Hello there lovely Buttoneers! Did you have a wonderful Christmas and a fabulous New Year? I can’t believe it is back to work time already! It all goes so fast! Luckily I am still in full celebration mode as Eliston Button, this here little creative corner of the blogosphere, has turned 3 years old!
Hooray! Hooray! [Insert party poppers, streamers coming at your face, balloons popping out of confetti laden boxes and cake…lots of cake, here]
I am so thrilled to have made it this far! Even more importantly, I am thrilled to have made it this far and to still love what I do, which I think is becoming increasingly rare these days. I really love when this time of year comes around and I get to look back at how far forward I have travelled. I decided 3 years ago that, after Christmas of 2014, I was going to launch my blog into the big, wide, world. I feel like I had prepared myself for it all for years. I read so many creative business books (none of which really prepared me for the adventure I was about to embark on!) I listened to many podcasts and watched many a video on how it is all done, not to mention following my blogging idols do what they love every day, filling my head with ideas and creative endeavours. I started tippy-tappying away at my laptop a few months before the launch to start everything going and get some blog posts there, ready for people to see when I finally launched in the January. I was so scared to take the leap but dove in head first, rode the rollercoaster and the rest is history!
I never imagined that my ‘just for fun’ blog would turn into my largest project to date! This past year has definitely been the year of growth for me and this little space.
I started this past year right off the back of a really hard year personally (you can catch up on this, in my “It’s Not You, It’s Me (and Why This Isn’t a Break Up blog post) and I felt like my personal life, my own mental health and in turn my enthusiasm was in a very low place which had a huge knock-on effect on my work. How could I be full of joy and happiness on my blog for this ‘Pinterest perfect’ life if it was far from perfect?
I didn’t ever want to give up blogging or making but something had to change. I had been mulling over whether to switch my blog over to a self-hosted blog and at the same time totally redesign my whole website to make it feel new and different and exciting again. I really love the new design but I didn’t anticipate the amount of hard work and days spent in front of my computer it would take! You can read all about my redesign and reasons behind self-hosting in my ‘Eliston Button Website Redesign‘ post. I really loved my new website but the days of tweaking and coding and sorting out problems really took its toll. In my personal life we had put our house on the market and found a house we liked and could afford, away from the problems we had in our current house so things were looking hopeful. We had only a few months to sell our house to be able to keep the reserve on our new one, so it was all systems go and very stressful. So, I took a break from blogging to try to revive my creative juices and remember why I did it all. I needed to not do it for a while to realise how much I really do love my little creative biz.
I felt like a lot of the first six months of this year was spent in an icky creative rut, a blogging funk and a total crafting block – it sucked, I cried a lot and ultimately almost packed it all in. In June, we hadn’t sold our house which meant we lost the house we loved (the builder had to sell it someone more proceed-able) and it was back to square one. It felt like everything had fallen apart. This whole mess and the horrendous year before it had consumed me and our lives so much that I didn’t know what to blog about anymore. It was all still too raw and emotional to write about it here and it didn’t ever feel like the place for it (something I would like to change for the future) It had gotten to a point where I knew I needed to pull myself back into the world and grab hold of my own life a bit more.
I couldn’t change a lot of things but I could push myself back into doing what I loved, I needed that big push. So, my Create 30 blog challenge was born!
I had made and completed a few birthday challenges before this year where I made a certain number of new things before I turned that age. For example, in my first week of blogging (as in my first week EVER!) I was totally crazy pants and started a ’27 Before 27′ blog challenge where I held my self accountable by blogging 27 different embroidered felt flower brooches before I turned 27 in the June which, 6 months later, opened the Eliston Button Etsy Shop. This was just days after we moved into our first bought house (our current house) The year after, I started my ‘Create 28’ blog challenge where I spread my creative little wings and created 28 different doses of handmade goodness to widen the range of treasures I sold in my shop. This took a lot of time and panic to complete in such a short space of time and because of the circumstances, I didn’t start a ’29’ challenge.
Back in June I wrote:
“Working for myself and by myself means that it can be a total procrastination station over here. I need a better working day ratio – more work, less procrastination for sure. Less consuming, more creating. Less worrying about getting things perfect, More work on getting things done, finished, out the door and move on to the next thing. Don’t look back”
And that’s exactly what I did. I started Create 30.
I decided to be a little kinder to myself and make it a ‘full year’ challenge rather than one where I raced to the finish line with little sleep and a huge coffee buzz in little under 6 months. I wanted it to make turning 30 a bit more of a thing to look forward to and develop my Create 28 ideas further. I wanted to expand my brand and my Etsy shop in a direction that I felt happy with, by making the things that made me happy to make and excited to share. In my mind it was make or break and this pushed me to fight for my little creative business rather than let it fail, however scared I was that it might. This was just what I needed.
Fast forward to October (because I am worried this is going to be the longest blog post in the history of blog posts!) and we sold our house!! We had decided to put it back on the market on our own terms, our own price (not a builders buying/selling scheme) and just see what happened – because just like my business – what did we have to lose by trying?) I didn’t blog about any of this because I simply didn’t want to tempt fate and have it all crash down again and partly because it all happened so fast that it was all a bit of a blur. I was in full swing of a blogging schedule again and pacing myself with my Create 30 makes and WHAM! There it was, right when I had stopped believing it would happen, right when I stopped looking for it. Funny how these things happen eh!? So, the race was on to find a new house, out of this town and into a new adventure where we could start afresh away from nasty people and horrid memories. My life got better and so did my work.
