Crafting in balance

I’ve finished listing the items from yesterday‘s photoshoot, so my shop has now expanded just a teeny bit more. My friend Jenn of Art By Zahrt told me she’s heard that having 50 items in the shop seems to be a magical number. We’re both a little skeptical, but I want to see if it’s true! I only need to list a few more things to hit 50.

Praia eco-friendly yoga mat tote

Praia eco-friendly yoga mat tote

Maintaining the shop is so much more work than I expected when I started. It’s a grand adventure, and I do enjoy it and take a lot of pride in this work, but it takes a lot of time. Here’s a rough sample breakdown for a single item, let’s say a yoga mat tote like the one above:

  • Plan item (choose fabrics, tweak design) and prepare materials (iron, measure, cut): 2 hours
  • Create item: 4-6 hours
  • Photograph item and edit/select photos: 1 hour
  • List item: 1/2 hour

That’s somewhere between 7 and 9 hours just for one item, and that doesn’t include sourcing the fabrics, washing them, cleaning the vintage buttons, or coming up with the original design for the item. Making multiple items lets me streamline the production process a little, but not a whole lot — we’re talking half-hours saved here and there. And then there’s also my work space to organize and keep tidy. Shop maintenance and publicity take even more time. I could do the bare minimum, ignoring marketing and taking only indifferent photos, but my personal standards won’t allow me to do that. Much as I’d love to see brisker business in my shop, I’m thankful I don’t rely on it for my livelihood. I’d probably collapse under the stress!

That said, I am deeply grateful for this little spot of crafting time I’ve carved out for myself this month. I turned in my VONA manuscript on the 7th, and the residency doesn’t start until the 27th, so that’s about 3 weeks of June that I resolved to dedicate just to the shop, to my personal crafting projects, and to sketching when I’m out and about. Previously, all concentrated periods of crafting happened right before shows, and then the pressure to produce in quantity made me feel crazy. It was tough, spending so many hours hunched over my sewing machine (or spray-gluing binder dividers in the garage), knowing I was neglecting my writing and drawing projects and everything else in my life. But this month I feel nicely balanced, if busy, and that is a blessing!