Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Three Years of Paper Flowers, Pancakes and Glue Guns Style

I can't believe today marks three years since opening up shop. I remember the moment so clearly! I've actually decided to share more about my journey to becoming a full time creative and how the shop opened soon, so I don't want to share too much about those initial conversations. But, keep an eye out for that later this year. For now, I can let you in on a preview. It involved (in no particular ord
er and skipping some MAJOR moments) growing my own flies in a science lab, waitressing, failing a polygraph while wearing the itchiest tights known to man, and having a baby. *Insert ALL the emojis here.*

Anyway, to celebrate this milestone I've compiled some of my most memorable projects, moments and mistakes. This post will just be a bit of overview and a timeline and I'll share more practical tips I've learned next week.
*Sidenote. Yes, I did go to college. The apostrophe just didn't look good with this font so I decided to ignore grammar and go with what I liked.

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When I think back about my shop and look back on my numbers and sales you can't find any clear patterns. The fact that there wasn't a clear growth trajectory or a moment when things started getting real is evidence to me of what I've known all along - that it's not just me, it's not just my decision to change a title or tag it's God's sovereignty over my life and that means, yes, my shop too. *insert praise hands emoji* Ok, don't worry, I won't insert any typed emojis anymore.

When we moved to Williamsburg almost three years ago, we were excited but nervous. Sidenote - look at that picture!! We look like babies!! Wow, I've even had a baby since this picture. Wow. Ok anyway, we were going to be a one income family and incurring quite a few student loans while my husband went to school. My shop was selling about 2-4 items a month leading up to that August. I had been "in business" for 8 months. Well, August 1st comes and we move in. I didn't bother to put my shop on vacaction, because why? It was manageable and easy.

Once here, suddenly our lives weren't filled with families on weekend and friends during the weekend, it was just us. And while my husband was physically at school it was just me at home for a good chunk of the day without any kiddos or friends. I really think the Lord knew this was a pivotal time in my life, well of course He did, but you know what I mean. I had been wanting to spend time in the Word to get to know my God on a personal level but life was busy and it was just a thought in the back of my head most days that I didn't act on.  Well, now here and alone, it was easy to do. I didn't have to turn down parties or family get togethers. It was a sweet time to myself to schedule time to work from home and time to spend in the Word.

And friends, it is crazy. When you are in the Word your life changes. Even if you were a believer before, the bible just breaths life into your every day. It brings a different purpose, energy, everything. And the more time you spend in it, the more it makes sense and the more it directs your life. It's true. I bet everything on it. And I was totally ok being alone here. Because even when I had to be reminded, I was never really alone.


So what did this have to do with my shop? Well for the first time in my life, it felt like my priorities in life were in line. When I first opened up my shop, I did it for me - to bring some sense of purpose to my life that had been totally thrown out of whack by an unexcected career change. And don't get wrong, there's nothing at all wrong with that. But then I started to get more and more wrapped up in it. When someone purchased something I was excited, when they didn't I was really insecure. My identity was too wrapped up in this. But, God. He's so merciful friends! The more time I spent in the Word the more I started to figure out where this shop should fall in line when it comes to my priorities and my identity and things started happening.

By the end of that semester I was bringing in enough to cover almost all of our monthly expenses and sometimes extra. It was amazing! When we started the adoption process and it covered exactly what we needed for initial fees. Sometimes with excess, sometimes down to the exact dollar.

Then things got busy and I got comfortable. Over the next year it was a refining process. My sales would rise and fall as would my communication with Jesus and there's not a doubt in me that these two weren't completely related. It started off as a bit of a struggle and ended as an easy conversation with a friend. And I love that the Lord meets us where we are and speaks to us each in our own circumstances. He gifted me these creative talents and then used this little shop to build our relationship. How cool is that?

We are all works in progress. Small business owner Jackie, she's definitely still a work in progress. I'd be lying if I said I didn't know how many followers I have on instagram or exactly how long it has been since my last sale. But, God. His grace is unending and he is refining me through my paper flowers. He's refining me through each one of my customers who has purchased from me. I love that I've sent a creative piece of my journey with Jesus out to all of you, and I seriously thank each and every one of you so gosh darn much!!!

So a few highlights to share, who doesn't love pictures?!

  • March 2013 My first sale. This blue bird went to a lady named Terri. I cried when I sold it. I cried again when I shipped it out. 

Paper Flower Blue Bird

  • March 2013 The first set of chalkboards I sold. I took this picture and the bird picture on the seat of my ikea chairs.  Too bad they are now legitimately covered in coffee stains and pieces of L's mushed up food. I'm laughing out loud just thinking about staging a photo on these crazy chairs.

Mini Chalkboard Signs burlap and lace - wedding, table numbers, party, dessert or food label

  • August 2013 The paper flower wall I made for my office when we moved. Here's the initial set up (which has since become a nursery that my baby never sleeps in!)

  • June 2014 What the chalkboards looked like now.

....insert big break here. Let's call it "The third trimester/being a huge whale and it's tough to use a glue gun without dripping it all over your belly + labor/delivery/recovery + a very mobile infant who likes to eat my flowers... 

But here is a cute picture of her little legs when I first started to make flowers again after she was born. 

  • October 2015 the Calvary Chapel Handmade Marketplace

      • August 2015 Ruth from Light & Dark Shop made a water color of a new product I was working on. (I think this was/is one of my favorite moments/things!!)

      • January 2016 What the chalkboards look like now. Plus. We are totally re-branding over the next month or two and finally opening up a website independent from Etsy!!!  More to come on that later, but I am so, SO pumped and excited to share with you about who we are working with and show you progress along the way. 

      Friends thank you for reading, for supporting my shop, for helping make my dreams of being a full time stay at home mom/creative real, for being encouraging, for inspiring me, for everything. I love each and every one of you! And just because I don't know you personally doesn't mean I don't remember your name from a purchase in the shop. You'd be surprised how many orders and names I remember, I truly value each one of you.  *Insert heart eyes emoji.* Just couldn't help myself.

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