Busy Happy Lady

I’ve been setting up my own business which started off as a training and development business and is now a craft shop. The developing business case makes for interesting reading.

You know, what happened was this:  I felt it was time I worked for myself instead of for other people, especially government bodies which just make me so angry with all of their wasted money and misdirected resources, the red tape, the ‘I’ve got a cushy job for life so why should I even bother trying” attitude that often (not always because it definitely was never my attitude) prevails within higher echelons of the structure.

As I love teaching I really wanted to stick with that in some way and I will, just not in any way remotely connected to my original idea.

I’ve been working on setting up this knowledge or service business for a while and I was excited at first, then it started to feel like work and then I realised that I was probably going to find most of my clients within the very types of organisations I wanted to distance myself from and then I became disillusioned. Then I wondered if I was doing the right thing and started to think I probably wasn’t.

I was talking to my daughter, my man and my therapist about this.. not all at the same time. They were all saying something to me and I wasn’t really listening. Not because I’m stubborn or single minded or inflexible but because I was in a rut. I was in a rut of professionalism if you like. That puts it nicely. If you wanted to be more harsh you could say I was a snob. I kind of feel that I’ve studied and worked to earn a more prestigious job, to be the owner of a business which shares knowledge and which I will feel comfortable with as a status symbol really. Not in the sense of status as in monetary value or worth, but in the sense that I am an academic and to have a training and development consultancy bearing my name is fitting and apt.

So I had these voices telling me why I had lost the enthusiasm for the business I was setting up and I didn’t really hear them, because of this rut, this feeling that I somehow deserved to have a certain type of business, or ought to have a certain type of business, even that I would be expected to have a certain type of business. Then I read a few blog posts. I tell you, blog posts are written just for us. It’s like reading the bible, you know when you just flick it open or let it fall and you read the first verse your eyes are drawn to and religious or not, those words were written just for you right here right now? Well blogging is just like that… not wishing to sound sacrilegious, but it is.

Bloggers are inspired to write and many of us have no idea why, many of us don’t have the time to write yet we make the time, many of us start off writing something that ends up as something altogether different and someone somewhere reads what we’ve written and it touches something in them, it turns on a switch or off a switch, we relate, we nod, we smile, we laugh, we cry or we just feel and know that someone somewhere understands us.

This happened to me not for the first time. I read six or seven posts and they were all written for me right now as surely as if they’d been commissioned by some part of my sub-conscious that really wanted to hear this stuff. I listened, I heard and I understood and then, while my ears were open and my guard was down, I was able to hear what my daughter, my man and my therapist had said to me and all of these voices were saying the same thing. And that thing was simply “Don’t do what you can do, do what you want to do”

“Do what makes you happy” my daughter’s words came through loud and clear even if after a time lapse of a couple of weeks.

“Do something you wish you had the time to do” my therapist’s words came through loud and clear even after a time lapse of a week or so.

“Do something you really enjoy” my partner’s words came through loud and clear even if after… you get the picture.

So I thought about it. What do I love to do, what do I enjoy, what makes me happy and furthermore what don’t I have enough time to do and there it was, arts and crafts. I just don’t have time to create anything and I love to create things. Not only for the satisfaction of having made something but for the total and complete relaxation of having done it.

I started investigating and researching and taking my eyes off me and my life and seeing what is going on in the world, what do people buy, what do they want and I realised there was something I might be able to make into a business. I then did the numbers and market research and yes, in this area, at this time, this is a viable business opportunity, a small investment and something that will be ultimately fulfilling. Hence my change of route.

Since I changed the route I feel like a huge light has been turned on. I’ve never felt this optimistic or this content about something as important as my career. Knowing I’m going to give it a shot making a living doing something I’m good at and which I enjoy, meeting new people, taking a whole new direction in life feels good, positive, relaxed yet excited, hopeful but optimistic. I am going to make it a success, I just am.

I don’t care that it isn’t high powered, that it isn’t going to rely on my knowledge (other than my business knowledge) to make it work, I don’t feel that I deserve something highfalutin, I realise I deserve something I enjoy and something which makes me happier. Something that makes me a living, not that makes me rich.

Sometimes we get caught up in status and the pursuit of lofty ambitions when really all we need to make us happy is something we enjoy doing, something we’re good at. I see that now and I believe that’s all part of this letting go of control, letting go of trying to be the best, trying to prove myself worthy. I don’t need to be a knowledge worker, I don’t need a fancy title, I don’t need to be a consultant, I’m happy being Mich with a cutesy shop and I’m going to be happy in that shop and anyone who comes into that shop is going to leave it a little happier than when they came in and that is what my business is going to be about… smiles and little things. The things that matter.

