My networking journey

Last week I wrote a piece about my leap into the world of networking. I discussed the joys of finding a community, of shaking off that feeling of isolation and discovering lots of lovely new creations. This week I have found more lovely crafters and I admit that yes, I am finding lovely birthday and (dare I say it) Christmas presents for friends and family as I travel around these pages and follow my feeds.

Despite these ongoing rewards, I’m now into week 2 of networking and to be quite honest, the glow of networking has faded slightly. During these last few days, I have to say I have been in the company of my inner critic and naysayer. Now I don’t know about you but throughout my life I have been plagued with that little voice inside that is quick to point out my flaws, what I have done wrong and that slowly chips away at my confidence if I let it.

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Before my venture out in to the big wide world of social media and networking, I lived in my little bubble with my blinkers on to some extent. Yes, I wasn’t interacting with others, forging relationships with other crafters or my customers but at the same time I wasn’t open to all those other pages. I have found that while roaming, it is easy to put others above you. It is tempting to look at the work of others and compare it to my own. Obviously, in these scenarios mine rarely stands up under the scrutiny. It is also too easy to read my feed and see other people’s posts as wittier, prettier and downright amazing.

Needless to say, I’ve been putting myself through the ringer a little bit these last few days which is much easier when you are feeling a bit low anyway. Life is throwing me more of those sneaky curveballs and change is coming in so many different ways that it has been difficult to tell that inner critic where to go.

So what am I going to do about it? In all honesty I want to give up. I want to pack it all in and go back to hiding but that would get me no where would it? I want a magic answer – that solution that will fix all things but that’s not an option either. In the absence of magic and miracles, I am going to put my head down and keep moving forward. To those pages I admire, I will take note of what I admire about them and see if I can improve my work/photos/page/posts in any way to close the gap between us. I will continue to interact with my customers and other crafters to help and support them where I can and gather hints, tips and information from them too (just the other day, a customer gave me a wonderful tip that has helped me no end).

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I will STOP comparing myself to others and be proud of my work. As I saw somewhere the other day, I have designed my work, I have put it together and I have got me to this point – thats something I am grateful for and proud of. To that little voice inside, I will aim to ignore it. In those times when all this seems impossible, I will do my best and not beat myself up about it. I will try to remember that I am not perfect and neither is anyone else.

So networking and I have had our honeymoon period but now the rose tinted specs are off. I am learning that its not all hearts and roses. Regardless of all this, I am in it for the long haul and I’m sure we can get over this rough patch and I can become a better person for it. Fingers crossed ūüėČ

Until next time,

Toni x

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Network, network, network

It’s been a busy old week at Dollies HQ.¬† My eldest daydreamer lost her first tooth, I’ve been working on orders and new ideas (including some for around 6 months time…) and I have been thoroughly enjoying the sunshine with family and friends. I am a fan of winter but its so lovely to throw the doors and windows open in the summer.

 

In addition to all this, I have been networking on social media and reaching out to other crafters, businesses and customers. Now to some of you, you may be thinking ‘she’s only just started doing this?’ and it may be part of your daily routine whether you want to publicize your blog, business or other venture. For me, I admit it is new to some extent.¬†

Sourced from Pinterest

Sourced from Pinterest

Don’t get me wrong, I have dipped my toe in the water when it comes to networking but as a result of time (not making time that is) and more importantly confidence, I have shied away from it.¬† I have concentrated on creating, writing and keeping my head down. Slowly though I have carved time into my day to spend time on Twitter and Facebook to communicate with other businesses and have found myself enjoying chatting to like minded people.

Yes, the goal of networking is to get your name and your product out there but it has been so much more in the past week. By communicating with other people I admit I have made sales but more importantly, I have discovered some lovely individuals and beautiful work.  I have received some fantastic feedback on my designs, developed new ideas and purchased a few lovely gifts for birthdays etc. that are coming up.

I think there is a danger when networking to have a take, take,¬†take attitude.¬† Maybe to some, it’s the way of the world.¬†It comes across very quickly when someone is wanting to do this and its not nice to be on the receiving end.¬†To others, networking can seem daunting¬†for fear that their work won’t stand up or that by publicisizing their work they are opening themselves up to imitators, critisisors or even worse the sound of silence.¬†

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Sourced from Pinterest

I am pleased¬†to say that in the communities I have connected with and the people I have met have not been like this. Through this experience, I have felt a part of something. I have felt less isolated. I have been able to ask questions and find out information I wouldn’t¬†otherwise have done.

