Friday, June 10, 2011

Probably a large topic for a Summer Friday

FabricLibrary

But a topic that I have been thinking about a lot lately. And that is DO. What I do. What we all do. But maybe perhaps also kinda what I've done. I speak of course about my work.

The window that my website, and especially, for the past five years, my blog, provides into my process, which has transformed over the years, has generated lots of emails, phone calls, handwritten notes of asking how. How do I do it? Sometimes its very specific, like how did I get into fabric design, etc. - a topic that (maybe its just me but) I feel has been covered well over the past few years in the creative blog realm-, how did you get a book published, how do you care for all those kids and run a business, etc. But often just a very general how, which I sort of sometimes don't know how to answer except to say that I am still figuring it out. I will admit that the approaches can be a little overwhelming sometimes given my schedule with work, and of course my family, but I always, always want to help, and to answer questions, and to offer insight. I am sure that there have been some emails that have slipped through the cracks. And I'm sorry for that. I do have a FAQ, and I do offer interviews, where lots of this stuff gets answered. So it is helpful to have some of these answers on autopilot at times.

I guess what I'm rambling on and on about here, is that I am not sure if what I can offer is even what you would call an answer as much as it is a response. A very personal one. One that may or may not work for whoever is asking. But I also think that anyone who reads me here knows that these questions slowly get answered, in a trickle of sorts. Few people have the time for that in order to simply to get a pressing question answered, yet, I think there is an assumption that there is some specific template of life. Or a secret that no one has revealed or a school where you learn this very set of trades. Or that success somehow will occur if you just know that one thing that no one seems to tell you.

This isn't even going where I thought this would be going.

Its challenging for me to write about what I do, because it is indeed always evolving. Constantly. Being in business one way or another is something that I have done now for 20 years. It very simply started by me earning extra money in college by using one of my best friend's parents' basement to make dresses that I sold to a local retailer. They sold well. We had a kid. I was also waiting tables 20 hours a week and earning a fine arts degree. After earning that degree no one beat my door down to offer me a job so I opened a shop to flesh out the clothing line with the help of my mom. That was wonderful but also incredibly challenging. Its hard. Its physical. I do not envy retailers at all. After 3 years I closed shop and went to wholesale with the clothing line but after kid 3 it was too much, despite the fact that it was taking off and I couldn't keep up alone. Then I turned to partnering with manufacturers. And over the past 10 years, I have had almost every experience you can imagine good or bad in that arena too. But the most important thing I've learned is to read and even write my own contracts and that everyone in any partnership has to get something out of it and its that overlap of your happiness and theirs that makes the situation work. If you aren't both happy at the same time, there is no point in continuing. Period. Forget your pride and what might feel like a failure. A success is knowing when something isn't working because that means you are paying attention.

I feel so content about where years of struggles and successes has arrived to. And of course there have been struggles, there always are, for everyone, even the most successful person you can imagine. I think that the perception is when you see only the good, that good is all there is. That's because there is simply nothing to show for failures.

Being in business, albeit a mostly comforting and handcrafted one, essentially begs for maximum possible gain for minimal input. On every level. I can get caught in the trap like anyone, to only think in these terms. How much will this grow my business? is this worth my time? will it work? is it relevant? how far reaching is this? etc. Optimize, optimize, optimize. But I think I have arrived at a place. And this is really (if you're still with me) what I'd like to say. These questions do matter. I've only been able to do what I do for a living because I have asked all these questions along the way with every single endeavor. But the place where I am now (and things like this video have helped me get to it) is that its OKAY if something might take more time than its worth in dollars. And that every now and then I NEED that. We all do. Why earn a living but lose yourself in the process?

I am fondly remembering the very slow work that brought me to love making and ultimately to the faster paced, and mass produced items that I now have a hand in creating. I don't resent mass production. It enables me to share my work with each of you if we look at it honestly. But I'm not happy with only that. I don't care about things that I don't care about. Its not important to me to be a label on a product that I would never dream of bringing in to my home. It was important to me for a time because I, like many, are tricked into believing that bigger must certainly be better. Better because certainly then you have more choices about how you want to live. What I'm learning is that bigger, just for the sake of it, means you have far fewer choices about how you want to live because you become ultimately burdened by surrounding yourself with things that you might not care too much about. So if you are going to go big, you better love it. All of it. I think that if you love what you are doing, really truly care about it, and are able to share that love in a meaningful way, then it will really just end up working. Call me Pollyanna.

