Celebrate sharks and art with a...
This set has all the essentials necessary for your favorite shark enthusiast to get right to coloring all the sharks of the world.
This set makes a great birthday gift, a fun back-to-school surprise,
or the perfect gift to celebrate Shark Week!
Shark Week 2016 starts June 26th!
Are you ready?
Does this sound familiar? You make large goals and work hard to reach them. You imagine after all the hard work, you'll celebrate. However, if - like me - when you've finally reached that goal you've been on the path for so long, it barely feels like an accomplishment anymore. You may even already be planning your next goal. The fact that you've reached one goal is barely acknowledged; celebrating gets put off to the future when you've reached some other success.
Or maybe you can relate to this. You have a to-do list that's a mile-long. You imagine taking a moment to stop and sip your coffee while admiring your garden when you finish the last thing on the list. But, whenever you check one thing off, you add three more. You never get to that imagined moment of savoring your coffee and admiring your garden. There's always something more to do.
I've decided to stop putting off the celebrating. My new motto is "Celebrate more!"
Happiness and celebration
I recently finished the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It was a great read. It's got me thinking about the idea that you can't go searching for happiness. Happiness can only be found within yourself.
How do you find happiness within yourself? Well, you should try to do all those things that are summed up in little life quotes. You know the ones:
Stop and smell the roses
Enjoy the little things
Those are great, but you know what? They sometimes make me feel bad about myself. They come across a little preachy. Do this, do that. I think I'd be happier without the stress; trying to be happier should be fun, right?
Then, a couple of days ago, I read a post on the blog Barking Up the Wrong Tree about not celebrating enough. That was the clincher. I think all those little life quotes can be summed up nicely in one idea:
And I don't mean only the big things. I don't mean we should celebrate major goals with a fancy dinner and a glass of champagne (although do that, too! Yum!). But I mean:
Celebrate more things, and celebrate in more ways. Celebrate the little things. Celebrate the daily things.
Every time I hear the Cloud Cult song Through the Ages, this line gets to me. Why? It's because there is magic all around us. The magic is the everyday things, those little things that we might let pass by without realizing they're happening.
If we put off the celebrations, the smiles, the good jobs till some distant future, that future all too quickly becomes the past. We will end up living our lives without enough smiles. And without enough dancing. And without enough good jobs. And without enough YAYs!
Today I'm celebrating! This morning I smiled at my garden and how it's growing so nicely from the effort I put into it so far this spring. I'm celebrating that I finished four new Beetle Pouches. I smiled at myself and played the radio loud while I photographed them. And now I'm going for a walk outside in the sunshine. And I'm going to laugh, and smile, and say YAY! when I get back -- both to congratulate myself on getting exercise, but also to congratulate myself for acknowledging that work, though I love it, isn't everything and taking a break to enjoy the warm sun is good.
What are you celebrating today?
Today I'm going to highlight another handbag from my new Mary Pow collection: the Parallel Cross Body Purse.
When designing this purse, I explored color combinations that I feel reflect the seasons and natural world. At the same time, I used my interest in crisp, clean, straight lines to harness these colors. Each purse's color combinations are framed with beautiful, textural linen fabrics.
The Parallel Cross Body Purse features beautiful details, such as hand-pieced parallel lines on the front and small squares on the back.
This well-appointed cross body purse has several unexpected details to make carrying your essentials simple and accessible.
This purse currently comes in five colors: Sunset, Spring, Autumn, Winter, and Summer.
My entire new collection of handbags and wrap belts are now available in my online shop. Today, I'm highlighting the showpiece of the collection: my View Tote, currently available in two colors, Ocean View and City View.
To capture the brilliant look of sunlight reflecting off the ocean, I used four shades of blue in this tote. The hand-pieced detailing is surrounded by a lovely soft gray linen frame. The whole result is a stunning handbag with a look that you won't find anywhere else.
For City View, I used an entire gradient of grays to capture the quality of a city at night. The hand-pieced gray and black squares are surrounded by a dark-gray linen frame. The result is a dramatic, urban and modern look.
I prefer to work with natural-fiber fabrics, such as cotton and linen. That means these totes, and all of my handbags, are incredibly light-weight. It's a real plus for a bag to start out light-weight, when it's bound to be weighed down by all of the items you put inside.
The interior of a bag is just as important as the exterior. I've lined the View Totes with an incredibly soft upholstery fabric. An interior zipper pocket keeps your valuables safe or your private items hidden.
Well, it's over!
Months of prep, hours and hours of research, lots of designing, tons of sewing, hours of over-time, and yes, even a few emotional melt-downs... Plus, two days of show set up, one evening at the preview party, three days of the retail show, and a couple quick hours taking it all down...
I did it!
After a long wait in our car to get into the loading dock, my husband and I arrived at my booth space #1113, mid-day on Wednesday. We set up my pipe and drape, and prepped my space. Everything went smoothly; it made me so pleased of the work I put into designing a simple booth that sets up quickly and easily!
On Thursday afternoon, I leisurely put the finishing touches on my booth, got all my products displayed, and made sure everything was ready for the evening's preview party.
