<![CDATA[My Site - Infinite 8 Blog]]>Thu, 25 Feb 2016 10:52:02 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Recent Art Activities]]>Thu, 25 Feb 2016 03:32:18 GMThttp://www.infinite8creative.com/infinite-8-blog/recent-art-activitiesJust a quick update to show some of the artwork I've been working on recently.  I'm taking a mixed media class (again) and loving it.  Each week I try a different style of mixed media.  I love learning new techniques and finding my artistic groove.

<![CDATA[Make More Art!]]>Tue, 07 Jul 2015 23:00:35 GMThttp://www.infinite8creative.com/infinite-8-blog/make-more-artPictureMy college buddy Arlette (L) and me - before our races.
Looking back on my last blog post – January 2015 (sorry, I’m not posting often) – I see that I set some New Year goals for myself.  I’m happy to report that I accomplished all of those goals.

I met my swimming goals by qualifying for – and attending – the Masters Nationals Championship meet in San Antonio.  My husband swam too and we met up with his longtime friend and childhood swimming rival.  We got to know some of our Masters teammates better, and I reconnected with a few friends from my college swimming days (Go Gauchos!)  Oh, and there were some former Olympians there too.  Very cool to see that level of swimming up close.  Most impressive of all?  The oldest swimmer competing at Nationals was 98.  Amazing.

I learned to meditate – harder than I thought it would be.  There are so many opportunities to ignore this item on the To-Do list (like my desire for coffee first!)  I kept with it for a few months and really enjoyed the experience.  I felt more clear-headed, able to focus on the things I want to accomplish.  I felt more calm and able to deal with stress. I tried a few and found that the guide’s voice is very important.  My guy sounds a bit like the actor Russell Brand.  That may not be your cup of tea, but I get a little smile on my face every time I begin.  His name is Mark Golding and here’s a link to his recorded meditation.  Enjoy! 

Unfortunately life got in the way (stress!) and I stopped.  It’s interesting that when I really needed it most, because of stress, I stopped. I miss meditating and believe that the practice adds to my daily life.   I will start again as soon as I finish this post.  It’s really that simple.  No excuses.
Finally, my goal to create my own artwork came through in a very big way.  I’m doing it!  I’m making art and I love it.  Sometimes you just need to jump in and do it.  That’s what I did.  A quick trip to Michael’s, toss a few tubes of paint and a few canvases in my cart, and I’m on my way. 

For unknown reasons (or undiscovered reasons), I decided to start with some portraits.  First I drew my kids, then my mom, then a stranger I found in a magazine.  I researched how to draw noses, eyes and mouths.  I used my son’s 6th grade art class hand-out, “how to draw faces.”  I am taking every opportunity to improve this skill. Art and creativity are definitely muscles that need to be exercised regularly.

Most recently I started taking art classes through our city civic arts program.  I really enjoyed the mixed media class where I started working in collage and then over-painting. Having a specific day and time carved out of my schedule for art was just what I needed. The time flew by and I learned so much from my instructor and classmates.

I’m collecting artists and “stealing” their techniques, with my own style. I found inspiration from the work of artist Dan Casado.  It’s very freeing to create using different techniques.  I study an artist’s work, analyze why I like it and try to figure out how they got there.  Some work is successful and some less so, but I’m always learning.  Most importantly I’m having fun.
PictureMermaid Mail Art - from my recent art class.

Prints of a few of my pieces are for sale on FineArtAmerica

I just started a new class entitled Creative Art: Dreams & Memories.  I’ve only completed one class where created mail art (decorated an envelope.)  It was fun and frivolous and after the first class I’m excited to continue.  The possibilities for expansion are huge.  I need to open my mind and allow myself to be open to whatever comes my way.  It should be good!

Writing down and publishing my goals is key. This seems to be a cornerstone for me.  Write it down.  Do it.  And then watch what happens. 

OK – off to meditate!

