Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 A Year in Review for Sj Designs

Another year has just sped by for me, my family, and my business...  I honestly don't know where it went!  (I feel like I must apologize to my Mama for the millionth time for doubting her wisdom about time going faster and faster the older you get!) 

As I sit down to write this post, I realize that I never got around to setting concrete goals for myself for 2015.  Oops!  I guess I was just so busy doing things that the planning part got a little lost in the shuffle.  Really, a lot of my 2014 goals just rolled over for the new year with the added idea of growing my business beyond Unearthed Arts.  So... here's a little recap.  I hope you enjoy strolling down memory lane with me a bit before we christen the shiny new year!

Learning (and Using!) New Techniques
  • This was my second year going on the Bead Cruise with my good friend Kathleen.  While I haven't done too well with using the techniques I learned on this year's cruise, I did make a bunch of the macrame style bracelets that Erin Siegel taught us last year!  Apparently I have an incubation period.
    One of my favorite pictures from the cruise:  Me, Kathleen, Erin, and Diana.  Such great memories!

    Here's that batch of bracelets... I should get out the macrame board and make some more!

  • When I discovered I would be able to go to Heather Powers' fall retreat, I got the wild hair to go take classes and shop at BeadFest Philadelphia instead!  Kathleen was once again my partner in crime and we got to reunite with several Bead Cruise friends as well as meet new friends.  I'm so excited about some of the techniques I learned there and look forward to putting some of them into practice in the new year.  (I'm still amassing some of the new tools and safety equipment that I need before getting too serious with my new torch!)
    I can't wait until I have all the tools to try making more of these bracelets!
 Getting Published
  • I've continued trying to get my jewelry designs out there to the wider world by way of magazine publication.  I had a bracelet published in the gallery section of Stringing Magazine but even more exciting was having a necklace featured in Create Jewelry (a special issue from the publishers of Stringing).  I really can't explain how thrilling it was to open that magazine to a full page picture of one of my creations!  

  • Over in the blogosphere, I was super honored to be asked to do a guest post for one of my favorite blogs, Earrings Everyday.  You can see my post HERE if you missed it!
 Getting Organized
  • Ugh.  Studio organization remains the bane of my existence!  My bead and supply hoard is like the fabled Hydra... I cut off one head (i.e. get a few things put neatly away) and three more heads (piles) spring up to take its place.  My sweet friend Marcia has tried to help me with my mess and introduced me to some great new-to-me organizer trays, but I've got a looong way to go.  I keep placing orders because I need that one thing and then never get around to putting the rest of it in its proper place.  Making messes jewelry is just way more fun than cleaning up! 
  • I can at least claim that my art beads are in pretty good shape as far as organization goes.  There are a few outliers that haven't gotten priced and stored including the new pretties my husband got me for Christmas, but I need to make spots for them to go (by making more jewelry) before I can put them properly away.  Luckily, I've been much better at using my art beads this year, instead of just hoarding them, and intend to keep going with this trend!
Growing My Business
  • 2015 has been my first full year as a resident artist at Unearthed Arts in Waconia, Minnesota.  The gallery continues to be a great outlet for my jewelry as well as source of creative energy for me.  In addition to selling my creations there and working in the gallery, I've also taken over more of a role in the gallery's online presence and do most of the Facebook posts, email newsletters, and class management. 
  • I had a brief stint selling some of my jewelry at a store in the Minneapolis airport.  While I had hoped for a longer term relationship there, the experience has opened me up to looking for other opportunities. 
  • As of November, I do have my jewelry for sale in a second location again.  Thanks to a friend of ours, I now have a small display at the West Side Perk coffeehouse in Bloomington, Mn!

  •  I had three jewelry shows this year... and all were super successful for me!  I participated for the third year in the Art Wander studio tour (my second year as a studio location).  I also took part in the fall festival that my husband's clinic puts on each year (with some of the proceeds going to support the local food shelves) and brought back my Holiday Open House after taking 2014 off. 
  • Teaching has also been an important part of growing my business.  I had the pleasure of mixing jewelry and libraries (I will always be a librarian even if I'm not working in one regularly!) by doing a series of classes for tweens at three different branches of the Washington County Library System.  At Unearthed Arts I've done done several jewelry classes for adults including one private event. 
  • I've been trying to be more proactive and organized with my social media presence, but I still have a LOT to learn!  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest... it's enough to make your head swim.  I may not be anything close to perfect, but at least I'm putting myself out there!  
  • My Etsy shop still needs way more love and attention (oh, and maybe listings!) but I did get my banner revamped and my shop reopened.  Baby steps?  I've been busy enough with my local shops and just dealing with life in general that my online store has taken much more of a backseat.  Since reopening, I did sell one of my most expensive pieces (one that I was actually a little sad to see go) and a set of my acorn jewelry to a customer in Finland!       

Of course my 2015 wasn't all about jewelry and beads... mostly but not all!  ;)   Travel, friends, theater, good food, great beer...  2015 was a pretty good year overall.  No, it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows... but I choose to focus on the positive. 

In addition to my beady travels, Eric and I had a couple of great trips.  We drove down to Asheville, NC just for fun (with a side trip to Huntsville to see my family) and took in all the craft beer sights that we could.  We spent a day at Biltmore and also had the chance to connect with several friends.  On the Huntsville leg of the trip, we got to spend time with my mom as well as my big sister and niece Anna.  A friend also hooked us up with free tickets to a beer festival that was happening while we were in time... talk about great timing!

Eric and I on the rooftops of Biltmore!
Anna, Doty, me, and my sweet Mama.
Our other big trip was to San Diego for the National Homebrewers Conference.  We were there in part to help promote a new brewing business venture that Eric is a part of, Beer Dust.  It's always fun checking out the breweries in a different part of the country (or world, for that matter!) and hanging out with fellow craft beer lovers.  This trip was a little different in some ways since we were there in part as vendors, but still a ton of fun.  We even got to chat beer and games with Wil Wheaton!

Smaller side trips included going to Duluth for the All Pints North beer festival and an awesome road trip to Fargo, North Dakota with friends Ty and Annette.  I also traveled solo to San Fransisco to hang out with my library friends at the American Library Association annual conference.

Ty, Annette, myself, and Eric in Fargo.
We geeked out at both MiniCon and CONvergence this year (both are SciFi/Fantasy conventions here in the Twin Cities), got our theater on during both Fringe Festival and the Twin Cities Horror Festival, and had too many fun times with friends to even count.  Here's to the year that was 2015 and to the New Year headed our way!  


  1. Wow, what a great year full of growth and fun! I think that whole not setting goals thing works for you. Hope your 2016 is even more wonderful.

  2. It was really fun to read about your past year. I can totally relate to the organization part.....or lack of. The piles just seem to magically appear. Happy New Year.