3 Months In
It's been three months now since I started AM Art & Stationery from my laptop in the UK. Since then, I've come back to the states, celebrated Christmas, hopped around a little and settled in at my grandma's house. I'm now working from home here in my little closet office, which I arranged with a card table, a shoe rack, a handmade shelf, and some ingenuity. It's been coming together piece by piece over the past couple weeks, and I'm pretty proud of it, because it makes me feel like I can totally tackle living in an RV, which is such a dream of mine.
Even though I have a pretty good setup now (yes, I'm talking about the closet) and I'm making art all the time, either to add to my shop or to make my new space cozy, it isn't an easy road. Besides, of course, only having myself to answer to and battling the regular struggles we entrepreneurs and work-from-homers have, like discipline, distractions, and effective scheduling, I haven't made a dime in over 30 days.
Now, I guess this is pretty normal for a company as brand new as mine, but as an artist and a newbie, you crave that validation of knowing that your work is wanted, valued, and sought after. I want my customers to geek out as much as I do!
I've been discouraged a lot more in my third month than in my first. I'm grateful for my partner, who reminds me that I'm making steady progress and that things will grow and develop with time. He's right. Although matching up 100 pen pals via email took longer than I thought it would, I have connected quite a few people, and I'm steadily working on pairing up the rest! Plus, I have ideas for how to make it more seamless going forward, and besides, I've really, really enjoyed hearing from my customers.
I've been able to email back and forth with quite a few of them. I'm getting to know them, which is lovely! And some of them have never written letters or had a pen pal before, so I'm super excited to be on this journey with them.
When I look on the bright side, I start to realize how many fun things have happened, even though my postcards aren't flying off the shelves.
For one, I got to pair up with Lina, who I met through Instagram (@withlinafromlove). She wrote a great tutorial about making your own envelope that was published on the blog. It was so easy and quick that I started making other envelopes, too.
Almost every letter I've sent since that post came out has had its own envelope, mostly because I don't have any letter sized envelopes (don't lecture me about how silly it is that a stationery shop owner doesn't own the most common sized envelope there is).
Speaking of letters and outgoing mail, I've been sending so much! I have always sent mail, but sometimes I get busy and weeks go by with nary a letter or postcard sent. But now, I own a stationery shop, ha ha! Last week, I got to write a personal letter to one of my customers, because she told me in the pen pal survey that she wanted to get to know me!
I also wrote a lot of letters for personal correspondence, like: a letter to my pen pal of two years, who I have only written to online for the past 6 months because I was traveling, so I was glad I got to send a real letter. Also on the list of outgoing is an ex boyfriend who I haven't gotten closure from, my grandma [got a postcard] because she sent me a birthday card, my friend got an angry letter, some kiddos I'm sweet on got valentines, and my boyfriend also got a valentine, but his includes a coded message (blog post instructional coming very soon!).
I've had a lot of fun falling into writing by hand again. It's very therapeutic for me to write. I've gotten to express real feelings, and work toward getting some closure by actually sending them on their way, which is honestly optional.
I've also sent a few personal, handmade postcards, one to a friend who was feeling lonely and needed some flowers. Another one went all the way to the Netherlands for an associate of mine who runs a yarn shop.
Saskia, the yarn shop owner, is a edgy, kind, and hilarious woman who also hosts a conscious knitting club, and a podcast focused on crafting / running a business with less waste and more intention. Her card had an astronaut floating through space holding a skein of yarn. I was working on the Galaxy Collection at the time and I found out about an astronaut named Karen Nyberg who hand-sewed a quilt square in zero gravity. I thought that was amazing, and I knew Saskia would, too.
Saskia's podcast is called, "A Smaller Life".
All in all, this company is so dear to my heart and I have so so so so many ideas, ones that I know I'm not capable of accomplishing on my own, and ones that are farther down the road than I can see. But, in the grand scheme of things, I guess it'll all come in time. I am enjoying myself, doing what I believe in and what I love, and helping other people discover all the good that can come from writing letters.
What more could I ask for?