Overwhelmed and Under Motivated

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I must be mad.

In my last job as a teacher, Professional Development is a given. There are literally DAYS full of it, and that’s totally understandable. After all, teaching is a profession and of course it’s important to be constantly up-skilling and learning different things….even on days where all you want to do is hide under the covers. I did it (sometimes reluctantly) because I had to. It was my job.

I haven’t taught for almost a year now and have been working exclusively on developing  Seven Oaks as a business rather than just a hobby. It’s been very slow going but I feel  like I’m sort of on the right track now. Awesome, right? Of course, right.

The problem is now that I’m trying to do so much. I’m doing challenges, I’m reading everything I can get my eyes on online to do with small business, marketing, sales and now email list building and blogging. I’ve always loved being a student so learning all this cool stuff is awesome, but when do you draw the line? I am signed up for FOUR webinars this week. It should have been five but unfortunately I had a personal appointment today which clashed ( as I type, my inner little voice is saying, “I should be able to make the next one….”). 

Every single day on Facebook I’m seeing promoted posts from business coaches who all seem to be saying very different stuff, making me feel like I absolutely MUST read this article, or sign up for this webinar, or take this class, or……

Oh my God. Let it stop.

  •  I feel guilty if I don’t sign up because “aww this person is just trying to make a living, just like me.”
  • I feel guilty if I sign up for something then don’t attend (yes, I’m in Australia and have been known to sit up until 2am to listen in to a webinar on using Pinterest for my business).
  • I feel even worse when I get to the end of a great webinar and then undoubtedly can’t afford to take their miracle course that will change my life and my business forever….
  • I feel conflicted and confused because what Person A said on her webinar is sooo far removed from what Person B said on his. Which one is the right one?!?

It’s crazy.

When does it get to the point where we as business owners have to say, “No.”

No more reading. No more webinars. No more feeling guilty because we’re genuinely so broke that we can LOVE the free content, then not be able to do any more than that even though we’d absolutely crush it if we could.

I’m certainly not taking anything away from the people who are really amazing at what they do. I just think I’ve signed up to too many. Today I got an email saying “Hi, I’m Sarah, __________ ‘s assistant. I see you watched his training video and we just wanted to say……..” I honestly can’t remember who he is, and I definitely don’t remember watching a training video from him! Oh dear. 

So, this will be my very last week of “just learning stuff.” I’m cleaning out my inbox and unsubscribing from the dozens of marketing gurus who I signed up to forever ago and never worked with. I’m making a committment to pick FIVE, and stick with them and their advice, and then mix and match it so that it makes perfect sense to ME. Enough with trying to implement a dozen or more different ways of doing stuff. It’s not working, and I’m overwhelmed and totally under motivated in my business. I’m not UNmotivated, because I’m here, and I’m showing up every day even when I don’t want to, and I’m doing what I need to do. I’m just not doing it well.

Time to change that, I reckon.

 

What changes have you made in your life lately that will help you in the long run? Tell me in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jewellery, Viruses and TV…

It has been a crazy week here in the SOHJ household!

First, we’ve been battling a nasty case of laryngitis that has cycled around the family at least twice already, meaning lots of missed school, Dr’s appointments, and laments of “Ohhhhh I’m dying!” in croaky voices between hacking-up-a lung coughing fits.

Awesome.

On the work front, I’ve completely rehashed my social media plan and am bullet pointing and listing my little heart out. I made some new pretties, this week too! Go me!

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Wire woven bracelet with artsisan glass bead from the incredibly talented Australian artist genschi and Swarovski crystals. This one sold on my VIP GROUP yesterday.
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This stunning tigereye cabochon is the star of this pendant which is topped with a lovely Sarovski pearl. It’s currently available on the website

So, there’s been a lot of sitting this week. I’ve either been on my backside blogging, social media planning, or creating while binge wathching stupid amounts of TV. I recently learned that they’re making a sequel to Prison Break. Yep, I think it’s awesome news, too! So naturally I’ve had to catch up on Seasons 1 – 4. I never actually watched most of season 3 or 4 when it was on TV here. Netflix is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?!?

