I was so excited to make the weekly trip to Chico in August to teach another group of business-minded creatives how to open their Etsy shops and get their handmade and vintage goods out into the worldwide marketplace of e-commerce.
I had the pleasure of working with the amazing Sophie Konuwa the director of the Small Business Development Center at Butte College in Chico. The Chico and surrounding communities are so lucky to have her as a resource and advocate for small business!
The class room was beautiful, and there were around 30 local entrepreneurs enrolled who made everything from home grown tea, to corsets made from up-cycled men’s ties.
This was my fourth time this year getting to teach the Etsy curriculum, and I am so grateful to have met and worked with so many new people throughout this process. It is extremely gratifying to help people start or improve their businesses!
Click here to learn more about Etsy's Craft Entrepreneurship Program and if you are local to NorCal, please check out this event:
Earlier this year I embarked on the journey of becoming a Kiva Borrower.
Kiva is an amazing way of getting a business loan – instead of dealing with a regular bank that looks only at your credit score and your business assets, Kiva is a crowdfunded, character-based platform where your friends, family and people all over the world contribute small or large loans to your total loan amount.
I was fortunate enough to have the Jefferson Economic Development Institute as my trustee and with the help of some local supporters and some big business backers I made it to my goal!
This is such an exciting development for me as a small business owner. This loan has already allowed me to hire local sewing help, update old equipment, and develop new items. I recently was able to purchase a brand new Juki sewing machine and serger and I can’t tell you how nice it is to have sewing equipment that works properly and smoothly!
To say that I am grateful is an understatement. This is just the beginning of expanding Dark Pony Designs and I am so excited for the future.
Photos by Jamie Solorio http://www.jamiesolorio.com
2016 has been full of teaching creative local people to use Etsy to sell their products. I have traveled to Mt. Shasta, taught a class in Redding, and now I am in the midst of completing an Etsy training in Chico. My good friend and photographer Jamie Solorio took these photos at the Redding class, I love the way she captured me in work mode. The best part of all of this is meeting fellow artists who have a desire to learn e-commerce. It's always interesting to hear about what they make and who they are. Etsy has certainly changed me life, I hope I am helping other people do the same. To see my Etsy shop go to www.etsy.com/shop/darkponydesigns
It's so simple but so true, and so hard. I am a big believer in making something out of nothing, whether it's yourself or a business. Jenne Lombardo tells it like it is, of course it helps that her industry is in the fashion and advertising industries!
I recently finished this amazing audio book by Seth Godin. If you are not familiar with him, take a minute and check out his work. Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book:
“The job is what you do when you are told what to do. The job is showing up at the factory, following instructions, meeting spec, and being managed.
Someone can always do your job a little better or faster or cheaper than you can.
The job might be difficult, it might require skill, but it's a job.
Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it. Your art is the act of taking personal responsibility, challenging the status quo, and changing people.
I call the process of doing your art 'the work.' It's possible to have a job and do the work, too. In fact, that's how you become a linchpin.
The job is not the work.”
― Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
Seth covers a lot of ideas and information here. Everything from recognizing your lizard brain's hold on you, to understanding the future of the economy does not lie in a 9-5, 40 hour factory style work week. I found his ideas and logic to be encouraging to me as an artist and an entrepreneur. If you've been wrestling with the idea of leaving a job you hate, or finding confidence in putting your ideas out into the world, this is for you!
Time to squash the lizard brain and leave your comfort zone.
1. Moms are natural organizers
Who picks your kids up on time, makes sure they have lunch money, clean clothes and remembered to sign their permission slip? Yep, that’s you, mom. You may be thinking, “Yeah, but that’s just what moms do.” Well, you’d be right. What I think we sometimes miss about what moms do, is that the type of organization and other skills they demonstrate are actually very advanced. They require focus, multi-tasking and care. This is especially true if you have multiple children with different needs and skill sets. That kind of organization is key to a successful business.
2. Moms are natural teachers
Your kids have to learn how brush their teeth, tie their shoes, and get through life without destroying your house. Who teaches them these life skills? You do of course! Why do you teach? Because you’re the kind of boss who wants your children to be independent. You also know you can’t micromanage like some overbearing tyrant. Because of this you learn how to motivate and correct in a peaceful, holistic and encouraging way. All of these qualities are exactly what people want and need in a boss.