I have some hard work ahead of me and I’m looking forward to it. I’m going to do this and I’m going to love every minute of it.


14 thoughts on “Busy Happy Lady”

  1. Good luck with your new business. I hope you’ll find much happiness and success. I’m a crafter, too. I make glass window hangings, needle felted animals, birdhouses and ornaments. I’ve been building my inventory and have been checking out craft shows to participate in.


    1. Thank you. I’ve just finished getting together lots of samples and have been working like crazy on generating a load of ‘off the peg’ purchases but have some contacts who I can link into the wedding market with after Christmas. I’m so excited.

      I was going to wait until after Christmas to launch but now I see a real opportunity to make a footprint on the market with Christmas gifts and decorations so that’s where I’ve been focusing at first.

      Nick has practically moved up here to help get the shop ready and even my son and his friends have been drafted in to help. My daughter’s done lots of the setting up of ordering systems and she had a friend of hers design my social media artwork and logos for paperwork so it’s a real team effort which is fabulous.

      I’m really feeling hopeful about it and have so many ideas which I’m having to just jot down as I can’t do everything fast enough.

      I’ve made lots of simple things which are quick and effective like Christmas bunting and table sets and gift boxes and cushions but have also prepared lots of gifts too. I’ve made a ton of decoupage wooden tree ornaments gift tags and festive pom poms which my friends were buying as fast as I could make them to use on gifts as an alternative to bows and to hang on trees.

      I need to focus on the Christmas market while keeping in mind what will sustain the business after that and I have tons of ideas and plans taking me into the year beyond. I’ve loved working on these projects and just love the fulfillment of making things.

      There isn’t anything like this in my local area so it’s a pretty open market. Exciting times, far more exciting than meetings. When I’m established I’ve got a big room in the back of the shop where I’m going to hold workshops and also where I’ll host crafting parties.

      Lots of ideas. Craft shows are great that’s something I’ll be looking to get involved in and have stands at in the future.


      1. It does sound like you’re really busy! I like the idea of hosting crafting parties. My best friend and her guy own an event house and she’s suggested that I do something similar. You’ll have to post some of your pretty creations. Have you thought of selling on ETSY, as well?


        1. I’ve not thought of ETSY yet no, I’ll have to have a look into that one, another thing to put on the list. You should have a party. I’m going to post some pics when I’ve got the shop set up and display my talents 😀


  2. That is so exciting and inspiring! I think that happiness is worth so much more than anything else in life. It is something that can’t be bought. I have always believed that the worst sentence in the life would be to live it stuck in a career I hated. It is inspiring to hear about you following your heart. 🙂


    1. Thank you. This is so not me, I’ve been in that office, suited, power dressing, strategic role for so long and then moved into teaching and although I love it the politics are beyond me, I just want to teach young people well but evidently that’s not the purpose of education these days and it’s frustrating beyond belief. For me to have a cutesy little shop is so far away from that but then I think that is actually more expressive of who I am really, I’m not a high powered cold person, I’m a people person and I kind of got lost in a career I fell into just because I was a good organiser and negotiator really.

      We get swept up in life sometimes don’t we and it can be difficult and scary to stop the elevator and get off.


  3. Good for you and I hope it goes well. Someone I know recently started something similar and it seems to be doing well. She uses FB to push her craft classes and gets lots of groups coming in to try out the making – from pottery to painting. And they invariably buy other things when they come in. Go for it.


    1. Thank you. Yes there is already lots of genuine interest from friends and associates and many of my samples have been snapped up and had to be remade more than once. I’ve had to put a block on selling them now otherwise I’ll never get anywhere. I’ve had some orders for weddings already too and so that’s great to lead into next year after I’ve maximised the Christmas spending extravaganza! Just wish I’d been ready for Halloween, but next year I will be. I’m lucky that I’ve gotten used to a couple of hours sleep a night as this is where I am again just now but once things are set up and I leave my day job in December it will all become much more manageable. I’ve also restored the link between myself and my youngest brother who I was always close to but cut off in the family cull just because it had to be done. He’s a tremendously patient fiddly work person, fantastic with intricate paint work and so he’s on board too and he recently retired so that’s great to have his input more hours than I bargained for. He’s creating some rather stunning items and has even taken to using a sewing machine, he’s kind of like me in that he never says never to learning a new skill.


  4. I’ve often tossed about the idea of running an ebay business in crafts. Decades ago, I did open a craft shop on weekends (we have an old shop adjoining the house) but when it came time to put more effort into the cleaning business or into the craft shop, the cleaning won. Customers dropped off once the monthly market began again, and tourist numbers dropped during the drought because they weren’t coming to the lake in the area for recreation and staying at the caravan parks. This was before the wineries got big in the area. Anyway, when our cleaning slowed down, I thought of opening again, but our area has been rezoned ‘rural living’ and the regulations to reopen are onerous.