<![CDATA[Well, hello 2015!]]>Sat, 03 Jan 2015 19:00:22 GMThttp://www.infinite8creative.com/infinite-8-blog/well-hello-2015
Mountain Folk. Actually, my family are not really "snow" people. We are melted snow people, as in "water" people. As in, swimming, surfing, boogie boarding, floating. But we started 2015 in the snow, so who knows.
Goodbye 2014, you were lovely but it's time to go.  As I sat and tried to sum up the year I felt stumped, perhaps not enough coffee this morning.  OK I have cup number two and I decided to look a look at my calendar and refresh my memory.  Hey!  I had a pretty great year.  So in the spirit of optimism and gratefulness, I wrote a list on the back of an envelope (that's where all the great lists start)

My 2014 gratitude list includes (but is not limited to):
  • Visits from friends and family.  We have been fortunate enough to reconnect with many people this year!
  • My fun and patient and creative husband.  I really love this guy!  So nice to say after 20 years of togetherness.
  • Getting strong and tough at Boot Camp (while laughing my ass off)
  • Swimming.  Competing. Reconnecting with a sport I love and people I haven't seen in a very long time (Go Gauchos)
  • Parent Care. This will appear in the "challenges" column as well, but here, it is a gift.  I live close to my mom and dad and I am grateful to have them in my life.  They had some health challenges this year and it brought it home to me: we only go around once.  I'm happy to help them when they need it, and give them their space when they need it.  
  • Vacations - to Sea Ranch, Arnold, Pajaro Dunes and San Diego - with extended family and with my own little family.
  • More family on its way -- I'm going to be a Grand Aunt in February My nephew and his wife are expecting. That makes me a Grand Aunt, not a Great Aunt.  I learned this from this YouTube video. You can learn nearly everything on YouTube. 
  • Infinite 8 - the girls, my business name is Infinite 8 Creative, but my girls group is The Infinite 8 and they are my foundation.  I know that sounds dramatic, but they really are special friends.  We have had amazing experiences together.  Someone should write a book about us.  Hmmm...
  • I have a standing monthly coffee date with a dear (I won't include the adjective "old") friend and I look forward to that so much.  She provides me so much entertainment (imaginary WW meetings? Sure!) and inspiration.  I just love her so.
  • Business Evolution.  This is one of those items that will appear in both columns.  I sort of put my business on hold this past year.  After the 2013 holiday rush, and experiencing great success (thank you, supporters!) I decided to re-think my business goals.  I'm still working on that and enjoying the journey of this creative life.
  • ART!  I am so grateful to have the time and space (sort of - never enough space!) to practice my creativity.  Whether it's sewing, painting, jewelry making or refinishing furniture, I try to keep the creative juices flowing.  It makes me a happier person.
  • I have to include my dog on this list.  He's almost 14 years old and he sleeps most of the day, but he has these bright flashes of energy that make me smile (and feel relieved that he's still actually alive.)

Petey, the love dog.
Yesterday on our drive home from the mountains my family discussed goals for 2015.  We all had some solid "do-able" items for the list.  I'll share mine here.  When you write - or type - your goals and share them, they are more likely to work out.  So here goes:

In 2015 I would like to learn meditation.  I think this will help me become more focused and accomplish the other goals I have for myself. 

I will swim in 3 swim meets and qualify for all my events for the Masters Nationals meet in San Antonio, TX (this will require some consistent training on my part!) 

Also, I'd like to keep up with my somewhat recent artistic surge.  I have been finding projects that inspire me on Pinterest and recreating them.  Here's one now!
For years, I've wanted to create a "winter" painting - something that could come out for just this season.  Finally, I took the plunge and made it happen.  I'm pleased with the result.  I was inspired by an image I found on Pinterest by THIS ARTIST

Happy New Year people!  Live it up! 
- Mary

Oh, one more little nugget!  After nearly starting a conversation with a great friend that verged on gossip
(or at the time I would say it was gossip masked as "concern for another friend") she said this to me: 
There are two types of business: your business and NOT your business. 

I felt inspired to break out the Modge Podge and create this. 
The block has a few other gems I need to see on a daily basis. 
I call it a block of wisdom.  And a great reminder.

<![CDATA[I'm baaaaaaack!]]>Mon, 01 Dec 2014 03:58:44 GMThttp://www.infinite8creative.com/infinite-8-blog/im-baaaaaaack Wood Block HousesLast week's jump-start inspiration project: Wood block houses from Things With Wings.
Hmmm… where to start, where to start? When I last updated this blog I was reevaluating my creative business.  I finished my taxes and recognized that this crafting business – primarily textile based – is more of a hobby than a business for me.  That led me down a path of contemplation about what I was doing and why.  I asked myself some basic questions about my initial goal (make something, anything, that a non-friend/family member would buy - check). 

The follow-up question to that is “did you enjoy it?” Answer: yes and no.  I love making things.  I love that people (total strangers, even!) wanted to purchase my creations.  But I was disappointed in the amount of money I made in relation to the amount of time I spent.  That’s the honest truth.  Also, I felt a little stuck in the scarf making biz, and wanted to move on from those.