The retail show started on Friday morning. It was nice to arrive at the show knowing everything in my booth was already set up and waiting for me. What a stress free way to start the show.
I was very pleased to see that women loved my handbags. They raved about the unique colors and designs, and the lightweight quality of the fabrics. Actually, men also loved the purses; several told me that if they were women, they would be buying from me!
It was surprising to find out what colors most people were drawn to. The pink sunset with a touch of gray was very popular, as was the gray ombré with a pop of red.
I was thrilled on Saturday morning when, first thing, a well-dressed man wearing a dashing hat and a long red coat purchased a pouch that matched his outfit (center photo, above). He immediately transferred his phone and credit cards from the case he was using to the new pouch!
My wrap belts were very well received! Several woman who thought they couldn't wear a decorative belt tried them on, loved them, and purchased one! Many people told me how great they would be when traveling: just add a beautiful belt and an outfit will look completely different from one day to the next. Great idea!
I met so many wonderful people at the show. I couldn't believe how many people pulled me aside to tell me how amazing they thought my work was.
What a show!
This was the largest show I've ever done. It was so well-organized, too. My booth neighbors were great! I met the most wonderful couple from Colorado: artist Lynda Ladwig and her husband. (Check out her ceramics. I loved her work.) I pretty much talked myself out after three and a half days at the show. But yet, I sort of miss my home-away-from-home: booth 1113.
And thank you so much to all of you who support me and my work online. You are wonderful!
I'm down to the wire now. There is only one week to go until the St. Paul American Craft Show.
How am I feeling?
I'm proud of myself.
I'm scouring artists' blogs and Instagram to get an idea of what to expect.
I still don't know what to expect!
What's Happening This Week
This week I'm finishing up work on my final design: a coin purse I'll have available in eight different color ways.
I also got a chance to set up my booth!
My husband took our kids to visit their grandparents for spring break, and I took advantage of the empty house to do a trial run in our living room. Yes, I set up my entire 10 foot by 10 foot booth in our living room! It just fits!
I'm excited that I got a chance to set up my booth this week because now I'm not as nervous about the show. I even got to try out the lights, something I was very concerned about. I'm keeping it set up all week so I can add the finishing touches to it slowly.
Having an art show booth set up in my living room has transformed part of my house into a show room. (It also means I have to walk through a maze to get to the front door! What a strange experience!) I'm surprised how happy I am with how it looks. Perhaps you remember when I was so worried about figuring out how to create this booth in the first place? I have learned so much in these past few months!
Back from the Printer
I've received my promotional postcards, business cards, and hang tags from the printer. They printed a bit darker than I would have liked, but all in all, I'm pleased with how they turned out. I think the design I came up with reflects my style rather well.
One disappointment: I did not get the domain name I was anticipating for so long (www.marypow.com) in time to have it printed on these cards. But maybe that's good; it gives me plenty of time to figure out how to switch everything over to the new domain later, without feeling rushed.
Yet To Do
Next, I need to work on pricing, tagging, and packing. Tagging can be fun, and packing isn't so bad, but pricing? That I could do without. It can be very difficult to price one's work. Sometimes it's even an emotional process. Of course there are loads and loads of pricing calculators out there. Calculators that help an artist factor in the materials used, the time involved, the overhead, and the profit margin needed to sustain a business. But yet, these don't consider the "why": as in why does someone feel compelled to buy art or craft?
Pricing. Maybe that's a topic for a future blog post. But for now, I have a stack of half-finished purses calling my name!
The 2016 St. Paul ACC Show is April 8-10. I'm in booth #1113. I hope to see you there!
There is less than a month to go until the American Craft Council Show in St. Paul. Things are coming together! When I stop to think about it, I'm very impressed with how much I've accomplished so far this year.
If you've never been to one of the American Craft Council shows, they are impressive! And big! There are four American Craft Council Shows every year (Baltimore, Atlanta, St. Paul, and San Francisco). The show in St. Paul is actually on the smaller size, and it is the only one in the Midwest. This year marks the 30th annual show in St. Paul, where there will be over 225 top contemporary artists from all over the country. Categories of art you'll find at the show include ceramics, clothing, decorative fiber, furniture, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, paper, stone, and wood. I've been accepted under the Fashion Accessories category.
If you follow me on Facebook, you probably know by now that I'm debuting all new work at the ACC show. In the past year I've sold a few small prototypes under my MinneBites label (in fact, you can still find a few of them for sale in my Etsy shop), but the work I'm debuting at the Craft Council Show is all new. This is the first time these designs will be available for purchase!
In my new line of handbags and accessories I've been contemplating my education in architecture. Working as an artist for the past few years, I've realized that my creative style may be different from artists with other education backgrounds. I like straight lines. I like crisp, clean edges. I like structure. I like things to be tidy. So, my repetitive use of parallel lines and crisp edges in this work takes me back to my days at the drafting board.
I also love to work with color. And I like to consider architecture, as well, when I choose colors to use in my art. For instance, I imagine how a surrounding landscape might reflect off the facade of a building at different times of the year, and in different light. Then, I create color ways that bring this idea to mind.
