With 2013 coming to a close I thought it was appropriate to take some time and look back on the milestones and accomplishments of the year.
Without a doubt, 2013 has been the hardest year of my life thus far. I got my heart broken, I graduated college, and I left a life and people I loved when I moved back to St. Louis after five years in Columbia. And that was just the first half of 2013.
There’s no denying it; 2013 was the hardest year of my life. BUT, it has also been the most rewarding year of my nearly 24 years of existence. In the past eleven months (that’s right, eleven, not twelve) I have accomplished more than I ever dreamed I could. I decided it was high time to ignore my modest inclinations and do a little bragging. So here it goes!
On February 6, 2013 I launched SMARTdesigns on Facebook. At this point, I hadn’t fully decided what I wanted SMARTdesigns to become, but I knew that I enjoyed graphic design and I really wanted to see what I could make of myself as a designer. I did a few projects for friends and did a lot of experimentation with different programs and techniques.
Things didn’t take off overnight, but the fan page on Facebook started to grow. On February 9, I already had Facebook fans on three continents and by February 15, SMARTdesigns had 60 fans.
In March I started working on artwork for Nichole’s Superhero Themed Wedding. This is when I really think the wheels started churning in my mind. I had so much fun with the artwork for the wedding that I was determined to find a way to make money as a designer.
Superhero Wedding Save The Date
On April 17, 2013, I finished my first big art piece, “A Life For All Seasons.” This is when I realized for the first time that I might actually be a real artist. Up until this point, I had never considered selling artwork. I had thought maybe I was talented enough to sell business logos and fliers, but it wasn’t until people started to call me an artist that I thought I could do more.
A Life for All Seasons — my first art piece
Also in April I received my very first publication as a creative writer! My poem “The Beautiful Octopus” was published in EPIC Literary Magazine.
In May I continued working on new artwork when I wasn’t busy finishing my Creative Writing Thesis and graduating from college. On May 5, 2013 SMARTdesigns reached the 100 fan milestone on Facebook!
On May 18, 2013, I graduated from the University of Missouri, Magna Cum Laude with University and Departmental Honors.
And Then I joined Etsy:
On August 27, 2013, I joined Etsy. To be completely honest, I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. Luckily for me, I met some really wonderful Etsians who helped me get my shop off the ground. In September I continued to make new artwork, but my shop still hadn’t really taken off. I was starting to get a little discouraged when October rolled around and I still had not made my first Etsy sale, but little did I know things were about to get crazy…
The All Handmade By ME Team:
On October 2, 2013, I founded the All Handmade By ME Team. I won’t go into a lot of detail on the origin of the team because I have already blogged about it several times. (If you want to read more about everything exciting that happened in October and early November, click here!)
Things really took off from there! Before I knew it, I was the captain of an amazing team of over 1,000 members, my shop had over 50 sales, and for the first time in my life, people really cared and listened to what I had to say. Me! A 23 year old Etsy newbie!
Since my last UPDATE blog entry, a lot of exciting things have happened. My shop has over 100 sales (115 to be exact) and I have received 74 FIVE STAR Reviews for my customer service and the products and services I offer. My Etsy shop has 342 Admirers. SMARTdesigns has 432 Facebook Fans and 175 Twitter Followers. The All Handmade By ME Team has 1,560 active members and is growing every day.
Okay, those are the numbers, but what does it all really mean? It means that I did it. When I opened my Etsy shop in August, I did so to try to prove something to my family and friends. And, I have since realized, to prove something to myself. I needed to see that I could make my own success, not in some office cubicle or in a classroom, but in my own way. That I could be successful without getting a “real job.”
Now, am I making enough money to support myself? No. Not even close. But when I look at everything I have accomplished in the last few months, I am hopeful and optimistic that someday soon, maybe I will be able to do so. Maybe.
In terms of money, no, I really haven’t “succeeded” yet. But I look at everything that has happened and I feel successful. For the first time in my life, I have a real sense of pride. I am proud of my contribution to the handmade community. I am proud of the small chunk of change I have earned for my artwork. I am proud to say that in 2013, I have made a difference. For myself and, I believe, for my peers.
It seems Etsy thinks so too! The other day I received a gift in the mail from the people at Etsy:
This gift from Etsy just further reminded me that the things I do really do matter to people. And I cannot begin to explain how much that realization has meant to me.
Is my life exactly where I wanted it to be on this day last year? Nope. Is it even close to what I expected my life to look like today? Not in the slightest. I hit a lot of bumps and obstacles over the past year and my life veered way off the course I had planned. But when I think about everything I have done and everything that has happened because of it, I could not be more thankful for those obstacles.
Because guess what? I did all of this myself. It turns out, I don’t need a man to make me happy. Okay, so I don’t have anyone to kiss at midnight, but you know what? It turns out, I don’t need one.
I would like to take a moment to thank the people who have helped me this year. First and foremost, thank you Nichole. Without you, I probably never would have thought to pursue this dream in the first place. Thank you to my grandparents who have followed every step of this journey with me. Your excitement keeps me excited! Thank you Jill for helping me with technical stuff and for being a good friend along the way. Thank you to the leaders of the All Handmade By ME Team. Without you, this team would not be where it is today. And last but not least, thank you to the All Handmade By ME Team! You are the most supportive group of people I have ever met!