Where has time gone?? It’s 2020 and I’ve not blogged since mid 2018, wow. Here’s what happened. The year started out sparkling with possibility, big plans, finally making a profit (spoiler: profit does not equal a living though) and I was getting official help with making my little business physically sustainable and clearing a path to growth. Then I became pregnant with my third child, great! I could work until the end of the year maybe getting some extra outside help and take a few months off after, right? Nope, very wrong. Most people have never heard of hyperemesis gravidarum but I’ll quickly tell you how lucky you are if you haven’t and that it’s the worst pregnancy nausea/sickness and nobody knows why it happens. It hit hard and fast so my one woman production line just stopped, I didn’t have time to wind things down and plan ahead and mourn the loss of all I had worked so hard for and actually I’m not sure I even cared at the time. Not being able to move in bed for three months plus months more recovery has that effect. So it’s a bit of a sad story, or is it really? I have a happy healthy 1 year old baby, and in a strange way could this all have been the best thing for Grey Whale in the end? I’m thinking so and here’s why.
- My sustainable business was not sustainable in terms of working non stop for ultimately not very much money. Once I did the maths seriously counting every penny and every hour this became clear. Handmade biz owners I urge you to do the same! (This was hard to write because is there a taboo around handmade business (especially those investing in sustainable and ethically produced materials) and talking finances or is it just me? I blame Etsy’s Quit Your Day Job stories).
- I needed outside help which costs money and was potentially unreliable.
- Long term I probably needed a loan and a whole lot more time commitment to increase income to pay it all back and remember I have three kids now.
- Manufacturing was an idea that kept cropping up, but finding something ethical and cost effective for small-ish quantities was not easy.
- All of the above gave me a feeling of unease, something is not quite right about this trajectory.
Phew. So what is next then for GW? After fully dropping the ball and letting it roll away I’ve had the chance to gain a different perspective. Being forced to step back made me see I’m not really interested in fashion and that’s the world I was diving into. I do love bags and yes sustainable fashion is important but it wasn’t the right time or perhaps never was for me. What really lights me up is the creative aspect, the making but not the intense production line repeats, nature, plants, prints. Well being has to take priority for more reasons than I’d like to say here. There’s such a lot of hustle and busy-ness mindset going around now we forget to stop for long enough to be able to step outside of that busy person and see where we are going. Stopping allows new ideas and perspective to come so that’s what I’m doing. Testing small ideas, making cushions for myself and a few others, more plant dyed fabric with new screen prints, different formats, colours and not worrying about whether or not people will buy it.
If you’d like to follow along with this sort of creative rehabilitation of mine please join me on Instagram where I probably spend too much time!
Photos by Karen Hilmersson