3. Moms have incredible mental toughness
When you have someone depending on you 24-7 you do not have a lot of time to relax. You are on point and must be available at all times. Being a mom and handling all of that responsibility is a huge task. Over time, doing this builds up endurance in your mind. It is something that happens in an organic way and is extremely helpful when applied in the business world. A business can be like your baby and needs constant attention to make it a success. You already know how to deal with the demands of an infant... translate that to the demands of entrepreneurship and you will be unstoppable!
4. Moms are problem solvers
Whether it is an argument between siblings, helping to complete a science fair project, or making seven meals for the week when your budget only allows for six, moms know how to solve problems. We do it constantly until it becomes second nature. Moms are always making an effort to keep the peace and the ship afloat and moving forward. No matter what your business, it will be riddled with problems and obstacles that must be tackled in order to keep going. Moms have the advantage in this arena because our brains are operating on problem solving mode without even thinking about it. Where others see walls, we are already building a ladder or finding another way around.
5. Moms are creative
It takes creativity to figure out how to keep your kids entertained. It takes creativity to figure out what to make for dinner or how to fix that broken zipper. Coming up with ideas no matter the subject is the definition of being creative. Business requires new ideas and looking at old standards with new thinking. How will you make your project stand out? How will you build your brand? No problem, you’re already coming up with answers.
So get out there and use your mom power to be the ultimate #Bosslady... Believe me, you’re already halfway there.
Bowie is part of my inspiration.
His influence infiltrates my designs and his style is always in the back of my mind.
He lived an amazing creative life.
I will miss his presence in the celebrity world.
RIP David Bowie.
Having never been inside a gym until I was 32 years old, just idea of wearing athletic shoes made me feel self conscious. After a bout of sickness in 2012 that lasted three months and included a sinus infection, ear infection, bronchitis and antibiotic induced asthma that I couldn't get rid of, I knew it was time to take action. Shoes be damned, I was ready to get moving, get in shape and become a person who took care of herself. I signed up for a membership at my local YMCA and started doing Zumba with my sister-in-law. At first, I really struggled with being able to keep up with the class, it was like my legs were made out of lead and only my right arm cooperated with the dance moves. As time passed the struggle got easier and when I barely broke a sweat at Zumba, I knew it was time to look for something more challenging. Enter: Michele McEntire.
Michele began teaching at the YMCA and offering her first class called Haute Beats. The first time I attended this 60 minute class I was seeing spots half way through and I thought I was going to pass out for real. I had found my fitness challenge and I made it a point to be there every week. Part of what kept me coming back was Michele's super upbeat teaching style, her focused energy, efficient time use and gorgeous body. She was and still is my health and fitness inspiration.
That class got me through some tough times. Having that as part of my routine helped me feel more focused, gave me the energy to deal with my husband being laid off, our dog passing away, personal struggles, financial stress, and pushing myself to continue to be creative with my business. In other words fitness upped my mental and physical toughness. So, you can imagine my disappointment when Michele told me at the beginning of 2015 that she would not be teaching at the YMCA and she was going to be the instructor of a private studio. I immediately assumed I wouldn't be able to make it work in my budget or schedule. I was also worried that without the big customer base that the YMCA pulls in, Michele wouldn't be able to keep the class going. Where were these clients going to come from?
After going and trying a class at the beautiful new studio I knew there was such a huge potential for growth. Barre workouts are a modern, trendy, effective style of fitness that Redding, Ca was desperately in need of. And so began our business partnership. Determined to get the HauteBarre' Fitness name out there to the community, I started helping Michele with facebook marketing, brand building, designing and maintaining a website, setting up yelp, and taking photos and video. By September, Michele was able to quit all of her part time jobs and become a full time entrepreneur and fitness instructor. I am so proud of all of the hard work we have done together. I am amazed and inspired to see how many women love and appreciate this class like I do. Most of all, I am so excited to be involved in a business that is creating a supportive, healthy community for women in Shasta County, something I feel is so incredibly needed.
I am so glad I made the decision to make exercise part of my life. I have met so many people and have had a lot of fun. Michele thank you for doing what you do. Doors are opening and the light is shining through.