3 weeks away from social media; the why, the what and the now.

      Can posting on Instagram be a hobby? Cuz I think it's mine. Now gosh my 9-square ain't perfect but I love it. I love the way it looks, the way the content is organized, and I love the challenge of posting for visual satisfaction, even if it's only mine. Last summer I made a goal for myself to rev up my instagame, to make my Instagram into something that I thought truly represented how I like things to look; colourful, creative, and inspiring. I have put a lot of energy into achieving the look I have and am truly proud of how far I've come. Gosh, if you're on the porcelain throne right now scroll back a year on my page and you'll see what imma talkin bout. (If you crave a slicker Insta, I want you to know it is possible!) But, recently, there came a point where I couldn't get far enough away from all that stuff.

      I went on an social media vacay. No, this doesn’t mean Instagram paid for me to go to the Bahamas, it just means I took a total of 3 weeks away from posting content, interacting with my fellow grammers, commenting, responding or doing any Make it Franke activity on Instagram or Facebook. When I realized I was spending more daily time planning my instaposts and curating the cutest little vignettes then I was actually making things and that I was shedding a decent amount of tears over the 'cohesiveness of my brand' in 9 little squares, I also realized this was likely contributing to my creative mojo suffocation I have been experiencing for the last few months. And I finally figured out I needed a break.
      I initially scheduled a break around different events/days that I wanted to make sure I was online for, for promotional reasons. I blocked out a few weeks on my calendar and in bold letters wrote NO INSTAGRAM POSTS. This alone made me feel lighter. The thing is though, what actually ended up happening, is one Friday afternoon about 2 weeks before my scheduled break, I simply absolutely had enough, made a FRIENDS inspired flat lay, and my 3 week vacay commenced. I didn't actually know at the beginning it was going to be 3 weeks, I left that open ended. Three weeks ended up feeling right.
      So what did I do for 3 weeks without my Instagram hobby?!? Well for the fist week I didn't think about anything related to Make it Franke. I didn't paint, draw, touch the computer, or think about website content - I hardly stepped foot into my studio. With the freed up mental space I had room to focus on some personal issues and was able to figure out what direction I wanted to go in with my artwork and this blog. After that week I REALLY started to miss engaging the maker/blogger/small business side of my brain and when I did step back into my studio it was like being reunited with an old friend. I also spent some of the time getting rid of SO MUCH stuff from my house. I brought boxes and boxes to thrifts stores and the Reuse Center. I think I needed the physical space as much as the mental. Also guys, I spent WAY less time with my phone. I left it in different rooms from where I was and let me tell you while harder in the beginning it. felt. so. good. I'll definitely be continuing this habit.
      I know there may be a few people who are asking themselves, 'I wonder if she lost any followers?" And actually, I had about 10 more when I came back after 3 weeks. But I was never concerned with losing followers, as I truly believe that the people following me because they like me or my product aren't going any where. Think about some accounts you are obsessed with on Instagram... PS a few of mine are @nataliecreates, @fivemarysfarms, @mintkarla @emily_jeffords @ravenroxanne... Now what if they told you, "Hey! I'm jetting off for 2 weeks and won't be posting, see you later!" Would you then slide your finger over and tap the unfollow icon? Um no. You wouldn't. You'd say, "HAVE FUN! Bring me back a pendant flag!" So, why wouldn't people do that for you? On another related note, if people do unfollow me, I do not take it personally. Maybe they lost interest in my vibe, maybe they don't care about what I'm making any more, truthfully, maybe they were comparing themselves to me and decided to cut me out because they weren't liking their emotional response to my posts. The point is, followers come, followers go, and you cannot please everyone. Don't even try.

      Into week two I started up again. I started majorly pre-planning website posts and for the first time and made a schedule for just that. I have goals for this blog and I finally put it together that without small attainable goals and stepping stones nothing with long term productivity is going to manifest. As for the art making side of things, I went to my fave art supply store The Paint Spot, laid down a couple hundies and got myself a whole shwack of new art supplies, including some different products I had never used before. A phrase had been playing over in my head again and again as said by one of my instapals Sara, who I find incredibly inspiring, "Go with your first instinct. It's there for a reason." So for the first time in a long time I did just that. It felt so freeing and wonderful and because I wasn't worried about making something 'Instagram worthy' I just went where the colours took me. I also had time to come up with, much to my dismay, a realization that I make art slowly. Do I wish I could pump out a new design every day? Yes. Do I wish I could come up with a new series every few months? Yes. Is this how my creative process works? No. I don't necessarily want this to be the case, but I have finally come to terms with my pace and that acceptance has also made me feel GOOD.

