And now, finally, I had the chance to just enjoy this very moment.
'See, five years ago, I mustered up the courage to open an Etsy shop and list one of the doll fashions I was very proud to make - the sassy romper.
|That first romper I made, modeled by my friend's Barbie Fashionista doll|
Fast forward to this day, all I can feel is pure joy - for having braved miniature clothing making, for the people around me, physically and virtually (that's you) who never fail to inspire me every single day. It has been a rewarding experience - so many lessons were learned, so many parts of me that had been discovered and rediscovered, many many doll clothes shared with you guys, and so many stories told on this blog, and to my social media sites.
I wanted to have like a small cupcake and a cup of tea to celebrate it, solemnly and just close my eyes and take a deep breath but I already brushed my teeth (and ready to sleep soon) haha! So I guess, I just want to pretty much share with you how I feel and how happy I am to be where I am today.
I would remember the first few months getting discouraged - for my first three months, I only had 3 sales. So I consulted my fellow-Etsians and asked if they can take a look at my shop for things to improve. Turned out, I had so much to learn and I'm never gonna forget the very helpful community over at the Etsy forums. Things like having a clean photo background, and SEO-tight product descriptions are two that I have taken action right away. This was my ticket to being found. After those three months, I persisted despite still not getting good sales. I just continued making stuff and learning the ropes - reading everything about running an online shop, to squeezing in designing and sewing doll clothes during weeknights and weekends. I never complained because I was learning so much - the learning will already suffice. I think to learn is to live best. And creating is learning.
I started blogging my journey (though I was still too shy to share) in January 2012, hoping to communicate with the doll community. I started commenting and dropping hello's in my favorite blogs. It sure inspires you to see other people do stuff similar to yours - it validates your being weird to your physical surrounding. People around me would say "because she doesn't have a daughter to dress up so she sorts to dolls", or give me weird looks. The virtual doll community gives you the home you need. This blog, and my blog circle is my virtual dolly home.
Aside from the blogosphere, I also enjoy hanging out over at Flickr, which is just as inspiring! It opened the doors to doll photography. This made me realize that having a clear photo of my handmades is not enough, and that in doll photography, the doll has to have some kind of attitude to be able to present your garment well. During those days, I would just browse through the beautiful images to enjoy and to learn at the same time.
I also joined doll forums, some of which are already now defunct. I read every single article Shugashug had and it really saddened me that she took the blog down - I have learned so much about the Integrity dolls from her. Glad though she's starting to get active again at Flickr and that her early years of blogging at wordpress is still intact.
I also stayed connected with the fashion world by continuing my subscription to Vogue US. Just looking through the pages (so relaxing...), makes me feel like I am also living in the fashion world haha!
It was in 2012 that I started releasing collections, and that the shop is starting to get noticed. One of my first few clients is doll photographer Michaela Unbehau who brought out the best in my simple doll clothings with her gorgeous Fashion Royalty dolls. Later during that year, published author Debbie Behan Garrett of Black Doll Collecting bought tunics and leggings from me and spread the word about my creations. I am most thankful to both who helped my creations be known to the rest of the wonderful community during my early years.
It was quite a slow year for the shop in 2013 when I cropped off some dolly time to go back to illustration. I have always drawing/illustration in my heart and I want to start over again so that in time, I can do both doll clothes making and illustration to be my profession. I'm still working on that dream, but I am so glad that in 2014 I went back to focusing on clothes. This led me to acquiring more skills to strengthen my brand, and to eventually quit my 9-5 job by the end of that year.
Since then, I have been running my shop every single day at the atelier, or should I say, my makeshift workshop. I was like a gypsy, moving from different parts of the house, and finally settled here in a dark room, but makes for a great place to focus on work. The past one year and eight months of having to rely on the shop's income is one heck of a journey. Aside from technical knowledge, I learned so much about myself, and natural resources like time and energy - something I thought I'd have limitless supply of. I have started learning time management the way I wanted to. I started learning management in the area I am so excited about. I started to acknowledge that self-control is freedom.
I actually don't know what this post is all about, but I just want to write what I think right now. I hope that in some way, you have arrived at this part and celebrated with me my 5th year anniversary as a shop owner, among the other hats I wear over at atelierniSHASHA. Thank you so so much, and as we click our imaginary champagne glasses, or tea cups, I hope that in the next 5 more years, I could still write something like this, and we could still click the glasses tee hee... I'm not really a good writer so please bear with my meh writing.. also I'm just really trying to enjoy the moment, despite being too sleepy already haha! Again, thank you so so much for everything. You being here means so much to me.
Before I hit the sack now, let me share with you that I will pop a post sometime over the weekend for an exciting stuff. Stay tuned then, eh? Okay, I really gotta go. I'm sure I'll have an excited kind of post sometime, but for now, I just gotta sleep. In fact, I'll publish this now and edit off the errors tomorrow morning.. LOL!
Chat with you again, loves!