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How Do You Define Handmade Success?

DSC_0497Notebook from HEMA

Come share how you view handmade success in your life, in your business and in your projects. Get ready to inspire and be inspired!

Being successful is something we know other people are capable of but it is rarely a fact we apply to ourselves. It is a qualification we give from the image they reflect. Mostly online, the impression other craftsellers and entrepreneurs send is really made by us. From what we see and read, we think they are successful. We actually make them successful: by offering them our trust in their work (if we buy it or even just recommend it to our friends) or by considering their followers on social media as an indicator of success. Mainly we consider figures as a proof of success. Social media is therefore playing a huge role in this consideration: the number of followers, likes and comments one business shows can only be a sign of success and popularity. Audience statistics for a blog/website, sales figures or even favorites (for a shop on Etsy) are also other elements we tend to use to measure success.

Measuring success with numbers is a rational way to define it but as we all know: figures can be cheated and life can’t be summed up by it. Success should be approached with emotions and feelings. It is the result of continuous efforts and hard work. It is above all PERSONAL. Every body should therefore have their own definition of the word. What is success about for me? The answer won’t come with numbers but with hope. Running your own business is actually a huge success: you are achieving something other people are not capable of. Without trying to compare yourself with others, look at what makes you successful: what did you manage to achieve? All of that is your success!

We tend to think that others give success: music lovers will make singers successful by buying their albums, but without the artist, his work and creativity, his success couldn’t happen. So we could see the success as a combo of both: the meeting between the entrepreneur’s work and her/his audience. Sharing with others, exposing ourselves to the world, trying and failing with them could actually be the key to success.

This whole (and small) explanation could be seen as very philosophical, and really yes it is. Success is an idea and not a fact after all. But bear in mind that success won’t make you happy. Happiness is on the other hand what success should be about. So now what is happiness according to you?


Sophie Chapman — Ma Petite Valisette

Sophie Chapman lives in Normandy and has graduated 10 years ago from business school. As a mother of 3 franco-english kids (8y, 6y & 2 months old) and with a husband that travels a lot, Sophie decided to work from home by launching her online business. She worked at a famous Parisian ad agency before she became a professional trainer.

She now offers online courses for female entrepreneurs and craft sellers. You can find different downloads in her shop and you can also subscribe for online trainings and online entrepreneurship workshops. Most recently she also co-published a business book for french craft sellers. It was the first book in the french market that covered this topic.


Breaking Bad: A Digital Addiction


A recent study revealed that the average American checks their smart phone over 100 times a day.  While that number may seem shocking, if the pool was limited to entrepreneurs, I am sure that number would double or triple in size. Since launching my own business, my cell phone has become my lifeline. It is the first thing I look at in the morning and the last thing I look at before going to bed. I check to see how many likes my last Instagram post received. A little ding and I swiftly pick up my phone to see who favorited my Etsy shop. I refresh my email what feels like every ten minutes to see if an order came in.

While staying on top of my business, analyzing what’s working and what’s not, is important, my attachment to my phone had started to become a problem.  Many conversations with my boyfriend or friends happened while also scrolling through my Twitter feed or updating Faceboo. My phone is prominently displayed on my jewelry bench, so I can see every notification and alert that comes in, sometimes stopping mid-creation to check it. Because I am so anxious to see how the business is doing, I have stopped immersing myself in the creative process and it has affected the authenticity of my relationships. Without these two key components, my business is a failure no matter how many times one of my pins has been re-pinned or how many comments a Facebook post receives.

In an attempt to get a handle on my addiction, last week I experimented with a week long digital detox. For practical reasons, because my business really is reliant on email, social media and websites, I began the detox at 7 pm every evening. I promised that I would not look at my phone, except if a call came in, and would not open the computer. While I was somewhat intimidated by this prospect, I also felt that for just a week this would be a no brainer. Day one, I didn’t even make it a half hour before checking my phone. Day two, I had to put it on silent so I wouldn’t be tempted by notifications. By day three, I had to physically put the phone away to resist the temptation.  Although each evening was filled with that physical itch to grab my phone, just to see what was going on, I slowly began to appreciate the freedom of putting the phone away. It was a pleasure to awake the following morning to discover what I missed the evening before. Moments of inspiration happened more often, where I would grab my little notebook to jot down a new marketing idea or a new design. I began to feel liberated from the pressure of having to see how my business was doing at all times. I felt more engaged in whatever I was doing, even if it was catching up on the latest shows with my boyfriend.

