Category Archives: Growth & Development

Learning something new, feeling vulnerable, and letting go

Have you explored my new website yet?✨

(If you did, THANK YOU!)

I continue to feel super proud of what I’ve created – it’s beautiful and functional – but there have been challenges and learning curves as well.

You’d think once you launch a website, you can sit back and relax, watch orders pour in effortlessly, and move on to other exciting projects you’d put on hold until the website was done.

It turns out it’s actually a time when you learn that a bunch of things aren’t working properly and you have to fix it in a hyper speed 😱

Like when my first wholesale customer placed an order, she got charged full retail price at check out even though the correct wholesale prices were showing while she was shopping.

Oh, and I stopped getting emails to honeyberrystudios.com address when I first redirected the domain name to my new shop.

(Not to mention it took the domain server customer service over a week to connect my old domain to the new site. A long story and a mystery when I was able to do it in 5 minutes when I decided to take matters into my own hands.)

And finding out that Shopify doesn’t offer a very intuitive, customizable shipping settings, and it’s caused some confusions to both retail and wholesale customers.

(note: if you’re thinking about having a shop with Shopify, know that they lack some basic functions and would want you to buy more apps to customize your shop… do your research before jumping in!)

There are more minor things that have gone wrong, but every time an order comes in or I get a message from a customer, I get a little knot in my stomach thinking, “is something wrong?”

Because I’ve been fixing what I could (with the help of various developers of the apps), 95% of the time, nothing is wrong.

And I tell myself it’s good that I’m finding out the mistakes and hiccups now. And I’m grateful my customers are taking the time to tell me if something is not working.

Things will get easier in the future.

While I get it intellectually, it’s caused me some anxiety and stress, too.

I hate feeling incompetent and vulnerable.

I SO want you to have a positive experience when you interact with me and my shop.

But when something goes wrong and I have to send messages to customers explaining what happened and drop everything to put out fires, I fear that people would think I’m incompetent.

I fear that people would be annoyed they have to go through extra steps or wait till the problem is fixed.

I fear that you will lose trust in me.

(And leave me FOREVER 😭 Dramatic. I know.)

What’s making me extra vulnerable through this experience is that most of the problems, I have no clue how to fix.

Sure, I can fix typo and update images on my website, but customize apps and scripts? That’s WAY out of my expertise!!

So I’m having to rely on pros to fix the problems, and I’m super grateful they exist to help a non-techy like me.

But I have no control over how/when the problems are fixed. OR if it’s fixable at all 😱

Like the price calculation issue I just had with my wholesale customer, it was caused by an external change that the developers wouldn’t have known about. And it took them 4 days to figure out what was wrong and fix it.

Four days. Sure, I’m no Amazon, but it sure felt like a long time not knowing if my customers were gonna get charged the right price or not.

In the midst of feeling uncomfortable and ungrounded, I’ve reminded myself of a few things to stay centered again.

I’ve told myself things like:

“I’ve done challenging things before and somehow, I managed them. It’s gonna be OK again.”

“I’ve done my best to fix the problem and passed it on to the professionals who can help me. There is no good that comes from worrying about it now.”

“Trust doesn’t come from being perfect. People trust you because you’re honest about your mistakes and handle them with integrity.”

And I thought of this:

Boom.

It’s times like this, when I’m feeling vulnerable and insecure, that I want to pat myself on the back for creating art that encourages and nurtures our souls ✨😀

Honestly, I make happy, uplifting art because I need them the most.

I’d be a wreck if I’m not surrounding myself with positive art (and people!) that lift me up when I’m feeling down.

​Naturally, my website learning curve is getting less steep every day I work on it.

I’m not checking my email every 5 minutes to see if anything went wrong or if the developers have any updates for me.

I’m able to focus on other things in life and business (like making new art for my next collection 😻) and enjoying a slower month before the holiday fair season kicks in high gear in November.

Well, friend, I hope my creations cheer you up when you need a little boost ❤️​

Because that’s what it’s all about!

xo

p.s.🍂🍁 Don’t forget –  you get 5% off on your first order and all the future orders when you create a customer account in my new shop 😉 (offer ends on Monday, 10/22).

On handling rejections

I had kind of a bad day on Wednesday.

I received, not one, but TWO rejection emails from the holiday craft shows I applied for.

They’re kind of big, well-known shows (read: most lucrative) in the area that I really, really wanted to get into (and thought I had a good chance.)

