Lunch with Chickenscratch!

ON Tuesday, I had coffee with another Etsyian, Beth Merriman.  Beth has her own Etsy store, http://www.chickscratch.etsy.com, where she sells vegan candles, bath, and body products that she makes from scratch.
I had gone on Etsy a while ago, investigating the different San Diego participants who had storefronts there.  There were a LOT!  And there still are…  There is an East County “team” (i.e. a loose group of sellers banding together through philosophy or geography) that has a huge number of members…  Beth is a member of that one as well as the Vegan team.
So I met her to pick her brain regarding her experiences in Etsy.  I asked her just how she does it!!  The items that she sells look wonderful–the quality of the photos is great, the variety of items is incredible, and she’s actually selling enough to keep her really busy!  Of course, she works as a dresser at the Globe as well, but between the two, she’s making it!
We chatted about her different experiences, and she shared with me some websites that I didn’t know about that helpful resources, and some features of Etsy that I wasn’t aware of.  I have a lot more to explore now–my brain was a tad overwhelmed…
After that, I headed out to Joann’s and bought a women’s vest pattern (oy, I’m being lazy lazy lazy…) and cut out two size 18s from the remaining black velveteen I had left over from the 50’s coat.  I actually have enough to make a couple handbags as well!  I sewed up the fashion fabric side of one and started to paint it–a project that I will continue in earnest on Wednesday.
I’m also gonna do several other things: 1) I experiment with different photography setups…  I’m going to take some kraft paper and mount it to the fence in my back yard, and see if it’s a background that works in the natural sunlight.  2) I finish one of the vests and post it.  3) I investigate more on Etsy and other sites that have information regarding it, 4) I research places to purchase checks, 5) I explore more of what my resale license does, business-wise.
Alrighty, more later!  Live life with Relish!

On Tuesday, I had coffee with another Etsyian, Beth Merriman.  Beth has her own Etsy store, www.chickscratch.etsy.com, where she sells vegan candles, bath, and body products that she makes from scratch.

I had gone on Etsy a while ago, investigating the different San Diego participants who had storefronts there.  There were a LOT!  And there still are…  There is an East County “team” (i.e. a loose group of sellers banding together through philosophy or geography) that has a huge number of members…  Beth is a member of that one as well as the Vegan team.

So I met her to pick her brain regarding her experiences in Etsy.  I asked her just how she does it!!  The items that she sells look wonderful–the quality of the photos is great, the variety of items is incredible, and she’s actually selling enough to keep her really busy!  Of course, she works as a dresser at the Globe as well, but between the two, she’s making it!

We chatted about her different experiences, and she shared with me some websites that I didn’t know about that helpful resources, and some features of Etsy that I wasn’t aware of.  I have a lot more to explore now–my brain was a tad overwhelmed…

After that, I headed out to Joann’s and bought a women’s vest pattern (oy, I’m being lazy lazy lazy…) and cut out two size 18s from the remaining black velveteen I had left over from the 50’s coat.  I actually have enough to make a couple handbags as well!  I sewed up the fashion fabric side of one and started to paint it–a project that I will continue in earnest on Wednesday.

I’m also gonna do several other things: 1) I experiment with different photography setups…  I’m going to take some kraft paper and mount it to the fence in my back yard, and see if it’s a background that works in the natural sunlight.  2) I finish one of the vests and post it.  3) I investigate more on Etsy and other sites that have information regarding it, 4) I research places to purchase checks, 5) I explore more of what my resale license does, business-wise.

Alrighty, more later!  Live life with Relish!