I¬†have also developed a new found respect for those ‘bigger personalities’ on social media – those with a more established fan base and network of people.¬† They have worked hard for that following, for those relationships.¬†¬†They are well known and well thought of for a reason.

Sourced from Pinterest

Sourced from Pinterest

It would be easy to sit back and think that¬†if I just create and its meant to be,¬†positive things will happen.¬†It would also be simpler (though ALOT more expensive) to throw money at advertising and other things to do the work for me and hope good things will come.¬† What I’ve realised over this last week is that it wouldn’t be half as fun to do that.¬† I wouldn’t be able to direct people to other sellers when I know they have just what they’re looking for. I wouldn’t be able to have a chat with someone about their market nights, their fantastic work or the weather.¬†ūüôā I took on a challenge to network for an hour a day (instigated by¬†the amazing HTLMP)¬†and I’m so glad I did. It is hard work, especially on busy days but I’m reaping so many rewards…many of them unexpected and delightful.

I am not there yet. I still have a few stumbling blocks in all this – I haven’t dared giveaways yet (God forbid no-one likes the giveaway and does not¬†enter…) and I need to get myself further out into the world but just for today this is enough.

Do you network? Have you got some success stories or tips for networking? I would love to hear about them.

Until next time,

Toni x

Simple living

The philosophy of Simple Living

The philosophy of Simple Living

I read an article this week about a guy who had adopted the idea of ‘Simple living’. For a while now he has been the proud owner of a grand total of 15 items – 15! From what I can remember in his 15 items he owned items which consisted of clothing, an iphone and a laptop. This article stirred up a mixture of thoughts and emotions in me; shock, wonder and fear amongst other things. Consequently, I have found myself pondering on the concept at random points during the week. Could I live with just 15 things? I’m not sure I could but I couldn’t give you a definite reason why. Ok I could probably live with a small amount of clothing – jeans, jumper, tshirt, cardigan and a posh dress for the special occasions. That’s five. Then trainers (which I live in anyway) and I’d have to have smart shoes to go with the dress. That brings me to… 20140511-103643.jpg

I’ve pondered about technology and I am afraid to say I would, like the guy in the article, have to have a laptop and my iphone. First of all, I could live without my laptop for work but beyond that, for music, tv and communication my mac and iphone can do it all. I could also live without my kindle as my iphone could have the app. (Things have certainly come a long way from this days I spend hours happily typing on my Commodore 64!)

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Anyone remember this screen? ūüėČ

So…technology included, I’m up to nine. However, this is where I fall down. How could I not live without my sewing stash: my thread, needles, fabrics and other supplies? Granted I could live without my sewing machine as any large sewing projects could in theory be done by hand although it would take longer. I don’t think I could limit my craft supplies down to single items. Without them, I am certain I would be a very different person and not in a good way. Sewing is my go to when I need to destress, contemplate and unwind. So…could I cheat and just lump ‘craft stuff’ together as one item??? Maybe not ūüėČ

Then there’s the memories. My photo albums. My videos. Granted, newer memories are on my iphone and mac but the old ones, the treasured ones of childhood and of those who aren’t here anymore are not. These are the ones I need to revisit sometimes to refresh those often cloudy memories of years gone by. Those that remind me of how things used to be – of what my dad used to sound like, of how I used to be and of how our family spent time together. Life gets busy. Things happen and relationships change – for better and worse. We sometimes forget what the past was like or it becomes clouded by other things. No. I couldn’t live without those memories. They defined who I am and they were my life – it’s nice to relive them every now and again.

So I admit I couldn’t live¬†with just 15 things but I have to admit, it has made me look at the ‘stuff’ I’ve got around me in a different light. There are lots of things I have in my home that I don’t use or need. Maybe now is the time to re-evaluate whether it should still have a home here. This has also made me wonder why I have some items¬†in the first place. Maybe I fell into the trap of doing what everyone else does – I’ve bought stuff because I think it’s going to make life better/easier. I’ve bought stuff because I’ve thought I needed it (I probably didn’t). I’ve also bought things that I needed then but¬†don’t need now.

Over the next few weeks I am going to keep this idea in mind and try to simplify my possessions.  I hope I will be successful as I truly believe you feel better when you let go of things that no longer serve you.