Now that I am back on the wagon, my phone has resumed its position on the coffee table next to my laptop. But the temptation to check it is reduced to maybe one or two times a night. I may now see an email roll in around 9 or 10 pm, but I don’t feel obligated to respond and I usually don’t until the following morning. I feel re-invigorated creatively. I feel less attached to the happenings to the digital world and more connected to what’s happening in real life, in that moment. While it may seem like a daunting challenge, I invite all small business owners to explore what happens when they put the phone and computer away, even if for just a moment.


Maya Ahluwalia – Crusoe Jewelry

Maya Ahluwalia is the designer behind Crusoe Jewelry, a fashion jewelry line inspired by nautical motifs, but interpreted into stylish designs. Crusoe Jewelry is created for the fashion-forward consumer with an appreciation for quality with an artisanal approach. Each design is hand-crafted in her Brooklyn-based studio.

In addition to creating Crusoe Jewelry, Maya is a marketing consultant with expertise in jewelry, fashion and luxury. Clients include Michael Aram Jewelry, Shawn Ames Fine Jewelry, Wells House Bed & Breakfast, and the LOU Lookbook App.

The Most Important Practice for a Creative Business Owner

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Have you ever felt totally burned out in your creative business?

You are pulled in 15 different directions daily, hustling to make a sale, and spending time on NON-creative things (usually), all while taking care of your family and having some semblance of a normal life…It can be exhausting!

Running a business that’s both creatively and logistically draining is tough. 

However with a little self care, your creative business can be SO satisfying and fulfilling!

Carving out time for yourself isn’t an indulgence, it’s a necessity. You can’t properly run a business without properly caring for yourself.

That’s why The Most Important Practice for a Creative Business Owner is EXQUISITE SELF-CARE!

So how do you actually start taking care of yourself without the guilt? Here are a few ways…


Just the word “meditation” scares off quite a few people! How is anyone who works full time suppose to ‘clear their mind’? We’re here to tell you that meditation doesn’t have to be all that complex. You don’t have to be a die-hard yogi to partake in what we like to call ‘mindfulness.’

Challenge time: Take five to ten minutes out of your day, turn off all your electronic devices, lock your door, sit down, and just breathe. Feels strange, doesn’t it? We’re not always used to taking a few moments out of our day to focus on just ourselves. You don’t have to clear your mind, you just have to remove all external distraction, sit down, and ask yourself “How am I doing?” You may be surprised by your answer.


Stuck in the same workspace everyday? We can relate. While we’re all about consistency, sitting behind the same desk everyday is just plain boring. And, news flash, sitting down all day makes your body bored too. How do you break the cycle?

First, walk it out! If you’re feeling antsy while working, get up and pace or walk around the block. Keep your blood circulating and give yourself a change in perspective. Secondly, giving yourself a change of scenery throughout the day. If you’re just answering emails, why not head to a coffee shop or your kitchen table? Finally, stay active! Just because you failed your unrealistic new year’s resolution to run a 5k every morning doesn’t mean you can’t get some much-needed exercise. Try a quick 30-minute pilates session a couple times a week, or even just going for a light jog around your neighborhood in the morning. Whatever tickles your fancy, commit an exercise routine that’s doable, and your body will thank you.


Do you have a tendency to be a Debbie Downer? You wouldn’t call yourself a pessimist… but you admit to thinking the worst when tough times are ahead. Whenever you’re stressed out, take time to review and celebrate your most recent accomplishments.

Next time you are down, try this:: take a moment to list 15 things that are going well, either in your business or in your life. The smaller the celebration the better. It’s a daily reminder that we can often forget how blessed we are!

There. Things aren’t so bad after all, hm?


Be honest with yourself: If you’re the type of person who can penny-pinch and skip out on your morning latte, give yourself a pat on the back. But if you’re not, use your smarts to figure out a way to indulge in life’s small rewards. What does this mean for you?

Maybe it’s allowing yourself to laugh without worrying about wrinkles. Maybe it’s giving yourself time to spend time with friends. Or maybe it’s just allotting an hour out of your day to watch some Netflix. Or maybe it’s treating yourself to a small indulgence like a mani-pedi once in awhile!

Whatever your small rewards in life are, don’t deprive yourself of them!

Your ability to keep your spirits up directly affects the success of your business. When you’re not at the top of your game, it will show in your work.

Now it’s your turn to celebrate::

  1. Have you ever tried any of these methods before?
  2. Which one of these self-care necessities will you implement in your life?


