December 12, 2012

diy ideas: new uses for vintage jars

I'm a huge fan of canning jars. I not only put my candles in them but I collect vintage models.

It seems the Mason jar has come a long way since its first appearance in the mid-1800s. Originally used for canning, these charming glass jars have rolled their way into modern day thanks to their seemingly endless purposes. They're a favorite among crafters & home decorators for their functional beauty.

Whether you kick it old-school and use yours for strawberry jam & honey, or are looking for a modern way to display them, here are 10 cool uses for canning jars:

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10

December 2, 2012

end of a (short) era

When I started this blog in September  I had just embarked on a journey of self-employment. I had left my job with Hilton to pursue selling my candles at craft shows throughout the holiday season. I didn't make this choice solely out of desire to work for myself (even though that was a contributing factor) but as a pragmatic solution to an impending problem:

1) my apartment's lease was about to end in October;

2) I'm moving from the USA to Canada in January; and

3) I needed somewhere to stay during that period between October & January and my parents offered to take me in.

My parents live in a small, rural town where good jobs are few and far between. So rather than settle for waitressing at the Country Hound Cafe (true story) I decided that I could make a living working craft shows and not have the stress of working for someone else during the holiday season.

My vanilla-scented soy baby.

Holy maple syrup, was I ever wrong. On both counts. I worked 4 weekends of shows over the last 2 months, each one drastically different than the last. In the end, I wasn't able to make a living working craft shows (though I was able to pay my bills thanks to my online antiques business) nor did I evade workplace stress. Instead, I brought the workplace stress into my home. (Note to those pondering doing craft shows with no true studio/work space to speak of: Manufacturing & packaging your own product in your kitchen/living room/bedroom is not for the faint of heart. You wake up looking at your work and you go to bed sick of the sight of it. You can't escape it, not when there are boxes, jars, bags, bottles, snippets and pieces covering every square foot of living space.)


I also learned that in this tough economy there are many people who would rather purchase mass-produced foreign-made copies than pay a premium for quality, one-of-a-kind, locally produced goods. And those people go to craft shows expecting Walmart prices for artisan crafts. Sadly, many people equate craft fairs with rummage sales and believe that artists/artisans can or should be haggled with. This is not cool with us.

Looking back, I see that the real estate mantra really is true: location, location, location. Where you sell matters. I don't believe I chose the right area to start a candle business. Central/southern Florida, with its 90 degree heat in November, doesn't scream cozy-country-cabin-candles. Many customers wrinkled their noses at the smell of Warm Vanilla Maple, a scent that I created with my Canadian friends in mind. They didn't want mason jars, they wanted tropical-scented candles in sea shells. Perhaps I should have considered the area I was selling in before I chose my aesthetic.

I also didn't take into account that the demographic for this area is about 90% retired folks who, I have come to realize, have no use for candles. They go to craft shows in search of onesies for their grandchildren and banana bread baked by their canasta buddies. Candles are frivolous to them.

Needless to say, the last couple of months have been eye-opening and at times disheartening. But of course there are lessons behind the bad moments, so in the end I'm glad I took the plunge. Do I wish I made more money? Of course. But I will draw from my experiences and use them to improve my product and presentation. I'm in the process of reviewing different craft shows in the Toronto area and I plan on applying to 1 or 2 of them for the spring. It'll be a completely different market and I'll have had enough distance from my escapades in Florida to start fresh & eager. I'll be debuting a whole new line of candles and home decor that I'm excited about!

Until then, I'll continue blogging about my adventures in antiquing & cool home decor/DIY projects that I come across. I will press on!


November 29, 2012

baking therapy & a recipe: salted raisin oatmeal cookies

In a world of schedules, lists, errands to run and phone calls to make, baking from scratch isn't exactly on the top of most of our lists. This is especially true during the holidays when we're consumed with decorating the house/fighting our way through holiday traffic/shopping for gifts/making room on the credit card to pay for said gifts. 