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A Day of Etsy-fying

Today was a full day.  All about Etsy.
I dove into setting up my Etsy shop today, and was reminded how little I know about working retail…
First, I have to say that Etsy is a lot bigger than I thought.  It seems like an intimate little place, but there are thousands and thousands of vendors on there.  A little bit of searching using their engine, and you realize that Etsy ain’t so small…  There are people on there that use it for their main source of income, just like Ebay.  (I suppose I’ll need to investigate that as well, but one storefront at a time…ugh…)
It’s one thing to go on quickly and establish an account, and post something to sell.  It’s quite another to think it all through and try to do it right…  I realized right away that my photos aren’t going to work.  That’s okay–I figured they wouldn’t.  I have some plans for that.  Getting live models and a photographer is high on my priority list, but in lieu of doing that today I decided to take care of the rest of my profile.
Good grief there’s a lot to say!  Not only did I need a profile, but I also had to think about shipping, returns, payment… I had to establish a Paypal account right off the bat so I could even begin to list anything.  That was part of the process.  In the process, I learned that Paypal allows users to use their credit cards and such even if they don’t have an account with them, which was fantastically convenient!  I don’t have to track down a shopping cart mechanism until I start on my own sight.  Right now, that’s not a wise idea unless I have the money to promote it, and that’s not going to happen right away.  Best to ride “piggy back” on venues that are set up to do it for me just yet.
After getting the monetary issues squared away, I had to figure out shipping.  This was a real conundrum–I had to research box sizes, figure out how much my garments weigh, and then research shipping services.  The bulk of the shops that I saw on Etsy used the US Postal Service, and their flat rate boxes.  Well, I couldn’t–the majority of my coats are not going to fit into those boxes, so it’s not going to work…  So I had to come up with different options.  Rather than figure out what the shipping was going to be for every zone, for every garment, I decided to simply include shipping in the price of the garment.  That simplifies things a great deal.  Of course, it’ll probably be a headache later on, but for right now it’ll work.
So I spent part of my day on the road purchasing a mailing scale and visiting a box supplier, and then wrapped it up with a quick trip to Michael’s Crafts…  I have heard that part of the charm of buying handmade is the anti-corporation feeling, so packing the garments in a manner that is unique, fun, and ultimately charming can make a big difference with customer loyalty.  So I bought some hemp and twine at Michael’s and experimented part of the day with wrapping the pieces with old fashioned craft paper and string, then inserting that into the final shipping box.  It looks authentically endearing and simple, I think, but it needs some more antiquing and personalization.  So I’m gonna consider some stamps, some personal hand-written notes, and some heartfelt creativity to wrap it all together.  I’m as excited about the potential fun in shipping stuff off as I am about actually making the garments!
So that’s what I did today.  That, and more research on the community that is Etsy.  We’ll see if I fit in…
Live life with Relish!

Today was a full day.  All about Etsy.

I dove into setting up my Etsy shop today, and was reminded how little I know about working retail…

First, I have to say that Etsy is a lot bigger than I thought.  It seems like an intimate little place, but there are thousands and thousands of vendors on there.  A little bit of searching using their engine, and you realize that Etsy ain’t so small…  There are people on there that use it for their main source of income, just like Ebay.  (I suppose I’ll need to investigate that as well, but one storefront at a time…ugh…)

It’s one thing to go on quickly and establish an account, and post something to sell.  It’s quite another to think it all through and try to do it right…  I realized right away that my photos aren’t going to work.  That’s okay–I figured they wouldn’t.  I have some plans for that.  Getting live models and a photographer is high on my priority list, but in lieu of doing that today I decided to take care of the rest of my profile.

Good grief there’s a lot to say!  Not only did I need a profile, but I also had to think about shipping, returns, payment… I had to establish a Paypal account right off the bat so I could even begin to list anything.  That was part of the process.  In the process, I learned that Paypal allows users to use their credit cards and such even if they don’t have an account with them, which was fantastically convenient!  I don’t have to track down a shopping cart mechanism until I start on my own sight.  Right now, that’s not a wise idea unless I have the money to promote it, and that’s not going to happen right away.  Best to ride “piggy back” on venues that are set up to do it for me just yet.

After getting the monetary issues squared away, I had to figure out shipping.  This was a real conundrum–I had to research box sizes, figure out how much my garments weigh, and then research shipping services.  The bulk of the shops that I saw on Etsy used the US Postal Service, and their flat rate boxes.  Well, I couldn’t–the majority of my coats are not going to fit into those boxes, so it’s not going to work…  So I had to come up with different options.  Rather than figure out what the shipping was going to be for every zone, for every garment, I decided to simply include shipping in the price of the garment.  That simplifies things a great deal.  Of course, it’ll probably be a headache later on, but for right now it’ll work.

So I spent part of my day on the road purchasing a mailing scale and visiting a box supplier, and then wrapped it up with a quick trip to Michael’s Crafts…  I have heard that part of the charm of buying handmade is the anti-corporation feeling, so packing the garments in a manner that is unique, fun, and ultimately charming can make a big difference with customer loyalty.  So I bought some hemp and twine at Michael’s and experimented part of the day with wrapping the pieces with old fashioned craft paper and string, then inserting that into the final shipping box.  It looks authentically endearing and simple, I think, but it needs some more antiquing and personalization.  So I’m gonna consider some stamps, some personal hand-written notes, and some heartfelt creativity to wrap it all together.  I’m as excited about the potential fun in shipping stuff off as I am about actually making the garments!

So that’s what I did today.  That, and more research on the community that is Etsy.  We’ll see if I fit in…

Live life with Relish!

