It's 2018! I'm saying it mostly to remind myself, as I step forward, that something momentous has undergone(girl)! It occurred mostly by hand. My hand! Actually, both of them. After so many years, (I believe I first had the idea for Shipwreck in 2011) I have had a whirlwind year of being a business, instead of being a guy who has an idea about starting a business. I've even started saying "I own a stationery company" instead of "I'm starting a stationery company," because well, now it feels wrong to say I'm starting. I have passed gestation. And though I won't spend this whole article listing my accomplishments in 2017 (I'm gonna brag a little, though) it's important to bask in the reward that work can be. The work of making something from nothing. Of making a viewmaster out of stacks of paper. Of making a website out of words and clicks and minutes. Of making a flipping business from an idea I had on a phonecall with my friend Natasha two years after graduating college. Instead I'm gonna write about three things I've learned this past year.
Perseverance and patience are different, though equally necessary, mindsets. Patience involves a respect for the the thousand unknowable fronts of chaos that storm over your day to day. Perseverance, comes after the chaos has come and knocked out the power, flooded the basement, and heisted your bank vault. It is the get-back-up. It is the dare-to-care of the whole thing. Patience without perseverance says, "if I'm meant to have a stationery company it will happen." Perseverance says, "I will have a stationery company no matter what happens (even if it ruins my life)"
Patience allows you to step back and see all the pieces of your life, and should you choose, rearrange the furniture, throw some out even. Perseverance gives you the strength to carry it all to a new house, and perhaps some will be dropped like an escaping sock along the way. I have been so patient over the years, through moving, through losing literally all of my money, through my dad getting sick, through moving home, through a spiritual roadtrip across the country, through coming back to my old life. After all that time, it was patience that kept me from pulling my hair out. From running to something new. Calling the past few years a final chapter and starting off on a new book. But it was perseverance that allowed me to pick it all back up. It was perseverance that said, this year, now or never, let's go. Let's make a Shipwreck baby.
I relearned the joy of making. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by all the deadlines I hadn't met. By all the money I'd thrown at problems and invested unwisely into my mistakes. I began to see it all as steps on the journey. It all got me here, and here I am able to redesign my bluebird without feeling like I need to incinerate evidence of my old design. I am able to tweak and improve and instead of feeling hot shame that I ever put out such sloppy product, I am excited that I've made my design better, more efficient and, oh my, prettier!
I have learned a value that I understand much better in my personal life. The value of "good enough." Something I say to myself all the time. When cooking, when cleaning, when thinking about how many hours of sleep I got, when serving, when writing an email. Across the board, I give things my intention and then I take my intention elsewhere. But when it came to Shipwreck, I was a perfectionist. What I never realized was not just that perfectionism isn't attainable (because, of course it isn't) but that holding yourself to the impossible is not admirable (shoot for the stars! right! right?!?!?!) but actually a negative self-defeating attitude. Now, I delight in starting and finishing projects. I don't rack my head with doubt and worry and confidently assert that not knowing what you're doing is a cardinal sin. Now, I delight in it. I wear my stumbling forward like a badge. If things don't turn out the way I want, well, I don't know what I'm doing, but I learn a little more each time. I have one more experience to share with my booth-mates at the craft shows. With each project I'm a little less amateur and a little more profesh as hell. And in that flow of little by little, I have found my joy. The joy of discovery and of play, of all the reasons I wanted to do this in the first place.
-I've learned what is possible in just a year. When you do it all yourself, everything can be so daunting (and lonely). But what I accomplished in 2017, I just wouldn't have thought I'd be able to do. Part of it, is of course moving to part time at my day job. But that shifted throughout the year and there were many months of full-time work and doubt and fear and all that. Rather, it was a change in attitude. I stopped thinking of my day job as my work, and starting thinking of Shipwreck as my work. If I had to work full time, I understood why I was doing it, and felt a little bothered that I wouldn't have time to work on what really mattered. Bothered, but not defeated. My attitude alone, drove me on a much smoother path. Really it threw me down a bobsled course.
The second I decided to reclassify Shipwreck from my pipe-dream-fantasy-hobby, to my J-O-B, everything changed. All the sudden the insurmountable seemed only a matter of time. Posting on Instagram 3x a week, while still a challenge for me is now one I'm up for and wouldn't want to be without. Next year, I plan to hit 3x more consistently and do more giveaways, and contests and all sorts of jazz. I'm planning to bring this dang blog back, at least once a month, because though, yes it is one more moving piece, it is something I enjoy. A place to use the wordy part of my brain who doesn't get as much of a workout as it used to. In 2018 I now know how much I am capable of, and I know that the second it starts being a stress mess burden, there will have to be some re-prioritizing. Some new drawing up of my self employment contract. But now that there's more knowledge and less worry, I know I can figure out how to make a bit of money. Make more connections. Take on more clients, and have fun doing it. It's gonna be a good one, I can tell.
A place for product updates, inspiration, behind the scenes stuff, and in general a place for mind meandering.