Getting Real #2: Thoughts on running a creative business from home

I wrote an article in November of 2014 sharing thoughts on life and changes and revealing the word I chose to nurture my life in 2015. More than two years passed and so many things changed.

P.S.: If you wanna know the word I chose this year, read it here.

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A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Lisa Jacobs in which she was talking about a list of creative entrepreneurs she admired and how surprised she was for noticing they had given up. That made me think about my own journey with JB Studio. It mostly made me reflect on my decision to go back to a day-job and teach some classes this semester. I ask myself “How does it feel?” 

To help you understand my thoughts and feelings about it, here’s a bit of my journey.

The decision to make it happen

I’ve been designing digital scrapbooking kits since Sep 2007 but I consider my start as a designer in Jan 2014 because it was when I decided I was doing it for real, I was gonna make it happen, I was gonna make it grow and be my only work and change my lifestyle.

And it happened. It was hustle, hustle, hustle in 2014 because I had a day job as a teachers coordinator in a language school and I worked hard making the team work at their fullest when lots of students and parents were complaining a lot about the services. As if that was not enough, hubby had an accident and couldn’t work in the second semester, so I also started teaching classes two evenings per week and on Saturdays, it meant less time for my side work. In the first month, he couldn’t even get up, so I had to do everything around the house and also all the driving that used to be his job – driving our daughter to school and back, driving her to other classes, doctors, events, going to the supermarket and any other kind of shopping needed – and also driving him to the doctor appointments whenever needed. It was such a crazy time for me that I still wonder how I managed to do all that.

Renewing my vows and committing to the life I wanna live

At the end of that year, I was feeling tired and burnt out, but also feeling hopeful since I noticed I could do it, I could be much more than I believed, I was stronger than I thought. In October, I decided I was gonna quit my job as a coordinator in the following year and be only a teacher so I would have the chance to work flexible hours and dedicate more to my side work.

I felt the urge to have more excuses to support the idea of quitting that job. So, I kept repeating to myself and anybody interested that my daughter was going through a hard time while becoming a tween. To be honest, it was not only an excuse, it was really happening and I felt it was about time I became a present and more mature mother for her. However, I think I focused on that because I didn’t allow myself to focus on me and my wants, it felt selfish at that moment.

In 2015, it was more hustle, hustle, hustle. I was teaching in the evenings and on Saturdays while running JB Studio online and trying to be more present for my daughter. Of course, it was not easy for any of us. I was at home almost all day long. I had to cook every day, I had to find that balance between work and home/family when you work from home. Besides that, I had all the students homework and classes preparing to take care of. Emotionally, I had to be strong enough to keep doing it while I wasn’t earning enough to make ends meet with my digiscrap brand.

I ended that year feeling more hopeful. I didn’t have all my problems solved, but my revenue had increased 387%  and my brand was more popular. I knew I was doing it right however, I felt I needed to have more hours to dedicate if I wanted to grow it more. That’s why I decided to quit my job for good and dedicate to my own business in the year that was coming.

I’m happy I was not alone

I have a pretty clear memory of a day in February of 2016 (and it’s not very usual for me to have clear memories. *grin) of me sitting on the bed, crying out loud while saying to hubby: “What if I made the wrong move?! What if we cannot pay the bills? What are we going to do?” and I was surprised by his answer: “I can’t believe you’re saying that now. Of course you’re doing it! You know, I’m gonna be honest with you. When you said you’re gonna make this happen a two years ago, I supported you because this is what I’m supposed to do as your husband, but I didn’t believe it was gonna become a real thing. You showed me how far you can get. You’re gonna reach the stars, baby.” His support was so important for me, running an online business by yourself can make you feel alone a lot of times.

I was not wrong about dedicating to my online biz and neither I was wrong about not being able to pay our bills. We didn’t have any savings, we couldn’t afford to reduce our incomes, but we needed to go through that to learn new lessons on taking responsibilities in our lives and managing our money. We had help from my parents and I can’t thank them enough.

The present moment

All that (and much more tears, smiles and lessons learned) brings me to today, sitting at my computer writing this post as a declaration of my commitment to myself and this is the first time I’m doing it without feeling selfish.

I decided to get back to the classroom and teach in the evening and Saturdays this semester not because I’m a quitter or I don’t believe in my business, but because I need more money so I can invest in my dreams. The aspect of my journey with JB Studio that I’m not happy about is that all the money I made with it was to pay our family bills, so I could never invest in its growth and I know it stopped me from reaching even higher levels if I had taken courses and invested in services and maybe in hiring. I know it’s not the proper way to start a business, but I also know that if I hadn’t gone through all that up to this point I wouldn’t have had the breakthrough I needed to become this confident about myself, my talents, my job.

So, answering the question “How does it feel to get back to a day job?” It feels necessary. I won’t lie and say I’m excited about it because I know it’s going to eat hours I could dedicate to my plans for this year, but I also feel blessed for having the opportunity to go back with a few minutes of conversation over the phone with the current coordinator when a lot of Brazilians are facing unemployment. And there’s also another feeling that I never talk about… pride.