Big News

Big News
Went to the museum yesterday with my good good friend Robin Roberts.  She’s a scene designer here in San Diego.  We saw two wonderful exhibits–one by the famous photographer Richard Avedon, and the other a jewelry exhibit by the sculptor, Alexander Calder.
I can’t tell you how inspired I was.  Going to the museum for me is like a kind of drug, I suppose…  It’s a high.  And then I get sensory overload and crash.  I can only take so much…  I can’t sort it out and my brain doesn’t know how to not simply go off on tangents.  I’m used to using art as inspiration–that’s primarily how I’ve developed as a costume designer.  I look at pictures and try to translate the same feelings and such to works that I can put on stage.
The Avedon pics were easier to distance myself from, but the jewelry…  Good grief, all I could think of was translating the line of it to velvet… Using metallic paint, even.  It could be so easily represented in brush strokes…  I just about popped.  I walked away thinking I’d have to try two of his ideas–a fish, and a butterfly–and somehow make them my own…  There is so much to say about how it stimulated me, I can’t even verbalize it…  I’ll have to just do it and show you.
And something else has happened, finally…
It’s finished.  Relished Artistry is finally, 100% legitimate.
I got my operating agreement done.  I got a business bank account today.  I got my Seller’s Permit today. I got my Tax information taken care of as well.  It’s all done.
I’m stoked!!  It’s happened!  I’m moving forward!
Now to move on to Etsy and and other sites, as well as establishing an online presence of my own.  I have to get some good photographs done, but I have a lead on that with my partner’s brother-in-law…  He’s volunteered to take them, and he’s gonna do a great job.  I think I’ll also be able to use Jonathan’s family as models…  We’ll see.  Now there is no excuse for me not to simply plow forward and be creative.
Oh, my goodness it’s here!!!  Ready set go!
Time for me to make sure others are living life with relish!!

Went to the museum yesterday with my good good friend Robin Roberts.  She’s a scene designer here in San Diego.  We saw two wonderful exhibits–one by the famous photographer Richard Avedon, and the other a jewelry exhibit by the sculptor, Alexander Calder.

I can’t tell you how inspired I was.  Going to the museum for me is like a kind of drug, I suppose…  It’s a high.  And then I get sensory overload and crash.  I can only take so much…  I can’t sort it out and my brain doesn’t know how to not simply go off on tangents.  I’m used to using art as inspiration–that’s primarily how I’ve developed as a costume designer.  I look at pictures and try to translate the same feelings and such to works that I can put on stage.

01_calder-jewelry_birthday-gift-pin_1958

The Avedon pics were easier to distance myself from, but the jewelry…  Good grief, all I could think of was translating the line of it to velvet… Using metallic paint, even.  It could be so easily represented in brush strokes…  I just about popped.  I walked away thinking I’d have to try two of his ideas–a fish, and a butterfly–and somehow make them my own…  There is so much to say about how it stimulated me, I can’t even verbalize it…  I’ll have to just do it and show you.  Google has some wonderful images–here’s a link.

And something else has happened, finally…

It’s finished.  Relished Artistry is finally, 100% legitimate.

I got my operating agreement done.  I got a business bank account today.  I got my Seller’s Permit today. I got my Tax information taken care of as well.  It’s all done.

I’m stoked!!  It’s happened!  I’m moving forward!

Now to move on to Etsy and and other sites, as well as establishing an online presence of my own.  I have to get some good photographs done, but I have a lead on that with my partner’s brother-in-law…  He’s volunteered to take them, and he’s gonna do a great job.  I think I’ll also be able to use Jonathan’s family as models…  We’ll see.  Now there is no excuse for me not to simply plow forward and be creative.

Oh, my goodness it’s here!!!  Ready set go!

Time for me to make sure others are living life with relish!!

