The Makers Summit 2015

Last weekend I went to The Makers Summit, a business conference in Greenville, SC that encourages and inspires creative entrepreneurs as they grow their businesses. There were keynote speeches, workshops, panel discussions, parties, crafts, and scrumptious foodstuffs. I’m wistfully drooling just thinking about those big piles of soft pretzels with pimento cheese.

The best part for me was getting to meet other business owners and hear their stories. Running an online business can be alienating sometimes, and it’s awesome to know there are others out there doing what I do. I flipped through the notes I took at the conference, and I want to share a few little nuggets of wisdom I jotted down between doodles.

The Makers Summit 2015

What you say “yes” to and what you say “no” to define who you become. Understand the dream you’re trying to pursue, and choose your “yes”s and “no”s accordingly. —(paraphrased) Jeff Shinabarger, Plywood People

This is a great reminder. It’s a struggle for me to focus on my goals for Wit & Whistle: to revel in creative freedom, to make work I’m proud of and have fun doing it, to maintain a healthy work/life balance, and to avoid unnecessary stress. I have to say “no” to a lot of opportunities to achieve these goals, and I have to constantly reassure myself that it’s okay not to strive for somebody else’s idea of success.

“A great product is the best marketing.” —Nathan Bond, Rifle Paper Co.

I’ve found this to be true! Every time I’ve paid for advertising it hasn’t been worth the money. So, I concentrate more on creating new and better products than on my marketing efforts. If you make high quality products that people like, they have a way of making their way around the internet eventually. It was pretty unanimous among everyone at the conference that having a strong presence on Instagram is one of the best ways to spread the word about your work. I’ve resolved to post more regularly over there.

“Creativity is earned wisdom that comes with effort, time, and failure.” —Jeni Britton Bauer, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams 

Creativity isn’t some mystical super power that only certain people are born with. It’s a muscle. You have to use it often to strengthen it and practice to get good at wielding it. I thought “effort, time, and failure” summed up the process perfectly.

Shop Update

Whoa, did you realize Easter is less than a month a way? It really snuck up on me this year. I added a couple Easter cards to the shop today. Better late than never! Hey, do you guys ever send cards for St. Patrick’s Day?

funny easter cards wit & whistle

Most of you probably saw this on Instagram, but I’m offering “Blooper Bundles” of heavily discounted greeting cards and notecards with slight imperfections. They’ll be available in the “sale” section of my shop until my blooper stash is gone.

funny easter cards wit & whistle

I attended The Maker’s Summit this past weekend, and it was really great. I’m hoping to collect my thoughts and share the most helpful things I learned later this week. Stay tuned!

 

Denim Bleaching Attempt

I’ve had a jean jacket in my closet for a long time. I’d say over ten years. I don’t think I’ve ever actually worn it, because the fabric is so stiff and uncomfortable. I was going to donate it, but then I decided bleaching it might soften the fibers and give it a comfy, worn feel. I soaked my jacket in a bucket filled with a quart of bleach and 6 or 7 quarts of warm water for 4 hours.

denim bleaching attempt

The result was… meh. The jacket got quite a bit softer and more flexible, but my bleach bucket was a tad too small so I had to wad up the jacket a little to fit it in there. Although I stirred the bucket regularly, the wadding caused mottled dark splotches here and there where the bleach didn’t penetrate the fabric thoroughly (especially in the right armpit).

denim bleaching attempt

The worst part is that the whole jacket turned a strange yellowish green shade. It’s not that apparent in the photo above, but look at it next to standard blue denim…

denim bleaching attempt

I guess if there’s no regular blue denim nearby to compare it to, it doesn’t look too bad. I think I’ll keep it around for a while to see how often I end up wearing it.

denim bleaching attempt

Have you ever tried to bleach denim?

In the Zone

Remember a couple weeks ago when I complained that I hadn’t gotten to enjoy any wintery weather yet this season? Well, last week we had an ice storm, and this week we’ve had two snowfalls! It has been so beautiful around here. Daniel and I love snow, and this morning we built a happy-go-lucky (anatomically correct) snow-woman. There’s not much I love more than bundling up in ski bibs and a puffy down jacket and rolling around in the snow!

snowy alpine home

Another blissful side effect of all this winter precipitation, is that nearly all my social obligations and appointments over the past two weeks have been canceled. It’s not that I don’t like interacting with other humans, but I love the free feeling I get when I unexpectedly don’t have to. Maybe some of you fellow introverts understand? With all this extra time on my hands, I’ve been able to buckle down and make progress on a ton of new designs. It has been so satisfying being in the zone!

snowy alpine home