Needless to say, I was disappointed and sad.

My emotional process looked like this 👇

1) DISBELIEF: First of all, I thought the notice wasn’t gonna be sent out till Friday?? Was this a mistake? Is this really happening?

2) FANTASY: Some of my friends didn’t make the cut either. And they’re all talented, amazing makers. Did the organizers make a mistake and send the wrong email to the wrong group of people?? I’m still waiting to get that “sorry-we-sent-the-wrong-email-and-you’re-actually-in” email.

3) CONFUSION: But people love my work! and I’ve been great to work with, haven’t I?? I’m so organized and responsive. WHY DID YOU NOT WANT ME?? 😭

4) NEGATIVE SPIRAL: Is this it for me? What if I don’t get in to ANY of the shows I applied for? Was it just a luck that my business seemed more successful this year? Is it all going to be down hill from here??

5) LOGIC: People DO love my work (and they tell me so!), and I’ve had great relationships with the organizers. It’s not personal. I have other opportunities and will most likely get into other shows.

6) ACCEPTANCE: Oh well. It is just what it is 🤷🏻‍♀️ The show must go on. What’s on my to-do list today?

I know intellectually it’s not me or that my work is bad, but it just hurts to be rejected.

I have my “You Are Enough” sticker on my laptop, and it helped 💙

As a self-care strategy, I re-watched the puppy and horse Budweiser commercial from 2014 Super Bowl and had a good cry. It’s truly soul-cleansing ✨

(I question your humanity if this bit doesn’t make you even a little emotional…🐶)

I treated myself for a delicious brownie and pretty dahlias at the farmer’s market.

I also received a copy of Retailing Insight Magazine in the afternoon, where one of my designs was featured (along with my friend, John Met Betty‘s beautiful vegan handbags!) That helped boost my confidence for sure 😊

I don’t have a profound lesson or insight for you today.

But I just wanted to share that things aren’t always great and positive.

I’ve been noticing a trend on social media where people share hard and messy stuff in life. And even without the “things-went-to-hell-but-I’m-all-better-now” hero ending sometimes, which makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

It makes me sad to see people I admire and care about struggle, but I also appreciate their realness.

It helps me feel OK with having those ups and downs in my life, too.

Even though most of the posts on social media are curated and positive, it never tells a whole story.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’re having a hard time or feeling rejected, you’re not alone.

Nobody has it all together.

We’re enough ❤️

xo

p.s. I’m feeling a lot better after processing the feelings with friends and doing all those self-care stuff. So don’t worry!

p.p.s. I’ve got a few holiday events locked down and am waiting to hear back from a bunch more, so it’s going to be OK. I’ll let you know when I have a more solid calendar!

p.p.p.s. I’m gonna be on my 7th week mini sabbatical next week – I’ve been chipping away at my new website so I can launch it very soon. Send me good tech vibes and stay tuned 😉

Artist Manifesto from 3 years ago

I wasn’t gonna publish a new post today because I’ve been taking this week off to rest and recharge.

I still took a time off and enjoyed it throughly, but I posted this on Instagram on Just 31st, which is my 3-year full-time artist anniversary and got so many encouraging responses.

So I thought you may enjoy it, too.

(Copying and pasting doesn’t count as work, does it? 😉)

***

3 years ago today, I left my 14+ year career in the non-profit domestic violence work to grow Honeyberry Studios full-time. I’d been working on my art biz for a few years on the side but I really wanted to give my 100% to my creative endeavor to see where it can go. So I took a week off from work, and Dave and I sat down to crunch some numbers and decided his income alone could support us for a foreseeable future. That following Monday, I gave my notice.

A day after I left the office for the last time, I went on a solo retreat at my friend’s studio on Whidbey Island. I sat there alone to really think about my intentions for the next chapter in my life. I ended up creating this manifesto during my solo retreat as a visual reminder of why I do what I do and how I’d like to act in my business.

3 years later, my business is finally feeling like a real business, not an expensive hobby 😀 Though I have many moments of self doubt and insecurities, I’m super grateful that I get to do what makes me so incredibly happy for a living and sharing what makes me happy brings you joy ✨ Everybody wins in this scenario 😉

Most of my intentions I set in the beginning still hold true (except for making art everyday – I don’t. But I don’t beat myself up about it any more 😜)

Thank you for your support and encouragement so far – without you, my loyal fans and amazing retail partners, I would not be here writing this message today. Running a profitable small business is not easy. I’m so grateful for you. I’m only just getting started and can’t wait to bring you more joyful creations for many years to come✨

***

Have a beautiful day!

xo

My top 5 blog posts!

