Welcome to Entrepreneurship!

You haven’t heard from me in quite some, sorry! My goals, my business and this blog have taken many turns over the last few years, but I am excited about some recent developments and hope to start a shift that will make a big difference in my life.

As my husband and I slowly inch our way closer to possibly, maybe, considering the potential of thinking about starting a family, I’ve had to take stock of where we’re at. Myself in particular. My best friend recently lost her baby boy, Jonah, at 30-weeks pregnant, and if that doesn’t shake someone to the core, I don’t know what would. Her experience and thoughts of my future family put different lenses on my view of life – my career, my schedule, my values.

In nearly three decades of living, I can’t say I ever thought I’d be, or want to be, a stay at home mom. It wasn’t that I thought the role beneath me or didn’t want to spend time with my children, but that I truly love what I do and always want to be a contributing partner in finances. There wasn’t even a dream that I could do both.

Now, I see potential. I have inspiration from my courageous sister who changed careers, my brother-in-law who left a lucrative position to find happiness, and as usual, my best friend who is a pillar of strength and light in my life. If I want to eventually work from home while continuing to contribute to finances and the well-being of our family, I can do it!

So, as this blog and site take another turn, I hope to create a place that promotes me, my story, my talents and my interests. Sound selfish? It kind of is! BUT, I do it because I know I’m not alone and because I know I’ll need support. I’m starting to hone my skills and figure out how I can support myself without the comfort and stability of a “normal” job. There will be struggles I want to share, learning moments that I hope will help someone else, and hopefully successes to thank you for participating in!

This bumpy road of on-again, off-again blogging and sporadic social media presence has lead me here. I’m not “special,” but I’m willing to learn, to try and to work my tail off. I think I’ve finally turned the corner from being a hobbyist, and am excited to step into being an entrepreneur!

Hobbyist vs Entrepreneur

Calendar with MiscIf you haven’t noticed, I love words and digging into their meanings. My husband would probably say I just overthink everything. Can’t really argue that point either…but I digress. Names. Titles. Positions. To some people they are just words, but as I started this business, built up my Etsy shop and made my first few sales, I really started thinking about whether I was a hobbyist or truly an entrepreneur.

Initially, my motivation for the shop was to share my talent and have a direction for my many projects. Just as a hobby farmer raises animals for enjoyment and (not usually) for profit, Nothing Past Nine felt like an extension of my hobby – something to do for enjoyment. As the months went by, however, I started to notice that even with Etsy’s user-friendly platform and minimal sales, I still had to do a lot of “real business” tasks to manage. At first I brushed that off thinking that even a child running a lemonade stand keeps track of their sales and money. And then, of course, I started to think on it more, and more, and more…

Merriam-Webster defines “entrepreneur” on their website as: one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise. No, I’m not dreaming up the next Apple computer in my craft room, but I organize, I manage, and I assume the risks of my little shop. People have expectations of me as soon as I list an item. To continue this metaphor filled post, I had a lightbulb moment that is similar to when you realize that there is no magical moment when POOF! you feel like an adult – it just happens! Never did I dream that I would be an entrepreneur but that is exactly what I am.

It can be hard to take ourselves seriously when a project, idea or business is in the early stages. Heck, it can be hard to yourself seriously at any stage of business ownership – cough, or life, cough, cough! What I find to be consistent among the entrepreneurs I see succeeding, though, is that they believe in themselves. Even when it’s a little risky! If you want to take your passion from hobby to business, don’t be scared to consider yourself an entrepreneur! I certainly wish I would have told myself that a couple of years ago.

Have you found yourself in this situation? Did you have plan for your life and when it strayed, you didn’t want to acknowledge, or maybe just didn’t realize things were different? Maybe you have a different take on this topic! Whatever your thoughts, I’d love to hear! Leave us a comment, or share on social media! You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

Creative Business Dictionary: Friend

As a journalism major in college, I developed a strong affinity for words. They are deep, complex, and have the ability to convey multiple messages. Now, as a creative small business owner, many words have taken on new meanings, and I am constantly catching myself seeing the world from a different angle.

Each week, we look at a word that impacts creative businesses and share a free download to view, print, frame, ponder, or shred. We’d love to hear your stories of how these individual words have impacted your business or your life!

CBD Friend - SquareOctober 15, 2015 – Friend

n. one whom one knows, likes, and trusts; one with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade

I could talk about the importance of this word for days. Moving to a new city, in a new state, and more than 400 miles from nearest family means trying to find new friends. Getting older means maintaining relationships despite growing apart. Progressing through life’s stages means letting go of people who bring you down, and finding people on the same page who support you and encourage you! Being human means seeking companionship and camaraderie.

