This post may contain affiliate links ... What? I have to fund curriculum somehow ... OK, and the occasional Lily's bar.
A few years ago the children finished their curriculum for the year early. Three months early. Three months before it was in the budget to purchase new curriculum. While trying to figure out how to pay for it, I decided that we would give Etsy and Craft Shows a chance. At first it was a major flop. We had prayed, we put a lot of effort and time into it. Then, slowly our little fundraiser started to take off and somehow without us even really realizing it we had a full-fledged business on our hands. As we tried to balance school and business, the business started to take more and more of our time. We were getting school done, but it has never been my desire to just get school done. I've always purposed not to rush, rather savor life and our time together.
I found out that "success" meant spending often times more than FIVE HOURS A WEEK merely shipping sold items, dragging my babies to get shipping supplies, packaging orders, and standing in line at the post office. All to make a $2 profit. For a while I told myself that it was a good experience for them, it was part of their education ... how many elementary school students had the opportunity to have a hand in making things from scratch and sending them all over the globe? I was getting 2 hours of sleep per night, but I just kept telling myself that it was only until we saved enough to move to a house with more room and were better able to build up inventory and shipping supplies to be efficient with our time.
Then, everything started to break. I do mean everything. My Silhouette needed a new cutting strip (regular maintenance that I hadn't expected but I was using my machine so much more than normal that it just crept up on me), the air condition in our van broke, the air conditioning in the house broke, the dishwasher broke, the van broke completely, the washing machine broke, the power cord for the Silhouette was mysteriously ripped in two, my printer broke, the van broke again, the washing machine broke, the van broke again (and three months later is still broken).
My production time slowed waaaay down. Soon, even ready to sell items were delayed because I had no way to get out to get shipping supplies and we don't have room to store any in bulk and I had no way to the post office. I let customers down. I let myself down. I missed paid for markets and craft fairs.
Not wanting to give up, I tried my best to get everything out and devised a plan to only make items that used like shipping materials that were easier to store. That still didn't work well. During one of the times that my van was "fixed" I was making a huge run to the post office and the van broke again with everything inside which ended up never making it to the post office.
Defeated and not wanting to let anyone else down, I decided to only offer digital items. I even went as far to ask for volunteers in my Facebook Group who were willing to share family photos to in exchange for free Christmas card designs.
Then, suddenly my laptop wouldn't start. It was nine months old and under warranty so I sent it to be fixed. The entire hard drive was completely wiped clean. Gone. Poof. All of my designs. Everything. I couldn't even follow through with digital promises.
Finally, my laptop is back to me and I'm starting from scratch. I have six people waiting on orders and hope to have them recreated and in the mail by next Tuesday.
This time off has made me realize just how much time we were spending on the business and while each of us did enjoy it, we desperately needed this time to focus, to bring our family back to the basics. We were beginning to lose touch with what our main goal was. How on earth did we go from trying to fund curriculum to trying to fund a new house? We will fulfill our remaining obligations and take most of the rest of the year off. We love creating so may do one show in December, but only if we feel we have enough inventory ahead of time while still sleeping a decent amount at night and enjoying our days together.
Thank you so much for sticking with me and for those that were praying; You will never know how much it means to me.
(Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links ... what? I need to fund the curriculum budget somehow!)