This weekend there’ll be more blogging and planning and listing (I’m a sucker for a lovely list) and creating, in between my daughter’s gymnastics lesson tomorrow (IF she isn’t still sick, that is) and hanging out with the family sometime on Sunday.

My life may be hectic, but it’s pertty awesome.

See you next week!

If It Wasn’t For Those Pesky Trends….

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I loathe the word “trend.” I hate the idea that something has to be “in” or “trendy” or “on trend” to be loved. I hate how they can confuse and misdirect customers into buying stuff just because it’s “sooooo hot right now!” Ugh. Yuck. Choose your own paths, my lovelies!

I read an article the other night from a monthly jewellery magazine that talks a lot about trends and fashion and whatnot. I read it to keep up with the industry and what’s happening, but certainly not for “what’s hot”. One particular thing struck me. Gary Ingram, the CEO of TheDiamondStore.co.uk, said,

“Fine jewellery transcends age and fashion.”

Now, while I understand that his business IS of course fine jewellery, meaning real gold, real silver, diamonds, and other things all sparkly and expensive, I think I’m kind of offended. No, not offended. Affronted, maybe? Why can’t MY designs transcend age and fashion? I think they can.

Also, why put jewellery that transcends age and fashion into an article about trends, which will have been replaced by something else next season?

Anyway, he went on to say,

Apart from looking luxurious and reflecting personal style, they make you feel loved and treasured. That’s the real beauty of timeless jewellery.

Umm….hellooooo?!?!? Why can’t my designs make the wearer feel loved and treasured? Do we really live in a society that has that mind set of “if it’s expensive, they love me.” I don’t know about you, but knowing that someone sat there for hours and hours weaving that wire in and out and in and out and crying over mistakes, rejoicing in the triumphs and literally pouring blood, sweat and tears into every absolutely handcrafted, unique piece means so much more to me than it’s pricetag. Actually, I’ve decided that I’m reframing this whole thing so that what he really means is “handcrafted wire jewellery is beautiful, timeless, and reflects personal style just as much as a diamond does.” There. That sits better with me.

Now, I admit, I have no idea how the Diamond Store UK makes their items. I certainly don’t want to take anything away from them because jewellers are, of course, amazing craftspeople. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if their stuff is handmade, but I can say that I’m positive there’s not a little person sitting there weaving wire for 10 hours a day. There are designers there designing and creating….and making the trends. But then, are they simply following trends that other designers have come up with?

Who makes these damn trends in the first place?!?!? Aaargh! And will wire woven art pieces ever really be “trendy?” Do I even want them to be? I kind of like the idea of going against the grain and creating pieces that are out there, doing their own thing.

One thing that Mr Ingram said that I really do agree with though was this,

The biggest thing in jewellery now is about making it your own by combining pieces. It’s not so much about specific design, because we offer a huge variety in terms of that, but more about wearability, collectability, and above all, being able to mix and match various items at once.

I’m using this point as a springboard into a range of very simple, stackable copper wire rings which will be coming very soon. Keep an eye on this blog for the release of those, and also on the website itself. They’ll still be “me” but in keeping with the collectability idea and the ability to mix and match. I love that idea…and I can do it without being overly trendy.

 

 

Why I Wore Purple to a Funeral

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I wore purple to my grandmother’s funeral. Not because I’m a disrespectful brat, but because she didn’t want us all wearing black. Her reason for that was very simple.

“It’s so bloody depressing” is what she’d say about it. I actually don’t remember her ever wearing black. Not even in England when it was cold and miserable and it was the “in” thing to wear. She always wore something colourful. I remember she looked particularly enthralling in blue.

Unlike my Nan, I LOVE black. It’s one of my favourite clothing colour choices because well, a) it goes with everything, and b) it slims me down, and let’s face it there’s a LOT to be slimmed down. Had you asked me a few years ago, black would have been my only answer to “what’s your favourite colour?” I’m now 38 and have only just really started adding more colour to my wardrobe. My teenage black everything stage seems to have gone on for a little longer than most….

On the other hand, I love colour. Hot pink, deep purples, vivid blues and intense greens are on the top of my list (and if we’re talking clothes, it’s usually paired with something black. I’m not quite there, yet!)