But bake from scratch I must if I hope to keep my sanity during the season. I find spending an afternoon shopping for spices & fine tuning old recipes to be therapeutic. I can't control much in this chaotic world, but I can add as much nutmeg as I want to my breakfast bread, damnit.


Pile onto a vintage-style plate & enjoy.

After my mom bought a stale-tasting & disappointing box of Archway's oatmeal cookies I decided to bake a batch of holiday cookies that she could appreciate. I took Ina Garten's recipe for Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies & tweaked it a bit to make a heartier cookie with more depth of flavor. I pulled inspiration from all of the salt caramel-flavored coffees & cocoas I've seen in cafes this past year and salted the raisins. I also added walnuts to mix it up a bit. The cookies came out soft, plump and delicious just like oatmeal raisin cookies should be. 


Archway's got nothing on these cookies.

November 22, 2012

ringing in the holidays & a recipe: bourbon cranberry sauce

Making a batch of fresh cranberry sauce is one of my favorite ways to ring in the holidays. It's a quick, simple, one-pot-wonder and tastes worlds better than the kind that sits in a can on the grocer's shelf for who knows how many months (years?!).

Cranberry sauce is versatile beyond the holidays - it pairs nicely with pork and lamb in addition to the traditional turkey. You could use the same guidelines for blueberry or strawberry compotes as well to spread over a muffin or swirl into a bowl of oatmeal...but maybe keep the bourbon out if you're serving this with breakfast, unless it's a mimosa kind of brunch. ;)

November 12, 2012

weekend garage sale warrior

After my highly unsuccessful craft show last week, I needed a way to supplement my income in a low-risk way. Also, since I'm moving to Canada in a couple of months, I needed to get rid of some bulky items that I'd rather not have to deal with on moving day. 

So, naturally, I had a yard sale.

The contrast of a yard sale to a craft show is astounding - there's no booth fee to set up shop, not greasy lunches from food trucks, and you don't have to drive anywhere. I only had to put up ads on Craigslist, put signs out in the neighborhood, and let the people come to me.



Of course we (my parents and I) still did a lot of physical labor, but once everything was set up we were able turn on the radio, sit down with our coffee and enjoy making money from the comfort of our driveway. We utilized our craft show tent for shade and also put items for sale in the crates that my dad built for my candle display. We truly used lemons to make lemonade.

Aww... childhood memories.
I have prior yard sale experience so I knew that people were looking for cheap. They're not driving up to a stranger's houses to drop $100 on an antique vase - they want the antique vase but they want it for about 5 bucks. I've had people nickle & dime me over a dollar. So I kept prices really low, making a $1 table, a 50 cent table, and then the higher end table full of crystal stemware and other fine dining goodies (which no one touched).

Case in point: there was a crocheted hat that my mom had since she was a teenager. It was a sweet newsboy cap, very cute. I was even thinking of selling it on Etsy for $10 - $15. But then an elderly gentleman tried it on his bald head and fell in love. His cheapo wife told me, "A dollar is too expensive for this." She wanted it for 50 cents. I told her no, sorry, the price is $1 and she paid me anyway but with a frown on her face. Come on.

This is what they drive miles to see - the $1 table.

The good crystal was too rich for their blood; none of it sold.

People wanted the crates more than what was in them.
One lady literally begged us to sell her one.

In the end I made a couple hundred dollars and so did my parents, which makes our yard sale infinitely more successful than our last craft show. And, better yet, much less time went into it since I wasn't slaving over a hot stove mixing batches of candles.

Next up on the self-employment schedule: a holiday bazaar at a local gymnasium on December 1. It's kind of far away (3 weekends) but Thanksgiving weekend falls in between so it's okay; I'll find ways to keep busy.

Funny thing is, since I quit my job last month, I've had less me-time than before, if any at all. I've been so busy prepping for craft shows and the yard sale, antiquing for my website, photographing items, listing items, and then packing & shipping them that I haven't been able to read a new book or use these calming bath salts that I bought a week & a half ago.