I can’t believe this post is my 526th!

I started blogging back in January 2014. I’ve posted pretty regularly ever since – at least weekly (except for sabbatical weeks), but from April 2014 to April 2015 daily for my 365 day happiness is project.

I like sharing my thoughts in writing.

I’m not a super verbal person, and writing allows me to examine and express myself more intentionally.

Writing has become a part of my everyday routine. In fact it’s the first thing I do in the morning after my short meditation practice.

When I don’t do it, I feel a little disoriented 😀

Anyway, I’ve never paid close attention to my blog stats before – but I got curious, so I checked which posts were most popular.

Here are the all time 5 posts that got the most views this year:

1. My Favorite Tools: Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens

2. Quitting my day job cold turkey wasn’t my plan A

3. Draw Yourself Back to Nature Fall Leaf Doodle Tutorial

4. My Favorite Tool: Moo Carve

5. My Vipassana 10-Day Silent Meditation Retreat Reflections

I see that you enjoy my tutorials and tool reviews a lot! That makes me happy because I enjoy teaching and sharing what I know 🙂

I used to do a lot of “self reflection-y” posts, too, and I’m glad you found some of those helpful.

I forgot how much work I used to put into my blog posts! There were lots of long-form articles and custom images.

It used to take me hours (like at least 4 hours) to complete a blog post. I’ve since been re-focusing my priorities and goals for my business, so you may have noticed my articles have  become more short and sweet in the recent year.

I sometimes wonder if anybody’s reading my blog 😀 so it was nice to see that people in fact read them! He he.

Thanks for following along my journey! I’m always grateful for your support and encouragement.

Have a great week!

xo

 

 

SaveSave

3 Free Resources to Empower and Motivate You!

Do you subscribe to any e-newsletters? I bet you do!

I’m on several lists myself – a lot of them for business. Tips on writing, some related to social media, and a bunch of emails from artists I like and admire.

And there are a few I get for motivation and encouragement. I love getting emails from these lovely humans because they help me feel grounded and gives me the courage to live life that I want.

Here are my 3 favorite e-newsletters (They’re all free!):

1. Monday Morning Motivation by Personal Pep Talk

Photo by Andrew Ochoa ©Personal Pep Talk

Stacy and I met in the Master Gardener’s volunteer training several years ago. She’s got such a positive energy, and her smile always puts me in a better mood. Her compassion for  other people and the whole world runs deep, and it shows through everything she does – a true hero in my book!

She’s a teacher by trade  and has started her business, Personal Pep Talk, with her husband Eric this August. I absolutely LOVE their Personal Pepe Talk card decks – I use mine every day to practice gratitude and give myself a little TLC ❤ And her art is so charming and sweet 🙂

In her weekly newsletter, Monday Morning Motivation, Stacy shares tips on how to live mindfully and her intention for the week. What a wonderful way to start your week, right?

You can get a weekly dose of positivity and mindfulness from Stacy here.

2. 100 Uplifting Days by Jessica Swift

© Jessica Swift

I admire Jessica Swift‘s work as a surface designer so much! Her work is so colorful and cheerful, I can’t help but smile when I see her creations 🙂

So when I discovered her email series, 100 Uplifting Days, I wasted no time. I immediately signed up and enjoyed every single email that came for the next 100 days!

Every day, I’d get an email from Jessica with her colorful art and encouraging messages in my inbox (see photos above). Oftentimes, her message was SO spot on for what I was feeling that day, it really lifted up my spirits.

I was sad when the 100 days were over (FYI, you could unsubscribe and re-subscribe to start a cycle  again :D), but Jessica’s been sending out extras occasionally, so I still get her beautiful reminders here and there.

The visual of her email is so yummy. It’s a treat for your eyes and your soul! You can sign up for her email here.

3. Marie Forleo‘s MF Insider E-newsletter

© Marie Forleo

For those of you who don’t know, Marie Forleo is a life coach and entrepreneur, and I’ve been a fan of Marie TV for a couple of years.

Her motivational messages and practical tips for following your passion have been instrumental in my own journey, and I appreciate her sense of humor (and entertaining visuals on the show) when I need a little laugh 🙂

Since I don’t have time or energy to keep track of all the shows and podcasts I love (which there are many!), I signed up for her email so whenever a new content is posted, I’ll be notified.