      During my time away I met up with another instapal Alyson of @herautumnleaves as she had contacted me after my exit post and basically said "OMG ME TOO." We spent about 4 hours in a Joeys to the almost-awkward-amount-of-time-in-a-restauant point. We drank SO many glasses of water the staff kept bringing us and eventually our server let us know she was going home and if we needed anything to not look for her. *haha* My point is Alyson and I were able to spend so much time talking all things social media; comparison, internet fakeness, SM exhaustion, themes, cohesiveness, branding and basically the shear energy it takes to keep up with the Kardashins, because it's such a relevant topic in our small business/maker culture. Did we solve any of our major problems in 4 hours? No. Did we both feel so much better because another human being feels the same way? Yes. I encourage you to interject a little honesty into your post(s) if you feel the same way because chances are very high that someone out there feel the same way you do.
      So what am I going to do now? Well for starters I am making the conscience choice to go. on. my. phone. less. If I want to waste 15 minutes on social media as 'a break', I force myself to go outside for 10 minutes instead. I also set a 7 o'clock PM alarm on my phone labelled "Get the f*uck off your phone" and don't touch it for the rest of the evening, not even right before I go to bed. I have also decided that I am taking a break from everything Make it Franke every single entire month of April. I was already toying with this idea this past spring during the weeks all our goats were having babes when keeping up with posting was difficult, and now that there's a 2-fold reason it's defineitly happening. Next year I am taking the pressure off completely and vacationing away from posting for a full month. I can already taste the creative recharge.

MORAL OF THIS LONG-WINDED POST:

If social media has got you feeling low, take a break. We'll all be here cheering loudly on your return.

Refreshed,
-A.F.

A year+ of markets, mistakes and mostly learning.

      Make it Franke has been kicking around since February 2015, but I really got it up and running January 2016 and this past March, doing the Curated. Spring Market, marked one year of being involved in the crazy beautiful, crazy stressful, crazy amazing world of makers markets. I thought I'd share with you what a year+ has taught me about product, market set-up, and picking a focus. I'll explain why I made some of the decisions I made, critique my own mistakes, and share a little bit of what the future possibly holds. I also want to write this down so I can remember and appreciate my journey.

      During the fall 2015, I was in Value Village (with a 30% off coupon in my pocket, of course) when I kind of had a breakdown. I was so, so, so unhappy with my current job as a registered nurse because I simply never found joy in the job and I needed a way out. At that time, I had only ever sold my art work at a few Whyte Ave Art Walks, and I also just started getting prints of my work made through a gallery. Through sharing my artwork and furniture on Facebook to an audience simply made up of my friends and family, I knew there were customers out there. It was just a matter of product dispersal. Being out on the farm was very inconvenient for any one to come by and grab a quick birthday present, shower gift, piece for themselves, etc. I also really needed (and still DO! need) an Etsy shop or some other online way to sell my product but woah woah woah a girl can only do one thing at a time. This is when, in the Value Village aisle between the long sleeve shirts and the sweaters, on the brink of a nervous break down, I thought about applying to the Old Strathcona Antique Mall. I thought, "Hey, I bet I could sell my art work and refinished furniture there if I also sell some vintage swag." I already had a love for vintage and could pick a vintage item out from of any shelf at a thrift store or garage sale. I phoned my mom, kind of asked if she wanted to get in on this with me, and the conversation turned into "YEAH and maybe we could turn vintage fabrics into cool things like pillows and stuff?!" My mom is an incredibly skilled sewer so this was definitely something we could collaborate on. That night when I got home I applied to be a vendor at the antique mall and basically decided to quit my job. (Marty and I had also just bought the farm AND still had our renovated acreage home for sale. This also may have contributed to my mental state.) At the time sweet places to buy locally made products like The Makers Keep, Made Local, and Majesty and Friends were not around - if they would have been - my entire business path would have likely carved a completely different trail.

Here is an example of one of my tags. Definitely not one of my HILarious ones, but it seems to be the only photo of any of them I could find!

Here is an example of one of my tags. Definitely not one of my HILarious ones, but it seems to be the only photo of any of them I could find!

