My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #425: Taking Time to be Perceptive

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 08-08-2011 01:25 PM 6474 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 424: You Know It Don't Come Easy Part 425 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 426: Keeping Up »

I feel as if things are stuck in fast forward lately. The past couple of weeks have passed in what seems to be a day or so. Although I am not in a panic mode, I am beginning to feel anxious about things and I am longing to have that feeling of peace and accomplishment that goes with being caught up.

I think it is time to make a list again and prioritize what needs to be done by when. Somehow that always proves to put me back on the path and calm things down for me.

I am not sure how things got to this state of being. It’s funny how it creeps up on me. I would like to note that most of the deadlines that I am under are self-imposed and the only really dictator for many of them is time. So the bottom line is that I am doing this to myself.

There are so many things that I want to accomplish. So many patterns that need to be done. I think of new things all the time and I do write most of them down in my little notebook for later reference, but by the time I get to actually doing them, there seems to be fifty other things that I want to do.

Many times I am asked how I can keep coming up with ideas. I find that that is the least of my worries. This past year has been a garden of creativity for me and I don’t know whether to attribute it to the inspirations that I have found through places like this or from seeing and talking to so many others through teaching and the show I attended or from customers or from my own state of mind. I suspect it is a combination of all of them. In any case, my ‘to do’ list is long and I can only hope to live long enough to accomplish half of it.

I also find that when creating these new patterns and designs I am doing so with a different approach than I had previously. It isn’t that I didn’t take care before, but when I am actually talking to people who are using my patterns and getting feedback from them, I see the ways to improve my presentation to them so that they fully understand and are able to accomplish the projects easily. I look at each pattern as a teaching lesson and I actually picture this person or that one making it. I am no longer in the vacuum that I was in years before where I was creating patterns mostly for the magazine and they would not even be read or published until six or more months down the line. Somehow having these patterns on my own site and actually selling them there brings nearly instant gratification and feedback which for so many years I had done without.

I believe that these are all good things, but they warrant some reorganization on my part. In trying to figure things out, I am thinking that part of the problem is that I am not used to dealing with things in this way and part of my brain is still on the delayed reaction and response channel while the reality of the situation is that I am not.

Things have not always been this way for me. It is only in the past two years or so that I have aggressively worked to make my business successful in the way it is now. Oh, it was doing OK previously when I just started with the magazine and had some success with my patterns years ago, but that was a totally different business environment. I would say about ninety percent of my sales were wholesale and the market was so different than today. My own website was very much an afterthought and it used to sit dormant for months at a time while I did things for the magazine and the wholesalers.

But how the tables have turned. With things as they are financially for the world as a whole, the entire industry is changing and what used to be, simply doesn’t exist anymore. The wholesalers are no longer the powerhouses that they were when I first entered this field and several of them have died out. Add into that the factor of the internet and the possibility of electronic files and the entire demographics of the industry has changed. Oddly enough, the main wholesalers do not offer electronic files. The fact that I do offers me an advantage over them and I realize that I need to capitalize on that and use that to establish relationships with new customers and somewhat even out the playing field. After all, they have far more resources than I do. They have manpower and facilities and an advertising budget that I can’t even begin to compete with.

But one of the advantages that I do have is that I have always been quite self-sufficient in my business. Even though I am only one person, I have taken the time to learn all aspects of the industry from drawing and printing the patterns, building the designs, marketing and distribution. Much of this was out of necessity, but I look back and think that even if I had the resources to hire any of these aspects of the business out, I wouldn’t have done so. I like the fact that I am involved in every aspect of things and I know that I can depend on myself to make a good end product and offer excellent service.

I realize that part of these growing pains that I am feeling goes along with success. If I weren’t successful to some point, than this wouldn’t be happening. I just want to step back and take a breath and make sure that I am doing things correctly so that I can continue to make good decisions and handle the growth of my company in the best way possible.

The market is slow and in peril as we are all well aware. The fact that my business is growing at all is quite amazing to me. In looking at things through optimistic eyes, I am grateful that it is only growing at the speed it is. Anything more would be even more difficult for me to control and keep a handle on.

We all know that slow and steady wins the race, and I feel that my business is a good example of that. While most people would prefer to see skyrocketing sales, I am quite content with seeing them rise little by little. But then, I never said that I thought like everyone else. To me, as long as they are going in a positive direction, that is good enough for me. It allows me time to also adjust and grow with my company rather than watch it get out of control.

So I try to be aware of these factors and changes, and I take them very seriously. Those feelings of being somewhat anxious are an indication that something is changing and needs my attention. Ignoring those feeling and shoving them back into a corner wouldn’t not be wise. So at a time when many are pushing harder and trying to speed things up, I will consciously try to slow things down a bit, just to make sure I can stay on top of things.

Who knows? Maybe I will be the one left standing.

I wish you all a wonderful Monday!

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

4 comments so far

View LittlePaw's profile


1571 posts in 3072 days

#1 posted 08-08-2011 08:13 PM

I totally agree with you that I have to get serious with a pc of paper and pencil and write out a new Priority List. Like you, I have soooo many things I have in mind to do/make that sometimes I end up not doing any of it. It is especially bad right now that it is sooo hot outside and my shop is not insulated. Making things out of wood inside the house is so limiting! With the big Rendezvous in MN just around the corner, I really have to buckle down and get things ready to present there. This will be my first attempt at selling something at a rendezvous, but it isn’t just another rendezvous, it is one of the best and largest in the country and it has 25 years of history behind it! So I’m just a little nervous whether I’d be able to make things good enough for the event and reputation. Wish me luck, Sheila.

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3030 days

#2 posted 08-08-2011 08:56 PM

Yes, so many things to do and never enough time. I know that feeling. Getting it all down so I don’t loose it is now becoming a problem. Arrrrgh! CAD is in meltdown and now I’m having ideas at night again (3 am normally) and can’t even fire the PC up for fear of waking Sue.

Still if you can grow a business in a market slump then there can’t be much wrong with your business, marketing etc.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2914 days

#3 posted 08-08-2011 09:47 PM

I keep a pad of paper and pen near my bedside for those times when I have creative ideas while sleeping. I used to worry until morning about forgetting them and after writing even small reminder phrases on the paper next to me, it allowed me to relax and sleep a bit better so I could be rested in the morning and able to really focus on the task.

I know that is difficult to do when your mind is racing, but I did find some comfort in it. Even a word or two helped me remember enough to continue figuring things in the morning when I was better rested. Just a suggestion.


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3030 days

#4 posted 08-08-2011 10:16 PM

Thanks, Sheila.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

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