Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Dear Psychiatric Nurse: You Are Part of the Problem

Dear Psychiatric Nurse,

You have an extremely tough job, I know this. I know that compassion fatigue is a real thing, and some days you probably feel one patient interaction away from a complete burn out.

I understand all these things because, I too, used to work with individuals who were struggling from severe mental illnesses.
I know what it feels like to constantly try to help people, but to feel like I'm beating my head against a brick wall.
I know what it's like to be yelled at, grabbed by the shirt, and called the kind of names that would ring in your ears for the rest of the shift.

I've been there.

But have you ever been a psychiatric patient?

Have you ever been on the receiving end of the wary glances from the staff gathered on the other side of the glass, when you ask if the doctor has been in yet?
Have you ever been mumbled at to come join a group therapy exercise, and feel completely embarrassed because you know you should actually be running that group, and not participating in it?

I have.
I've been there.

And I have so much to tell you about what it's like to be on "the other side".
What it's like to observe (and completely see through) all the behaviours that you think make you an effective healthcare worker.

You may smile at patients, give meds on time, do all the proper prompting for activities, and even spend your mandatory 10 minutes per shift talking to each patient.

But did you show up? I mean really show up?

I can tell you with absolute certainty that out of the 6 months I spent in 2 different psychiatric facilities, I only had one nurse ever show up.

Only one.

She was the only one that would greet each patient with a warm smile, regardless of what state they were in that day. Because she understood, in her soul, that the illness was not THEM; she could understand that we were there because we were ill, not because we were hopelessly flawed.

She sat on my bed. She didn't look at her watch when spending her mandatory 10 minutes talking to each patient. She actually just talked.
She told me I would leave that place and I would be a good mother.
She told me that the medication would work, they just needed to find the right dose.
She told me that my newborn daughter would still love me, even though I couldn't love her at that moment.

She showed up.
Every shift.

It really is painful to say that there was not one other nurse that showed up the way she did. Sure, most were friendly, but they were also guarded. They would whisper among themselves at the nurses station, thinking that patients didn't know they were complaining about them.

They would offer no apology when you were abruptly changed to another room, with another roommate, and you broke down in tears because you had just gotten comfortable where you were.
And you were scared.
They would make no eye contact with you when you were allowed "ground privileges" and you stood at the door to be buzzed in and out. They just hit the button.

This is a huge problem.

I really don't know the solution for this mass can't teach people how to care.
I do wish that every nurse would understand that we patients see them as people: and it doesn't seem to be too much to ask for that in return.

After I was discharged from the hospital, I learned more about this kind nurse and why she showed up everyday...
She also struggled from mental health issues; anxiety and depression, and was known for her open and honest dialogue about the need to reduce stigma and to genuinely help one another.

It is not just patients that are struggling.
It is your nurse, your teacher, your neighbour....1 in 5 Canadians struggle with mental illness.
She knew she wasn't any different than any of the patients on that ward, and so she was able to break down those walls of misunderstanding, and speak to us as people, and not as our illness.

Are you a stigma fighter or a stigma creator?
Are you the nurse that goes home and tells the incredulous and harrowing tales of what the latest "crazy person" did on your shift?
Are you the nurse that actually does refer to your patients behind their backs, as "crazy people" (sadly I know personally of nurses that do this)..?

Then you are a stigma creator. You are perpetuating the exact mentality that makes people afraid to come see you, afraid to be admitted into hospital when they need it the most.

You are part of the problem.

You have a hard job, but you went into that field for a reason. You wanted to help people, you wanted to make a difference. Maybe you don't yet know that everything you do or say to your patients during your shift makes a difference; good OR bad.

I beg you be the reason one of your patients smiles today, or is filled with hope (however fleeting).

Maybe one day, years from now, one of your patients will remember the impact you had on their lives. You won't remember them, but they will remember you.
Maybe they won't remember exactly what you said to them, but they will remember how you made them feel...

...and they will remember that you showed up.


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

When The Drugs Didn't Work: A Look at My Experience with "Shock" Therapy

This picture looks real sweet, doesn't it? I catch myself thinking that too, then I remember the day it was taken.

I remember how Adelyn didn't sleep soundly like babies are "supposed" to do during these photo shoots (you can see on her face in the photo actually, this was in between cries!), and I remember being so anxious that I could have jumped out of my own skin at any minute.

