My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #436: Glimmers of Hope - Even in This Economy

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 08-19-2011 01:11 PM 1237 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 435: Lots of Good News1 Part 436 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 437: Next Lesson Almost Done »

It is very gratifying when you work hard for something and you begin to see some return on the investment of time and effort that you put in. Waiting takes a lot of patience, and I honestly believe that the reason that many people are unable to be successful in their own businesses is that they either don’t want to wait for things to happen, or they can’t afford to because of other circumstances.

Having a successful home business has the illusion of producing maximum returns with little effort From the outside, most people only see the positive side of things – being your own boss, setting your own hours, etc. – and they think that you have it made. They tend to filter out the amount of time and effort that went into making the business work and convince themselves that you are in your position because you are ‘lucky.’

Unfortunately, this skewed perception is what fuels them to think that they, themselves can follow your path and be self-employed. While I am by no means saying that this couldn’t be possible, I will say that it does take an enormous amount of time and true dedication to make a home-based business work. Ask anyone who is successful. If it were that easy and people just fell into success, don’t you think they would be kind of bragging about it? How many times have we heard someone with a home business say “yes-sir-ree! I just started that business and quit my job and now I have an easy life and can golf any time I want and still have all the extras that life has to offer!” It just isn’t like that.

Most (if not all) of the successful self-employed people that I have spoken with have stories of long hours, late nights, high risks and dedication to their chosen work. It’s funny, but I don’t often hear of them traveling to exotic places for extended holidays or moving into mansions or buying expensive cars. Most of them live as they always have. The really successful ones may move up a step or two on life’s ladder, but overall, they are the same people they always were – but perhaps a bit happier.

So why should we invest all this time and resources into something with such a questionable payback? I imagine the answer to that would be up to the individual. For myself, I would rather work 60 hours a week doing something that I love than 40 hours a week at a mediocre job where I can’t be creative. But that is just me. I know that it isn’t for everyone and that many people won’t understand my way of thinking, but that is honestly the way it is.

I am fortunate that when I began my business the kids were small and I was married and a stay at home mom. I lived in a situation where one salary was enough to meet our expenses and the money I made from my business was considered ‘extra.’ Although Larry (my ex) and I parted ways, to this day we remain great friends and I will always be grateful for him for the support he gave for me as far as my business was concerned. By the time I was on my own, I was able to hold my own (barely, but able) with my own business and I have worked on it from there. Over the years I have had my ups and downs, but I have fought tooth and nail to keep hold of it and I am finally seeing a glimmer of hope – even in this economic climate – that it may survive after all.

Yesterday we went to Annapolis Royal to re-visit the shop that we stopped in a couple of weeks ago when we were looking for outlets for Keith’s pens. The shop owner was not there when we initially stopped in, but called us the day after, as her former partner was the one we spoke with at the time and forwarded our information to her. Ken (the former partner) used to be part owner at the shop when I sold some of my pins and stuff there a couple of years ago. Since then, he and his wife have moved on to semi-retirement and only spent a couple of days a week in the shop and had sold out to Florence, their partner.

When Florence called, she was very enthusiastic about having us both bring anything we wanted to sell. She had been to the web site and seen all of our work and said she was not only interested in the pens, but also in any of the prototypes we had, as well as note cards and prints of my paintings.

Keith finally had replenished his pen stock and had enough to show her and since the car was back in commission (I will tell that story another day!) and the sun was bright, we decided to take our stuff into her. We didn’t take many wood items – only about three or four and some ornaments, but Keith had all of his pens and I my art.

Long story short, she bought eleven pens, along with several prints and note cards and about half of the wood items we brought. The best part about this was that she bought the items outright – not on commission. She had told us that she had owned the retirement home in Annapolis since 1963 and sold it a couple of years ago and that this shop was her ‘retirement.’ Everything in the shop is hand made by Nova Scotian artists and she didn’t want them to have to wait to get paid. She said she hopes to be in business for several years and she will be thrilled if everything in the shop sells by then. While she was writing the check for the merchandise, she said “It’s only money!” with a smile on her face.