      FAST forward a few months later. Our house sold. I handed in my resignation. My mom and I started thrifting the world like crazy for the booth that I did in fact get at the antique mall. I spent SO much time making tags for all the items because 1.) I thought it would be interesting for people to get a little history lesson about each item and 2.) I always have so many good jokes and puns I needed some where to write them down. :P (But actually though, the tags were such great pick-me-ups and I had so fun making them but they were hella time consuming.)
      SO. The booth was doing okay. I was selling a decent amount of vintage goods, my mom's sewn items were selling, a few art prints sold (which I had just started making on my own after buying a monster printer) and a few small pieces of furniture did too. In hindsight, and that's what this whole entry is all about, what the actual eff was I thinking. Why did I think it was sustainable and marketable to have all of these different things that truly don't fit together. Things have changed from this beginning time because it proved to be impossible to keep all these different creative tracks open and maintain them properly. Also, eventually I could not maintain the booth because with markets I was always pulling items back and forth and financially it was not worth the hassle.

Here's my booth at the mall!

      Then I did my first market. Back a year ago Curated. was called Vixens of Vintage (BTW Candace, love Curated!) and I brought with me all the same things I was selling at the antique mall to sell in person at the market.

Here are some images from my very first market set-up!

      I don't like brown. Brown has nothing to do with my business, branding, colour scheme or anything. I don't even put brown in my house .. so why is my entire backdrop and shelving unit a moody and dark brown? I have no idea. I think I thought that it would be covered up with so many colourful things that it wouldn't really show. SO problems with that thinking: as things sell, it's harder and harder to hide the brown, also, UM YES it shows through. It took me a few markets until it dawned on me that the reason I wasn't liking my set-up was because of all the brown. (It later got beautifully white washed.)

      Another market I did a total of three times last summer was the White Barn Market (which is absolutely lovely!) as well I was an outdoor vendor at All Things Pretty (and let me tell you it's a very pretty market!). I love colour, that's what I'm all about. But my biggest mistake with this outdoor market scene, was using a blue tent. With a blue tent, yellow display pieces and a decent amount of red mixed in there, my whole set-up felt very, very primary thus very much 'for children'. My artwork is definitely for kids, but that doesn't mean that's the way I necessarily want to market myself, and it doesn't mean that it's not for adults too. (Put an owl in your office or craft room!) Again, this primary colours thing only came together in my mind after the fourth set-up at outdoor markets. AND everything was still brown. :]

So here's the White Barn Market

Here I am at the Whyte Ave Art Walk. Photo cred to my BFF Patrycia <3

Here I am at the Whyte Ave Art Walk. Photo cred to my BFF Patrycia <3

      When I did the Whyte Ave Art Walk after a few art-work-furniture-vintage-swag-and-sewn-goods-markets, I absolutely loved it. All I brought was art, because obviously that's what the market is all about. Not only did I not have to pack up a small apartment and unpack it for the show, art is what I want to do. Art is who I am. Art is why I started Make it Franke. After the art walk, I knew focusing on art work was what I needed to do.
      I knew I had to phase out the sewn goods (so sorry mom!) because when people would come by and want to buy a pillow and ask me technical question about sewing, I'd have to say "Er I don't know, I'll have to ask my mom." Or if they wanted custom work done, "Er I can ask my mom?" It took the connection between maker and customer out of the equation. And that's not what buying local at markets is about.
      Phasing out the vintage swag also had to happen. Thrifting is A LOT of work when you are looking for consistent amounts of things. It also took FOR EVER to pack and unpack for market. Each piece had to be individually wrapped and unwrapped. SO time consuming.
     So besides all the already mentioned reasons to solely focus on art (I am also going to keep doing furniture) is because when people would walk by or visit my booth I KNew they were somewhat confused. Explaining how the menagerie of items came together was often more work than it was worth.

      My last two markets were the winter and then spring Curated. Market, the latter of which was just a few weeks ago. My backdrop got white-washed, there was no primary colour problems, and I did not bring sewn goods with me. I also added a checkout station to my booth so I had somewhere to keep my purse, jacket and of course my snacks. At the end of the spring market a few weeks ago, I started giving vintage swag away for free because as of that market I officially retired. :P I also had an INcredible prints display unit that I had Marty build for me. I had wanted something of the type for for a very long time, again, why did it take so long to figure out? No idea. I also improved my packaging, labeling and sizing of my prints.

Here's a few images from the Curated. Holiday Market!

And here's my sweet arse display unit!

      Looking back on some of these pictures definitely makes me cringe. But guys, without them, I wouldn't be able to see how far I've truly come. There is so much in this world that will never get figured out unless you just jump in and do it. There is no better teacher than learning from your mistakes and as you can see I made my share over this past year+.

Looking forward to the whitewashed year ahead,
- A.F.