Tracy Matthews – Flourish & Thrive Academy

Tracy Matthews is an eco-luxury jewelry designer specializing in bespoke engagement rings, wedding bands and heirloom redesign. Her designs have been featured in Lucky, InStyle, Self and Real Simple, amongst others. Her passion for making the business of jewelry fun, led her to found Flourish & Thrive Academy  an online resource and community for jewelry designers. Her mission is to help designers get their work on more of their DREAM clients and raving fans.

Instagram: @flourish_thrive and @tracymatthewsny

Loving Up On The CEO Side of Your Business

CEOLoving2In honor of this love-filled month of February, I’ve been trying to take notice of areas of my life I pay less attention to. In my personal life, home and spirituality have been taking a backseat lately. But in business, I can easily neglect my CEOside – the part of me that’s a business owner who is in control and makes things happen.
I think it’s common for creative people to put focus anywhere but on being little-miss-bossy-pants. When we take the reins and act like a boss, we are stepping way outside our comfort zones. But if I’m being honest with myself, every time I pop on my CEO hat, I make more money and feel better doing it.
So here are some of my favorite ways to love up on your CEO side and see some of that money, honey!
1. Create a Morning Routine
I resisted this like the plague (perhaps you almost scanned past this paragraph like I would have?) because I am NOT a morning person. In college, I was known for going back to bed after morning classes and sleeping sometimes past noon on weekends! But it’s not about jogging every morning or writing for an hour before you eat breakfast. If that’s your thing, go for it. But if it’s not, my point isn’t about what you do but that you keep it consistent.
A morning routine sets your day off on the right foot and makes you feel content and focused. But moreover, it signals to your brain that you’ve started your day and you’re ready to go. When you hang out on the couch getting sucked in by Instagram for 45 minutes – just me? – you’re telling your brain it’s not time to wake up and do anything yet. When you develop a firm routine, even if it includes a few minutes on social media, that you do every day then it’s a lot easier to get yourself into work mode.
My morning routine starts by climbing on the couch, immediately followed by my dog jumping on me with overwhelming excitement. Once I have her settled I pick up my cell phone and check for text messages, missed phone calls, and Instagram alerts. Then I play a cell phone game for 5 minutes. After that, I eat breakfast and read my book for 30 minutes and then open up my computer. Every day that I operate this way, I feel relaxed and ready to work when I pick up my laptop. Every day that I don’t, working is like pulling teeth for the rest of the day.
2. Get Organized.
Everyone’s brain works a different way. There’s no ”best way” to organize yourself. But if things aren’t organized, it’s impossible to get done what needs to get done, especially when you’re reviewing your business performance, planning for the months ahead, and making important decisions.
If you don’t know your ideal methods, take some time to try different tools. Just because there are lots of neat apps and digital tools out there, don’t forget about paper. For some people a paper system is the only one that works. As you start to see what works for you, write down these systems and set them in stone. Jumping from Evernote to Asana to Trello to the scrap of paper next to your desk to that fancy planner you bought in January is the worst thing you could do. Choose a solution for each aspect of your business and stick with it so you know what belongs where.
3. Do Monthly Reviews.
These will change your business. When you’re left to your own devices, you can go months without doing meaningful work – and your bank account will show it. But when you force yourself to look back at what you’ve accomplished each month, you are motivated to actually get things done so you don’t have to confront your own disappointed self at the end of the month. It’s brilliant!
Make a spreadsheet or a worksheet template you can fill in each month. Track anything you’re interested in, but don’t forget the essentials: website traffic, email subscribers, number of sales, income, expenses, major marketing, and if you did anything out of the norm this month (like launching a new product line).
In addition to filling in that report for yourself, reassess your goals. Are you on track? If not, you might want to realign your strategies or even change your goal. If you completed a goal, you’ll want to celebrate (yay!) and then choose a new goal. And you always want to be checking in to make sure your goals still fit with what you want out of your business.
4. Set Rules.
Don’t be a wishy-washy boss-lady. If you’re going to be the CEO of your business (and if you aren’t, who is going to do it for you?) you have to set boundaries. Having a morning routine, sticking to your organizational systems, and doing monthly reviews are all great boundaries for yourself. But you also have to have them for your customers. Try to make it clear on your website and in your order confirmation emails when it’s easiest to get in contact with you and how you want them to (is email better than Facebook or a phone call?). Make it easy for a customer to look up your policies on returns and exchanges and make those policies clear and firm. This is your business and no one else should be telling you how to run it just because you want to be nice.
You can also set rules for yourself around customer service, pricing, gifting and charity, and collaborations. If you’re disappointed every time you put your handmade soaps in a church auction, you can make the decision to say no next time. If you prefer to answer customer inquiries after dinner, only answer them after dinner. If you’re afraid of your work looking cheap, you can choose to not sell anything under $50.
5. Write a Business Plan.
Don’t run away just yet! I know the phrase ”business plan” conjures up images of 20-page reports, terms you don’t know like SWOT, and numbers. Lots of numbers. But a business plan doesn’t have to be like that. It can be simple, quick to create, and (dare I say) actually helpful.
Take a day out to actually look at your business from the sky. What’s your long-term vision? How are you going to bring in money? I can’t tell you how many creatives tell me they’re not even sure how much money they want to make. So sit down and figure out how much money breaks you even on business expenses, how much money breaks you even on living expenses, how much extra money you would like to have for fun things. And, please, pick out marketing strategies ahead of time so you’re not trying every new trick the gurus write about.
With this plan, you can keep yourself on track and focused. You’ll make a lot more progress knowing where you’re headed and how you want to get there. If you need help figuring out how to write a business plan, what else you should put in one (without it getting all stodgy and corporate), and how to use it, you’re going to want a copy of my new mini-course The Artist’s Business Plan. I’ll walk you through it so it’s actually a little fun and you’ll get it done in a day! How’s that for simple?

