Self-quarantine is going to be pretty much okay with all of us here. Really, it won’t be too different from any other day. Staying at home and away from people is largely how I get things done, yet I love my vendor events. Right now, however, those aren’t going to happen for a while and I’m one of those small businesses that could really use a little more traffic on my website to keep things going. Here’s a little bit about that.
Often, the life of a creative person is pretty solitary and I’m okay with that, in fact, I prefer it, though that may be a surprise as most people find me very social. Seeing “introvert” posts I did a calculation of my time and find I spend about 90% of it alone, with or without my cats, like when I hit the trail or do something outside the house, I go by myself, but no cats are involved…most of the time.
Years ago I was actually terrified to be social, and would actually walk up to the door of a gallery or gathering, but couldn’t open the door, and I would just leave. I worked hard to get myself over that and I’ve done pretty well. I’ve still been pretty much an introvert by choice, on a regular basis choosing to just stay home by myself rather than go out and this suits me, but by the time I get around to face to face interactions I’m ready for it and I enjoy it. When I meet with a customer, when I have a vendor event, when I go somewhere with a friend, I have that momentary dread in the pit of my stomach then I’m all about it. But people think I’m really outgoing because that’s how I am when they see me. In that moment, that’s who I am, and it’s usually because I have a purpose to be there that’s not strictly social, like business or volunteering. So I guess I’m not a true introvert, just most of the time. Being with people is part of my inspiration for the things I make, and I think of people I know and I’ve met at shows and the stories they’ve shared whenever I design or make something, so I can’t just hole myself up in my house all the time or I’d lose part of the reason for what I do.
I was looking forward to at least one vendor event each month this year, attending one of the artist markets in Pittsburgh once a month or so, and hosting three open houses this year instead of only two. All this was to begin this month and I still have things to make but, socially and financially, I am so ready because I missed almost everything last year. I’ve been choosing my clothes, touching up what I have for my displays, thinking of the people I’ll see and those who I know will love some of my new things. I’ve also been thinking about the money to finish paying last year’s taxes, to get a car, and maybe put something in the bank for emergencies, feline or otherwise, and even possibly a few house repairs.
I don’t have many sales on my website, despite the number of “likes” I get on items of all sorts on social media. I spent a good bit of time in the past three months to add security certificates and optimize things and work out a social networking strategy and I have more traffic, but still only one or two sales each month. I really don’t count on income from my website, I count on those vendor events. The cat show in February didn’t have enough space so I couldn’t attend as a vendor. That was kind of a loss (no counting my kittens before they are born 😉 ), but one of my print broker customers needed several designs for their customers and that helped to make up for it. I could see the coronavirus was going to cause some disruptions in terms of quarantines, but wasn’t sure when. I found that out when two events were cancelled for March and April, and I began to wonder about the Earth Day Open House I’d been planning, and even looking forward.
My website may catch up at some point but I’ve been considering a part-time job for a while. Because I want to keep my days open for my current business and my weekends open for events, I’m looking for jobs in the late afternoon and evening which is most likely retail. My best choices are stores I shop at, which aren’t many, but groceries and pet supplies are something I know and can work with and I had three stores chosen to inquire and possibly apply. I don’t have a car so I need to be on the bus line; it’s an extra expense but I can’t borrow anyone’s car that often. The pet supply store that was so helpful to me for months when I could barely walk is my first choice but they aren’t on the bus line; still, the other pet supply store is right next door to the grocery store I shop at. This weekend was my target because I’d be borrowing Denise’s car and visiting all three.
Until Friday. Last week coronavirus information was changing by the day, but on Friday things escalated fast and in my town (Carnegie), county (Allegheny) and state (Pennsylvania) recommendations were to shut down large gatherings and stay home unless otherwise necessary. Stores announced they were taking precautions, and I knew it might be a time I could apply for a part-time job, especially online, but I know likely nothing would come through until the quarantine period is cleared and things settle down for all the regular employees who might be losing hours because people aren’t out there shopping.
Events and stores may be back open by May, but I can’t rely on that as income right now. I still have a fair amount of commercial art and design work (though not photography because my camera still needs a repair, the list keeps growing), not enough to really make ends meet but I’m always actively seeking more along with anything else I have the skills to do at home like proofreading, editing, data entry, whatever. But in all these fields things start to slow down in April and through the summer, so I have to take that into account.
Normally, when one door closes another opens. I have many skills and interests and connections, opportunities are all around and I actually enjoy change and variety to a certain extent (possibly another sign of not being a true introvert). I’ve always been flexible and found or made another opportunity when the time came. But lately when one door closes, another one does too—I was all ready to get back to vendor events until my car wouldn’t pass inspection and I couldn’t get to them, then I arranged some transportation for that and now they’re not going to happen until maybe later, and possibly there won’t be enough money to go around right away. I might be reimbursed for the show fees I paid if the shows don’t happen, but because I’m a freelancer and my work is not contracted I don’t qualify for the workers’ compensation that’s included in the coronavirus stimulus bill that’s in Congress right now.
While most of my options are out of order right now, the one that’s still open is my website even though it’s not too profitable. But rather than just letting you know it’s there and inviting you to shop, I wanted to give you a little more of a reason to consider buying something, to share my website with friends and family, and remember that along with all the cats I also have my flowers and butterflies and scenes of nature to share. You know right where your investment goes—you see it here (almost) every day.
I know finances will likely be tight for everyone at this time and may be for you too, but even just sharing my site around with other like-minded people helps to get the word out. I would have a big sale, but my margins on handmade goods are too low to discount everything when I’ve just made a good bit of it and my investment in items isn’t covered yet, and there are new items I’m still making. If something unique sells and you’d still like that item, I will make another if I have the materials on hand, which I do for most things.
What I do here isn’t just my job, of course, it’s my life. I’m very grateful to finally be able to have this creative life when I’m just about retirement age after working toward it all my adult life. That’s one of the reasons I’m not ready to give it up, and I’ll do my best to preserve it without endangering my home and my cats.
So thanks for any support you can send my way. I don’t want donations, I’d much rather have sales! Part of the reason I don’t have many sales on my site is I haven’t reached my audience, the ones who will purchase on a regular basis. By sharing you can help me do that. Any photo in this post that has merchandise in it has a link to that merchandise. And click the image below to go to www.PortraitsOfAnimals.net.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading, and for understanding. I’m going to get back to work on new things this week since other things aren’t a possibility right now and I can really focus. You’ll see those items as I finish. And I hope you are doing okay too!
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters Tuesday: Rescue Stories Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork Thursday: New Merchandise Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!