Around Here

It’s been a few days since we returned from Maui. It’s taken us that long to get back into the swing of things but we’re well on our way to Normal Life, especially here on the blog. Maui was wonderful in so many ways. We saw friends, enjoyed good food, celebrated our anniversary with a night a Lahaina (the first time EVER we’ve both been away from our kids overnight!!), explored new beaches, and hung out with the family.

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It was wonderfully refreshing, and I miss it, but now I’m ready to get back on the horse. I’ve had so many ideas spinning in my head and this post is mostly a brain dump for those new ideas.

Thanks to my new camera, I re-vamped SoPupuka.com, re-photographing and listing everything. I added some new Mahalo cards and a some Honi Honi decals (I have very few of those and will probably need more) so now that’s up and running. It’s not perfect but it’s better and I’m done endlessly tweaking things.

I want to add a few new trucker hats to the mix, some new decals and some tote bags. No ETA yet, but that’s in the works, along with a new @sopupuka Instagram. I’ve decided that’s my platform of choice for the shop and so that’ll be up and running in the next few days.

I have another crazy idea that I’m working on. I could either really love it, or really hate it, but since it’s been something that hasn’t left my mind for along time I think I’m gonna move on it. There’s no harm in trying it out, and I’ve learned that as far as my business goes, there’s no reason I can’t try new things. I used to think that once you start a business, you’re obligated to do whatever it is you started out doing FOREVER, but in looking at the examples of other entrepreneurs, that hardly seems to be the case, and I feel an immense freedom now at the ability to do whatever is speaking to me at any given moment.

BONUS: This podcast episode about thinking productively about your passions falls exactly in line with what I’ve been thinking about lately.

Mahalo Cards No. 2

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I’ve been meaning to create more Mahalo (thank you) cards (no. 2 since this is my second ever Mahalo notecard). I always have ideas floating in my mind…it’s just a matter of getting it out onto the computer. Last week I made these. It’s the first time I’ve tried incorporating my own handwriting into a design (besides the SoPupuka logo), and I’m pleasantly surprised because I’ve always hated my handwriting. I used the Paper app by Fifty Three to write “Mahalo”, sent it over to Illustrator to vectorize it (vectorizing turns images into lines that can be manipulated) and resized and moved things around to the right dimensions for a card. Added some fun background colors and a “seriously.” on the bottom because (ironically), I don’t want this card to be taken too…err…seriously.  These will be printed and sent off to Sugarcane Shop as soon as I get back from vacation.

On Doing this “Work at Home Mom” Thing

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Confession: When people ask what I do, I usually say “Oh I just stay home with the kids.” I make no mention of the fact that I also run a website and shop and take on design clients. Perhaps it’s because none of that work is steady, or maybe it’s because I’m not making enough to live off of.

Maybe it’s because I’m self taught, so I shouldn’t have the audacity to call myself a professional.

Or maybe I don’t share what I do because I don’t want to admit that I really am a career oriented person. That certainly goes against all the narratives I had playing in my head growing up. I distinctly remember an assignment in 3rd grade that asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said I wanted to be a mother, and my teacher said that doesn’t count! I suspect the question “What do you want to do to earn money when you grow up?” would’ve yielded a better answer – “Why, a paleontologist of course!” (nerd alert.)

Or maybe it’s because I often feel that even though I’m at home, I’m not truly present with my kids because I steal snippets of time throughout the day to work. If I worked outside the home, maybe I’d more easily leave work at the office and be fully committed to spending quality time with my kids. You’d think that working from home means that you can have your cake and eat it too. The truth about working from home (for me anyway) is that quantity time does not equal quality time, and it’s just as easy for a work at home parent to lose track and become disconnected from their kids.

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The point is, I never thought I’d want to be a professional. I never thought about earning money. I graduated from college, but never went in thinking I was going to have a job and be a breadwinner one day. I thought I would get married and stay home with my kids and devote every waking minute to them.

That was before I had kids. Obviously.

So here I am, a mom, and only now really comprehending the opportunities to connect, learn and grow that are possible through a career. I’m SO HUNGRY to learn and improve my skills as a designer (thank you internet for being around in my lifetime so I can actually learn stuff from home), but I will never be able to give the same kind of time and attention to it that I could’ve before kids.

So what’s a mom to do?