Being self-employed isn't as easy as it sounds! But I'm not complaining. Everything is a learning experience.

November 3, 2012

bad day in craft fair land

It's bound to happen some time and today was the day. It wasn't the first and I'm sure it won't be the last. It stings and makes me want to taking a running start toward the Skyway Bridge with my candles in tow.

Yes, I'm talking about the dreaded bust - a craft fair that just wasn't worth the time, effort, money, energy, or anything else you put into it.

Our positive affirmations did not work today.
Today's church show in Tampa was a complete disaster from start to finish. I had a feeling it was going to be a bad day when we arrived and the lady in charge of figuring out what vendor goes where couldn't locate our name on her list. When we finally found our place and asked why it was directly under a low-hanging tree so that we couldn't erect our tent, she told us very defensively that "it was dark" when she mapped everything out.

Yikes.

The organizers were rushing around, frenzied, and were making me nervous. After speaking with a few other vendors, I learned I wasn't the only one who picked up on the disorganized vibe.

No bueno.

We made the executive decision to move over a few feet (much to the chagrin of the promoter), set up our tent and tried to remain positive. There were only about 10 other vendors on the lawn with us and about 15 located under a nearby covered walkway outside of the church. Definitely the smallest show I've done so far, which wasn't encouraging. But we pressed on and told ourselves that with fewer vendors our likelihood of getting more sales would go up. The less competition, the better...right? Sometimes you just have to lie to yourself to get through the day.

We had set up a smaller version of what we had at the pumpkin festival 2 weeks ago, knowing it would be a smaller crowd. But we didn't expect what was about to happen...


...which was nothing. From 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. we had not yet made back our booth fee, which to be perfectly honest, was very little. It seemed as though the organizers had not promoted the event at all! The only people who showed up were a few dozen elderly women from the congregation who came for a luncheon benefiting the church, and then left immediately afterward. They didn't even feign interest in our crafts.
Our happy pilgrim bears did not bring us luck.
The show was scheduled to end at 4 p.m. but after a long, hot day in the sun all of us vendors were fed up with the lack of customers. We had been complaining to each other all day (one lady told me she only made $8. I wanted to hug her) and so we decided to take matters into our own hands and pack up 2 hours early. It was an unspoken agreement and we all seemed to start breaking down our displays at the same time. There were still a few straggler customers hanging around but something took over us (looking back, it was probably a mixture of sweat and defeat). As I was boxing up my candles, a fellow vendor purchased one from me which pushed me into the 'I-Just-Made-Back-My-Booth-Fee' threshold. But I just made it back. Broke even, if you're not accounting for supplies, time, effort, energy, and gas for the 3-hour round-trip ride to Tampa. And if you are, then the numbers are just too sad to bear... but we tried to smile and keep our senses of humor about us. You have to in such frustrating situations or you'll snap.

Me and my candles. Before the carnage.

Mom and her aprons. Not knowing what lied ahead.

The silver lining is that I met some really cool artisans and fellow crafters. With so few customers, we had a lot of time to hang around, converse and share a few laughs, which is never a bad thing in my opinion.

Our next craft show isn't for another month but in the meantime I have a garage sale coming up so I'll be trying to sell my candles there as well. I won't give up!

October 22, 2012

the pumpkin festival: 10 valuable lessons

My first back-to-back weekends of craft shows are officially done!

I worked the Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival over the last 2 weekends and, boy, was it a huge learning experience. I'd only done 2 shows prior to Hunsader - a small church show in St. Pete and an indoor event at a Lakeland arena. So we went into Hunsader with much trepidation, unsure of how our product would be received given our limited experience.

I've compiled a list of 10 valuable lessons learned throughout the 4 days at the pumpkin festival. I hope these help anyone entering the craft show circuit for the first time.


