This is it! My first post back on this blog. It feels good, kinda like going back home. And even though Miranda would argue that you can’t go home again, I think this post proves that sometimes, you really can. My store, lindsayletters.com, took a tiny little break over the weekend. We’d been trying to take a break for about a week, but it just didn’t happen, so on Friday we finally called it quits for a few days. We did a bunch of inventory, cleaned house a touch, and continued to work on integration with our new fulfillment partner! Even though a four day break wasn’t quite a break, I really needed it. Personally, spiritually. I need to re-set, pray, think about what the business of Lindsay Letters is about.
In 2009 I started my blog, Lindsay Letters. It’s evolved into the shop it is today, and I’m so grateful to have gotten to be among the pioneers of a movement of exceptional hand-lettering artist and art print shop owners. I remember when I first discovered the wall of dusty foil at Printer Specialty Services six years ago. Brass (as a finish) was just barely starting to come back (in the midwest, at least) and I so when I saw the rolls on the wall, I squealed with excitement. WHAT – IS – THIS?! It was like I found buried treasure. Tom explained to me that it was foil that you could print with, using a plate kind of like the letterpress I was interested in. I was shocked. Visions of sugar plums danced in my head. A printing trend that seemed to die right along with disco, I just knew if I re-introduced foil in a modern way, people would love it. And, approximately one billion gold foil art prints in the world later, I think maybe my hunch was correct. I’ve watched as people that started as original LL blog subscribers and Instagram followers have started their own creative businesses, and my heart is delighted when I hear that I helped inspire some of you along the way! Just a handful of years later, good calligraphy fonts are a dime a dozen, art prints are everywhere, and even Target has hand-lettered mugs.
The banner I’ve been waving the whole time has been this: Start your shop, Make your art. Do your own thing – there is room for us all. And I totally, totally believe that. But… if I’m being 100% honest, some days that’s tough. Not because of pride and not because I don’t truly believe that, but because Lindsay Letters is how I support my family. I’m the bread winner, and so this has got to work. Even though I want you to pick everyone else, and I want everyone else’s store to succeed, in the back of my mind I know that in order for me to keep supporting my family, you have to pick me, too
I feel like I’ve been in a season of striving. I’ve heard so many people echo this thought this week alone, but the Internet seems to have gotten so LOUD all of a sudden. As a maker, the thought that I could really book my entire day “posting” really makes me all sorts of crazy… first you hop on Facebook live and then Pinterest and Snapchat and Twitter and then Perioscoping and Instagramming and then… what then? Send some emails? Make some stuff? Pass out from social media exhaustion? I’m telling you, if this is how I would have needed to build my business in the first place, you would have never ever heard of “Lindsay Letters” to begin with. Now, of course here’s the proverbial disclaimer: don’t hear me say that I think social media is bad. I love Instagram, I couldn’t have ever made hummus without Pinterest, and I love seeing your sweet faces in real-time. It’s just… a lot.
So this past weekend and really over the last couple weeks, the Lord has been speaking to me. And you know what I heard? This:
“Lindsay, you will not win.”
What does that mean? It means that God is telling me that if I put my focus into being the best hand-lettering shop, and if I make my goal to be the best online shop owner, I will fail. I have already. But, He continued
“…. and that’s okay. In fact, that’s right where I want you.”
When did I start thinking that any success I’ve had has been on my own accord? Because of my own striving? When I created my store, it was in response to people wanting my art. After I had Eva, I couldn’t keep up with the erratic demands of custom work, and so my husband and I put a stake in the ground when she was 6 months old and just said that this wasn’t going to work for our family anymore. I ran as hard and as fast towards the goal of finishing up my custom work and creating my shop before she turned one, and that’s what I did. Creating the store as it stands now was my answer to being able to continue to make art to bless people’s lives, while being able to be present in my own.
There has been lots of pruning along the way. For me, the road of success has not been without sacrifice. Our marriage has been strained, I’ve left people I love un-tended to, and I’ve been in a constant state of “busy” and “stressed” since I first hit “go” on this blog. This was not the creative rhythm I pictured. But every time I consider quitting, I play the story forward and realize I’d end up right back here again. Why? Because I love making art. I love making it for me, for you, and for the Lord. I believe that He’s given me this gift to bless Him, others, and to steward well. So the solution cannot be quitting. The solution, it seems, is a mind-shift. The solution has to be found in perspective. And so what’s the shift? I’m only at the beginning of finding these answers, but here’s where I’m at:
1. Focus on the art. I was an artist before I was ever a blog owner or shop owner or storefront owner. Do I need to be the most successful shop owner? No. I honestly feel like I’m hearing that it’s time for me to move over, to find a way to help other shop owners thrive. This doesn’t mean I won’t have an online store, but it does mean that I’m not going to throw myself into a diabetic coma trying to come up with the next crazy awesome idea or product or best seller. And with this mental shift, I’m drawing another line in the sand. And switching from calling it the Lindsay Letters Shop to the Lindsay Letters Studio.
I know it’s only a tiny modification, but to me it means everything. For me personally, “shop” has come to mean “selling.” Do I want to sell? Hell, yes. Yes I do. Because I want to get to do this job and support my family forever. BUT, the only way to provide enough fuel for me to do that, and enough hope and joy, enough left at the end of the day to have something to offer my husband and kids, is to focus on the art.
For me, “studio” indicates creating. Painting, drawing, lettering, inspiring, making. It means good conversation and processing and worship. It means rest and fun and messy hands and work-in-progress. This is where I find life. Hopefully other will find life there, too.
In honor of the new LL Studio name change, let’s hear a word from Phil…
(For the record, I looked it up and sussudio means nothing).
And then here’s part two of what I’ve been processing lately:
2. Focus on blessing vs. selling. When I started my business, I looked at D and said with full certainty, I would probably never make a dime, and asked if that was okay. He was working full time, and this was pre-kids, and he said “Yes, of course yes! You just have to do what you were created to do!” God has given me much favor, but all of it is a gift. I cannot get wrapped up in feeling the pressure of always more. I know I’m to focus on the blessing and not the finances. I love making art and what it does to your soul, and I believe in it’s power. Or rather, I believe that the Lord uses art to inspire and heal and bless and restore and change us. I want the focus of my creating to be showing you that you are worthy of meaningful art, to bless you, and to allow God to use it in a way to reach your soul in a way it might not have otherwise been reached.
For the first time in a long while, I’m looking ahead expectant and excited. I’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg on this shift, I know. But I. AM. EXCITED. I am so incredibly excited for this next season, and I’d love for you to come along on the journey with me. :o)