Tuesday, November 29, 2011

what's been going on, big hope + hard work

I always get that sinking feeling when I haven't posted anything on my blog for a while...it feels a little lonely and neglected and not very motivating. Sort of like trying to get back into shape, (ahem)...
I like to think (as cliche as it sounds), that things happen for a reason. I don't believe that across the board, there is way too much pain and suffering in the world and, I do not believe that happens for a reason, but to generalize, I try not to get too consumed by the details and strive to keep looking at the bigger picture. Sort of like stepping backfrom the painting you are creating, or climbing a tree fast to look down to get a different view on things. I try to stay excited about what might be waiting just around the next corner, rather than always planning or stressing about what's coming. I try.
I've made some pretty big decisions this past year, I probably should have blogged about every detail and event, but I didn't, I mostly kept trying to look forward and kept working and kept hoping, because let's face it, hoping and working is really what being an entrepreneur is all about. And honestly, I am not even sure which comes first, the hope or the work. There is no way I could work this hard without the huge amount of hope I seem to always have, and there is no way that I could even imagine hoping as big as I hope without working as hard as I work. I guess I have summed up entrepreneurship haven't I?
hard work + big hope, or, if you prefer, big hope + hard work.
As most of you know, BlueDogz Design is in transition, it might be safe to say that the transition has actually happened. If you look at the website, (which is where you might have been prior to ending up here), you will still see some of our best sellers available to purchase. Feel free to purchase! :-)
In the meantime, I have been busy trying to put some new projects into action.
In four words, manufacturing less, designing more.
After a decade or so of setting up and tearing down trade show booths, designing, manufacturing, taking orders, chasing or neglecting sales reps, shipping, selling out, closing out, and starting all over again, the past few years of shows started to feel a little futile. What I mean by that is when you are paying upwards of $6000 for a booth and you spend only the first day or so busy and the last dayS waiting to see if anyone will actually show up at all, this to me seems futile. I don't believe that this happened because of one thing, or even a few things, but many things. All I can really do though, is decide what's right for me. Listening to fellow exhibitors complaining and worrying, spending boatloads of money for not enough return and aging a good 4-5 years per show, because I do believe that 1 trade show day is like a year in normal life, I had had enough.
But what happens when you know you have had enough,  but are not too sure what to do about it?
I start calling, emailing, networking, basically, moving.
I decided that I would start taking on other projects and jobs, other than BlueDogz Design as I know it...I decided it was time to open up, broaden my horizons and see where I belonged again. I suppose I am still finding that out, but I can say that I have been trying like crazy, broadening and have had some interesting,  fabulous and horrible little adventures. Two New York Gift Fairs ago, I decided to pull the plug. No more trade shows for a while. On the one hand, such.a.relief, on the other, scary.as.hell. (how would I sell?) If transitioning and re-finding myself professionally wasn't challenging enough, I am also bringing up my perfect 2 and half year old on my own. Well, thankfully she's perfect right?
Here are some of the things I have been up to lately.
I helped the incredibly talented Genevieve Parent build a set for a photo shoot for a large Canadian bank.
I have sourced, product developed and written tag lines and copy for the fabulous Marc Tetro.
I have styled photo shoots.
I have designed for the wonderful Placetile Designs
I have brokered design/photo gigs for other artists and figured out how to make a few bucks doing so
(why is it always so much easier to market others?)
I have consulted for several companies (on design, branding, web design, business)
I have designed websites, business cards, newsletters and logos.
I have been a guest speaker (twice) at the John Molson School of Business on entrepreneurship (thanks to the wonderful Cheryl Gladu).
I even applied for a job as display coordinator at the soon to be first Montreal Anthropologie (more on that later).
In between I have worried a LOT, had many sleepless nights, had some great laughs, prayed, got very excited, dreamed, hoped and designed a lot. I took the advice of one of the first people I met on Twitter and whom I admire, Rob Frankel, and started making calls. He said something once that I never forgot, that if you aren't making 100 calls a day, you really aren't doing all you can to get business. Hearing that freaked me out a little. I admit, I have never made 100 calls in a day, but I started to keep a list of all the ideas I had and who I could get in touch with to help me implement these ideas. I started to email and call companies, fellow companies in the gift industry and let them know that I was available, that I could design for them.
This might have been one of the hardest things to do...on a lot of levels...but I told myself to get over it and just do it, and I just did. The response I got was overwhelming. I will never forget some of the things that my fellow gift community business owners emailed or told me. Although most explained that they too were cutting back, that they too didn't have a budget and were just trying to keep things rolling, everyone I contacted told me how much they loved my work and that, when they did have an opportunity to hire or use outside design work, they would absolutely contact me. I was thrilled. And touched.
Through all the calling, I got some great jobs. One was for my friend Kristin Bowen at www.placetiledesigns.com it was one of the first times that I got to really bring to life someone else's vision...it was an amazing feeling. I was also pushed, asked to design a piece with a golfing theme, something I had never done. I am loving these new challenges.
All through this time, I was sharing what was going on with my friend Marc Tetro. We had always bounced ideas off each other and one day he said to me, "Let me pay you for this. I would call you more and feel better about bouncing ideas off you if I paid you. Be my consultant." Here was a man who is famous in the art world, who has had one of the most successful careers around, who I admire and adore and he wants to pay me for this...I couldn't understand what he needed me for or even why, and, he was my dear friend, it felt a little weird.
I said yes.
stay tuned.

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