Deeper questions follow:

What do you want the business to look like?  Do you want to eventually pay the mortgage with this business?  The answer to that seems to be a big NO.  There are many reasons why.  The most fundamental is that I don’t want to loose the joy of creating things and I definitely don’t want to turn away from my passion because it became a grind.

Don’t get me wrong, There are people out there who are making a go of it with their creative businesses.  I loved making things and each sale is a thrill and I will continue to offer my creations in my Etsy shop, but I’m still figuring out what that looks like.  My Etsy shop is now reopened with scarves and zippered pouches and ornaments – just in time for the holiday season.  Of course I will update when new projects are available there.

I’m grateful that I have time to contemplate such questions and answers.  I’m grateful that I have the freedom to change direction if I want.

So skip over Easter, end-of-school, 4th of July and a pretty major house remodel, and fast forward to present day (Happy Thanksgiving) I find myself in need of a new goal.  (You know I’m a big fan of the goal setting.)  I need of some focus, so I don’t look back at the end of the school year and ask “what did I do this year?” 

This summer we remodeled the kitchen/living room and I enjoyed the creative decisions that came with that.  It was very inspiring to work with a professional designer.  Shout out to Jennifer Runkle at Runkle Design.  Now I have the opportunity to put my creative stamp on the remodel through numerous projects. That list looks like this:
  • Recover Pillows (I have a ton of fabric!)
  • Recover an Ikea chair
  • Recover dining chairs
  • Continue to scout thrift stores a chair (or 2) to replace the one that not a single person ever wants to sit in. (sounds like I’m going to learn upholstery!)
  • Create artwork for the empty tv wall – painting? multi media collage? reclaimed wood?
  • Frame some long-lost art found behind old furniture

I love Pinterest. There are so many great ideas that inspire me.  In an effort to jump-start my creativity and give myself another goal, I will choose one project per week (am I too ambitious? we shall see) from my Pinterest boards as inspiration.   I’ll post those recreations here as well as on my Pinterest board titled “From Pinterest – I actually tried.” There are sure to be some successes and some failures (which could be hilarious.)

Last week, I found these wood block houses via Pinterest.  They came from a great website called Things with Wings.  I'm just beginning to explore this website, but I love their style. So I made my own version.  I got to use the Modge Podge I so love, as well as cool papers and collage techniques I’ve picked up along the way. They add a little personal whimsy to my shelves, and more importantly, they make me smile.

My attempt to recreate the wood block houses. Fun stuff.
<![CDATA[New Year's Resolutions - or not.]]>Sat, 18 Jan 2014 05:22:50 GMThttp://www.infinite8creative.com/infinite-8-blog/new-years-resolutions-or-notWord of the Year: CreateMy word of 2014: Create. What's yours??
New Year’s Resolutions? I’m not a fan. 

It’s not that I don’t like self improvement – I love that.  It’s just that New Year’s resolutions seem so big and damning.  I’ve never had much success with big changes. 

If you’ve read any of my little (but growing) blog, you know I’m a big fan of goals (read that post here.)  What’s the difference?  For me, it's about attitude and planning.  Maybe it's just that, in the past, my resolutions have been unrealistic (too big) or not specific enough (no plan.)

When I set goals they are specific, and they are backed up by solid plans. I’m not talking about general goals like “become rich” or “find happiness.”  Setting a goal works when you have a plan behind it.  Yes, most people want to make more money and/or be happy.  It’s the “how” that’s important.  You got to have a step-by-step plan.

So it’s time to set personal and business goals for 2014.  Personal goals are easier for me so I’ll start there.  One personal goal I have is to compete in a swim meet this year.  I’m a 47 year old former collegiate swimmer who is freaking out about diving off the starting blocks (what if I strain my back? What if I belly flop?  What if I simply fall off?)  To address this concern, I’m going to practice.  Seems pretty logical to me.  Practice swimming fast.  Practice diving off the blocks (it’s been a while.)  I’m entering a meet in early February and will report back on how it goes (that should be a funny post, so come back and read it!)

Setting business goals are more difficult for me.  After the busy holiday season, when I participated in my first craft show, I need to regain some focus.  If I’m calling this a business and not a hobby – which believe me, Uncle Sam says it’s a business - then I need to pay more attention to details. 

