Saturday, June 25, 2011

Prepare to work!

Another Saturday, and with it, another post at Saturday Sequins. Before I start on this week's topic, however, I have to apologize. Last week I'd promised lots of eye candy in the form of pictures of my work, but we're having some, shall we say, technical difficulties? I'm hoping to have them sorted out soon, but until then, things around here will be a wee bit wordy. And... linky.

Now that that's out of the way, here's the second post in my Do What You Love series.

So you've decided on your dream job. You've given yourself permission to go for it. Both of these are important first steps, but they're only a small part of the process. Just a cherry and whipped cream on the banana split that is achieving your dreams (can you tell I'm hungry?).

The truth is, without solid action, dreams stay dreams. To succeed in any business, you need a good -- or great -- product, a way to market said product, a detailed plan. All of these things have one thing in common, namely, they take effort.

Among the many people I admire in the world are three young businesswomen: Rebecca Mojica, owner of Blue Buddha Boutique, Vanessa Walilko of Kali Butterfly, and Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows. Two work in jewelry, and one bakes amazing healthy food.

Besides being fantastically talented and superly nice people, they have another thing in common. You know what I'm going to say, don't you? They work. Their. Tails. Off. They work insane hours! Not just creating wonderful things, but promoting themselves through contests, conventions and blogs. Vanessa and Rebecca also devote time to helping others learn to make chainmaille.

So here's what I suggest. Take another deep breath, just like you did when you gave yourself permission to try. And accept the fact that following your dream will be fulfilling, but also challenging! And maybe a little hard sometimes (but not impossible).

Then you can move on to the next step in the process, and that's preliminary planning. Sit down with a pen and paper or open up a Word document and start making a list. Just off the top of your head, what are some of the things you'll need in order to make this dream into a reality?

I'll do it with you. Some of the things I'll need are tools and supplies. Inventory, or in other words, pieces of work that meet my standards and that I'd be proud to sell. I have business cards, and I have a website. I even have a blog. But one thing I'm missing is a better way to take photographs. Either I'll figure it out or think about hiring a professional later on.

I also need immaterial things. Information. Knowledge of tax laws and how to make up inventory sheets and price my work. And these are only the things I could think of on the spot! Once you do actual research, your list will grow.

Now, as you make this list, you may feel overwhelmed. It's OK! So do I. And a little scared, too. You may even find yourself wondering, is it really worth it? Do I really want to put in all that work? If you answer yes, that's excellent. If you're not sure, that's just fine. Stay with me, and we'll see if we can work it out.

What are the things you'd hate to do? Maybe you're scared of anything to do with business. Maybe you don't like the idea of marketing yourself because you hate social networking sites or you feel like a can of diet soda. I say, don't let these things hold you back. There are ways of dealing with them.

The first is finding a way to make them fun. Don't like Facebook? Not a Twitter fanatic? Set up a simple website. One where you're not selling yourself, so much as sharing your work, your ideas, and your passion. Get business cards and hand them out to people who are interested. Enter contests. Donate work to charity auctions. Open an Etsy store. Use your imagination! And try to think of it more as reaching out to people and making meaningful connections than pushing your Brand on people.

The second is to think of things as challenges, as games, rather than stumbling blocks. Afraid of business? Challenge yourself to become an expert on it. Check out books from the library, read online articles and visit forums, and talk to professionals. Takes notes.

As you go on, you'll probably hire a professional or two. Just because you have a lot of work to do doesn't mean you have to do all of it alone. If this is a game, think of other people as your teammates. ;) Doesn't that sound so much less intimidating?

Still not sure? Well, how would you feel about a smaller commitment? Earning a portion of your income, or even just enough to keep you in jewelry supplies and de-clutter your work room, is a noble goal. I have a feeling it's where most of us start off.

Whew! I covered a lot today. It can be overwhelming, and intimidating, but there's no need to panic. You don't have to do it all at once, and certainly not right this very moment. Which brings me to next week's topic: doing what you can right now.

Thanks for reading! Have a sequintastic day!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Do what you love!

I'm the sort of person who grew up thinking she had to do something practical with her life. The things I was passionate about, namely writing and jewelry making, were things I saw as hobbies, and not a way to make a living. It wasn't a career unless I was, well, bored.

Now that I'm older, and definitely wiser, at least in this respect, I realize this is a silly way of thinking! I also know that I'll never be happy, or feel truly fulfilled, unless I do something I love, that presents me with new challenges every day, and that puts my creativity to good use.

(This is Queen of Hearts, the focal piece of a necklace I made in March. I've been making jewelry since the age of nine! And telling myself it's just a "hobby" for almost as long.)

So here's what I've decided. I can, and will, attempt to earn income from my creative work. This is where today's blog post comes in. It is the first in my Do What You Love series. Advice to myself on how to make my dream job a reality. You see, I have this strange habit of giving myself advice, and it has an even stranger habit of working -- but I'm hoping to inspire others, too.