Even if I don’t have time to watch or read her content right away, I always skim the email to get the gist of it. To me, Marie is a super successful celebrity, but she’s not afraid to share her human side generously with her viewers. When she’s answering questions from her viewers, I often feel like she’s directly talking to me because she makes it so relatable.

If you want practical and entertaining tips for your life and business, you can subscribe to Marie Forleo’s newsletter here.

These women give and share what they know so freely. Their wisdom adds so much to my life, and I hope you’ll find them helpful, too!

(I’ve been inspired to create something similar for my email subscribers, too… Stay tuned for any updates!)

Now, tell me what your favorite e-newsletters are. Please share in the comment and tell me why 🙂

xo

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

 

2016 In Review: 3 Questions to Ask Yourself

I love Marie Forleo and her work!

I enjoy her Marie TV episodes and weekly newsletter because I get so much encouragement and inspirations from her around being an entrepreneur while being true to yourself.

(Plus I really appreciate her sense of humor :D)

I got this episode of Marie TV in my inbox right before the holidays, and it made me pause.

In this episode of Marie TV, she shares 3 important questions to ask yourself before making your new year’s resolution for 2017.

I’m not much of a New Year’s resolution setter – I’m always working on some sort of goals, and goals change over time. So I don’t feel the need to make a resolution for the year, per se. But I found these questions insightful and thought you might benefit from it, too!

(I highly encourage you to watch the episode first if you want to do this exercise yourself. It’ll resonate more with you!)

OK, here are the 3 questions and my answers:

1. What’s one thing you did that you’re proud of?

I try to recognize small successes every day as it motivates me to keep moving forward – so when I think back on my accomplishments this past year, it’s hard to just choose one!

I had a successful holiday season, my business continues to grow, I made a total of 7 tutorial videos for Sakura of America, and started a daily painting challenge in November…

So, if I had to sum it up, I’m proud of doing something that scares me and pushing myself out of my comfort zone every day!

2. What’s one mistake you made and the lesson you learned?

Again, there are many to choose from… :D, but I’d have to say poor time management.

I know from experience everything takes longer than you think (like 3 x longer). I think I scheduled enough time to complete something but inevitably, it takes longer, or something else comes up that needs my attention so my original tasks get pushed back, which in turn, pushes everything else back.

This happens more often than I want to admit, and I always feel bad about myself when it happens. I get overly optimistic about how much I could get done and tend to pack too much into my day. And when it doesn’t happen, I end up stressing out about it 😦

I would’t feel too terrible if I make this mistake for a new task I’ve never done before, but I keep experiencing this cycle for things I’ve done many times before! (Like creating video tutorials.)

My logic is, well, I’ve done this before. –> I should be more efficient at this by now. –> It shouldn’t take too long. It kinda makes sense, but certain things can’t or shouldn’t be rushed, and I tend to take a long time to make a decision anyway.

So what I’m going to do differently would be to internalize the lesson and change my expectation around how much I can get done within a timeframe! And to identify where I can truly maximize the efficiency and create a process for it so I don’t waste time unnecessarily.

3. What’s one story you’re willing to let go of before the New Year?

This is the most powerful question for me, and my answer is: comparing myself with other artists on the internet and believing everyone else is doing better.

It’s an easy trap to fall into. Internet only shows a small part of our lives, and especially if you’re a working artist, you often only show the polished and highly curated works on social media and highlight our successes (heck, I do that!!).

We don’t share the crappy part of our life very often – maybe your relationships are falling apart, maybe your bank account is almost empty and you don’t know where the next check is coming from, or maybe you got nothing but rejection letters for the first 5 years of your career – and I’m not advocating for airing your dirty laundry on the internet for the sake of just venting. It’s often more appropriate to do so with your close friends and/or your therapist!

But it’s important to remember people’s lives are much more complex than what you see on the surface, and comparing yourself to the strangers on the internet is so damaging! And since when has that helped you reach your goals anyway??? 😀

I fall into this more often when I’m having self-doubt and feeling insecure about my work. And when I catch myself doing that, I try to be kind with myself and acknowledge that’s what’s happening. I try to give myself a moment to just feel those feelings and remind myself it’s ok to not be positive and happy all the time.

