Sunday, September 4, 2011

On Crazy Kids and Creativity

"Don't pee in the shower! A is peeing in the shower!" I can hear G shout from the bathroom. I made the mistake of walking away for two seconds to grab something - and that's the first thing I hear. "Mom!" I toss a load of laundry in the washer and start the water; by the time I walk back into the bathroom, A is crying and G is still screaming his head off.

Of course, that isn't what I'm here to talk about - well, okay, it is. To a degree. I started this off by wanting to rant about a couple of new ideas I had about things to sell in my store (look me up on Facebook, or on Etsy), and a new design I'm using, but just about everything I want to talk about invariably comes back to the kids. They're ever-present in my life, and I love them, but sometimes they make me want to scream.

This month has started out as a month that will obviously be full of more adjustments. With a solid awareness that G has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, sometimes referred to as Sensory Integration Disorder, or SID), we find ourselves taking baby steps. More things have begun to set him off, despite an "all clear" from the specialists. A ringing phone, a loud car, the sound of the air conditioner in the Kobold. Sounds he makes are fine; sounds from others drive him insane. He's adjusting well enough to school, but the stress of moving, of Hubby being gone almost all day constantly, of me occasionally being gone, of living with my mother, of starting school - it's wearing on the poor kid. He's developing a series of unpleasant digestive issues; during the day and evening it's often diarrhea, and at night he'll often wake up out of a dead sleep and begin throwing up violently - even though he might have eaten a good eight hours before, he'll still somehow have things in there to vomit. It's wearing on his little body, though he doesn't seem dehydrated or otherwise ill, so I try to give him some leeway, excuse the roughhousing, read to him more, and let him draw as often as he pleases. He eats pretty well otherwise during the day, so we're pushing back dinner time, ending late snacks, and generally trying to encourage him to have an empty tummy once he's in bed. A more set schedule during the day would be nice, but school changed what little schedule we had in the first place, so it's back to square one. I'm hoping that this week we can start establishing a better schedule and routine; once we work through those worst first few days, I think it'll be better for everybody in the long run.

Meanwhile, A is doing well. He's imitating G's reactions to sounds, which is more than a little irritating, but we're fairly sure that he doesn't have the same problems as G does. He tries desperately to be helpful, but usually isn't - and, curiously enough, he's actually far more violent than G ever was at his age. We think it has something to do with the fact that unlike G at two years old, he has an older brother to compete and fight with. It's sometimes unpleasant, but we manage more or less. A is a good kid, a real sweetheart and totally a Mama's boy, and when he snuggles up with me at night I'm reminded of just how short a time our kids are young enough to want and need us - and how little time we have left before they may decide they don't like to be in public with us, or that they might not want hugs and kisses before they head off to do whatever they're off doing. They remind me daily about how lucky and blessed I am to see their shining - okay, well, not so much - faces, and I love them for it.

So, on to what I wanted to talk about: my business! I don't have a business plan because, quite frankly, at this point I'm really not sure what kind of plan I should have. Happy Zombie Studios was born from a joke at a game night four years ago; the idea of a positively thrilled zombie was hilarious to the group at the time, and I swore that night I would someday start a business, and I'd call it Happy Zombie Studios. Why? Because I could. I filed the name away, and last year I finally brought HZS to life through some cutesy items that I figured out how to replicate. I sold a few - so technically I have established myself as an actual business entity - but it keeps flopping because of random life events. Things I can't easily see coming, things I  usually can't work around. Anyway, I've refocused and rethought some of my options, found a low-cost, high-profit item or four that I can make relatively easily, and have begun the difficult task of reestablishing myself. I've found it hard because I've had a couple of small but legitimately negative experiences, and have thus far spent far more than I've brought in on trying to make prototypes and "cheap offerings" to friends in exchange for them letting everybody know where they got them. I know this has to change soon, and I've done my research and have concluded that I can easily put my price point exactly where I estimated and have it be "about right" - that is to say, a good middle ground that allows me to make money without overcharging and alienating my target audience. The downside, as always, is that too many other people have already stepped into this world, and my crafting intentions are becoming somewhat useless in light of others who have already established themselves as trustworthy businesswomen, creative crafters, and generally good people that everybody likes working with. Their businesses have names with the words "boutique" and "couture", their photographs are professional and often taken by volunteer business photographers, their designs are new and intricate and elaborate while still remaining tasteful and beautiful. They possess an ability to match and mix colors that I have always lacked, the connections and funding to wholesale shop effectively, and an incredibly deadly combination of word-of-mouth advertising and targeted sales that seem to draw in a crowd and keep it. They are, to be quite frank, more talented than I am, and it shows in every way. It's a frightening thing to consider when I'd previously thought this might be a relevant, sincere way to provide income to my family without having to be constantly gone and always arranging childcare (which is also something we can't afford right now).

So I'm kind of at an impasse. I'm working hard on my creations still, offering up new ones once I see an Idea I think I can make come to life without having to purchase more or commit myself to the impossible. I scout other shops, look at what they've done, and always ask how I could take that Idea and make it my own without straining myself or our budget. The fact that I have no current profit to work with is always lingering in the back of my head, a sore spot that's hard to ignore and is always there, staring me down, challenging me to find something else to try.

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