Claireabellemakes Is Closing!

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. 

Good-ChangeWhat is Kaizen?

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.

Claireabellemakes-New-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?

SHOP_ Claireabellemakes closing Sale

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!

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Claireabellemakes Christmas Markets 2018

It’s that time of year when I am running about like a headless chicken preparing for Christmas markets! We’ve all seen the Coca Cola TV advert by now and the high street is Christmas crazy – so I figured it was about time I updated you on my markets for this season.

I decided to only take part in Etsy Made Local markets this year as they are so well organised and they are happening all over the UK so there’s a great buzz! I’ll be selling in Cambridge on Thursday 29 November and Brighton on Saturday 1 December.

All the details can be found below – hope to see some of you there. Give me a shout if you are planning to stop by!

Cambridge-Made-Christmas-Fair-2018Facebook EventEML 2018 INSTAGRAMFacebook Event

If you’re not able to make it to any markets this year, I’ll be having a little sale over my Birthday weekend (which also happens to be Black Friday weekend) with everything on Etsy 10% off. Keep an eye on the shop here – no coupon code needed. Sale starts 23/11 and ends 25/11.

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

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New In Store: Christmas Collections

Just a quick update today to let you know the Christmas collections are now live in the shop! It may feel a little early for some, but the high street is already in Christmas mode and Claireabellemakes customers have been ordering cards since June this year!

SHOP_ Claireabellemakes Christmas Collection

I usually start my Christmas shopping in October and plan some handmade gifts too. What about you? Does the early sign of Christmas in the big retail stores annoy you? Or are you someone who starts planning in the summer?

I should also share that the Etsy shop now has free UK Shipping on everything, all the time!

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New In Store: Mini Note Card Collections

It’s been a while, but there are some new items in the shop! The mini note card collections have arrived and there are 6 designs available. Find them in the shop as single cards or in packs of 3. As usual, the collection is about colour and positivity so you can send some happy mail!Mini Cards Launch Claireabellemakes

In addition to the mini cards, there are also two new designs in the congratulations collections.

Awesome News-Scrabble-Greetings-Card-ClaireabellemakesI’d love to know what you think of the new cards! The Christmas section is also live in the shop once again, should you be one of the super organised shoppers!

Well-Done-Scrabble-Greetings-Card-Claireabellemakes

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Bank Holiday Sale for Claireabellemakes

It’s time for a bank holiday sale here! I am hoping to make some space in the studio for new stock, so everything is on offer at 30% off. Even the new glitter collections and card/pin bundle deals are included!Bank Holiday Sale May 2018

Grab a bargain in the Claireabellemakes Etsy shop here. Have a super bank holiday if you are in the UK!

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