Business Goal #1:
Get a handle on the record-keeping.  I have been pretty hippy-dippy about how much I’m spending vs. how much I’m bringing in.  I know I’m making some money (I’m not THAT hippy-dippy) but I really couldn’t tell you exactly how much.  See that bulging envelope over there? It holds all the receipts (at least I have them!) So that’s my dirty little secret confession and Business Goal #1.  Get the books in order.  (My husband is doing a little happy dance right now.)

Business Goal #2:
  Take it a little further.  Expand my horizons. 
I enjoy creating all sorts of things.  I have a well-documented love for fabric.  I like making jewelry.  I’ve fallen in love with my little bird and heart ornaments.  But I want to take it further. 

I want to step out of my comfort zone and exercise a muscle that has been sedentary for too long. I want to paint.  There, I said it.  I have this little voice in my head that says “you need to paint something. Anything.”  The voice is getting louder.  As I swim my laps I have all sorts of conversations with myself – and sometimes with others, but they don’t know I’m talking to them because I’m underwater (an entirely different post.)  Lately, the underwater conversations and images that accompany them are all about art – painting and multi-media specifically.

So goal #2 will include some paint, some paper, some glitter (for sure) and a canvas or two. And if I'm feeling brave I will share it here.  I’m not necessarily going to sell this art, but I’m excited to get back into it.  I’ve done a few multi-media projects in my time and really enjoy the process and outcome.  Friends who hike with me are always curious about the stuff I pick up off the ground, bottle caps, tags, chain.  Now we'll see what I can do with it. 

I’m contemplating participating in an online painting course like this one by Kelly Rae Roberts  or Brené Brown.

Have any of you taken an online painting/creative course?  Let me know what you think.

Business Goal #3  But wait!  There’s more!  Goal #3 will be to have a blast with the fabric that I already have (and I have a lot of it!) and create more scarves (which I still love) and a few other fabric-related products that are on my “to-create” list.  I’m excited about that too.  UPDATE: I just learned that my sewing machine needs to go in for service.  It will be gone for 2 weeks.  Before I send it away I'm going to whip up a few things - using some of the fabric that has been calling my name.  Nothing like a self imposed deadline to get me going!

Goal #4  Finally, Goal #4 is a combo personal/business goal:  Watch better t.v.  Not less t.v.  I love my programs, but I have to kick some (most) of the reality shows to the curb.  I know they are entertaining in a sick fascinating way, but I’m starting to get a bad taste in my mouth whenever I see them.  No judgment here though. You keep on watching them.  I understand the draw.  I’m just going to resist.  I wiped them from my DVR, readjusted the recording options and will stay away from the Bravo On Demand feature.  Plus, Downton Abbey started so I’m happy.  And Revenge. And Nashville. (There’s some stupid stuff, but I love it!) 

The reason Goal #4 falls into the personal and business sections:  I like to watch t.v. while I’m making things.  I look forward to the hand-sewing parts of my projects so I can click on the tube and watch those women be so mean to each other.  Now I will stitch to lovely British accents instead (although Downton has it’s elements of Housewives… that Edith and Mary relationship is messed up.)

One reason I started this blog was to share the joys and challenges of turning my love of making things into a business.  I really am a beginner though, so if you came here for expert advice, well, sorry.  But if you came here to see how I’m doing or are in the same boat, welcome!  Stay a while!  Leave a comment.  We’re all in this together.  Kumbaya. 

<![CDATA[Lessons from My First Craft Show]]>Tue, 07 Jan 2014 00:01:15 GMThttp://www.infinite8creative.com/infinite-8-blog/lessons-from-my-first-craft-showMy Craft Show spaceMy space is set up and ready to sell.
I participated in my very first craft show a few weeks ago.  It went great! Here, I’ll share the work I did to prepare, my experience at the show itself and what I’d do next time (yes, there will be a next time.)

If you are interested in learning how it came to be – check out my previous post about Goal Setting.

Before I even knew I’d be doing a craft show, I set some goals for my business for the holiday season.  I wrote down how many scarves and headbands I realistically could make on a given day.  I also assigned a specific amount of time to “marketing” – updating my blog, my Etsy shop and Facebook.  I also wrote: “create a new product” on the list. 

Felt & Tin Bird OrnamentMy new product for the craft show -- felt & tin bird ornaments.
Preparation.  When I was invited to do the craft show, I felt prepared because of my list of goals..  If I kept to my schedule, I would have what I thought would be enough inventory.  What I didn’t consider is that I would also be selling items in the weeks prior to the show.  So there I was, making scarves and posting them on my Etsy site, and low and behold, people were buying them.  So I would make more.  It was a great “problem” to have.  I finally decided that about a week prior to the show I would stop posting new items on Etsy and reserve them for the craft show. 