Good News & Bad News

Well, the twisty-turvy road to the development of Relished Artistry has thrown me another curve.  Some good things have happened, and some bad things have happened.
First, the Good News.  The application for my Seller’s Permit requested my Bank information. Well, I don’t have a bank account for Relished Artistry yet, so this was a big clue that I should probably get one.  After another series of phone calls I was told I would need to turn in my Operating Agreement for my LLC for any business account anywhere.  Ugh.  I didn’t have that yet.  So I sat down to write it…
Okay, long story short, I realized all the examples I was finding were for LLC’s that had more than one member.  My LLC only has one: me.  So when it came to making one confidently, I was clueless.  I decided to have it done professionally, and found a local attorney online that I felt confident with that could do it.  Several email exchanges later, I’m sure that it’s gonna be better than what I could have come up with myself.  At least I’ll know his work is legally sound, whereas my own would have been a shot in the dark.  And while it sounds stupid to hire an attorney based on what you’ve seen online, our emails were quite disarming and endearingly “normal”.  His lack of pretense and legalese was heartening.  The fee is commensurate with what I expected.  He’ll be done with it by the end of the week since it’s a relatively simple document.  Then I can go to the bank.
So the notification I received (finally) from the State that my Articles of Organization were filed actually prompted a lurch forward in the legitimization of the company.  And that’s very very good news indeed!  Woohoo!
Now for the Bad News.  Recently, my partner was driving to pick up lunch for his workplace, and his car was hit by a truck from a company in the same complex where his office is.  After a wait of several days with a rental car, it turns out that the very frame of our car is messed up, and the insurance company has declared it a total loss–surprising since there appeared to be so little damage.  In a nutshell, we now have to buy a new car.  Not an expense that we had anticipated…  Our car was totally paid off–there was no monthly payment.  And now, because we don’t have enough money to buy a decent car outright (who does now days?), we will have a monthly car expense again, after many years.  And guess where that’s gonna come from?
My studio space.  Yep, that’s right, no studio space for me–the money I was gonna spend on it is now going to go into a car.  And for the foreseeable future, I will be stuck in my garage.  Jonathan and I are discussing options for shifting things around in the garage to give me some more room so I can have an ironing table.  I simply don’t have a choice.
I called my friend whom I was going to share the space with, and thankfully she understands.  Turns out she’s willing to wait for a while and see what happens. Bless her heart.  I guess all the signs are pointing toward this being the wrong time, huh?
It’s quite depressing, actually.  But it means that I must work harder to develop a sense of self-discipline to ensure this company works.  I cannot rely upon a Studio space to provide the professional atmosphere I need to concentrate, and that’s gonna be hard.  Very hard…
Guess I’m gonna have to buckle down and live my life with relish, huh?

Well, the twisty-turvy road to the development of Relished Artistry has thrown me another curve.  Some good things have happened, and some bad things have happened.

First, the Good News.  The application for my Seller’s Permit requested my Bank information. Well, I don’t have a bank account for Relished Artistry yet, so this was a big clue that I should probably get one.  After another series of phone calls I was told I would need to turn in my Operating Agreement for my LLC for any business account anywhere.  Ugh.  I didn’t have that yet.  So I sat down to write it…

Okay, long story short, I realized all the examples I was finding were for LLC’s that had more than one member.  My LLC only has one: me.  So when it came to making one confidently, I was clueless.  I decided to have it done professionally, and found a local attorney online that I felt confident with that could do it.  Several email exchanges later, I’m sure that it’s gonna be better than what I could have come up with myself.  At least I’ll know his work is legally sound, whereas my own would have been a shot in the dark.  And while it sounds stupid to hire an attorney based on what you’ve seen online, our emails were quite disarming and endearingly “normal”.  His lack of pretense and legalese was heartening.  The fee is commensurate with what I expected.  He’ll be done with it by the end of the week since it’s a relatively simple document.  Then I can go to the bank.

So the notification I received (finally) from the State that my Articles of Organization were filed actually prompted a lurch forward in the legitimization of the company.  And that’s very very good news indeed!  Woohoo!

Now for the Bad News.  Recently, my partner was driving to pick up lunch for his workplace, and his car was hit by a truck from a company in the same complex where his office is.  After a wait of several days with a rental car, it turns out that the very frame of our car is messed up, and the insurance company has declared it a total loss–surprising since there appeared to be so little damage.  In a nutshell, we now have to buy a new car.  Not an expense that we had anticipated…  Our car was totally paid off–there was no monthly payment.  And now, because we don’t have enough money to buy a decent car outright (who does now days?), we will have a monthly car expense again, after many years.  And guess where that’s gonna come from?

My studio space.  Yep, that’s right, no studio space for me–the money I was gonna spend on it is now going to go into a car.  And for the foreseeable future, I will be stuck in my garage.  Jonathan and I are discussing options for shifting things around in the garage to give me some more room so I can have an ironing table.  I simply don’t have a choice.

I called my friend whom I was going to share the space with, and thankfully she understands.  Turns out she’s willing to wait for a while and see what happens. Bless her heart.  I guess all the signs are pointing toward this being the wrong time, huh?

It’s quite depressing, actually.  But it means that I must work harder to develop a sense of self-discipline to ensure this company works.  I cannot rely upon a Studio space to provide the professional atmosphere I need to concentrate, and that’s gonna be hard.  Very hard…

Guess I’m gonna have to buckle down and live my life with relish, huh?

Finally, News from the State!