Here are a few things I do when I’m browsing the social media so I don’t fall into the comparison trap : 1) don’t pay attention to how many followers or “likes” other artists are getting, or for that matter, for myself, either. It’s a metric that’s good for something but doesn’t validate your worth as a person or an artist. 2) simply enjoy the beautiful work people put out and be curious about what makes their work so inspiring instead of wishing you could draw like them or your life would be so much better if your work looked more like your idol’s. Your creative life is most fulfilling when you stay true to your voice and create what makes you happy! Learn from others, sure, but keep being you 🙂 3) “like” their work and share encouraging comments with other artists! By lifting up others, my jealousy and insecurity usually go away.

And most importantly, I try to bring my focus on what progress I made to reach my goal today. If I did at least one thing to move my business forward, then I call it a success! It doesn’t matter what other people are doing or not doing. You’re the only one who lives 100% of your life, you know??

Hope these questions and answers inspired you! Share your answers in the comment! I’d love to know 🙂

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

30-minute daily painting challenge is ON!!

orange-purple-white-marker-flowers_1000px

The other day I posted this drawing on Instagram, and the cation read:

“Ok truth time – I haven’t drawn anything for 2 weeks. It’s a shame, I know. // I’ve been spending most of my time putting together my winter collection and other tasks, and you know how it goes. There is a lot of photoshopping, uploading, writing, posting, promoting, emailing, scheduling, packaging etc. etc. // Last night I finally doodled this while watching Netflix and it felt so nice. // I feel like I need to be intentionally creating work now more than ever. For myself and others who can use beauty and light in their lives.”

It was difficult to admit I hadn’t made any art (including doodling!) for two weeks!!! I mean, how can I call myself an artist If I don’t have a consistent creative practice? Isn’t the whole reason why I quit my day job to pursue my passion (=make art) full-time?

Right.

I get being an entrepreneurial artist means you need to have a strong business practice, and you don’t get to just make art all the time.

I’ve been focusing a lot on the business side of things because that’s where I had the least experience in, and I also enjoy the hustle of working on my business. But that doesn’t mean the only time I create art is when I’m designing new products or when “I have time” (well, look what that got me! Two weeks of not making art!!).

I had a wake-up call to me – in order for my business to grow, I need to nurture my creative practice more intentionally and put more time and energy into it. And business aside, I want to be a person who truly values creativity, and I want my action to align with my words. 

So, here is the deal. I decided to start a new 365 day painting challenge!

001_persimmons_111816_1000px
My first painting was of our beautiful persimmons.

You may remember between April 2014 and April 2015, I did a daily drawing project called 365 Day Happiness is, where I made a drawing about happiness every day for 365 days.

apple-cider_web
Happiness is Apple Cider. Isn’t that the truth?? Pen, watercolor, and colored pencil on paper, 2015.

That project helped me find and develop my own creative voice, and I became more confident as an artist. I also got many cool opportunities through the project, like being featured in one of Lisa Congdon‘s speeches and starting a partnership with Sakura of America.

This time around, I’m not gonna have a specific theme, but I’ll paint or draw something for 30 minutes every day (my big inspiration for this comes from August Wren, who is on her year 3 of daily painting!) and share it on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

I’m excited to practice painting with gouache (i.e. opaque watercolor) and other media, and limiting it to 30 minutes a day makes it less overwhelming. What scares me the most about putting a time limit is sharing work I don’t think are great 😀 You know, because when 30 minutes is over, it’s over. I’m not gonna try to make it “perfect” before sharing it with my audience. No matter how much I hate it, it’s going to be shared! And that makes me feel SO vulnerable!! EEEEEK!

But, my goal is about showing up every day and not about making a masterpiece every day. 

Like Jennifer from August Wren says, I’m not gonna apologize or make an excuse for work I don’t think are great. I’ll just paint every day, share, and move on.

Doing a daily project like this is a really good practice in letting go. And the thing is, number 1, people probably don’t think it sucks as much as you do, and number 2, nobody’s gonna remember your post 5 minutes after they see it 😀 They’re just not as emotionally attached to your creations as you are! So it’s OK 🙂

I want to do this for at least one year but potentially longer. I know once it becomes a habit, it’s just gonna be something you do every day, and you’ll start to miss it if you don’t do it. Painting every day is an awesome thing to do anyway even if I decide to switch my career at some point in the future!

When I had the inspiration to start another 365 day project, I thought about starting it on January 1st. But there is no real reason to wait, is there? I was afraid I’d lose a momentum or come up with excuses not to start if I waited.