There will always be a direct correlation between my mental health, my personal life and my work because so much of myself goes into my work…
So much of my time is used for making and creating and thinking up new ideas that it is bound to be affected when my mind is somewhere else. These last few months have been stressful and scary but exciting and fantastic. I have loved my work more than ever and have worked so hard to build it all back up again. In my recent post ‘Meet the Maker Week‘ I talked about how the Meet the Maker challenge had been a real game changer for me.
“It was not only a fabulous opportunity to get myself out there a bit more and show off what I have to offer (which always feels really scary normally) but I feel like for the first time I know how to answer the question “so…what to you do then?”, I feel more confident as a maker…more involved and welcomed in by the fantastic handmade community”
Having the confidence to say “Hello, I am Rachel, a designer, maker and creative lifestyle blogger’ was massive. I never knew how to explaining what I did before. How could I possibly round-up all of the one-girl handmade circus act that involved juggling all of the different hats a creative business owner wears? But learning that and becoming a part of the handmade community and chatting to so many talented makers from around the country, or even the world, helped me find my place and my confidence. I learnt that I have to put myself out there for my small business to thrive and that by finding my ‘work identity’, I found my purpose. I was inspired to be like my maker idols rather than compare myself to them.
It totally changed my mindset which in turn made me feel less stressed about my business which in turn, made me feel less stressed about my life. Ah, the ever looping circle!
I realised that yes, I am this person. I do design and make and photograph it all. I do write and edit
and pretend I am Carrie Bradshaw at her laptop in her fancy New York brownstone apartment. I do share my heart and soul with anyone who will listen and I love it. This is who I am. And I love it.
I might find myself up to my eyeballs in scheduling blog posts and keeping up with Create 30. I might find myself despairing over listing my new makes on Etsy and sharing them on social media.
Some days I feel like Super Woman, other days I just want to nap!
But this is what I love and I am so grateful that this is my job. That you lovely Buttoneers support me and invest in my business, not only with your money by buying from my Etsy shop but with your time. The time it takes you to email me to tell me you love reading my blog with your cup of tea. The time it takes you to comment on my social media. The millisecond it takes you to like my photos on Instagram. I am so grateful. It means so much.
I know that some days I will have to ward off the anxiety or curl up n the sofa under a big blanket and have a mental health day. I know that some days I will need to let it all go and start a fresh the next day and I know that some days, just showing up and doing the work, will be enough.
I am so proud of how far I have come in this last year. I am so proud of my little creative business and how far it has come. I doubled the sales of last year this year and I am so thrilled that I get to carry on doing the things I love and making the things I wish existed in the world.
I love the treasure trove the Eliston Button Etsy Shop has become, I love that I have built up a handmade curiosity shop of things that a range of people with a range of budgets can buy from.
I love hearing your feedback when your pretty parcels arrive at your doors and love seeing my makes adventure into the wild! I love that there is a place where this little creative, button loving, multi-passionate crafty kid can play and call it a job. It amazes me every day. I feel like this past year I have grown and learnt and progressed to a level I am really proud of and I am excited for this to continue for the next year too.
Three years ago feels like a lifetime ago and I am so happy to wish Eliston Button a very Happy 3rd Birthday!
So, what is in store for 2017? Well, I am excited to announce that we have bought a new house and will (hopefully!) be moving at some point at the start of this year! I am soooooo excited to move on from this chapter of our lives and get our lives back. To settle and explore our new home and town and different part of the countryside. So much has happened, maybe one day I will explain it all, maybe I will just lock the door and throw away the key, we shall see. I have no idea of our move date yet or what I will do with my blog and Etsy shop while we move – of course I will keep you all updated!
My guess is that I will be juggling moving and decorating and possible house extending with working and making and blogging but that is all part of the adventure isn’t it!?
I have no idea of what the Eliston Button Headquarters will look like in the new house either, but know that it will exist, for the beginning in a temporary work space until we figure it all out but again, I will share the progress and keep you all up to date – I can’t wait! (I know…I know…I haven’t shared this one yet – I will before I move, if nothing else but to be able to look back on a tidy, sane work space!) I am so glad I can finally share everything now it is all a bit more set in stone but also a lot happier. I want this space to be a nice mix of personal and business in the future so fingers crossed it all goes to plan!
I am hopeful and excited for another year of adventures and to see where this one takes me. I feel like I haven’t said that in a really long time…
If you got this far through this novel of a blog post then 100 glittery button points each for Gryffindor (or the Hogwarts house of your choice of course!) I so happy I have a place to not only share my experiences and adventures with you but also document it all for myself. I look forward to being able to look back on this post and know that things worked out for the best, that we found our silver lining – in some of the darkest of times.
Are you excited to come along for the ride? What are your hopes and dreams for 2017? What would you like to see more of on this blog or in my Etsy Shop? I would love to hear all about it!
Also, if you want to stay up-to-date with this little creative corner of the blogosphere, remember to subscribe to this blog and become a Buttoneer to get blog post updates straight to your inbox so you don’t miss a thing! (It’s free!) I promise they are not all as long and gushy as this one!
Until next time, meet me for a chat with a cup of tea in the comments below. I’ll click the kettle on!