The Truth Behind Running An Etsy Shop

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My Etsy shop has been open for about two years, but this month marks my one year anniversary of quitting my day job to do hand lettering and run my shop full time. Last month was also my three year “calligraversary” of when I started practicing modern calligraphy and hand lettering. Clearly I like to take on new creative ventures in the fall, so I figured now would be the perfect time to share my journey over the past year.

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Upper left: one week of brush lettering | Upper right: one year | Lower left: two years | Lower right: three years

If you’re new to my community, I recommend reading this post from a year ago, where I share my journey from hobby, to side hustle, to full-time hand lettering artist and Etsy shop owner. But, what I really want to do today is celebrate, reflect on the past year, and share the truth behind running an Etsy shop – the positives, the negatives, and everything in between.

The big wins

A year ago I had about 30 Etsy sales, had maybe a dozen prints listed in my shop, and was getting ready to officially launch my first self-published book, Romans: A Hand Lettered Devotional. A year later, a lot of prayer, hard work, the help of good friends, and crazy amounts of God’s grace later, I have about 900 Etsy sales, hundreds of sales from Creative Market and other local pop-ups, over 50 different products listed in my shop, and I’m getting ready to officially launch my second self-published book, Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotional on October 22, 2018!

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Looking back, it has been an amazing year of growth. I am so thankful for all of it and I’ve achieved so much of what I set out to do this year. But, if I only celebrated those great accomplishments, I would be leaving out the whole story, which to me, is way more important than just sharing the outcome of this first year in business full-time.

If I didn’t share about the obstacles, I’m afraid I’d give the impression that everything just fell into place on its own and that with a little bit of hard work, I made it happen. I love my job and there is nothing I’d rather be doing than what I’m doing right now, but it was a lot more than a little hard work to get to where I am today.

The truth

The truth is, running an Etsy shop full-time has been a blast! Also the truth? Running an Etsy shop full-time has been more of a challenge than I ever thought possible.

You can go back and read wins from any of my past “Wins & Learns” blog posts, but I am going to focus on some of the obstacles I’ve come across running an Etsy shop for the rest of this post, not because I’m super negative about the Etsy life (quite the opposite!), but because I personally crave more honesty from other people I look up to in the creative business world and I want to be that honest voice for others.

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My struggles

I quit my day job a year ago knowing that growth would come slowly in my business, that not every month would be better than the last, that summers would be slow, and that I would need to be very mindful with my money to be able to pay myself each month. I knew that going into it, but it’s one thing to have multiple people tell you what to expect and it’s another to experience it all on your own for the first time.

In the past year, I’ve had more sales than I ever thought possible. As I shared above, I’ve experienced a tremendous amount of growth. Writing those numbers down is mind blowing, because lately I’ve been very discouraged with my growth and still don’t feel like I’ve achieved “success” even though I’m beyond most of the goals I had set for myself 12 months ago.

How could I have met so many of my goals and still feel discouraged? I’m realizing that a lot of it has to do with my personal circumstances. When I started working full-time on my own, I didn’t realize my husband would get so sick a few months later that he wouldn’t be able to work and go to school at the same time and that my lettering business would have to be the main source of income to support us. And truthfully, it doesn’t. Aside from the income from my hand lettering business, Luke and I both get paid to lead worship every Sunday and I even took on a small part-time job at a local shop recently. Running my Etsy shop is still my full-time, 40+ hour a week day job, but I spend another 8-10 hours a week leading worship and working at the local shop to make ends meet.

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It’s been difficult and discouraging but I still love and enjoy running an Etsy shop and I am so fortunate to have a supportive husband who often believes in me more than I believe in myself. I still believe this is where God wants me right now and I will continue doing this as long as I know that’s true. I know life won’t always feel like an uphill climb and I am excited to see how my outlook on my business will change once Luke is done with school in May and (Lord willing) will have a fancy job in June. I truly believe I’ll be able to relax more when we aren’t relying so heavily on the income from my shop.

Numbers don’t lie… or do they?

I’ve heard it said, “Numbers don’t lie.” I think that’s true, but with this edit: “Numbers don’t lie, but they don’t tell the whole story.” Instagram followers and Etsy sales numbers are easy to look at and think, “Wow, that person’s got it all together.” But what you don’t know about is the car accident that totaled the shop owner’s car, the unexpected hospital trip and medical bills, the lost moving van, the emergency trips to the vet, a loss in the family, and the oh so real struggle to just get the bills paid from week to week.

