I could get into all the excuses I have for not having blogged in far too long but I won't so I can get to the excitement of being back in the studio after a break over the holidays.
I think January is one of my favourite times of the year in the studio because I get to step back a little bit from the process of running my studio to plan, experiment, play, and make new work for the new year. I just finished working on my financial year end (ahead of the game by a few months from what I usually do) and it's given me a good picture of where I need to put my energy and time. I'm still working on figuring out what pieces I sold most and how many I made last year (a first for me!). All these numbers make my head swim but, at some point, it's a really important way to think through how I work and how to grow in a way that fits who I am, and what my goals are.
Part of this strategy and numbers, planning and playing is coming from starting to work with a Business Manager. This past year I met with the incredible team from Taendem and felt like it was a good fit for me at this stage in my studio life. When I started Dahlhaus in 2007 I took a self-employment program, wrote a business plan and had a business coach through the program to guide me for my first year. Since then, I've been kind of winging it. Every year I think I might have figured out the perfect balance of wholesale, online sales, studio sales and craft sales, along with hiring more or less help in the studio, spending more or less money on photography or marketing opportunities, saying yes or saying no to the increasing amount of opportunities that come my way, regretting some or learning a lot from being part of something I hadn't anticipated working on.
This intuitive approach of running my studio really came to a crashing halt last January when I fractured my arm in a bike accident. The day before I fell, I was on the phone with my dad and he had asked me how my week was going. I told him I felt like I was in a boxing arena, and all these punches were coming my way and I wasn't sure which ones to duck for and when to punch back. That kind of analogy really hit me hard the following day while I sat in the walk-in clinic, pondering how I was possibly going to work with a fractured right elbow. Amazingly, with the help of my brand new studio assistant, Janine, I was able to get through a really tough time.
So this year I wanted to start the year on a better footing. I know that creating a viable, sustainable studio practice as an artist and a maker is a tall order, but I'm willing to give it all I have without compromise. Well, there's going to be a bit of give and take, but you get the idea. Here's to 2015, to turning 40, to celebrating 20 years of love with my darling, to having my oldest child become a teenager, and to the wild ride my little studio is on!
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