Since I started Sparkly Pretty Things back in August last year to sell my handmade jewellery, I've learned so much not just about websites, social media and networking but also about myself, what's important in life and how much more I have to learn. This last couple of months have been the biggest challenge of all.....
After we returned from holiday in early October I had a panic session when I realised how far my reach had dropped on Facebook in my absence. For those who don't know Facebook for businesses, reach is an indicator of how many people have seen or interacted with what you post. It's a far more important measure than likes, because Facebook uses it to determine how often it will actually present your posts to the people you need to see them.
I set about networking immediately, joining a couple of new networking groups and frantically posting and devising strategies to back up my social media activity. I also had to prepare for a big craft fair in December as well as see that I had enough Christmas stock made or bought in for the festive season.
Now to a person without any chronic illnesses this may seem a very ordinary and understandable thing for a small business owner to be doing. But I am disabled, unable to do a full time job and at the mercy of three chronic illness conditions that can strike at any moment. You may have read in previous blogs about how hard I fought to keep my job and the reasons why it turned out to be impossible. Other blog posts will tell you what a nightmare journey this was for me and how I still struggle to see what value I am to anyone at times.
Of course my business resurrection plans didn't go well. I got ill, got stressed, got sicker and then more depressed. I was literally unable to do all the things I wanted to do to make my business a success. And there you have the first indication of the actual issue that confronted me.
Like anyone, I wanted to make my little venture into a successful business. The reason I set up Sparkly Pretty Things was not just to sell my handmade jewellery, but to raise money for the charities who supported me over the last few years as I struggled to come to terms with how my life was changing. I began to see that in my enthusiasm to offer customers what I would consider to be a great range, I had added fashion jewellery into the mix and, beautiful as it is, it was a load more work than I'd realised. I'd taken on too much and wasn't finding it fun anymore, let alone being able to physically operate the venture I'd envisioned.
For someone like me, in my situation, I am constantly reminded how vitally important it is to make the most of the small things in life. The small successes that mean so much when so much of your life is outside your control. I even re-read my own blogs and that was good, I got some clarity.
I realised that I am not running a small business. I'm not able to. End of. But what I can do is make jewellery, talk about mental health openly, support and encourage small business owners and make friends of the lovely crafty and making or baking ladies I meet on the way. And continue to support my charities because everything I raise for them is better than nothing at all.
So I thought very carefully about what I was doing, and where it was going. I loved the fact that people had bought from me and given me great feedback, that I have raised money for all three of my charities and I still love creating jewellery very much. The bit I wasn't enjoying or accomplishing at all well was the fashion jewellery. I couldn't manage the extra effort of sourcing it, photographing it all regularly, adding it to stock, publicising it and talking about it passionately on social media (in a marketplace that is already full to bursting with people selling, if not the same things, then very similar).
So I have decided to concentrate on my handmade jewellery. I can get more focused on what my ideal customer wants and who she is, I can target people with makes and posts they really want to read and talk to me about. I can talk about what I'm passionate about but most importantly I can spend time when I'm not ill doing something that I really love, creating things. Will it mean a hugely successful Sparkly Pretty Things? In material terms, probably not but that's no longer the driving factor.
For someone like me, with the career I have had, of course adjusting to not being valued for my contribution was always going to be the biggest issue and it probably will remain so for some time to come. But I'm determined to keep going.....and try to keep improving too, not just by more blog thoughts and feedback but by sharing and supporting more too. I've decided to learn some new jewellery making techniques, which I've started trying out over Christmas and I absolutely love it. I also have another potential jewellery making craft to try out and that is exciting too.
So what does this mean for my lovely customers? Well I hope they will stay with me on the new journey because it's going to be more about creativity, moving a bit more upmarket and customised, sharing things learned, getting and giving support to others (whether ill or not) because being on your own is lonely and trying to make a success of whatever life you have can be a tough job. But my "business plan" has become easier and a whole lot simpler....
Happy new year everyone. I hope you stick around for the ride xx
To read more about us and our aims, see https://www.sparklyprettythings.net/pages/about-us