Research - Learn from those that have done it.

 I did a little Google search on “tips for craft shows” and that led me to many great articles.  I especially liked this one from a blog on Etsy.

My big take-aways from my research were these:
  1. “You can’t sell what you don’t have.”  Simply put: get sewing girl!  The more you have, they more you have to sell.  The other side to this coin is this: don’t kill yourself either.  You will have enough, and if you don’t, then you will next time.
  2. Do your own promotions – toot your horn!  Sound the alarm!  Let everyone know what you’re up to. 
  3. Accept credit cards.  I used the SquareUp card reader for my iPhone.  And I accepted personal checks.  (Read on to see how this worked for me.)
  4. Have an eye-catching display that draws people in.  Pinterest came in handy here.

Planning for the Craft Show
I worked very hard, not only creating my products, but also considering the details of the event. 
  1. Table Design – even though I don’t own a 90” round table, I used my dining table to plan my booth.  I took photos and asked friends their opinions about my layout and got some great feedback (thank you Susan and Michele!)
  2. Change. How much change should I bring?  I asked my friend Susan – who is far more experienced than I - and she advised $100 in small bills.  All of my items were priced at either $5, $10, $15 or $20.  This made the change issue easier. 
  3. Organization.  I sewed a “vendor apron” to hold my change, my phone and credit card reader (I used Square Up – more on that later) a receipt pad and a pen.  This was great because it kept my hands free and my money close.  I found the tutorial for the vendor apron, and made it the night before the show (gotta love last minute projects.)
  4. Packaging.   I thought about how I would package sold items. Days prior, I prepared the bags and tissue paper to make wrapping fast and easy.  I brought my packaging supplies in a separate box that was easy to access and reserved an area in the back of my table specifically for wrapping up the goods.
  5. Each of my products had a business card attached to it (another prep job perfect for evening t.v. watching)
  6. Realities of life. I asked a friend to come sit with me for a bit so that I could have a bathroom break.  Thank you Lauren!  My mom, who was concerned about thievery, brought me lunch and watched over my booth.  It was nice to have the company.  There were no thieves at this craft show.
Mary & Mom @ the show.
Thanks for helping out Mom! (nice scarf, btw)
Involve your friends

The show itself was great fun. I’m sure because it was my first and I had adrenaline on my side, the time went quickly.  I arrived to set up at 9 a.m. (doors opened at 10 a.m.) and Lauren and I were cleaning up at 3 p.m.

Many friends came and I felt very supported.  I sold ¾ of my scarves.  Because I was busy, I did not get to see much of what other vendors were selling, except those directly around me (light-up glass blocks that look like wrapped gifts, purses crocheted using plastic bags and aluminum can pop-tops, custom name plates for kids rooms, homemade jams and lots of jewelry.)  My mom reported that I had the best booth (of course she did, thanks Mom) and I did feel like I had quite a bit of activity.  I think my pricing was right for this audience (a small church community, and of course, my friends.)  I also felt like I had a popular item – the infinity scarves – that no other vendor offered.  That is thanks to the organizers of the event who required vendors to commit to their products in advance, so that no two vendors were selling the same things.  Thank you Calvary Baptist Church!

I also paid attention to what people were saying as they were trying on scarves, looking in the mirror and commenting to each other.  I was in the back of my table, busying my self with a few hand-sewing projects (another great suggestion - this from my sister Beth: “Keep busy so that customers don’t feel like you’re staring at them.”)  Most popular comment: “Oh, that’s cute, but get this one because it will go with more.”  I sold all of my neutral scarves first – the blacks, greys, and creams.  The brighter colors and/or patterns sold well, but not until the neutrals were gone. Scarves displayed on the mannequin always sold.

Sales of my other items (ornaments and headbands) were slow.  The scarves really stole the show, and that’s ok.  I am curious about a different way to market the ornaments and headbands.  I think they have potential, but I need to find the right niche.

