Jan 292015

Four times a year, fellow members of Blogging Business Artisans are asked to tackle a team challenge and blog about it. The January challenge was suggested by Sharla of Beaded Tail on Etsy:

What do you hope to accomplish this year? What are you looking forward to doing in 2015? Do you have plans to travel some place exciting, move to a new home/city or how about get a kitten? Will you be taking your shop in new directions? Let us know or give us a hint of your year to come!

Because the vast majority of New Year’s resolutions are not kept, I tend to treat annual goals as guidelines or opportunities to excel instead of a contract I must follow at all costs. In fact, in looking at last year’s goals, it is obvious to me that I achieved some of them, but have room for improvement in other areas.

Review of Last Year’s Goals

  1. Find a better balance between volunteer work and creative efforts. As much as I enjoyed volunteering for the non-profit organization where I was a state Board member for 12 years, I came to the conclusion that the organization’s needs were driving my schedule, not me. As a result, I retired from that position with lots of good memories, but retain an ongoing volunteer relationship that now takes up only a fraction of my time.
Current & former State Board members of Students for a Creative Iowa. Back row, left to right: Bruce Antion, John Nolan, Keith Kutz, Steve Klawonn, Brenda Kutz, Mark Wilkins. Front row: Mary Koester, Judy Nolan, Kristie Rysdam, Sharon Wallace, Alisha Day, Jay Swords. Missing: Sam Hapke, James Honzatko.

Current & former State Board members of Students for a Creative Iowa. Back row, left to right: Bruce Antion, John Nolan, Keith Kutz, Steve Klawonn, Brenda Kutz, Mark Wilkins. Front row, left to right: Mary Koester, Judy Nolan, Kristie Rysdam, Sharon Wallace, Alisha Day, Jay Swords. Missing: Sam Hapke, James Honzatko.

  1. Establish a photography schedule. I don’t know that I have a set photography schedule, but items no longer languish in a box or a corner, waiting to be photographed so that they can be listed in my Etsy shops. Instead, I finish a few projects, then photograph them. I have found it to be more efficient to photograph a few items at a time versus only one.
  1. Have enough product on hand for craft shows. This area needs a great deal of improvement during 2015. I had a more successful fourth quarter of the year that I didn’t anticipate I would have, and ran out of product in some categories.

3rd craft show of 2014

  1. Learn about bag construction. This is an ongoing project. I signed up for the Bag of the Month Club both last year and this year, and honestly did not get around to finishing any of these rather complicated patterns. Instead, I am working on some simpler bag projects. There is, however, no particular deadline for completing bags, so I’m not going to worry too much about how quickly I gain knowledge or complete bags.

Bag Projects

  1. Clean up the paper crafting studio and sewing room. This is another of those ongoing projects that I think all creatives face. In a recent post, I discussed the need to be more organized so that “craft creep” doesn’t take over the entire house.
  1. Lose weight. I lost a little bit of weight this past year, but have a long way to go. Once more, this is an ongoing objective.

2015 Goals

  1. Streamline the creative process so that it is less time-intensive. I wrote about this goal last week in Efficiency meets serendipity, where I discussed how much time and physical effort it takes to craft books. By looking for areas to cut corners without sacrificing quality, I can achieve this goal.
  1. Strive for more economical ways to craft items. I also wrote about this goal last week in Using paper scraps to craft floral accents. By using more frequently the materials I have on hand instead of buying new items, and by purchasing supplies either wholesale or with a discount coupon, I will achieve a greater profit on sales of hand-crafted items.
  1. Optimize craft storage and working space. We live in a small ranch-style home, so there is only so much square footage available for crafts and crafting. A fellow crafter, Edi Royer, recently wrote, “Every time I think I have a good system down, I buy new things that need a new home and new organization.” The same applies to me, but the challenge is to minimize cost during that process, and to make the most of what I already have. I discussed this topic a bit in a previous post, Taming the creative beast.
  1. Aim for a more strategic approach to selling. In concrete terms, this means I have set aside a small budget for marketing education this year, and will be making changes to the ways I sell my handmade goods over the course of the year as a result of what I learn. During the seven years I have been selling on the Etsy platform, there have been many changes. If you don’t keep up, you fall behind, and so do your sales. Ever notice how young, slender trees survive a storm better than some old-but-beautiful trees? I aim to be able to bend with the wind.

