{Inspiration is all around you.}

I was just a small town boy. Sure, I had an adventurous spirit, probably more adventurous than most. My view of the world, though, was small in scope…

wedding-gussy-sews

^ from our wedding day, June, 7th 2008

Sure, I thought it would be cool to move to a big city and experience that side of life, but I never thought I would. Yes, I dreamed of working in film production, but real film production? I assumed Hollywood wasn’t in the cards for me. I thought it would be cool to experience a new culture some day. I never thought we’d see Africa though. To meet a real Maasai tribesman face to face and talk to them. I wanted to have a family that’s adventurous and passionate. To be perfectly honest though, I figured settling for less is just what people do. 

[Read more…]

{Handmade Husband >> Work From Home Survival Guide}

THE MOLD OF THE AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN BROKEN. Many SAHW’s {stay at home wives} I know have found their way into a business of one sort or another, or are running their household in new, more productive ways. I think to myself, people have not suddenly needed less sleep over the last 50 years, so how are people hammering through more and more all the time, especially when they still are relying solely on themselves for their motivation?

Now, I don’t personally work from home, but my wife and best friend does. And she texts me a lot. ;) I haven’t done extensive research, but I think the more regular needs that she comes across, and how we figure them out together, might be pretty common. Let me just list off a few of the things I text back to her that she tends to benefit from when the day is trying to get the best of her.

 

5 WORK FROM HOME SURVIVAL TIPS:

“Do your hair” — When you wake up, get totally ready to your expectations. Of course it’s your house, and you can do what you want, but often if you don’t feel pretty, you can easily feel sluggish and sleepy. I know that if you-know-who’s having a bad hair day, I say “get back in the shower and try again”. If she doesn’t feel like she’s looking her best, it’s on her mind all day. As cute as that is, this mind-occupant can actually hurt her efficiency and creativity.  

“Make a list.” — Are you overwhelmed with all the things you need to do? I tell Maggie all the time that those tasks take a lot less space on paper than they do in her head. And the same applies to you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a memory champion… If you occupy all your brainpower trying to remember tasks, you never have your full thinking capacity at your disposal. Try this for four days, and try to tell me I’m not right :)

“A motivation snag! Run away!” — Certain things will take you by surprise. “Oh no, someone is copying my product or blog posts.” Send a quick cease and desist, realize how flattered you should be, and start the next item on your list. Yep, bad things happen. Those things, however, do ten times more damage to your business if your stress grinds your productivity to a halt.  

“Get out” — Get some fresh air, and do something for yourself. The whole world gets a lunch break; so do you. You don’t necessarily have to go buy an eight dollar mocha, but you do need to see people, and breathe outdoor air. This starves off depression, fuels inspiration, and gets your body feeling good. Maggie’s way to do this? Walk with Bauer to the corner store and buy a can of Coke. $1, fresh air, a satisfied (and less needy) pup, rejuvenated inspiration. But ZACK, you tell me, I have kids! Take them for a walk, too. They will get exercise, they will learn, they will get time to talk to mom, they will feel loved, and they will feel satisfied when you get home.

“Clock out” — The workday is long enough. When you have no time-card to stamp, it’s easy to find one more thing to accomplish before the day is done. Especially when you’re very passionate about your craft. While starting a business necessitates long hours, your family and your body need to recharge before diving in again. Maggie loves to sew, and loves to write, but if she writes too much today, her body will have a harder time writing tomorrow. Make sure to pick a time of day to call it quits, and stick to it. For Maggs, that means 6pm ~ once she starts dinner.

 

* * *

Do you use any of these strategies? I would love to hear your thoughts on these in the comments.

If you’d like this column to continue, please send me questions. Write me at zack@gussysews.com with “DEAR ZACK” in the subject, and your question could be featured, helping others.

{Handmade Husband, a new series}

Friends, I have something so exciting to share with you today!!! Zack, my hubby, and I have been working on an idea for this blog ~ a monthly (bi-monthly?) column called Handmade Hubby, written by Zack himself. We’re both super ecstatic about this and the opportunities it will bring to this community. Our goal is to bless others and spend some time each month discussing what questions and/or dilemmas you have regarding handmade/indie biz and then offering our experience + feedback through a follow-up blog post. It’s going to be amazing! Read on for a little background on our marriage, experience and then Zack’s vision for Handmade Husband. [xoxo]

* * *

Hi, I’m Zack. I’m the guy that proposed at the cottage. I’m the guy that took us to Detroit for great work. I’m the guy that told our teary-eyed parents, “We have to move out of the state.” I’m the guy that helped carry home the thirty library books. By 2009, Maggie and I had experienced a lot for our age {24}. What followed was a series of answered prayers, hard lessons, goal-setting, and goal-accomplishing. We’ve been put through the wringer, and it’s just shown us what we we’re capable of. I’m the husband that has been next to Maggie all along, and today I write my first post.

