Hello there lovely Buttoneers! Happy New Year! I am back in the studio after a lovely break over the holidays and I feel rested, rejuvenated and full of recharged creative juices ready to jump into a fresh start (at the same time as wondering why I can’t nap anymore) I love a good blank page (unless it’s for a blog post that I have no idea how to write!)
I love a blank canvas that I can throw all of my new ideas at with a heavily laden paintbrush…watch me want to take a nap half way through the week now!
I am jumping into this blog post with a huge dollop of excitement, a paint pot full of pride, a sewing box full of warm fuzzy feels (and a tub full of carrot sticks ’cause…resolutions…) because it is this little creative corner of the internet, this here bloggity-blog’s 4th birthday!! Can you believe it!? I sure can’t. I think this may well be the longest thing I have stuck at since school (and that was only because it was compulsory – I can assure you I tried!) If you have read my About Me page, you will know that I have always been a crafty kid eager to explore my creativity.
Whether it be in scrapbooks or sketchbooks or trying to nail varnish glitter into my hair…Whether it be wearing a full on, head to toe, orange outfit including baseball cap and backpack to a non-school uniform day in middle school…
Whether it was doodling in the back of my school exercise books, making every birthday or Christmas card I ever gave or cutting out smash hits, Mizz or Girl Talk magazines (I was a 90’s Kid!) Whether it was painting my bedroom at my parents’ house the brightest pink, collaging mood boards around my room with blue tack (Sorry Mum!) or dying my hair black and getting my tongue pierced when I left home (It’s not still pierced) (Okay Mum…You may have been right about those!) It is safe to say, I have always been a creative kid trying to push the boundaries a little bit.
There were, and still are so many times where I have wanted to give it all up. So many times where I have questioned what I am doing or how I am doing it. I have lost count of the times where I sit in bed at the end of a hard day or a month where I have had a low amount of sales or blog views or I hate to admit it, Instagram likes, and I have cried to my fiancé (seriously he should get paid for the
rants and upsets and feeling like I am failing sobs therapy sessions he endures!)
So many times where I have wondered “What’s the point of all of this!?” or “What if it doesn’t sell!?” But I haven’t given up yet. I have always gotten back on the horse (I prefer my pink Vespa actually) and rode off into the unknown in search of how I can make things better or how I can improve.
To be honest, also where I can get a really big mug of tea and a slice of chocolate cake to make myself feel better – I mean, come on…A cup of tea and a slice of cake solves everything right!?
Naturally before grabbing a huge mug of tea and that slice of cake we talked about – well, I am celebrating aren’t I and what’s a celebration without some cake? and sitting down to write this, I read through Eliston Button is 3 from this time last year. I talked about how the year had been a year of growth and I smiled to myself. Oh Rachel, how little did you know of the growth you were about to embark on. If I were to write a letter to my 3 year old self (not me as a 3 year old – the blog) Hell, if I wrote a letter to non-blogger me right before I published that first blog post, what would I say to her? How could I describe the absolute roller-coaster of an adventure this little creative biz has been so far?
I also saw how far I had come in my personal life too. We had just sold our house and bought a new one in a new town (more on that later) to get away from a really traumatic year. (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) A year ago my mental health and in turn my enthusiasm was in a very low place which had a huge knock-on effect on my work. Which is why I started my Create 30 Blog challenge as something to focus on and dig me out of the creative rut and back to feeling a little bit more ‘me’ again.
The first 6 months of this year consisted of the last 6 months of my Create 30 blog challenge – Gosh! 6 months sounds like a long time but it flew by when I was knee deep in making and blogging so much! If I learnt anything in that challenge it was that as long as I plan and make lists and organise my brain (I am a professional list maker – my desk is covered in so many sticky notes and scraps of paper with things to do sometimes that I can barely see my desk!) then I will be less overwhelmed, stressed and forced into a panic induced nap. That said, I still definitely work best with fire beneath me and a deadline biting at my ankles. I could do with practising a bit more balance this year though. I need to be writing blog posts a little bit more ahead of time, planning my ideas and scheduling my making time. I need to schedule in more self-care time too, even if it’s just half an hour at the end of the day to sit and read or have a quiet cup of tea rather than typing out blog posts way past by bedtime, much like this one!
