Behind the Scenes, January 2014

Hello, everyone! I’m looking forward to writing these Behind the Scenes posts for the coming year. I’m pumped that you enjoy hearing about what it’s like to run my business, and flattered as well that you find it interesting. This is going to be a long one since I skipped December. So I’ll try to keep it quick and only point out the important stuff!

happy january, everyone!New year, new hair…

What happened this month:

Announced my book! Which is also available to preorder, scroll to the bottom of the announcement post for the links. I’m thrilled to be able to talk about it, and I hope you love it when it comes out! I’ve finally seen what the inside pages look like, and I’m thrilled. The book designer has done an amazing job of turning black-and-white text into exciting, fresh pages that are true to the Sewaholic Patterns look. Just wait till you see it!

sewtionary

I’ve also been working on the book itself, it’s out for pre-order but technically it’s not 100% finished yet. I’ve reviewed the full 256 pages probably at least three times by now, and the last step is to to review them one final time, all properly laid out and designed.

A new pattern went out for testing! It went out to pattern testers in December. This is a pattern I love and feel gorgeous in. Anything else I say about it will give it away. Can’t wait to be able to share it! The same pattern that went for testing has also gone out for printing, and will be ready mid-February.

For this upcoming new pattern, we had a real photo shoot! This month (a couple of days ago, in fact) I hired professional photographers to take photos of the upcoming new pattern. I did this for a few reasons, for one, it can be frustrating trying to take photos of yourself and hope that they turn out. Two, it’s freezing out, and gets dark super early. I wanted to use an indoor studio so I wasn’t waiting for a good weather day. And three, it’s time to step up my game, do the photos once and do them right. I worked with LS Photography here in Vancouver and they were amazing to work with. They were also the photographers for the book so I had an idea what they were like to work with, and they knew what my style and aesthetic was like. This is another thing I’m really looking forward to, finalizing the images for the new pattern!

Outsourced order shipping. Other than the book and new patterns, this is the other major thing I’ve been working on. Up until last week, I’ve packed and shipped every single order myself, for the past three years. Now a distribution centre is packing and shipping orders instead. This is an exciting move for my growing business, saving me both time and space. As I grow, both things become very precious. Anything that is going to take up more space or more time has to be carefully evaluated. The best part is that shipping professionals are handling your orders: they ship millions of pieces of mail a year, so our patterns are in good hands!  I started setting things up with the distribution centre back in November, and we have now started shipping from the new centre in the last week. I’m so excited to have this up and running!

Set goals for the year. It’s going to be an ambitious but very exciting 2014.

Experimented with sashiko embroidery.

Made a loud dress out of some really wild embellished fabric. Made a skirt out of the leftover fabric.

simplicity 8498

Tons of knitting projects: Owls Sweater, Strokkur Pullover, Blank Canvas. I knit most of these at the end of 2013 but waited to get photos taken.

owls sweater by kate davies in puffin

Caroline made skinny Thurlow Trousers and blogged about her process to adjust the pattern.

skinny-thurlows-1

We talked about layering up for winter cycling. (I’ve upgraded to fleece-lined tights and they are awesome! Great suggestion.)

Diana my dress form is now arm-ed! I found a tutorial and even a pattern to purchase if you wanted to make your dress form an arm, too.

Canada Post announced upcoming massive rate increases. The price of a stamp is going up from 63 cents to a dollar, which means that the cost to ship patterns is going to go up as well. I’m planning to leave the shipping prices alone for now, and re-evaluate after a couple of months. It’s already so expensive to ship from Canada; I don’t want to make it any more costly for you guys.

Mini-trip to Portland! We took the train from Vancouver BC to Portland, which I’ve always wanted to do. As soon as Christmas was over we headed out of town! Portland is also the land of no sales tax on yarn or fabric, so I stocked up before my no-buying-yarn resolution.

train to portland

Isn’t that gorgeous? This is the view from the train window.