So, if you are working on growing your Instagram account, online shop, or other type of business, don’t put all your happiness and worth in the numbers. Focus on the bigger things: Are you adding something beautiful to the world? Are you doing good in the lives of others? Are you making a positive impact? Are you cultivating a community of kind, honest, inspiring people? Those are the things that really make a difference in the long run. I know kindness doesn’t always get the bills paid, but keep being a positive presence in the lives of others, working hard on your business, and leaning on the Lord in everything you do. You will see fruit.

Anyway…

Happy one-year anniversary to me! And happy making-it-to-the-end-of-this-blog-post to you! 😉 I hope you are encouraged by the parts of my story I shared today. I would love to hear what you connected with most, so don’t be shy! Leave a comment!

I will continue to share the honest truth about my journey in my monthly “Wins & Learns” blog posts and in other posts throughout the year as I feel led. If you want to stay up to date on future blog posts and shop updates, please join my mailing list. I would love to stay connected with you!

Blessings –

❤ Lauren

September Wins & Learns

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Fall is here the day after Labor Day. None of this September 22nd nonsense! 😉 I love summer, but fall is my favorite and now that I run an online shop, summer has become even less of a favorite. I’ve shared about how slow things got this summer, but fall is filled with lots of hope and possibilities! Since the majority of my products for the rest of the year are designed and ordered, I can start focusing less on spending money and more on reaping the rewards of my hard design work over the past few months – and really the whole year! But, before I get too far ahead of myself, I want to celebrate my wins and reflect on my “learns.”

Wins

Ephesians: Hand Lettered Devotional

My new Ephesians devotional is DONE and the 30-day early bird pre-order covered all my self publishing expenses from August and September, which is exactly what I hoped it would do! I hit my goal the morning of the last day of the pre-order. It was a huge answer to prayer! I’m praising God for providing and I’m so grateful for each one of those customers who purchased copies.

I went to pick up the first 600 books from my printer last week and even though the content has been finished for a couple months, I can finally say the whole thing is officially done since I finally get to hold the book in my hands! I cannot wait to get these books into your hands, so I’ll start shipping out the early bird pre-orders in a week or two. I’ll open up pre-orders again around the same time and the book will officially be released to my shop October 22nd!

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Fall Launch

The majority of September revolved around my big fall launch. I released four new items a week for the first three weeks of the month and listing those products to my shop, posting about them all over social media, scheduling emails to my mailing list, and shipping those new products out kept me pretty busy! I’m thankful I can say I’m starting to see things pick up again and I’m ready to see what more lies ahead as we walk further into fall and, before you know it, into the holiday season!

Here are just a few of the new items! Head on over to LaurenIbachLettering on Etsy to see all the newbies!

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Pottery Barn Event

Pottery Barn at the Galleria in Edina, MN hosted me for a pop-up event for the fourth time! I am so grateful for them and love that I now feel like I have this sweet Pottery Barn family. It was mostly a learning experience this time around – I’ll chat more about that in a bit – but I did want to share a story that made my heart so happy. ❤

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A couple came in with their two young girls and passed by my table. The mom was on a mission for something, but the dad and two girls hung around by my table. I asked the girls if they like art and the older of the two proceeded to tell me about how she likes to color. (So sweet!) The dad started pointing out my pins to the girls and then he ended up picking up one of my wood engraved banners that reads, “You can do anything you put your mind to,” turned to his girls and said, “This is what I always tell you!”

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My heart leapt! I shared with him that I designed that banner because my dad tells me the exact same thing. He ended up letting each of the girls pick out one thing from my table and the youngest went for the rose gold Do Good pin for her backpack and the oldest chose the banner for her room. ❤

Being “on” at events for several hours is hard for me, but it’s moments like those that make it all worth it. I love connecting with people and hearing stories about why certain phrases or Bible verses I letter carry special meaning for them.

These wood banners are almost sold out and won’t be restocked, so pick one up today if you want one!

Learns

Pottery Barn Event

I learned a big lesson at this event: Just because you’ve done this before and your shop has grown, does not mean you will do better than the last time… or even the first time! It’s true. This was my least profitable event to date. Thankfully, I think it was just the day. It was 95 degrees outside, it seemed like people were just coming into the Galleria to escape the heat – not a lot of serious shoppers. When I shared my low sales numbers with one of the managers, she said, “sounds just like the kind of day we’re having!” and the other pop-up guest didn’t even have a single sale in the five hours we were there. On one hand I was really bummed about the flop of an event (still kinda am to be honest!), but on the other hand, the Lord heard my prayers and had favor on me, blessing me with a few sales. I could have walked away with nothing. That day was a lesson on shifting my focus to what I was given, when my natural inclination was to dwell on what I felt I missed out on.

