.

Annaliese x