Business on the (Mentally Ill) Brain

Confession time. And this is a tough one, so I understand if you’re uncomfortable reading this. But it’s important, and it’s not talked about often enough.

I live with my own worst enemy. She exhausts me, ridicules me, and steals my passion. She starves me or makes me binge-eat. She makes me paranoid. And I can’t just move away or go to the police.

Because my enemy lives in my brain. I live with depression and anxiety. While the depression fluctuates, the anxiety is always right there, in everything I do. Oh, and it’s general anxiety and social anxiety. Social anxiety is fabulous for trying to sell myself to strangers (not.)

And yes, it has a female voice. Maybe because I was bullied by girls while growing up. Or maybe it’s a version of my voice, I’m not sure. I call her the Mean One. My other thoughts have their own voices, but they’re smaller. The Mean One is loud and pushy, and she tends to overwhelm the other voices. I can keep the worst things she says bundled up in the back of my head, but it’s like cheesecloth. If I poke it, her venom leaks out. And I have to keep stuffing new things into the bundle all the time.

She is the biggest road block in my business. Well, to everything, really. But this post is about my business, so let’s stick with that.

(I’m not writing this in a bid for sympathy. I don’t want people to buy my jewelry because they feel bad for me. I want people to buy my jewelry because they love it and want to wear it. I’m writing this because mental illness is lonely and business is hard. I know there has to be someone else out there who’s running a business, or wanting to start one, but who’s held back by mental illness of their own. I’ve never been one to start the conversation about this, but I’m struggling to find one to join. I’m tired of feeling so alone. So…I’m starting the conversation.)

One of the things she likes to latch onto is all the entrepreneur books and articles that say a successful business person has to be driven, focused, confident, willing to take risks…she likes to point out that I’m none of those things.

I could have finished so many things if I only applied myself. But she likes to make things look big and scary and outside my skillset. “It’s easier not to do it at all,” she says. “You can’t fail if you don’t start.” So I find reasons to give up or to delay starting. It’s too cold to take pictures outside. I should find a better source for steel beads and chain before I try moving into wholesale. No one’s going to buy it or like it or see it, anyway. It doesn’t matter.

When I have a lot of things to do, she likes to talk quickly. So quickly that her phrases overlap. That’s why I like writing lists…provided I don’t get distracted while writing said lists. I literally have sat down to write a list, written down one or two items, and then shot up to start working on one of said items…only to realize I was working on a list and sit down again. Rinse and repeat. She really loves my rare bursts of energy.

Let’s not go too deep into my lack of confidence. That’s a whole book in itself. And I don’t think I’m emotionally ready to unwrap this unappetizing nugget. I think I was confident when I was really young…but I was first diagnosed with depression at age eight, so who knows. But she loves picking on me. About everything. My weight, my hair, my jewelry, everything. And she deflects any compliments people pay me by building a high, thick wall of all the things I suck at.

And as for taking risks…nope, those are scary. I am intensely proud of myself when I do manage to work up the courage to do something, to push myself, but nothing good has really come from any of it. She likes to remind me of past failures to keep me from trying again.

All of it comes together into this low background chant that says nothing matters anyway, so why bother? It’s easier to just…sit on the couch and watch Netflix for hours, because then at least I don’t have to face rejection in person.

Trying to manage all this while still presenting as neurotypical is exhausting. I do have a bit of determination, I guess. I want to get my life in order.

I am getting help for my mental illness, but it’s not an easy process.

So far, the meds either haven’t done much good, or they raised my heart rate by 20bpm in a week and gave me the shakes so bad that I couldn’t work and gave me insomnia, or they made me so woozy that I felt unsafe on stairs. The current ones are hell on my stomach. And apparently, taking the medication after eating is not good enough, gotta be meds first; I’ve been snacking on plain white bread after puking up today’s dose. And therapy is hit or miss. I know I should be doing things. I just…can’t do them.

Not really looking forward to dealing with crowds tomorrow without proper dosages of my medication. So if you see me tomorrow looking a little vacant or scared…this is why.