I was listening to a great story this morning on NPR about a local woman who built a cake pop business due to not being able to get enough photography and design work in the present economy. My take away from her story was that she decided that WHAT she was doing for a living was less important than HOW she was living. That is huge to me. Being a photographer was not giving her the life that she wanted. Yet that doesn't mean that she had to stop being one, but decided not to get hung up on making a living from it. This kind of choice to me is empowering and not debilitating. You can read/listen to her story here. Another favorite sound bite from it is that she can't help but smile when she talks about the cake pops.

I want a cake pop.

Anyway. Sorry. Posts like this are few and far between as I do busy myself with the tangibles, so I find it hard to just sit and compose my brain space sometimes. The simplest things will spark these kinds of thoughts. For me lately its been lots of little things. Watching Juliana carve out her ideas about how she wants to live and work, that video from Greece, the fact that I wanted to take a day off and sew muslin bags hand stamped with my needleworks logo to package my upcoming Aida cloth cuts, despite the fact that business-wise this is not an optimal use of my time. But it is special to me, so I don't care (see some of those muslin envelopes stacked in the photo above). The repetition reminded me of those days in my shop where I made up to 20 dresses a day sometimes. Phew. Actually this post is about how I am glad I don't make 20 dresses a day anymore.

But maybe making 5 or so would be nice. In fact, I do have a new venture called "visiting artists", a concept that I have been stewing on for months, that I will be sharing soon. I think more than anything it will celebrate the slow making that I find myself missing some days.

More soon. I have much to DO.
have a great weekend, and as always thanks for sharing the journey.
and keeping asking me questions, just forgive my often slow responses.
xoxo, Anna

97 comments:

  1. So inspirational and as a fellow entrepreneur, designer, writer, crafter etc who has been down almost the exact same road I totally understand what you are saying. After over twenty five years in design I've reinvented myself and my business many times over. Bottom line is that it all comes down to integrity and the quality of your life. You seem to have found a happy balance which is what we should all strive for. I closed a successful Interior Design business 5 years ago to spend more time with my daughter and now four books, products lines, new directions in art and design later, my life is a thousand times richer in the things that really count. Anyway I am rambling. I just wanted to say that your post really touched my heart and it is so great to know that other people share my journey and value the little things. Keep it coming!

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing this! You are an inspiration to me in so many ways. You deserve every ounce of success you've worked your tail off to earn.

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  3. What a great post. You know, I stopped by here and viewed that video from Greece and it's taken me a week or so to let the effects bubble up in my brain. All the things you said in this post with the backround of that video in my mind make me realize yet again the joy and satisfaction in slow, methodical creation. I am an artist and just took my first machine sewing class last month. While the class was lovely and I am glad to have learned the basics to be able to use in my work, I was impatient with the speed of the process (if that makes sense?). I am a hand sewer and have dis-assembled and re-assembled clothes, made hand-sewn pillows and bags, embroidered and have also been working on an art series involving hand-sewing on paper. I felt so removed from my work using a sewing machine....it felt so...impersonal. There is no denying the efficiency and time saving benefits of machine sewing but there is something I sooo love about hand-sewing that I don't feel can ever be transferred through a machine. Care and time and patience. Detail, the makers personality and love. Can't beat it :)

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  4. I loved this post. Thank you for sharing your journey so openly and honestly with your readers. It really made my day. You are a true inspiration in every sense of the word!

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  5. What a great post. I've been pondering what it means to be a success lately and you really hit the nail on the head with this one. With success often comes failure, but going through the difficulties makes the good times so much sweeter. Keep on creating...I know I'll keep buying. :-)

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  6. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Anna Maria. The little things all add up to the big things that matter. I think sometimes in trying to build a better life, we forget that it's the quality of our lives that matter more. I love getting reminders, thanks for this one.

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  7. Dearest Anna Maria~

    Thanks so much for sharing yourself with us. It really was wonderful to read all that you're thinking about. It was perfect timing, as I've been thinking a lot lately about where exactly I want to go, and wondering what I'm capable of doing. And what I'd love to be doing. And what I need to just start doing.
    I'm going to be mulling over this for awhile. Thanks!