The two keys to this definition for me are the words “trust” and “allied.” I have many people that I know and like; I may even call them comrades. What I have found to be difficult is finding true friends that I trust unconditionally and who really feel like allies in the struggle I like to call Life. Whether it’s going through treatments, planning a wedding, throwing a baby shower, or simple coffee dates to let off steam, friends are gifts from God that make life much more meaningful (and bearable!).

This week I am determined to be a better friend to those who consider me one! I find it’s easy to be consumed by our own situation, but tough to put that aside to connect with someone else on a deeper level. I am so grateful for the friends I have and all they do for me, I want to make sure I’m giving it back and sharing it with others!  Let’s be honest, it takes a lot to put up with a crazy gal like me, and as a small example, there is no way Nothing Past Nine would have gotten past the dream stage without UH LOT of support!

Check us out on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter for behind the scenes looks, product information and more!

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What I’m Reading

Some people chuckle at the fact that my library card was one of the first things that made me feel like Charlotte was home, but I have devoured books as long as I can remember. Even when it meant Mom had to read “just one more chapter” before I would consider sleeping! I am a huge fan of our metro library system and almost constantly have something checked out. Usually multiple somethings!

20151013_205530Lately I have been rather selfish in my book selections, choosing to read a lot of “self-help” and personally uplifting materials. Currently on my nightstand – amongst the Bible, devotional, study book, puzzle book, Sudoku book, lotions and glass of water! – are The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris, For the Love by Jen Hatmaker, and Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman.

Before I wrap up this post, let me remind you all that I am no superwoman. (Case in point – this post is going out at 9:30pm my time!) Reading is one of the first activities that takes a hit when I am tired, behind schedule on posts, or feeling overwhelmed. That’s actually part of the reason I’ve chosen to read these books!

As we work at things and get involved in various capacities, it can be hard to say “no” and to enjoy the journey that we’re blessed to be on. I know I have been so focused on growing Nothing Past Nine that I hit a wall and wanted to quit. The Happiness Trap talks about the stories we tell ourselves – like the idea that we aren’t good enough – and how to accept the thoughts without letting them consume us. For the Love discusses living gracefully in a world of unattainable standards like those we women tend to create for ourselves. Cough, social media cough, cough! Lord knows I need to give myself a break on some things! Finally, Simply Tuesday focuses on small moments when life is beyond fast-paced. I cannot believe how fast the last few years have gone, much less the last week! Appreciating the small moments takes me back to enjoying the journey.

Enough talk for now! Need to save a few minutes for reading before bed! What’s on your nightstand? Are you a non-fiction or fiction reader? I LOVE good book suggestions so please share!

Creative Business Dictionary: Courage

As a journalism major in college, I developed a strong affinity for words. They are deep, complex, and have the ability to convey multiple messages. Now, as a creative small business owner, many words have taken on new meanings, and I am constantly catching myself seeing the world from a different angle.

Each week, we look at a word that impacts creative businesses and share a free download to view, print, frame, ponder, or shred. We’d love to hear your stories of how these individual words have impacted your business or your life!

CBD Courage - SquareOctober 8, 2015 – Courage

n. mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty; the ability to do something that frightens one

Do you consider yourself a courageous person? I don’t! I like my comfort zone and playing it safe. There are not many people who take fewer risks than I do! At least…that’s the story I’ve been telling myself for years.

You and I each have a tremendous amount of courage, but we may not be giving ourselves enough credit. It took courage for me to start Nothing Past Nine, and it takes courage each day I continue this path of entrepreneurship. It takes courage to get up and go to the office, to the doctor, even to step outside in today’s world. One of the thoughts that struck me while reading this post is that it does not say that courage is the absence of fear. It says that courage is dealing with fear; whether that’s withstanding it or moving past it.

This week (and hopefully beyond!), I have challenged myself to see my own courage as many ways as possible – in my personal and professional lives. There are going to be things in life that we are scared of; we even talked about fear in last week’s post. It does not matter whether the situation scares us a little or a lot, we all have courage to overcome what frightens us!

Check us out on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter for behind the scenes looks, product information and more! Today on Facebook you’ll even see how I use the free download below to remind myself of this week’s challenge! How do you use your free download?

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How to Stay Sane while Making Your Own Christmas Cards

20140320_211112It’s okay. I know you’re all thinking, “Becky, why are you posting about Christmas? It’s time for Halloween candy and fall decor!” Some of you that know me better are also probably thinking, “Becky, I thought you were totally against Christmas before Thanksgiving?!” While both of these statements are true and 100% accurate, I also believe it knocking things off the to-do list and being ahead of the game. That’s why I think now is the perfect time to start working on Christmas cards!

If you’re going to make your own holiday cards this year, here are a few of my tried and true tips for not losing your mind and actually getting the cards out on time!

