Shoot for the Moon #21

Reflections

We have been vacationing in Hilton Head SC for the past week and a half. While here we have had time to relax, reflex and regroup. We have 4 days left until we return to MD. I have biked over 80 miles while on the island and it has given me time to reflect. Seems like when you are building a business you are always working or reflecting.

I went to the movies to see Julia Julie – a movie about a current day woman trying to find her purpose in life along side Julia Child the famous chef. Julie was trying to figure out what gave her joy. She found out she loved to cook. Julia Child’s story was about her life in pursuing the same thing- cooking. Julie set a goal to make everyone of Julia Child’s recipes in one year and blog about it. Julia tried many hobbies and finally went to culinary school, met a few other chefs and published her famous French Cooking book for Americans. Long and the short Julie became famous on the web and eventually wrote a book and a movie about her passion and Julia Child – well – you know how that story went. Or – maybe you don’t. Go see the movie it is an excellent lesson in following your dreams.

The most compelling scenes from the movie for me where when Julie was laying on the kitchen floor crying her eyes out with frustration and self doubt. The other scene was when Julia discovered it took 8 years to write her cookbook that she thought would take two and she was repeatedly rejected by publishers until she too came to the conclusion – What am I doing? Have I wasted 8 years of my life?

Rarely do successful people become successful overnight. You have to work hard and be ready to dart through every door of opportunity if it pops up. While riding on my bike I was constantly struggling with thoughts of what the heck are you doing? along with thoughts of how far I have come.

How far have I come?

In the past two months I have been booking lectures/workshops almost every week. That’s good. I had my Obama Quilt featured in American Quilter. That’s good. We have seen internet sales increase from a few per month to several per week. That’s good. I have four patterns in Keepsake Quilting – the largest retail catalog in the world – that’s good. I have a seven page article coming out in Quilting Arts Magazine – that’s good. BUT… Do my patterns have longevity? Will they continue to sell? Am I making enough new stuff to keep up with the industry? It can make you crazy.

While down here I finished my Texas pattern. I just need to go make the sample and get them printed. Now I am playing with a USA stamp. There are only 6 weeks before Market. I think I am going to redo my booth walls. I have to move into my new space – the barn. I need to complete 4 more florals to make a line of 24 florals. I really want to make an art quilt or two – but I guess that must wait until after market.

Self Doubt

That factor of self doubt is always present. It seems to intensify as I progress because I have more and more invested. I have a room full of patterns and lots of fabric and money in equipment and displays. I guess the key is to be strong and continue to follow the mission of pursuing my passion to see the world through quilting. I think I should add “comfortably”. Yes – my mission is to pursue my passion to see the world through quilting comfortably. One more revision…my misson is to persue my passion to see the world through quilting very comfortably. Part of the success for me is making a few bucks along the way. No – making a lot of bucks along the way. That is not bad – it is challenging. I have heard many times through quilters you can work really hard and almost make a living. HUH? I do not subscribe to the life of a starving artist – or a starving quilt artist. That is fuel for me to push forward.

Also there is self doubt about every pattern I design. What if I cannot come up with another great design? I know that is crazy – but it is what courses through my twisted mind every time I need start a new design.I know I am not alone in these thoughts.

I hope this blog is giving you insight as to what it takes to try to make a business out of your passion. There is not one book or recipe out there to make a business in three easy lessons. It is trial and error. It is hard work – both mental and physical. It is the stick to it attitude. I am not sure where I heard/saw this but I saw an interview with Donald Trump. He said he has seen so many people shoot for the moon only to give up just before they reach their goal. The key is to out last the strain and drain and to find ways to keep moving forward even if that means only inches at a time.

I am writing this blog as I go. It is what I a doing and how I am feeling. It is a plan, a review and a learning tool. I hope to go back and reread all of this blog when I have a thriving business that is recognized in the quilting world and is profitable and innovative.

Last Thoughts – Market

Approaching Houston is another time to reflect. Getting ready for Pittsburgh – spring market 09 – my first market was nerve wracking and challenging. Now getting ready for the biggest market/quilt festival in the world I am feeling different. I have seen that much of the excitement and enthusiasm generated at market is not followed through on. I was approached by several companies and businesses that forgot all about their market conversations. That was very disappointing  – especially the fabric companies. I did make some great shop connections that resulted in good contacts and great sales. I think going to Houston I will walk in with my feet on the ground. I will temper all offers and possibilities with pause. It will be different going by plane and shipping all of my stuff. I have three friends that have offered to help. Gary is planning to come down for some of the market. It is all a huge undertaking.

I will keep you posted about how things progress.

I am interested to see how the new studio barn has progressed. I do not think I have explained what the studio will be like. So here is a snapshot.The studio is atop the garage which is 30′ x 40′. The roof slopes leaving about 18′ x 40′ of usable space. The sloped areas will be for storage. I plan to keep the space as open as possible. I will have a couch and chair on one end with a flat screen tv for hand work and conversation. Behind the couch will be my primary sewing station looking out over the double window to the front of our property.  On one side of the room will be build in closets with doors for all my stash held in wire frames. On the other will be two walk in closets and a large design wall. There are 5 dormers with window seats. There is a small bathroom on the garage level. I did not want to sacrifice any studio space for a toilet! I plan to paint the whole thing  white with lime green walls on each end and in every dormer. It should be bright and cheery and great for working and creating.

I plan to have an open house and offer classes right from my studio. I am really looking forward to that.

Ok – better go get to work now! UNtil next time. …

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