    Much love~
    Achaia

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  8. i love your take on what "success" means, and i think it's applicable to virtually any partnership, not just a business contract. thank you so much for your inspiration!

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  9. I think this is a perfect topic for a lazy sunny Friday evening.
    My own philosophy has always been to make sure that I love something about what ever it is that I'm doing, then if I drop the ball at least I enjoyed it while it lasted and to remember to be thankful, I know it sounds twee, but really deep down I think if we are thankful for what we do have both experiences and physical things then we can never get to down or sad.
    I don't live in the wealthiest area but I live close to my family-Thats not a compromise it was a choice I made to be happy and feel supported, I work part time in a techie shop and I'm thankful for the freedom working part time gives me to be with my family and to create things, I love talking to the people that come into the store-they are some very creative people that I wouldn't have talked to otherwise.
    My learning curve has been figuring out how to add more creativity to my days and getting a better grasp of time management to do as much as I can with out feeling drained.
    Your post has given me food for thought over the weekend and I think I'll share it with my guy and get his thoughts too, so thank you for bring it up.

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  10. These are thoughts worth keeping at the forefront of our lives. Getting lost in the idea of a perfect journey's end is wasted energy. It's the journey itself with all of its corners and forks in the road that deserves our energy. Whether or not those energy expenditures make business sense. Like the slow hand work that makes the soul sing.

    Thanks for your example, Anna.

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  11. Thanks, Anna. So much of what you said rings true, especially the "Why earn a living but lose yourself in the process?" I think so many of us beg to ask that question when we get up every day. I work at a local corporation to make ends meet and maintain my family at the same time, but in the process, I'm just hoping that someday, my dream of my designs reaching a certain imperceptible point will be recognized. Who knows? But here's to dreams, goals, and all the mistakes in between!

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  12. Thank you - this is very thought provoking.

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  13. I have found that you manage to show the ups and downs of what you do, how you do it... without emphasizing hardships you still make it about the work, the effort. Sometimes blogs can put so much focus on the *perfect product* or outcome that I am left with the impression that they 'have it easy' or I am totally incapable. I appreciate your grateful-industrious-creative-realistic message: it is inspiring, admirable, and personal.

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  14. You don't know how much I needed this post today. I was thinking last night about the part of the creative/textile/design/art process I want to focus on, to make a go of, as I was driving to dinner with friends, and of course I started thinking about your success and then you post this. Thank you. :)

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  15. Very interesting timing of this post...
    Husband and I just had a long conversation today about how BIGness and the "need" for bigger=better affects our society as a whole. We talked about finding that balance where you do what you love and enough of it to live reasonably well but not too much to where you no longer have time to actually live (i'm european, he's american so we basically come from opposite worlds regarding life/work ratio). We've also just decided to move our family back to his part of the world and for him to quit his career as a professional musician and instead take on a good office job so that he can enjoy making music again AND make enough income to send our kids to school one day.
    It's always so helpful to read from experienced artist parents who've more or less been there/done that.

    Thank you so very much for this post today! You answered questions I didn't know I had. And you've reaffirmed some thoughts I had been trying to focus on the past few weeks.
    Always inspiring to read your words of wisdom!

    Now enjoy your DOing and please, please, please give us a tour of your new studio place some time so? Yeah? Please?

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  16. Thank you Anna for sharing your thoughts!

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  17. What a beautiful post! I remember learning early on that there is no sense in climbing the ladder of success if, when you reach the top, you look around and realize it was the wrong ladder. And, as far as being a working mom, I have tried to strive for balance. The old song, Cats in the Cradle, made me realize that I don't want to busy myself and leave my family out. So I am always trying to balance faith, family and work! I really appreciate all you do and your success is certainly well earned! God Bless,
    Cathy

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  18. Thanks so much for posting this. I really needed to read this sort of thing today...