While my husband was trying to calm our screaming baby, so that we could capture these MAGICAL moments on camera (insert sarcasm), I was in the bathroom, staring at myself in the mirror.

I had no idea what was wrong with me, and perhaps staring into my own eyes will help me find the answer.

Little did I know on that day, that I wouldn't find the answer for a very, very long time.
A few weeks after this photo was taken, I was admitted to the psychiatric ward for severe postpartum depression.
And that was only the beginning of the journey.

After approximately 6 months of debilitating depression, and going on a total of 3.5 months spent in hospital, the doctors suggested something I hadn't even considered;
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), or "Shock treatments".

This kind of treatment is reserved for the worst cases of medication-resistant depression. And considering I was taking a cocktail of anywhere from 5 to 7 medications per day, with little relief, I was a prime candidate.

I was so sick at the time, that I didn't really care what worked, as long as something worked. As a family we discussed the options and decided to go ahead with it, as one of our last hopes for me to get my life back.

I had a total of 12 medical-induced seizures.
The longer my seizure would last, the better the expected outcome. Typically the seizure would be 60 to 90 seconds in length.

So how do they go about doing this?
Very early in the morning, twice a week, I would have to be driven to Hamilton for these treatments. I had to be in the hospital and ready to go by 6:30 am .
I was given a gown and asked to remove all clothing and jewelry.
Once changed, I was shown to my stretcher, which would be lined in in the hallway, in a row of 6. There were usually 6 patients given ECT during these treatment sessions, and we all had our position in the line.

I believe it was 7am when everyone was wheeled down to the floor where they performed their ECT treatments. There were 6 bays set up, and you were placed according to your number. If you were last, you were waiting there for quite some time, as the team would work through each patient in order. I was thankful to usually be in slot 1 or 2!

The doctors and nurses would all huddle around you, and worked in a swarm to prep you for your induced seizure. I don't know the correct terms, put those conductive pads were stuck all over me, and lots and lots of wires hooked up. I wore something of an electrode filled cap, that ensured the electric current would reach the right places in my brain.

When this was all in place, the anaesthesiologist would lean over and ask if I was ready to go to sleep. I would say yes, and he would inject the medicine into my IV, which had been placed in my hand earlier in the morning.
That was actually the most painful part, that medicine going in...just as I wanted to screech out in pain, I would drift off to sleep.

Of course, I would remember nothing after that, except that I would sleep the whole rest of the day after coming home.

About the 4th session, the doctor in charge leaned over me before I was put to sleep, and said "and how are you doing today?"
I smiled up at him.
(I smile a lot now, but that was a HUGE deal at the time!)
He smiled back, looked at his nurses and said, "We've cured another one!".

I know that was an oversimplified statement, and I was not actually "cured", but my deepest darkest depression had started to lift. When once I couldn't even bring myself to curve up the corners of my lips, there I was smiling at him in response. That was a day that I will always remember.

Now would I say that ECT "works"? I can tell you that it did something for me (as noted above), but this was in no means the end of my depression and/or treatment. But it did help (me). It doesn't work for everyone, however.

My biggest side effect of the ECT was memory loss. I was told that this would happen, especially surrounding the days and weeks of my ECT treatments. What I did not expect, was such long lasting effects.
I have actually all but lost my memory from that year of my life. We went on a big trip to Jamaica in the months following, and I actually couldn't tell you one memory from that trip. I don't even recognize places when shown photos, or recognize in my own mind that I had in fact been there.
It is an extremely eerie feeling.

And what persists even now, is my lessened capacity for short term memory, and directions especially. I could no longer handle my responsibilities in my professional career because of this. I had become what I always hated: disorganized!

That's not necessarily a downside though, because if I was able to return to work doing what I did, then I most definitely wouldn't be where I am today. So I like to look at it as a blessing in disguise.

And even though my memory issues and disorganization can lead to many a misunderstanding with my family members, I can say that I wouldn't have changed a thing about my course of treatment. Everything that I did, every medication that I took, helped in some way to get me to this place that I am today, and for that I am thankful.

 Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

If Recovery from Postpartum Depression Isn't Impossible, Then Neither is Running a 10 km Race!

I was the one in high school that would pretend to be sick on the days where we were supposed to do our "20 minute run". Even at my healthiest weight and several years spent working out (pre-pregnancy), I could never seem to get myself into running.