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Just… life!

I’ve shared a little on social media about how I’m in a challenging season of wrestling with God and there being a lot of unknowns right now. Some of this has to do with my business, but another big part of it has to do with my family and my own personal battles. The root of all of it? Fear. Fear that my shop will never grow past where it is now, fear about my husband’s health (read this post if you need some context), fear that God won’t answer all my prayers, and that He will let me down.

As I write this I’m reminded of the worship song “King of My Heart” by John Mark and Sarah McMillan. The bridge lyrics are: “You’re never gonna let me down.” I believe that. He will not let us down because He knows what’s best for us. I do feel let down at the moment, but something the Holy Spirit is teaching me is my feelings are not always true. God’s word is ALWAYS true. That is what this feelings-led girl is learning to place her trust in. Easier said than done, but I’m working on it!

Scripture I’m currently clinging to: Philippians 4:19Isaiah 40:31, and Psalm 34:4

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The verse above is now available at my shop as an original watercolor 5×7 or 8×10 piece or as a 5×7 print!

Anyway…

Thanks for joining me here on the blog today! If these monthly “Wins & Learns” posts encourage you in any way, please leave a comment, join my mailing list for future updates, and tell your friends to come and spend some time with me here. 😉 If there are other topics you’d like me to cover, let me know! I’m always open to suggestions.

❤ Lauren

Enamel Pin Style Inspiration

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My love for enamel pins has grown so much in the past year. They have become one of my favorite accessories no matter what season. Wherever I go, I usually have a pin somewhere on me – a jacket, a vest, my backpack, a sweater… and I always have the ones I’m not wearing at home on display. I also was curious to know how my social media community was wearing their pins, so I reached out to them and received some great pin style photos from them as well.

Whether you have a collection of enamel pins or just one, I hope you’ll be inspired to start rocking your pins in your day-to-day wardrobe and at home. ❤

Jackets, vests, & sweaters

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Let’s start with an obvious choice: jean jackets! Sturdy fabrics like denim are your best friend when wearing enamel pins. You can place your pins on the collar, the pocket, or somewhere in between. In the photos above, I’m wearing my silver Be Kind pin. and in the photos below, I’m wearing my Strong & Courageous pin. and black and gold Have Faith pin.
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I love these photos submitted by Kiley of @kileyinkentucky and taken by Connie of @januaryjunephotography! Vests are great for the days you want to wear your pins, but it’s a little too warm for a jacket or thick sweater. I also love how Kiley paired the gold Be Kind pin with the rose gold Do Good pin.
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Like Kiley, you can totally mix and match your metals. But, I usually I like to match my pins with each other and the metals on my clothing. I really like how the gold in my gold and white Have Faith pin looks with the brass zipper on my army green vest.
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On extra chilly days, I wear my pins on thick knit sweaters and cardigans. Strong & Courageous pin looks so sweet and dainty on this cream knit sweater.
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My friend @steenaanne looks so cute with her gold Do Good pin and that cute little fly pin she already had. They look so perfect together on the collar of her vest.
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Wearing a pin on my overalls is probably my #1 go-to. I have two pairs of overalls, so I wear them often and I love how my pins fit perfectly on the strap. It’s a subtle way to say something sweet while you’re out and about! And, the silver and black Have Faith pin looks so good on that dark denim.

Backpacks & Bags

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Since receiving these photos, I’m more inspired to up my pin game on my purses and bags. I only have a few leather purses, as well as a leather tote, and I personally don’t like the idea of poking a hole in my good leather bags (but hey, if you’re braver than me, go for it!), so I thought @rebecca.aimeee‘s solution was genius: stick the pin through one of the buckle holes! I also like how the buckle acts as a frame around the silver Be Kind pin.
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If you’re like Kristin of the @howtofailpodcast and you do have a canvas purse or tote, you can place pins anywhere on the canvas without worrying about doing any permanent damage. Kristin paired the Be Kind and Do Good pins (both in gold) on her tote and I think it’s such a classy look!