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  19. This may be the first time I've commented on your blog, but I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for posting this. I'm in the process of starting my own business at home (designing and sewing baby bedding) and I'm conflicted. I want it to take off, but at the same time I hope it takes its sweet time. But really, I have no idea what's in store for me :)

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  20. Thank you so much for this post. As always it is thoughtfully written and well said. It is so very nice to hear this perspective about loving what you do and the sacrifices you may have to make to accomplish what you love. And whether it is truly worth it.

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  21. Thank you for this. My guy and I are in the beginning stages of breaking away from unfulfilling jobs and starting a business, and this is just the inspiration we need. THANK YOU.
    x Katherine

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  22. This gives me a little hope with my humble beginnings of a little business and two babies under two... hope was just what I needed!

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  23. I to thank you for this. I remember something you said back in January, it was about how you wanted to get back to long projects, projects that take longer than an afternoon. At the time I had been doing a little daily experiment with 1 hour projects (while my son took his nap I tried to get a whole project done) it was fulfilling in a way because it got my brain moving in the right direction and gave me inspiration. But the best part of that is that it gave me back the desire and motivation to get back to bigger projects. To draw things out over time and to make what my heart wants me to make. I've struggled with making for a while and finally feel, although I still have to work other jobs to make rent, I am making for me and for my heart. It may never be more than that but really what more is there?

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  24. Thank you for this post!! It came in at the perfect time. At a cross roads myself right now and to read this post from a very talented successful woman - really helped. I have been trying to start my own business for about a year now, with 3 little ones at home. Sometimes I get discouraged about how long it is taking or the sacrifices we are making to make it work but your post really makes me be happy at where I am today. So thanks again!

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  25. Thank you for this, lots to mull over.. :)

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  26. In our own way ( in a way different field) my husband and I go thru many of these questions ourselves. Thanks for the heart felt barring about how crazy business can be. It takes a special person to have the perseverance and optimism that comes with entrepreneurship.

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  27. I love this and I think I will return to it and read/digest it more. These type of dialogs are important and I appreciate the generosity of your sharing and the reflections on your life and practice that have gone into this. This is far removed from my life (I am in the 2nd year of my phd diss and I am a grandmother) and yet it's not. Passion and happiness drive a project, especially when you hit the hours of long slog parts. Thanks again.

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  28. Thanks for all you do! Your blog is my escape from my crazy "Big" world. You are so honest and that is what makes me relate to you as a mom and an artist. Keep doing what you are doing! :)

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  29. I wish I had time to post more... busy DOing right now, you know?! But, thanks for this post. Very timely for me in my personal life and very, very, very TRUE. Thanks again.

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  30. Well, you do have to let these thoughts out when they arrive. Because we all know that it's now or never =). Thanks for taking the time to tippity type that out. You said, "I think that if you love what you are doing, really truly care about it, and are able to share that love in a meaningful way, then it will really just end up working." This is the crux of it really. Although work is "work" it also must be love in my book. It's my goal to enjoy everyday, not living looking forward to the weekends. I'm curious about your visiting artists concept. Sounds wonderful!

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  31. Very insightful for me, a new pattern designer trying to find what works for me and getting my patterns available to a larger audience. I do know that I like working for myself, doing what I love, because I love it and not out of obligation. My kids have been raised, although you NEVER stop being a mom. After motherhood, pattern designing is a fun (so far) second career.

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  32. I am SO glad that you shared this. :) Will be reading it again, I'm sure.

    Happy Friday!

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  33. Thank you so much for this post! Sometimes I really wish I could just take someone else's successful steps to grow my own illustration business. Why is person A successful, but person B is not. There is no magic formula. I'm feeling like I'm in the same place as the cake pop woman, so that link really spoke to me. Friday is the perfect time to digest it slowly over the weekend. Thank you again.

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  34. Thank you for this post. It's reassuring to know that we're all just trying to figure it out; to reach that ever-elusive "balance." These are great words to ponder over the weekend.

    PS. I just took my girls to see the "Judy Moody" movie. In the movie, Judy is wearing a shirt made of one of the Little Folks voiles! It was so cool!

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  35. This is exactly what I needed to hear. I've loved reading everyone's responses as well. It is giving me a lot to think about. Thank you!

