Rainy days when you have dogs basically consist of this cycle all day long:
Rainy days when you have dogs basically consist of this cycle all day long:
One of the realities of being an artist/designer/maker is that in order to sell your work, you have to put yourself out there. In putting yourself out there, you have to be ready to face rejection. The more you put yourself out there, the more chances of selling your work but the more rejection you will have to face. It’s just the way it goes. I’ve discussed with many friends in similar businesses how when they pitch, how often do they never hear back, get rejected and sell and it seems we all have pretty similar experiences. The majority of the time, the process goes like this: you gather a list of stores, editors or whomever and spend a few hours emailing say 10 people (I am using this number for ease of math). Then you usually follow up 2 weeks later with anyone you did not hear back from. Typically you will get a reply from 1 or 2 of the emails over all. Most likely not a straight sale, but at least 1 really promising lead. Maybe 2 more “love it, but not right now” replies and the rest are rejections…almost always by lack of response. To receive 2 replies from 10 pitches within a few weeks of the 1st email seems to be a pretty great rate and what I hope for.
Recently, after a round of follow up emails which contained what I thought was a pretty tight and quick sentence and the original email below, I had responses unlike any other round of pitching. Within 2 hours, I heard back from over 25% of the list. I don’t think I’ve ever heard back from anyone that fast! 1 loved the jewelry, but the store was full, so she added me to her prospects list (this is a solid lead, I can now follow up again with new line sheets when I have a new collection coming out). 5 let me know that I was not a right fit, which is solid feedback, as I was pitching somewhat blindly around the country with only their websites to give me an idea of their style. And 1 gave me the email of the new buyer as she was no longer that person. Besides still being in shock over over how fast so many replies came in, I was also amazed that I was actually excited to get 5 rejection emails. So much of the time you just throw yourself out there and get nothing back, it felt kind of sweet that 5 people took the time to send a quick note letting me know that it was “not me, but them”.
I found myself thinking about how I would have viewed this situation over a decade ago when I first began Manic Trout. I probably would have felt discouraged, although I would have eventually shaken it off (obviously, as I’m still doing this years later). I would not have seen it as such a positive thing though. Now I look at the 5 emails where someone took the time to reply and thought, wow, at least they didn’t just ignore the email and move on. That’s great. I also took it as an indication that this round of follow up emails had a wording and tactic should be used again and maybe the day of the week and time sent were also good for catching shop owners at a time when they can sit down and actually read and reply to emails. All great pieces of information for the next round of follow-ups which I will be doing very soon.
Somewhat along these lines, this weekend I was chatting with a few girlfriends who own businesses and we were talking about there is really no such thing as a “big break”. You need to be constantly hustling, pushing, pitching and trying to get your product and brand out there. It will never end, but it doesn’t have to make you feel bad when you are rejected for trying something. I have been trying hard to get over the fear of approaching people I have no connection to. It’s more a desire to not annoy them than it is of rejection, but so often, I will hold back from reaching out. Understanding that I have something to offer them, that they need products to sell, pitch and use has been helpful in getting over this weird block. It’s also been bringing great opportunities to the table. Having a thick skin in business is essential for sure, but sometimes it takes time to toughen. It only toughens if you keep you trying and failing though. I will sign off the same why I started off, with wise words from Michael Jordan: “I can accept failure, but I can’t accept not trying.”
Having an online business for more than decade has been a constant exercise in learning and adjusting to new technology. I’m usually pretty quick to accept and adapt, with of course a few exceptions (SnapChat). More often than not, the advancements improve things and I get used to them so fast that I never look back (MySpace). The one exception to this is what has happened to blogs. I started reading blogs close to when they began, back in the livejournal “emo” days of blogging. I started my own blog in the early 2000’s, although thanks to many platform changes, I have no record of anything before 2006 (thank goodness). Besides changing platforms, I have had a handfuls of URLs, names and topics I covered, but I have for the most part just done it because I like to write. About a year ago, you may remember that I decided to finally split the Manic Trout blog off and regrouped as a “life style” blog so that I wasn’t hurting the brand by rambling on about things like deep thoughts and exercise.