Tip: I’ve heard a few people say they struggle to keep their pins in place on bags and backpacks or worry about them falling off. The fabric on bags is often times a bit thicker than clothing and we tend to toss our bags around during the day more than our clothes so a locking clasp can solve that problem. I personally have never had an issue with a standard rubber back, but locking clasps are nice to have if you need a little more reassurance when placing your pins on thick material. Locking clasps are available as an upgraded option when you order any of the pins from my shop.
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Candace of @julingtonmarket wears her gold Be Kind pin on her black backpack. Pins are a great way to dress up a simple bag or backpack and this is the perfect example.
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@rcraikr also wears her gold Be Kind pin on her backpack. The white and gold pops on the blue fabric and she picked the perfect spot to place it.

When you’re not wearing your pins…

I don’t wear my pins everyday, but I still like to look at and enjoy them when I’m not wearing them. Instead of storing them in a box or drawer there are a couple other places I keep them:
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Canvas banners work great for displaying enamel pins when you’re not wearing them. I’ve seen larger banners for displaying big collections, but my collection is relatively small, so I made some small pin banners that look great with several pins or just a few.
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One day, while decluttering my desk, I put a few pins on my pen cup and thought they looked so cute, I kept them there until I wore them again. I’m the type of person who likes having verbal reminders throughout the day and the rose gold and white Have Faith pin paired with the gold Do Good pin are the perfect reminder of the importance of having faith and doing good works. ❤

Start rocking your pins!

Ready to add enamel pins to your wardrobe? You can find all my pins at my Etsy shop, as well as pin banners, locking clasps, and of course, many other pretty things. Please send me photos of how you where your pins! Just tag @lauren.ibach and #laurenibachlettering when sharing on Instagram. I always love seeing my pins out and about and continue to get inspired by how others wear them too!
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Other pins pictured:
Gold fly pin: unknown
Heart glasses pin: @justine.gilbuena

August Wins and Learns

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I usually like to wait until the month is over to write these posts, but I’m in the mood to write and reflect today, so here we are. August has been a solid close to the summer and I experienced some big wins, so let’s start there:

Wins

  • I ventured out of the Midwest to visit somewhere I had never been before… Oregon! I left Minneapolis in desperate need of a break and came back ready to get back to work. It was a good breather from all the things I’ve been doing for the shop this summer, getting ready for my big fall launch that starts next week (Yay)!

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  • While I was on vacation, we finished raising money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation through the sales of Nearly Perfect Pins. When Luke and I got home, we donated $1,040! It was a pretty great feeling. Thanks to all who purchased pins and/or made a donation!

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  • Early Bird Pre-Order for my new book, Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotionalopened. I am practically finished with this book! I’m currently working with my printer on some formatting things, they’ll send me a proof for me to approve, and then it’ll be just a week or two after that that I’ll have the first print run in stock! I would love your help covering some of these self-publishing costs, so please consider pre-ordering now through Sept. 19th. I’m offering exclusive perks for you early birds! I’ll send you signed books, free bookmarks, and won’t charge for shipping (that’s right! Free shipping)! I’m still planning on releasing Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotional to my Etsy shop the first week of November, but will most likely be shipping books out to the lovely early bird pre-order people early, as well as have it for sale at a local pop-up in October. More incentive to order early if free shipping, bookmarks, and signed copies weren’t enough! 😉

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  • This is a general summer win, but I survived the summer! (Insert happy dance.) Seriously such a big win. Online retail is rough in the summer, but thanks to God’s provision and smart planning, I was able to stay afloat. I’m hopeful for the fall/winter season, but also a little nervous, which leads me to my learns…

Learns

  • I am about 60% hopeful, 40% fearful about the coming season. Business has been slow since May and I haven’t been growing like I was last fall and spring. After chatting with other online small business owners, I’m assured that this is totally normal. But, since things have been slow for about four months, it’s been easy for me to convince myself that I’m actually stuck here. I don’t really think I am deep down, but what if ?? Only God really knows what’s ahead but, I’m hoping for the best. I recently chatted with a friend who introduced me to the writings of Wendell Berry. He often compares life to farming – that there are seasons of harvest and seasons of sowing. I know this truth is all over Scripture, so I also found comfort in similar Bible verses as well. I’ve planted my seeds, tended my crops, and I’m ready for the harvest.

Anyway…

Enjoy your last moments of summer! I know summer technically continues into September, but September = fall in my own little world (and it’s my birthday month!), so I’ll do my thing and you can either join me or hold on tightly to summer as long as you can. Whatever you prefer, I hope we can still be friends. 😉

❤ Lauren

Want to get weekly notifications during my big fall launch?? Join my mailing list! Fall launch starts Sept. 4th and ends Sept. 21st! I’ll be releasing prints, pins, mugs, calendars, notepads, and more! I’d love to share with you what I’ve been working on all summer!

