Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"I Ain't Sayin' She A Gold Digger..."

This post has nothing to do with bookbinding but instead, just something on my mind. Sometime last week, this website was posted on Yahoo. It's called the Global Rich List and my-oh-my, is it humbling. The premise is, you enter your annual income in your home currency (mostly just the big ones are listed). And then it tells you how rich you are compared to the rest of the world. And even putting in what we would consider a poverty-level income here in the States, it still puts you in the top 15% at least. For example, I entered $5k as my annual income (thank goodness I make a little more than that) and I am the 863,571,764th richest person in the world, in the top 15th percentile. Crazy! When I enter my husband's actual income, he's in the top .8% of the world. And we would not consider ourselves rich in the slightest. It really makes you think about what you need vs. what you want.

This thought-provoking website has me thinking about my own lifestyle and what "things" I don't need to get by. In some ways, I look at our typical consumerist behavior and internally, I justify it by saying to myself, "When we have kids, it won't be this way. We won't have as much money, we'll be spending all of our time taking care of them, and we won't be able to afford these things. So we should get them now." But I also look at consumerism as an addiction. This isn't a behavior you can just turn off, ESPECIALLY when you have a reached a new (stressful) point in your life. And my love for retail therapy can prove that. Looking at myself honestly, I don't think it will change much when I have kids, unless I recognize it now. By no means are we out of control. We just like to spend money on nice things that we don't always need. But I'm trying to start a conversation with myself concerning these wants so that I can start kicking the habit now!

Just as with weight loss (something else I struggled with), I need an end goal. I need to know that my efforts mean something. And my goal will be peace of mind. Knowing that I have a nice savings should anything happen. Knowing I will have taught my kids a way of life that is smart, independent, and meaningful.

As for my own vocabulary, I'm trying to trade the word "want" with "have." Everytime I feel the need to explain what it is I want, I must also describe something that I have. I'm a notorious impulsive buyer. If I give myself even just an hour to think about it before buying it, or just leaving the store, I know I don't need it. I'm adding my vocabulary technique so that when I'm still in the store, I can justify not purchasing it (and it's usually clothes or books). And frankly, I just don't go "window-shopping" when I don't have money to spend (and who invented that anyway??). Hubby and I put a lot of money into working on the house and at some point, it's going to have to be finished (for now anyways). I think once we complete the landscaping we're doing over the next couple weeks, we will step back, take a look at what we've done, and say, "Look at what we have!" instead of "I still want to update this..." Wish us luck!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Creative Sense vs. Business Cents

I've been feeling rather chatty lately so you may get a few new posts over the next couple days. Or day. :-) While I've been sewing and glueing and decorating my butt off, it's been a great week. Work has been sort of peaceful and relaxed, something I haven't been used to lately when you supervise 10+ students. I've reorganized my office space and now it feels calmer, more organized, and MUCH roomier. I finally have the rest of my desk!

And even though I've been stressing about creating enough items (enough GOOD items) for the craft show, I've also been feeling very creative. Being organized helps me think clearly and destress so I've been making lists galore (I have a lot of lists. Everywhere. G-d forbid you see my desk, laptop, notebooks, etc. It's just full of lists and Post-its.). It's helped me feel like I have all the time in the world and the creative thoughts are coming! What's often hard to balance (for me anyway) is the creating vs. putting it out there for a business. Usually I put a lot of thought and effort into creating one item, a very unique object. Once it's complete, I'm ready to move onto something else. With this endeavor, I want each item to be unique, but I have to be able to create things in an assembly-line fashion. It must be stream-lined and simple to maximize productivity. So far I've been...succeeding (said in a rather surprised tone). This little pic to the side is an example of one of my simpler bindings. I'm just using decorative cardstock as the covers (which will be sewn on) and I'm exposing the stitching of the signatures to keep it interesting. And quick. I may use more strips of the cardstock to slip under the sewing (like tapes) and tuck into slits on the cover. I suppose I could've made a pamphlet binding (except I want to show more sewing) or make it thicker (but I was running low on paper). Plus, I'd like to have some things priced very reasonably for customers that would like a handmade book but can't afford a leather-bound journal. Understandable considering some of the craft shows I've been to. This item will be priced under $10, probably $8.

I've also received my order of Kaduna and Katsina leathers from Talas (in a claret and tan colors) and I'm excited to experiment with new book bindings. To start with, I think I will simply sew the signatures through the leather itself, keep it simple. But I also have a burning tool that I plan to use to create simple designs on the leather. Since I've never worked with leather (the simple things we've done in lab don't really count, I think), it's both scary and exhilarating.
Coming soon: my thoughts on marketing. Scary! Really hoping my brother goes to college for business like he's considered, I could use all the advice!