Over the course of the year I launched lots of new products…
- Pink Hand Lettered ‘You are my World’ Button Art Prints
- Grey Background with White Hand Lettering You are my World Button Art Prints
- Blue Hand Lettering You are my World Button Art Prints
- Blue and White Embroidered Felt Flower Brooch
- Just Want to Nap Quote Print
- Seaside Harbour Original Fabric Collage
- Beach Huts by the Sea Original Fabric Collage
- Craft Supply Enthusiast Print
- Stationery Enthusiast Print
- Teal and Green Tassel Mini Beach Woven Wall Hanging
- Blue and White Tassel Mini Beach Woven Wall Hanging
- Teal Tassel Mini Beach Woven Wall Hanging
- Shooting Star Quote Print
- Large Beach Scene Woven Wall Hanging
- Wonderful World Garden Quote Print
- Grey, Black and Gold Art Deco Inspired Embroidered Felt Flower Brooch (Currently Sold Out!)
- Purple and Raspberry Pink Embroidered Felt Flower Brooch
- Happy Place Quote Print
- Large Teal, Grey and Navy Blue Woven Wall Hanging
- Large Pink and Rainbow Coloured Woven Wall Hanging
- I created wall art prints out of all of my Fabric Collages – Seaside Harbour, Driftwood, Beach Huts by the Sea & Beach Huts
- I also made my Shooting Star Print into ‘He‘, ‘She‘ and ‘They‘ variants
- Create Word Art Prints – Grey & Pink
- Mini Christmas Sprout Brooches – Dark Green, Glitter Hat & Light Green Glitter Hat (These might just be my fave but Shhh! Don’t tell the others!)
Wow – Written out like that makes me even more proud! Can I beat it this year!?
These all helped in a big way to take my Etsy shop from a little embroidered felt brooch shop to what I like to call a curiosity shop or treasure trove of handmade goodness!
I love that it’s a bit like one of those old bookshops that you duck into and are careful not to knock over the piles of dust covered adventures and worn hardback stories, except a lot less dusty and a lot more colourful! I love that there is something for everyone or at least something for a lot of people and tastes. I love that I have worked hard to build up not just people decor such as the original brooch designs and hair accessories but home decor such as prints, weavings, fabric collages, garlands and painted canvases. Not forgetting the rabble of (by far my most popular) Christmas Sprout Garlands, Decorations and Mini Sprout Brooches – One of which is very reluctant to be taken off my favourite scarf…
Sprouts aren’t just for Christmas I’ll have you know!
In March, I blogged about, packed up and moved out of the Eliston Button Headquarters – The only sad thing about moving was looking at the empty studio before we left. It had been such a little creative sanctuary and even though I will never miss that house and THOSE neighbours, that little room did me good. We moved house and packed up our 200(!) or so boxes of stuff and hauled them into a different town, squished them into a new house and we are now in the process of renovating the whole place room by room, top to bottom starting with the shiny new Eliston Button Headquarters- Hooray!
The ceiling has not long been re-plastered so that’s a start right!? So my studio is currently in what is supposed to be the dining room and I’m surrounded by most of it in piles of boxes, but I’m okay with that for a while (That doesn’t mean you can put that paintbrush down Chris!) I can leave my house and explore and feel safe so that’s all that matters now. I also wrote out 10 Top Tips for Moving House – seriously I feel like a professional house mover at this point!
Over the year I learnt a lot of lessons, I made a lot of mistakes – I even wrote about one in ‘Why It’s Okay to Make Mistakes‘ *Spoiler Alert* It really is.
It wasn’t all sunshine’s and rainbows. I came back to blogging after my planned summer break after Create 30 to have to take a rather impromptu hiatus due to being rushed into hospital with ‘thunderclap’ pain in my head. It was horrendously scary and I wimped out a lot, especially when I had to have a CT scan (which thankfully came back clear) I cried when I had to stay overnight in hospital, I cried when they told me I had to have a lumbar puncture, I cried even more when I had to have it done and then cried a little happy tears when I was told I could go home and eat proper food and sleep in my own bed without dear old Doris talking to her friend Gladys about the grandchildren and drink aaaalll the tea I wanted to. I trialled a lot of different medications to try to at least ease the constant headaches and migraines while I had further tests and thankfully *touch wood* have found one that suits me and more often than not, my days are headache free or at least more manageable. It was a rough few months.
I did however come back to blogging with my hilarious (if I dare say so myself) Alpaca Adventure story which I genuinely still have friends now that talk about it, tag me in all the alpaca related things on Facebook and laugh A LOT imagining the scenarios! It was definitely one for the scrapbook.
A bit later on in the year I had a little Eliston Button Etsy Shop Refresh where I became soooooo sick of seeing photographs of my brooches in the editing process, that I almost stopped making them all together! It was worth it though as the little first-year-at-this-creative-biz-lark me had a lot to learn back in the days of photographing my original 27 brooches that opened my Etsy Shop.
