Date with Kate: Creative Funks and How to Shake Them
Oh Hey, Hi, Hello.
This is our first installment of Date with Kate, an unending blog series that I'm starting so that I don't sit in my shower and cry about things that I can’t control. Or so that I can feel important even though I know I’m not. Real professional, right? Long story short, this will basically be a brain dump every time I have thoughts on a subject that are too strong for me to keep to myself. Which, now that I say that, may be dangerous. You’re basically going to learn a lot about how I view the world (or parts of it), so if I ever end up on the wrong side of a serial killer interview Netflix special, you’ll understand my motives.
Today, we’re talking Creative Funks. My goal is to always be as transparent as I can be (within reason). Anyone who knows me understands that I am an open book. All you have to do is ask.
When you’re a small business, it’s actually the easiest thing you can do. Just quit.
Recently, I was in a funk so deep, I nearly threw in my towel. That sounds dramatic as hell, but I’m not lying. I am many, many things, but a liar is not one of them. It’s not hard to get to that point either. When you’re a small business, it’s actually the easiest thing you can do. Just quit. Just stop existing as a business entity and never worry about it again. Obviously, I didn’t do that, but oh was it temping.
We had our most successful holiday season yet in 2018, largely attributed to the *insane* community of St. Louis and the friends I've made along the way. You’re all crazy and I want to hug your faces off for keeping me so busy. But what goes up must always come down, and for us, most of the time hitting the bottom means we’re going through growing pains.
You know the ones. They’re the issues that are immediately followed by a well-meaning person saying, “But that’s a good problem to have.” Or the ones where you catch yourself feeling guilty about because you should be happy about reaching this goal but the flip side of it kind of… really sucks. A lot.
Our website was that for us, more specifically, switching hosts. I talk more about that in this blog post so I won’t bore you with it. We were just so excited to be able to move our business to its own optimized platform only to have it suck all of the joy from any spare second of time I had for three months. Not to mention we did it at a time in the year when consumers stop purchasing across all markets, not just winter knitwear. Normally I could ride the high of someone wanting to spend their hard-earned money on something I created with my bare hands through anything… But I didn’t even have that to carry me through the frustration.
Because as a creative, as someone in this business, I should have thicker skin, right?
The post-holiday crash is hard, guys. So incredibly hard. Mix this with a couple of non-profitable markets at the start of the year and you have yourself a shit-storm of self-deprecation and, dare I say, anger. Not at anyone other than myself, mind you. Because as a creative, as someone in this business, I should have thicker skin, right? I should expect to invest time and money and tears and be glad I even got to do it in the first place, right? I should be a fountain of one incredible idea after the other and if I’m not then I don’t belong here, right? I should be nothing but grateful for a person who wants what I offer but at half the price because at least THEN I know it’s true value, right?
But do you think I (or, frankly, every single entrepreneur that I know) allowed myself to accept that? Not quite. It’s okay for these things to frustrate the ever-living hell out of me. What’s not okay is if I allow myself to succumb to all of the nasty things I tell myself after things go wrong.
Instead of throwing all of my knitting supplies out in the backyard and dousing it with lighter fluid while I tossed lit match on top of it so I could watch as my dreams burst into flames, I just decided to make something for me. Not just any something, though. Something that was big enough that I could feel super proud of myself for, but also wouldn’t take me too long to make because I needed immediate satisfaction or I was going to spiral.
So I made myself a sweater (Ski Lodge Sweater by ErinBethCrochet) and felt like all was right in the world. I could finally chill out long enough to not sink into existential dread every time I looked at a pair of knitting needles.
After coming out on the other side of this, I realized I have three ways in which I manage to pull myself out of these holes.
- Change your scenery- Get out of your routine and just do something you wouldn’t normally do. I don’t care if it’s skydiving or going grocery shopping on a Tuesday instead of a Thursday. Putting yourself in different situations exposes you to experiences you may miss otherwise. Since I am as Type A as they come, it’s normally my Type B husband that has to really coax me out of my every day happenings.
- Do something else for a few days- Since I need to use two hands to knit and still haven’t figured out how to magically grow a third, I very rarely read actual books anymore. So when I get the itch to just quit, I put down my needles for a couple of days and read in my spare time instead. Doing this before I go to bed not only helps me fall asleep faster, but also keeps me from having stress dreams about whatever I was working on before my head hit the pillow. Let's just say I've had my fair share of sweat inducing market nightmares (think someone getting upset and throwing their drink on my knitwear) and knitting mishaps (where I made all child-size hats for an entire adult wholesale order). I'M STRESSED OK
- Make something for yourself that requires no brain power- Sure, you can really test your skills and make something just for you that you wouldn’t ever even think of offering for your business. If it were me, this would look like making a cable knit sweater without a pattern. Just making shit up as I go so that it is totally unique and I would never make a second one again because I didn’t write down instructions (this has happened on more than one occasion, mind you). For all of my currently offered products, I haven’t used a previously made pattern to create those. They’re just from my brain. But remember, the goal is to not think about it and just be able to do it. So instead of winging a sweater that I would have to swatch, measure gauge, do the math, and probably never finish because it was too much work, I decided to support another artist in the community who had already done all of that work for me. Not only do you help yourself, but you also give that person the credit they deserve for creating something you would want to make.
While I'm sure these are not novel ideas and they're scattered all over the internet in creative guides and whatnot, they have all worked for me in the past! Have any other tips? Or maybe you have your own stress dreams we want to try and decipher? Leave a comment or message us on Instagram (@knitologyco).