Well, when this happened, I began spending more time thinking about what I wanted to write here than actually posting. I thought a great deal about how blogs have become mini magazines. I thought about that I did not want to write articles that fit in with an editorial calendar. That this was a space that I intentionally kept removed from business simply because I enjoyed writing as a hobby. I then started to get really upset because I noticed in my own blog reader, where I gather and read my favorite blogs, that all of the bloggers whom I have followed for years and years because I loved their writing, had stopped blogging. Mainly because they were tired of having to integrate products into their posts in order to earn a living writing, and because oddly, most people who read blogs complain about them doing this. (which is wildly unfair by the way, if you want to read free content, then you have to deal with ads, or your are literally starving bloggers). But they also stopped due to their own burn out over writing constantly on such specific topics. SO anyway, this made me feel like blogging was dead as I knew and loved it and I didn’t really know what to do about this. I am a tiny bit comforted in knowing that I am not alone in these feelings though. The biggest testament to this is the Times article written almost exactly one year ago today.
In the midst of all of these feels, three different people sent me messages that they loved to read what I wrote. This made me fee warm and fuzzy inside and again remind myself that I really enjoy writing and in this non business space, I can do whatever I want. I do not have to have a topic that I obsess over and focus on, that if I want, I can just ramble on. This is not a monotized blog, I have no one to really answer to, so here I am, returning to ramble mode and sharing my thoughts as they tumble out. If however, you take away one important thought from this post, it’s that I miss the bloggers who wrote for the sake of writing, whose words I read every day for so many years that I still crave their thoughts, and I swear that there is an emptiness in the bloggersphere without them.
Before I sign off, I want to share this info graphic that I found about the evolution of bloggers, as it illustrates this evolution so well is cute.
It’s time again for one of my favorite days of the year, the launch date of one of the quarterly collections from Manic Trout! The FW15 Collection has launched and it’s lovely. Featuring 24 pieces, this collection is one part animal statement jewelry and one part gemstone statement jewelry, both parts including 4 necklaces, 4 bracelets and 4 pairs of earrings. The pieces work together as sets or as separates depending on how you like to wear your jewelry.
As promised, I designed half of this collection for the animal jewelry fans and I hope these pieces will delight you! I decided that the animal bracelets in particular needed some love and I love the results. I also tried something new with this collection and designed corresponding earrings that can pair with the necklaces and/or bracelets. I put more thought into this collection than any other I had designed before and hope that my attention to the little details have brought to life the things that I have found Manic Trout customers to both love and request.
The second half of the collection continues in the direction that I have been going in with designs that particularly have work in mind. Women spend so much of their lives in their work attire, and they should have beautiful, well made, unique jewelry that they love to wear be a part of that! I have found that statement jewelry is the perfect solution for providing basic outfits with a boost of high style. Especially ideal for the in-betweens of life such as work, formal luncheons and dinners, weddings, fundraisers and well, you get the idea, it’s what you wear when you’re not lounging at home or attending formal balls. I designed the Different Colors collection to be easy to wear, yet luxurious in it’s color combinations and the gemstones each piece is made from. The free form cut of the larger stones lends a beautiful organic element to the classic style and makes each piece as unique as the women who wear them. The pieces work as well on their own as they do worn as a set and can be mixed and matched if preferred.
Thank you for learning about the FW15 Collection from Manic Trout! To celebrate the launch, please enjoy 20% off the collection September 1st & 2nd with fw15firstdibs at checkout. To stay up to date on what is going in at Manic Trout, be sure to connect on Facebook and Instagram.
Whew, what a month August has been! I took most of July and all of this month off from blogging because, well, I blog as a hobby so I can. I tried my best to enjoy summer and among other things, even took a mini vacation to the beach…I’m so proud of myself! I missed writing here terribly though, so I hope to be present in this space as much as possible this fall. I am starting with my favorite post to share…what I’ve been reading. Because if you hadn’t figured it out by now, I love nothing better than a really great book.
1. Big Cherry Holler by Adriana Trigiani. I discovered while reading Big Cherry Hollar earlier this year, that the book was part of a series. I however became a bit confused and bought the 3rd book next and when I climbed into bed to read it, I was so very sad. I ordered the 2nd book (this one) from my phone and thanks to prime, was reading it in two days. These books are like dessert. Really yummy and in the moment you justify that you can live on nothing but them forever. But afterwards you feel a bit guilty and your blood sugar spikes, so you immediately crave some veggies to balance yourself out.
2. Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese. This book would be the veggies. Somehow in the past few years, I have been drawn to books that are called “magical”. I’m not sure how this has come to be, but this is one of those books. Its incredibly well written and carries you through a winding story that enraptures you the entire time. Highly recommended but magical? Not sure.
3. Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison. Invisible Man was one of my favorite book in high school, so naturally, I was drawn to the second and last novel by Ellison, published after his death. I have carried it around with me for years and finally decided to dive in…on June 19th. Because I’m sassy like that. In typical Ellison fashion, the descriptive writing style both brings the imagery form the book to life, but also drags a bit in places. I’m glad I finally made the time to read it. It’s sort of like crossing a book of my bucket list.
4. Sea Glass by Anita Shreve. Admittedly I had to flip though the book to remember what it was about. Granted, I read it in June, but still…the others all flooded back in seconds of glancing at their covers. Lets just chalk it up to a beach read and not dwell on it, there are 7 other books on this page you could read instead.
1. Music for Torching by A.M. Holmes. I need to preface this by saying that Holmes is one of my favorite authors, but her books are deeply disturbing. I recall a book of hers I read when I was 19 so vividly, that I still talk about how much it disturbed me regularly. Reading this book, I asked myself constantly why I would put myself though the trauma of her books, but you would have to rip that book away from my clutching hands to give it up. I bawled my eyes out the end…and then just laid in bed and stared at the ceiling in disbelief. The woman has serious writing chops.
2. The Godmother by Carrie Adams. After reading anything by Holmes, I find the nicest and sweetest book in my stash to read next. This one is exactly that and as the back states, it’s “heartwarming, funny and genuine”. Precisely what I needed after the emotional roller coaster of what I just finished. Sometimes, you just need a classic coming of age story.
3. Perfect Family by Pam Lewis. I am not normally drawn to books that are focused on a murder or crime, but I think my love forensic tv has finally influenced my reading. I enjoyed the story, I think much of it had to do with it being still in the fiction genre and not a crime novel. We’ll call this one “crime lite”. Good story, engaging.
4. Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman. I have just begin my adventure with the writing of Klosterman and I may be in the honeymoon phase still as I have only ready 2 of his books, but I’m smitten. I love his snarky style and his disdain for oh so much. I’m sure much of why I feel this way is due to being in the generation that he seems to write for, so there’s that. I highly recommend you give one of his books a whirl!
Soooo, what have you been reading?
I jokingly posted on a photo I took of my Shack Burger on Instagram a few weeks ago “Pro-Tip: ask for xtra pickles on the side” and I realized I was onto something. As I not only love food, I have personally been in the food industry AND many, many of my friends are in restaurant management or chefs. This all means that I not only know my way around a restaurant, but talk about food All. The. Time. As we have already established, on Wednesdays we talk about food. So now, on some Wednesdays, I will share Pro Tips with you.
This week it’s all about the Fro Yo! I am a big fan of the soft serve yogurt places as you get to add candy and as much of it as you want with no judgement. Its the only time I get to eat candy these days and I look forward to this treat every other week or so. A month or so ago, Adam and I were chatting with the young man who seems to always be working when we go to the place down the street and he changed my life forever with one word: layering. As in layer your toppings. So simple and obvious and yet not something I would have ever thought to do! I was so excited that I made a really quick video…and I immediately changed the lives of my IG and Vine followers. Mind blowing.
p.s. if you cannot view the view, you may watch it on Instagram.
The past 10 days have been jam packed with activities. We had two waves of house guests as well as logging in a good amount of hours with friends. Due to the schedules that Adam and I both keep these days, it was a bit outside of our norm and made it feel as though we were the ones on vacation! This also explains my absence from blogging for the past week…when I did get into the studio it was pretty quick and focused on getting orders out the door. I spent more time doing laundry (so many sheets, blankets and towels!) than I did in the studio last week, ha! I oddly took very few photos though all of the fun, and the majority of the photos that I snapped were with my sister Gillian when she was here as I very rarely see her. Regardless, I decided to collect all of my favorite moments right here as one of the best parts about blogging is that you are keeping a record of your life, and I love looking back at past events. So here is our July, 2015 impromptu Stay-cation
We ate all the things, saw all the places, listened to live music, went dancing, ate more of the things, went new phone shopping (4 of us have new phones now, yay!), played board games and ate some more things. In the wake of all of this merriment, I’m a bit exhausted, bloated from eating all the things, and some how haven’t had time to wash my hair in three days, but I had such a fun time!
