For many of us who decide to start a business, it is a sudden decision usually around a skill or idea we are passionate about. While there are benefits to acting without being bogged down by analysis, what happens after the decision can be a bit more surprising for those of us who did just jump in.
I’ve been an organizational change consultant for over 15 years and this year, I decided to turn my passions for photography, nature and helping others to appreciate nature’s beauty, into a business. Thus, Moment of Focus was born. While I did have some retail clients over the years, I had no idea what running a jewelry business would entail and have been basically giving myself a speed MBA for a few months now learning marketing, advertising, pricing and more. With the holidays approaching, the pace has picked up and the work days have gotten longer. Don’t get me wrong – I am VERY happy with my decision to pursue this and also about how I went about this. I think if I knew then what I know now, it would have been much more difficult to say YES.
This week as I was rushing around picking up shipping materials, updating my website, wrapping purchases, planning for shows, mailing packages and running into other artisans doing the same things with the same intensity on their faces, I came to realize we artisans are Santa’s elves. Behind the scenes of the beautiful handmade gifts you unwrap this year are a group of dedicated, creative, passionate, slightly frenzied people.
While the process of what we do is the same as the rest of the year, during the holidays, the volume of work increases while the timeline decreases. To get a glimpse into our elf world, here are some things we do to ensure our customers receive their orders on time and looking fabulously:
- Develop creative product ideas
- Order raw materials, packaging materials, shipping materials (Hope vendors are not out of anything or that the shipment is not delayed)
- Rush around town to get any remaining needed supplies
- Create product (Estimate what products will be needed in what quantity so you do not run out)
- Develop any necessary tags or other materials that are included with the products
- Package and wrap products
- Ship products (and hope there is no need to deal with USPS lines)
- Breathe, celebrate, repeat
…then there is marketing, holiday shows, publicity and more.
Again, I want to be clear that this is not a rant or complaining. It is simply opening the curtain to the life of an artisan-elf at holiday time. Sure, most retailers do many of the tasks above, but most also are not a one-person show like most artisans are.
So – this holiday, if you are lucky enough to receive a handmade gift of any kind, smile, enjoy the present and think about the elf-artisan who worked tirelessly to make that unique item just for you! And to my fellow elf-artisans, I raise my glass – you are one amazing community that I feel very lucky to be part of!
PS – that photo is added simply for some holiday charm.