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“Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotional” Early Bird Pre-Order

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Early bird pre-order ends September 19!

I’ve been waiting a long time for this day. The day I get to reveal the cover of my second book and open pre-orders! I wrote about this in the intro of Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotional and I’ll mention it here: I genuinely didn’t think I would be doing another book like this or even self-publishing again, but here we are! Another book and publishing on my own once again!

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My new book will be very similar to my first book, Romans: A Hand Lettered Devotional. I created intricate handwritten art for each chapter and wrote devotional thoughts, sharing what I learned as I studied each chapter. The book of Ephesians in the Bible has six chapters, so instead of doing one page of art for each chapter, like I did in my Romans devotional, I split each chapter in half (with the exception of chapter six), meaning 11 pages of art and 11 pages of devotional content to accompany each half-chapter.

22 pages didn’t quite make for a long enough book, so I also included a lot more information on my creative process, how to start Bible lettering on your own, and even some fun alphabets, tips, and tricks to inspire you and help you get started! This was something I wished I would have been able to do in my last book, so I’m thankful the Lord gave me the opportunity to include this content in my new, 40-page book!

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I need your help!

Last year, I launched a Kickstarter campaign to help cover the self-publishing costs for my first book. 74 people pre-ordered Romans: A Hand Lettered Devotional through that campaign, raising $3.6k, which covered the book’s first print run, ordering shipping materials, and some marketing costs. That pre-order campaign was very successful, but when it came to finally shipping the books out, it was much more complicated and expensive than I expected.

So, instead of launching another Kickstarter pre-order for Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotional, I decided to launch the pre-order right where I’ll be selling the book when it’s officially released: at my Etsy shop! This will make the shipping process much easier and less expensive so the money can go towards more fun things, like printing more books and getting the word out about this new book I put so much of my heart into!

What’s in it for you?

Those who choose to order anytime between today and September 19th will get some pretty great perks:

  • Free Shipping
  • Free Bookmarks
  • Signed Books

Order today to get the best deal I’ll be offering on my new book, Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotional. Thanks for helping me finish this project! I can’t wait for you all to see it when it’s officially released November 2018!

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How do you manage stress and anxiety during the workday​?

I recently posted the photo below on my Instagram stories, sharing about my brief walk to help manage my anxiety. I asked the question: How do you manage stress and anxiety during the workday? And I loved the responses you sent in!

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I’ve also mentioned in recent blog posts that I’ve been struggling with anxiety, so I decided it would be fitting to share the great advice so many of you sent in right here on the blog, instead of on a quick Instagram story that will disappear in 24 hours. This will not only allow me to spend a little more time reflecting on your words of wisdom, but it will also give others the opportunity to stumble upon these words on a later date.

So one more time – here’s the question:

How do you manage stress and anxiety during the workday?

Your answers:

  • “Walked away from my computer and did a smaller task that would make me feel accomplished”
  • “Really listening to myself and learning what I need for myself mentally”
  • “Watch Vines or go somewhere by myself”
  • “I listen to ASMR videos on YouTube!”
  • “Lunch breaks away from the office!”
  • “Being outside or at least in a different environment helps me.”
  • “Start the day with scripture, prayer throughout, and counsel of good friends.”
  • “Softly playing Jesus music with my headphones! Works well when I can’t be away.”
  • “Walks are huge for me and I also sneak away into a cozy meeting room and read!”
  • “Devotionals about anxiety and fear really help me put myself in check.”
  • “Don’t just drink coffee. Do pour over. The ritual helps.”
  • “Visit with friends.”
  • “Lay on the floor with my palms up, close my eyes, and focus on my breathing.”
  • “Walk with the dogs. Helps every time.”
  • “I love watching IG stories of dogs. So funny!”
  • “Movement (walk, dance, stretch), music, prayer, pets.”
  • “I try to take the stairs as much as possible so I get a little exercise to break up the day!”
  • “Make a list of everything adding to my anxiety to help me calm down and conquer it.”

I want to make sure I mention that I am not trying to say one or all of these answers will cure an anxious heart. I have had seasons where I’ve gone to counseling and been on medication, so I am sensitive to those of you reading this who might think, “Easy for her to say!” or “She really doesn’t get it!” I know personally that overcoming anxiety is not a quick fix. These are just a few answers I felt either personally connected to or thought others might find beneficial to help combat anxiety in the moment. Advice to help you and me simply get through the day.