I think it’s nice to say the word “pom-pom” as often as you can – Maira Kalman
I adventured back to Grand Designs Live and shared my favourites in Part One and Part Two. I joined in with Meet the Maker Week again and found it super fun and super liberating to actually write about who I am and what I do, without the fear that no one will care, let alone actually want to chat to the crafty little weirdo at the back! I had gained so much more confidence since the last time too and the friendships I had started amongst fellow creatives, the previous time, have blossomed beautifully over that year too.
I made my first ever YouTube video! Whaaaaaaatttttt!!?? Little year one me would have never, ever have done this let alone thought about it! Actually year 3 and 3/4 me wouldn’t have entertained it either. I was asked to make a video demonstration for a possible future crafty adventure and I very almost ran away and hid in my blanket fort, but I am so bloody proud of myself for doing it.
Shoving my face in front of a camera and then sharing it with the world (well, you lovely lot!) is soooooo far out of my comfort zone that I can barely reach it with my crafty little fingers.
But, I grabbed the bull by the horns, threw caution to the wind, hoped for the best and (after about a thousand takes) didn’t entirely hate how it turned out. In fact, in the end, I really enjoyed it, it felt liberating and I was ever so jolly proud of myself for even thinking I could do it. Turns out if you are brave and you put things out there, people give back and come forward. People are actually really kind and encouraging and darn lovely to boot. I made closer relationships with blog and biz friends who chatted to me about it (I’m looking at you Lucy and Sian!) and I felt so warm and fuzzy and I guess…Liked, that I forgot all about being scared or embarrassed or self-conscious. How wonderful is that!?
I had the best sales year to date and even though it is a slow process, I feel like I am building my business up rather than selling myself short. Slow and steady wins the race right!? The Christmas rush was absolutely a Christmas rush for my little Etsy Shop, I was super busy packaging up prints and brooches and sprouts – oh the sprouts! I was making them all in front of the T.V. at night and giving them little haircuts and then crowning them and adding their little eyes and personalities in the day. I was wrapping them carefully in tissue paper and tying ribbon in a bow and running off to the Post Office alongside keeping up on the blog. I’m pretty darn proud of myself for not sobbing into my coffee some mornings but I really can’t complain.
It was so lovely to feel like people actually liked what I was making, let alone buying it with their hard earned money!
Wowee! What a year! I think the last 6 months of the past year have been, headaches aside, my favourite. Even though I still get small bouts of feeling down or anxious – I am freer, happier and more confidant with my place in the creative world. I know who I am in this season of my life, what I am doing (most of the time-ish) and what I want to be when I grow up which to be honest is probably the first time in my life! I recognise that I, like everyone really, has seasons of things. Seasons that ebb and flow, come and go, nothing permanent. I recognise, and most of the time have to remind myself, that if I have a bad day or week or month, I will come out the other side.
There is always an end to the day, week or month and something new will start and intertwine with other things and in the end you might end up with a messy tangle of different coloured wool but it’s your wool and you can either choose to waste time untangling it all or move forward using the wool as a rope into the future.
I have cherished the happy times, I have held on tight to the magic of adventures. I have been present. I have allowed myself to be weak and also strong. To be happy but also sad. I have embraced instead of being fearful of change. I have grown and I am growing and I love how this is all turning out.
I definitely want to go into this fresh New Year with a better balance of things. I want to make more things, design new products and let the blog take a slower pace. Otherwise the blog becomes my full time job (with no pay) and as much as I love to write, my passion is in the making. This past year, blogging has become my main thing. It takes a lot of time and work to take an idea of a blog post right through to the end result and it eats into or sometimes even takes over the time I have to make new things. I have so many ideas and creative plans bubbling over in my crafty imagination that they need a time to shine too. I just need to find a better blog/make balance.
Here is to another year of designing, making, photographing, Etsy listing, blogging, sharing and leaping out of my comfort zone. Here is to another year of adventures, smiles, laughter, magic and exploring. Here is to a year of more self-care and less late nights, a year of more passion projects and less looming deadlines. Here is to a year with no pressures and more freedom, a year of no challenges but more making, a year of less worrying (that’ll take a bit of work!) and more time off. Here is to a year of growing confidence and tackling hurdles, a year of home renovation and a year of shirking responsibilities to go and play in the woods!
Here is to another year doing what I love, making sure it stays that way and above all else, being happy and getting enough sleep!
I can’t wait to see what this next year has in store for me and my little creative business and I am so happy that you are here, cup of tea in hand, along for the ride – Hold on tight Buttoneers!
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.
Are you excited to come along for the ride? What are your hopes and dreams for 2018? 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!