It’s been a while since I’ve blogged but I’m so excited to catch you all up with what’s been going on! If you’re like me, you view the end of the year as a time of reflection. It’s the time when you’re able to look back, piece things together and see things more clearly. For me, this year has been… A whirlwind to say the least. As a business, there were so many highlights we had. We got to work with some big brands, exceeded multiple sales goals, co-started The Modern Creative Podcast and so much more! It’s definitely been a great year but if I’m being totally honest, I wouldn’t repeat it again next year (I’ll share why in a bit.)
Each year, I do a recap of the year and for 2018, I’ve narrowed it down to three lessons I’ve learned: accommodating for growth, creating systems and finding rest. This post will be a longer one so let’s get started on the knitty gritty details.
1. Accommodating for Growth
I’m not naturally a numbers person but I really started to pay attention this year (& thank God I did!) In terms of statics, we did:
73 Live art events
40 Weddings (invites + reception designs)
36 Commissions (outside weddings)
As you can see from the #s above, our live art service really exploded this year. When I did my first live art gig in 2016, I had no idea that it would take off the way it did. We did 6 events that first year and 20 events the following year. This year, we’ve more than tripled in bookings and have had more events then there are weeks in a year! While that is a huge win, it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine. Throughout the week, I was painting a lot for commissions and wedding projects. This meant on top of my full-time job, I was also driving to multiple gigs and speed painting hundreds of people over the weekend. As you can imagine, working 7 days a week for weeks at a time is not good for anyone and it certainly wasn’t good for me. It was definitely a stressful season especially when it started to affect my physical health. I developed this thing called lateral epicondylitis (also known as tennis elbow) and started experiencing chronic pain on my right elbow. The pain eventually spread to my shoulder and neck and sometimes, it would get so bad that it woke me up at night. My body demanded a break so I decided to hire our first employee in February 2018. Due to the high demand, we quickly brought on another person, then another, and eventually, we grew into a team of 8. It was definitely an adjustment going from being a solopreneur to having a team but I’ve really enjoyed the process so far. With our team, we’re able to be in multiple places at once and serve more clients. It’s been a joy getting to know each of our ladies and building a team culture together. It has also forced me to be better organized and structured which brings me to my next point.
2. Creating Systems
When I worked by myself, I knew exactly what I had to do and when I needed to do it. I kept it all in my head because I didn’t need to communicate it with anyone else. When we started to grow, I realized this method no longer served us and we needed to get better systems in place. So first things first, I wrote everything down - from tasks that needed to get done to expectations and roles. If a team member was confused about something or needed clarification, I would write them down. I took all of the notes and created an Employee Handbook. It served as a guide which clearly defined the roles, expectations and duties. It’s almost like a bible that houses everything you need to know. It outlines all the knitty gritty details so it keeps everyone in check, including me! This is something that I’m continually working on and fine tuning but it’s been a huge game changer for our business. It’s really helped create structure that improve the way we work in the back end and helps deliver an amazing experience for our clients. Needless to say, systems are not just important have - they are a must for any business.
3. Finding Rest
Outside of work life, my husband and I made 2 international trips this year! If you know me personally, you might know that I actually hadn’t left the country for over 20 years (crazy right?) We decided to change that so we made a trip to Europe in May 2018. It was our first international trip as a married couple and we explored Paris, France and different cities in Italy. The day I landed, I remember feeling emotional and excited that I was finally exploring somewhere outside the US :’)
For our second international trip, we visited Tokyo and Kyoto earlier this month. Japan was always on the top of our list so we decided to make a trip out of it when I booked a live art event in Hawaii (after all, Hawaii is already halfway to Japan, right??) Japan was absolutely incredible and it was also the first trip I was really able to unplug from work. On other trips, I still set some time aside to work and answer emails but I fully “shut off” in Japan. It felt amazing to immerse myself in a new country and let myself fully explore. I’ll definitely go more in depth in a separate blog post but let me just, it was pure MAGIC.
Rest is still a bit of a foreign concept for me and it’s something I’m working on bringing into my lifestyle. I do feel a tinge of guilt whenever I’m “not being efficient” but I realized it’s a necessity. This coming year, I’m going to be intentional about taking regular breaks. Whether it’s a weekly sabbath or a trip, I’m going to leave room to rest + explore.
& that’s a wrap! I know this was a lengthy post but I hope you enjoyed reading through the lessons I learned this year. Let me know if you related with any of these points or feel free to share some lessons you’ve learned in the comments below.
Wishing all of you a happy new year and I’ll see ya in 2019!