happy belated new year! so many times in the past months i have wanted to write a nice recap post of all the notable things going on around here…there was the first birthday of this blog in october, the end of art fair, the new year. i actually have an entire post all written for my bloggiversary that never saw the light of day–i have just been swamped with hands on projects, and blogging hasn’t been a huge priority. indeed, over the past year, this blog has been both what inspires me and holds me accountable. however, one thing is certain–i would never be here today, or have accomplished what i have in the past year if not for this space to share projects, process and write.
i can’t remember the last time i was quite as busy as i am this month; indeed, i think i’ve never been. after a year and a half of searching hopelessly for a nursing job, and enough heartbreak and let downs that i finally adopted art fair as a symbol of moving forward with a new career, i did get a job. i got what appears to be the perfect job, and just to be poetic, i got this job offer while manning my art fair booth. i am required to orient this month full time, so i am working 40 hours a week while mohr studio keeps my hands occupied in every possible spare moment with a slow but steady stream of orders trickling in. this is also the week that bean has dropped her naps and moved to a real bed, so those moments have suddenly dwindled to the point of virtual nonexistence as we [poorly] navigate this huge transition. at this time last year, i was laid up with a series of nagging and persistent running injuries from december to may; this year i’ve been enjoying runs outdoors six days a week, and am very reluctant to compromise that critical mood stabilizer in spite of having 40 hours fewer weekly than i did just days ago. i’m pulling what strings i can to get into a sewing class that meets twice a week from january to may. throw in some colds for good measure, and i have the perfect storm of sheer insanity for the next month. obviously, this blog again will get the backseat until i can pluck a few balls from the air and put them to rest indefintiely. however, i felt i couldn’t go on blogging at all until i took the time to acknowledge in some way all that is happening and everyone who has made it possible. because of the amount of text and lack of photos, i’ll use some photos of favorite projects from 2013 year to break up the text a bit.
while at this time one year ago, everything in my life was painfully stagnant, a year of steeping has allowed so many things to blossom. things that seemed far fetched, unreasonable, impossible at this time last year are now daily realities. there are so many people who deserve more thanks than i can give for bringing such fulfillment and satisfaction to my life. so many symbolic, momentous, and important things have transpired, it would be impossible to dissect them all at once. just know that, with the help of this blog and the creativity it inspired in me, the community it exposed me to, i went in one year from being a casual seamstress and gift maker to a business owner and art fair veteran with a shop, a brand, a logo, and paying customers. like many things in life, i would not have seen these open doors were it not for the multitude of doors that were slammed shut in my face. but here i am, on the other side, with a new world of opportunity constantly expanding itself in front of my eyes. one thing is apparent above all others–truly, it takes a village. in no particular order, here are the villagers i would not be here without.
first, to you, my readers. many of you are the strong silent type. i get that. for as much as i yammer on over here, i’m not a big commenter on blogs myself. i get bashful or busy or forgetful. please know that i not only read your comments–i relish in them. i also read your blogs. every single one of your comments brightens my day and makes me feel more accomplished and fulfilled than probably it should. but for the many of you who only read, just knowing that something so insignificant in the scheme of things as my hobbies and other snippets of my life could command your attention for moments of your own busy day, that is cool. thank you for your investment of time, your advice and suggestions, your incredible support and well wishes leading up to art fair, everything. it means A LOT.
i am told frequently that with the advent and popularity of new, more convenient, more instantaneous forms of social media, blogs are a dying art. but, i’m an old fashioned gal, and while i’m trying (slowly) to adopt these advances, that i love to write, and that it’s for me an important exercise, will not change anytime soon. i have, however, been thinking lately about how to accept a blog for what it is, and play to those strengths. it remains a great place to record my projects, sure, but to date, my most visited posts are all tutorials, without exception.
certainly, i’ve learned most of what i know about sewing from reading blogs. it’s a nice way to give back, and i really do want to post more! unfortunately, they’re a huge time investment, which i’m a bit short on right now. just know i’m thinking about it, and if there’s something specific you want to see, please give a shout. for knitters, the cowl posts are very popular, and i have at least one more i’d love to work out. i was also thinking about chunky mittens and a matching hat? knitters? what do you think?? i think knitters mostly pop into my blog through ravelry and don’t actually follow it. however, i think i have a lot of seamstresses who read regularly. i know i promised to post a simple dress months ago and even have it written!! but now it’s cold in most places, so i think i’ll get that one ready to launch for spring. what else might sewers want to see? i was thinking maybe a very simple clutch? i am also toying with expanding posts to include food more regularly, and maybe other little craft projects, things that will engage you and give you fun and easy things to try. of course, this will require me to cook and craft more, so we’ll see when that takes off. anyway, the wheels are turning, it just may be awhile before i can find the time.