So I just started my daily painting challenge 2 weeks ago! And here is a couple more 🙂

This painting is about how I'm becoming appreciative of my body the way it is now <3
This painting is about how I’m becoming more appreciative of my body the way it is now ❤
My mild kimchi :D
My mild kimchi 😀

You can follow along on any social media I listed earlier although Instagram (@honeyberrystudios) is probably my favorite. Use the hashtag #yukosdailypainting to view my paintings so far!

Hope you enjoy! And feel free to join me in the daily painting challenge. I can use a company in this journey 🙂

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

 

 

You’re making a difference even if you’re not making money.

yes-you-are_1000px

{First of all – THANK YOU for responding to my “What do you enjoy reading about the most on my blog?” survey! I really appreciate you taking the time to let me know how you feel. If you missed it, you can still share your thoughts with me here :)}

I recently posted this video on Instagram and it resonated with a lot of people.

You are making a difference even if you are not making $

I often get anxious when I’m doing things that are not actively paying the bills, like gardening, making food from scratch, and taking my mini sabbaticals every 7 weeks.

I could decide to let them go so I can spend more time on growing my creative business (and I almost did give up on gardening a couple of years ago). We only have 24 hours a day, and if we wanted to create time for something important, you just need to say no to other things.

But really, I often get my creative inspirations from doing things like gardening and cooking healthy meals from scratch.

Gardening gets me in touch with the seasons and nature. It also gets me outside of our house regularly. I’m a homebody and would stay home for as long as I care to admit if I let myself 😀

I also feel empowered knowing that we’re able to meet at least a tiny portion of our basic needs ourselves.

Eat a Rainbow Colorful Summer Vegetable Illustration by Honeyberry Studios
Eat a Rainbow, watercolors & pen on paper.

Making food from scratch might take longer and could actually be more expensive than buying prepared or processed food, but it also helps me feel good in my body and mind.

Cooking is a very hands-on creative activity with an immediate reward (well, most of the time anyway) and gives me a break from a lot of thinking and computer work, too.

This beet walnut hummus recipe is not only tasty and healthy, it's beautiful!
This beet walnut hummus recipe is not only tasty and healthy, but it’s beautiful!

I also feel annoyed by other household chores, like cleaning and grocery shopping, but if they don’t happen, my working environment wouldn’t feel as good and productive.

Yes, as a creative business owner, I need to be making money and maintain a strong focus to achieve that goal.

I constantly think about how to create a life where I still enjoy the craft and have a sustainable business doing what I love. I need my life to be meaningful and joyful so I can continue creating work that brings others joy ❤

These other things, though they don’t seem to be directly helping me bring in the big paycheck, are part of what keeps my creative reservoir filled. And it’s my professional obligation as a working artist to do so.

If you ever felt guilty for taking the time out of your day to attend to “other” needs, think of how those activities are helping you to stay well-rounded so you can focus on your goals.

Remember, your creations have values. It makes people happy and feel warm and fuzzy. It makes them laugh out loud. It makes them think or cry. People are moved by what you create. It’s truly magical!

Keep putting yourself out there even if you don’t feel it’s making a difference today. Believe me, you’re making a difference by doing what you do!

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

I quit my day job one year ago!!

July 31st was my one year anniversary of quitting the regular day job! Whoa!

Happy first birthday to an-independent-artist/entrepreneur-me 🙂 I’m still here, alive and kickin’!

cupcake_watercolor and pen drawing

I honestly can’t believe it’s been a year, and I just feel so grateful and privileged to be able to pursue my passion every day.

When I left my day job, I gave up a steady paycheck and good benefits. And in return, I gained the freedom to create work from my passion and decide how I’m going to achieve my goals.

And, I love being my own boss. For the most part anyway.

But one of the hardest part of being my own boss is – well, not having a boss.

What does a boss do? They give you a guidance, direction, support and a feedback. Well, at least they should, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have bosses who did all those things 🙂

And it can be extremely difficult to do that for myself sometimes.

Especially when you work so hard and don’t see the results right away, not getting that constant validation and encouragement that your’e doing a good job can be tough.

You're-doing-a-great-job-sketchbook_1000px

I’d imagine many entrepreneurs feel this way. Or if your’e a parent or a boss’s boss. It gets lonely up here!

You know another thing I miss about the day job? An annual performance review!

Is that weird? I always felt so refreshed after my review. It’s a wonderful opportunity to sit and reflect on all the things you’ve accomplished and set an intention for where you want to go next.