"I'm not a runner", I would explain to people.
"I wish I could, but I just can't."

Those words remind me so much of my outlook on life a few years ago, when I was 2 years into a battle with postpartum depression.

"I can't take it anymore."

"I can't do this much longer."

"I'm not strong enough...."

The most difficult thing in my life to date, has been my recovery from postpartum depression, and finding my way "back to the living".
Every single day I am grateful for my life, and my happiness, knowing that only a few short years ago, I thought I would not make it...

Having survived this period of my life, and coming out of it with a beautiful relationship with my little girl, and a stronger relationship with my loyal husband, has led me to believe that nothing is truly impossible.

This year, my husband began a fairly intense workout routine, to help negate the effects of going from a physical job, to an office environment; in my support of him we would (as a family) go to the indoor track every other day.
Not having any expectations on myself (because wouldn't that be a set up for disappointment!?), I started causally running in spurts around the track.

Mostly designed to kill time, these little spurts have gradually increased, and now I find myself not only able to do 5km, but I am now up to 7.5km and working towards 10 km :)

When I read about the Shoppers Drug Mart "Run for Women" in Waterloo, I immediately felt it on my heart to participate. Not only am I celebrating my personal recovery from mental illness, and my new-found physical running ability, but I am also helping to raise money for much-needed women's mental health programs in our community.

Now that's a "no-brainer"!

So, in June 2016, the same month as our 10 year wedding anniversary, I am going to run my very first ever 10 kilometer race.

I am running for my little girl, who still has her mom because of the healthcare she received when she was so sick she couldn't love her own child.

I am running for my husband, who somehow has stuck by me, even though our life had turned upside down and the women he married up and disappeared into her own head for 2 years.

I am running for myself, who never thought I could physically accomplish something like this.
Who is wanting to reclaim my body after the anti-depressants have morphed it into something I don't recognize.

And I am running for you. 

For the mothers that are struggling and wondering what's wrong with them. For the women that are fighting to understand why their minds will not work in the way they want them to.
For you, who may know someone in your family, or a friend, who is suffering from something you can't understand.
For the men that are trying to support women in their lives that are struggling.

I am a little scared out of my mind that I have committed to running 10 km in just over a month, but I am committed to doing this, for all of us. I am so proud to be able to give back to the community in this way, I am so very grateful for anyone who is able to donate and support me and the Grand River Hospital Foundation.

I am also grateful for the many messages and kind words of encouragement I have received; I have met many wonderful people, and am so thankful that this experience has allowed me to help inspire others.

Are you able to donate to help raise money for women's mental health programs? Absolutely anything is appreciated!

this HTML class. Value is https://www.runningr

Monday, 8 February 2016

I Only Cried One Day: My Relocation Journey & New Store Opening

Many of you are familiar with my "ReChic" journey, and how many twists and turns this  business has thrown me since starting in 2013; I am so thankful that you did not turn your backs when I have had to make multiple adjustments and changes along the way, and that you have encouraged me to do what it is that I need to do, to make things work. 

For those of you that are more recent followers (welcome!), let me give you a (somewhat) quick and dirty rundown of the progression - I started ReChic in my basement in Welland, Ontario in fall of 2013. After going through a debilitating depression, painting and decorating our new home was an excellent form of therapy for me (and for someone with a degree in Recreation Therapy, I thought it important to practice what I had preached!). 

I had fairly quickly outgrew my basement, and was getting more and more requests for custom orders (wow!); in spring of 2014 I had rented out a space in an old factory in Welland, and used that rough space as my workshop for a few months, before opening my first official location on Niagara Street, in July 2014. 
Well, things grew again, and with the addition of a business partner, we thought we would make the leap to a larger store in the area, and moved in December 2014 to a 1400 square foot store space on Broadway Ave in Welland. 

Fast forward about a year, and many furniture pieces and custom orders later, and ReChic was doing very well! I felt so blessed! 

In the summer of 2015, my husband started to get really close to getting offered a new job, and the possibility of relocation started becoming a reality. I knew this job would be a game-changer for him, and that I would follow him wherever we needed to go (could be anywhere in Ontario, we wouldn't find out until he received an offer). 

Well, he indeed was offered the job (which I knew he would be, he's a smart guy ;)), and in August he started working and commuting to Cambridge, which was 1.5 hours from our home in Welland. We knew after the first week that this would not be a viable solution for the long term, and that we were going to have to sell. 

