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!

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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!

Creative Business Dictionary: Fear

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 Fear - SquareOctober 1, 2015 – Fear

n. a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; concern or anxiety

The best part of this definition for me is the fact that it acknowledges that fear can be real or imagined. There are real fears like hearing a scary diagnosis. There are also imaginary fears that we convince ourselves are threats, such as telling ourselves we aren’t going to be successful entrepreneurs because we don’t know everything. (Spoiler alert on that one – you aren’t ever going to know everything and that’s okay!)

Fear is a natural human emotion and can keep us out of harms way, but it can also paralyze us. Starting a business, accepting a treatment plan, leaving a job, having a family; no matter what your situation is, there will be unknowns. There will be anxious moments. Even the most risk-averse people on the planet cannot hide from this distressing emotion. We can’t let these moments keep us from living, though!

Throughout the month of October, we will all be hearing the stories of those who have or are battling breast cancer. Take some time to listen to how these brave souls tackle their fears. You may not be facing a life-changing illness, but we can all learn from their methods and be inspired by the ways they live their lives. How have you overcome your fears?

We may not like to think about or talk about negative emotions, especially in a professional setting, but today’s free download is meant to encourage us all that we can overcome our fears! I know I need that reminder on a daily basis!

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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!

Creative Business Dictionary: Passion

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 Passion - SquareSeptember 24, 2015 – Passion

n. strong and barely controllable emotion; an intense desire or enthusiasm for something

What do you think of or react to this definition? It makes me feel excited and gives me a sense of energy. I start thinking about my passions and how excited I get about them; it makes me want to act!

Now, defining your passion may be simple, but it’s been a work in progress for me. There are lots of items, tasks, responsibilities, etc. that I love. For example, I love food. At times I would say I’m downright passionate about it! But identifying what exactly it is that I have a “barely controllable” emotion for and something that I feel a sustained sense of “intense desire” for has been tough. I love working in sports, but I love my hobby-turned-business of crafting too. So I’ve been digging deep and establishing what it is exactly that makes me passionate about life, and I’m determined to live more for that purpose.

Over the next week, I challenge you to think about your passions. Have they changed over time? Are they changing now? I think that’s natural and 100% okay! Do you have a strong sense of your passion? Are you living for that? Share your thoughts so we can commiserate or brainstorm ways to make our passions more present in our lifestyles!

Need a reminder to find time for your passion? Enjoy a free download and have a beautiful reminder wherever you go!

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Creative Business Dictionary: Determination

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 Determination - SquareSeptember 17, 2015 – Determination

n. firmness of purpose; resoluteness; the process of establishing something exactly, typically by calculation or research

Determination is the fuel that makes success possible – be it over the course of a semester, a career or a lifetime. I cannot get enough of the phrase “firmness of purpose.” We each have a purpose and in my mind, to live fully, we need to conduct ourselves with a resoluteness toward that purpose; be it as a creative business owner, a stay at home mom, or the CEO of an international corporation.

I also find the concept of establishing something “exactly” through “calculation or research” to be highly intriguing. We’ve all heard the phrase, “come to the determination that ____,” but have you stopped to consider how you go through the process of determining? How do you calculate? How do you research?

This week I challenge you to re-think the word determination. Think about your purpose. Write it down. Share it with a friend. Maybe it’s your purpose for the day or the week or maybe your life. Regardless, keep this definition in mind this next week and maintain your determination! I’ll be cheering for you either way, but I’d love to have you share your purpose here!

Ready to tackle the week? Enjoy a free download and take that motivation wherever you go!

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