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Well, the answer’s as complex as the problem and as varied as the women who face this situation. For me personally, I’ve come to know that I just can’t be happy if I don’t have something to work on, something to create, something to learn, something that stretches and challenges me in new and interesting ways that is separate from my role as a mother. 

I don’t think it’s wrong to feel this way – to be engaged in things other than our children.IMG_1987

My greatest priority AND my greatest struggle is making sure my children know that they are more important than this website, this computer, my phone, that client, this product. As long as they know that I love them, then I can do this work and be their mom and we can make this lifestyle happen. There’s no point in doing any of this if they ultimately end up resenting me because they felt neglected. All the money and success in the world means nothing if my children don’t know that I love them. So I will continue to write blog posts at 11:40pm, and do my VERY BEST to put my phone down, look into their eyes when I talk to them, and cuddle and kiss them and tell them I love them, and steal snippets of time on the computer when they don’t need me, wake up early to answer emails, sing songs and read books and act out Frozen for the 457th time and build forts, and pray that by all this, they will know.

Spun Paradise Photoshoot

A few weeks ago I did my first ever photo shoot for a local cotton candy company, Spun Paradise. If you’re thinking “Man it must’ve been fun taking pictures of cotton candy,” you’d be right. I had a great time getting to know the mompreneur Danna and eating photographing her delicious product. She’s put a tropical twist on her candy by using flavors like coconut (my favorite), watermelon and mango.

Everything was taken with my iPhone (my only camera – and yes, I warned her beforehand) and we had fun playing around with different ideas and getting our fingers all sticky with fluffy, sugary goodness. In humid places cotton candy will start to melt when it’s exposed to the air, and the result was a sort of “icicle” effect that laced the candy. I think it created great contrast and made for some interesting shots.

I never thought I’d make a dime taking pictures, so much so that my pitch was something like “if you want better than average pictures without having to hire a pro then maybe I could help out.”

I know I’m a million miles away from a career in photography, but this was a fun experience for me.

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Looking Forward to March

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Correction: We’re already in the thick of March, but I was so busy at the end of February I feel like I never got to properly wrap up that month before March came crashing through the door.

This month I will try to focus more on the house, because it was sorely neglected in February. I feel the need for a major de-clutter, and I’m in the market for a new vacuum. I thought I could get away with microfiber brooms since we have wood laminate, but then we put a few rugs over that and now we’re in desperate need of something with decent suction. Besides that I really do want to get to a state of cleanliness and organization that’s easy to maintain.

We REALLY need to start planning Noweo’s 4th birthday. (FOUR??!?!!? That’s one year shy of HALF A DECADE. what?)

The art wall is also going to be a priority if I can get to the house clean.

Business-wise I plan on rolling out some new things based on the feedback I received at the Family Affair – specifically decals, but I also want to figure something out for those business cards. If you have any ideas please let me know.

I subscribed to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, and I’m itching to play with and really study Illustrator and Photoshop. I’ve been able to do quite a bit without them. The sky’s the limit with them. I think this is what I need to take on more design work, because previously my exporting capability was .png and .pdf, and files were saved as .svg, which doesn’t always play nice with Illustrator, and it’s hard to work with print shops when my files are incompatible. I was also always nervous about taking on clients because of this file issue, but once I really become proficient I’ll be taking on design projects with more confidence. Happy dance! I’m also excited to play with Muse – a website builder that doesn’t require code (because I’m a visual learner and I suck at code.)

Altogether, March will be a little more peaceful then February I think, but exciting nevertheless.

Event Recap: Family Affair

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This Saturday I attended the Family Affair at UH Hilo. I was a bit nervous going into this because 1) it’s been a while and 2) my booth got a complete overhaul and 3) I was introducing a few new products – hats and some new card designs and 4) every location is different, and you never know quite what to expect, so there’s that fear of the unknown to deal with.

The Set Up

After getting everything set up (they had guys to help me unload my stuff!) it was pretty smooth sailing. Sorry for these sub-par pictures. The light was behind the booth and I didn’t want to spend too much time being a weirdo taking pictures of my own booth. My dad built me the shelf and easels that are housing my products, and I couldn’t be happier with the way they turned out. Everything was visible at a glance and I never had to worry about anything getting knocked over.