Just in case you’re curious to know my go-to tactics for overcoming anxiety and stress during the workday:

  • Starting the day with Jesus – in the Word and/or in prayer (and praying as I work or while I’m driving)
  • Cutting back on caffeine (I have no shame in drinking decaf! I notice a big difference with this one!)
  • Walks and just being outside for a bit
  • Breaking for lunch instead of eating at my desk while I work
  • Turning off phone notifications and placing my phone out of sight (out of sight, out of mind!)
  • A scented candle
  • Spending time with the people I love in the evenings
  • Also in the evenings: Knitting, Netflix, Harry Potter… my interests that aren’t related to work!

Anyway…

Take good care of yourselves! Do what is best for YOU to get through the day. If you’re struggling with deeper anxiety, I highly suggest getting help, whether that be through friends and family, counseling, your church, medication, or a combination of those. You are not alone!

Thanks again for all the great responses to this question! Can’t wait to try some of them myself!

❤ Lauren

July Wins & Learns

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I feel so conflicted at the moment. The online shop owner in me could not be more THRILLED that July is over, but the chilly Minnesota girl that I am is having mixed feelings about it being August. Fall is right around the corner and it’s my favorite time of year. However, it’s always an inner battle for me because I love being able to walk outside in shorts, sandals, and no coat, which happens only 3/4 of the year. But for some reason, there is something about fall that is so magical to me that even the warm summer temps can’t compete with it. Anyone else having these feelings with me?

I will stop rambling about that! I know I’m depressing some of you with thoughts of fall and I always strive to be an encourager, so let’s dive into the wins and learns of July:

Wins

  • I launched my second enamel pin, which reads “Do Good,” and I am especially excited about it because it’s my first pin in rose gold! (It comes in yellow gold too!)

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  • I designed and ordered my last pin I’ll be launching in 2018, as well as two other pins I designed for a local business. I cannot WAIT for you to see the next one with my fall/holiday launch and I personally am so excited to see the ones I created for my client because they are completely different than anything I’ve ever done before. I’ve got some exciting shipments coming from my manufacturer this month! 😉
  • One of my goals for July was to feel really good about all the progress I made on my new book (Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotional) when the month ended. I got a lot checked off the book to-do list, but my most rewarding accomplishment was finalizing the cover art. That’s arguably the hardest part of the whole process, in my opinion! What’s left? Not a whole lot! I need to have all the content sent to the printer by no later than mid-September and I very well could be sending it all in at the end of August! Yay to being ahead of schedule! Early bird pre-order will most likely start the last week of August, so join my mailing list to be the first get info on all the deals and freebies that will be included for those who order early to help me cover some of the manufacturing costs. I did this through Kickstarter last year, but have just decided to do it through my shop this year because it makes managing orders way easier!
  • I ordered and received my third print run of Romans: A Hand Lettered Devotional from my new printer who did a fabulous job! I think I have plenty in stock now for the busy fall/holiday season, but if I start running low again, no big deal, because my printer is now local, which makes reprinting so much easier!

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  • Together, we raised another $170 for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation through Nearly Perfect Pins sales. That puts us at just over $700 raised! It’s our goal (mine and my husband’s) to raise $1,000 before December! Read about why here and order your Nearly Perfect Pins here to help us reach our goal!
  • God is faithful. This is ALWAYS a win, but I really clung to that truth through the ups and downs and everything I learned this month.

Learns

  • Sales were so. Stinkin. Slow. I know this is the norm for online shop owners in the summer, but wow. I’m thankful to say I was prepared, but that doesn’t make it any more fun.
  • My anxiety levels have spiked. I’ve been very busy finishing my book and designing new products for fall/holiday launch, which has been so exciting, but when you’re putting in the hours in and not seeing a whole lot of financial payoff, it’s stressful – especially since I have to have all my products ordered by mid-August, which is expensive! So, I guess, to make it a short statement: There’s a lot of $$ going out, but not a lot coming in, so money is stressing me out! BUT (I can’t leave this on a negative note), I know things are about to turn around with fall around the corner, I prepared as well as I could have, and God has been faithful to provide.
  • Going off that last bullet point, I’m learning to put things into perspective. I started planning for fourth quarter and based on my sales last year and how much I’ve grown this year, I’m very hopeful for the near future! When I think about how far I’ve come and where I have the potential to go in just the next couple months, it makes these slow months seem like less of a big deal and having that perspective has calmed me down in the moments I feel my stress and anxiety taking over.