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  36. THis has given me a lot to chew on. I was (am?) a writer-- but I've decided that your early 30's are kind of the same space as your late teens/ early 20's for figuring out exactly who and what you are, only more reality based. What I know now is what used to drive me to write (and truly, your post could have been written by any writer) was reallyjuat a need to create. And instead of looking at the journey to finding the right way to balance that with all my other roles as pitted with failures, I'm beginning, with slow grace and a lot of humility,at this path as just the route to who I am supposed to become. And ps-- consider your bags an act of meditation. Good for the soul.

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  37. Annie C6:21 PM

    Wow, Anna --- I read and loved every word! It makes me hopeful and yet despairing as I feel too old (at 50!) to start something that will take a long time to become "something". Guess the best thing to do is just plunge in and start swimming . . . . .

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  38. Dear Anna -
    I haven't read the other comments - yet - but I wanted to tell you that I am a bit in awe of you and how you are able to express your self so easily and without making it sound the least bit contrived. You are who you are and "what you see with you is what you get." You are the epitome of yourself! You are charming and delightful and bright and so clever with words - true to what you believe and PASSIONATE.
    Your post is great. It shows your passion so clearly.
    And your comments about the choices that are not necessarily the best business choices - YAY!
    It is all about HOW you live it - you are exactly right there.....quality vs quantity. If something is to have YOUR name on it - it must have the same magic that it would have if you had made it with your own little hands.
    So many companies lose that personal touch along the way. The bottom line becomes the carrot that motivates, rather than the delightful process of making something wonderful that people want to be part of.

    You are great and you are doing it right, from what I see. You have a huge heart and it shows up in every, single thing that you do. Keep your balance exactly where it is. As long as you stay happy, the things you create make a lot of people very, very happy.

    yes, you ARE an inspiration, my friend..
    xo
    Jone

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  39. I am pretty sure that what I am writing will mimic some prior comments, but I would like to write first and read later.

    This post os yours is a beauty, and one that would well serve many an aspiring entrepreneur. You've cut through the basic history of your achievements, and have given some wise words, derived from 20 years of ups and downs.

    I am so glad that you still feel energetic about creating, and would like to make those muslin bags and perhaps even go for five dresses a day. This tells me that you do still love the bits that you loved twenty years ago.

    Before rambling on any more, let me say Thank You! Now...I will read those prior comments.

    xo

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  40. Thank you for sharing this. My path has taken many twists & turns, and I've hopped quite a few stepping stones to get to my current place. I have a Marketing degree rather than an Art degree, and my business brain is always second-guessing my heartsy-artsy brain: what is the risk vs. reward and how does this fit in the 80/20 rule (something that only yields a 20% gain should not take 80% of my time). But often I feel pulled toward doing things that allow me to connect with others, somehow, some way. It is in those connections that I feel like a win-win might emerge: good for me, good for them, good for moving product. Folks think it's formulaic, which is why I think they think there's a secret to succees to which they're not privy - but every day is a guessing game - each email and phone call has the potential to move you one direction or another - and suddenly you're years out and realize you've gotten somewhere. Whoa. I admire all that you do! Keep on keepin' on!

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  41. Dear Anna, thank you for your post. I think sewing and creating can be in your blood like gardening. Both skills were taught to me at an early age by my mother and are still a part of my daily life.
    I wanted to share another blog I read of a very skilled, creative woman. Her name is Susan Elliot. http://plays-with-needles.blogspot.com/ She would make a great guest artist for your blog. Thank you.

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  42. Anna,
    I think you are just wonderfully extraordinary.

    Candice

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  43. Anna,
    Thank you for your honest assessment of business vs. creativity. How timely that I have been thinking along these same lines. My micro-business on Etsy allows me the chance to touch so many women who,in turn, share glimpses into their lives. The tension of needing to create vs. sharing that creation is never satisfied. I often dream of going to visit some of my customers so I can bring fulfillment to our connection.
    Leslie (aka Sugar Pie Chic)

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  44. What a timely post. So many similar issues have come up from a podcast from Creative Thursday last week. Did you hear it?
    http://creativethursday.typepad.com/my_weblog/2011/05/podcast-45-apparently-ive-made-it.html
    Lots of thought and conversation have come from that, maybe this too? But I've been enjoying tackling these issues on my own and seeing how others are doing it.

    Always a pleasure to hear more of your history and insight on the creative business.