When it comes to jewellery design though, I steer clear of black altogether and go for colour, colour, colour!! I do this for a few reasons; the biggest and probably most obvious being that with jewellery, we can be a little outlandish. We can have fun. If you have to wear an all black pant suit for work because bright coloured clothes are a no-no, add a little bright pink, or turquoise, or a splash of green. In jewellery we can allow our personalities to shine, even if we’re restricted by dress codes or uniforms (which is a whole ‘nother blog altogether!). Now, can you wear a giant statement necklace at a black tie formal event? Of course you can. You may not get away with it at work. So try something colourful, but subtle, and maybe a tad on the discreet side if you are wearing black at a funeral. When I was working in counselling (at a Catholic organisation), my dress code was quite explicit, but I’d work around it by wearing pieces of jewellery that caught the eye and attention of my teenage clients, and they were always a fabulous ice breaker.

Anyway, while I’m on the topic of colour, I mentioned in a previous blog about all these gorgeous gemstones that I had ordered off Ebay. Three of the 26 that I splurged on have now arrived and the colours are AMAZING.

Here are the three that I have in my little hands as we speak:

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Bumblebee jasper – this stunning, unusual blend of yellows, dark browns, and cream is just awesome! I’ve never used it before in my work, so I’m looking forward to it. To be honest, I’ve never used yellow in a design before. Not once. Not even when I was beading! I just couldn’t find a yellow I liked until I found this.

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This is a super unusual blend of natural copper, malachite and turquoise, and the colours are just lovely!! When I chose this one, I kept thinking how totally LUSH it’ll look with copper wire. It’s not a huge stone, so it won’t make a massive statement if it’s used as a pendant, so I was thinking if putting it into a bracelet instead. Gotta get that POP!

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This last one I chose simply because it reminds my of my mum. She loves tigereye and this is a gorgeous stone that has gone into a rather lovely pendant (so far, unlisted). It’s a little darker than I would have chosen before, but the colour and movement of the stone is amazing.

I could choose obsidian. Or jet. Or onyx. Or spinel. They’re all amazing stones, and they’re all beautiful. They’re all incredible shades of black.

But like my Nanna said, “Black is just so bloody depressing.”

Choose purple. I’m glad I did. 

 

My Ultimate Truth …. aka My Why

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Because I’m a total glutton for punishment, and am just absorbing information like a freaking sponge lately, I signed up for yet another content challenge, this time for a whopping 30 days. I’m going through it on a daily basis, and doing the stuff that is expected of me, but am finding it difficult to write up all the awesomeness on the same day as I’m supposed to do it.

Wait. That made no sense.

Okay. Today’s blog post was actually written on Day 2 of the challenge….which was on Friday. I’m taking advantage of the fabulous scheduling feature of WP and it’s saving so much stress, it’s unreal.

So today, I want to talk to you about expectations. Societal, familial, whatever….we all have them. We all have this stuff we are “supposed” to do, whether we want to or not. For me, I was “supposed” to go to school and finish high school with amazing results after year 12. Umm…oops. I made it to year 11 and I’d had enough.

I was “supposed” to go to university. I was “supposed” to meet some lovely man and get married and have children and have a house and a lovely car and a lovely holiday every year and blah blah blah…..

That’s not exactly what happened.

I left school. I bummed around a bit not really knowing what I wanted to do. I got pregnant at 18 after being with my boyfriend for 2 months, and left the country to come to Australia a month after that. I was a single mum for two years, then I met my ex, who was anything but the “lovely man” I had envisioned. I was a walking punch bag for 6 years instead. I had two more kids with him, kids who I adore, and will never, ever regret having, but who have had a few hard lessons into family and love and relationships. I was expected to just get out of that relationship. Just like that. The cops told me to move interstate. Funny.

Then I went to uni. I got a bachelor in psychology, followed by an honours degree. I got married to a lovely man (who flew half way around the world to be with me even though all our family and friends said we were insane…again, there’s those familial and societal expectations!). I had two more kids, then returned to uni for the third time to get a graduate diploma in education because, well, society says I have to work for other people, and to do that I have to have lots of pieces of paper to prove that I can sit in a classroom and behave myself and write a fairly good academic paper.