Top selling pattern this past month:

The best-selling pattern last month was the Renfrew Top! Second was the Cambie Dress, and third was the Tofino Pants, for staying in and keeping warm.

1201 Renfrew Top Trio

Report on last month’s challenges

In November I was on a roll, full of energy and momentum and excitement! All of the things I was working on – the book, new patterns, and outsourcing shipping – were exciting and important to me. My biggest challenge was choosing a lane and staying focused. If I lose focus, projects don’t get completed. I start new things that are more interesting. That’s no good for me, or for you, since if nothing makes it to completion there are no new patterns!

December I was better at focusing and prioritizing. I also took a six day holiday, which helped! Funny how taking a break and doing no work actually helps with productivity when you return. And in January, it’s been full speed again with new designs, reviewing the book and setting up the new shipping system.

Challenges

My challenge this month is going to be channeling my energy into the right things. Saying yes only to the things I know I can deliver on, without compromising anything else. Staying positive when I start to feel overwhelmed. It’s shaping up to be a really busy year, and it’s easy to start thinking ‘oh no, I’ll never be able to keep up!’ and as soon as you start thinking that, it’s harder to get out of that negative mindset. So I will change that thought to this: I will of course be able to do it all, there is plenty of time in each day to accomplish what I need to that day.

I will be realistic about my expectations of myself. I can totally relate to Sarai’s post about perfectionism. I used to think it was a good thing to say about yourself, I’m a perfectionist. As in, I strive to be perfect in all things. (It does sound a little smug, when I picture my younger self thinking that way. Look at me, I aim to be perfect all the time. Isn’t that admirable? Who wouldn’t want to be a perfectionist too?) Remember job interviews, when they’d ask what is your greatest weakness? And I had my answer all prepped, “I’m a perfectionist!” I will work so hard for you, making sure everything is absolutely perfect! Such a positive answer to a hard interview question, I thought. The irony is that it probably is my biggest weakness after all. I’m hard on myself, and sometimes won’t allow myself to celebrate the successes. (Not yet, I think. We can’t get excited yet, not until this thing in the future happens. Then we can celebrate. Maybe.) I focus on the tiny negatives and allow them to stop me from enjoying the big positives.

So I’m going to recognize this feeling when it arises, and turn it around. Relax! Enjoy what I’m doing. Don’t worry so much. Sometimes I think because what I’m doing is not black and white, it’s easier to think what you do isn’t good enough. There is no right and wrong when it comes to design, or sewing, or blogging, or running a business. (Or most things in life really.) Every decision has multiple possibilities, which is a challenge for someone who constantly analyzes everything. Make the best choice with the information you have available, and move on. Onwards and upwards!

Like this? Click here to read more Behind the Scenes posts!

,

27 Responses to Behind the Scenes, January 2014

  1. Carolyn January 31, 2014 at 6:23 am #

    Exciting news, Tasia! It’s inspiring to read about your positive attitude and all the wonderful things you have going on with the business. Good luck and hang in there! You have a bunch of customers supporting you. : )

  2. lisa g January 31, 2014 at 6:34 am #

    always enjoy these posts! you have every right to feel accomplished, it’s too easy to get stuck in the “i haven’t done enough” trap. and all it does is bring you (anyone!) down. best wishes with the upcomming book and new pattern release!

  3. the advicist January 31, 2014 at 6:53 am #

    Oh I so get you on the ‘perfectionist’ thing. I used to think it was a great quality too, until I realised that there are something I never start on, because I know I can’t do them perfectly. So instead of doing an average or an ok job, I just do nothing at all, until I’ve got everything planned out and know it can be executed exactly as I want. Which is stupid and VERY counter-productive!

    I love these updates, by the way. One of my favourite blog posts each month.