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  45. Thank you for sharing your thoughts at just the right time!For months now I have struggled w/ the importance of my own creativity. No I don't earn a living w/ my creativity or want my joy of quilting called a hobby. But I like to hand piece, hand applique and finish w/ hand quilting yet I notice & am continually told that "by machine" is the thing to do now. I appreciate all the many "by machine" artists piecing, appliquing & especially quilting & truly admire their work. But today you have verfied that I can continue to enjoy & celebrate my "slow making." Thank you, Annamaria!

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  46. Thanks so much for sharing, and for always sharing yourself here. I don't comment very often, but I get down right giddy when I see a new post in my google reader and read every one. It's always such fun and usually inspiring as well!

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  47. Thanks for this post. I already have so much admiration for the work you do. It makes me happy to have this insight into your life.
    It took me awhile, as a young adult, to figure out that life was "adlib". I've certainly made some wrong turns along the way, but always tried to do the best I could at the time.
    I'd rather take the time to make something I love, than churn out an item I wouldn't keep for myself.
    My number one rule in life- If you're not having fun, then you're doing it wrong.
    You've made an amazing life for yourself, I'm inspired.

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  48. My favorite part of this wonderful post: there is no secret to success that if you can just discover will make {insert dream here} come true.

    Something about time management I've learned after years of balancing working from home, kids, writing, travelling, etc.: many great things will be lost if you constantly think "this isn't the best use of my time." Very often acts of genius happen when you should really be doing something with a better return on investment.Sometimes it is smart to ignore the pull to a "must do" and do the "want to do."

    Now I have to hunt up a cake pop. Surely there's one in Atlanta somewhere, right?

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  49. Hi Anna, Thank you for your post. I do believe things evolve whether we like it or not. I lost a child a little over 12 months ago.. He was just a baby.. It left me empty and open and i needed something to fill my time. So i started designing and writing quilt patterns. I started a blog and it has all been going great. Good enough to keep me a little too busy, and also fund my addiction to fabric and a little extra. Now that things are going really well, im ready for something new. I want to have another baby and let the craziness of sewing pass me by. Take time making a quilt and sewing the details. Take time to sit and hand sew instead of rushing it so i can make a pattern and push push push.. Anyway, Loved your post. Life changes whether we like it or not and we just need to find something to help us get through each day and find happiness.. xx Bec at Chasing Cottons xx

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  50. Like so many of the other comments this is so timely for me. I have a BFA and have been really thinking so much lately about the direction I want my quilting and fabric love to go. Still not sure and that's ok but your post is inspiring and leaves me hopeful. I also want to know more about the "visiting artist" the artist and students always benefited so much from that program in our school.

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  51. Thanks for the honest glimpse into you. I find that I am constantly evolving within myself and the things I DO...it's taken me a while but I've come to accept this about myself and even take pride in it, for it is...not just what I do, but who I am.

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  52. Loved reading about your beginnings, congratulations on how well you have done!

    Annie
    : )

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  53. strangley enough i think you just gave me a pep talk,tonight when your day comes to a close and silance finally finds your ears take a moment to consider how wonderful it is that you just being youself is a pretty wonderful thing.

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  54. You are building a bridge as you go =)

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  55. Thank you for sharing so much. It's so hard to stop and slow down at times. It's so nice to see that when what you have to do to make it in life, your heart is in the right place.

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  56. I, too, cannot stop thinking about that video. As an illustrator and designer, I completely understand the dilemma of creating "quickly." More art means more money. But does it really...? The art I think about, dwell on and ponder is received better. I started embroidering again and then put it down because of carving out the time. Shame on me! Your post is making me stop, I love all the work my grandmother did but if I don't keep doing it, who will? Oh no, I am rambling too! Thank You Anna!

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  57. Just saw the Judy Moody movie with my daughter, and one of Judy's shirts looks like Little Folks. Does this mean I am a fabric junky that I noticed this? Please don't answer!!

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  58. I think you probably get the "how do you do it" question because we've all been convinced somewhere along the line that there is only one way to do it. "You can't have a big family and be successful and be happy." Something I am dealing with myself. Can I continue in the current path of my career and still have time to do things I love (sew, cook, create, etc.) and have a family? So when someone like you steps out and DOES IT, the rest of us wonder how you took the leap of faith that took you in a different direction than the one the rest of us are left in! I appreciate your response today--helps me to realize a few things myself!