1. Start early! Part of the reason for this post, hint hint, wink wink! You will be very disappointed and frustrated if you wait to start the project and aren’t able to complete it on time or as you would have liked to. (That embossed snow won’t finish itself, you know!)
2. Keep it simple! I love a good, elaborate, layered card as much as the next crafter. I also love my hair, my savings account, and my husband. For these reasons among others, I’ve learned to keep the card designs simple. My general plan is that I can purchase one new “toy” (be it stamp, punch, cutter, etc.) for each year’s card, and that usually becomes the one trickier piece to each of my cards.
3. Streamline! Continued from keeping things simple, make sure that your cards can be “mass produced,” especially if you have a long list of people to send them to! (More on that below!) Being able to break the design into steps that you can turn into an assembly line makes your project go much, much faster. Do all of your stamping at once. Cut all of the ribbon at once. Glue all the googly snowman eyes on at once. Whatever your design is, look for ways to make the process easier and create all the cards one step at a time.
4. Edit! This may sound harsh, but not everyone loves getting Christmas cards. Especially handmade beauties that could qualify for gifts on their own! Review your list of recipients and ask yourself the tough question – does this person NEED or WANT a card? And be honest with yourself! I cleaned my list last year and only sent about half the cards I normally do. People were on there that we had lost touch with, that weren’t involved in our lives anymore, and folks that just honestly weren’t the type to receive my card!
5. Set a deadline! Were you the type to stay up late writing papers the day before they were due? Did you tell people, “I work better under pressure!”? I may have done that a few times myself, but regardless, I am a firm believer that putting dates on things make them more pressing and more tangible. I send out my cards the second week in December. I know that I have to finish them before that so I can address, stamp and get them out. Gives me a little nudge when I realize the calendar has flipped to December!

Quick example. The photo is of our holiday card from 2012. I precut all the colors on the front. I precut the twine. I precut the rectangle that 2012 is on. I stamped all of the 2012’s at one time. I stamped and embossed all of the woodgrain one afternoon. I put all the brads in place before gluing down the brown strips. I put all the little 2012 signs on at once. I tied all of the twine bows last. (The inside of the card is blank for our personal notes.)

This was easily my favorite holiday card, in large part due to the streamlined, assembly line fashion in which it came together. So cute, and so little stress! Do you still make your holiday cards? What are your tips for beautiful cards that don’t take all year to make?

Waiting out Joaquin

Football and KnittingJust in case you haven’t heard, the East Coast is being pummeled by rain associated with Hurricane Joaquin. Gopher wood is in high demand and grocery stores are low on bread and water.

Joking aside, many on this side of the country are smartly playing it safe and staying home to avoid flooded roads and torrential wind and rain. I consider myself blessed not to have an event this weekend, and instead can hole up at home with three of my favorite things. Football. Crafts. And my husband. Wait…maybe I should reorder those things…

Today is going to be full of college football games and knocking out a mile long project list. Rainy days make me feel ambitious because, well, there’s nothing I can do outside! No guilt for not getting there!

How do you wait out rainy days? Do you take advantage of the good napping weather? Wrack your brain for kid-friendly activities? Does the overcast sky make you more ambitious or low key? Let’s get some brainstorming going because who knows how long we’ll have before this system moves on!

PS – one of my favorite rainy day kid activities is fort building. That makes even normal toys and games seem more fun!

How to Deal with Product Errors

enhanceBeing a perfectionist in the crafting industry is dangerous. I consider it a blessing because it means that I care about the quality of the work I produce, but it can also be painful when I have moments that remind me I’m human. Which are much more frequent than I typically care to admit! There will inevitably be times when something doesn’t go as planned, however, and you’re going to be frustrated. Quality control is extremely important, but take it from me, letting those frustrations get you down can be even more detrimental. Even if you weren’t planning on selling the item!

When I find an error with a product (keeping in mind that I create a majority of my projects to sell), I’ve established four basic ways to “resolve” my frustration with it:

1. Start over. I do this much more frequently (and successfully) with knit or crochet pieces. When you’re working with paper or fabric, it can be difficult to start over and salvage your materials. While I certainly don’t want to waste anything, for personal sanity and customer satisfaction, sometimes it’s a necessary evil. Many times I start over because I’ve learned a thing or two about my process, and the end product is even better than I imagined it the first time!
2. Change it. There is nothing that says you can’t change your plan while you’re creating something. That’s part of why you’re doing it – to be creative! So you start out with a plan to make an infinity scarf and you don’t have enough fabric or yarn. The police will not come knocking on your door if you alter your product to be a beautiful cowl instead! Stamp not come out clearly? Maybe the missing portion is “hiding” behind another layer of your paper craft!
3. Keep it. 
Since I design most of my items within the realm of my own personal taste, many of the items I don’t deem worthy of being on Etsy make their way into my personal collection. Doesn’t earn me any money, but it keeps me from spending money on new items when it feels like I just gave myself a gift! (Fantastic logic, right?!)
4. Discount it. Not the best option in the craft world, but especially if you’re tight on resources, it may be best to at least recoup the cost of your materials if the final product still functions. Just remember to use this as a last resort as you don’t want to diminish the perception of your work. On the other hand, you also don’t want to lie about the quality of the work or deceive a buyer into expecting more than they will receive.

