Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Shoe math

I LOVED Laura's post about starting your own Etsy shop. Wise advice! I thought I'd share a little of my recent experiences with my shop, too. I make custom silhouette portraits as a creative outlet, and a nice way to contribute to our family's finances. My grandma likes to say I draw, 'sideways pictures of peoples faces..' heehee. 

Last week I received my first call from a retail buyer. She was in Manhattan. I pictured her wearing a top-knot with a cool scarf ( like April), and some very expensive heels. I actually got nervous talking with her, and my toddler was yelling for 'MORE PICKLE' in the background, which didn't help affirm my professionalism. 

This buyer wanted to sell my portraits. She told me they were exquisite, and she hadn't seen a fresh modern take on silhouettes quite like mine. I was flattered, and I started feeling quite important. I was already thinking of how excited my husband would be to see this 'big fish' that I netted. Also, I thought I might be able to buy some of the expensive shoes that I imagined this buyer wearing. (I like to calculate my shop earnings in shoes.)

Then, she asked to place an order. A $20,000 order. 


First, my mathematically rusty brain gears calculated that this order meant a lot of shoes! Then, I started thinking practically. If one portrait took about an hour to create, then $20,000 worth of portraits would be roughly 667 hours, or 55 straight days of 12 hour workdays. 

Impossible. Ok, if it wasn't possible, then maybe I could just hire someone to help me. To help me my own unique artistic style. Ok, probably also impossible. Oh, and what about my daughter, Selah? Maybe Selah could go to a babysitter while I worked... 

At this point I was running out of intelligible things to say to this fancy New York business lady, so I politely offered that I would e-mail her my response in the next few days. As soon as I hung up, out of my heart bubbled this verse: 

"Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; 

you have made my lot secure.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.." 
-Psalm 16:5

I knew this offer wasn't for me right now. As much as I wanted it to be, and willed it to work, and promised myself I would stay up all night long for days, it just couldn't be. My business model is flawed by the standards of the world. It is absolutely broken. I am the bottleneck that can't be fixed, and I just can't produce more than I can draw during naptime without neglecting my family.  AND THAT IS OK. In fact, Jesus tells me that this is how it's supposed to be, for me.. for this season of my life. 

My boundary lines are in pleasant places, so why is it that I find myself toeing that line? Creeping right up to the edge and wondering if it wouldn't just be a little bit better if I pushed forward a teeny inch or so. 
Entertaining the thought of this offer, I found that my heart was craving worldly success, approval, and yes, also shoes. 

But, a deeper examination of my heart reminded me that this is the life I dreamed of. It's my portion and my cup. I'm a wife, a mom, and a working artist. My lot is secure. My boundary lines are pleasant. I couldn't place them in any better spot. 

Ask Jesus what your portion and cup is for this season of your life. Ask Him where the boundary lines for your shop fall. He makes your lot secure, and His portion is much better than any new pair of shoes. 

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