The making of an art shop

Opening a little shop on your website, starting a blog, writing a book and learning a new craft, they all have something in common.

They're acts of turning dream into reality.

It's saying yes to a tingling idea, to a longing tugging your heart.
But it's also saying yes to learning to do things you've never done before.

It's sticking with something even when it's hard, confusing, scary and boring.
It's trusting yourself to figure things out along the way.
It's giving your fears and doubts the finger.

It's giving your dream a chance.

The doubts of beginning

When I decided to open an art shop, it was partly because the idea scared me. I knew I'd face resistance and doubt. I knew I would need to push through and stay on the path, even though it'd be hard. I knew what the fear was telling me.

It was telling me that this was something I needed to do.

Fear has a peculiar tendency to show up around the things we long to do, but aren't sure we can. I'm not talking about the life-threatening situations you fear, like snuggling with a shark or jumping out of a plane.

No, I'm talking about the fears where you have mixed feelings, thinking

Oh that'd be so exciting, but I probably can't do it.

I've loved Etsy and similar sites for a long time, but it wasn't until this year that I started toying with the idea of doing something similar. It was the fact that I knew I needed to get comfortable with the idea of selling if I were to be an author, that pushed me over the edge. 

I didn't know if anyone else would be interested in my shop, if I'd even get the chance to sell anything and I didn't know exactly what I needed to do to make it happen. Still, I decided to do it. I would open an art shop, on my website, before 2016 was over.

A decision is a crucial step, because it propels you into the next step: how?

The overwhelm of figuring things out

With everything that demands quite a lot of research and many decisions, it can be overwhelming and hard. Each little part might not be too complex, but together they add up to a what feels like a headache to untangle. 

The overwhelm gives room for your doubts and fears to move in closer, to question whether you're ready, to tell you there's no point in untangling it all, because no one wants what you make anyway.

There's a risk fear takes over and the mess stays untangled.

Here's where we need to keep our eyes on the path. Letting go of the whole picture for a moment and just looking down on our feet, seeing where we'll put down our next step and then our next step.

I used Asana to write down everything I could think of, things I thought I needed to do and things I might want to do. I kept adding to that list, first faster than I crossed things off, but then slowly it stabilized and I started seeing a plan for what it would take to open my shop.

For every project, it'll be different things. In this one, I faced questions like:

  • What do I want to sell in my art shop?
  • What kind of paper quality is good enough for my art prints? 
  • What does a hard envelope weigh?
  • What are the rules for selling from Sweden to the US?
  • What tax rules are applicable to me?
  • What is a reasonable prize of original mini art?

It felt at times much like untangling a mess of yarn.

Slowly following my thread, in and out of the mess, at times impossible to see beyond an inch in front of me, but the more I worked, the more got untangled. And one day I sat there with a neat ball of yarn on my lap. 

I despaired and battled resistance. Deciding to make it happen made me nervous, trying to find the right printing shop made me annoyed and researching exporting rules made me break down and cry because it was so incredibly bureaucratic and badly explained. But through taking small steps and giving it a bit of time, I figured it out. 

If you're doing something like this, know that almost everything can be figured out. It takes time, it's confusing and somewhat exhausting, but it's absolutely doable. And once you figure it out, you don't have to do it again.

The fears of being ready

When launching something, it's easy to want to wait until everything is perfect. Don't.

Now that almost everything is in place to open the doors of my art shop, I find little questions popping into my brain.

Is this it? Can't I do something more to make it better, braver, more me? Isn't something missing?

It's an urge to start over, to have to push the finish line into the future, to a day when I feel more ready. I know these are fears of being done, of saying that this is good enough.

Everything could always be better.

Lack of perfection is not a reason to not put something out into the world. With things you can change after the launch, update, iterate and make better, it's more important to get it out than to make it flawless. You'll never get to perfection anyway, so just make it good.

I'm getting ready for launch with the knowledge that my art shop will change and grow over time. I dream of selling mugs, calendars, notebooks and t-shirts, but I know it'll take just as long if not longer to figure out the right path with those products. I look forward to the evolution of my little shop.

So don't make it perfect. Make it you and make it good enough, then skip the rest. Let go of details that aren't perfect and take the jump. Don't let your fears stop you from going out into the world and saying

Hey, look what I made!