This is a Test.

Posted by on Feb 6, 2021

Remember those “pop quizzes” that teachers used to spring on us, just to create some panic and anxiety? Well, this pandemic seems like the real life version of exactly that. Except, in this test, there is no timer or bell to indicate it is over. And now, almost a year into this “new normal”, we are still all struggling in one way or another. 

As an artist, I’ve had to figure out how to connect with my audience without the aid of any in-person shows or events. I tried to run with my Annual Studio Holiday Show, which I’ve done every year since 2007, but the “Toronto Lockdown Part II” imposed on day “five” of my 28-day  event managed to put a large dent in how successful it was.

For almost a year now (coincidentally the same time span as COVID) I’ve had to rely mostly on the internet to share images of my work, always hoping those images will find the right eyes. Once a connection is made, my LREJ creations are sent by mail, delivered by courier, hand-delivered locally, or picked up curb side from my studio.

As a business person, I’ve had to figure out how to deal with reduced viable revenue streams. Taking a hard look at what’s working and what’s not, and then getting rid of what doesn’t work.

So what do you do, once you’ve “trimmed the fat” from your business, whether by COVID or by choice? You go back and look again; revisit what’s working and why. Then you ask yourself “How do you make it better?” And that’s where I’m at right now.

But it hasn’t been all “thorns”. I’ve found some “roses” along the way. For example, there was a huge sense of relief that “control” was taken away from me. The control that drove me, day in and day out, for 28 years to work long days, every day of the week. There were no weekends, unless I actually carved out some time that looked and felt like a weekend – even if it was in the middle of the week.

I gained the ability to “just be”. To work in the time frame I decided was “the pace” for any given day. I no longer have a real schedule anymore, just the one I create. This gives me the luxury to run with an idea and see where it takes me; re-organize my work flow, so I can work from home a couple of days a week. I now get to work and bake on the same day!

Probably the very best Yorkshire Pudding Popovers I have ever made to go with our Christmas 2020 Roast Beef dinner. Practice does make perfect!

Organizing and purging have also been high on my list. Things I never really had the time to investigate. What’s in that Rubbermaid box in the corner? Do I really need to hang onto 17 years of accounting boxes? (In case you need to know, you only need to keep the last 7 business years.)

It’s also been a time of reflection. Things that used to be so important, aren’t anymore.They are replaced by other things, often things I took for granted. Like staying virtually connected to family, friends and colleagues. Making sure that everyone is coping, having the help they need, or just listening. Zooming, FT, emailing, snail mail, and just plain old, picking up the phone, have become replacements for visiting in person. 

I am spending time re-organizing my house, my studio and my business. I have managed to finally put all my jewellery images in one place (with a second back-up of course!). I am going through my website and adding images of pieces that never managed to make an appearance on my website. So far I’ve added:

Jackie O Pearl Stud Earrings

These Swarovski Pearl Stud Earrings I added to my Jackie O design series of work in 2019. They use the same 10 mm size of pearls as the rest of the Jackie O line, and come in cream, platinum, grey and dark grey (shown above). Click here to see the new product page at my website.

Large Love Knot Earrings

Big sister to the Half Love Knot Earrings. These are the exact match to the Large Love Knot Pendant. Click here to see the new product page at my website.

I will be adding more pieces, but at a random pace, depending on what else I’m working on.

The rest of the website improvements have been mostly in the back end; upgrading the processing speed, adding more information and images on existing product pages, fixing my “subscriber” button for my email sign up. I didn’t even know it wasn’t working, until some lovely client alerted me to the fact.

Have you noticed that your family dynamics have changed since you’ve been “staying home”? Mine all retreat to their corner of the house. Some are playing video games, some are trying to find a full-time job in their field. Others are writing music, creating computer animations, or knitting a sweater while watching the latest thing on Netflix. Can you guess which one is me?  

I now make a conscious effort to check in with everyone in “their corner” to see what they are up to. I am amazed at all the stuff I had no idea about. This is how I found out about “Buy Me a Coffee”.

Buy me a Coffee is exactly like it sounds. It’s the virtual equivalent of “buying someone a coffee”. It can be a way to say “thank you” or a gesture of appreciation. 

I have added it as a button to my homepage, just below my email subscription button, and here is my thinking. Maybe I cleaned, repaired and/or tweaked a piece of my/your jewellery and brought it back to looking exactly like the day you purchased it. Maybe I gave you some advice about taking care of your jewels and then sent you one of my polishing cloths with cleaning instructions. Or maybe I fixed a broken earring top, replaced it and mailed it back to you free of charge. 

In the past, many clients have offered to pay for these services and I have always declined. Or I suggested that they “buy me a coffee” the next time they visit me at a show or event. Now, while we are living so much of our lives virtually, you can go to my website and click the Buy me a Coffee button. There is absolutely no obligation. If you want to, you can. If you don’t, no problem. To be honest, I’d much rather see you in real life, drink that cup of joe while we chat and have a real life catch up. In the meantime, we can do it “virtually”.

The money I get from “Buy me a Coffee” is automatically deposited into my account and I will use it to offset the costs associated with repairs, cleaning, repacking repaired jewellery, and wrapping up “third party” online gift purchasing. These are all shipped free of charge. Buy Me a Coffee lets you choose how many “coffees” to purchase. Each coffee is $5.00.

Here is another successful extra service I added in 2020. Mailed third party gifts. You order an item from my website. I mail it directly to the person you bought it for. I decorate the outside with handwritten greetings, washi tape and stickers. I can also enclose a personal note from you. Just leave instructions in the “comments box” on my checkout page.  Or email or call me with your gift’s details.

After my Holiday flurry of “Instagramming” and website blogging, I’ve switched gears and am enjoying a bit of a “social media” break. I am keeping relatively quiet while I organize my studio and my website. I’m back to posting on my blog sort of monthly, just to stay in touch, because I feel that is one of the most important things right now. Being present, being in touch, and being sensitive to what we are all going through.

I was planning a Spring version of my Holiday Artisan Studio Show to coincide with what would have been the Spring One of a Kind Show (March 24-28). But with the way COVID keeps coming at us, I’m taking a “wait and see” attitude. The show may be pushed to April?  May?  Mother’s Day Weekend? Who knows?! But I’ll keep you posted.

So stay home, stay safe, be well, and we’ll meet here again in about a month. Looking forward to chatting with you then.

Oh, right! I know you’re wondering “What was she knitting while watching Netflix?” So here it is. It’s called Swoncho. Kind of like a cross between a sweater and a poncho. Thought I’d try my hand at colour work…fair isle…whatever you want to call it. It’s knitting with two colours at a time by following a chart and I loved it. Just working on the second sleeve now…and then it needs a final blocking.