Well, it came today–my reply from the State of California.  I checked the mail early this morning, and opened it up excitedly!  Inside was another form to fill out…  Figures.  Apparently, once you file your Articles of Organization, you have to fill out a Statement of Information.  Essentially, it asks for the filing number of the Articles, and asks you to fill out who the contact people are, the members of your LLC, and the address.

It didn’t give me a business number, though, which is what I thought I was really waiting for…  I’m also trying to fill out an application for a Seller’s Permit, and it’s been a bit of a challenge!  I’m working my way through the form, and discover that it asks for a series of things I don’t have yet… First, I discovered I needed my “Business Number” from the state… Well, after a few phone calls, I learned that LLCs don’t actually have business numbers.  So I’m supposed to leave that part blank, according to the technicians at the Secretary of State’s office…  <sigh–so why does it ASK for one???>

Second, it’s asking for a bank account or a merchants account, of which I have neither.  So that’s something I need to get.  Upon consultation with a friend of mine, the bank account is all I’ll need unless I want to pursue Point-of-Purchase sales…  And that may come later, but not right yet…

I also got my very very first “tax” form…  FTB3522, which is the LLC Tax Voucher form that goes out to everyone who forms an LLC.    The tax form says I have to pay $800 for my annual LLC tax.  I expected that.  That’s actually what keeps a lot of people from forming LLC’s and instead create Sole Proprietorships.  Everything I read, however, suggested that when it comes to attire, it’s smarter to create an LLC.  Sadly, 99% of most clothing endeavors fail miserably the first time out, so creating one with your own name (if you actually want to be successful in the industry) probably isn’t a good idea…  So I created an LLC, and since I’m trying to do this on my own, I’m stumbling along figuring out what I’m supposed to do…  I know I have to pay taxes, so it’s pretty safe that paying the $800 is a given!  Haha!

So, in a nutshell, I’m moving up!!  It’s happening!  I have a lot to do, but I’m confident it’ll happen.

More later.  Until then, live life with relish!

Of Sleep and Change

sleep-stages

“Blessed is he that is too busy to worry in the daytime, and too sleepy to worry at night.”  –Unknown

I’m not at all sure I want to post this particular entry, but from a certain perspective one could say this is part of the process of developing a business.  So I guess it’s pertinent in that respect.  Regardless, it’s a big part of my life these days.

Sleep.  My particular sleeping habits are a bit mixed up right now.  I sometimes don’t have regular nine-to-five position during the summers in the past (working in Education for years allowed me to sometimes choose if I could handle employment during the summer months or not), so I have never had a reason to be too disciplined during my down-time.  My sleep habits were erratic for a variety of reasons. Childish, yes.  I freely admit it.

My sleep this summer, however, when I do finally pull myself away from the stupid computer or the TV, hasn’t been of the most consistent quality…  Some nights it’s great, and  I sleep way, way too much.  Other nights, like tonight, I awake with stressful dreams…

I can only suppose this is part of the transition of shifting from a regular job to a more freelance type of employment.  I’ve never been self-employed before, and because I’m learning what it actually entails as I go along, it’s no wonder my mind works through new life-revelations in my dreams.  They’ve not necessarily been “pleasant”… hehe…

Interestingly, I am coming to the conclusion that I used the education system to sort of avoid the necessity of acknowledging a freelance-based design life.  The reliability of teaching ensured a life free of the stresses of living an itinerant life in the arts, which is what I saw all my actor and designer friends living.  Even working at a theatrical institution for an extended period of time allayed the “fears” inherent to the life of a theatre artist.

Well, that regular employment is over.  And now I find myself adjusting to a new way of living.  And honestly, shifting my life around is (of course) messing up my stress levels and thus the quality of my sleep.  Rationally, I know it’s just me getting used to change.  And it’s natural. I knew this would happen–it’s just common sense.  It’s obvious.  Happens to everyone in this situation.  Still, that doesn’t make it easier in the moment.

All these podcasts that I listen to have been telling me the same thing: the life of an artist is filled with structure, habit, and consistency.  On the surface, it would seem that it is not, and from a certain perspective there is some freedom and flexibility in being self-employed.  However, that freedom and flexibility is tempered by self-discipline, self-imposed scheduling, and the development of routine.

Charles Dryer said, “You leave old habits behind by starting out with the thought, ‘I release my need for this in my life.'”

It is time to move beyond the tendencies of my past that I now think are habits I’m using as defense mechanisms.  I am in that odd middle-ground of shifting my lifestyle in a new direction, and I’m realizing that creating these new life-parameters is akin to staying on an exercise routine.  But there’s a lot more at stake here than just my ego, however.

