As I contemplated what my New Year's resolutions should be this year, I took a moment to think about how far I have come. It was approximately 6 years ago that I went to a mini class for ladies one evening about pressing flowers. I knew I was hooked that night, but I had NO idea how much I would learn as the addiction took hold. The very first thing I had to learn, was how to press flowers. This was mainly a trial and error process. I would press *anything*. In addition to learning what flowers and leaves would press, I had to learn the best way to press them. I learned that regular paper towels leave impressions of their pattern on them. I learned that newspaper can, but doesn't always leave ink on the flowers. I learned that some flowers press better when the petals are removed and done seperately. I started by pressing flowers in phone books, then had my husband help make some "real" flower presses. I've even experimented with microwave flower pressing.
Through it all, I have found my comfort zone with pressing flowers. I typically know which flowers will press well, and which way will come out the best. I now have flowers stored in piles and piles of phone books. The next step in my journey was figuring out what to do with them.
I still have my very first pressed flower project framed and displayed in my work room. It is a very simple daisy with its stem and 2 leaves glued to a piece of blue cardstock and framed. Before I had learned better, it was displayed on a shelf that received some direct sun everyday, so the leaves are very faded and turning brown. I love to see where I started in comparison to how far I have come. From that small beginning, I have put flowers on innumerable items. I have attempted to affix them to glass, I have put them on boxes, candles, cards, bookmarks, journals, and of course in various arrangements, framed as art.
The next step on my journey was figuring out what to do with all the beautiful things I had made. Probably very similar to other artists, I began by simply giving them as gifts. I am lucky enough to have a VERY talented mother who has designed flower arrangements (in the traditional fresh and silk flower sense) for many years. I was able to piggy back with her to put my items in my very first craft show about 4 years ago. What a rush! People were willing to pay money for my work!
Now, I had to figure out how to get my work in the hands of more buyers. I decided a website would be a good place to start. WOW. I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into. I read on the internet about HTML and tried to learn that a bit. It didn't take too long for me to wish I had software to help create a website. I called one of my brothers who is a computer engineer and asked if he had any suggestions, preferably free ones. Irony strikes here, he told me to check if my version of microsoft office included frontpage, and it did. At least *I* was amazed, I had the tool sitting in front of me all along, and didn't even know it.
So, I learned some new software and designed a webpage. ALL BY MYSELF!! My husband. to this day, doesn't have a clue how to use microsoft frontpage. I'm so proud of myself. HA! I did some networking and realized that my brother-in-law owns a server, so he is hosting my site. My BIL didn't know how to set up the e-mail for the site, so again, *I* figured it out myself. Go me!
So, at this point, I was feeling really proud of my little business. I did a few more craft shows. . . had a couple friends ask for a couple cards. Often my family would order from me. I had no orders from the website, but I was excited to see that people did at least hit the site occasionally.
Next step: google adwords. It was an experiment. I learned alot, and realized it wasn't for me. At least not yet. I was spending a decent amount, and although it did increase my views, I still didn't get any sales. So, on to more learning experiences. I started REALLY trying to get my site out there. I submitted my site to as many online directories as I could find. I started trying to link to other great sites from my page and ask them to do the same for me. I also heard aboutu ETSY.COM around this time and started to list my items there as well. The etsy community was SO helpful. From them I learned about Indiepublic.com, flickr.com, talentdatabase.com and as you may have guessed, blogger.com. :) Each tool has helped me grow and learn. I had 2 shows this past season and more custom orders than I though I could keep up with. I started selling prints of my work because the demand was there. I learned new software to facilitate that as well (photoshop).
The reason that all of this seems *SO* significant to me right now is that I would NEVER have believed I was capable of doing all of this. I am slowly realizing that I really can do anything I put my mind to. If I can start up my *own* business, nothing can stop me. I didn't even mention all the business things I have learned including accounting/tax type items.
I had someone at my last craft show ask if I really made all these items myself. "YES I DO!" and I am proud of myself today for it. This year, I will grow my business even more. I want to stay home with my children, and my home business is going to make that happen for me. I know this because over the past many years, I've learned that the only thing stopping me is myself. and I'm not stopping me anymore. . .
May you have such a wonderful "a-ha" moment as I did this year! YOU can do it too, whatever "it" is.