September 23, 2015

Money Money

I'm not sure when it happened.

Maybe when I figured out how to add zippers to my book purses?  Maybe it was gradual, seeping in over the years I've been on Etsy.

At some point, money became more important to me than the craft.  More important to me than the people.

If you don't know what movie this is from, or who Bob Fosse is, 
you best get your Google on NOW.  REPENT!  REPENT, I SAY!

I think I was trying to be more "responsible."  Like one of those people that counts every penny, making certain to not go over budget on any projects.  Those people aren't bad, their ways are just quite foreign to me.   I work better in clutter, nestled in piles of things that are only vaguely related but somehow make sense to me.

For one reason or another, I began to feel my way was wrong.  I felt maybe if I was more organized, I'd be more successful.  At that time, to me, success meant money.  I abandoned my piles and began to pay more attention to costs and hours.  I raised my prices.  I ignored creative impulses in favor of the bottom line.

I sold items at my new prices for a short time.  Then something happened.  I lost interest.  If you deny your creative impulses long enough, they'll get the point and leave the party.

I found myself procrastinating on projects for my Etsy shop.  I initially blamed it on my health.  I've had a rough few months.  After a recent conversation with a fellow crafter, I realized that was an excuse.

This crafter was quite cynical and clearly prized her time and money over her customers.  I nodded politely as I mentally cringed.  Her attitude nauseated me.  Then a thought popped in my head.

"I'm no different than she is."

I didn't start BiblioBags to make a fortune.  I knew I never would.  I'll never wholesale my products because I'm part of every single one.  Everything I sell, I make myself with my own two hands.  That was the point.  To share my talents and to make a little pocket money on the side to feed my artistic inclinations.

I was sick when I started my Etsy shop.  I've fought through constant waves of nausea and exhaustion to finish projects.  However, those projects don't hurt me.  They take my mind off of the discomfort.  Crafting soothes my brain and makes me feel useful.  There is nothing more satisfying than working with your hands to make a finished, physical product.

When I began BiblioBags, I was extremely touched to find that every purse I sold became a part of that person's life.  I've had dozens of thoughtful customers share sweet stories about surprising a loved one with a purse.  I never fail to get a rush of excitement thinking that items I've made are sitting under someone's Christmas tree.  Custom purses are my favorite.  I've had some interesting requests over the years and those have challenged me and made me a better artist.  I love being a part of someone's imagination and bringing their ideas to life.  I've made lots of wonderful friends.

Selling my purses is not going to buy us a house or pay down our crushing student debt.  But I think that when I start back up, I'll feel so much happier if I do it generously.  I'm no business person.  I'm a crafter.  I need to make art and I need to connect with people.  I need to share what I can do even if it's quirky and a little silly.  If I just break even, I figure it's all worth it.

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