Anyway…

I don’t want to end on a stressful and anxious note, so I’m going to close with a message to my other shop owners and aspiring ones: You’re not alone! Summer is rough for everyone! Keep working hard, use this slow time to prepare for the busy season ahead. And whether or not you have a relationship with Christ, I encourage you to seek Him in your highs and lows and your own wins and learns. I cannot imagine walking this path and living life without Him. He has sustained me time and time again and He promises the same to you.

❤ Lauren

P.S. Want to be featured in a future blog post? Have one of my pins? Email me a photo (or multiple photos!) of how you wear and/or display your pins for a chance to be featured here on the blog and my social media pages! Click here for more details and here to send me an email! The deadline to submit photos is August 20th, so send them my way whenever you get a chance this month! (Don’t have one of my pins yet? Click here to browse and shop!

June Wins & Learns

 

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It’s July already! Yikes! When did that happen?? The summer needs to slow down. I haven’t got my fill of sunshine and warm weather yet! But, before we head into the next month of summer, I’d like to review the past month to celebrate the wins and reflect on what I learned.

Wins

  • I started the month with some serious goal planning. A friend of mine introduced me to the Cultivate What Matters Six-Month PowerSheets and I was instantly hooked! It has been exactly what I’ve needed to get my priorities in order. I’m learning how to take baby steps to achieve my long-term goals and it has been so freeing for the all or nothing type of person I am!
  • I finished all the art for my new book, Ephesians: A Hand Lettered Devotional, which will be released in November 2018! Join my mailing list to be notified when the early bird pre-order opens, where you’ll get free shipping and some other special freebie I haven’t decided on yet!
  • My Etsy shop exceeded 600 sales! Thank you ALL who placed an order this month! You are keeping my shop running, helping me pay my bills to just do life, and also helping my hubby and me make a big donation to a cause so important to us, which leads me to my next win…
  • I started a Nearly Perfect Pins sale to raise money for Crohn’s research! Read my blog post from a couple weeks ago if this is the first time you’re hearing about it. Luke and I hope you will be inspired by God’s goodness to us through Luke’s journey so far with Crohn’s disease. We are already halfway to our $1,000 goal and we are so thankful for all of you who contributed and bought a pin and hope the rest of you will feel led to join us!
  • Speaking of Luke, I shared in last month’s blog post that his surgery was a big win for both of us – that has still been a big win this month, because he is just about fully recovered and we are finally experiencing what normal life is like after months (and really, years) of physical pain, dietary restrictions, and unknowns for Luke. All the glory to God!!
  • And on the very last day of June, my Instagram profile hit 10k followers! This is a huge milestone I’ve been working towards for over a year. I still firmly believe the number of likes and follows aren’t everything and they certainly don’t define your worth as an individual and/or business owner, but having 10k followers opens up the opportunity for others to visit my shop more easily (yay to having the “Swipe Up” feature!) and it does bring a level of professionalism to my profile. All things to celebrate!

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Learns

  • I heard over and over again from my online business friends that the summer is slow, but no amount of warning could prepare me for how slow. This is my first summer as a full-time online shop owner, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I was hoping my business would grow more quickly, but it hasn’t grown much financially in the past two months. I know some of that was due to me taking off a couple weeks in May when Luke was in the hospital, but a lot of it has been completely out of my control. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t discouraged and negative at many points throughout the month, but I am slowly creeping out of this plateau and will take that over a decline in business any day! I’m doing my best to stay positive and push myself to work, even though I’m not seeing a whole lot of payoff right now. I still LOVE my job, but I’m in a season where I have to push myself more to get things done and work feels like work. I’m really excited about my new book and other fun new things coming in the fall, so that has been my light at the end of the tunnel!
  • I had a lot of family events and had to take some time off from work. I cannot express fully how thankful I am to have the flexibility to be able to decide for myself when I take time off. But, it can also be tricky to manage. This summer filled up so fast with weddings, parties, family coming into town, cabin trips, a trip to Oregon in a few weeks… I’m learning that just because I can be flexible, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for my business to say yes to everything. I’m learning to say yes to the big, important things I’d hate to miss out on and no to the things that I’d still like to do, but gotta show my business some love so it doesn’t suffer. Again, I’m learning. I haven’t figured this out yet, but this summer has been a really good learning experience so far!

Anyway…

Thanks as always for reading! These posts are like journal entries for me. I’d probably write them even if no one was reading them, so I’m always flattered that so many of you are interested enough to keep coming back to read about how things are going in my life each month. I love my community! You all are the best!