The System

I have the display set so that people could see everything without having to touch anything. I did this mainly for my cards, which are all packaged on the spot. This time I used a numbering system, like a fast-food drive through. People could put together custom packs by telling me which number they wanted and I’d pull out the corresponding cards. The easel houses a sample of the final product, which also displays the price. This really cut down on my need to talk. In previous events I’d lose my voice explaining how to put together custom boxes. Now all the information they need is concisely explained on the easel, and ordering was quick and easy for both the customer and me.

Everything else I could just quickly grab from under the table.

Feedback/Impressions

Events are the best because I get lots of good constructive feedback, and now I have great ideas for what to do next. Stickers are a must. So many people said they wanted heart and honi honi stickers, and while I’ve done heart stickers before, I never re-ordered after I sold out. I’ll be doing that soon and with new colors this time. I also want to make SoPupuka stickers.

The other thing that I kept hearing was how much people loved my business card. Some people took one of each design, so now I’m wracking my brain trying to figure out how I can incorporate my business card designs into a product because seriously…people were crazy excited about it.

I was sad and happy to see that mine weren’t the only trucker hats at the event – sad because I had STEEP competition, happy because I got to see other peoples’ creativity and that inspired some new ideas for hat designs.

I need to work on branding – putting “SoPupuka” on my products so people know where to find it, and I have new ideas on how to do that without taking away from the main design.

I also had a great time getting to know my neighbors and geeking out over graphics – a great reminder that people are generally awesome and there’s plenty of room for everyone.

The Final Word

While there wasn’t a TON of traffic, and I shared space with some awesome, well-known brands, the booth fee was dirt cheap and I  did pretty well all things considered. I know that my stuff isn’t really mass-market, and I’m slowly trying to shift toward things that have a broader appeal but still stay true to my personality and aesthetic. It still blows my mind that anyone buys my stuff at all. It really is a cool feeling, and there’s nothing like that face-to-face interaction to remind me that I’m designing for people. I love playing this game of creating, putting my work out there, getting feedback and trying new things. That is thrilling to me, whether I make $5 or $5,000.

February Check-in

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February is basically 3/4 done and I’m in denial. I feel like I need to take a post and see what’s done and what isn’t.

Looking back at the beginning of the month when I blogged my February plans, here’s what I thought would go down:

1) Trucker hats – CHECK

2) Finalizing e-commerce store (started on Ecwid and moved to Shopify) – CHECK

3) Even prepping – I’m dragging my feet on this one but it’s next on my to-do list.

4) Keola’s birthday – AACK! That’s Monday and I don’t really have any big plans – though we did just decide on a field trip to Waimea, which should be a blast.

5) Re-working my work space – Just mentioned this yesterday, and that is well underway, using my clutter-busting question

6) Participating in design competition (for Wrappily) – CHECK

7) Get art on the wall – I’ve framed two prints and stuck one to the wall. I know what hardware I need to hang my frames, I just need to go buy it, and order prints. Progress.

8) Get 2 blog series off the ground – CHE_ _ – I started Nature Walks, but the other requires more work and I haven’t sat down to hash it out yet. Posts for this series definitely will not be up this month, and that’s ok. I’ll shoot for March, but I do want to have the bare bones done for this.

9) Surprise! Cotton candy photo shoot. I can’t wait to share more.

WHAT’S WORKING:

Altogether, I’ve given myself a pretty hefty list of things I want to be working on this month, and I’m happy to say that I’m happy with what’s been accomplished so far. I know I talk endlessly about those hats, but I think what makes me the happiest is that they went from concept to completion quickly. Normally I sit around and think things to death, but this felt good and I went ahead and pulled the trigger on it. I’m hoping for more of this kind of action this year.

The other projects like the Wrappily design contest, and getting my store up simply required putting my head down and ploughing through the work, which is what needs to happen for my unfinished projects.

WHAT’S NOT WORKING:

I’m not being as good about blogging daily this month, and it’s been because of a  few things: 1) We haven’t been following our usual routine very well, 2) I’ve been DEAD TIRED by the time I sit down to blog, 3) I’ve felt uninspired by some of the posts I had planned

The house is starting to feel neglected. It’s SO HARD to keep up with Noweo. So hard. That’s mostly why I’m so tired at night.

Quality time with Keola is suffering a bit, so we designated Wednesday as NO WORK nights. We chose Wednesday because it’s a nice break in the middle of the week.

