Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Rollercoaster of a Journey

©Copyright 2022 Belinda Karls-Nace/Blue Ribbon Designs, LLC
Greeting friends! It's been a while since my last post...and I have so much to share (which I will do over several updates). Time has been a hot commodity lately and it has been a challenge to find balance. I do my best to keep this a positive and creative space...but lately I have been struggling and focusing the majority of my time on work...and (to be completely honest), I just can't seem to get ahead. Each time I reach a goal or a proud moment, harsh reality seems to be right there to bring me back down a notch (or two, or three!). I am really looking at the future of Blue Ribbon Designs and what positive changes I have to make in order to continue to work in the needlework and quilting communities...because in this current economic climate, being a small business owner is not for the faint of heart. I know many of you are struggling as well - and just know, you are not alone.

While I haven't posted in quite some time, I have been doing all sorts of creative endeavors behind the scenes. After building a brand new website, I managed to convert all of my classic paper patterns to digital PDF designs and all my new digital designs are now available in paper format, as well. That means ALL Blue Ribbon Designs are available in either format - for those who like a traditional printed paper pattern, I have you covered....and for those who like the digital format and working from a device - or if you are overseas (or the US) and prefer not to pay the extremely high cost of shipping - or if you like the instant gratification of having a pattern in your hands immediately, I can take care of you too! I know that there are supporters of both formats and I wanted to make everyone happy (yes, we all know by now that I am a pleaser). I hope you will stop by my updated Etsy Shop and take a look - designs are separated into sections for PAPER or DIGITGAL...and all digital designs have a round blue badge on the cover...

©Copyright 2022 Belinda Karls-Nace/Blue Ribbon Designs, LLC
©Copyright 2022 Belinda Karls-Nace/Blue Ribbon Designs, LLC

Funny story - when converting all my classic designs to digital format, I found I only had my earliest designs on 3.5" floppy disk - REALLY!! - I have been designing that long! I had to order an external USB floppy disk drive from Amazon to load all my early design files onto my current computer....

I have also been adding new project bags to my Etsy Shop as often as possible...this includes more of my signature bags made from vintage Blackbird Designs fabrics. I have been adding both my classic bags and some patchwork bags, as well. While working on listings this past week, I did a little research and found that I sold my first project bag in 2010 - over 12 years ago...which doesn't even seem possible. I really wish I would have kept count over the years, as it would be interesting to have an accurate number of project bags I have created...but going through the folders of images I have, I am sure I am in the thousands. More interesting - when I started making them, I didn't know anyone else that made project bags for there are so many makers and shops popping up, it is hard to believe I still have clients and customers. If you happen to be carrying around or using one (or more) of my signature project bags, THANK YOU...project bags are just one part of my small business, but they have allowed me to continue to work in this creative industry and I am so grateful for your patronage - especially with all the new competition...your project bag orders and purchases have been a blessing! Here are a few that I have listed this week - some of which are still available at the time of this post...

©Copyright 2022 Belinda Karls-Nace/Blue Ribbon Designs, LLC

©Copyright 2022 Belinda Karls-Nace/Blue Ribbon Designs, LLC

©Copyright 2022 Belinda Karls-Nace/Blue Ribbon Designs, LLC

©Copyright 2022 Belinda Karls-Nace/Blue Ribbon Designs, LLC

©Copyright 2022 Belinda Karls-Nace/Blue Ribbon Designs, LLC

If you follow my social media, then you know I have also been continually working on needlework finishing and custom sewing/quilting/project bags - I actually have quite a bit of travel scheduled over then new few months and was hoping to get all my client orders finished beforehand...but as projects have continued to arrive, I don't think that will be an option. I have completed quite a few orders and will be posting some creative photos over the next several days.

On the design front (my very favorite branch of Blue Ribbon Designs), I have three new quilt patterns I am currently working on and four new counted cross stitch designs. These will all be coming in the next several months - hopefully before I travel out of the country for a few weeks later this year.

Add all of that to basic life and real world obligations and I guess that is a BIG part of the reason I am having a bit of a hard time finding a balance. Real talk - when I struggle to make financial ends meet, I take on more creative jobs (which let's be completely real, are not big money makers), then I struggle to keep up with all those jobs and find it hard to make time to do the actual designing that brings me joy...and it is a vicious some point, something is going to have to change, because right now, I am feeling quite defeated. Someone recently shared the following with me on social media and it pretty much sums it up:

The unfortunate truth of owning and running a business.
Running a business is really hard.
What they don’t tell you is that it can cause severe stress and anxiety, and drains you mentally to the point of depression in even the most laid-back people.
People will talk about you, compare you to others, use you, they will view you as a service and not a person anymore.
Friends will expect discounts and people will value you and your hard work less than a big chain store.
You have to worry about if you forget to email/message someone back, are they going to think it was on purpose? Did you disappoint them? Will they hold that against you? When in reality you just can’t get to everyone’s messages and emails.
Starting up and running a successful business puts incredible strain on personal lives and relationships, many of which fail because there is just often no work-life balance. You need to be the director, the worker, the admin, the marketing team, the accountant, the shipping department, and the cleaner; all while being a parent, a caregiver, a husband or a wife, family support, friend... it’s one of the hardest things you will try and balance.
There’s a reason you don’t see many people succeed in small businesses after a few years. If they are successful they are overwhelmed. It takes a toll. It’s freaking exhausting. Especially the past couple of years when so much has been out of our control.
Here’s a small reminder that we are just normal people with hectic lives. Be kind, be patient, support small businesses…and hopefully more of us will stick around!

All of that is the long way of saying why I haven't been sharing/visiting here much lately...I'm still around - I'm still working hard - I'm still doing creative projects every single day - I'm still trying to be focused and positive - I still believe in Blue Ribbon Designs. What the future holds for my small business in this day and age is hard to know, but I thank you all for being on this rollercoaster of a journey with me!