Renewing my vows and committing to the life I wanna live once more

We always find a reason to censor ourselves. Back in 2015, I needed to find a good altruistic excuse not to feel I was being selfish and now I hear the ego and the intuition voices battling in my head about saying I’m proud of myself. That’s the truth. I AM proud of myself for doing what it takes to make my dreams come true. It’s huge for me, because I was too afraid for so long, finding all possible excuses to not follow my dreams, to not be happy, to not live the life I truly love.

I wrote this post as a declaration but also with the aim of touching the heart of women like me that have been living an unhappy life because they’re too afraid to go for what they really want.

We read and learn about stories of entrepreneurial women around the web all the time and all their stories seem to be so far from our reality, they are millionaires, they have a team, they are being interviewed here and there, they are followed by hundreds of thousands of people, they are already so far from the very first step that I cannot resonate with them. I do admire them and they are an inspiration, but sometimes it seems too far from my reality.

I’m in the beginning, in phase one of going for my dreams and creating the life I wanna live and maybe that can make you identify your reality a little bit more and motivate you to go for your dreams, too. Lisa’s honesty when sharing her story has inspired me a lot in the last few months (thank you, Lisa) and I’ll be so happy if I touch someone’s life like that, too.

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If you like this post, help me touch others
by sharing with creatives that could benefit from it.
Thanks so much.

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My Scrapbooking Journey: Hobby vs. Work

I’ve spent the last couple of hours thinking about what digital scrapbooking means to me and that happened after reading Shannon’s McNab post of the reasons she retired from digital scrapbook designs. Her reason #1 started the gears of my brain and stamped a question mark on my forehead.

I had ups and downs since I started in the digital scrapbooking industry. I’ve started and quit twice because I was not confident enough about my ability to make it happen. I learned a lot and improved my skills not only in design but also in managing a small creative business from home.

And this was a dream come true. 

Yes, I was thrilled 6 months later when I realized I was doing it. I was working from home which gave me the opportunity to delve into the self-knowledge and self-development world and become aware of my fears and strengths and with that knowledge build a better life for me and consequently for my family.

In addition, I was learning so much about managing a small business and finding the balance between my personal life and work life, and learning new things makes me feel so alive that it was probably a big motivation to keep doing it even when I was scared to death of not making ends meet.

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Hobby vs. Work

What I noticed and have mentioned many times since I got back to digital scrapbook designs in 2014 is that I lost my motivation to scrap my own family stories. I even lost my motivation to photograph our lives. I’ve been through such a roller coaster of energy and emotions while running JB Studio and adapting to this new lifestyle, facing very stressful and overwhelming moments and also delighted, joyful moments and that drained my willpower to scrap.

I differ from Shannon in that I haven’t traded scrapping for memory keeping to scrapping for business promotion. Actually, I’ve thought about it several times and I believe it might’ve helped to grow my business faster especially when I noticed a great growth of my shop popularity during a digital scrapbook contest I participated in back in 2015. But I didn’t keep doing it because it’s hard for me to make my scrapbook pages without having a story to tell.

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I love designing products for digital scrapbooking and it’s part of the awesomeness in my life at this moment, but I miss scrapping so much. I miss recording our family stories and having fun with store challenges, I miss chatting in the community, connecting to other scrappers and exchanging knowledge. It seems like all my decisions are made for business purposes. They probably are.

I’m not retiring from digital scrapbook designs

Oh no! I guess you also noticed many designers retired this year. I know how hard it is, but any business is. Am I wrong?! As I said, I love designing products for digital scrapbooking and I don’t have any intention of stopping now. I’m still in the process of learning and improving my skills and I still love to learn.

Most noteworthy, improving my skills is what I’ve been wanting to do lately. Don’t get me wrong, focusing on the admin and marketing side of the business is something I also like doing (I’m a multi-passionate person), but sometimes I feel frustrated at working on a short timeline to design a collection to meet a shop deadline, for example.

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Shannon’s reason #3 made me think about my next step. It’s relevant to say I write a recap of what is working and what is not working for JB Studio every month and here I am at that point again since we’re heading into a new month, so it is perfect timing!

More of what makes me happy

As a result of all that thinking, I registered for a coaching program to learn more about managing a creative business online with the intention of learning more effective ways of making it happen. I know I have so much to learn and experiment with.

Besides that, I wanna scrap more. I wanna get my mojo back and experiment with scrapping, too. Not only scrapbooking for scrapbooking-sake but trying new things, feel excited about scrapbooking again.

Do I know if it won’t harm my business? No, I don’t. But I’m hopeful it’ll do the opposite since I’ll be improving my skills and making more of what makes me happy.

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If you like this post, help me touch others
by sharing with creatives that could benefit from it.
Thanks so much.

Remember to sign up for my newsletter to get the latest from the blog and all positive vibes I can send your way. Besides that, you’ll also get a quick guide to choosing your word of the year. Subscribe here.