Out of action for a bit

Just a quick note to let you know that I will be out of action for a little while as I’m about to undergo major surgery (after it was cancelled the first time a few weeks back!).

However, orders will go out as normal: I will have a glamorous assistant to pack and post orders while I’m recovering.

But be aware that whatever is currently in stock in the shop is all I have available at the moment. So if you want a specific jewellery design, you should get in quick!

Also note that changes to standard length necklaces will take at least an extra week to be done and custom ring sizes are currently not available.

This is because I will be unable to work at my jewellery bench at all for at least a couple of weeks and will have a limited capacity for making jewellery for several more weeks. On the upside, I hope to have extra time to do some planning, designing and research work while I’m recovering!

Visit the handmade jewellery shop.

See you on the other side!

Back in action for a bit!

For those who saw my earlier (now removed) blog post about me being out of action for a while due to having surgery, well it has unexpectedly been delayed! So I have a temporary reprieve while I wait for a new date in the next week or two.

I will post again when I know more.

Whenever the new date is set for, orders for handmade jewellery will be posted out as normal.

However, there will be limited stock available for at least a few weeks due to my inability to work in the studio while I’m recovering.

Stay tuned!

Busy!

I’ve been a bit quiet of late, but behind the scenes I’ve had an awful lot of stuff going on.

My bathroom was completely gutted and has been (mostly) rebuilt after the old one (which wasn’t old at all!) fell apart.

So not only have I spent a chunk of time with either very limited or no bathroom facilities in my home and workplace, I’ve also had to keep tradespeople’s hours, which – not remotely being a morning person – has almost killed me! It’s been a pretty big disruption, but it’s now almost complete.

Some of my busy-ness!

In addition I’ve had a huge amount of paperwork and planning work to get done. And a lot of general catching up after an extremely busy lead up to Christmas and falling in a heap of exhaustion for a while afterwards.

Plus I’m getting myself and my business organised to deal with me going through a fairly big medical event in the next few weeks – I’ll be having major surgery which will require several weeks of recovery. I’ll post more about the impact that might have on my handmade jewellery business closer to the time, but the shop will remain open and orders will be posted out as normal, thanks to my glamorous assistant!

And finally I’m still working hard on researching and planning the changes mooted in my recent Time for a change blog post. I’ll have more to share with you about that exciting but daunting project soon!

Time for a change

I'm trying so hard - artwork by Danah Kim.
Trying – artwork on my office wall by Danah Kim.

It’s a shiny new year and this one in particular I hope to be a very important one for me and my handmade jewellery business.

I’m very fortunate in what I do for a living: I get to create beautiful objects with my hands that people like enough that they are happy to buy them from me.

And enough people are happy to do so that I’m able to do this work as my full time job.

It’s a very great privilege and I’d rather be doing this type of work than anything else.

But starting from 2014, my handmade jewellery business has to change.

I’d like to share with you in some detail why that’s the case, even if the ‘how’ isn’t quite ready to be shared at this point.

The busy season

Let me describe what Christmas – by far the busiest time of year for my business – looks like for me.

I usually start planning and working towards it in around June or July. By early September I’m working so hard on making jewellery and putting plans into action that I can say goodbye to having almost any days off – including weekends.

From the start of September 2013 I had just one and a half days off up until just before Christmas Day. And all of those non-days off entailed very long hours of work. Most weeks I was working at least 120 hours. My days involved eating, sleeping and working and pretty much nothing else – and there wasn’t really enough sleeping going on or time to prepare decent meals.

In October I got sick – I had two colds in a row and the second one especially was a bad one. Yet I didn’t have a single day off – not even a single hour off. I needed to keep working as hard as I possibly could.

By early November my hands had started going to pieces. I regularly had splits in my skin which were the result of working my hands too hard rather than specific injuries. I’d have to tape them together and keep working. My nails were worn right down and my skin was dry and flaking, no matter how well I tried to look after it. And then there was the RSI – a pain deep in my wrist which I generally had to try to work around or ignore.

By the time the busy season stopped a few days before Christmas I felt completely wrecked, both physically and mentally. And then I had to race around madly in a short space of time to get my own Christmas sorted.

As for the rest of the year, the hours may not be so long and I can be more flexible with my time, but more often than not I still work 7 days a week. Plus I often have to drop personal plans in order to work – generally it seems easier to just not make personal plans in the first place.

It’s not sustainable

So my life is almost all business, all year, every year – only more so for part of it. I’m sure you can see that this simply isn’t a sustainable way to live and work, no matter how much I love what I do.

Working so much harms my health, my relationships and my ability to enjoy the world around me. As I get older this will only get harder.

And in spite of working so hard, like many self-employed designers I’m often barely scraping by financially.

I’m luckier than many in that my business is successful enough that I’m able to get by without any other income coming into my household. But my profit is less than the average salary in Australia and things can get very tight and quite scary. If there was even a moderate hiccup in my life, I’m not sure I’d be able to get through it financially.

The problem is that because I’m already working much harder than is sustainable, I have no way to continue to grow the business – it’s grown as much as it possibly can within its current structure. And that really isn’t enough.