I would like about 50 more customers like her!

It was a tremendous boost to Keith to be able to see actual sales from his beautiful pens. Although the response has been very positive, there is a difference of leaving them somewhere on commission and having a shop owner believe enough in them to buy them outright. I believe I had to move over on my pink cloud for a bit to make room for him on the ride home. It was a great day.

In talking about things, Keith brought up how we are in many different directions at once. We have the magazine, the wholesalers, the site, my painting wholesalers, and now these shops as outlets for our work. It is a lot of plates to spin, even with two people doing the spinning. But the good thing about it is that even if one aspect has a bad month, there are several other unrelated areas that can carry us through. We just have to keep on working on all of them and hopefully we will come out of this OK.

We finished off the evening by completing the “Trifecta of eating good food that I didn’t have to cook” for the week as we were once again invited to Keith’s parents house for dinner. It was his aunt’s last night here in Nova Scotia and his mom was making the Acadian traditional meal of Rappie Pie that is outstanding. It was a fine dinner in which we once again enjoyed good company and conversation and also celebrated the success of Keith’s pens.

It has been quite a week!

Today I will be finishing up the last pattern packet that I have to get to the wholesaler. I also need to work on posting the next lesson for the scroll saw class. That should fill the day for me, but if I finish everything I am going to be working on a couple of commission projects that I have to do. There is certainly enough to keep me out of trouble anyway.

In closing today, I want to say how grateful I am for all these good things that are beginning to happen. I know in my heart that I couldn’t have done it without the support of those around me. Although there is a long way to go, both my partner and I know that without the support of each other and those around us, we wouldn’t be in the position that we are now. And we are very appreciative.

It is for us to pray not for tasks equal to our powers, but for powers equal to our tasks, to go forward with a great desire forever beating at the door of our hearts as we travel toward our distant goal. – Helen Keller

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

5 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


31030 posts in 2861 days

#1 posted 08-19-2011 01:40 PM

Sheila, I’m glad that you are doing well and I can only imagine how hard you have worked to make it successful. You make some beautiful things and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you have potential customers all over. I hope that you and Keith will have continued success in all of your ventures.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2914 days

#2 posted 08-19-2011 04:09 PM

Many thanks to you for your support, too! It means a lot!


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

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3109 days

#3 posted 08-19-2011 08:35 PM

thank´s and thank´s again Sheila not just for the suport to every one and for sharing
the bad moments …. but for sharing those days that makes all the bad ones with 20 hours work
disapearing in the horisont :-)

take care

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20466 posts in 3100 days

#4 posted 08-20-2011 05:29 AM

Hi Sheila, thanks for sharing your experience. You sound like you have plenty to keep you in the shop. That’s a good thing.
I recently did a show at our church festival in July and did not sell one thing. but I got 3 orders and filled them this week. It was kind of gloomy sitting there all day and having just lookers, but I love just talking to people. I think the fall is better because people are more in the mood for Christmas presents. Commission wood jobs are good and I seem to get enough to keep me in the shop too, along with house repairs.

Keep the faith and keep your face to the sun and you cannot see the shadow …..from …Helen Keller.

Have a great day…...........JIm

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2914 days

#5 posted 08-20-2011 11:32 AM

Doing shows is so tough, Jim. It always seems hit or miss. I try not to do them any more because it really makes me feel bad when i work so hard on things and nothing sells. Sometimes people think that shows are like flea markets and it is rare that people want to pay a fair price for the time and effort put into your work. I don’t even go to shows for that reason. It is sad for me to see how little people are asking for things that take hours and hours to make.

I wish you luck with your woodworking. Yes, those orders are good and it is nice that you received them from the show. Word of mouth is great and that alone makes it worth you being there. And as you said – it is great to get out and see people too.

I wish you continued success. :) Sheila

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

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