Another business update

319616It’s only a few days until I open my online business, and I’m a little apprehensive.

If anyone had told me how much work would be involved, I don’t think I would have ever begun.

There is so much to think about, and I have had so many technical difficulties, mostly due to my lack of skill in that department. I am easily overwhelmed by computers and internet that don’t work the way I need them to – you would laugh if you saw how slow I am at typing, how I shake my temperamental mouse, how impatient I am with this amazing technology that has made our lives so much easier.

One of the little ones jumped on my laptop last week and broke the screen. I didn’t even launch an investigation into finding the identity of the culprit – I just didn’t want to go through the rigmarole of “not me” or “I don’t know” or try and match up the various alibis – I am fairly sure that it was an under five who didn’t even know what they’d done. (Now – the lipstick episode is another matter entirely….)

So I have borrowed another laptop, which doesn’t run all of my programmes, but is a blessing because all of the keys are intact – one trademark of the twins is that they enjoy removing keyboard letters, a legacy they passed onto Danielle when she was old enough.

My babysitter gave me a great inspirational card – it says: “The task ahead of you is never as great as the power within you” and is based on Philippians 4:13 – ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’

This has really kept me going – I keep it on the fridge and refer to it when I pass. Reading these words makes me physically relax, and I feel that I am actually giving my work over to Jesus, Who gets things done so much better than me, anyway.

I am now in the position where I have to support my family. There, I actually mentioned it in my blog.
It’s not something I want. The business was going to be a little hobby, the first thing I had ever done ‘outside the home’, so to speak. (It’s obviously ‘inside the home’, as an online business.)

Now it has come to be so much more. This is going to be a big part of the future for me and my children.

I am going to try to type the next words – I am a single mum with ten children.
Hmmm. I don’t really like the sound of that.
Your will be done, Lord.

Mary didn’t understand everything when she said ‘yes’ to God, and I certainly don’t understand what’s happening now.

There’s a fearful irony at work here – in doing something I never planned to do, in circumstances I didn’t choose, I feel that I may become the person I was always meant to be.

A Beautiful Idea.

I thought I would continue today with the story of how I came up with my business idea. You must remember, that I haven’t yet opened my shop or made a single sale, so it’s possible that I should be writing this twenty years in the future, when Bill Gates is asking me for advice.

Any way, someone asked me how I blend being a Catholic with running a business, so maybe my thoughts will be of some interest.

A few days ago, I wrote about the struggle I had had with the concept of supplementing my husband’s income. This is not meant to be a criticism of those mothers who work outside the home – it’s just a personal obstacle that I had about my own situation. So, I first went to Book of Proverbs for some illumination.

Then I came across a helpful little book at the library – about using the biblical principles found in “Proverbs” to assist in running a business. It was a Protestant book, and had a lot of useful ideas, as well as case-studies. It mentioned the company, “Chick-Fil-A” which we don’t have in Australia, but I was familiar with the name, because I had read about their opposition to Obama’s HHS. Anyway, Chick-Fil-A chooses not to open on the Sabbath, and, despite that, has grown into a very successful business. The owner said that he had been thanked by some of his competitors, who said that they would never have gotten off the ground if he had opened on Sundays, so it just goes to show how God’s providence takes into account those without faith, as well as the faithful.

Around this time, I did some brainstorming in my trusty journal – I knew there was an idea in there somewhere, waiting to see the light of day. I wrote down my skill set (craft/logistics/business, knows what its like to be tired/frustrated/having limited resources) and some markets I could see weren’t being catered to (home-educators/ busy mothers/semi crafty people who need some help to get started/people who love beautiful things but can’t afford them). And so my idea was born – put together kits for homewares that people can make themselves. Sort of like a cross between Martha Stewart and Ikea. It was easy to come up with some simple projects inspired by my favourite textile artists, William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. I can envisage more projects to come, with a specifically Catholic theme, inspired by the work of Pugin, and which revolve around the Liturgical Year.

“The Most Beautiful Thing this side of Heaven.”

I know that I’m not a great artist who can transform a lump of silver into a beautiful ring, or a blank canvas into something that will inspire generations, but I think that I possess the sort of creativity that John Paul II called the ‘genius of woman.’ (One of my sons has suggested that this ‘genius’ refers to our ability to remove layers of make-up from our faces.)

I can see the business staying very small, more like a hobby, or growing into something bigger. It’s like a blog, in that regard – we never quite know where it will take us.

The Kelmscott Chaucer

You all know by now that I really admire the work of William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. One their joint-greatest achievements was the printing of a fabulous edition of Chaucer’s poetry.

Burne-Jones designed the wood-cut illustrations, and Morris drew the elaborate illuminated letters and backgrounds. 452 copies of their edition were printed by Morris’ printing company, “Kelmscott”, hence the common title of their book.

I was fortunate enough to see one of the original copies at the State Library of Victoria, earlier this year. There was a great display of historical books, parchments, letters etc, arranged like a huge timeline around one floor of the building. The Kelmscott Chaucer was there, along with other great works of fact and fiction, including some illuminated manuscripts of the Holy Bible and prayer-books.

I recently made a wall-hanging for my son, Lucien, by stitching a monogram based on one of Morris’ illuminated letters, onto a background of WM fabric. Unfortunately, I took this photograph at night, so the quality isn’t very good, but it may give you some idea of the outcome of my project, as well as give you some ideas for your own.