Where to next?

For a few years now I’ve known that all of this has been building up into a major problem and that sooner or later I would hit the limit of the amount of work I could physically do myself. I’ve now reached that limit. The business wants to keep growing and needs to do so, but I can’t manage it as it currently stands.

Something has to change – both for the wellbeing of me personally and my business. And the continued wellbeing of my business will hopefully benefit my customers as well as myself.

As for what the change looks like, well after years of considering various possibilities I think I have finally nailed down a first do-able step which I believe also maintains the core integrity of my business. And I have an idea of how that might lead to other steps.

I have more research and thinking to do before I start telling people about it, but there are changes afoot and I wanted my customers to better understand why that is the case.

In the next little while I’ll start talking about what my plans are and how things are likely to change – and I will be asking for your always valued input.

So, stay tuned.

PS. Happy new year!

Happy 2013!

Cherries from my garden.It’s a bit belated but … Happy New Year!

2012 was a very busy for my business with my busiest festive season ever by a very (very!) long way.

There was very little time for anything other than working, sleeping and eating. I think I only managed 2 days off between the start of October and Christmas eve.

So I ended 2012 feeling exhausted and with calloused and aching hands from having made so much jewellery and so many sets of Christmas pudding tokens! But also happy to have had such a successful year (and a big thanks to all of those who helped make that possible).

At this point in 2013 I’m still trying to take things a bit easy and am attending to a few personal things which were neglected during over the last few months.

I’m always very happy that my annual business cycle times in so well with the new year. Each new year really does feel like a fresh start for me and I’m able to spend some time with a clear head doing some serious planning work for the year ahead.

So that’s something I’ll be attending to in earnest over the next few weeks. At this point I’m not entirely sure what 2013 holds in store for my handmade jewellery business, but I have plenty of ideas lurking. I just need to flesh them out and piece them together and see what I come up with. Of course I’ll be sharing what’s happening as the year progresses.

I hope so far 2013 is being kind to you!

PS. The cherries were picked from the tree in my garden just before Christmas – along with lots more of them! They are the only produce I’ve been able to grow so far this season – mostly because they required almost no work, other than harvesting.

Season’s greetings!

I want to wish all of you a lovely Christmas and a great new year!

It’s now too late to get jewellery orders delivered anywhere in time for Christmas, so for me that means finally having a little bit of time to rush around and get my own festive season organised!

However, orders will continue to be posted out as normal over the festive season, apart from on public holidays.

Happy Christmas!

Jewellery studio update

Not a lot of progress has been made on my new jewellery studio in recent months as I’ve been working too much in the space to have the time to work on the space!

However, there have been some improvements, which I thought I’d share.

Red painted ceiling frame inside my jewellery studio. Jewellery studio ceiling frames, plus new sink area.

Firstly I have now painted the steel roof frames a bright glossy red after rust-proofing them. I still need to do a bit of touching up of the white paint to hide some of the accidental red smudges!

Jewellery studio sink area.

Secondly, thanks to the efforts of my Dad I now have a fully functioning sink area. Having running water in my studio is an absolute joy after years of running back and forth to the nearest tap in another room, which was time-consuming and sometimes dangerous and messy.

The sink has been finished with some great looking vintage laminex which was reclaimed from a community hall which has had its kitchen replaced recently. I’m really happy with it!

Jewellery studio sink top.

Plus my Mum finished off some curtains to hang beneath the sink so that I can hide away chemicals and the like.

The next major task in the jewellery studio is to sort out the floor. At present it’s just exposed concrete. I’ve looked into various solutions, with many being beyond what I can afford. At this point I’m planning on simply etching and painting the floor, plus getting a square of padded vinyl around my bench to make it less hard to stand on.

The view from my desk

The view from my desk.
February is normally the hottest month of the year in my part of the world. And by ‘hot’ I mean really seriously unbearably hot!

However, this year so far February has been not hot at all – in fact I’ve needed the heater on some nights. I’d be quite happy about this, except that it’s also been fairly dismal with lots of grey, cloudy days. But finally yesterday the sun came out and I was very happy to see it!

So I thought I’d take a photo to share part of the view from the desk in my office at this time of year.

I prefer this view in the cooler months when the landscape is much greener, but it’s still lovely to be able to work looking out over trees, hills and paddocks (with the occasional sheep wandering by).

Stepping into 2012

Print by Kate Banazi.
Print in my hallway by Kate Banazi

A (slightly belated) happy new year to you!

Since Christmas I’ve been taking a little much-needed time out after the festive season rush – which was especially busy this time around.

But now I’m gently easing myself into the new year and am starting to look at what needs to happen.

Goodbye 2011

2011 was not the year I had planned for. It had both high points and low points, but by the end of the year I was not in a situation I had remotely expected when the year began! It was a chaotic and difficult year during which plans fell by the wayside.

The main high point was purchasing a house and creating a proper studio space in the garden. This big step forward wasn’t even on the horizon at the start of the year. And I certainly wasn’t even vaguely considering moving to South Australia to make this happen!

The low points included a close family member developing a debilitating mystery illness (which motivated me to make the big move), attending a couple of funerals for people who died unexpectedly and far too young … and more besides. So they were pretty low lows.