What do you think – could you live a simple life with just 15 items? Which ones would you keep and couldn’t live without?

Until next time,

Toni xx

The 100 happy days challenge

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The #100happydays challenge. Have you heard of it? I hadn’t until this morning when I read about it from¬†A Beautiful Mess. I suddenly thought that this was something I had to get involved in.

I’ve been ill for a few weeks now and this has meant no driving, being in the house the majority of the time and not being able to look after/entertain my children the way I want to. I have been doing some sewing as and when I can but needless to say there has been a lot of time to think and lot of time to feel sorry for myself ūüėČ

The idea of this challenge really appealed then because to be reminded of the things in life I had to be thankful for is just what I need. If I find something inspiring along the way – what a bonus ūüôā

Popping over to Twitter, I can see there are loads of people already in the midst of this challenge and it seems that I am not the only one who is in need of a few reminders of the good things in life. It seems too easy these days to focus on the negative or to be so busy and blinkered that we just rush from day to day doing what we need to do and not really appreciating the present moment or the happy times. I think it was this way of life that landed me in bed with the lurgy to be honest.

I hope you will join me on this adventure. Each day, you take a photo of something that makes you happy. The great thing is, your happy times don’t have to be made public. You can decide whether to make your photos public by posting on somewhere like Facebook or you can simply email them to the website so they can see whether you have completed it or not. Surprisingly, 71% apparently don’t finish the challenge….often because they don’t feel they have time.

So…I have prioritised. I have committed to completing this challenge to reconnect with a happier me. You can decide whether you wish to take part by clicking here.

Although it starts tomorrow, this decision has made me happy today. I am already taking time to savour play time with my girls and being more aware of what makes me smile.

Here’s to 100 days of happiness ūüėÄ

Until next time,

Toni xx
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My steep learning curve….

When I had my eldest daughter, as you may already know, I experienced something of a change. Yes, I was sleep deprived. Yes I was enjoying motherhood. On top of that though, I was experiencing a sudden NEED  to create. Looking back, I never thought it would lead to the creation of Dollies Daydream.

In my life I have studied for a degree in Psychology, worked in retail, undertook research projects for a local charity, trained to be a teacher, stood in front of a group of 16-18 year olds and attempt to inspire them.  Possibly most scary of all, I have become a mother Рresponsible for not one but two children.

I can’t explain why I felt the need to start Dollies, especially when I had begun this amazing new adventure called motherhood. ¬†It took me by surprise. Maybe it’s partly because I wanted to reclaim something for me, partly because there was only so many things I could create for myself! ¬†

As I have already discussed, I have never been the most patient person and there have been times in this journey where I have definately run before I could walk but it’s all slowly coming together. What I have found however, is that the learning never stops.

I may enjoy making things but during this journey (so far) I am learning to put myself out there, to be confident in my work. ¬†I am learning to sell myself and my work. ¬†Years ago, selling your work would mean getting out there to craft fairs, speaking to people face to face. Yes, that’s a great part of selling work today but it also entails online networking by using social media, blogging and websites. ¬†It means learning to take great photos (again, I’m learning to be patient here and wait to set up a shot and for good lighting – I don’t always succeed!) and pricing your work realistically.

I’m not going to lie and tell you this is easy. ¬†After spending hours playing about with my mobile website (and muttering a few choice words in the process) it is far from easy at times. ¬†Saying that, I look at all that I am learning and feel a sense of pride of all that I am acheiving.¬†

I am proud of all that I am learning about myself and my audience; about the web and all the other technical skills.  When I have those moments when I feel like I could just pack it all in, I think about how amazing it feels to get a photo right or to see your work listed on a craft site.

I started this adventure hoping that someone might like my work enough to buy it (and I love the amazing feedback I do get from my customers) but it has turned into more than that.  When I do sell my work it sometimes feels like a fantastic by-product.  Every day I find out something new and apply my already existing knowledge to the challenges I face.  I am constantly looking at the world for inspiration and admiring others who are further along this path than me. I am pushing myself beyond my comfort zone and experiencing everything that that brings.

It’s not a walk in the park but although nothing can top motherhood, I have to say I would not swap this experience for anything. ¬†Starting Dollies Daydream has introduced me to some fantastic people, amazing experiences and interesting lessons. ¬†It’s a massively steep learning curve but I’m still here and still moving forward – how fantastic is that!

Until next time,

Toni xx