Cold Shower, Anybody? Or Managing Expectations and Reality

***Disclaimer- I am not trying to be a negative Nancy in this post, swear. ***

This morning I learned that the stationery shop in Frederick, MD that I have been in contact with since 2010 is closing.  The reason being that business has been slow and financially the owner can no longer keep the shop running. She intends to still do stationery and invitations, just not have a shop with inventory and overhead.

Now, I’m ecstatic that she is going to continue to do invitations and stationery sales, but I’m sad that her shop will cease to exist after April. I’m even more sad because she was the shop I was intending to send my invitation look book to as my way into the realm of not-so-custom, but different and easy to assemble invitations that shops could carry, wouldn’t cost a ton and would hopefully generate steady business.

Knowing that she will remain in the stationery business is great and I am happy to hear that, but I was bummed to hear about her shop. It is cute and small and inspirational to designers like me.

When I first heard the news, I was immediately sad. I mean, if shops like her’s close, then what are the chances that someone like me, or any other stationer for that matter, stand a chance in getting our products out there to the writers and stationery lovers that are in need?

I love the window that the internet and Etsy have opened for vendors and artists to sell online at a minimal cost and without serious overhead, but part of the appeal of shopping is picking things up and touching them. I’ve had several customers tell me they like seeing my products in person before buying. Okay. Maybe I need to take better pictures, but honestly when it comes to paper crafted items, real touch wins out always.

What hit me the hardest was realizing my high expectations. Never in the almost two years since I met her, did I think her store would close. In my little head, I thought oh, no worries, her store will be around and she’ll be a great contact for me as I grow. Now, however, reality has hit.

As I stood in my room this morning, I looked at my look book and all the pieces I have in various places around my room and wondered if what I am doing is in vain?

Yes, there are people who still use paper and who love my work, but isn’t that just going to stop one day? I just read an article a few weeks ago about how handwritten signatures don’t even matter any more, it’s the pin number you select that does.  By the way, I am not against technology or advancements in it, but I am against people not using their brain or losing a sense of who they are as individuals.

I know you’re going to say, but Sara, you’re following your dream and you’re creating things people like and you want to save the world. And while, yes, these are all true and following my dream is the biggest aspect of this all, what if I’m following it to only follow it. What if I end up homeless living under the Brooklyn Bridge, like my Mother used to threaten us with as children?

I truly believe that paper is the way for me. Actually, I have no doubt of this. Communication is my calling and providing the means to communicate is the solution, BUT if I can’t sell the products that make me happy, if there’s barely a market for them, then why am I so adamant about doing this?

Normally, when I don’t like something, but I’ve accepted the reality of the situation, I move on. In order to move on, I often times just stop giving the person/thing/issue any attention. Once that happens, I’m free to move in any direction, and I won’t be angry with the fact that the person/thing/issue doesn’t meet my expectations or desires.  To some this may not be the healthiest way to handle my feelings, but it has worked and it has helped me out quite a bit. The only thing here is that this is not a person/thing/issue, it is my passion, belief, and calling. It is as much of me as my hair and my glasses and my heart.

I’ve learned that I have high expectations of every one and even situations and that ultimately they are unfair to me because I end up angry and hurt and upset when the person/thing doesn’t meet them. On the other hand, the person/thing isn’t aware that they were expected to meet a standard to begin with and often times they don’t (or never did) have it in them to meet those standards. Yes, they may suffer, too, when I decide that I can’t deal with them, or want to be friends with them, or leave, but in the end, I’m the one who ends up dealing with the stress and the frustration while the other person goes on unaware.

And that is what I realized, I need to manage my expectations better not just of others and situations, but for myself.  I am still going to push through with my look book (as a matter of fact, I had some friends suggest places to send the look book to) in the time line I created for myself. For the sake of creativity, sanity, and business development, I must, but I also have to look at the business model I am developing and look at the longer term picture.

In other words, how am I and the expectations I have for myself going to change to grow this business differently? So that in the face of disappointment, I pick myself up, dust my leggings off, and keep moving?

Much like I have realized that I either like things, or I don’t and it is okay to have these feelings and to adjust my expectations appropriately, I have to adjust my expectations of our technology driven world and the fact that I never decided to go into stationery to amass a small fortune, but enough to live comfortably through my living years.

I’m sure I’ve discussed this at length before today, but I was faced with looking in the mirror when I read the news about this shop. Please know that I am not quitting or stopping myself from following my dream and passion, I just sort of need to get my plan tweaked and ready to go.  I can’t thank the stationery shop for teaching me this extremely important lesson.

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s2 stationery & designs

A rule-breaking designer, artist & entrepreneur who's passionate about paper and handcrafting stationery. I also write, travel, and focus on eco + social good.

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