Where Have I Been These Past 3 Months??
Hello, dear reader.
I write to you today for the first time in like, three months.
Ouch. That carries a lot of guilt and overwhelm for a small business owner. I know many of you can relate, because I know many of you work from home, work freelance, or own a creative business to some degree.
How It All Started
Usually for me, something like this (neglecting something for a long time) starts with overwhelm. When there is just too much going on, I inevitably ignore something completely until I have my wits about me.
With this particular instance, it started in August, around the time of my family reunion. I was in charge of helping put it together and believe me, that was no small task. This family reunion lasts for an entire weekend and has seen attendance of up to 300 people before. It took my attention for 2 weeks or more.
After that, I had plans to visit my boyfriend in the Netherlands, which was a long way from where I was at the time, in Idaho, United States.
I did end up traveling to see him but instead of visiting, I moved in.
I am a gypsy woman in a modern world. I like to travel and I like to keep moving. My partner had asked me to move in with him before, but I wasn't ready to spend another year away from where I grew up. I had already spent that long in Europe and had been away from my family for a long time.
I eventually decided that I needed to let that go for a little while longer, because life is much harder in rural United States. Although my heart is there, I need to do what's best for me at this moment.
BUT... I was already in the Netherlands when I came to that realization, which means that I packed enough clothes and craft supplies for 3 weeks, not the entire year. And I did not have a plan for how this would change things with my business.
How it Continued
The reunion was in August, I decided to move in early September, and it is mid-October as I type this. What took so long to update the store, the blog, and all of my amazing customers?
I mentioned the guilt and overwhelm in the beginning, right?
I didn't know what to say, I didn't want to come to terms with shutting down my store for an undetermined amount of time. I was scared that if I did that in the first year, that would mean something bad for my business, like a bad sign that I would never be successful with it. I was scared that if I took that step, I might never come back (I don't always finish projects, and I know that about myself... which means I am really hard on myself about that. I worry that I will let it happen again).
I was dealing with so many doubts and worries about what the move meant for my business and what my customers would think of me if I shut down for a while. It kept me from doing anything.
But I'm better now. I know that this isn't the end, because I am passionate about writing and stationery is almost a part of my soul. I know if I keep doing the pen pal program and give myself time, space and grace, things will work out with AM Art & Stationery. It can evolve into whatever amazing thing it will be in the future.
What happens now?
What this means for AM Art & Stationery today is that I have to stop selling for a while. Since I don't have hardly any inventory with me (until I make more) and not to mention, finding out what taxes and fees I'll have to pay if I am now operating from another country, it only makes sense that the products I currently offer should not continue to be sold. I am going to be giving some stuff away to people who are apart of a special insider group that will help the Pen Pal program grow and broaden its reach.
Do you think the Insider Pen Pal group sounds interesting? You can sign up here https://forms.gle/mrnuQ1cndyB6fYLe9 or you can email me at email@example.com to ask me more about it. (copy and paste links into new browser)
The one thing that will not change is the Find a Pen Pal program. That has consistently been the most sought-after and most rewarding part about opening AM Art & Stationery. I can help people find pen pals from anywhere and I love doing it. I have so enjoyed hearing from all the different types of people who have ended up on my website and I have sent several of them letters myself.
I want to keep encouraging people to write and giving them fun ideas for how to connect with their pen pals even if I am not selling any stationery.
I think this is a good move for me. I think I will enjoy this time working on the one thing the internet doesn't really have yet: a pen pal matching service. So that's what I'll do.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Thank you, reader, for caring enough to listen to the words on my heart and to read this post. Thank you for seeing me, for reaching out to me and for supporting me. Thank you for shopping small business and for holding art in high esteem. Thank you for understanding, thank you for volunteering to help, thank you for telling your friends.
Stay curious and keep writing.
My favorite sign-off is also my wish for you: that you would stay curious and keep writing. If I can answer any questions, look up postal information, address an envelope, or help you connect with your pen pal in any way, don't hesitate to reach out. And when my shop is open again, feel free to flood it with purchases and possibly even break the internet ;)