Anyway, I’ve probably wasted enough time on this. I do have to prep for the Witchery Market tomorrow. There’s tons more I could talk about, so maybe I’ll work up enough courage to write another post.



Behind the Market Table: Part Four

(I know, I know, I’m tardy.)

So. I have a market this weekend. And because I have a full day tomorrow, I had to get everything done today. Who’d like a wee peek into the craziness that is the last day before a market? Good, because that’s what you’re getting!

*wakes up and sees the time* Nooooooooo… *rolls over and tries to go back to sleep*

Okay, so sleep isn’t happening. I’ll play on my phone for a while.

Goddamn bladder. I’m up, I’m up.
Me: Uh-huh, okay.
Puzzle: I AM SO MAD.
Me: Do you want pets or something?
Me: We’ve covered that. Not sorry. *heads downstairs*
Me: Right now?
Me: Okie-doke *opens door*
Time to be productive, with my caffeine and muffin and fruit.

Time for a break/stretch. Check the door, let the cat in.

Make a list of everything that needs doing.

Panic just a little (because my motivation, and the anxiety that goes with it, is nil.)

Get started on one of the strings of tasks, finishing the short stories I plan to debut at the market. This involves editing two short stories, printing ten copies of each, and writing/printing/cutting/gluing envelope labels for the second story (since I did the first one yesterday.)

Run up and down the stairs a few times, from basement to second floor, because I go upstairs for more paper but get distracted talking to/about the cat.

Add more tasks to to-do list.

Realize that the ten labels I just printed are the wrong ones. Argue with laptop before figuring out a way to save and print the correct file. Instead of cutting and gluing the labels while the stories print, now I have to wait until the labels print last.

Gather up Shaman’s Trinkets bracelets, ruler, box cutter, and new boards. Let the printer work its magic while I cut the boards to fit the bracelets onto them

Realize the printer has been done for a while. Collate printed stories.

Start cutting and gluing envelope labels for second story.

Stick freshly-glued envelopes under a pile of books, because dollar store gluesticks are crap. Start folding and stuffing copies of the first story into envelopes.

Resume putting bracelets on boards. Goodness, it’s tedious.

Need. Food. Time for a stuffing my face/playing on my phone break.

Oh crap, still more stuff to do, and at most, five and a half hours before I crash.

Gather up all stock that I’m taking to do a final inventory and add the necessary items to my payment app.

Finish packing up stock bag.

Begin running around and up/down the stairs, hunting for display items and stock box items.

Is the cat outside? Can’t remember. Check the door. No cat. Must be inside.

Sit down and unpack back entirely, sorting through all items. Write up list of stock box items, so I can type up a printable list later.

Me: Sure did.
Me: I’m sure you do.
Me: I’m busy right now. You can go around.
Puzzle: NO. MOVE.
Me: Nope.
Me: Then learn to open the door yourself. Actually, no, don’t do that.

Realize the card reader needs a charge. Oops!

Realize the Big Fancy necklace stand is…dunno where. Uh-oh. Time for more cardio.

Find Big Fancy. Yay!

Start re-packing market bag.

Zip-up market bag. Lights and card reader are still charging, but they can go in later.

Holy crap, I’m done. Whaaaat. What am I forgetting? I’ve got time to remember. Type up printable stock box list for next market.

OH CRAP, MY APRON. I AM NOT FORGETTING THAT AGAIN. And I should get my stock bag and the ammo box (yes, the ST bracelet cards are in an ammo box) upstairs, so I don’t forget them. Same with the three lights that are charged. And the papers that I need for my appointment in the morning. And I really should toss the rest of the hot-cold packs in the freezer. And get the insulated bag ready for whatever snacks I’m taking…

And that’s how it goes when I’m not rushing to make extra stock…

Behind the Market Table: Part One

I’m part of a few crafting groups on Facebook, and I’ve been seeing a number of posts from crafters heading to their first markets. They’re looking for tips.

There’s lots of people offering tips on how to set up your displays. You can check Google or Pinterest or whatever tickles your fancy.