So I wanted to review my last 12 months and share with you what I’ve learned.

What I’m proud of:

  • Started taking mini sabbaticals every 7 week. I believe self-care is super important and wanted to put a regular self-care practice in place to prevent burn-out.
  • Did 5 art shows
  • Ran the Creative Coaching 4-week email course and a pilot program
  • Have been meeting with 2-3 accountability partners regularly to stay focused and motivated on my goals
  • Consistently writing & posting blogs and newsletters
  • Launched my first art collection, Eat a Rainbow, this summer
  • Started teaching Introduction to Block Printing workshops locally
  • My revenue grew almost 5x from the same time frame between 2014-2015
  • My work was featured in Seattle Magazine and Uppercase newsletter (and a couple more in the works! Yay!)
  • Created my first video tutorial and taught in an e-course, the Journey Within
  • Partnered with Sakura of America to produce 5 tutorial videos (launch dates TBD)
  • Participated in 10 arts & craft shows
  • Made 4 times more sales on my Etsy store alone
  • Grew my social media followers by 200%
  • Joined the gym and consistently working out
  • Went to a 10-day silent meditation retreat and continuing my daily meditation practice
  • Started selling my products at 5 retail store locations

What I could do more or better:

  • Create sustainable cashflow strategies & implement it!
  • Create a better, more streamlined system for marketing
  • Explore new social media platform (e.g. Snapchat etc.) so I can interact  with my followers more deeply
  • Continue prioritizing my health and wellness and take regular sabbaticals
  • Allow time for reflection and long-term strategies (every quarter or 6 months?) even if everyday busyness seems more urgent.
  • Narrow down my focus
  • Become more comfortable with taking a risk, don’t be afraid to make a mistake, and if I make a mistake, don’t dwell on the negatives. Learn the lessons, and move on!
  • Prepare better financially for slow times (e.g. In-person teaching is super slow during summer so maybe do more shows to create a better cash flow).
  • Expand my wholesale capacity and partner with more retail shops
  • Expand my teaching offerings both in-person & online

What I want to learn:

  • Research and learn more about product business/manufacturers/wholesale, to make my biz more profitable
  • Effective social media marketing strategies & apps
  • How to make better videos and shoot photos
  • Sewing and more fun creative projects for myself!

Next Step:

  • I’ve made an appointment with myself later this week to sit down and do a planning session for the next 6 months. I’m going to figure out timelines for my goals, break down my goals into baby steps, and make a plan of attack!

I was surprised that it didn’t take very much time to make a list of my accomplishments. It’s so nice to remind myself that I am moving forward even if the progress seems slow.

If you don’t have a boss to give you a performance review, I highly recommend you do this with yourself at least once a year. I bet you’ll feel inspired and motivated by how far you’ve come, too!

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

 

My typical day in the studio

Last month I participated in the Shoreline Arts Festival for the first time.

Shoreline is a city that’s located just north of Seattle. The Arts Festival is their long running annual summer event (it was their 26th annual festival!), and I had a great time! Everyone I interfaced with, staff, volunteers, and people in the community, were very welcoming and friendly. I got the vibe that the community supports arts of all sorts, and it was so nice!

Shoreline Arts Festival Honeyberry Studios booth
Me and my booth at the arts festival!

As part of their marketing for the event, the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Arts Council wanted to feature participating artists, and I got the honor of being interviewed for their blog article.

Their questions were really great, and it made me reflect on my inspirations, routines, and creative process. I don’t normally take the time to think about those things every day and wanted to share them with you! (I modified the original interview for the blog.) Perhaps it’ll inspire you to reflect on these yourself… 🙂

Hope you enjoy!

-Describe a typical day in the studio. Do you have a routine? What do you listen to when you do your creative work?

I work out of our small apartment in Columbia City (a neighborhood in SE Seattle) and my studio is usually my dining table 🙂

I usually get up between 4:30 and 5am every morning and meditate for half an hour to an hour. I sit quietly and focus on my breathing. My mind tends to wander, thinking about my day and what I need to do. When I notice my mind going elsewhere, I try to bring my attention back to my breathing and how I’m feeling in my body. Often my mind keeps wandering the entire time I sit, but it still helps me to start my day with calm and quiet mind.

After my meditation, I go to my workout class at the gym in the neighborhood or do some writing on days I don’t have my workout class.

I tend to do more of a “brain” work in the morning, like writing, marketing, and doing the finances etc., as I don’t naturally enjoy those tasks, and it takes more focus, and mornings seem to work better.