really, my plan was to write a whole post dedicated more thoroughly to the journey of creating mohr studio. i spoke a bit about it when i announced the shop a few weeks back, but didn’t get much into the details, and now this is already going to be the longest post EVER. so, i will just say it’s been a definite labor of love, a great learning experience, and something i find truly fulfilling and exciting. considering the launch was right at the height of holiday season, i didn’t do a great job hand making gifts for my family this year. honestly, they’re probably sick of them anyway! however, making gifts for people is really what got me into crafting. i love everything about it–the thoughtfulness, the process, the sourcing and planning and the actual making. it’s so personal. mohr studio allows me to give gifts to people all year round, all over the world, all the time, and i love it. so many people opened gifts indirectly from me on christmas morning, and that made me so happy. i have a lot of art fair inventory posted in my shop, and that’s much of the reason i committed to art fair anyhow. but really, i love working with people one on one, giving them a ton of personal attention to come up with the item perfect for them. it’s so satisfying and tons of fun. not to mention finally having an excuse and funds to keep buying new and exciting supplies!
so many people have surprised me in their support of mohr studio–my family of course, but also friends coming out of the woodwork, going out of their way to buy from me to support the shop, publicizing and promoting me shamelessly in ways i would never ask them to do. there is one friend, however, without whom mohr studio could never come to pass, would have never had a name, let alone a face. i happen to be the very fortunate friend of joanna ramage, designer, photographer, and professional brander for abercrombie and fitch. she and david met in utero when their moms attended lamaze together, and they have remained dear friends of our family since. joey graciously did our entire wedding stationary suite years ago, and somehow willingly agreed to work with me on another huge project, mohr studio. the process was thorough and fascinating, being that i only know what i like *after* i see it and thus had no clear or cogent ideas.
over several months, joey walked me through the branding process, from what’s in a name, to designing and selecting a logo, colors, business cards, hangtags, etc. she did everything. every single thing. through careful questioning, she was able to decipher what i wanted though i couldn’t verbalize it myself. because of her, i have professional, beautiful, original marketing and advertising materials that separate me from the masses and really represent who i am–this makes a HUGE difference in the online selling community, and in person. she worked tirelessly for me, not only creating these amazing products, but advising, guiding, and supporting me through the mental slog of art fair prep and getting my etsy shop functioning. quite literally, this would not be possible with out her! i’m trying to convince her to quit a&f and do freelance branding instead…any takers??
i also wanted to do a whole art fair recap post, and it just never happened. so, the abridged version too is going into the longest post ever! yeah! overall, the art fair and even the prep was a great experience. i know now that i can really rise to a challenge, set a goal, and in a relatively short amount of time totally reach it and create by hand a rather sizable and varied collection of things that appear to appeal to a range of people. while i MUCH prefer the custom order approach to the mass production approach, it was important to experience the latter and understand what works for me, and what doesn’t.
as for art fair itself…in terms of sales…a BUST. i knew going in based on the list of other vendors catering largely to an older crowd that we might do great from lack of competition, or we might be overlooked by a totally, totally different demographic than would buy the things we make, which is exactly what happened. even with the beautiful booth, our smiling faces, homemade cookies, and slashed prices, we just couldn’t sell. but, even this experience was really educational and valuable in its own ways. over the four days, our booth evolved into something really beautiful. we began to understand traffic patterns, how to display things to draw in the most customers, how to be most visible from different areas of the large and crowded space. we learned to engage potential customers and tell personal stories about the things we made–they all have one. we handed out countless business cards, got many requests for custom orders, and a ton of interest in women’s clothing, of which of course we had none to offer.
while it’s clear the davis holiday sale is not our target audience, we did get a lot of flattery, a lot of publicity, and the ability to network with many local artists, which i also wanted to do. our plan is to live here forever, and i really want to become an active part of the art community. opportunities were discussed for teaching classes, and even for an affordable retail space in the heart of downtown, which i NEVER thought would even be a possibility. while i feel i need at least another year to see what direction these many new endeavors are taking me, i left the fair feeling incredibly invigorated and excited about future possibilities.