  4. Kelly January 31, 2014 at 7:55 am #

    That perfectionism thing is such a hard problem to conquer, and it really is a problem. When you’re not perfect, perfectionism turns into a deep sense of failure, and I think we can all agree that is never good. I’m so excited for you and your business, you really have some wonderful goals!

  5. catherine January 31, 2014 at 8:38 am #

    Wow, a very productive month and gosh, how your business is growing! Well done, I can’t wait to see what happens for you in 2014. I’m looking forward to seeing your new pattern next month. Exciting!

  6. Tiffany January 31, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    Exciting! I can’t wait for the new pattern! Also, I hope you do relax (and don’t burn out) – you deserve it. :)

  7. Shannon January 31, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    I love these posts! And I can’t wait for the new pattern… whatever could it be?!

  8. Sandra January 31, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    Best of luck to you Tasia, I know it’s not really luck but hard work and perserverance!
    You have one of the best blogs, I look foward to seeing what exciting things you come up with, it’s informative, fun and full of inspiration.
    Thanks so much for all you do.

  9. johanna@projects by me January 31, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    So excited to see the new pattern!!!
    Too bad about raised fees on postage… Fortunately, I tipped off a pattern site about your patterns, and they now sell them here in Sweden! Yay!
    And also YAY for fleece tights!!! I wear them all the time! :) (Only way to wear dresses in the winter.)

  10. Jenn January 31, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

    Thanks for sharing Tasia!! :D
    I’m the same as you with being a perfectionist, and that is also my response to that interview question, hehe.
    One person responded by saying that it’s a good thing, but really it isn’t when you’re a perfectionist. Sometimes you get so caught up with the small details that it takes longer to complete, sigh. Something to work on for sure :)

  11. Amanda January 31, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    There’s a train from Van to Portland? I have to check that out!!! :D
    Looking forward to the new pattern! Congrats on outsourcing your shipping too – more room for fabric! :D

  12. Virginia January 31, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    These are always interesting. :-)

  13. Corinne January 31, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    Hello Tasia. Since I have followed your blog long before the business I am so pleased and happy for you. This business has grown so nicely for you and the challenges you have met so admirably. I did not doubt.

    I so enjoy the behind the scenes posts, you are living the business plan I would have loved to do , in my youth, if I knew how to design!!! (((big smile))))

    Best of luck in the new year.

  14. Andrea_R January 31, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    Man, stamps up to a dollar? That’s nuts. I swear it wasn’t that long ago they were 40 some odd cents.

    Also! I work in web development right now and the mantra there is “ship early, ship often!” Sometimes you can’t get feedback from users or guess what they will need until they *actually have* the product in hand. So yeah, time to let go a little. :)

    (I’m guilty of this as well…)

  15. Emily January 31, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

    Congrats on the new pattern – I cannot WAIT to see it! I’ve loved every one of your patterns that I’ve tried so far – my goal is to make them all!

    And you are so right about perfectionism. I’ve actually been recently struggling with that in my career as a pianist, and I think sewing has helped that (and vice versa). I play piano at a ballet school for a living, and I have a tendency to get really down on myself whenever I make a noticeable mistake. However, the more upset I get, the worse I play, and it becomes a downward spiral. I think that my sewing is helping me develop healthier habits of living with mistakes, but also doing what I can *within reason* to make something well. So I’ll rip out a seam if it means the difference between wearing or not wearing the garment, but if it’s a tiny little detail that no one will notice, I’m learning to let it slide.

  16. WowCarol January 31, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

    Oh Tasia- Please add to list of talents that you are becoming quite a polished and expressive writer. I find you quite inspirational in all that you accomplish. I know we are all trained to put our best foot forward/ keep it positive, and generally it’s a good idea. But it is also “nice” (by which I mean empathetic and comforting) that you are willing to share your difficulties. Please keep it up, by which I mean your lovely friendliness as well as all the things that could officially be considered your work.

    You are in a position to exercise both your left and right brain and to do so with a lot of social support- we should all strive for such fulfillment! Right on!