I enjoy being busy, but I’m beginning to feel out of balance and more tired than usual so I need to pay attention to that and make adjustments, but overall I’m enjoying the opportunities that have come my way and the challenge of making everything work.

 

Truckers are here!

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I can’t even tell you how excited I am about these! This post is actually a day late. I picked them up yesterday and spent much of the day tagging, delivering, packaging and shipping pre-orders. Now that I finally got them out the door, I can write about them.

Confession: I’ve never owned a hat in my life (unless you count the plastic cow-boy hat from my band geek days…but technically that wasn’t MY hat and I would NEVER wear it unless I’m in 10th grade holding a flute in a parade). Well, now I think I might become a crazy hat lady because I LOVE THESE! I can’t believe I never owned a hat until now. Hats totally could’ve solved my poofy hair problem in high school. Oh well. You live and you learn 🙂

Anyway, these  turned out just as I’d hoped and the response so far has been awesome. Thank you so much!

I’m extending the pre-order price of $20 through the weekend, so snatch one up now! Come Monday they’ll be $25. Shipping is $5 flat rate. Get all three and pay just $5 to ship.

As always, thank you so much for your support on and off this blog. So many of you have been so sweet and encouraging. It makes such a difference when you have people cheering you on.

One Home for SoPupuka

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Gosh it feels SO good to have ONE internet presence for my blog and shop. If you didn’t know by now, even though I was yacking (yaking?) about it all day, the store is up and running, trucker hats are available for pre-order (many thanks if you picked on up today!). If you’re curious, I use Ecwid, which I found to be the most flexible as it provided me with code that I could simply copy and paste into any WordPress page and my store would magically appear. Easy peasy. It’s also allowed me to embed a store into my Facebook Page. Design-wise it’s not as pretty as say…Shopify, but it looks clean and does the job. It also has bulk-discounting capabilities, so retailers (or anyone really…) can order in bulk at wholesale prices, which saves me the trouble of having to manage two storefronts.

If you haven’t already, go play with my landing page. It’s addicting, and I clearly have an unhealthy love of roll-over images.

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Sigh. Anyway, it’s nice to sit back and be done with working on the website for a while. My eyes are about to fall out of their sockets. Now on to some real world projects.

P.S. Trucker hats are now $20. Once I get them in, the price will jump to $25 so if you want one, I highly recommend pre-ordering now. I anticipate that I’m going to get very annoying with this same message in all my social media channels. I just don’t want anyone to miss out on the savings so sorry in advance.

Looking Forward to February

January was such a great month for me and I hope to continue the momentum for February. Here are some things I’m looking forward to in the love month:

Trucker hats! These babies have already received a great response when I posted a picture of a mock-up. I want these to be on peoples’ heads by March 1. You know what’s lame? I don’t even own a trucker hat myself. I’ve never been a hat person, but I’m willing to convert for these.

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Finalizing this website and my online store: I’m SO sick of moving e-commerce platforms, I finally think I found a solution that will stick for me. It will also accommodate wholesale orders, with discounts for bulk orders.

Prepping for my first event of the year: I’m planning on attending the Hilo Family Affair at UH Hilo on March 1, (and taking my trucker hats with me!) I’m so excited to see what the response is, because it’s been really positive so far.

Keola’s birthday! He is venturing further and further into the 30s. I’m a happy 20-something for another year and a half, but oh man this decade has just FLOWN.

Re-working my work space: I’m thinking I need more table space and less shelving so I may be moving things around.

Participating in my first ever design competition: More on this when my submissions are online, but I just sent them in. It’s a bit nerve-wracking to put yourself out there for people to vote on. I don’t really care to know if/how many people voted for my designs, just whether I won or lost. Either way I’m happy because if I lose, I’ll definitely re-work the designs into something else, plus I’ll have had a great experience and some good exposure. Win. Win. Win.

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Getting art on the wall! I’ve already framed two pictures (and tried my hand custom matting for some square instagram pics.) One hurdle I face is exactly how to hang stuff on the wall. There are so many different hanging solutions. I personally am all about Command products but depending on the frame and the wall if it’s textured, it doesn’t always work well. I need to do some research.

Starting a couple new blog series: One is a guest blogging series, and the other is my own. I’ll introduce those in the near future, and I’m (you guessed it) REALLY excited.

Got any big plans for February? Do tell.