"An intricate, delicate, or fanciful ornamentation."
(The Free Dictionary)

"Whoever loves and understands a garden will find contentment."
          --Chinese Proverb

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Was it really worth it?

This was the question I was asked by my father this morning after I said that sales were slow and likely to get slower in January. "Was it worth it to start a new commercial venture now?" I paused to think. 2008 was my first official year "in business," and my shop online and off had its ups and downs. This year was undoubtedly not the best time to sell merchandise when the economy was sliding downhill faster than an Olympic luge team. But monetary gains are only part of the full story when pursuing an unknown path. How should the worth of trying something new be assessed?

Looking out of my icicle-draped windows, I gaze upon a familiar landscape now coated with a thick quilt of newly fallen snow. It is easy to forget the rich, green panorama of life lying dormant under that velvety white curtain. Hidden under the most bleak of surfaces is often a luscious layer of convoluted textures just ripe with meaning. I find this true in my business experiences as well: The true worth of making myself and my creative work available for public scrutiny and purchase lies buried deep in the recesses of my inner landscape and far exceeds the worth of the outer, materialistic layer.

Indeed this retail venture - or should I say adventure, has been profitable in many regards. I finally followed through on doing something I had talked about for an annoying number of years (starting a home business). I exposed my creative side to hundreds of strangers and I lived to tell the tale! I have been the fortunate recipient of new friendships and relationships based on the mutual loves of art and craft. (This support has become life-affirming to me.) A new and vibrant community of peers has emerged to fill the gap left by my transition from homeschool to imminent post-school immersion. I pushed myself, sometimes with great struggle, to try new crafting techniques; I've kicked myself outside the creative box, looked inside it, turned it upside down, and spilled its contents on the floor in search of my own style. (I'm still rummaging through the mess!) I participated in five craft shows which is more actual public speaking than I have done in a long time. In emails and on paper I can talk up a storm, but put me in front of a live audience and I usully freeze. Sitting behind my table at a show forced me to make conversation, and worse, it required me to talk about myself and my work. By the end of the last show I actually relaxed (well, a little), and learned to enjoy discussing the details of the jewelry I had created.

Most importantly, I had the epiphany that trying something new, falling flat on my face, getting up and trying again or trying something else was a normal part of a full, human life, much in contrast to the what I had ingrained in me as a child, then reinforced as a young adult, that failure was to be avoided at all costs. In fact, it appears "failure" is crucial to growth and enhanced creativity. Maybe this seems commonplace to those lucky folks who had this secret revealed to them at an early age, but to me, the experiences of the past year were nothing short of transformational.

So, my final answer to the question, "Was it really worth it?" has to be an unwavering yes, but for reasons too personal and convoluted to explain to an outside observer in a short sentence. I simply dodged my father's question and went on to making breakfast. But to the rest of you I can honestly report that in my first year in business I didn't make much money, but I truly became enriched.

I wish you an inwardly and outwardly prosperous 2009.


Blogger ~*~Pearl~*~ said...

Gosh liv you write so beautiful! And what an awesome look out your window…

December 22, 2008 at 7:46 PM  
Blogger Jai Johnson said...

What a beautiful and touching post. And such an appropriate question for many of us to ponder on right now.

December 22, 2008 at 7:50 PM  
Blogger gloria said...

Wow! All I can say is how did you know what is in my mind asking myself? So beautiful in thought and writing.

December 22, 2008 at 10:23 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

Beautiful writing, and so appropriate for a lot of us who spent our first year on Etsy. The new friendships made everything worth while.

December 22, 2008 at 10:50 PM  
Blogger joonbeam said...

Yes, it has been a brand new experience for so many of us, fil. Lovely post and glad you jumped in so our paths could cross and I do hope you are going to continue. Looking forward to your new creations.

December 22, 2008 at 10:53 PM  
Blogger On a Whimsey said...

As so many have said before me, you have just underlined what many of us go through at this time of year as we reflect our year gone by.

Although times are hard thanks to the unrelenting downturn in our economies I strongly feel this is a time to evaluate our positions and move forward with renewed vigour to keep us in a very positive position for when economies start waking up again!

A happy and prosperous new year to all!

December 23, 2008 at 3:01 AM  
Blogger Dayna said...

Always continue to allow your creativity to grow. Continue into different venues. Sometimes the challenge is reward enough.We don't always need to make money from it.

December 23, 2008 at 7:12 AM  
Blogger maryeb said...

What a wonderful perspective. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You've made me rethink my idea of success.

December 23, 2008 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Liv, you are a wonderful writer! Thank you for putting into words so well what I have thought about this year too, and I feel privileged to have got to know you in 2008.

December 23, 2008 at 3:01 PM  
Blogger Judy Nolan said...

Liv, I'm late in reading this wonderful post, but I agree with you that one of the benefits of starting a home-based business is that by opening yourself up to public scrutiny, you also open yourself up to admiration, support, friendship and inspiration. I'm glad to have "met" you online, and treasure your friendship.

January 21, 2009 at 1:48 AM  

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