Change is never easy.  I guess I can relish it or not.  <Bada boom.  Ching!>

Don’t think. Do.  Self-affirmation is a good thing.  I choose to live life with relish instead of letting it use me.

Some Confusing Errors

Oh good grief!  This is why one goes through a professional to get one’s business formed: paperwork errors.

I finally got word back from the state of California regarding my LLC application filing, and they sent it back…

Apparently, I followed the “do it yourself” Nolo guide a little too closely.  See, Nolo has you write out everything in one’s Articles of Organization in a format that is then submitted to the state, making a big deal about some of the pieces including the “Purpose of LLC” section.  So not knowing what I was doing, I followed their instructions and pondered a statement regarding the “purpose” of Relished Artistry, and included that in my Articles of Organization.

Like a good little boy, I also followed the links that Nolo suggested, and went to the online website for filing the paperwork to see what was there.  Lo and behold, there’s an actual form one fills out (LLC-1) that has spaces for all the information the Nolo book just took 3 chapters to describe.  So I fill it out and send BOTH to the Secretary of State in California.

Well, apparently, the purpose section of my non-formatted document, and the purpose section of the pre-made form didn’t match up.  Nolo suggested heartily that I put in wording in my purpose section that described my LLC in particular–Relished Artistry’s actual purpose.  But the form that the State provides has boilerplate language that is the minimum required by the state.  Essentially it says the purpose of the LLC is to be able to do whatever LLC’s are legally able to do.  That’s it.  I included that in my own document (because legally I had to) but I had also followed Nolo’s advice and added language that referred specifically to Relished Artistry’s purpose as producing wearable art.

So when I submitted them both together, they conflicted.  And they sent it back, saying that I either need to make both the form and the document match (since they felt the document was an “attachment” to my application) or just not file my own document.

So I sent it back today, simply dropping the Nolo document and resubmitting it.  AARGH.  Guess that shows me what’s up.  : (

<sigh>

Live life with Relish!

The “Midnight Trellis” Handbag

Good grief!  Never make this purse out of thick cotton velour!  Argh!!!  My fingers will never forgive me, and  my poor poor sewing machine…  I swear I was sewing through so many layers my machine probably felt like it was hammering through metal…  <sigh>  But it’s done!

I think I may pursue a different kind of approach when making these handbags in the future.  I learned a LOT from constructing this.  First, I  learned that the first one will always take longer than the rest.  Haha!  I made so many mistakes, and then had to backtrack over and over, that I feel like I have a perception of the purse-building process that will come in handy in the future!  Second, make sure that you know how the purse is going to close before you even start.  The closures have to be inserted early early early in the process.  Third, never make just one.

I guess that goes for everything–if you’re gonna make one, go ahead and make two or three at the same time, just to get the “process” down in your head.  There’s a lot that can be learned not only from the construction of things, but the process in which one constructs multiples together.  I see that making more than one of these purses at the same time is actually a more economic way of spending time.

But it’s done.  And today, I make one for the first coat I made…  The one with yellow roses.

Until next time–Live life with Relish!

Winterpurse

A Tad Bit of Frustration

I’ve been working in my garage/studio, and the heat is starting to get to me.  I’ve found that my sleeping habits have totally changed–I’m up much much later than I used to be, so by the time I wake up, it’s sweltering out.  The heat has been a bit of a problem lately, and the halogen lights aren’t helping the matter.  However, I find that working in the studio is easier than working in the house–at least there’s a breeze with the garage door open!

I still haven’t received anything in the mail back from the state about the registering of my business.  I think it will take a while, that’s for sure.  Who knows how the budget crisis in California is affecting the normal course of business…

I’m feeling wary about posting things on Etsy before I get all the paperwork finished.  I don’t know for sure  if I can go back in and change things around regarding payment options, contact info, how accounts get credited, etc.  I need to investigate that a bit more.

Overall, it’s been a tad bit frustrating… I am in that stage where I have just started to climb the mountain after all the excitement of “Whee! I’m gonna climb a mountain!”  And it’s a daunting slope indeed.  Staying motivated is not the problem.  Staying focused is, since there is so very very much to do.  I have so much research to explore, so much networking to do, and under all of that the basic essential need for a “collection” of some sort (if that’s what it’s called).  It simply has to get done.

I’ll finally be finishing up my current project tomorrow–a black velour coat with blue roses on it.  I got the lining today, so it should be a simple matter to finish it all up.

