“You will never have a greater or lesser dominion than that over yourself…the height of a man’s success is gauged by his self-mastery; the depth of his failure by his self-abandonment.”
– Leonardo da Vinci
Younger Self has this "gimme gimme!" mentality that is wholly opposed to anything resembling good, sane business practices. Now for now's sake is NOT a good business strategy! And it has been SO hard to not open the new shop just to have a shop again. Just to be selling, a seller, a shopowner, a maker, an artist... To tie my identity to the having of this visible, tangible thing that is supposed to represent me and reflect my worth.
Weighty things going on over here, folks!!! And, if you'll excuse my terrible pun, they're all "waity" things. Shop 2.0 requires breaking the mold shaped by BabesterArts. It means building on what was good, gutting what wasn't, and evolving. That is a practice, not a "POOF!" and it is HARD!!! It's hard to tell Younger Self to slow the eff down and think about next year, and 5 years, and 10 years. It's hard to corral that bouncy, bubbling creative energy and channel it toward legalese and structure and planning. And it's really hard to set aside the cloak of "businesswoman" and just be Kate.
That last bit is about me, but it's probably not at all unique to me. There's a part of my existence that is validated by being my own boss, and successful at what I do. I get a great amount of fulfillment from running my own business, having an income, and sharing things I've created with others. It helps me define "Kate" in a way I'm proud of. I'm somebody, somewhere. I have a job, and a purpose. And it is SCARY to set that aside and think of myself without the labels. It is work, and I have been quiet of late because I've been busy doing that work. Like anything worth doing, good things have come of it. My art is evolving, my business sense is becoming more refined, and my boundaries are shifting in ways I feel are very healthy. Being open to change like that is not something that I find easy; it is not a natural state for me, but a conscious choice and commitment to myself.
This year, I really opened myself up to The Community. Many people only know me because of that decision, and yet it feels like a mask. In a lot of ways, I stepped beyond the boundaries of who I thought I was, and into a caricature of who I thought I was supposed to be. Neither of those states represent the entirety of who I am. And I found, in the mirrors held up by my peers (and some unexpected adversaries), new facets of my self I'd not yet met. I expected paperwork, bookkeeping and taxes. I expected inventories, purchase orders and continuing education. I did not expect the sort of emotional tumult and soul-searching I've been invited to explore this year. Nothing like a tumbling tower to shake away the delusions and reveal the realities!
And the reality is this: I run my business, and my life, by my heart. And that is some scary, downright dangerous business! It leaves me vulnerable to criticism and self-doubt, and can result in my plans becoming derailed by my emotions. The "easy" alternative, the quick fix, would be to sanitize the heart out of my business and run it by the books. Not exactly sure whose books those would be... Doesn't really matter. Doing that, running my business in accordance with someone else's ideals and standards, equals running their business (whoever "they" are). I'm not interested in that.
If I am going to have MY business, it will have to be mine. Not just Yet Another Shop Selling Some Stuff, but something that is uniquely personal to me, and reflects both my aesthetics and my ethics. That is surprisingly difficult to balance with a desire to understand the community framework that will, hopefully, support my business. I've found it essentially impossible to participate in the community without having that participation influence my art. That's not a bad thing, per se, but when I allow the opinions of others to dictate what is "right" and "good" and "the way things should be", I lose my ability to connect with the part of my art that is mine. And then I'm no longer making art, I'm just making stuff.
Confused? Me too!!! Unfortunately, I have to find my own peace with this situation. That is taking time. Time that will prove a sound investment in my business, and my self, but time it is often hard to make time for.