Where to start?! This blog post has been swirling around in my head for a couple of months now, so I really hope I’m able to articulate everything I want to say. Here goes.
I have decided to close my shop after 7 years.
It’s a good change. Kaizen if you will.
Yup, it’s a big, scary decision and it feels so weird to finally say it out loud. If you’re interested, I’m going to share a bit more about this good change and how it came to be.
Back in January 2018 I was feeling off. I would probably say the most accurate word to describe my feelings was “meh”. I felt unmotivated, low from experiencing seasonal effective disorder all winter, and I was in a serious creative slump. I actually wrote about it here on the blog and figured that a creative slump was something most designers experienced at some point. I considered myself lucky that I had only first experienced it after 6 years. Not bad going eh?!
But, the slump never went away and had a lot of change and pain in my personal life in the months shortly after. After G and I broke up, I packed up my studio and moved house and began to think about how I could make my business work in a much smaller space that was also my living space.
Once I got back on my feet emotionally, I began to feel happier in myself and continued to pack orders and create in my new space. It worked fine and our postie at work always commented on how many pink parcel boxes I was sending out and that it all seemed to be going ‘really well’ for my business!
However, creating new products didn’t feel good any more. I released only one new collection in 2018 and it didn’t sell well at all (the mini greetings card series). It demotivated me further combined with the fact sales were down year on year too. Freelance work was also much quieter.
That’s the thing about small businesses and side hustles. Hardly anyone talks about money and I guess that’s fine. We all want to appear successful so our customers will believe in our products after all! Even though I had stockists and online sales and occasional freelance work – I struggled with the irregularity of sales and actually felt myself pining for the security of a full-time day job again. I just wanted to do something that I enjoyed without the pressure of HAVING to earn money. I wanted to work on something that wasn’t about promotion, being online all the time, crunching the numbers, or dealing with lost post and customers. It was exhausting and my brain capacity had reached its limit.
My personal situation had also led me back to the option of full-time work (even house shares are ridiculously expensive in Cambridge!) and in August my employer supported me in making that happen. I had worked part-time in an amazing tech firm for about 18 months and I knew that they would allow me to grow there if I wanted to. In January this year I was promoted (yay!) and I’m really enjoying being back in the swing of a 9-5 with new challenges and amazing colleagues. We have a super social group too which has been a real positive aspect of it all.
Since then, I’ve taken my foot off the business pedal a little and generally just kept everything going whilst I thought about how I felt for a while. After the creative slump cleared a little, I still had this feeling that my passion for the business had gone and that maybe it had run it’s course. Someone asked me if I was closing because it had gotten too stressful, but it’s really just that my heart is not in it anymore and it’s time for a change.
These last 6 months have been a chance for me to regain my social life, to start dating again (eek!) and to reflect a lot on who I am and what I want for myself. I am already making 2019 a self development year and have made lots of goals to work on personal projects. It has felt good to put myself before the business and it has highlighted that I need to follow my heart for a while.
It does make me wonder if our personality types lead us to such decisions. I have always craved structure and routine and perhaps the fluidity and uncertainty of a small business really wasn’t for me in the end? That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed it and learnt a lot, but maybe this next chapter of me is one that has a ‘normal’ job and has time to do her hobbies for a bit. Only time will tell I guess.
One of the things I am pleased about is how many people have enjoyed my products and that they have shared with me their joy in wearing a pin, or sending a card to a loved one. There’s something pretty special about that and I’m glad to have experienced it. I certainly have no regrets! Even if I did cry a bit about letting go of this part of the brand. It’s entirely bittersweet and emotional, but I’m happy with the decision. Honestly.
So. What’s next?
I’ll still be blogging for fun, and sharing online under Claireabellemakes, but I just wont be selling products. There is going to be a huge closing down sale starting today with all glitter jewellery! I hope you will want to grab one last item from the shop……after I’ve kept one of everything for myself hehe! More items to follow in the sale, so keep an eye on this blog and my social channels. I will be closed by the end of March for good, so you’ll have a couple of months to snap up any favourites.
As for my personal goals, I’ve started by reading more, doing yoga every day, and I’m going to take up paddleboarding and teach myself ukulele. I’m socialising way more than I have in 10 years and I’m crafting for myself again. I work out at the gym regularly and I’m taking care of my mental health – I’m hoping anxiety will be a thing of the past very soon. I’m journaling and walking and learning how to be comfortable in my own company. I’m brunching and Netflix binging and obsessing over my house plants. I’m spending time with friends and writing letters and listening to podcasts. I’m working on my tinnitus and sleep issues (that one is hard!) and I’m embracing being someone who wakes naturally at 5:55 am every day. It all feels so good. Letting go of one big thing, has allowed so much more to happen in my life.
I adopted the Kaizen or ‘good change’ philosophy for Claireabellemakes – approaching the business with continual improvement in mind and always striving to learn more and to adapt. Having this productivity philosophy in mind for business has enabled me to see how I could apply it my personal life and in my self development goals. Along with Bullet Journaling, I feel as though I am living with intention more than ever now.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you. And thank you for all the support for the shop, whether you’ve followed along since 2012 or just now. It’s all been so appreciated. I’ll still be online sharing my life, so if that interests you, I’d love for you to stick around!