  17. Tilly January 31, 2014 at 11:42 pm #

    Love these posts, Tasia! You’ve achieved so much, you should feel so proud of yourself. I’m so excited to get my hands on your book, it’ll be amazing. I so hear you on the challenges – so much opportunity, so hard to stay focused. I’ve been learning to say “no” to more stuff (in fact, most stuff!) the past few months, and while it’s hard to let great opportunities go, feeling like you can focus on your Big Projects without too much distraction makes it well worth it. Hope you have a lovely, relaxing weekend, lady xxx

  18. Leigh February 1, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    You were in Portland and you didn’t stop by??? :) I hope you had a lovely time. We do have lots of fabric and yarn shops.

    I know what you mean by perfectionism. Between grandparents who always said to ‘do it right the first time or you’ll just have to do it over’ and having to be ‘that student’ with all the right answers, perfectionism is almost paralyzing. I do nothing to avoid the risk that something will not be right, or not be perfect. Ugh! To counteract, I have tried to go with “Better done than perfect”. It has helped a lot.

    I can’t wait to see your new pattern!

  19. Nieves February 1, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    You are so right. Knowing that my lack of sewing in the last few years means that things won’t be as perfect, has stopped me from sewing at all. Wondering if people will notice the inside is not perfect has been a real worry. I have several of your patterns now, and am motivated to just get on with it. I love your blog, you are very inspiring. Thank you for your great words.

  20. Ally - Design Rewind Fashions February 2, 2014 at 7:25 am #

    Loved this post and as a Portlandian I hope you enjoyed your trip to Portland! I too am a perfectionist and the other day was off my sewing game for some reason and sewed everthing backwards, wrong sides together when they were suppose to be right, I snipped a hole in the front of my pants when cutting thread…..a whole slew of wrongs….after being in near tears I decided today I’m going to get more no-sales taxed fabric and start again. It will only make me better in the long-run, right ? :) Thank you for always being so upbeat and positive!

  21. Violeta February 2, 2014 at 8:07 am #

    I always feel encouraged reading your end-of-the-month post! What an achievement you have had lately. I tend to think like you (e.g., Don’t celebrate. Not yet. There’s more to do.). I’m trying not to be a perfectionist myself, and your thoughts on the same subject completely resonated… I’m going to try to grow out of being a perfectionist, too! One thing at a time, I think. Thanks for your post.

  22. Jane February 3, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    I love your hair! So shiny and the color suits you perfectly.

    • Tasia February 5, 2014 at 9:05 am #

      Aw, thank you! :) It’s more or less my natural colour, just evened out.

  23. Kristin S February 4, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    I love the monthly behind the scenes posts! Can’t wait to get my hands on your next pattern– whatever it is! Mid-February is fast approaching; when do we get a hint??

    • Tasia February 5, 2014 at 9:01 am #

      I’m not sure I can hint at this one without giving too much away! You guys are too good at guessing whenever I post a clip of a photo. Hm, let’s see.. it’s a little bit dramatic, could be summery or wintery depending on what you wear it with, and it’s a sort of garment I haven’t seen yet from another indie pattern designer. Does that give you a hint? :)

  24. Ada February 5, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    Oooh how did you like the train to Portland? I rented a car and drove last summer, and I’d love to go again. I’ll bet the ride was scenic too, unlike the I-5.

    Also, I’m really looking forward to your next pattern! I’m really curious as to what it’s going to be…

    • Tasia February 5, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

      I loved it! It’s neat, you can get up and walk around, have a meal in the dining car, watch the view from the window. Plus people were generally quiet, so you can read or sleep without it being too noisy. It’s awesome. A little slower than driving, but no traffic and easier border crossing.
      For the new pattern, I’ve just picked the photos, and I have to say it photographed beautifully, the photographers did an amazing job! I can’t wait to share a preview with you all. Luckily the final images will be ready soon!

Leave a Reply