My, oh my, how time has flown!
I can truly say that this has been the fastest year of my life. Some years move by slowly, but this one was over in a blink of an eye. I can not believe it’s already December and a new decade is about to begin. For me, this year was full of radical change and transformation. So, without further adieu, here is my 2019: A Year in Review.
Over Christmas in 2018 I decided I wanted to learn hand embroidery, so I asked my mom how to thread a needle and tie off a knot. There was no rhyme or reason to my sudden desire to learn hand embroidery other than that I was feeling a little defeated by my brand new calligraphy business and wanted a new creative hobby from my former hobby of calligraphy. I was also inspired by modern embroidery artist Emily of Salt Stitches and realized for the first time that hand embroidery could be anything I wanted it to be. I never embroidered a day in my life, but I decided I wanted to embroider a sunset from a camping trip in Utah. It looked so horrible and I unfortunately don’t have a picture of it anymore. However, pictured below is the best hoop I had created by the end of January. It’s called ‘Sway’. Beyond dabbling in hand embroidery, I worked hard at growing my calligraphy business. Oh! And I signed up for hand throwing classes at a local art studio.
Happy 26th Birthday to me! At this point, I was falling madly in love with the world of hand embroidery and even asked for a thread organizer for my birthday. I started branching into more landscapes and created ‘Costa Rica # 1’ (pictured below). Meanwhile, my calligraphy business was struggling. I was having a very difficult time finding clients despite advertising via social media, word of mouth, and contacting every wedding and event planner in North Carolina and South Carolina.
My calligraphy was at a stand still. I had absolutely no idea how to find clients and was losing motivation and happiness in it altogether. Zach was gone at work 12 hours a day and I basically sat at home making example pieces for hopeful clients and social media as well as stitching landscapes. I decided I needed another job as I tried to grow my business. After a few applications and interviews, I landed a job at lululemon and it was the laughter, joy and routine I needed. I loved waking up, putting on real clothes, and interacting with guests and my co-workers.
I got my first big calligraphy client this month: she wanted 200+ marble hexagon tile place cards mailed all the way to Australia! I was dumbfounded that she wanted me to do it. I put my heart and soul into the order and felt as if things were finally moving forward like I hoped they would. Meanwhile, I continued to share my hand embroidery hoops on social media and people loved them. And to be honest, I loved them more than calligraphy, too. You see, I’m a perfectionist to the core and calligraphy was both a joy and the bane of my existence because if one letter was slightly off, I hated the whole thing. But I never felt that way with hand embroidery. It’s supposed to be a little flawed and look handmade, so I gave myself abundant grace in all of my creations. I started to feel excited to create and share again.
Mother’s Day rolled around and my manager at lululemon hired me to hand calligraph gift tags for guests and their moms. I also was invited to be a vendor at Anthrolpologie’s Pop-Up Market. Neither was wildly successful. And despite people loving my landscape embroidery hoops, they weren’t being purchased. I also, once again, contacted every wedding and event planner in North Carolina and South Carolina.
At this point, I realized I had likely created customer confusion: was I a calligrapher offering place card and table number services or a hand embroidery artist selling landscape hoops? I loved both equally and began to brainstorm a way to combine the two. Through research I found out that no one was both a calligrapher and an embroidery artist. I had a unique set of skills unlike anyone else and wanted to use it to my advantage.
I am still attempting to grow my calligraphy business while simultaneously brainstorming how I can combine it with my embroidery. That’s when I created a term that I affectionately call embroidigraphy. My first hand embroidered calligraphy hoop is pictured below:
This month brought about a lot of life changes: due to a situation with Zach’s job, we decided to move… again. He was offered a wonderful position near Greenville, SC and we were very excited about his new job but also feeling sad that we were leaving Asheville after only 9 months. I also stopped embroidering any landscape hoops because I officially determined how I was going to merge my calligraphy and hand embroidery. Through creating my landscape hoops, I realized people weren’t willing to pay what they are worth. It’s just the truth. But I thought, if customers could wear the hand embroidery versus having a little 4 inch hoop hanging on their wall, maybe they would be more willing to pay for it.
Just when I had all but given up on calligraphy, I was hired to create place cards for a local florist in Asheville. It was fun to create them and send them off, but I was bound and determined to move away from the wedding and services world and start my own niche of hand embroidered calligraphy. This month was when I created and designed 5 hand embroidered t-shirt designs. I started sharing about my new venture on social media and people were letting me know how excited they were.
Zach turned 31! We celebrated by spending a weekend in our new apartment in Greenville. This was also the month I launched my 5 hand embroidered calligraphy t-shirts and when we officially moved to Greenville. It was a wild and whirlwind of a month.
I started work at the lululemon in Greenville and began to receive orders for hand embroidered t-shirts! I was ecstatic! I also made another hand embroidered calligraphy hoop and this time, this one sold to a woman in Texas — my first hand embroidery order for someone I didn’t know.
October brought about a lot of exploring of Greenville and brainstorming for my business as well as getting into regular blogging and sharing more of my life with you all. And more hand embroidered calligraphy hoops.
If you look at my social media or shop page, you’ll find I no longer offer calligraphy. I am a full-blown hand embroidery calligrapher and absolutely loving it. The amount of happiness and excitement I receive from every new order is something I’ll never be able to put into words. I had trouble fitting into a niche so I created my own. I was unsure if pivoting was the right thing to do since I had already invested so much time and money into calligraphy with pen and ink, but to look back and see how far I have come… it was 100% worth it. Oh! And November was also the month I started creating hand embroidery hoops for each enneagram type.
Oh December, you came so fast this year. I am in disbelief that 2020 is only a week away. But more than ever before I feel alive, joyful, and expectant for the new year, let alone the new decade. I have discovered a creative outlet that is very personal to me and yet empowers, encourages and brings joy to others as well. Studio 46:10 has big things in store, I can feel it.
If I look back on each month of this year, I can still remember feeling like I was drowning in doubt or confusion. Or feeling lost. This past year brought about so much prayer and yearning for God’s direction. And I can say without a doubt I have grown in ways I didn’t know I needed and become a woman I never dreamed I’d be.
In addition, my husband and parent’s unending and unrelenting support of me means more to me than they will ever know. So, here’s to 2020 and praying with joyful expectation that God is going to continue to transform me, and therefore Studio 46:10, from the inside out. I can’t wait to see where He takes me by the end of next year.