1) Tons of people will love your product yet not buy anything. It's so easy to get frustrated when shopper after shopper raves about your items and sometimes even promises to come back later, and you never see them again. The lady in the booth across from me calls them "The Be Backs." Where do they go? To the unknown land of the Be Backs, I guess. It doesn't mean that your product isn't good or that the person is intentionally lying to you. They may have just arrived and want to look around some more. They may not want to carry something all day and by the end of the day, they've long forgotten about you or have spent all their money. Or maybe they're looking for a lower price. Either way, it's not necessarily a reflection of you or your product. I had literally hundreds of people smell my candles and go weak at the knees over how true-to-life they smelled, and in the next breath they'd turn on their heels and walk out of my life forever. It just happens. I learned not to take it personally.

2) Don't expect a stampede. Most people won't buy right away at the beginning of a show, as they'll want to browse the other vendors before making a decision. Even though the festival started at 9 AM each day and there were plenty of people there early, I never made my first sale until at least 10 - 10:30 AM. I started tracking on a piece of paper at what time I made each sale, and many of them turned out to be hours apart. There were times I would be standing my booth snapping my fingers and spinning around in circles just sooo bored. I tried to look busy by rearranging candles and chatting with my mom but sometimes the hours just ticked by with no sales. And then a rush would come in and I'd make one after another. And then another hour would go by with no one browsing. I learned a) not to expect steady sales all day - they come in spurts; and b) just because you're halfway through the day with only $20 in your pocket doesn't mean you can't end up with $200. There are last minute stragglers looking for deals. It ain't over 'til the fat lady takes her tent down and drives home.


3) Keep track of all sales. This is a big one. I bought a $1 memo pad from Joann Crafts to keep track all of my sales. This way I could go home at night and review it and identify trends - like the fact that no one purchased in the first hour ever. Or that more people bought autumn/holiday scents more than floral scents. I also kept track of how much each person paid and subsequently how much money I had in my till at all times. I would periodically count it throughout the day to make sure I hadn't made a mistake and over/undercharged anyone. This list of items sold also served as a running inventory list so when I got home I could check to make sure I had the right amount of product and that nothing was stolen. 

4) Know your limits. It can get really hot at outdoor fairs in Florida, and I imagine bitterly cold up north. Listen to your body and if you're sweating and uncomfortable to the point of heat stroke, take a breather. Ask someone to watch your booth for a few minutes and go get an ice cold drink and sit in the shade. Case in point, on the 3rd day my mother kept dozing off in the heat. Eventually she went to the car to take a nap because she literally couldn't keep her eyes open. She was also inexplicably sweating profusely and had a bad headache. At home later that night she was vomitting and realized she had food poisoning from something she ate at the fair. So definitely listen to your body and if you need to get out of your booth for whatever reason, do it. Your health is the most important thing.

5)  Wear bug spray & sunscreen. I cursed the craft show gods when they sent mosquitoes into my tent around sundown one Saturday evening. Many days later, my ankles are still swollen and itchy. Never again will I assume that because it's cool outside that we're safe from bugs. As for the sunscreen, after my 2nd day of the craft fair my father was diagnosed with skin cancer, largely due to his many years of working in the sun with no sunscreen. So wear sunscreen. Period!



6) Banners are our friends! I didn't want to invest in a vinyl banner my first couple of shows because I didn't think it would make a difference other than just looking nice/professional. But I'm glad I finally decided to spend the money (only $15 using a coupon and free shipping code through Vistaprint.com. Just Google 'vistaprint coupon codes' and you'll have plenty of options). I can't tell you how many people walked toward my booth and either pointed at my banner or read it out loud and then walked in. I kept it clean and simple, only displaying the essential information to entice people - the name of my company and what I sell/what makes my product different - natural candles, soy wax, wooden wicks. People were intrigued!

7) Believe in your product and yourself. You should be your biggest fan. The more passionate you are about what you're making/creating/selling/doing, the more passionate your customers will be. Be confident that what you have is unique from the others. There were 3 other soy candle booths at the fair but mine were unique in that they were in rustic mason jars with homespun ribbons and handmade tags tied to each one, plus they had wooden wicks, which none of the other vendors used. This style appealed to a lot of people who commented that they'd never seen a wooden wick before. Quite a few people asked where I purchase my mason jars from as well since they wanted some either for their wedding or for their house. Hold your head high and speak confidently about the product you've created and people will follow suit and be intrigued.