❤ Lauren

 

Our Story; Nearly Perfect Pins for Crohn’s Research

Update 8/24/2018: Together you helped us raise and donate $1,040.85 to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Thank you so much for helping us reach our goal in less than three months! Nearly Perfect Pins will now be sold for profit, but be assured that those sales will still be doing good – going towards Luke’s continued medical expenses. We are overwhelmed by your love and support these past few months and can’t thank you enough! ❤ Lauren & Luke

Today is an exciting day! I am now selling Nearly Perfect Pins at my Etsy shop to raise money for Crohn’s disease research!

Why Crohn’s disease research?

In the past, I have mentioned on the blog and on social media that my husband, Luke, has a chronic illness. Out of respect for Luke and his desire to keep that part of his life private, I have been careful not to share too much. However, we recently went through some life-changing circumstances surrounding that and we both feel led to share more of our story and do something in response to our experience.

In January 2016, my husband Luke was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease is a chronic illness that affects one’s entire immune system, but the main issues involve the colon and small intestine. Symptoms vary from person to person, but since Luke’s symptoms were not as “normal” as many cases, we are guessing he went undiagnosed for 5-7 years. This caused a lot of permanent damage to his colon and small intestine. So, in May 2018, Luke had surgery to get 20 cm of his colon and small intestine removed.

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Before surgery, Luke experienced daily pain – especially after eating. But, it didn’t take long after surgery for him to start noticing its positive effects. Now, he can eat almost everything he likes and no longer suffers from daily pain (Praise God)! Though Luke’s surgery was successful, he will continue to live with Crohn’s disease and take medication for the rest of his life to keep things under control and avoid another surgery down the road.

God’s provision

The past six months were filled with so many ups and downs. Luke’s pain was increasing, he was laid off from his job, and there were a bunch of issues at school I won’t get into. All in all, it was a rough season of one thing after another. When we got the news that Luke needed surgery ASAP, we began to see the Lord’s hand through this experience. For example:

Up until this past February, Luke was in school full-time and working about 35 hours a week on top of that. When Luke got the news that his position was no longer needed at work, we were so confused. At the time, we had no idea how bad things had gotten and surgery was not on our radar. If Luke hadn’t lost his job, he probably would have continued working through the pain he was experiencing and most likely would have had to go into the ER for emergency surgery. He would have had to drop out of school mid-way through the semester, we would have been out thousands of dollars, and Luke’s hard work would have gone without any credit.

Luke losing his job was a HUGE blessing. God worked out all these little details to save us from even more trouble than we were already experiencing. We are humbled by the Lord’s compassion for us and that He continues to reveal that He really did have a plan for Luke and me through this difficult season.

So, as a response, Luke and I felt led to do two things: 1) Share the love of Christ with others through our story and 2) Help others like Luke.

How we plan to help others

I was designing a new pin while Luke was in the hospital, so pins were on the mind as we began discussing our desire to share our story, God’s goodness, and somehow help others with Crohn’s disease.

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As many of you already know, I started designing enamel pins this year. A few recent orders didn’t come out quite right, so my manufacturer sent me the flawed ones in addition to the ones I ordered. These pins are nearly perfect. I’ve given a few away to friends and they don’t mind the extra dings, scratches, and markings. But, I just didn’t feel right selling them at full price alongside the other pins that did come out right.

So, Luke and I felt the obvious starting point was to sell these Nearly Perfect Pins and start raising money for Crohn’s research. It is our hope that we would be able to donate at least $1,000 in December 2018 to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. So, starting today, I am selling Nearly Perfect Pins at my Etsy shop and 100% of the profits will go towards a donation we’ll make at the end of the year.

Thank you

Thanks for reading our story and thanks in advance to all of you who choose to pick yourselves up a Nearly Perfect Pin (or two or three!). The money from your purchase will go towards changing people’s quality of life, gaining a better understanding of what causes Crohn’s disease, getting people diagnosed sooner, and finding better treatments.

Click HERE to get your Nearly Perfect Pins today!

Update 8/24/2018: Together you helped us raise and donate $1,040.85 to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Thank you so much for helping us reach our goal in less than three months! Nearly Perfect Pins will now be sold for profit, but be assured that those sales will still be doing good – going towards Luke’s continued medical expenses. We are overwhelmed by your love and support these past few months and can’t thank you enough! ❤ Lauren & Luke

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