In and about the same time, there were some difficulties between my current partner and I, and literally overnight ReChic went back to 1, from 2. 

Although we had had a good run, this was a big blessing in disguise, as it allowed me to make the decisions I needed to make for my family, and to dive head first into our relocation without guilt or worry for her.

So yes, although there wasn't much overt discussion on the topic, ReChic has been back to little old me for the past 6 months, and I'm pretty darn proud that many of you haven't even noticed the change in work load or postings that have been produced :) 
I have been so very fortunate to have had some great helpers come in and assist when the previous partnership had dissolved so suddenly, and I really couldn't have done it without you (you know who you are!). 

SO, with my husband starting a new job, and me now back to fully manning the ReChic ship, things were a little stressful to say the least! Heck, why don't we add selling our house and moving to that list?! 

So we did!

A few months of selling, looking, and finally buying, we moved to Shakespeare, Ontario on November 20th, 2015. 
I had closed out my lease on the previous store, and moved having NO idea what was going to become of ReChic, but just holding on to the hope that my followers wouldn't up and leave me before I had the chance to re-gain my footing in this new and strange location.

About a week after our move, sitting in my new home, alone, with my husband at work and my daughter at her new school....and me without anything viable for work space, I finally felt the weight of the stress pour down on me and I could do nothing but cry. 

So cry I did, for about an hour. 
I cried out of fear for the future, out of loneliness from moving 2 hours away from the only region I've ever called home, and out of self-pity. 

I cried because I was scared that maybe this would be the thing that would invite the depression back in. 

I decided I would only give myself ONE day to feel sorry for myself. 
Then I would move on and move forward. 

Having got the good cry out of my system, I got back out there and re-focused on finding a new location to work, one that would be a positive step in the right direction. 
But just to throw another wrench in the plan, I had sold everything off before I moved, and I was trying to start up a new store on a ZERO budget. And I mean zero. 
We had moved and I used all my income to fund what we needed for that, not to mention Christmas was a month after! So I was truly facing an uphill battle. 

I was thankfully able to do enough work from home that I was able to store away a bit of money, and found the cutest little shoppe in New Dundee, Ontario, about 20 minutes from my new home. 
And the best part? I was within my goal for my monthly rent budget! Woohoo!!

I got the keys on January 1st and spent the first 2 weeks doing a lot of sitting in the space and trying to figure out how on earth I could fill it, with zero money to do so. I needed to generate my own income, to purchase supplies, but how do you do that with nothing to start off with? 
Well, I decided that taking a large piece I already owned (from my own home) would be a good start and would free up some cash flow in order to get going, so that's what I did!

And a month later, on February 6th, I officially opened ReChic Studio & Design at 1148 Queen Street, in New Dundee. 

I have managed to gather a wonderful group of artisans that are vendors in the store, and this has helped me create the look I wanted, without having to make absolutely everything myself (I'm only one woman, after all!), and this has been such a godsend. 

So many times over the last few years, I've stopped to think "how on earth have I made it here?!?", and this is one of those times. I quite honestly have zero clue how I have made it through an increased workload, selling a house, buying a new one 2 hours away, and opening a new store with a few boxes of paint supplies... and a prayer! 
All I can say is that I am grateful. 

One of the biggest reasons I am here today, is because of all of you. My followers and online "family" have encouraged me beyond what I could have mustered from within myself. You have lifted me up on the days that I thought this weight would be too much to bear, and for that I thank you. Thank you for following along, no matter what crazy things happen in my life. 

Here's to hoping that ReChic has a long run in New Dundee and that no big surprises lay on the horizon (I need a break!) :) Thank you to everyone who joined me to celebrate the opening, and I look forward to welcoming many more of you into the store as the weeks and months go by.

For those wishing to come say "hi", my hours for shopping are as follows:

Wednesday 10 am to 6 pm
Thursday 10 am to 4 pm
Friday 10 am to 4 pm
Saturday 10 am to 2 pm
Tuesday by appt

Thanks again!!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

My Journey Through Postpartum Depression, In Photos

It is in the eyes.

It is true what they say, that the eyes are the "windows to the soul"; when I look back on the pictures of the first 2 years of my daughter's life, I can see that my soul had left me.

I can now see that same look in other's eyes - I can recognize the vacancy. I can understand their pain as they struggle to claw their way back up to the surface.

