How do you know when you’re veering off track?

I’ve been playing around in the studio a lot this week, working on new stuff, replacing stock, and getting ready for some upcoming shows. I’m so pleased with some of the stuff that’s come off the bench! Something happened, though, that took me aback, and has had me thinking hard about my vision and my intention. It has made me think hard about what I want for Honey&Ollie.

Here’s the backstory – I sent my booth up to a local Ren Faire a few weeks back. This was about the time that my mom got sick and went into hospital, so the booth went to Faire without me. My wonderful sweetie set it up and manned the booth and did all the selling that weekend. We wound up not selling anything, but that’s okay. It was a tremendous learning experience for me – even from afar!

In dissecting “what went wrong” one of the things we decided was that the stock I had on hand was, possibly (probably) not appropriate for a Ren Faire. Aside from my LA Stories line which is totally for fun (it features mixed metals, found objects and recycled items. It actually is designed to be more kitschy/less expensive), my work is not particularly thematic. Well, folks at a Ren Faire primarily want to buy things that are thematic. They want things that speak to them of the Faire itself. Celtic motifs, goddess imagery, magical pagan images, that kind of thing. They want to buy things that work for them at that faire, in that moment. I realized I was going to have to design a line specifically for the Ren/fantasy faire experience, if I wanted the booth to do well in those venues.

While I was on vacation, I found some inexpensive silver Celtic themed beads and thought “Hey, Easy Peasey! I’ll throw these into some pieces and viola, Ren Faire!” So I went home, and one day this last week I worked up a bunch of earrings using these beads. The only problem was, when I put them up to look at, my inside voice said, “Well… no. I’m not happy with these. They’re cheap,”

I dismissed this, saying “Oh, I’ll just put these up at shows and Faires, not on Etsy, they’ll be filler.” And then my daughter came in and saw them. “Those are cheap, mom.” she said. “That’s not up to the caliber of your regular work. I don’t like them.”

It was a slap in the face, really.

Because she’s right. Honey&Ollie isn’t about filler and cheap is not what I do.

The day I spent working up those earrings could have been spent designing my own charms. Carving molds. Sculpting faire-friendly design elements in fine silver and clay. Instead, I took the easy way out and I got something that isn’t recognizably mine. Something I’m not proud of.

So okay. I veered way off track with that idea. It happens. Sometimes we go off the map for a little while and that’s an important part of the process because sometimes we map new, wonderful territory. But sometimes we just land in the mire. You need to know where both are. You need to know what you are NOT willing to do. It’s really important to have your creative vision firmly in mind, and to be unafraid to critically hold yourself to that vision. It’s important to be brave enough to stand behind your work, not take the easy way out just because you’re scared about not selling enough.

Not selling enough? Work your vision better and smarter, don’t change your vision. Don’t dilute it just for money. You want to walk away from your work feeling proud. If you devalue your own vision, how can you expect anyone else to value it?

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About Maia Rainwood

Owner and Maker at Maia Rainwood Design. Wearable art for wise women, birth keepers, witches, and world-builders.
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7 Responses to How do you know when you’re veering off track?

  1. foxandpen says:

    Sound and hearty advice, milady.

  2. Well-writ, well-timed (as always!!), and wonderfully wonderful. Thank you once again Rainy, Goddess of Truth. Your one day of veering helped a whole bunch of us. Thank you for doing it, and for putting clear words to those pesky, frequent, confusing thoughts we all have.
    xo

  3. danette1066 says:

    And a ray of sunshine winds its way into a darkened corner. Sage advice my dearest friend, for yourself as well as those of us mucking about in the 9 to 5 world.

  4. cambriaw says:

    Thanks so much for this post! I have these pattern design ideas that I love, and when I talk them over with a fellow designer, she always tries to encourage me to ‘dumb them down’ for lack of a better term, making them more accessible to the less-experienced knitter. I love knitters of all skill levels, but I want to make what I WANT TO MAKE, and that’s now always accessible to the less-experienced. I know I won’t sell as many patterns as those easy-and-simple-pattern designers do, but I just want to make what I want. If I have to go through all the headache, I’m going to stand my ground and do what best represents me. Thanks for that.

  5. TheLabRat says:

    One word: HUZZAH!

    keep making the quality and thought-embedded jewelry you’re becoming known for, Rain. You KNOW faire, so you will be able to make some of YOUR jewelry that will work well there. just take the time to listen to your heart about it, and you’ll do fine. Good luck!

  6. Marilyn says:

    A very good post and so true! I am in the process of re-evaluating Marmalady’s. It will still be Marmalady’s, but no marmalade. But I am happy with the changes that will happen. We do need to work first from our heart and that heart will tell a story that the buyer will want to make their own. Your heart will shine through.

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