Laura C. George – Laura C. George

Laura C George liberates and energizes artists who feel stuck, arming them with the knowledge they need to create a career that supports them emotionally and financially. Or, in short, she’s a business consultant for artists. You can find her indulging her sweet tooth and playing with her pup in the dog park. If you make art-awesomeness, pop over to to learn how to build an art business you adore.

That small thing that made a big difference

unnamed-2Have you ever had something like that happen to you? A single question asked or a simple change of plans that made a big difference in your life or career? I have had it happen many times and usually without any plan or expected outcome. But I can look back and think of that moment and appreciate (or chagrin!) the difference it made. And actually, there was a very specific request/question that I once made that made a really big difference in the success of my handmade business. This was a request that might help give your handmade business a boost too.
It was late summer 2011 and my kids were getting ready to go back to school. My 2 older children were in school all day but my son was still going to preschool. I drove him 20 minutes to preschool, he was there for about 2.5 hours and I drove back to pick him up. This was 3 days a week. Not only did I hate that drive (although the chit chat with my four year old was precious), it gave me about 1 hour at home if I went back and forth. I usually just went to the store or ran errands instead. I had done this drive for years with my daughters and it was just the way it was in our family. You know- like you always make the coffee, load the dishwasher, and pack the lunches and your partner always takes out the garbage, empties the dishwasher and walks the dog?  That was our routine. UNTIL… I simply asked my husband to drive my son to preschool. He thought for a minute and then said SURE. No biggie, friends. He adjusted his work schedule a little and it was a done deal. He actually loved the time they spent together!
There was some more to the asking though. I told him I wanted the extra time to work on my business – I shared my plan of blogging more and devoting time to building my customer reach. I showed him the new patterns I wanted to develop and the craft shows I wanted to do that year. I explained how I needed more time. I had squeezed my handmade business into nap times and evenings (a horrible time for me personally to be creative) for years and it was exasperating. I had always thought of us as an equal needs relationship but I realized that I never even bothered to ask for his help! This small ask gave me an extra 7.5 hours of work per week. That is a ton when you go from about 7 hours a week. Having involved him in my plans, made me feel more accountable too and I really did work during the hours. My business grew at a steady pace during those years and it all started with a simple request for help.
If the drive to preschool had not worked, I’m sure he would have done something else to help once I explained my plans to grow my business. We could have found a sitter or found him a ride to preschool with a friend. Here is the thing- your loved ones want to help you but you need to ask. Some of you are already good at this, but many of us are not. We are crafty DIYers and used to, well, DIYing. If you get some resistance, try to explain that this will not only be monetarily beneficial but also satisfy for your need to create and contribute more. It might be that your partner can come home early a day a week and that will be your special time. He might be happy to work a few hours of overtime at his job so you can leave your job a few hours early a couple times a week. OR- your friend might take the kids one afternoon a week so you can work and you can pay her with handmade beauties.  The point is to reach out and ASK FOR HELP. The worst that can happen is that they will say no!
The other side of this is actually making sure you have a plan and work when you have this extra time. But that, my friends is a topic for another day…

Virginia Lindsay — Gingercake Patterns and Design

Virginia Lindsay designs sewing patterns for Gingercake Patterns and Design. She loves the to sew practical, fun, and stylish things! Several of her patterns have been published by Simplcity and she has also written 2 books. Sewing to Sell and Fabric Stash Cuties:  Pretty Little Birds.