Here’s what I wish went differently:
  1. I wish the church had advertised a bit more.  I went there the day before the event and there was not a sign to be seen.  There was one small hand made (by a child – cute, but ineffective) sign on the day of the event.  It was posted on a corner far from the actual location.  The location of the church was tricky (requiring a u-turn) so some big banners would have been helpful.  This was only the church’s 2nd year hosting a craft show, so I’m sure they are working things out.
  2. I wish that my cell phone coverage was good enough to use my Square for accepting credit cards.  Once inside the gym, I had only 3 bars of coverage – not enough to run the Square.  Other vendors around me had no issues using theirs (Square, as well as other types of credit card readers.)  Each of us had a different cell carrier.  My Verizon didn’t work.  Lesson here: find a different way to accept credit cards. I could look into an old fashion “knuckle crusher” that you slide over the card with carbon paper. Or I could take credit card numbers on the receipt and input the info using the Square once I had coverage (in this case, in the parking lot!)
  3. It would have helped to have wi-fi in the gym.  They had it in the church office, but it did not reach the gym.  Having a wi-fi signal would have allowed me to use the Square.  I don’t think I lost any sales over this issue (many thanks to friends Barbara and Missy, who took my phone and customers to the Church office for me!)  The snafu did prompt me to accept checks, which I hadn’t planned on doing. 

But all in all, it worked out fine.

Again, huge thanks to the friends and family who came to help and buy!  It was a lot of work.  I learned a ton.  Would I do it again?  You bet!

Update: After the show I came home and cleaned up the tornado of fabric that took over my house.  I took a few days to decompress and then I photographed everything that did not sell at the show and put it in my Etsy shop.  I also started sewing again.  I am adding new items to my shop daily and they are selling fast -- Go check it out!

- Mary

Next time: New Year, New Projects.  I love my scarves, but I’m itching to fire up my creative brain to try something new. 
Stay tuned for new creative endeavors.

<![CDATA[How Setting Goals Jump Started My Business]]>Sat, 26 Oct 2013 16:57:31 GMThttp://www.infinite8creative.com/infinite-8-blog/how-setting-goals-jump-started-my-businessPicture
A word about goals.  Setting them, working toward them, getting (and staying) focused.  The word is: YES.

In my last post I wrote about trying to become more focused on my goals.  I needed to shake off the glow and haze of summer that left me a little fuzzy on what was ahead for me.  I woke up and saw that each day passes and I really want to make them count - to have something to show for those 24 hours.

So I wrote a post about setting goals. And guess what happened?

I wrote the "set goals" post and then went about my day.  At some point the next day, I thought , “Gee, you should really put your money where your mouth is and actually set some goals.”  So I did.  And it was fantastic.  It was just the little kick in the booty I needed.

I set goals for my creative business – Infinite 8 Creative.     Very specific production goals like: by November 15 (in anticipation of the holiday season) I will have made 30 new scarves and 30 new headbands (that’s my thing these days: scarves, and headbands.)  Then, I got more specific.  I worked out how many scarves and headbands I needed to make per day, over several weeks.  In my planning I left time in my days to do other things (like laundry.  That’s a big theme for me.)  I left time to spend with my family, time to exercise, time to take photos of my creations and list them on my Etsy site.  I was so very specific with this goal list. 

And at the end of this list I wrote:
Look into craft fair - too late?
One new product

Setting these goals was not easy.  It was difficult to imagine myself following the path I was laying out.  If I wrote it down, then it’s real.  And what if… I didn’t achieve the goals?  What if I pooped out part way down the path and got distracted by illness, or chocolate, or something shiny?  What kind of loser would I be then? 

But I wrote them down despite the uncertainty.  I even shared them with my husband, which is big because if I tell him, then he’s going to ask me how it’s going and I want to have a good answer to that question.  That very morning opened my box of unfinished scarves.  The material was cut and even pinned, just waiting for the sewing machine.  I finished those up and set out to take photos to upload to Etsy. 

Once on Etsy, I got my very first email through the site.  Someone local was organizing a Holiday Boutique in Concord (the town right next to mine) on November 16 and asked if I would like to participate.  Don’t forget that I said I wanted to complete the production goal by November 15. 

With my jaw still hanging open I went to tell my husband.  And he said, in his very mellow matter-of-fact way, “Well, you can’t say no.  You wrote it down and now here it is.  And you’ll be ready for it.” 

So I’m doing my first-ever Craft Fair. (I'll share more details about the Holiday Boutique soon) I’m excited and scared and dazed and confused.  Luckily I have smart and wonderful friends to call/email with newbie questions like: how much change do I need? And: should I offer free candy?

Infinity Scarf, Felt Bird Ornament, Fabric Headbands
Some of the more recent additions to my store. There are a flock of bird ornaments you should see!
Some people say “Oh, I’m not a believer in magical thinking.”  Not me!  I never really say that.  I’m pretty much a believer.  I also believe in setting concrete goals and creating a plan to reach those goals.  And then it’s up to me to move forward, but I also believe that there’s something else to it.  Magic? Maybe.  The power of positive thinking?  Sure.  It’s also a lot about focus.