Resource book

That’s it for this year. Fewer goals, but larger ones, are on the agenda for 2015. What are some of your most important business goals this year? Or, if you don’t sell, what are some of your personal ones? Feel free to share a link to a post you wrote about your goals, or to comment below.

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Jan 242015

This entire week, I have been touching on some of my goals for 2015. I discussed streamlining my creative process, or being more efficient, in Efficiency meets serenpidity. In Using paper scraps to craft accent flowers, I stressed my desire to shop less and use existing materials more. Optimizing my craft storage and working space is also on my list of goals for 2015. In May of last year, I finally retired from my 12-year stint as Co-Affiliate Training Director for Iowa’s Destination Imagination program, which involved keeping lots of records and tracking many different projects simultaneously. During five years of that same period, I developed a gifted education after-school enrichment program for local elementary schools, and taught German at those same schools and out of my home for even longer. While most people who know me claim that my approach to projects is organized—and they are correct if they look through my computer files—what they don’t see are the cartons of paper files, the books, binders, and hands-on materials that have accumulated on shelves, the garage, the basement, and even in my crafting areas. What in the world do retired teachers do with all of their materials?!

Training materials collage

So, one of my goals this year is not only to reduce the space training materials occupy, but to use that same space for my crafting materials that, quite frankly, spill onto every horizontal space I can find in the house. It is a struggle to keep the kitchen table cleared, as it is the biggest working-height flat space. After every work session, I have promised myself to put things away. But wait a moment! There are a couple of working spaces available that may not need to be torn down daily . . . if only I can clear them off first.

In my sewing room, I removed the laptop on the writing desk to turn it into a cutting table/paper crafting surface. However, I can hardly use it in its current state. Hopefully the incentive to clean up this desk will follow soon, since it’s embarrassing to see this mess on the Web.

Writing Desk

In the basement, there is an old dining room table I inherited from my mom after she passed away that is actually bigger than the kitchen table, if only I would sweep it clean. I have no idea what is buried on the other side of the light box, which also needs to be relocated. Obviously, this mess is worse than the one in the sewing room, but not by much.

Basement table

As for my paper crafting studio, that is where I store tools, paper and paper crafting embellishments. It’s also where my laptop resides, so it’s my writing room. And if we have a guest, it can be a spare bedroom. In a word, it’s not a good place to craft! I do have a nice view outside of my window, though—rain, sunshine, or snow.

Looking out the window

And then there are the put-aways. (Don’t tell me you don’t have such a thing!) Sitting in a basket (and elsewhere) are paper crafting tools and supplies that need to be put away. Sometimes items sit in one place because I haven’t yet settled on a practical storage system.

Basket of put-aways

Previously I stored wood-mounted rubber stamps in plastic see-through shoe boxes. While they fit nicely (jigsaw-style, that is), you can imagine what happened when I needed the stamp at the bottom of the box. The box got dumped. Recently I discovered these shallow clam shell-type plastic packages at my local scrapbooking store. They are called Stufftainers™ by Stampendous, and come in all kinds of depths, ranging from 7/16 inch to one inch. This is the “thicker” size (actually labeled that way), recommended for organizing your wood-mounted stamps. I store my containers on a shelf, stacked, but the Stampendous folks suggest storing them vertically in a magazine rack, color-coding them with ribbon tied to the tab that is intended for hanging the Stufftainers.

Stufftainers by Stampendous

They work quite nicely for my collection of Faber-Castell Gelatos water-soluble crayons and related supplies, too.


In short, 2015 will be a year when I will work toward better organization of work space and supplies. I’m sure it will be a continuing goal. When you craft, it’s the nature of the beast to spread your things out to make selections. In fact, that chaos inspires creativity until . . . it blocks you because there are too many choices and/or no space in which to create. What are some of your favorite ways to control creative chaos? Let me know in the comments below.

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.