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.