I often find that in gathering images that inspire me, the obvious theme is not apparent right away. This happened with a collection of images that are hauntingly beautiful that I came to call “Submerged“. They are as you may imagine, photographs of bodies submerged underwater. All are of women, sometimes in gowns, sometimes with their heads not visible and above the water line and range from standing to floating to diving. I love everyone of them and would pet them on the head each night before I went to bed if it were possible.
1. It’s weird how much you realize you love some one (pets included) when they are sick. With Mora this week, it was the moment when the emergency hospital vet asked if I wanted to sign a DNR for her. I surprised myself with the level of ferociousness that I responded with when telling them that of course I wanted them to do whatever they could to make sure that she lived.
2. Not all birds will cause dire harm, but SOME birds will absolutely cause bad things to happen to a dog when they eat them.
3. Having goals, a plan to accomplish them and an organized place to track them will make productivity higher.
4. Stacks of random to do lists may do nothing but cause anxiety.
5. Fireworks are more fun for the anticipation factor then the actual event is.
6. A tiny change to a room, like a new duvet cover, can make a huge impact. This can translate to many facets of life. If some part of your life feels in a rut, make a little change and you may be surprised how powerful it can be.
7. Optimism is contagious. “Surround yourself with only people who are going to take you higher.” – Oprah Winfrey.
8. Online sales are slow for everyone in July, stop panicking and work on something that you normally would not have time for, like SEO.
9. You are not alone. No matter what you are feeling, thinking or doing, there is someone else out there going through the same thing.
10. Manic Trout is having a fabulous Summer Sale and you can get really pretty jewelry at really great prices right now. Ok not so deep, but fun!
We all know I have an obsession with calendars, but for the most part my addiction to planners has been pretty minimal. Mostly because I just gave up on finding what I wanted, and I’d settle dfor what is available. Really I think this is the entire reason for being so into calendars…but maybe not. They may end up being two separate and intense loves. Last week I was chatting with Renee about the quest for the perfect planner and how I gave up. Renee on the other hand has been diligently searching and searching for years, and refuses to give up…I’m in awe of her perseverance. It made me have a burst of renewed desire to find perfection in planner form and I took to google. I came close with the planners by Emily Ley, but when I discovered that they sold out months in advance, I was over it. Then I started looking at printable pages on Etsy. Which led me back to google, which finally brought me to Scattered Squirrel. I ended up spending a ridiculous amount of time this week downloading and printing pages. Testing them out for a day or two, seeing if they worked for me or not. I stapled different pages back to back to see what order I liked everything in…I may have wasted a bit of paper. But then I began to get really excited. You see I don’t need an agenda style planner…mapping out times is not really what I’m looking for. Its more of the goal tracking/list making that I need to do. But I want to do so on daily/monthly and weekly levels and this just does seem impossible in a preprinted version. Most likely as it will get very large.
As the week has progressed, I have been kept up at night about how I will keep all of this assembled. To test it out, I just stuck it all in a white ½” 3 ring binder. I use them all over the place in the studio, so I had one on hand. I however felt that I needed something bigger…and maybe with a bit more flair! I thought of having it bound, but decided against it as I think the best plan is to remove the daily pages at the end of each month, keeping only the week/month goals in there. This way, the size stays smaller, I can look back and see progress and if I don’t want to track a day (say a day off), I’m not wasting paper. I have also already eliminated pages that I had at first thought I’d use, but after a few days realized I would not. So I imagine that as time goes on, I will be removing or even adding things (there are so many different options to choose from!!!). But for now I am really excited about what I put together. But wait…it get’s better.
I ran into OfficeDepot to grab some ink earlier today and stopped in my tracks because: GLITTER!! Right on an end cap was a sparkly gold glitter 1″ 3 ring binder, with mint interior!! I gasped so loud, a sales associate heard me and chuckled. It’s perfect. (note: I only like glitter that does not shed and this is all contained in plastic, so it is safe glitter). I now have the perfect planner (until someone makes one that like more). Yay.