One step of this journey, as you've probably guessed, is giving yourself permission to try -- but I'll get back to this in a bit. The first step is deciding just what you want to do!

Picture the perfect job. The thing you've always wanted to do, no matter how weird or impractical it may seem. No, not what will make the most money, or make your parents proud, or give you something to brag about to your former high school classmates. The thing that would make you feel most alive. Do you have the picture in your head?

(I do!)

Good. Maybe you chose one thing. Maybe you chose several -- that's OK! You might even be able to combine them. Now you're ready for the next step. Take a deep breath and tell yourself yes. Give yourself permission to make a go of this. Permission to try. You have mine already.

It's OK to want to follow your dreams. It's more than OK -- it's awesome! People all around you are doing it every day. It's OK to want to follow an unconventional path. The road less traveled often provides the most interesting twists and turns. It's OK to be scared as you start this journey. Fear is natural, and expected as you move into new territory. It's dizzying and thrilling and terrifying, like a ride on a hang glider. Just don't let the fear control you.

And finally, it's OK to take things slowly. In fact, it's smart. You can take time to plan. To break this plan into manageable steps. To research, to find a mentor or mentors. To save money. To purchase supplies, tools, business cards. These steps will be covered in future posts.

Thanks for stopping by! And if you've chosen to do so, thanks for doing this with me. Or even considering doing this with me. Things like this are always easier if we have people to hold hands with.

Have a sequintastic day!

Next week's post is about planning and hard work. But don't worry, I'll throw in some sparkly things as well.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The bead show!

The Bead and Button show was a blast, and I'm already looking forward to next year. We saw friends and teachers from previous years, met new people, and took some great classes. Oh, and ate some delicious, yet artery-clogging, foods. Milwaukee and cheese. I'm telling ya.

Some excellent sequin-related things happened this year. First of all, I wore one of my new chainmaille necklaces, which featured sequin dangles. This got a fair bit of attention and gave me a chance to introduce the concept of sequins as jewelry components to a number of people.

(And to hand out business cards. I have to admit, I'm still shy about that!)

Of course, not everyone needed an introduction. I saw not one, but two booths carrying sequins. One of them had a couple boxes tucked away, and it took some hunting around to find them. But another booth had them right near the register. They were lovely, and if I didn't have a special package waiting for me in my mailbox at home, I would have splurged, big time.

(As such, I did splurge on some fantastic sparkly beads, carried by Beadtime/BeadAlgo. They're Chinese cut crystal, not Swarovski, but honestly, that doesn't matter too much to me. Because they're gorgeous! The way they catch the light is amazing. Like tiny strobe lights.)

But the best surprise was meeting my teacher, Dallas Lovett. Not only was he a kind and patient teacher who created a relaxed -- and often hilarious -- classroom atmosphere, but he uses sequins in his work, too! I was lucky enough to see his Sea Carnival bracelet, and I have to say, if class hadn't been going on right that at moment, I would have squealed. It turns out, we even use the same supplier.

To check out his work -- and I strongly suggest you do, as it's amazing, incredible, and very sparkly -- visit his website: There are plenty of talented wire artists in the world, but there's nobody like him. He's in a class by himself. Except when he's teaching. Then he's in a class with about 16 other people. ;)

And finally, there was the package. I should probably write that as The Package to convey just how exciting this was. A shipment of sparkly dealies so big, the box couldn't fit in the mailbox! I opened them as soon as I got home. I have big plans for them, as you'll see on a Saturday in the near future.

(So many sparklies!)

That's all for today! Thanks for stopping by. Next's week's topic... is a surprise.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The first post!

(This is "pollen", a sequin, seed bead and copper necklace I made in April.)

Hello, and welcome to the very first post at Saturday Sequins -- a blog devoted to working with, and celebrating, that most important fashion embellishment, the sequin.

First, a little about me. My name is Sarah, and I live in the Midwest. I’m a writer, jewelry artist, painter, embroiderer, hula hooper and, above all, magpie. As in, I’m drawn to anything and everything sparkly. You should see my “nest.” I’ve been collecting shiny objects for more than two decades. Luckily, I found Mr. Sequin – a terrific man who not only puts up with my hoarding, but does some of his own. In a manly way, of course.

My plan for this blog goes a little like this (although I’m open to the idea that it will grow and change over time): Every Saturday, I'll post something sequin-related. It could be a picture or pictures of my work. It could be a brief tutorial for a simple project. I might post a link to my favorite suppliers of sparkly things, a review of a tool or product, or give some much-deserved attention to other jewelry artists. And if I’m in a thoughtful kind of mood, which has been known to happen from time to time, I may write something about the creative life. As in, how I find inspiration, what creativity means to me, or how I’m finding the courage, little by little, to not only figure out what I want to do when I grow up, but to actually do it.

Thanks for stopping by Saturday Sequins! I hope you visit again.

Up next: my experience at the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. So excited!