I decided that, in honour of Bell Let's Talk Day, I would take you through my own personal journey in the form of snapshots during my pregnancy and postpartum stages.

My hope is two things: if you are struggling, that you understand that there are so many of us that have been where you are, and that things DO get better, and secondly; if you are a friend or relative of someone who recently had a baby, that you can perhaps learn to recognize the "vacancy" in their eyes and tell them it is OK to talk about it.

Showing these pictures is very bittersweet to me, since my body has changed so much since it has been pumped full of medications... but, I also know that the peace, happiness, and love I feel now was worth every pound <3

Here we go....

Christmas 2009 - 14 weeks pregnant and over the moon <3

May 2010 - 36 weeks pregnant and 4 days before she arrived!

Not the prettiest picture, but this is my first photo with our new baby girl (was a surprise, we didn't know the gender!)
May 25, 2010

7 days postpartum....I remember this as being a particularly difficult day, the crying started, and the hopelessness....I chalked this up to the Baby Blues, which is commonly what occurs at this stage (to up to 80% of new moms!)

Photo by Kathryn Gibbs Photography :)

Two weeks postpartum....I understandably look tired, but the illness was creeping up on me here. I was wondering why on earth I had a baby in the first place, but was still clinging on to hope that this was completely normal and the "Blues" would be over soon....

One of the hardest pictures for me to look at, this is approx 6 weeks postpartum, shortly after my breakdown and admission into the psychiatric ward. My sister brought Adelyn to me for a visit, but quite honestly I didn't care to see her. I can most definitely see that in my eyes, can you?

On leave from the hospital, a few months later. I think I was so doped up that I felt like my head was floating above my shoulders. 

Another visit from the hospital, I could leave for "overnights" but had to return afterwards. You can see the hospital bracelet on my wrist in the photo

A few months later, approaching spring of the following year, and Adelyn's 1st birthday.
Still wearing hospital bracelet....

Adelyn's 1st Birthday party. I am very sad to admit that I do not recall much of this day at all. I was still very ill, and trying to get through day by day...

Adelyn is 14 months old...still wondering if I will ever feel normal again.

October 2011, approx 18 months old. 
I am just not "there". 

She's almost 2 years old!
Slowly starting to be able to play with her, nothing came natural to me, counsellors kept telling me to "fake it till you feel it" that's what I did....

Christmas 2012, Adelyn is 2.5 years old, I remember this day as being the first day I was genuinely "silly" with her...started to think that MAYBE this is what "normal" feels like. 
I was still admitting for a brief hospital visit on Boxing Day, as Christmas was a trigger event for me, but thankfully only a minor setback. 

Fast forward 2 much happened, but the biggest thing that happened was that somehow, I recovered bit by bit. Adelyn is the most loving and caring child, and I will forever credit her for teaching me how to be a mom <3. I am brought top tears every time I think about how her love for me is so unconditional, even though I felt such horrible things about her when she was small...I know I couldn't help it, but the guilt is always there. 

I know small gestures like this drawing mean a lot to all moms out there, but for me, it just seems that much more special <3

I have my light back (in my eyes) :) Lots of silly times to be had, once I found myself again. This kid has one heck of a personality (thank goodness!!) haha. 

So thankful <3

Thank you for following along....maybe these photos say more to me than to others, since I know the emotions attached to them, but I do hope that it has helped you in some sort of way. It is also therapeutic for me to go through these pictures, and realize that how I felt/looked in those earlier photos, is not who I really am, and it reminds me of how much joy I have in my life today. 

Thanks for reading, 

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Today We Have Failed.

Today I am angry. Sad.

5 years ago I endured a mental struggle that no woman should ever have to live through. And trust me, I almost didn't.

During this 2-year battle for my sanity, my youngest sister was my shining light. She was 19 at the time, and wise far beyond her years. She saw my worst moments, and supported me through one of the ugliest parts of my life.

My little sister is now 24, married, and a mom of 2.

As hardworking as ever, she has juggled a toddler, a full time job, and as of 3 weeks ago; the birth of her new little girl.

But this time is different. 

Two days ago she was diagnosed as having postpartum anxiety.

She is struggling. 

I feared that one day another one of us would fall victim to this illness....but I had hope that if it did happen, we would be better prepared this time, right?

What better support system than one that has already dealt with the worst of the worst, right?