8) Be organized. I may not dust or vacuum my apartment as much as I should but I can tell you where every doojamahicky is in that place. I know which drawer the broken stapler is in and what coat pocket my boyfriend left his keys in. I'm an organized person and this helps alleviate undue stress in complicated situations, such as craft shows. I recommend labeling everything. It'll take about 15 minutes now and save about an hour of angry searching later. I labeled my boxes with what candle scents were in each one and I placed my tins in one tote and my jars in another. I filled up a backpack with scissors, twine, a map of where my booth was, and any other in-case-of tools I thought I might need. It's a small thing but really helps you keep your head on straight in the middle of loading/unloading craziness. 

9) Don't be a salesperson. Just be helpful. This one isn't for everyone. Some people, like my boyfriend, are natural born salespeople. Like the line from Tommy Boy goes, he could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman wearing white gloves. Our first church show was so successful mainly because he was very energetic and talkative with every single customer. They were charmed by him and his salesmanship. I, however, am not comfortable approaching people with a pitch. At the pumpkin festival, at first I would only smile and say hello to each guest. It took a couple of days but I finally thought up some simple conversation starters such as, "Hi, how are you? If there's a certain scent you're looking for just let me know and I'll point you in the right direction." Helpful but not overbearing. Sometimes they ignored me and left. But sometimes it led into a conversation about what they like to burn at home, how the autumn scents are perfect because the weather is cooling down and what kind of scents do I recommend for their mother-in-law for Christmas? Other times I would see that someone purchased a bandana for their dog and would comment on how cute it is and which booth did they get it from? That would make them see that I was friendly and interested in them and would result in sales more often than when I simply said hello and nothing else.


Also, be educated about your product enough to answer questions. I was asked many times where soy wax comes from, how are wooden wicks different from cotton ones, how long does each candle burn for, etc. People love when you can teach them something new so try to be as helpful as you can!

10) Make people notice you. Our 1st day was our least successful and I blame most of that on my ignorance in not knowing that I needed to stand out from the crowd. It isn't enough to have a great product - you have to lure people into your booth to see/smell/taste/feel it. Our booth was set up beautifully but no one would ever know it because no one stopped to look. Our tables were tucked far into the tent while our neighbors had their items hanging from the front, sides, and in the doorways of their tents. There were sparkly tutus and tiaras, and colorful handbags everywhere you looked. So after a disappointing 1st day we went to Joann Crafts and Target and bought glittery pumpkin decorations that we hung in our entryway. Well, it worked because people really are attracted to shiny objects.We also pulled the tables as far out into the aisle as we could without blocking our neighbors/breaking any rules. It was like someone turned a light switch on because that next day we doubled our sales from the 1st day, and our entire 2nd weekend we made 200% more than we did the 1st weekend. Success!

October 15, 2012

chandling ain't easy

I like to think of myself as a chandler - one who makes candles - now that I've left my corporate job and am working craft fairs to pay my bills.

Well, this weekend I learned that chandling ain't easy.

It's hard to know where/how to sell your candles for the most exposure. Being as I don't have the means of having my own store ala Yankee Candle, craft fairs seemed like the logical choice. You get fresh air and are almost guaranteed that the people coming out for the fair are there to spend money on homemade trinkets. Now whether they want your homemade trinkets more than they want the next booth's is the catch.



This past weekend, with the help of my parents, I worked the Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival in Bradenton, Florida. It was Saturday & Sunday from 9-5. Temps started at 70 degrees and crept up to 95 both days. The heat was brutal but it was a carnival-like atmosphere with pumpkin picking, live country music, and deep fried Oreos. I learned (and ate) a lot.