But people tend to forget about what you’ll need behind your table. Some things are obvious. Bags, or some other packaging so customers can carry your products. A cash float (tip: if you don’t have to charge sales tax, make your prices all whole dollar amounts, so you don’t need to bother with small change.) But let’s go over a few other things you might want to bring that no one seems to think of. These are general things that any crafter will find useful, for indoor or outdoor markets.

Scissors: Yes, the humble scissors. They don’t have to be large shears. I actually have dog grooming scissors in my box, because they were handy. But most markets I go to, someone asks to borrow scissors at least once, but no one else has any. Don’t be the person scrambling for scissors.

Tape: I pack four kinds of tape in my box. Yes, four. Scotch tape, double-sided tape, packing tape, and dry-erase duct tape (it’s really cool, y’all.) I bring so many because there isn’t one tape that’s good for everything. I’m actually considering packing masking tape and regular duct tape, to make sure ALL my bases are covered. Anyway, again, people ask for tape all day. And I wind up using it pretty often, too.

Sharpies: Bring at least a black one. This isn’t as commonly asked for as tape and scissors, but it does happen.

Notepad: Someone may ask for some paper. But more likely, this will be something you’ll use. One of the things I do at markets is take notes. What people are looking at but not buying, what is selling best, what people are asking for, what took too long to set up, what displays are unstable. Any ideas you come up with while you’re sitting at your table.

Portable Battery and Charging Cords: These are a must if you use your phone to process transactions. The last thing you need is to lose sales at the end of the day because your phone’s battery died. Make sure the battery is charged a night or two before (I don’t recommend charging it overnight, in case you forget to pack it.)

These are things you’ll need at any kind of market. Other things I pack are an assortment of pens, some dry erase markers, paper clips, binder clips, sticky tack, and post-it notes. I use the calculator on my phone if necessary (another reason to keep that battery charged.)

Of course, you should also pack necessary personal-use items. I keep a bottle of Aleve in my box, because my joints and tendons are crap. I also make sure I have lip balm and my Fiddlestick. I always forget to pack a hair elastic. So make sure you pack anything you need to get through a long day standing and lifting.

I keep all these things in my market bag at all times, so I don’t have to think to pack them (the exception being the battery. I cart that around in my purse.) It makes the night-before prep a little easier.

Read Part Two here.
Read Part Three here.

New Listing: Pyrite Skull Jewelry

Pyrite Skull Jewelry

This charming jewelry set features carved pyrite skulls. I have them available as a set or just as earrings or necklace, depending on what you prefer.

Pyrite is an iron-based crystal most popularly known as fool’s gold, since it mimics the appearance of the precious metal. It’s known as a lucky stone. It’s said to increase the user’s creativity and drive to pursue their dreams.

The necklace has a skull that measures 16mm by 13mm hung from a stainless steel bail.It includes an 18″ silver-plated steel chain with a silver-plated pewter lobster clasp and a 2″ extender chain.

The earrings feature an adorable pair of skulls that measure 9mm by 6mm. The ear wires are stainless steel, and come with clear rubber ear nuts. The entire earring from top to bottom measures approximately 2″.

I currently have one each (one set) ready-made, but I have more skulls. If you’d like more than one, please feel free to send me a message through the shop or over Facebook, and we can chat.

Buy here.

New Listing: Agate and Crystal Beaded Pendant

Another of my earlier works. This one is a rectangular piece of agate, dyed blue, and finished with sparkling clear AB crystal beads and tiny silver glass beads.

The pendant is 22mm wide and 51mm long. It comes with a 28″ black satin cord with a silver-plated pewter lobster clasp, but it can be hung on your favourite cord or chain.

Buy here.

New Listing: Amethyst and Glass Beaded Pendant

This beautiful, one of a kind piece is one of my early works. It’s a 35mm flat, two-tone glass bead with silver foil inside. Down the front, I’ve wrapped wire with amethyst chips and dark purple crystal beads.

It’s a striking, unique piece.