The dress forms are on their way as well, so I’ll be waiting for them to take pictures of the garments.  I want to start them off on as good a note as I can for Etsy. I’m pretty sure I can’t afford models yet (unless I pay them in pizza or something–haha), let alone know any photographers with the kind of “fashion shoot” quality that I feel is necessary.  But I still have to get more of a stock worked up, so there’s no use worrying about that yet.  It’s rather the “cart before the horse”, as it were.  We’ll see how it goes.

My sister, Nicole, who lives in Columbia, Missouri, has asked me to help her make some blanks for some of her own design work.  She’s also interested in doing stuff with the patterns that I’ve made over the years…  Of course, developing patterns for non-theatrical sewers is not something I have much experience with.  Anyone who knows theatrical patterns knows that they’re simply not like the kind you can get commercially like Vogue, Butterick, McCall’s etc. I think it may take a bit of “translating” and technical writing for an average sewer to follow…  I once taught a theatrical pattern making class at our local fashion design school, and believe me it’s a totally different approach to pattern making.  Line-to-line stitching, seam allowance, mockups… they were alien to the young students at this school, so I know how confusing a theatrical patterns can be.  There is a sort of short-hand for theatrical patterns that assumes knowledge on the part of the person assembling the garment… There are no newsprint instructions.  You either know enough about construction and sewing to put it together or you don’t.  Usually, the person drafting the pattern is also in charge of the team that’s constructing the garment, so there’s no need for written instructions.  So I’d have to make them up.  And good instructions for anything can be hard to find… Haha!

But we’ll see.  It’s intriguing to see what may happen!

Nicole is also prompting me to make handbags.  So I went out to purchase some handbag “equipment” to make matching accessories for the coats.  That could be intriguing, too!  I think they’re gonna be my next project.

In my blog search I found some interesting little ditties!  Here are some links to some blogs and websites that I found interesting, and that I plan on exploring a bit more.  Perhaps, in your copious spare time, you can let me know what you think?  : )

Prosperous Artists Academy

Fast Company

Style.com

The Sartorialist

Until next time, live life with relish!

Books, Books, and More Books…

So this blog entry is about the books that I read getting ready for this leap into the wearable art business.  Now before you start saying that all the current information is actually on the internet, I have to say that I tried to find this stuff and couldn’t.  Maybe I’m a little “search-engine-disabled”, but wading through all the irrelevant crap to find what I really wanted was tiresome.  I’d rather pop out to Borders or jump over to Amazon and find exactly what I need right away.  And my guilty pleasure–the magazine racks–simply kept calling my name anyway…  Now I know you can spend just as much on periodicals as you do on books… hehe…  ouch.  My partner, Jonathan, was a bit worried by how much I was spending on these resources… But they were worth it.  And considering I don’t own a laptop and I like to read when and where I like, the expenditure was well spent.

Anyway, below is a list of the books that I dived into because I found them incredibly interesting.  I have a slew of books that I want to read in the future, but now I’m not at all sure when/if I’ll ever be able to actually get back to cracking a good book…

Art and Fear–Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland really was the best book to start with.  It was a fantastic ego boost and dunk in cold water at the same time.  Highly recommended for artists that are loosing faith in what they’re doing.  This book helped me start to accept the idea that I could indeed call myself an artist and actually believe it.

Start Your Own Arts and Crafts Business by Entrepreneur Press and J.S. McDougall was the next book I grabbed.  I had quite a selection of books to choose from on the Borders Books shelves, but this seemed to be the most practical and the most up to date.  Of course, finding books written after the advent of this horrible economic recession/depression/whatever has been hard.  Many of the books were written in the “great oblivious bubble” of soaring expectations and unfeasible profit margins.  Regardless, this book worked for me.

Design and Launch an Online Boutique in a Week by Entrepreneur Press and Melissa Campanelli was a bit outdated…  A lot of the information was, as previously mentioned, written in a time when things were a bit different…  Nowadays, it’s common knowledge that simply having an online presence and setting up a store isn’t enough to be a success, but most of the examples they use were about entrepreneurs that got in at the right time and grew with the internet’s growth.  So I’m not sure if they were actually “successful” on their own terms or not.  Still an interesting read, and I am indeed still “internet business inept”, so it was very useful information.

Fashion for Profit by Frances Harder is still way over my head.  Sorry, I guess I’m too “artistic” to figure out all the business mumbo jumbo that’s in this book (and the other materials that are available with it on Amazon), but I’m not going into this to mass produce a line of clothing…  I have no interest in the legitimate methodology of contemporary fashion business…  Not for me.  I want to create things that are a little more individual, a lot more artistically hands-on, and definitely not uber-mass produced.  That takes the sparkle out of it for me.  And I’m not in the position to do it the “right way” anyway.  So.  I’ve put this one on my shelf to peruse in the future.

