taking care of business

Jennifer day to dayness 3 Comments

Quite often the things I do lack rhyme and reason.

I often allow distractions into my days which tends to see me mostly taking care of the things that are shouting the loudest at the time. A spot of honest and humble apologising usually means that my scattered ways don’t burn too many bridges of me. I always see to it that deadlines are met and t’s get dotted. The variables are what’s left for me to clean up at the end…the clutter towards the edges that slow me from the next task but for the most part I’m alright with that.

With both kids now at high school I’m feeling, on an almost hourly basis, the awkwardness of having not ‘gone back to work’ for the past 16 years in any real 9 to 5, working for the man kind of way. Nearly every other women I know has. They’re now juggling their home, families, careers, groceries, cars and guinea pigs with practiced ease but every time I mention to my husband that I probably should be out there joining my sisters, earning some superannuation, being included in the Melbourne Cup office sweepstakes and morning tea roster he calmly tells me that ‘we’re doing alright’ and that I ‘don’t need to do that’ and that all I really have to do is to ‘do something with your patterns’.

In truth, I know he has good points. We are alright. There isn’t a bailiff knocking on the door asking us to choose between our first born or a kidney (to be honest I’d probably get a good laugh out of watching someone try and drag my 16 year old son anywhere he didn’t want to be!). With hubby travelling for work the way he does trying to manage kids, car, house and guinea pigs (I have no guinea pigs, only a fish tank of goldies, a flock of fabulous urban hens, a slightly round black rabbit and a rather loopy border collie) all on my own would probably send me bonkers in minutes.

So that leaves ‘doing something with my patterns’.

That means trying to understand how to be more businesss-y about the whole kit and caboodle. In the spirit of starting somewhere I’ve thrown myself into the task of finding out how to ‘get myself out there’ via the tried and tested mediums of Facebook, YouTube, talking to friends and the public library. I think grown ups call it marketing? I’m not sure I’m ready to go that far just yet.

I keep coming back to the same point. How on earth can you be seen in the world of makers?

How do you understand the market? Make what people are wanting and still be individual and make the things that feed your soul…? Surely if you’re making things that you love and that make you happy then you’ll make them well and they’ll be desirable? How then do you get across to other people why these things are are important to you in the wink of an eye that you have their attention before they scroll down? It’s proving to be quite the challenge and is taking up a lot of my brain space at the moment.

There are so many makers. From the ‘incredibly talented, gifted and effortless’ makers to the ‘I can’t believe someone thought to make that’ kind of makers and every flavour in between. I should add that I have no idea where in that order I fall…just a few places I’d like to occupy at some point.

In the image heavy world of Instagram and Facebook teamed with the visual gourmet smorgasbord that is Pinterest how do you get your self, your words, your images and creations seen? How do people have the time to stay all over it and completely on top of it? Assuming you do catch the eye of someone, then how do you turn that ‘Oh they’ve seen me! Good-o!’ into the kind of friendly, chatty exchange that I want every purchase from me to be?

How do people get to know, understand and remember what’s special about you?

I know it sounds old fashioned and possibly corny but you see I really care about my patterns, my creations and how my bits and bobs go out into the world. I want to connect with the people who felt connected enough to me to want to own a bit of what I want to do.

The Little Bush Princess’s dance school started the fresh new year with a stated list of qualities that their teacher wanted parents and students to know and understand about the school the girls were attending. The points covered things like the non-competitive nature of the school (yay!), the sense of accomplishment that they hoped every child would attain during their time dancing with them, the age appropriateness of costumes the children would wear (double yay!) and the high expectation of standards of dress and conduct that are woven into every class and activity.

It started me thinking about what I want people to know about what I do. How much do people understand about me and what I do when they’re following so many other people and it’s so easy to get lost in such a cluttered world? How do you help people understand such things in such a small window of time? I’m yet to figure that one out.

So in attempt to put something out into the world about what I do…here’s a little bit about me and some of the bits of Frazzy Dazzles that are really important to me and why.

I want people to know…that I feel a tingle in the centre of my chest or a catch in my breathing when I think I have a character idea that will really work…and if I think I can make an idea work then I’ll chase it and tweak it and tickle it until I prove otherwise. I rejoice over ideas that I can include and lament those that I need to leave out of a design to make it work. My beloved Fly Boy is an example of an idea that just had to be sewn. I know he first appeared a few years ago but from the moment I picked up a pencil to scratch out the little penguin who had been waddling through my head for a few days onto the back of an old envelope I knew I would find him and love him…and I do.

I want my designs to have an wholesomeness and an honesty. I want them to draw your eye but more than that I want them to be interactive. I want them to be playable and to arrive into the hands of their new owners with the hint of the game to come. Something that can be built on and grown.

I want that Raccoon to have a sack full of fun stuff that you can take in and out. I want him to be able to hold his hands together…himself. I don’t want you to have to do it for him. I want my work to have humour built in. A real Australian humour where possible. That’s why he’s called ‘Robbie the Raccoon’…but he also needed a strong thread of innocence to counterbalance the idea that he’s taking what isn’t his. He doesn’t steal jewellery or your Nan’s best silver candle sticks. He swipes your hundreds and thousand covered treasures (and he doesn’t even care if they’re not fresh!) and just hopes that his mum never finds out because she doesn’t like him eating all that sugar. He’s a just a scamp at heart and means no harm.