Truth is, I’m not the best counsellor on the planet, but I worked my arse off for my clients. I’m a brand new teacher who wasn’t excelling and left my last school swearing I’d never teach again…..but I adored my students and worked 17 hours a day every day to make sure I could say I at least tried….at the expense of time with my own kids and husband.

Why??

Because society says so.

Society says I have to be this and do that, and have this, and get that….but it has to be done by going to work for people who don’t give a shit about me, or my kids, or my family in general. I have to go to work with tears streaming down my face because I know in my gut that I’m not living MY way, or MY truth.

They don’t care that I don’t want to work 17 hour days, wolfing down whatever snack food I can get my hands on and getting fatter and more miserable by the second.

They don’t care that I’d much rather work in my pyjamas, or be able to say “Nah. Not today. Today is for my kids.”

They certainly don’t care that the only person I want as my employer is me.  

I’m actually thinking of going back to uni but this time to do something in marketing or something similar so that I can put ALL of my time and energy into my own business. I have LOADS of ideas floating around in my  head for both SOHJ and other more business like type stuff. But there’s bills to pay and mouths to feed, and society says I can’t stay like this forever….

I hate being told by society that I’m wrong. I hate being judged by society because I am actively choosing to stay at home with my son while he’s little; he’ll be in transition next year and I’ll never get this time with him back. I love being at home for my beautiful teen daughters who I am teaching to do what they love! I don’t care if they never finish school. They’re not academic and school just isn’t for everyone. Miss 15 wants to be a photographer; Miss 14 wants to dance….and good on them, too! I’m tired of being made to fit in a box that I’ll just never fit in. My kids will never fit into those boxes either.

Why should we? Why should we repeatedly go to jobs we’re qualified for but aren’t enjoying? Why are we forced to only dream about a life that we’ll never really be able to have because 6 weeks annual leave just isn’t enough for all the exploring we want to do? Who the hell made it this way?

This is my why. This is why I stretch myself as an artist and why I’m absorbing business information like a sponge. It’s why I’m doing LIVE videos even though they scare the living daylights out of me. I can go to bed at night knowing that I spent the day doing something that might not mean a whole lot to the world at large but truly makes me a happier, more content person, and a much better mum than I was before.

Release yourself from these bloody societal “norms” and do what makes you happy. Choose to do what makes your soul soar!

With all my love,

Jacqui

 

Photo credit: Marco / Zak via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-ND

How I Confronted My Inner Whiny Bitch

 

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I’ve been hearing it for months. Years, actually.

Oh my god, you suck.

You can’t do anything right.

Why can’t you just realise that you’re useless and nobody will ever give a damn about you or your jewellery…like, ever.

We all have an inner whiny bitch. Don’t deny it. She’s there. She might not be as visible or as vocal as my IWB, but she’s there. You might be able to keep your IWB in control, you may be able to get through every single day without her making an appearance. Unfortunately for me, mine has been particularly awful in recent weeks:

You cannot leave the house looking like THAT!

What on earth are you thinking? You can’t do that!

You know, that’s just rude. You can’t be asking for a sale like that. God, what’s wrong with you?!?!?

You do know that they all think you’re utterly stupid, right?

You may recognise this as negative self talk and you’re absolutely right. It is. I just happen to prefer the term, Inner Whiny Bitch. Here’s the thing. I have social anxiety, and it’s bad. It’s now at the point where I can’t make phone calls to the electric company, phone company, housing people, or any other authority figure. If I do, I have to mentally rehearse what I’ll say beforehand, and try to anticipate what they will say, so I can rehearse what I’ll say in response to their response. It’s exhausting. I avoid meetings with my kids schools because they intimidate me so much. I really want to go to playgroups and stuff with my son but that damn IWB just won’t shut up long enough for me to talk myself into just having a go and doing it, so I end up staying at home, only interacting online because that’s not so scary. Real life doesn’t have a backspace button and I tend to put foot in mouth a lot. People actually scare me. That’s a horrible thing to experience for a 38 year old woman who should be a lot more confident than she is.

Today though, I gave my IWB the ass whooping she deserved.

I’m doing an awesome facebook engagement challenge at the moment, which is working superbly well, and every day the challenge developer Sherri-Lee makes us do a task that will help us to increase reach and engagement on our business pages.