The Fashion Designer Survival Guide by Mary Gehlhar was much more useful, but still oriented toward those interested in mainstream clothing production in the traditional scope set out by the fashion industry.  And their first piece of advice is to work for someone else in the industry for 10 years…  Eminently down-to-earth and real, this book simply solidified for me why I don’t wanna do “fashion apparel”.  Money, experience, and a strong business plan is what they suggest—none of which I had when I read this book.  But it was very useful, still.  This book convinced me to create an LLC insted of a sole proprietorship, which is the norm in the art field.  Not that I’m gonna need to worry about it.

Art/Work: Everything You Need to Know (and Do) As You Pursue Your Art Career by Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber was a GREAT book.  Not really applicable to me (yet again), but still useful.  Primarily focused on graphic designers, there was still info that I found helpful philosophically.  I’m glad I read it.  And it read quick.

The Creative Entrepreneur–A DIY Visual Guidebook for Making Business Ideas Real by Lisa Sonora Beam seemed to speak my language.  It made a big big deal of helping artists develop a “business mentality” to help us understand why business does what it does and some of the language it uses.  It was a relief to find this book.  I only made it through the first couple of chapters, because shortly after getting into it it seemed to change into an art project book and an excuse for the author to show off neat art journaling ideas.  Still, even though I’m not done with it, I can tell it will be invaluable for me.  Highly recommended.

Creating a Successful Craft Business by Rogene A. Robbins and Robert O. Robbins is another very very useful book.  A bit older (2003), it speaks to a world of potential crafters that were part of a different economic era.  So I’ve been taking everything it says with a grain of salt, as one can’t count on their examples to be relevant anymore.  Call me biased, I think the economics of 2009 are much different than they used to be, and people are much different as well.

And finally, Form Your Own Limited Liability Company from Nolo helped me immeasurably in setting up my business.  I simply followed their step by step plans.  And hopefully, they worked.  We’ll find out soon when/if I find out if my Articles of Organization are accepted by the Secretary of State of California…

Okay, this posting is a book in itself…  Next time I’m gonna talk about some of the periodicals that I’ve collected that made a big difference to me.

Until then–live life with relish!

And So It Begins…

So this is the first in a series of blogs that will record my beginning steps toward the success of my business, Relished Artistry!  In the interests of helping others learn a bit more about how to set up a business (or learn from my mistakes) I’m publishing posts on this blog as I go along the different steps.

To begin, let’s discuss where I am in the process of building the business right now.

To summarize quickly, this business is a Wearable Art/Clothing Design venture.  My name is Corey Johnston.  I’ve recently left a job at a private university that I held for 10 years, and striking out on my own.  I’ve got a background in theatrical costume design, and have years of experience designing attire for characters in plays.  I’ve developed in-depth skills in clothing construction and crafts, specifically in mens tailoring but certainly not limited to the sartorial arts!  My years of teaching have opened up my eyes to new ways of looking at things, and now I’m ready to turn the skills I’ve developed into something that will serve me and not just fake people in imaginary staged stories!

So I’ve filed my Fictitious Business Name statement for my LLC, got an EIN, registered several domain names, and sent off my Articles of Organization to the Secretary of State of California.  Until I get my business number, I can’t register for a resale license, nor a tax license, so I will have to wait on those.  My immediate plans include setting up an Etsy shop, establishing an online storefront of my own, and possibly developing a podcast.  This blog is a big step toward establishing a web-presence.

After much gnashing of teeth and shifting around of knicknaks, I finally have a work space set up in my garage that consists of a table for my new Bernina sewing machine and Juki serger, as well as a cutting table.  I’ve invested in lighting fixtures that help brighten the place up, and commandeered the shelves so I could store the art supplies and notions that I would need to progress forward.  Here’s a pic:

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The west end of my garage, wedged in around the fitness equipment...

I’m designing costumes for a local theatrical production called “Noises Off” at Cygnet Theatre, and that was a good opportunity to practice using the space, which has been quite functional.  Eventually, as I aquire more of the equipment that I need (like an industrial iron) it will become even more useful.

Today, I am setting up this WordPress blog and moving forward, hoping this becomes what I wish I had found previous to this point of my development:  an account of how a business gets started from an Art/Apparel combo perspective.  I want to record how this goes so others can refer to it.    There’s a lot to say and share, but my schedule for today also includes working on the samples I need to develop a stock to actually sell!  So this will be it until something new comes along.  (Update:  Here’s a beginning shot at what I’m tryin’.  Playing with roses…)

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The first of many, many, many roses on velvet...

Live life with Relish!