I want Tulliver to have all he needs to spend a day in the wild and for your imagination to take him there. I needed to figure out how he could still have his shell…but have a shirt that could be removable or else the inherent humour in ‘a tortoise wearing a turtleneck’ would have been lost for me.

I thought I was soooo witty when I came up with that backpack shell! It doesn’t take much to make me feel witty I have to say. Then the question arose…why wear a backpack at all? What would he put in it? Why would he need to take things with him?

At that point he became a rambler, a wanderer, a chap who had all the time in the world to see the world. A sensible soul that would always make sure that he had a sustaining sandwich for such an adventure, a camera to capture every wren and a trusty map to make sure he made it home in time for dinner…his mum is waiting.

I want you to look at Franklin Fox and know that he has skinny arms and legs because the poor chap doesn’t always get to eat. Not everyone does…but he has a big belly tonight because luck was on his side and he’s celebrating by telling his children thrilling ducking and diving tales of living by your wits with his quacking and hopping puppets (a bit macabre…but funny yes?).

I want there to be a comfort to be in my designs. I want the little girl who finds it hard to leave her mum to tuck Waddles into Foxy’s coat and know that she’s safe and sound there just like she is, even if her mum is out at the shops.

I want the little girl who’s in year five at school and who is almost ready to stop playing dolls like some of her friends did years ago to be gifted a little Tuppence and Tilly for Easter, made by her Grandmother as one last trophy from someone who was also a little girl who played dolls for just that little bit longer than her friends. A dolly wearing Bilby that can stand as a talisman to the love a child can give her toys long after Baby Alive has been tucked into a box.

If you buy one of my Lovey Dogs or one of my dolls I want you to know that they were designed for my children to play with and that the original prototypes still sit on beds in my house…even on the bed of the strapping 16 year old boy who could fend off the bailiffs if they ever chose to call.

I want stores to know that I’m heart beat missing-ly frightened when I get a big order to fill followed instantly by an overwhelming sense of success and thankfulness that other people believe in my critters enough to want to share them with the world too.

I want people who purchase my PDF’s from my store to know that it means the absolute world to me that they found me in the sea of makers and seller…and then they liked my work enough to want to make a little bit of it for themselves.

I want people who comment on my posts to know that at the first chance I will reply to their comments because they are so important to me and I want to acknowledge the time you’ve taken to leave them.

I want to write patterns using materials that people can realistically source and that will give you a good finish. I want to use words that you will understand in sentences that aren’t too long and to somehow manage to get into words the things my hands just do without sounding silly or like a know it all. The whole time I’m doing this I’m also hoping, hoping, hoping that that’s the worst I could come across as.

Oh…and the fear I fear above all others of there being a mistake in a pattern. I endlessly plot ways to minimise the chances of this happening. I delay releasing patterns just in case I missed something. It keeps me awake at night…even though I know there will always be mistakes because that’s just how things seem to work out for me…sigh.

I guess what I want you to know that if you prefer your Christmas reindeer caught up in the festive lights because they weren’t put away properly last year or your camping polar bears to use sleeping bags and a dome tent while fending off frost bite with a sensible hot water bottle then please think of me.

Or if you prefer your penguins with a dash or Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith’s aeronautical daring and your little girl beavers to wear a floral bathing cap and need a ducky floaty ring to stay near mum while she works on the lodge then maybe I’m the designer to pop back in and check on from time to time?

If I’m asking you to stop by again sometime then I guess that’s me putting myself out there and asking you if you’d like to be my friend? That’s me stepping out from behind all of my threads and stuffing. That’s me not hiding behind soft, fuzzy, warm make-y/dreamy thoughts and trying to make myself seen even though, the honest truth is that I’m the kind of person who will always stand at the edge of a crowd. I will listen and let others speak. I will retreat rather than advance. My natural happy place is in the thinking and the adding, the refining and the finishing.

I don’t want to have the most likes in the world, the most followers in my field or the sale numbers that dreams are made of. My Instagram page won’t be filled with white backgrounds and purely ‘Frazzy Dazzles stuff’. It will include my kids back to school photographs. My chicken’s grazing under the trampoline and what baking experiment I’m torturing my family with today shots.

You’ll get the lot because the umbrella of ‘Frazzy Dazzles’ is where I let the characters in my imagination out and share the stuff that interests, enriches, builds me up and makes me what I am. It’s where i put the things that I want to share with people who ‘get me’ and who look forward to seeing what else I have to offer.

So on that note I’m off to re-organise that to-do list I’m working on. I need it to be in order so I can get some work done…for me!

Happy Wednesday x

Comments 3

  1. Karen Mitchell

    Hi that was lovely & gave us an insight into yourself,
    I wish you the best of luck you have something very different & unique x

  2. Rachel

    I love your characters and I am itching to make some of them. I wish I had more time and money to buy and make many more of them too. I follow you on instagram and it is kind of nice to see glimpses of the maker of all these wonderful characters. I love to see your sketches and watercolours too. I think when you asked for pattern testers it was the only time I wished I still lived in Bathurst instead of sunny north Queensland as I would have so loved to be able to help you out with that. I would be honoured to be considered your friend and I often talk to my sewing friends about your wonderful patterns, maybe one day I will talk them into stepping out of their comfort zone and trying to make something a little different! Have a great weekend

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