Wednesday, November 2, 2022

We Need a Little Christmas

"We need a little Christmas, right this very minute."

Yesterday, I alluded to feeling a bit under the weather emotionally, and I'm honestly not even sure why, but I didn't want to unpack anything since I look forward to November 1st every year.  Now that I've welcomed the holiday season with open arms, I thought that I'd unpack a little bit more of a life update today.

Eliot and I have been so busy.  We have been taking the whole work/life balance thing a lot more seriously, but that's meant we've had a lot of busy weekdays to account for taking some time for ourselves on the weekends.  The past few days, I've been 100% completely, overwhelmingly exhausted.  And I think it finally caught up to me.

I'm so glad that we've been carving out more time for our personal lives, but clearly we still haven't found the secret sauce.  Balance was my word of the year, and it continues to be on my mind while we work on keeping things more even keel.  However, even as tired as I am right now, I'm really glad that Eliot and I have made time for each other.

And we've still been moving ahead full steam with our businesses.  Last week, Eliot and I had a bunch of orders that needed to go out between our two shops.  Three of them were for 3 or more pairs of mouse ears.  Two of those included very detailed custom orders for our two best customers.  We usually stop taking custom orders in September, but since it was these two people with the requests, I was happy to accommodate them.  But it meant a lot of work leading up to finishing them since we did the actual 3D design, printing and assembling phases at warp speed.  We literally pulled these together from start to finish in under a week (for most of it) and I'm so proud of us.  But it was stressful... the most stressed I've been in a while actually.

Halloween night, I found out that one of the orders we worked so hard on, the third large one, was out in San Diego.  It was going to St. Louis.  That took pretty much all of the wind out of my sails.  It's going to a Wish Family.  They leave for their Wish Trip today... and the ears got lost.  Eliot and I did everything we could to get them mailed out in time, and USPS completely screwed the entire thing up.  I feel absolutely awful; I spent all of Halloween night fretting and beating myself up about it.  

I'd basically given up all hope... and then I woke up this morning to two messages in our shop.  The first one, was from the Wish Family saying that the ears were going to be delivered today!  Somehow, they had gotten checked into the local facility after I'd gone to bed.  And they turned around and got them out for delivery today.

It was a miracle... and for a split second, everything was right in the world.

Then, I opened the message from the other customer with a large order.  Hers didn't make it in time before she left.  I had checked on it Monday and it was supposed to be delivered on Tuesday at the latest.  And they lost that one out of nowhere.  It just disappeared from tracking.  I hadn't even checked to see if it was delivered yesterday since I was so confident that it would be ok.  This customer was going to the Wine and Dine races and two of her three ears were specifically made for this weekend's events.

Thankfully she wasn't upset since we knew we were pushing the limits of time, but I was still crushed about it.  She's been a wonderful customer of ours and Eliot and I both love working on designs with her.  I felt awful that things didn't work out this time.  

I'm glad that two of our three our large orders made it where they needed to on time, but two of them also had problems "disappearing" in the USPS system.  Once the packages leave our hands, there's nothing we can do.  I feel so helpless.  I'm going back over all of the previous weeks and wishing that I'd told Eliot to work on the renderings sooner.  Wishing that I'd pestered him more.  Wishing that we'd gotten everything done a few days earlier.  In the end, we got them to the post office with plenty of time for USPS to get them to their final destination, but I still can't help feeling like we could have done more.  Sometimes running a small business really sucks.

But I know that I have to pick myself back up and keep moving forward... 

Overall, things with our businesses have been going pretty well.  Like I said earlier, Eliot and I have struck more of a balance the past two months with having a life and still running our businesses.  It's still not perfect.  We've gotten behind on a few things, but we're also sending out a bunch of orders ahead of time.

The really good news is that we're ahead on our print schedule.  We have got a few Happily Ever Hatter orders that have to go out in the next few days for customers who have Disney trips next week, but we literally have one thing that needs to go out for Snowblade Creations this week because we've worked so hard to get ahead.

The better news is that Eliot and I both keep coming up with more business and product ideas.  Last Tuesday, I rode into town after my sewing class to meet up with Eliot for lunch and to run a few errands.  We spent the entire lunch sitting in a booth in Panera Bread with him animatedly discussing a new business idea he had and how awesome it was.  (Ironically, it's the same exact idea that I had a few months ago, but he's got his own spin to put on it.)  We're still trying to find balance in our lives, and there are a lot of ways we can have other shops that don't require as much hands on attention from us... so we're trying to diversify our businesses and sources of income. 

Since then, I've also thought of a few more new products for Happily Ever Hatter.  I've found more inspiration online.  I've had a few more sleepless nights or mornings where I say up late or wake up early and find myself pouring over Pinterest and Etsy.  I'll get an idea, then I'll research it on both to see if anyone else has thought of something similar.  I've got a few ideas that I don't think anyone else would be crazy enough to even think of... but here I am- adding them to my endless stash of inspiration notes.

As you can see, it's been a mixed bag the past few weeks.  I suppose that it's no wonder I'm so tired.  In the past two months, we've been to California twice, gone to four hockey games, gone to Disneyland, Hollywood and the D23 Expo, and we've also kept busy with our two Etsy businesses and trying to find time to relax.

Right now, I'm trying to switch gears to holiday mode.  I've only got about a week or so to get myself rested up so I can be ready for the holiday rush and whatever that might entail this year.  I'm also trying to find a little bit of that Christmas magic to put myself in the right headspace and prepare myself for the next wave of absolute craziness. 

"We need a little Christmas now..."  °o°

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