    Well done Michelle! And teaching is not out of the question, people love to learn crafts, too. I’m really excited for you!


    1. Such a shame Christine. My one concern is what happens when the arts and crafts love affair ends, at the moment everyone is going crazy for shabby chic and hand made but the circle will go shift around. I had a good conversation with my daughter about it and extended my business plan a bit to allow for diversification when the time comes, I guess it’s about staying market savvy and being flexible, like any business… or getting out and trying the next big thing at the right time.

      I was really really lucky with the shop, there is a tiny street in the town centre where there has been a bit of a boho revival and little cute olde worlde untouched shops which had been derelict more or less for years have recently been snapped up and transformed into little boutiques and a kind of arcade has formed. One of my friends bought a flat which straddled the 2nd floor of two of the shops for a real bargain price which included the shops and the 1st floor void space. She has renovated the 1st floor above each shop to storage, an office and washroom and had already renovated one of the shops as a vintage clothing boutique which she runs and she was in the process of renovating the other for rent so I was very lucky to get in there and to be able to influence the finish myself which has saved me so much time and effort. I’m calling in favours like you’d never believe, a friend with a security grill company, a friend who is a carpenter, a friend who is a sign writer, a flooring fitter. I always knew being a happy smiley soul would pay off one day 😀

      What is more a big hotel is opening right opposite the shops in the next few months (building is well underway) and that is only going to bring more people down that way, however it’s already quite a hive of activity down there. I love this post recession small business boom, there’s such a buzz about it.


  5. Hooray for you! Are you still teaching while setting up your business? I too, am in a cushy, for-life job that feels too secure to leave (and still love…the teaching, my students, the other crap I could do without, like you mentioned), yet I am actively trying to create my next life –which includes weight loss/getting healthy. Unfortunately, we are dependent on my income as well as the hub’s and so I feel I stuck in my ‘sure thing.’


    1. Yes, I’m teaching part time now, I reduced my hours and leaving in December. I’m sad about it but I’m not the only one leaving, there is a steady hemorrhage of good teachers.

      I’m the sole bread winner so it’s a real scary move but I’m quite financially stable. My house is way too big for our needs and I’m downsizing which will not only free me up some equity as an investable nest egg but it will reduce living costs drastically. So as I need less income to survive I can take a risk. It’s just a good time to make this move in so many ways, one of those stars finally aligning moments.

      My daughter has also insisted on investing something into the business and kindly paid for all of my stock fabrics which was an absolute darling thing to do, meaning my initial personal capital investment was drastically reduced. Even my son put together a basket of goodies for me (probably at his sister’s command) and it included tons of thread, a fantastic new glue gun and heaps of sticks, really good scissors and lots of blades for my cutting machine.

      My mum has donated heaps and heaps of fabric, lace, thread, buttons, all manner of things that she had left over from when she closed her dressmaking business down a year or so ago (at 81). Some of the fabrics are marked up in old English money, from before 1972 and she sat and told me where half the buttons had come from, some where from a dress her grandma made her in the 1930’s and buttons from the coat she wore to my grandad’s funeral in the 1960’s, buttons and a patch of lace from her wedding dress.

      There are several rolls of different types of Nottingham lace which she bought in the lace markets in the 60’s, something historical and long gone now. It was like a history of sewing and included lady bird buttons from my first trouser suit in 1969. Dress patterns from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s all still perfectly in tact. I’m not going to ever be able to have the heart to use them. I’m thinking of making a feature of some of them, like a little museum to haberdashery in the shop. There are so many interesting little things that she has held on to over the years.

      It’s just turned out to be a really lovely experience so far, it’s like a little adventure more than setting up a business and the enthusiasm of people around me buoys me on. I think they are happy to see me happy if I’m honest and I definitely do feel happier. I’m letting go of more than my weight, I’m letting go of so many things which I didn’t even realise made me sad, I don’t think I feel like I need to fight any more, I don’t feel so much as if it’s me against the world, I’m starting to find it easier to embrace life instead of seeing it as a battle.

      Of course my quest to lose weight began all of this and when people comment on my weight loss I have to say that my weight loss is not even the big achievement anymore, it’s all of the other changes I’ve gone through which are more important to me and far more significant. For the first time I don’t feel nervous or tense as if I’m waiting for something awful to happen, I’m relaxed and my perma smile is actually real these days, it’s not masking anything. Gosh, I’ve made myself cry just writing that… I’m getting too soft haha.

      I hope you get to a point where you can find the next thing and believe me losing that weight and getting fitter and healthier will lead you there quicker than you could imagine 😀


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