Hello, my name is Mary. And I'm a DIYer.
As a solopreneur and an artist, I guess I'm used to DIY, because I continue to do it all. I'm always short on time and I never get a chance to do all the research I need to do to hire people to help me. Also, perhaps, I like the variety of work that DIYing requires.
Eventually I would love to hire a photographer, and a model, and a day in a photography studio. But, since the ACC show is just a month away, I really needed to get some photos taken quickly so I could send my promotional postcards and business cards to the printer!
So, I became photographer for a day (again), used myself as a model (again), and did all the editing as well (again). You do what you have to do when you're in a pinch. My printed postcards haven't arrived yet, but you can get a sneak peak of them below. (Did I mention that I'm also my own graphic designer?)
Let me know your thoughts! And if you are planning to come to the show, please let me know. Not only do I look forward to meeting you, but I can also offer guests a promotional code to get 50% off a one-day pass!
P.S. You can receive email updates about my upcoming events. Simply sign up for my newsletter!
Timing is Everything
This is one of my favorite quotes. It's the perfect reminder for someone who wants to do it all.
I'm a busy mom of three young kids. I'm running my own creative business. I'm trying to do new work at the same time as maintaining my original business. It's a lot.
I have to remind myself that timing is everything. Yes, I can do it all ...but not all at the same time.
For the past two months I've set aside making sharks and bugs and whales, and all my other MinneBites products, to focus on my new work. I've been exploring new ideas and creating handbags and accessories in a more sophisticated style for an upcoming show.
It's been amazing and refreshing -- and incredibly difficult.
For one, I've had to say "no" to more people. I've had to turn away customers and custom requests. I have to do this to be sure I have enough time to create the new work. But, it's hard to say no. As a single-person business, it's easy to second guess myself. Especially when I'm spending money on my business, but currently not bringing much in!
For two, it means my MinneBites shop on Etsy and my shop on my own website are getting empty. I've had to take out all of the items I usually have as "made to order". As items sell out, I can't add them back in. The virtual shelves are getting empty! It's a bit hard to watch. I have to take a deep breath and remind myself of my goals for the year.
On the other hand, I have to be sure the relationships I cultivated throughout the years remain intact. For instance, this week I'm working on an order of sharks for UncommonGoods. They are a wonderful account, and I need to be sure I maintain that. But, I had to take a week off of creating new work.
And so... timing is everything!
I've become pretty good at creating a schedule. I've also become really good at adjusting - and readjusting - my schedule. Days off of school, sick kids, sick babysitter, sick sewing machine. These things happen.
We have to make priorities -- and then we have to be ready to constantly readjust.
New work, new booth...
Since I'm trying something new this year, I also need a whole new craft fair display.
Here's what my MinneBites display looked like this past December at the No Coast Craft-o-Rama. It's fun and cute and I love it, but it's not quite what is expected for a show like the American Craft Council Show.
What I need this year is an actual BOOTH. Walls, lights, signage, display -- everything!
There is so much that goes into these big capital-A Art show booths, as I'm learning. I can't believe how much time I've already spent researching booth options. It makes me nervous that I'm not spending enough time making the items that will actually go into the booth! But, without a booth I will have no way to display my new work. It must be done.
My Booth Design Requirements
So, do I spend loads of time scouring the internet and local fixture stores to find the best deals for used display options? Or do I drop some money and just get new? It's tempting to buy new and be done with it and focus on the creating of my work. But, how much money do I want to sink into a booth? There is already the booth fee to attend the show in the first place. And part of the equation must also include the question: what if I decide I don't like doing this kind of show after all? I don't want to waste money on a display I'll never use again!
Ahh, so this is a journey, isn't it? Putting myself out there, trying something new; it can be a balancing act! Of course, for all the difficult decisions I need to make for my business, I wouldn't trade it for anything! I really do enjoy being a working artist. I'm even enjoying designing this booth ... though I wouldn't mind having a little more time. April's never seemed so close to January before!
I've been thinking about how I should celebrate MinneBites' 5 year anniversary at the end of this month. It's a big milestone and I shouldn't let it slip by unnoticed (though it'd be easy to do with my current schedule!).
I think I've come up with a great plan! It includes the most popular item I've ever had -- my "Rainbow Leopard" Shark Bite pencil case.
I've been holding onto TWO more of these popular guys, waiting for the right time to do something fun with them. I think now is the time!
Let's celebrate with a giveaway - and more!
I've decided that one of the Rainbow Leopard Shark Bite pencil cases will be given away along with a $25 MinneBites gift card to a lucky fan! Yay!
Giveaway is now closed
And the other will be sold and 100% of the proceeds will be donated to OCEANA to help conserve and protect the world's sharks and oceans for our children's future!
MinneBites' 5-year anniversary is January 29, 2016!
I'm looking forward to popping open a bottle of bubbly and taking a moment to look back on all that I've done for the past 5 years! I'm so glad you're here to celebrate with me!
I am an artist and designer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My specialties are textiles and pastels.