Hello 2012!

As for my plans for 2012 (assuming I get to actually stick with them this year!), well I want to attend to the finishing touches in my new studio and I also hope to get my garden more established and perhaps redecorate my office as a starting point inside the house.

However, I also want to finally get some new projects off the ground to grow my business and hopefully make me feel a bit more secure into the future. I’m sure I’ll be keeping you informed of those as they develop.

Thank you!

Finally, I want to say a huge thanks to everyone who supported my handmade jewellery business last year – and especially over the festive season, which was one of my most successful ever. It’s very much appreciated.

I’ve moved!

Yes, I have moved – and did so a few weeks ago! But it was a long and complicated move and I’ve had an enormous amount to do to get vaguely organised (and still have a lot more to do yet!).

The move involved driving from New South Wales to South Australia – a journey of around 16 hours through three states which we did over two days with an overnight stay in the middle. I thought I’d share some of the things that we saw on the way. Most of these photos were taken from a rapidly moving car, so that explains any blurriness and the like!

The first noteworthy thing while driving from my previous home in the Blue Mountains was the enormous amount of damage in higher up towns from the extreme winds we had experienced the week prior. It was bad enough where I lived, but was considerably worse in these towns.

Blizzard between Lithgow and Bathurst.

The next noteworthy thing was a very unexpected blizzard just the other side of the Mountains! We left in perfect sunshine only to encounter this not long after as we drove between Lithgow and Bathurst.

Snow on a field outside of Bathurst.

We learned later that if we had left just 20 or 30 minutes later than we did then we’d have found this major road closed for two days due to snow and ice.

The Hay Plain in NSW.

After a long day of driving and a good night’s sleep we drove through the Hay Plain – such a vast flat and featureless plain that you can see the curvature of the earth. So above is what nothing looks like!

Hell's Gate, Hay Plain, NSW.

Also while driving through the Hay Plain we spotted the gates of hell! This is apparently a gate leading to a large farm.

Driving on the open road.

This basically sums up hours and hours worth of driving – a view of the road, more road and yet more road.

Crossing the Murray River in a ferry.

We crossed the Murray River a couple of times during the journey, but this was taken while we were crossing it by ferry at Swan Reach in South Australia.

The 'back' of the Adelaide Hills in South Australia.

This is the very start of the Adelaide Hills when coming in from the east – lots of rolling but pretty much bare hills (apart from rocks).

The view from my office, complete with sheep!

And finally we arrived at my new home in the hills! This is part of the view from my desk – where I am writing this blog post from.

I’m moving

I’m now very busily packing, cleaning and getting organised for moving house early next week. Eeek!

Artworks from my walls ready to be packed for moving.
Artworks from my walls ready to be packed.

I’ve moved house many (many!) times in my life, but this is the biggest move I’ve ever undertaken as it involves moving my home and business to another state and into a house I’ve bought.

As for what this means for my handmade jewellery shop, well hopefully it won’t be too disruptive.

I will of course post any orders as early as I can, but I’m asking customers to allow up to an additional five business days for their orders to be shipped (plus the usual delivery time) from this coming Monday.

My plan is that by Monday 25 July things should be back to normal – at least in terms of my business!

On the road again

Photograph of garden, picket fence and rolling hills.

I’ve been churning over a fairly radical change to my life in recent months, mostly as the result of an immediate family member having been seriously unwell with what remains a mystery illness.

After a great deal of soul searching and long conversations with friends I finally reached a decision several weeks ago.

I didn’t think this decision would amount to anything at least a year, if not longer. But everything has unfolded incredibly quickly and suddenly my life is about to change much sooner than I had expected!

That’s it, I’m leaving!

The deal is that I’m going to be moving house again! But this time I’m moving a long distance back to around where I grew up and where most of my family still live – Adelaide in South Australia.

This is something I had never expected to be doing until very recently, having made my escape many years ago and having not missed living there even a little bit ever since!

I’m also going to be living in a home that I actually own, which will be a massive step all by itself.

So soon I’ll be moving to a house in a pretty spot in the outer Adelaide hills. The house has lovely views of big rolling hills with sheep and cows grazing on them – and there are vineyards not far away. I’ll have the above view from my office window, which seems perfectly okay to me! As long as it doesn’t always look like winter, of course.

After some work the house will have an external studio. Currently the studio-to-be is a metal garage, so my plan is to have it lined, insulated, painted and have some more windows put in, along with creating some fixed bench and storage space – and hopefully even a sink with running water (something I’ve had to work without easy access to for years!). This means I’ll finally be able to expand the equipment I use in my studio and to have a set up which really suits me and my work.

I’m also planning to make the house a bit more ‘me’ and to create a lovely garden – currently the garden is almost a blank slate so it has lots of potential.

I look forward to sharing my progress on the studio particularly. I think it will be an exciting project and it will be wonderful to have a suitable set up to work in at last.

At this point I don’t know exactly when I’ll be moving, but it will be at some stage during the next couple of months. I’m hoping that with some planning I can keep any disruptions to my business to a minimum.