But we have failed her. 

And every day we continue to fail mothers by claiming to be supportive and understanding of postpartum mood disorders, but not walking the walk.

Today I am angry. Sad.

I am angry that my sister herself didn't allow herself to see the signs right away....I'm angry that she felt like she couldn't speak up because she has "2 under 2" and these must be "normal" feelings.

I am angry that those around her have told her that all new moms feel this way.

I am angry that a joke was made about her being a "psycho" for her high Beck Depression Inventory score.

I am angry that her family doctor (who was also mine during my depression) prescribed her an antidepressant that is known to INCREASE anxiety, and told her she would feel better in 2-3 days.

I am angry that healthcare providers claim to be on the watch for this, but don't look past their own noses half the time.

I am angry that I didn't know. 

And I am sad for her.
Sad because I know how this feels....our struggles may look different on the outside, but at the core, I know how this feels.

My faith in our advances in mental health awareness has been shaken; If we cannot recognize and support postpartum mood disorders even after having lived through it once.....then how can I expect others to do the same without any experience?

If postpartum anxiety can mask itself and pull the wool over our eyes, how do I expect anyone else to not be blind to it?

And to Kristin - I am sorry for our ignorance. I will not tolerate it and neither should you.
You will not be cured by a good sleep or a babysitter for the kids.
You will not be calmed by the assurance that you are an amazing mom.
You will not feel better after 2-3 days on an antidepressant.

But you WILL get better.
Your brain IS experiencing some ungodly imbalance that is creating irrational thoughts. With proper treatment, and time, you will get better.

In the meantime, a good sleep or a break from the kids may help you get through your days, but we will not be fooled any longer into thinking these will make you better.

We know better now.

Or at least we should.

We all should.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

My Top 5 Tips For Running a Successful Handmade Business

(Photo credit Maryanne Firth, The Tribune)

Let me start off by saying that I - in no way - consider myself a business expert.
However, I am often asked by business owners, or aspiring entrepreneurs, if I have any tips on how to succeed in today's over-saturated handmade marketplace (because apparently they deem me a success, which is quite flattering!)

Considering that it seems to be a popular question, I thought I would gather some of my thoughts and put them all into one place for your reading pleasure ;)

And as I tell everyone who asks me for advice, there is no one way to succeed; and following a set of guidelines will not equate to a flourishing business - these are just some of the things that I feel have all worked together to create a business that works for ME, and one that I am proud of.


If you do not have a unique product, or angle on the market (be it your awesome customer service, or your fancy hand tied packaging..), you will inevitably blend in among the thousand other crafters trying to make a go at this.

Potential clients are inundated every single day with new handmade businesses (I think I notice at least 3 new painters listing on Kijiji each week!), and unless you have something unique to offer, you won't get their attention.

True, you may be doing something that a lot of others are doing, but you need to find a niche that is specifically "you"- a local crocheter called "Hook Me Up" for example, has a very stylized way of photographing her items, and I can recognize them instantly on my newsfeed.

Here is an example of her work:

Stunning, right?!


Things stick out to me for different reasons - they are either really awesome, or really poor quality to the point of being offensive!
I don't know about you, but personally I would prefer the former!

Quality comes in 2 different forms for me - quality in terms of presentation, and quality in terms of product.

In my opinion, quality presentation comes from someone who has taken the time to learn how to properly edit photos, stage photos, and brand their photos.
You may be a small operation, painting by the light of the moon at your kitchen table each night, but you can still have some stellar branding!

Vistaprint and similar websites have made it super easy to create professional logos and cards, etc, however, even if you aren't tech savvy, its very affordable to have someone help you out with this.

I personally use ARROWcreative when I have logo design needs - and Shelley can whip something up that's not only fantastic, but well within a small business budget!

You can check out her services here:

Next, quality HAS to be there in your product - if you attract someone with your fancy logo and professional presentation, but your product leaves much to be desired, you will lose that customer.

That being said, I have most definitely screwed up along the way, but for the most part, I try my very best to bring my attention to detail into each piece.

No one is 100% perfect every time, but it is usually the best bet to go above and beyond what you would normally do - then listen to feedback from your clients, your business depends on them!

A product you are selling should be at least 1 or 2 steps above a "DIY"....a quality that comes from a professional, and not that leaves the client saying "sheesh, I could have easily done this myself!"

Go that extra mile, it pays off.