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  59. I see that everyone else has written you a paragraph, at least. I don't want to repeat those things, and I don't want to overdue it, but I do just want to tell you thank you. This post has been wonderful. And I love you in an admiring sort of way. :D

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  60. Thanks so much for posting this...for sharing how long the journey took, the ups, the downs, and that raising a family doesn't have to be put on the back burner or one chosen over the other. I appreciate your honesty and love reading your blog, you are an inspiration!

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  61. We are working through some of these same ideas at our house. Our oldest son will graduate next spring and it's really important to me that he does what he loves...not just what will make him the most money. He's decided to go to jewelry school and is very excited. I will say that in a weird way reading your blog and knowing that artists don't have to be "starving" has been helpful to me since I just expected that he would choose a more traditional route.

    Thanks for sharing your heart!

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  62. I love posts like this. They are so *real*. And it's exactly the kind of long rambling train of consciousness that I so often write myself. You may have inspired another such epic on my part. Thanks for the peeks into your life. Thanks for the reality.

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  63. Thank You.... I read every word and it was a breath of fresh air ~

    :)

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  64. Anonymous12:44 PM

    Thankyou! I love your art-of expressing yourself-your unique fabric,embroidery,sewing, your family at your side(especially your little girls sewing,knitting...) as well as the dailyness of life(such as the crayons all over the floor moments).
    You don't have to tell me "how you do it all"-I love your art-it inspires me-and I know that anything great takes a great deal of work and passion.

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  65. Anna Maria, you are such an inspiration! Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us, from deep in your heart and soul.

    You are wonderful!

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  66. Beautiful! I think of my journey as a quilt. There are some bright and wonderful sections and some torn and tattered. There is a wandering path through the bits and pieces. Luckily, the quilt is still growing in my mind. (which totally cracks me up because I do a lot of things and quilting is not one of them...it is just a metaphor in my mind.) maggieb!

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  67. "I think there is an assumption that there is some specific template of life. Or a secret that no one has revealed or a school where you learn this very set of trades. Or that success somehow will occur if you just know that one thing that no one seems to tell you."

    Boy, could you have saved me some heartache in my 20's if I had read this then. Such a long time to learn that. Also, that everyone else walking around is just as uncertain as you are. No one has it all together, and if it looks like they do it is because they are pretending.

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  68. Thanks very much for this post. I've been reading your blog for a while, but this one really struck a chord. I've just started a craft business a few months ago, and been a bit too obsessed about making sales, stressing myself out a bit too much, longing for a quiet crafting time without worrying about "is it worth my time" etc. Everything you say is so true!

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  70. lovely post!

    i was so inspired about 4 years ago when your fabric was featured in BHG (i think it was chocolate lollipop). it brought me back to life in some way. i ripped the page out of the magazine and thought 'i-want-to-live-like-the-way-i-feel-when-i-look-at-this-page.' i rarely comment here but i'm always inspired by what you do and how you do it. thank you :-)

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  71. susanintexas7:35 PM

    I just wanted to comment that your blog is one of my top five--one I HAVE to read no matter what. I LOVE what you are doing (always have). This new collection is just amazing and I can't wait to get my hands on it! And the embroidery as well. And such lovely musings on your life/work balance....it's all just wonderful & I wish I lived down the street from you!

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  72. Wow. I am one of those that has wanted to email you and ask you more about how all this got started. I am 3 days away from moving from Nashville to LA and starting a creative business of my own. Your blog has been my mentor. I never would have known about Textile Fabrics if it wasn't for you! Thank You!

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  73. It was so nice to read such an honest article. I have been struggling with this for years. I started making and selling dresses back in the mid-90's and have sewn things off and on to sell ever since. A "regular" corporate job had taken me away from all of that for many years, but after leaving that world to stay home with my son I really want back in. That and the fact that 1.5 months into a job search has landed nothing but heartache for wanting to continue to stay home with him. I just started up an alterations business and am still working on bringing in regular work. My hope is that the alterations coupled with my online shops will help to bring in the money and allow me the freedom I want to raise my child. I know this is the dream of many people. I know that it is NOT the reality for most who try. But, I have decided to allow the negativity to come in, be considered and then let go, as I continue to search for growth in the business of my dreams. Wish me luck!
    Erika
    kitschdesigns.com
    chictweaksalterations.com

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  74. Thank you Anna!