Day one and day two were easy, basically stuff I was already doing on my page but not quite doing the right way. Now that I have the right way under my belt, I’m noticing some huge differences and that is truly awesome.

Day three was like a slap in the face. It made me freeze. I got chills. I got panicky. I couldn’t breathe. I had a moment where I thought, “Well that’s as far as I’ll go in this one, then!”

Yep, she wanted us to do a Facebook Live video. 

Me. In all my weird accented, chubby faced, lispy “gorgeousness”….and she wants me to do a video.

No. No, no, no.

I thought about it all night. It went around and around in my head. I got dizzy. And my IWB freaking LOVED IT.

See?? I told you this was a stupid waste of time.

People will think you’re fat.

You don’t have enough makeup to cover all your ugly.

This is the dumbest thing you’ve ever done.

You do remember how the videos of your counselling sessions at university went, yes? You sucked then, and you’ll suck now.

I tried everything I could to block her out. I took long, deep, cleansing breaths. I listened to calming music. I grounded myself as best as I could so I didn’t spiral into a full blown panic attack. I went to bed, and didn’t think of it again until morning.

I knew I had a webinar I wanted to listen to this morning. I also knew that the best time for me to do this (if it was ever going to happen!) was 8am. But my kids were sick and my son just wanted to snuggle with me and the whole time, she was there…whispering.

Excuses, excuses. You’ll never do it. You’re too scared. You’re……

I drowned her out by busying myself with my son and his needs. The next thing I knew I was getting dressed, and putting on my makeup.

“Mum, what are you doing?” asked my daughter.

“Umm…I have to do a live video for my page.” I stammered.

“Oh. Wear this wig, mum. I like this one!” It’s lovely to be supported. It’s lovely to know that she knows that a wig was most definitely necessary to help me to step into that zone…

So…I was dressed, face on, hair on and ready to go. I got all comfy and positioned on my daughter’s bed (her room has great lighting), figured out how to set my phone up on a bunch of books, leaning against a glass (probably not the best set up, but it’ll do for now).I put the title of the live video in….and froze.  I sat there for 15 minutes, staring out the window with my IWB whispering her words of doubt and self loathing into my head.

This was my next facebook post. IWB at her finest:

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Great. At that point, I was ready to pack it all up and retreat to bed for snuggles with my boy, but then I remembered something. A Year 5 student I worked with while I was on prac for my education diploma asked me once, “Miss, did you ever get anything wrong when you were a kid?” My answer was simple. “Oh yes. All the time, but that’s how we learn, isn’t it? You can’t let fear of getting it wrong stop you from trying.” 

IWB didn’t know how to deal with that.

But I told you! You SUCK and you’ll fail at this!! I….I….know you will! What the hell?

Oi!! Listen to me! Why aren’t you listening?!?

All of a sudden, her voice became smaller, quieter, more distant, and my Inner Queen Diva came out to play instead:

Honey, you look great. You’re out of your comfort zone and that’s scary, I know. But this is for something you’re passionate about, something that defines who you are. You can do this. Talk about what you love. You’ll be okay. I’m with you every step of the way. Now go. Do it!

So, I did. I hit that “Go Live” button with the shakiest, most terrified hands, but I hit the button and spoke. There were screw ups, and technical issues. I actually had to do it twice because I stuffed up the first one when I instincively swiped a notification away on my phone…oops! But now I know…don’t touch any part of the screen when on FB Live! I stumbled over a few words and lost track a little bit, but I did it. It feels so good to have just gone with it. It wasn’t perfect and I’m never, ever going to be a star of the screen, but it’s done.

My people didn’t laugh at me. They celebrated with me. They didn’t tell me I looked fat or that my skin was awful. They didn’t tell me how much I sucked or that I should “get a real job” like my IWB has told me so many times lately.  I did get a friendly ribbing  about my bizarre accent but that I can handle because it’s true and it came from someone I adore.

I feel so good. My IWB is in hiding somewhere, licking her wounds…and she needs to stay there. She has no place in my head anymore.

Have you overcome your IWB lately? Tell me how in the comments.

