05 February 2013

Growth, For Me and Abigail

I have been a small business owner for about 5 days now. Opening an Etsy shop is kind of like putting on a performance. You put together a routine (product) and then perfect it (streamline production), practicing over and over again, doing plies in front of the bathroom mirror while you brush your teeth at night. Once you get each and every step just right, you design and make a costume (marketing). You set the stage, you sell tickets, you rally up a crowd (social media). And when the big day arrives, you put on your over-the-top costume make up, giant tutu, sparkly leotard, and with all the lights point at you, in front of everyone you know, you dance your heart out. And while you twirl across that stage, you imagine all the applause you're going to get (money you'll make), the rave reviews you'll read about in the paper the day after the show, the people who will want your autograph and beg you to never quit dancing. And then the music crescendos, and you feel the sweat beading up on your temple because you're truly giving this performance all you've got. And when the last beat sounds, you strike your final pose - arms out-stretched, chest towards the sky, one foot daintily pointed, huge, ear-to-ear grin on your face. The grand opening. And then just silence. Completely silence. And as you stand there in the middle of the stage, doubts begin to creep in. Is everyone sitting in stunned silence because they are in awe over the brilliance of my performance? Or did they fall asleep because it was so boring and don't realize it's over?

I'm standing on stage, with my bright red lipstick, my high bun, my chest heaving from the exertion of my effort. I'm frozen with a big smile on my face, blinded by the spot lights, wondering why there is silence.

But I have read more than enough how-to-get-your-Etsy-shop-started articles to know that just because you don't get a sale within your first 3.5 days, doesn't mean you should give up. It take patience! I need to keep churning out new product in order to keep driving traffic. I need to build up my shop. I need to support it. I need to be okay without instant gratification. I know the steps I need to take. I just need to take them.

So I will. I will write them down, I will keep working, and I will wait with eager anticipation for my first sale. And even if I never get a sale, even if I move to Michigan in August without having sold one hat, I am still proud of myself for putting myself out there. I really had to push myself out of my comfort zone and grow. I would be disappointed with the results, but not with my efforts.

So stay tuned, world, Sheep & Company has several ideas coming down the hatch!

UPDATE: Not one hour after I posted this blog post, I sold my first hat! And no, the buyer is not someone I know ; )


In a weird way, I'm actually glad I have had an sales yet, because I spent the weekend with the stomach flu. It was a tough debate between stomach flu or food poisoning but we finally decided that Abigail and I had the stomach flu, with Abigail's bug being significantly milder than mine (thanks be to God). At least I finally know that my fatigue and lethargy all last leek wasn't just me being lazy.

Prospective Sheep & Company customers, do not worry because after each and every item is created, it is washed and placed in a sterile environment that neither flu germ nor cat hair nor small child could permeate. Perfectly safe and sanitary.

We're still dealing with a few straggling symptoms, but the worst seems to have started and ended on Friday night. However, I think it may be a few months before I'll be able to eat pizza again.


Moving on.

Do you remember Abigail's epic pickiness? Things got so bad that she was only eating grilled cheese, goldfish crackers, and bananas. I worked really, really hard, and could get her to eat certain types of sugary, instant oatmeal on a good day. But my progress stalled and then Abigail started phasing out bananas.

Which is huge.

That would be like Winnie the Pooh deciding he didn't like honey any more.

I mean, seriously you-might-as-well-go-rob-a-bank-because-we-are-clearly-living-in-an-alternate-universe-and-won't-be-held-responsible-for-our-crimes type of mind blowing.

I had spoken to everyone. Friends, family, the pediatrician, the occupational and developmental therapists. No luck. Everyone had ideas, theories, all of which failed. It got to the point where I vowed I wouldn't feed Abigail again until she ate eggs. Abigail held out and I usually caved out of fear of malnutrition. Meal times were miserable. Everyone was grouchy.

And then? We struck brilliance. I brought it up to Abigail's speech therapist and told her it seemed like a texture issue. She thought Abigail might be having sensory issues and recommended that I pair soft things with crunchy things, like using the goldfish cracker as a scoop for pureed beans and veggies. 

Sheer brilliance.

You see, kids with Down syndrome can have difficulty with sensation. With crunchy things, like goldfish crackers, Abigail can both hear and feel the food in her mouth, so she knows what to do with it. With something soft like eggs, she doesn't get enough feedback to know when to chew and when to swallow.

So now Abigail eats.

We are trying to show her that mealtimes aren't solely for torture, and we're trying to break her of the habit of simply spitting out food she doesn't recognize, but as long as we can get her to down one or two bites, she's starting to get some positive feedback from both the food and Matt and I. Cue progress!

Within the first week, I got Abigail to eat some beans, veggies, potatoes (which I know are a veggie, but they are a starchy veggie), and even a little bit of roast beef! All carefully served on the filet of a goldfish cracker. I'm even using goldfish crackers to get her to eat other kinds of crackers so we don't have such a dependence on one type of cracker.

I felt such a sense of relief, I almost cried. I wrote the therapist a heart-felt note to let her know how much her wisdom meant to us.

Ah, sometimes it's the little things, but sometimes it's the big things. Like finally getting Abigail to eat protein or opening an Etsy shop. You have to push yourself in order to grow. And, unless you want to be the same person in 20 years as you are now, you have to grow. The more I grow, the less growing pains I feel. I hope I keep growing as my time here in this amazing city winds down. I don't want to squander one minute of Chicago in the way I squander so much time in Florida.


Cam said...

I think in the beginning I averaged about four sales a month, because I remember getting really excited when I was getting one a week. And sales definitely go up the more I list. My old goal used to be listing one thing every day, because that seems to help too, but I've been so tired lately I've fallen off in making a daily post.

And I love your shop!

If you make a ton of stuff before December you could also think about doing the December craft fair at MSU. I just signed up for the spring one and I'm hoping I can do the December one too. There were so many people there when we dropped by last year. And I think knit goodies would be really popular!

Jacqueline said...

Thanks for the encouragement! I was just talking to Matt the other day about the craft fair you blogged about and how awesome it would be to go. I think 1 new item per day is a lofty goal, but I will work towards it! You get so much stuff done that I am in awe - you take such good care of your family!