This entire post was actually prompted because of a scarf I made recently. I was trying a new technique on a cotton scarf and silly me, did not think to change the color of my bobbin (the bottom or “wrong side” thread). So I’m trucking along and suddenly realize that while my white stitches look great on the top – which is white – the underside that’s still visible is dark gray, and the white stitches don’t look so hot. Does that ruin the piece? No. Does it make me less than thrilled and consider it below my shop’s standards? Yes. Solution? I will sell it in person at a lower rate, but not online. This will provide a great way to be honest about the product’s “flaws”, while still promoting the quality of the material and craftsmanship that went into it.

The next time you find yourself disappointed with the quality of your work, I hope you’ll consider one or more of these solutions! Or maybe you already have a go-to method for beating the blues. I’d love to hear how you tackle these human moments! I promise it happens to us all!

Changing Fall Colors

Fall Colors 1 - traditionalWhen the temperatures drop and the breeze picks up, it’s hard not to jump on the fall bandwagon. As someone who loves the outdoors and natural decor, it truly is like a breath of fresh air! The outdoors are bearable again and there are so many beautiful ways to create a cozy home that embraces the season.

Now, I love the traditional autumnal colors and warm hues like red, orange and yellow, but as I began to bring out my harvest pieces, I realized that very little of it fits the mold for textbook fall style. That got me thinking, why should I feel limited to three colors? There are so many incredible ways to bring non-traditional colors into your fall look!

Fall Colors 1 - jewel tonesDo you love deep, rich colors? Bring some jewel tones into your space to complement the more natural neutrals that fall gives us! I love how Scout & Nimble incorporated navy into their tablescape through napkins and a burlap ribbon on the wooden crate. It adds a touch of class and refinement to what is otherwise a fairly eclectic design.

The porch scene arranged by Kate Riley manages to maintain a life and vitality that many fall themes lose. The gorgeous purple mums coupled with stunning coleus prove that while it may be harvest time, there is still lots of growing going on!

Fall Colors 1 - muted tonesMaybe you prefer a little more subdued color palette. Swap out the saturated jewel tones for muted earthy hues, and you have another amazing recipe for success. I mean, look at this beautiful mantel design by Michelle at Dandelion Patina. My rural Wisconsin roots make me immediately want to go out and buy a windmill, and those wooden candlesticks are a perfect complement for height! (I can’t not mention the squirrel! He’s adorable!)

Ok. Maybe after checking out Nothing Past Nine you’ve noticed that these are my kinds of colors. But can we just take a moment to enjoy the beauty of white pumpkins? I don’t say this very often, but *SWOON*! The combination of white and grapevine pumpkins looks unbelievable in the blue tinted crate! I want every bit of this design Laura put together over at Finding Home Farms.

Which way do you lean? Are you a traditional type with lots of warm colors? Do you go a little bolder with more lively jewel tones? Or are you like me and get excited about the soft, muted earth tones? I’d love to hear your thoughts, or better yet – share some photos of your fall colors! I can’t wait to see them!

Find more on each photo here: sunflowers, pinecones, tablescape, porch, mantel, coffee table

 

Happy Places

So I have a few places in the world that I call my “Happy Places.”  Home would be the top of that list, and I include my parents’ house and my future in-laws’ house in that as well.  After all, home IS where the heart is!  Any and all Joann Fabrics stores are on the list as well, even though its rare that I ever leave one without spending my hard earned money.  The venue we are getting married in always makes me happy, as does anywhere I can be outdoors with my fiance in the peace and quiet – so humbling.

Now that you’ve been lulled into a tranquil state of mind, let me take you to a new “happy place” that I discovered recently.  DIY Home Sweet Home is a blog dedicated to all things me – crafts, organizing, life hacks, free printables, gardening, and more! There’s an entire binder full of fun organizational print outs!

DIY Home Sweet Home Planner

Jamie does a nice job keeping things simple, open and honest.  Projects are attainable, photos are realistic, and while I am admittedly not a huge fan of the overall look and feel of the blog…its straight forward.  Even the product reviews I’ve read haven’t been too over the top.

It probably won’t shock you that I’ve already spent more than my fair share of time on here, but there’s just so much to discover! I’ve already seen things that I could incorporate for the wedding…for the shop…for my life.

Alright, I’ve gotten that off my chest and get back to browsing the blog….er…finishing those to-do items before going back to work tomorrow!  Happy Monday!