kickstart.

by Liz on 03.03

After a year of big plans for Betsy Ann Paper, we had one very specific goal for this year:

Lay low.

Our next Big Step in the ever growing, ever changing list is to hit the National Stationery Show. But, we knew that would mean a lot of preparation, a lot of planning… frankly, a lot of cash. So, 2015 NSS, here we come! Til then, we’d planned to spend a year focusing our energies on making that possible.

Then, I was invited to attend.

THIS YEAR.

The National Stationery Show gives us the ability to personally meet retailers from all over the country. It provides the chance to end up on shelves in small independent shops, all the way to big retail chains. It legitimizes our small business to all of the big guys. On top of all of that, accepting this invitation to come this year instead of next, means that we’ll be specially featured as up-and-coming artists. It’s an amazing opportunity- one that we just can’t pass up at this stage in our growing business. But, one that also came up just a bit sooner than we planned. Three months is a short amount of time to work out all of the logistics of catalog printing, booth building, getting our butts to NYC. But it’s an incredibly short amount of time to raise the money that would make all of that possible.

With highest hopes, we’ve pulled together a Kickstarter. It’s still a pretty tall order- only 25 days to raise $3,000, and that’ll just cover the bare minimum booth fee. There’s still so much more to do! But we’re confident that, with a push, we can really make this happen, and really make it worth it.

If you have a chance and the ability, it would be super terrific awesome of you to contribute. Backers get all sort of good things (stationeryyyy), plus that happy-fuzzy feeling. If contributing personally isn’t in the cards (haaaa. cards), I’d really appreciate your help passing the link along and spreading the word! We’re incredibly grateful for the many kinds of support we’ve received over the last few years, and we’re excited to take this next step.

boring business post.

by Liz on 02.18


But I guess you can read it, if you’re into that sort of thing.

I have a lot of Thoughts about this last year and Betsy Ann Paper. This’ll be my sixth try at making sense of them all, so fingers crossed we all slodge through this. It was a year of swift, rapid-fire changes that demanded a lot of legwork and planning. And so much quick change and heavy work meant I figured out a lot of things about what I’m doing and what I want to do. Fast.

The first domino fell when I decided I want my cards to be available in shops. That one small decision meant that I needed to let go of the “hand paint each and every card” idea that (I thought) was at the core of everything. It meant a lot of work. I had to really hammer out the exact specific designs so we could digitize and perfect and replicate them. Then we had to figure out printing, and then snap new photos, and then make a catalog, and all sorts of other small steps in between.

But the bigger struggle for me was the emotional processing end of all of that.

Don’t you snigger over there.

When you work for yourself (or maybe it’s this way even when you don’t), and you want to change things around, there can be a very real fear that you’re changing the wrong things. That by changing, you’re selling out or losing who you are and missing out on what sets you apart. I had to decide for myself- by giving up on hand-painting each card, was I giving up on myself?

And you know, I have given up on myself a few times before. Rather than just doing what I love and am good at and what my gut says I want to do, I look at what everyone else is doing. I compare myself. I say, “Oh, this is popular right now!” and jump on a trend. That’s the completely wrong kind of flexible, the kind that’s self defeating and makes you blend in, instead of stand out. I experience that kind of pressure a lot when I spend too much time online. I see what all of these other great creative folks are making, and I want to do the same. I want to try and make everything. And when I try to do everything, I don’t do any of it well. I’m much better off figuring out what narrow, singular thing is My Thing, and trying to do an amazing job at just that.

It’s an odd little tension, understanding who you are as a business and being flexible to the market within that knowledge. It’s so, so easy (for me, at least) to have too tight a grip on some nonessential that isn’t really crucial to what I’m doing, or conversely, to be too willing to drop what I’m doing in favor of whatever is cool or trendy.

I hope to keep growing and changing as a business- otherwise, what’s the point? But I want to be smart about it, to grow and change in ways that are completely consistent with the kind of company I want to have and be, and the kind of work I want to do and make. At the end of the day, I want to be really proud of everything I set out with my name on it.

And I’m really very proud of what I did this year.

 

 

 

 

It’s been cold.

We try to keep the heat turned low, but there’ve been several bitter nights lately where I carefully nudge it up… 62… 65… 67. And still, with wind whistling through cracks around the edges of windows, we shiver, huddled under layers.

The cold weather makes me worry for our boy, in his own big and drafty room so far down the hall. Since becoming a parent, I’ve found there are two constant worries that endlessly whisper in the back of my mind: “Is he cold?” and “Is he hungry?” Those extra cold nights, that one quiet, nagging fear clears its throat and speaks up a bit louder. Then, one of us will sneak into his room, ignore eyes squeezed shut with feigned sleep, and whisper that he can come into our bed for the night.

We all will clamber into bed and snuggle into place, scooting pillows and sharing blankets. Sometimes Little Josh will be so excited about sleeping in The Big Bed that he’ll link his little arms around our necks and fall asleep just like that, with a silly grin still on his face. Most nights, he chooses one of us to nestle against, curling his little body up tight, laying a messy head on my chest or clutching Josh’s shirt in a little fist.

As Josh clicks off the lamp, and we all lay shivering together, giggling and whispering “goodnights!” and “I love yous!” back and forth in the dark, something sharp catches in my throat. I know these times of footie pajama snuggles will have an end. Sometime not too far from now, he’ll be too big to squeeze into the bed between us. Though I’m being gradually, gently shoved off the edge of the mattress. Though there’s a little barrier separating me from my husband for the entirety of the night. Though the blankets are pulled tight until there’s hardly a solid corner covering me, there’s a sharp elbow in my rib and I’ll wake feeling as though I’ve had no chance to rest. Despite all of that, I worry that these precious nights will slip away too fast.

That’s been the biggest change I’ve noticed in the last three years. There’s so much happiness. So much bursting, noisy, wild happiness. A joy so giddy that even in the quietest moments, it’s still so riotous, spinning wildly out of control when I just want to hold onto some of it- catch it, grasp it tightly in my little hand, and save it just a little longer. But every burst of laughter is tinged at the edge with a sad awareness that it’s all fleeting, quickly, quickly, passing by. Of all of the other happy things in my life- times with friends, my husband, doing work that I enjoy- none of those things make me pause and think about when they will no longer be. But the happiest times with my son are always on the brink of no longer happening. I’m always aware that “one day he’ll be too big to…”

Maybe because these three years have already sped by so fast.