This column will be one in which I offer a man’s/husband’s perspective on this business, what works for us, and practical business talk. I’ll answer questions from readers in the hopes that I can help you, as the entrepreneur, to succeed in an industry that’s far from traditional. I am a logical business man that regularly helps to coordinate big money and creative professionals, marketing, and entrepreneurship. I’m a blogger’s husband, and proud supporter of the handmade community smart entrepreneurs.

The reason I am a handmade husband is because I believe that what Maggie’s doing, if done right, is the right way to go about life. Right now, there is a big movement of “YAY, totally quit your job and do what you LOVE!!!” While I believe this is wonderful in theory, I also know that it’s not actually that simple. People who pursue their passions are admirable, but it’s the people that can pay the bills with their passion that are the real heroes.

When Maggie came home from her (well-paying, great benefits) career occupation one evening and said, “I have to get out of that job.” We had a serious discussion. I knew that she was miserable at work (albeit thankful), and she wanted Gussy to be her life. I knew what she wanted, but I was skeptical. I wasn’t sure if the handmade business world had a proven profitable track record, and neither did Maggie. Like any smart business person, I didn’t shut down the idea, but set outlines for what it would take for her dream to gain my approval.

Now wait just a minute! In today’s society, can’t a woman do whatever she darn well pleases, regardless of whether she has her husband’s “approval” or not?! My answer to that is of course she can, but families that believe in and support each other get a great deal farther in life. Sometimes you have to put in the work to get all parties on board, but it’s important. This topic could warrant its own post, but I digress…

Maggie asked me when I thought she could do it. Together we sat down, ran some numbers and came up with solid sales figures and a savings goal that needed to be met before she could leave her proofreading position. She worked hard, long hours. She put her head down and muscled through, like a business owner should. When that day came, when we had saved that money and attained that level of sales success, we were both so ecstatic for the future. She’d won me over.

Multiple times every week we arrange to sit and talk about the business. In these Gussy Meetings (super clever name, I know) I ask questions, listen, offer any applicable knowledge I have, and listen some more. We brainstorm over issues that need solving, decisions that need to be made, and what steps we can take to improve the business. This time together is not only good for Gussy Sews, but it’s quality time, and it’s good for us.

I’ve come to the conclusion that, in the world of handmade, there are three different kinds of husbands:

  • Closed-minded skeptic: The most common variety. Their fear of the unknown––or perhaps their intimate knowledge of the difficulties ahead––paralyze their support. They want no part in this, and would prefer you just drop it. This guy is often smart, but worried. He’s not sure that the potential payoff would be worth the risk. This is where you have to shine. Do the research (check out 100 books if you have to), make a plan, talk to people who know more about it than you do. Your hard work won’t likely go unnoticed. If he offers advice, listen, it means he’s coming around.
  • Overly-optimistic #1 fan: Some guys are so ready for a change that they’ll jump at anything. There were times when the dissatisfaction that Maggie was feeling at work really just made me want her to get out of there, despite the financial implications. This attitude is great emotional support, but be careful here. You need to do your research, and you need to share it with him. He may be ready for you to dive into entrepreneurship today, but if you want to succeed, you both need to understand how it will affect your life.
  • Somewhere in between lies a husband who is just perfect, although they rarely start that way: It takes a lot to win over the skeptic, or wake up the optimist, but if this entrepreneurial life is really what you want, keep up the good work and your husband will land here.

 

I know it’s not always a husband… Many of you might be single and trying to figure this out on your own. Maybe your parents need convincing? Maybe you’re looking for investors? Either way, just remember that the principles of doing your research and arming yourself with the support of talented people will always help.

Please — tell me your thoughts in the comments. Does your husband need more convincing? Have you been through this and have advice for everyone else? If you’d like this column to continue, please send me questions. Write me at zack@gussysews.com with “DEAR ZACK” in the subject, and your question could be featured, helping others.

[photo sources: first, prudent baby; second, freya]