The first day began with an early morning (5:30 a.m.) drive to Bradenton (an hour away). Once at the show site we began setting up the tent and the display and scoping out the competition. To our left were two women selling personalized college football duffel bags & purses. To our right was a retired couple selling tea towels and some kind of solar powered lamps emblazoned with sports team logos. Across from us were two ladies selling hair bows and assorted crocheted items (scarves, headbands, accessories that are generally way too warm for Florida).

The lady across from us sold hand-painted wooden signs. She told us she'd been doing the show for 10 years and that each year gets worse as the economy does. She didn't think she was going to come back next year because she felt people aren't spending money like they used to. Not the most encouraging thing to hear at your first craft show, but onward we went anyway.


Once the show started, it was an hour before anyway had made their way back to our booth (we were one of the last rows from the parking lot). We made a large sale right off the bat to a lady and her friend who collected candles, but things died after that. We watched family after family walk by without so much as a glance in our direction. No one was noticing us, not with the sparkly, glittery princess costumes and tiaras from the booth down the way or the guy selling water balloons affixed to rubber bands that kids were swinging at each other. Our booth was designed to look like a cozy little general store but we were hidden among the razzle dazzle of more kid-friendly products (there were a lot of babies and young children at this event, and, being as candles involve a lit flame, they aren't among most parents' ideas of happy fun toys).





So what to do? We racked our brains as we sat in the festering heat and at 5 p.m. we put the sides up on our tent, bid adieu to our mini general store and got us some sparkle. We went to both Joann and Target and bought the most glittery Halloween decorations we could find and the next morning we hung them in the entry way of our both. Hey, if you can't beat 'em join 'em. 

When the sun hit the shiny Frankenstein and the smiling candy corn man, people noticed and wandered over to see what we were offering. Some people even asked how much they were, thinking we made them. People are attracted to shiny objects, no doubt about it. 

We also made the executive decision the night before to move our display as far out into the aisle as we could. We moved the tables a yard or two closer to the front of the booth so people would see/smell our candles from down the lane. It worked! We made 200% more the 2nd day than the 1st.

Overall, we only made half what my sales goal was for the entire weekend, but we took a bad situation and turned it around in the course of 24 hours. I'm proud of us! We are working the same pumpkin festival next weekend so hopefully armed with these new improvements we will have a successful 2 days and get closer to that sales goal so I can continue to merrily chandle my way through the holiday season.


Special shout out to my dad for busting his hump in the heat to turn fence wood into candle crates for me, and to my mom for her awesome aprons (she sold her first one! Yay!).

September 29, 2012

the art of antiquing & a trip to renninger's market


What's antiquing all about? How do you make money off it? Aren't you just reselling other peoples' junk?

I've been asked these questions by a number of people, particularly people who know me through school or work who've seen my website and are wondering how I acquired all that stuff and why.

Antiquing is a hobby in which people collect items from the past, at least 20-30 years old, which have either historical value or personal value to the person buying them. It could be a Raggedy Ann doll that's beat up and worth nothing commercially but means the world to someone who remembers her favorite childhood toy. Or it could be a rare book for sale at a garage sale for $1 but in actuality is worth $500. Some people ride bikes, some people garden. Others antique.



I spent this Saturday at my favorite place to treasure hunt - Renninger's Antiques & Farmer's Market. It's on a massive plot of land in the rural town of Mount Dora. Once you get off the Florida Turnpike you'll notice an increasing amount of hand-painted signs advertising gator jerky and boiled peanuts.

Ahh, the American south.

It's a bit of a drive from Orlando but it's like an amusement park for antiquers so it's worth it. There are dozens of indoor & outdoor shops which are set up like little cottages and barns. It kind of feels like you're on a back lot set of an old Western movie.





Within the shops, some of the items are organized and some are just piled on top of each other. It's up to you to accept the challenge and dig for buried treasure. Sometimes you'll get lucky and find something wonderful hiding under all the dust & grime. Antiquing at the outdoor shops @ Renninger's isn't for the faint of heart. From May until October the temperature is in the high 90s so you're going to get your hands dirty and your ass sweaty, no doubt about it.