I often work on my creative/art work in the afternoon. I like to switch things up from doing a lot of the computer work in the morning to doing work using my hands in the afternoon if I can. I often doodle or sketch ideas in my sketchbook for fun, and I get most ideas for my art products (i.e. greeting cards and art prints) from my personal drawings. It can happen anywhere – at my desk in the home office, my dining table, or on the couch 🙂

Although I occasionally do writing at coffee shops, I hardly ever do my art work outside the home. Creative work feels more vulnerable, and I prefer to do it alone in the comfort of my own space.

I also set aside a couple of hours in the afternoon every week to read articles or do some learning, like watching a webinar. These are “fun” things for me and kind of a reward after taking care of my “business-y” tasks!

I make a point of not checking my email and social media until after my morning routine of mediation, workout, some writing, and breakfast because as soon as I dive into my email and social media, my mind gets cluttered with information. I have all the browser tabs and notifications off during the day so I don’t get distracted. I do manage my email and social media throughout the day when I have a small window of time between my other tasks.

One of the perks of being an independent artist is you have a lot of flexibility! Since my husband is also self-employed, we often take a break during the day to run errands or do some work in the gardens. When I had a regular job in the office, I would come home exhausted and then worked on my art after dinner and weekends, so we didn’t get to spend a lot of quality time together. I really appreciate being able to be around him more 🙂

I work until 5:30-6pm or so and make dinner if it’s my turn to cook.

As far as what I listen to while I work, I either don’t listen to anything or play some easy music on Pandora (my favorite is Laid Back Beach Music station) while I write. When I do more visual work, I listen to a couple of podcasts related to business or storytelling podcasts, like This American Life and Moth Radio.

-What is your artistic medium of choice? Why?

My favorite artistic medium is pen and ink, markers, and watercolor. I use Sakura Pigma Micron pens and Koi Coloring Brush pens a lot for my drawings. The Micron pens work so smoothly and consistently. Their Koi Brush Pens come in a wide range of beautiful colors, and I enjoy layering the colors to create subtle hues. They’re portable and easy to use when you’re on the go as well! Perfect to take with you when you’re out and about and do a little sketch.

I’ve always enjoyed painting with watercolors, too. I love how they create softness and radiant light on paper.

I also block print on fabric and paper. I love the whole process of drawing, carving, and printing. It’s very tactile, and I find the block printing process to be meditative.

-Who or what inspires your work?

I often find my inspirations from nature, animals, and food. I love to eat!! 🙂 I notice little things when I walk around the neighborhood, like leaves on the ground or beautiful flowers in my neighbors’ gardens. We also grow some veggies at our apartment and a community garden, and it helps me stay connected with the soil and seasonal changes.

When I notice small everyday things that make me happy – like blueberries in our container garden glistening with morning dew or my cat happily napping in his favorite chair in the sunshine – I try to remember that feeling and express the joy in my artwork.

-What do you consider your biggest artistic achievement or accomplishment?

I’m a self-taught artist and began my practice in my early 30s. I was drawing and painting for several years as a hobby but never thought I could be a “real” artist. But last summer, I took a leap of faith and quit my day job to pursue my passion full-time!

It’s definitely not easy to make a living from your passion – I’ve experienced many ups and downs in the last year! But I feel so privileged to be able to follow my passion. I’m learning something new every day, and growing my creative business has been so rewarding.

-If you could only use one color for the rest of your artistic career, which would you choose and why?

Wow, what a great question! I would say black (though it’s not really a color…) if I had to choose one.

I love to create simple pen and ink line drawings and have phases every now and then where I create art with just black pen or sumi ink on white paper. No colors added. I enjoy the clean lines and how expressive simple black and white line drawings could be!

-What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten about being an artist?

A few years ago, I was studying Graphic Design at Bellevue College. At the time, I didn’t believe I could be a working artist and wanted a more practical “job” skills that were also creative.

While I liked learning designs, I also had this nagging feeling that it wasn’t something I loved. 

On the last day of my portfolio review class, my instructor noticed how much I incorporated my drawings and illustrations in my portfolio pieces. She said I wasn’t a bad designer, but I should follow my heart and pursue art if that’s what I really wanted to do.

It’s kind of silly, but that one comment she made gave me a permission to follow my heart. It finally clicked for me that what I wanted to do was to make art, and that it was OK to do so wholeheartedly.