Sending you much love and high fives,

Jacqui

xxx

PS For those who’d like to witness this whooping of the IWB…you can watch my FB Live video here. 

Photo credit: Nick Kenrick. via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA

What to charge for your handmade products

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Photo credit: mr-numb via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND

 

My blood is boiling, people!

I’m in a lot of jewellery related groups on Facebook and recently that pesky question, “What should I charge for this? is $20 too much?” has once again raised it’s ugly head.

Now, I’m all for people asking for help. I am. But when it comes to pricing, I really get annoyed very quickly and so I try to avoid these discussions. Charging $20 for a necklace you probably spent hours making is not okay. It’s too low. Far too low! Jewellery is a luxury item. Stop being so afraid to charge what it’s worth! 

I do understand, though. When I first started out, my prices seemed obscene and I’d often lament to my poor hubby, “Who the heck is going to pay $20 for THAT?!?” and he’d get all annoyed and tell me that I had to remember that it was made by hand, and not in some sweatshop being sold for pennies to big stores. It took me a couple of years to come around to his way of thinking, but now I can charge $240 for a wire woven bracelet thast took me six hours to make (probably more, if I’m honest, when you include treating with LoS, scrubbing, polishing, photographing, listing on the website etc…..) and not feel guilty about it. I’m also learning about my dream client, so now I design, produce and market to her, and she can afford my prices. More on that in a later blog, I think!

Handmadeology sums it up beautifully:

If you charge too low, you are not only cheapening the perceived value of your own work, you are also cheapening the work of others because the public learns to think that some jewelers who charge what they are worth, are charging too much. – http://www.handmadeology.com/pricing-your-handmade-jewelry/

So, here’s what you should be charging for:

Time

Your time is precious. Charge for it! And for the love of all things holy, don’t charge less than minimum wage for your hourly rate. Right now, I charge minimum wage for my wire work but that will increase as my skill level increases. I’m not going to train and study and practice and learn for years just to keep paying myself minimum wage. That’s ridiculous. It’s harmful. You also have to take into consideration things like down time because you’re sick, or you want to take a holiday with your family, or whatever…charge an hourly rate that works for you, and stick to it (or even increase it as your needs change). Aussie designer Simone Walsh has a great article on her site about this, including a great method to settle on your final hourly rate. Check it out here.

Overheads

You should be charging for your overheads, too. Just because you’re a stay at home mumpreneur doing this for some extra dollars doesn’t mean that you don’t have overheads. My lights wouldn’t be on until 2am every day if I wasn’t doing this. My computer wouldn’t be on until all hours. Internet access wouldn’t be such a necessity, either. Electricity and internet are not free (or if they are free wherever you are, I’m moving!). Charge for your overheads (industry standard is 20% of materials + labour).

Materials

Materials don’t buy themselves. Charge accordingly, but please don’t forget….you are charging what it would cost to replace those items, so if you got them on sale, you charge regular price because by the time you sell the piece and go to replace those items, the chances are they’re not on sale anymore. So now you have to replace those items at full price, whcih chews into your profit. Think about it. Also, take into consideration the currency that you buy items in. I have to buy most of my things from overseas and for the longest time, I undercut myself on materials because I was forgetting to charge in Australian dollars! So, let’s say I bought a stone for $5 USD, I’ve actually paid $6.87 Australian for it. (Ebay is fantastic because it tells me exactly what I paid in my currency so it stops this confusion). If I only charged $5 (Australian), I’d be screwing myself out of $1.87!! That adds up fast.

Re-investment

A percentage of each sale should be going right back into your business. Charge  so you can afford to do so.

Profit

You do want to make some money from your jewellery, yes? Then you need to be taking your profit into account too.

So really….is $20 for that necklace that took you 4 hours to weave really enough? No? I didn’t think so. 

Love,

Jacqui

 

PS. A quick google search will bring up a million and one different calculations, formulas etc on how to price your work, but I love this calculator which was developed by Laura Bracken. It takes ALL the guesswork out of pricing, and includes five different pricing formulas so you can choose which one feels right to you. The newest version, which I just got today (you get free updates for life), even includes your re-investment amount so you know exactly where every cent is going. It’s awesome and I can’t do pricing without it, anymore.