I can't stress this one enough....your clients know when you are fooling them (even if you think they don't).

Be honest about your limitations so that your clients don't expect something that is above and beyond what you can deliver.

Don't tell them that you can upholster if you're planning on watching a YouTube video to learn how to do it before they drop their chairs off!

You are setting yourself up for a tonne of stress, and potentially a disgruntled client.
Don't offer a service unless you are confident you can do it to the best of your ability.

Be honest about the condition of your pieces - if your product is vintage furniture, people understand that these are not brand new, and may come with quirks, HOWEVER, as the seller, you should be expected to disclose as much as you know about its condition before they agree to purchase it.

Does one drawer stick? That likely isn't an issue to the potential buyer if they love the item, but you don't want them to be upset when they get it home and realize that after the fact - lay it all out for them and be honest about its condition.

Be honest towards other businesses - do NOT undercut your fellow crafter and do not steal ideas/photos/customers.

This is bad business and I can tell you for a fact that these people earn themselves a bad reputation very quickly.


Do you still think that social media isn't important for your small business? Think again.
Facebook is hands down, the heart of my business.

That being said, I have spent MANY MANY hours not only posting and responding, but learning how to read and interpret my page insights.

Haven't checked your page insights before? You are definitely at a disadvantage! Set aside some time to educate yourself.

Also, people think that Facebook is free advertising and it just "runs itself"....sorry to say, this is anything but true. I have to work HARD to keep up my Facebook views, and often times my posts only reach 1% of my followers.

Facebook determines where your page with show up in your followers newsfeeds, and in order to stay at the top of the pack, it can be pretty cut throat!

Expect to spend up to 4 hours a day on social media in order to boost your views and gain the following that's required to generate sales.

Facebook also isn't "free", as businesses do need to fork over some dough if they want to gain an edge on their competition. I am NOT talking about "buying" likes, I am talking about paid advertising...

Just like in the good old days, when businesses used to take out newspaper ads, Facebook offers pages the opportunity to purchase ad space on their potential clients newsfeeds. If the potential client
sees the ad, and is intrigued, they will visit the page and hopefully give them a "like"!

If you want to have greater exposure and just aren't reaching enough people on your page currently, I would highly recommend a good ad campaign (but as with any good advertising, expect to pay!)


Do you think running your own creative business is a "dream job"? An easy way to make a living doing something you love?

Although I LOVE what I do, and feel blessed every single day to be able to work for myself, I know that this business has required more of me than I have ever given to any other full time job!

Running your own successful creative business will require unending effort as you go through the start up phase and beyond.
Have you noticed that many of these small crafting businesses appear and then seem to disappear overnight? I believe this is why - they do not have the time is requires to fully invest themselves into making this a career.

There are those people that are totally content to run their business as a pseudo-hobby, selling a few items/pieces here and there, with no real pressure if things don't sell.
I'm referring more so to people that want to make this their full-time job, and think that perhaps they can put in 40 hours a week and their business will take off.

I start my day at 6 am answering messages from my bed, and end the day in the same fashion. I am at the studio generally 8 hours a day, but am working almost steady outside of those hours as well.

You also need to be realistic about income - there is no in between for me, either I go at it full force, or I cannot go at it at all (and would need to get another part time job for steady income).

For the first year or so, my estimations put me at netting about $500-800/month after expenses....and that was working about 50 hours a week....I don't even want to do the hourly math!

YES, I loved it and that's what kept me going, but if finances are an immediate concern for you, please be realistic about what you can bring in doing something like this.

It is only within the last year that I have been able to charge more of what my time is worth, and in essence, make enough to keep myself in business and justify the enormous amount of time and effort I put into it!

If its about the money for you, better just pack it in right now!
Expect nothing in the beginning, and you will be much better prepared to deal with some of the financial strain that can come.


There are a lot of crafters out there - offer a quality product and is DIFFERENT and recognizable. Build a brand. Get a logo. Take good photos. Show your customers that you take your business seriously by investing time into professional presentation.

Be an honest business owner and member of the artisan community - don't be a jerk and steal other people's ideas, this will catch up to you.

Don't expect to work 10 hours a week and make 50k/year....expect to make nothing in the first year, and be ok with that. Anything extra is bonus! If you can do what you are doing for free, and still enjoy it, then you're on the right track and all your hard work will pay off :)

Thanks for reading!!