I have for a while now been stuck. It’s surprising only because I’ve had so much happen for someone who feels in this place of gray. For example, I moved into my first one-bedroom apartment by myself and I bought a car. Both terrifying, but exhilarating movements. Terrifying because my busy, noisy, and socially active lifestyle has become more quiet. I’m no longer on the bus with the noisy people chatting on their cell phones. I’m also no longer annoyed at my third roommate who had loud sex while I tried to read, or hosted a guest, or ate dinner. If I’m annoyed, I’m annoyed at myself, or my over-thinking brain.
My move has me settled in a smallish town in Bergen County, New Jersey named Englewood. My apartment is large, cheap-ish, and cute. It fits me. My car is a year old and I love her. Yep, she’s a her. I’ve got my some friends, but am largely connected to my vital organs, called friends, located in NYC. And yet with all of this, I found myself hiding out. I still find myself hiding out. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m transitioning and in the last year and a half, I’ve put myself through so much change that it can only be expected. My long cold nights in Japan had me dreaming of having an apartment that was mine, where I could design and make stationery without other people. It also had me dreaming about becoming more stable, a bit slower, and hopefully finding peace with a situation, or better yet a resolution.
Now, I find myself in this quiet place. I drive around Jersey and New York City. I seek out things while still seeking out myself. It’s grueling and not as lonely as one would think. It’s also not as stable as I thought it would/could be.
Why I am sharing all of this is because, from March until fairly recently, my work had struggled with these developments. Some mornings were increasingly hard to wake up and be productive. There were orders where I just didn’t have the faintest idea of where to start or how to create something I would be proud of. There were, and I’m sure still are, hard days. Days where I relied on my Rumi poetry to get me through the day and where meditation was the only thing that could stop my heart from racing from the pressure of feeling unsure and misplaced. Also known as gray zone.
I am pretty sure that I’ve shared my dislike of the gray zone on this blog before. I suffer from decisiveness. I think it’s an amazing quality. Others, don’t agree. In the end, though, the fact remains that I don’t suffer from regret because I’m 100% sure about my actions when I decide to act. Yes, there is a smidgen of fear, sometimes there is a whole lot of fear, but I always tell myself, if you don’t do this, then what? How will you know? My stationery creations have been the result of this decisiveness. I know that they may not be loved by everyone and that I may not even sell some of them, but when I sit down and actually decide to create and make, I am doing them and that is all that matters.
Recently though, I’d say in the last two months things have picked up. I finished my wedding season and started thinking about my business again and where it is and I want it to be. I know, I know, I talk about this a lot and then nothing seems to happen, but I don’t think that is the case right now. See, part of the reason I’ve landed in New Jersey, I think, was to take a job that had me learning about wholesale and large growth for a small business. I could spend days writing about everything I’ve learned over the past nine months, and maybe one day I will, but for now, the one thing I know definitely is that what I once thought was for me, is in fact not for me. Working at this job has given me a hunger for even more. A hunger to be out on my own, to dictate my own schedule and work flow; to decide, you know, I want to work on this project from Argentina, or from Japan, or my friend’s apartment in Los Angeles. Heck even from my mother’s apartment in Maryland.
The other thing of late that has me hungry is the idea of finally opening that store front/studio. Living in my little pocket of NJ, I drive or walk (sometimes) past empty store fronts for rent and day dream. I think about how amazing it would be if I had one of those. The front would be entirely stationery goods and not just by me, but by other stationery designers. It would also have an area to order custom stationery and invitations. The back would be where I design and make paper. Yes, make paper. That is what my heart really really really wants to do. And so I’m getting my ducks in a row to get to that point. It requires capital and a better looking bank account than I have now and so that is where I stand.
In the interim, I went back to doing markets. I participated in the Fall Crafts in Chelsea, back in October, which was awesome. I wrote about it on the blog because it was such a reminder of why I am doing what I do. I also signed up and paid for the Etsy NY Team Holiday Handmade Cavalcade, which is coming up in December. I’ll share more details on that soon. And then in the middle of all of that, I went and got myself into a Holiday Pop-Up Shop located in Montclair, New Jersey.
That Pop-Up Shop is the reason for this post. See, I never really have enough inventory. I have tons of stuff in my apartment to make things, but I’ve found that it’s better to make things as needed. It works. Sometimes it leaves me scrambling, but the reason behind this is that I don’t have enough space to house all the materials I’d need to maintain the inventory I’d need. Not to mention, stationery is not something that flies off the shelves the way other products do.
Anyhow, I agreed to a time slot and then was late because I got lost on the Garden State Parkway. By the time I got there, my 15 minute meeting was over and they didn’t have a chance to meet with me that day. I should also mention that I walked up and down the street trying to find a good time to pop in and introduce myself and there just never was a good time, so I finally just walked in. I introduced myself, apologized, and explained that I had was embarrassed for arriving so late and couldn’t get myself into the store until that point. One of the two women putting this event together, shook my hand and told me they would be holding another round of interviews with makers/designers/artists and to email them to find out the availability. As I got ready to leave, the same woman, turned to me and said, “I’m glad you came in Sara. Next time be more aggressive. This is business.”
That night, when I got home, I emailed them and told them I was sorry, but appreciated the opportunity to return and meet with them. The rest is history. When I met with them, I had a box full of S2 Stationery products and they took everything I showed them, but two items. I spent two nights last week barely sleeping and not feeling well to get my inventory ready for drop off. When I did, I learned more about Helene, the woman I have been communicating the most from the Shop and knew that “when things click, they just click.”
Since learning that I had been selected to be part of this amazing opportunity, things just started to feel differently. I’ve been designing a bit like crazy and had a few break downs about getting everything together. I’m considering creating a look book because I was asked for one and think that having one might be a good idea, even if I don’t go the road of large scale wholesale. I’m also looking at other opportunities for work, being a freelancer, and kicking up this business ten more notches. Two Friday’s ago, I had an article published in The Daily Beast about Etsy’s new policy updates. I got quite some comments on it, but I decided to ignore them for the most part. Everyone has an opinion and not every opinion is correct. I also started writing for the Environmental blog I write for some times, Green Living Ideas. I have quite a few designs that I’m working on right now. One will hopefully launch on my birthday in a few days from now. I’m really excited about that one! It’s really just how amazingly inspiring “clicking” can be, especially when all you want is to move forward.
Oh, and good luck, which I know is currently around me, and always around me for that matter, feels like it’s on my side. Yes, my bank account is a bit sad and my heart is still a little broken, but my spirit, has never felt more free and certain that this click is the right click. New Jersey, a click that I felt when I decided to move here, just proved that it may have been the right decision all along. And my bank account that’s really sad right now? Well, that’s going to click, too. I just know it!