It comes with a 25″ black satin cord with a silver-plated pewter lobster clasp, but it can be strung on whatever cord or chain you prefer.

Buy here.

New Listing: Crystal Scarab Necklace with Scarab Charm

This sparkly addition to the Mythos line features a stunning Swarovski crystal scarab in Silver Night. One side of the scarab is metallic silver, while other other side is clear with black on the far side. The necklace is finished with a silver-plated pewter ankh.

The ancient Egyptians linked scarabs with the god Khepri, a solar god who represented the sunrise. It was believed that he rolled the sun into the sky each morning. This makes the scarab a symbol of sunrise and rebirth.

The necklace chain is silver-plated steel and is approximately 27″ long. It closes with a silver-plated pewter lobster clasp, and has a 2″ extender chain.

Buy here.

New Listing: Crystal Scarab Necklace with Ankh Charm

This sparkly addition to the Mythos line features a stunning Swarovski crystal scarab in Scarabeus Green. The scarab is primarily green, but it shimmers with gold, blue, and deep purple when it catches the light. The necklace is finished with a silver-plated pewter ankh.

The ancient Egyptians linked scarabs with the god Khepri, a solar god who represented the sunrise. It was believed that he rolled the sun into the sky each morning. This makes the scarab a symbol of sunrise and rebirth.

The ankh is an Egyptian symbol meaning “life” and is also used in reference to fertility.

The necklace chain is silver-plated steel and is approximately 27″ long. It closes with a silver-plated pewter lobster clasp, and has a 2″ extender chain.

Buy here.

New Listing: Giza from the Mythos Collection

Introducing the Mythos Collection: jewelry inspired by mythology from around the world!

Giza is a lovely little bracelet featuring a trio of gorgeous, dark gold coloured glass pyramids and tiny, sandy glass beads to evoke the feel of the Great Pyramids in Egypt.

The Great Pyramids were built by the Pharaohs Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure. They are not the only pyramids in Egypt, but they are easily the most well-known. These architectural marvels were built as tombs (but the prominent nature of such tombs led to grave robbing, so later generations of Pharaohs built their tombs underground.) They are the only surviving of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Giza is lightweight and features a strong magnetic clasp, so it does up easily and doesn’t just pop off!

The beads are strung on nylon-coated stainless steel beading wire, so the bracelet will flex but not fray. Because the small beads are rather delicate, please do not wear Giza while participating in sports activities or any other strenuous activity that could break the beads. Please also remove the bracelet before bathing or swimming to prevent water damage.

The bracelet is 7.5″ from end to end.

Buy here.

New Listing: Air from the Shaman’s Trinkets Element Line

Shaman’s Trinkets is a line of crystal energy jewelry. It’s a similar concept to carrying pocket stones, but less bulky. The entire line is inspired by a shaman character of mine who carries a box of tumbled stones with her while she works.

The Four Elements line is a limited collection featuring one bracelet for each of the four main elements, according to the ancient Greeks: Water, Fire, Earth, and Air. These bracelets can be used to connect with your favourite element, or to help you balance each element in your life, or can be worn during meditation or ritual.

Air includes seven stones associated with the element. Air is associated with the intellect and other pursuits of knowledge. It also rules over memory and reason. It encourages optimism and independence, but it can also bolster the urge to gossip.

The bracelets feature smaller collections of stones. They are small and subtle, and can be worn discreetly for those not open about their beliefs.

Air includes:
Clear quartz
White fluorite
Blue chalcedony
Tiger’s eye

The stones are strung on nylon-coated stainless steel beading wire, so they’re flexible like cord but sturdy. The bracelets are finished with delicate silver-plated steel chain, and they close with a lobster clasp. I typically make them 7.5″ long, but I can make them shorter or longer to fit you. Please leave me a message on check-out if you would like a different length. (If you’d like an anklet or choker length, please message me first, so we can discuss the cost of the extra chain.)

The image shown is just an example of one bracelet. Due to the nature of cut stones, each chip is a slightly different size and shape. But each bracelet will include the same stones in the same order.

Buy here.