This trip was a successful one for me. I gave myself a strict budget and adhered to it (and even had enough leftover to buy a hot dog & lemonade from the concession stand). I ended up with a lot of cool pieces. For me, a good buy is one that I think others will be interested in buying, but if it doesn't end up selling, I love it so much that I'm happy to keep it on my bookshelf at home. That's what I take into consideration when antiquing.

So in a nutshell, antiquing isn't just buying other peoples' junk that they're throwing away and trying to make a quick buck. Those of us who devote our weekends to it are in it for the thrill of the chase - spending hours sifting through piles of debris looking for a hidden gem that has been forgotten, that we can bring back to life.



September 28, 2012

intro

This is my first real live blog.

Over the years I've had countless journals, both real (bound paper notebooks) and virtual, but this is the first one with a purpose other than to rant about my feelings. This one will focus on my hobbies & work - my vintage shop on Etsy and also my candle business that started on Etsy (but is soon branching out to the wide world of craft fairs)... and I might throw some book-talk and poetry in for good measure.

It's funny because I've never been much of a business-minded person. At least I never thought so. I've always hated the idea of bringing work home with you. I grew up in a house where we had dinner as a family every  night and without fail the first (and oftentimes only) topic of discussion was one or both of my parents lamenting their jobs -  how difficult their coworkers were, how frustrated they were about a project they were given, etc. I grew up dreading listening to this, and now that I've been in the workforce for a good 12 years, this hasn't changed. What has changed is that I'm now the person complaining about the corporate world and how unfair & uncreative it is.

A bit of about me before I get on with the intended blog content: I put myself through college and am now paying off multiple student loans with a meager paycheck. Oftentimes I'll charge food & gas to my credit card so that I can ensure that my loans (and rent and utilities) are paid off each month. I'm by no means living in squalor but it's definitely a struggle, the kind that puts knots in your stomach right before bed and weighs heavily on your shoulders when you wake up each morning.

You go to college imagining that when you get out a glamorous, high-paying job will be waiting for you. You can't imagine interviewing for any position and being turned down. Once they meet you, they'll love you and be impressed by your fresh-out-of-college hipster savvy and your shiny new degree, right? Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. You're viewed as a fetus with no bankable skills, just a lot of books & papers under your belt. In our current economy, the job market is cutthroat and a degree (especially a liberal arts degree) means nothing if you don't have the experience or the connections to seal the deal.

So what's an unmarketable girl to do? Work jobs that she knows she hates but that help pay the bills because there are no other options. Or there is another option but it's called being a starving artist and that's only fun until about noon the first day. So I racked my brain one night at work and subsequently opened up a side venture to make some extra spending cash. This side venture was the above-mentioned vintage shop on Etsy.com. I've done better than expected my first year but it's still nowhere near enough to live off. It's enough to pay for gas and maybe a Moe's burrito or two each month but that's about it right now. So then I decided to start the above-mentioned candle business.

And that's where I am right now - trying to get these two ventures running at full steam so I can rely on them to pay the bills. That way I can focus on my true passion which is writing poetry, not answering phones at a Sea World resort.

Due to long and complicated reasons which I won't fully get into right now (all I'll say is I have an international move coming up this winter and I need to move in with my parents for a few months so I can save some money for it) I recently quit my job at said resort and will be focusing all my energy on my Etsy shop & candle business for the foreseeable future. It's a bit of a risky maneuver but one I feel in my heart I need to take to be happy. Sometimes you've gotta take life by the balls and say, "I'm gonna make money selling candles at craft shows, dammit, and you can't stop me."

I have 4 craft shows lined up from now until December and I plan on signing up for more so hopefully I'll have one every weekend. While I'm living with my parents I want to stay away from working for the man as long as I can. So I'm embarking on a holiday-season adventure and will be documenting my triumphs (and possibly failures) in this blog. I have a background in retail and have a really strong product with my candles so I know I can do well... but will I do well? I guess that's where logic ends and faith begins.

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