Whatever it is, I’m going with it.  I’m going to keep looking at that little scrap of paper and keep my eye on the goals. 

And… I’m going to set new, dare I say "more lofty", goals.  It’s exciting stuff!

Now, back to the sewing machine – thwack! (that is the sound of a whip cracking.)

Before you go, leave a comment about your goals. Have you set them? Have you written them down and shared them? How are they working for you?

<![CDATA[Funny How Time Flies]]>Thu, 26 Sep 2013 20:12:07 GMThttp://www.infinite8creative.com/infinite-8-blog/funny-how-time-fliesPictureSummer = me in a lake
July 31, 2013  -- (this date is sort of funny. sort of pathetic. sort of well … real life!)

Summer is nuts.  Every routine I established during the school year is out the window.  Exercise? Not so much.  Dinner?  PB&J is legit.  Laundry?  Sorry, maybe tomorrow.  Cleaning? Well, lets not pretend that ever really happened.

I could explain how busy I’ve been with two kids on summer swim team, a dog that doesn’t get walked enough and a husband who works from home. (see how I just explained that?) But I think most of us are in the same boat.  Regardless of if you have kids, dogs, husbands/wives/partners – summer just throws a wrench into the routine. 

Don’t get me wrong, we’re having (had) a fun time – lots of swimming, vacations, friends and family.  It’s great -- just different.

But that’s ok because it is officially Fall.  I love this time of year. Time for change.

As I mature (really?) I realize that I’m not so great with change.  I have a tough time getting on board with a new schedule.  It takes a while.  I’m working on that. 

It’s no surprise that my creative business on Etsy (the online store where I sell my handmade goods - Infinite8Creative) took a back seat over the summer.  I see it sitting there, in the waaaay back.  With the laundry.

In an effort to get focused, I read books and articles about growing an online business. I’ve found these very helpful:

Sell Crafts Online 
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Selling Your Crafts on Etsy

I’m also a huge fan of Brian Tracy’s GOALS!
At first look I thought GOALS! looked like a cheesy “get rich quick” type of book.  But it surprised me with its’ simple message: you are responsible for your life.  Don’t blame other folks when you’re not where you want to be.  Get focused, set some goals and head in that direction.  Pretty simple.

I tend to pick it up and randomly read from any chapter and it helps me focus, and not just on my business, but on my life goals as well.  You should check it out.

My “get back on track" reading gives me lists of things to do.  I love lists! And I can’t wait to put some little check marks next to each item.  There are some really great suggestions about marketing – SEO (that means Search Engine Optimization!), research (who’s selling what and where?), pricing (what’s my product? are other people selling the same thing? how are they priced? how can I make my products stand out? etc.) 

Etsy has a blog section with all sorts of advice for improving your business. 

I recently read one blog post on Etsy that inspired me to step out of my box a little more.  The article described some of the most successful craftspeople on Etsy offer the most unique items.  Don’t be afraid to be bold and unique.  Stay true to your artistic vision.  If you want to be known as the seller of porcupine art, or grasshopper sculptures, then do it.  And do it big. 

I’m going to try to bring more of that uniqueness to my shop.  More of “me.”  That’s exciting!

PictureThe latest additions for my shop on Etsy where I sell infinity scarves, headbands and more...
My Goals!
When I first started out on this little adventure in March 2013 my goal was to sell something online – put my toe in the water and see how it felt.  My friends and family came through in a big way.  Thank you!  Then I thought it would be really cool to sell something to a stranger.  I’ve sold some items to complete strangers (thank you Bethanne in IL - you were my "first stranger sale.") - which still surprises and thrills me! 

New Goal: I want to do better on Etsy.  However, it’s not enough to say “do better” or “sell more.”  I need to be specific with my goal. 

So, this week is about setting that specific sales goal, ramping up production on my existing products and introducing one new product. 

Oh, and I will make sure my family has clean underwear.   

Go out and set yourself a goal for this week, or month.  It can be anything, seriously.  It can be “do the friggin’ laundry, and actually fold it and put it away.”  See what happens.  I’d love to hear how that goes for you.  Leave a comment.


<![CDATA[The Reason Behind the Name]]>Fri, 12 Jul 2013 20:06:56 GMThttp://www.infinite8creative.com/infinite-8-blog/the-reason-behind-the-name I'm back!  Woo hoo!