    I'm working so hard right now trying to establish my business. I'm completely losing track as to why I went into this in the first place. Thanks for the perspective.

    ....And exactly HOW did you make 20 dresses in a day?! I can't get 4 skirts done and sleep too.

    Michelle

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  75. Such an important topic--thanks for sharing your journey! I've shared this link today at http://www.craftbuds.com/fresh-picks-for-wednesday-6-15-11/

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  76. Thank you Anna Maria. I started blogging about my life, family and creations a couple of months ago, inspired by you. Sometimes I would look at your life and feel such longing and dissatisfaction. I decided to blog and take photos as a way of reminding myself of the things I loved and to think through the decisions and risks I wanted to take. It was so wonderful to drop by and hear your reflections, and see how hard you've worked, to see crayons on the floor in your house too! Thank you for opening up your life and mind to us.xx

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  77. Loved this post Anna. Thank you for sharing. It's so true-if you're not happy with what you are doing, it's not worth it! I admire your courage. It's difficult to go it on your own, with no guide book or boss! Kudos :)

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  78. it has all been said... but that is not going to stop me! Your work reflects what you live. I am thankful for that. I look at your designs and I am inspired to do more, make more, dream more. Not everyone effects me that way. Thank you so much for making space for us to see the way you work and for being authentic.

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  79. it has all been said... but that is not going to stop me! Your work reflects what you live. I am thankful for that. I look at your designs and I am inspired to do more, make more, dream more. Not everyone effects me that way. Thank you so much for making space for us to see the way you work and for being authentic.

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  80. WOW! What an amazing post! You are a true inspiration. Wishing you many more blessing. I love, love your creations.

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  81. Anonymous7:56 AM

    What are you saying here? A lot of words that don't seem to be telling us very much about the fabric design side of things at all! My friend who I aked to read it didn't get it either. I would have liked to have known more about that. There were some interesting things muddled in there but not about what you said it was going to be about! Perhaps you want to keep it secret? And yes people do pester blogers with incredibly inane and annoying questions but either ignore or answer please. This just confused - well I speak for myself only, it confused me.

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  82. Hi Anonymous! Good question, what am I saying?? haha! I guess I am saying that I don't have all the answers and that each of us has our own history with how we got to a certain point in our career. I am always happy to answer specific questions but I think overall that my story is a long and winding one that is often hard to sum up in an email here and there as I get asked almost daily. Please see my FAQ and my contact page and send me an email if you ever want to ask me something :) And p.s. fabric design is one of many things that I do, and I didn't really set out to specifically talk about that in this post as much as I thought I might share evolving thoughts about how we all choose to occupy ourselves... I have no secrets with regards to how I came to design fabric, you can find more info about it in several interviews that I link to here on the blog, and also on my FAQ page, also linked here.

    have a great day and thanks for your input! xo, Anna

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  83. Thanks for taking the time to write all of that! The thing I found myself thinking and saying is, "YES." I can relate to much of what you said!

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  84. Such great ruminating here. I love reading/hearing your though process, as these are many of the same things that I struggle with. Especially love the bit about how someone looking at your life from the outside might only perceive the good and than think that good is all there is, because failure is not always visible. Very astute.
    And I'm intrigued by the 'visiting artist' concept. I would love to be a visiting artist in your blog space. I'm an artist! http://andreavanderkooij.com/
    I would visit! http://fingerthumb.typepad.com/finger-thumb/

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  85. I love this post!

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  87. Hello,

    This post has been really inspirational for me, thanks for sharing, I needed to read something like this,

    thanks a lot,

    marta

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  88. Interesting post, it is hard to describe what we do, specially what is it that we do as humans.

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  89. You have a talent, and you actually know it, but what I want to tell you is please never change that way you have to express your ideas and to communicate different stuff. To write is an art, so you must be proud of it, cuz your one of greatest.

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  90. Hello, Such a wonderful blog i ever read. Please keep posting good blogs. Thank you very much...

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