but again, none of this would be possible without one person in particular–my incredibly talented and generous friend/kindred spirit teri. when i first started thinking about what direction my life would take a year ago, i dreamed of owning a beautiful boutique, a small space selling carefully designed and crafted accessories for women and children’s clothing, a place where you would go and feel warm, comfortable, inspired, where you might like to sit and read a book with some tea as much as you’d like to shop. that is what we created. not an art fair booth, but a gorgeous little boutique. that dream of mine came true for four days, and it would have never happened without teri’s unparalleled eye for design. she completely brought our booth to life, and filled it with beautiful things, all beautifully displayed.
but her contribution, clearly, is so much more. for months, i had somebody who too was up too late constantly getting in those last few stitches, whose fingers were punctured with needle marks, who breezed by holidays, birthdays, and a variety of important traditions to churn out inventory, somebody to reassure me that no matter how terrible a mother i felt i was, there are worse ones out there, and who reminded me when things got very desperate to open a beer, pump up the jams, and dance it out. to commit to something this staggering is consuming for anyone, but to do it when you also primarily care for very young children creates challenges, guilt, and frustrations that are both unique and profoundly distressing. i could never have done this without her support on every level, every step of the way. the experience was bonding and fortifying, and one i will always remember and be grateful for.
this year, art fair, and mohr studio would also not be possible without my mother in law, who constantly clears her schedule to make space for our commitments. she was there practically around the clock for the weekend of art fair, and for countless hours leading up to it, to allow me precious spare hours here and there to prepare. she is also hands down my best customer and nearly cleared me out of stock to get christmas gifts for basically everyone she’s ever met. we are very lucky to have such a hands on and selfless grandma right down the street.
and speaking of awesome grandmas, we also have my mom, who is the epitome of a blindly supportive parent. in spite of her practicality, she will stare my staggering student loan debt in the face and say, “you know, i really hope this sewing thing takes off for you!” the only thing i’ve ever noted to overcome her extreme introversion is her pride in my work, which she shamelessly publicizes to friends and family as far as she can reach. she stalks my etsy shop and gives me frequent updates on any activity happening there, proofreads for typos, suggests new products, and leaves glowing reviews. an incredibly successful attorney and consultant, she will make comments like, “maybe the next phase of my career will be to promote your work.” she visits for extended periods where i completely disappear into my studio for days at a time while she 100% assumes parenting responsibilities–she eagerly volunteers for the job. even my dad, bless his heart and total lack of exposure to the billion craft bloggers out there more talented and popular than i, really believes i’m “the next martha stewart.” they are selfless and supportive to a borderline inappropriate degree–a real model of how parents should treat their kids and encourage their dreams.
there are two little people who have been a bigger part of this process than they probably care to be, but our lives are so intertwined, there’s no avoiding it. i have to thank my kids for their continued grace and patience. thank you, eli and reese, for understanding the best you can how important this is to me, and to my ability to parent you, though the practices seem conflicting much of the time. i am sorry for glazing over every holiday this year, for keeping you inside so many days when i had nothing portable to work on, and generally only giving you 80% of my attention at any given time. i promise i am working constantly to find a better balance for all of us, so that all our changing needs can be met the best way possible.
and finally, the one person i really couldn’t do this without for so many reasons–thanks to my amazing husband, who really believes in me far more than i believe in myself. he stepped up to the plate in the past few months in ways i never imagined, doing more than his share of household chores and childcare to afford me more time to work on something solely because it mattered to me, despite how it stressed and taxed my family. all of this while encouraging, congratulating, and admiring me, as well as working full time to support our family while i created additional financial burdens, and never so much as lifting an eyebrow or sighing audibly about any of it. as every vacation becomes a crafting excursion, he has driven through the night to make sure i make an early morning meeting, dropped me at classes, browsed shops that have zero appeal to him, hauled heavy bags of fabric on public transit in blazing heat, and spent hours just reading books while i spend money and hours designated for our vacations on my personal hobby. really, all he cares about is that it makes me happy. he’s so convinced i’ll succeed at anything i set my mind to, and so committed to facilitating my happiness, all he does is stand behind me and propel me forward. without his constant financial, physical, and emotional support, i would never be where i am, but i also would not be who i am. he’s a true partner.
well, i think this has gone on long enough…i just felt i couldn’t move forward on the blog with business as usual without acknowledging in a meaningful way all that has happened, all that might be, and all the people who have made it possible. i’m up to my eyeballs in custom knitting, and still have a few more weeks of full time hospital work ahead. but, i’ve got a couple of projects that never got blogged to share, and lots of happenings with mohr studio. as soon as i get caught up, i’m hoping to do some product development for women’s clothing and accessories, which of course i’ll share here as well.
until we meet again, happy new year, and thank you for reading!