Summer is busy with shepherding kids around and trying to keep up with my Etsy store - Infinite8Creative.

On my last (and first!) post I promised to explain the name of my business - Infinite 8 Creative.  It was inspired by these lovely ladies.
This is my girls' group (I'm in the middle, pink shirt) - we have been getting together on the first Thursday of each month for the past 11 years.  Some of us have been friends since the womb - our mom's were pregnant together.  Most went to the same high school.  Some met in college.  Two are related by blood, but we are all sisters.  We came together as a group 11 years ago and I look forward to every first Thursday since then. We have been through a lot together (you know... laughter, tears, etc.)  I love each and every one of them. 

We are always trying to come up with new names for our group.  First it was Bunco because we did attempt to play that game at our first few meetings.  However, it became clear that none of us had any interest and soon we referred to our meeting as "bunco" using the air quotes.  Several names have circulated over the years.  The most recent identity has been The Infinite 8.  Sort of super-hero-esque.  We each own the same infinity sign necklace and wear it often. There are eight of us.  The number eight looks like an infinity sign.  Get it?
Long ago we decided that our group is closed to new members and/or guests.  Have a cousin visiting?  Sorry, you'll have to leave her at home.  Old college roommate?  Nope.  The conversations are too personal (and goofy) to share with an "outsider."  Our meetings are a place to vent and celebrate and laugh 'til we (I mean ME) pee.  Bringing a visitor would upset the vibe.  We also can't meet in public places because of previously mentioned laughter, tears and occasional peeing.  We used to try to dine out and were asked to leave.  Plus our meetings go on for approximately six hours - a server's nightmare!

So my group of ladies - The Infinite 8 - are a support system like no other.   Each of them, while I can already hear their protests, is creative in their own right.  If and when they would like to sell something in the Infinite 8 Creative shop, they are welcome as my featured guest artistes.  They are my girls and I wanted to name my shop after them.  So there.

Here are a few goodies from my shop - happy July to you all!  ~Mary

Next time... An update on what I'm learning about starting an online business - this ain't for sissies!
<![CDATA[First Time Fred!]]>Wed, 03 Jul 2013 20:05:20 GMThttp://www.infinite8creative.com/infinite-8-blog/first-time-fred My first blog post. Ever!

I've always been curious about blogging.  Read my fair share of them, most of the time feeling a bit voyeuristic while doing so.  Always wondered why people open up so much on their blog.  Some people REALLY put it all out there.  I guess they do that so other people (peeping toms like me) will read it and return.  Sort of like reality t.v. - or a train wreck - you can't look away.  I've never seen a train wreck, but lots of reality t.v.

Honestly, I'm creating this blog to support my creative business -- designing and creating accessories for you and your home.  My business is called Infinite 8 Creative - thus the title of this blog.  I'll tell you about the name another time (see, maybe you'll come back JUST to find out.  oooh, i see how this works now.)

Things I sell in my shop: scarves and headbands. That's me ^
The plan for this blog is mostly for me to write about this new venture - what I'm working on, inspired by, and what makes me want to tear my hair out.  Mostly it will be about my lofty, crafty goals... But maybe it will take a turn in a different direction if I feel like it.  Right now, no one knows this blog exists, so who cares, right?

If someone happens to actually read this, you can find my creative items for sale on Etsy. Infinite 8 Creative
Who knows, you may even buy something.  (go ahead, buy something!)

Here is how this whole Etsy shop came to be.  I went to my friend Kim's 40th birthday party, with about 20 other 40-something year old moms.  OK there may have been a few 30-ish whipper snappers attending, but you get the idea.  I made a gift for Kim -- a black and white striped infinity scarf.  Super soft, jersey knit.  The ladies went wild!  Well, if not wild, they were very excited by the scarf, and intrigued that I made it myself.  They said "Mary! You should totally sell these!"

And I thought, "Okay. I totally will." 

Actually, this idea of selling something that I made with my own two hands has been on my "to-do list" for a long time.  It's kind of funny/pitiful how long I've been saying (mostly to myself) "I want to create things.  Things that other people will want to buy."  But guess what?  Putting yourself out there and saying "spend your hard earned money on this thing that I made." is really scary for me.  It's probably worth a trip to the therapist.

But after Kim's party, I felt supported and motivated.  It felt like a good time to step out of my comfort zone and sell something.  And I did!  And I still am.  And I enjoy it.

So this is where I will spout my word of wisdom (insert laugh track here) about starting a creative business.  Because really? I am flying by the seat of my pants. 

But come back and check on me sometime!