a crafty generalist's dilemma in the time of the Single Item Niche

It's been just about seven months since I "went back to work" after an extended "maternity leave" with baby #2. All those quotation marks are due to the fact that I haven't had a real job in about five years, since my post-grad teaching fellowship wrapped up and baby #1 was quickly morphing into a toddler. Economy was tanking and any hope of landing a studio art position in academia was quickly fading. Even so, I applied to a second round of teaching gigs while performing the duties of default stay-at-home-mom. In the little nooks of any time leftover (hard to believe now with two young kids, two old cats, and a house that seems like a living person at times that there was any time leftover but I suppose there always is) I launched my micro-business. And I was pretty lucky. After about six months sales picked up primarily through word of mouth, enough that I only wondered a month or two over the next couple of years if I should really have kid #1 in part-time daycare. By the time baby #2 came along, kid #1 was in four days of preschool most weeks and my micro-business had turned into a more-or-less full-time job. I assumed I'd be able to take a year off to chill with baby #2, get kid #1 settled into Kindergarten, and then pick up where I left off.


Between part-time daycare costs and material expenses, I don't think I broke even one of the seven months baby #2 was in someone else's care for part of the week, giving me some dedicated work time. So about halfway through this summer I decided to draw a line in the sand and am now officially a mostly SAHM, with a touch of WAHM ("work at home mom", that is, not the dreamy English musical duo of the 1980s) between the afternoon naptime hours of 12:30 and 2:30, give or take. SAHM plus, if you will.

Earlier this year, I decided to merge my two Etsy shops and re-brand under one business name, one shop, one blog, etc. I wrote about it here. It seems like the trend lately (in the food industry, too, it seems) is to streamline, simplify, and perfect that one thing, that one preferably handmade product that you make so well you can eventually mass-produce and pitch to the folks at Etsy Wholesale (handmade items mass-produced for wholesale mark-up ... wait, what?). And I guess that was kind of where I was going with the whole rebranding thing. But at the end of the day, I'm a crafty generalist at heart, a bar & grill, if you will, of the handmade world, and it's hard for me to do just one thing really well.

Anyway, the fact that my creative tendencies go against the current trend of this, how shall we coin it, "Single Item Niche", is not to say that is necessarily the cause of my shop's struggles this year. Who knows? But I do feel like I need to take a "break" (you know, the kind of "break" you might enjoy while taking care of a 19 month old toddler full-time, your 15-hour days book-ended by the before and after school shenanigans of a 1st-grader). I mean, if I think about it, that's kinda why I decided to pursue art & stuff in the first place. I just couldn't decide what I wanted to be when I grew up and art seemed like a place where I could explore and do lots of stuff. The same goes for hanging out with my kids, daunting and all-consuming as that task can be at times. Theoretically I can do a lot with a toddler and/or grade-schooler in tow, right? Theoretically.

All that said, I took advantage of those final weeks of daycare to add several new designs to the shop, as well as a couple of new ready-to-send stationery products. For fans of True Blood, there's this wedding invite:

If you're into something a little ... lighter, there's confetti in pinks, purples, and navy blue!

Maybe you're planning a Wizard of Oz themed birthday party or, heck, wedding! Yep, I have a design for that, too!

And finally, some more cheerleaders to cheer you up:

Cheers, indeed - here's to yet another chapter in this ever-evolving adventure of work meets kids with a dash of art & stuff!

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