Archive for the ‘my story’ Category

BE BRAVE

I wanna see you be brave web

 

I’ve been thinking about what my Word of the Year will be. It’s taken me a while, because last year was a challenging one for me, and I’ve felt such a fresh start to this one, and there are so many thing I’m wrapping my head around.

Life with 4 (very intensely alive and soulful) children and all that brings, striving to build my little business and see it bless my family more as well as more of the world, keeping creatively sharp and passionate despite the fullness of life, staying a good friend and staying aware of and serving the people around me, and learning to over come personal challenges all with the beauty of no sleep.

My husband found some old home videos on Christmas, and one night we pulled out the tape (yes a tape) of me and Kenneth backpacking through Europe in 2004. We’d been infertile for 3 years, and I was at my end of all the emotions that go along with that. I was tired and scared of turning into a worrisome twenty-something. I had stopped really “living.”

We had saved money for an infertility surgery that we weren’t sure if insurance would cover. And we wouldn’t find out until after the surgery. That took all my faith. And that’s another story. But in the end, insurance paid for it!

So, what did we do? Did we put it in savings? Did we put it aside?

Nope.

We grabbed plane tickets and back packed through Europe for 5 weeks. We had a plan, but we left so much to chance. We had to release and relive, and that’s just what we did.

We stayed with an old Italian man we met at the train station on the Italian Coast who couldn’t speak english, but had a great view; We wandered through the sheep filled countryside in Wales and got lost until we found a bed and breakfast we could afford.  We landed in a small town outside of Venice at midnight in the rain, and knocked on doors until we found an open room (that one was a little scary). We took a 3 hour train that we didn’t have tickets for (we got on the wrong train) and played cards in the dining car to avoid the ticket master (thanks Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby for that one).

All in all, I was fearless. I’d been so beaten down and disheartened from not being able to get pregnant, and I felt like I could handle anything.

Then the kids came. And we were witnessing miracles.

But something happened to my mother-heart.

I loved so much, that I started to worry just as much. I started watching every step. I would put on the alerts that only a mother can have. I would sleep with one eye and one ear open. I was always on the watch it seemed. And slowly, but surely, I’ve become just that. I’ve forgotten how to let go, and be BRAVE.

I’m not talking about the kind of BRAVE that you put on to mother children. That’s the BRAVEST of all the BRAVES!

I’m talking about the kind of BRAVE that it takes to break free from habits, try new ways, leave your comfort zone, and trust.

The kind BRAVE that makes you fearless. Willing to let go and soar.

I’ve grown up since those careless summer days in France, but I’ve also forgotten how to let go.

And that’s hard to do when you are responsible for little people.

But it’s my new goal. It’s my new road.

Sara Bareilles’ song BRAVE has been on repeat, and I’ve been pumped up ready for this new year. 2014 is my year. I feel it.

BE BRAVE. 

You are welcome to download this and use it for your personal use. It’s my motto this year.

Yours?

xo

Sarah

 

 

 

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Do your Thing.

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Right around this time of year, I get one part sentimental, and another part thoughtful. 6 years ago next month, I launched my little ETSY shop in hopes of “finding” my career in design. It’s a journey I talk about here. Like in this post, this post or this post. But before you go post surfing (sounds like a sport?) stick with me. I am often asked in interviews about what led to what, and how I began designing fabric, or how I broke into book illustration without an agent, etc. etc. etc. And there is, yes, a journey.

But I saw this quote yesterday on the www and it sums up pretty much what I believe in in terms of going where you need to go, and landing what it is you are meant to land. I really can’t say it any better, unless God and divinity was mentioned somewhere in there.

I look back to the timid, shy but naively excited Sarah Jane 6 years ago, who needed to find a way to pay the bills, and I look today at her and see that she still sometimes wonders how it’s all going to work out. With 4 kids now, and with even more of a desire to keep the train going, I often sit there and think “Should I be working harder in this area? Or this area?” or thoughts like “Maybe I should be trying harder to reach out to this contact person, or that contact person.” And often, like anyone who runs a business, it can be at the expense of just making beautiful art!

But I am reminded, like I was at the very beginning, that when you have a calling to make beautiful things, keep making them. Don’t stop so that you can chase up the wrong ladder. Instead, build the ladder, and those opportunities will climb up to you.

Doors will open naturally when you are truly doing your thing.

And that’s what’s happened to me. I’ve had my fair share of blood sweat and tears (literally) and I truly believe that when you keep moving in the direction that you were born to move in, those things in your life that you need to support you, will come.

Have you experienced that?

It’s pretty awesome.

And right now in my life, with that sweet baby taking up most of everything I’ve got, I sometimes feel like time is standing still….or rushing past me fast…I can’t tell. I’ve said no to opportunities that have come that just didn’t work out because I wasn’t ready, and I’ve felt ready for opportunities that just don’t seem to be coming. The answer really lies in naming your priorities and staying true to them. And the right things just work out.

It’s all rather wonderful. Everyone has their own unique story of becoming. I’m glad I get to share mine with you in a little small way.

I’ll be sharing more posts about my journey, and my business this week and next, as I enter into 6 years of being Sarah Jane Studios! Wow. What a trip.

If you have any questions, or topics you’ve always wanted to talk about or find out, comment below and I’ll do my best to integrate it into the conversation. With so many people, especially women, crafting out a career from their art and their motherhood, it’s such an important conversation to be a part of.

Cheers!

xo

sarah

 

 

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New Sarah Jane: Part 4

I can honestly say I’ve been wanting to make this update for well over a year.

You know that feeling when you’ve gone through that closet in your house that never seems to be organized? and then you clean it out so well you feel like you could call Martha and tell her about it?

That’s how I feel right now.

I’ve updated my blog with the incredibly amazing skills of Melanie at Fifth & Hazel, and I couldn’t be happier. (She’s amazing by the way. Top Notch).

So, there are lots of changes in every corner of this blog. But here are the biggies:

 

DIY, FREEBIES & COMMUNITY:

Now you can access all your favorite tutorials, Free Downloads, and whatever project or printable you need! This blog is growing into a place to access resources and I’m so excited to have a gallery of projects and free stuff! Horray!

I also created the blog so you’d have easy access to participating in the communities around your favorite products! Click around, and you’ll be able to get involved and inspired.

 

SPONSORS: 

I’m bringing on only my favorite Sponsors to give you direct access to fabric stores carrying my fabric, amazing designers and other businesses that are sisters to this site. Please click over, and get to know them. They are all amazing.  If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, contact me here.

 

COMMENTS:

I’ve upgraded my comments section, so that you can actually reply to eachother, to me, and really have a conversation going. It’s all in real time as well, and it’s mighty cool!

And see that cute heart at the bottom of each post? This is a new little thing that makes it easy to LIKE a post, if you don’t have time to comment! Just another way to spread the love:)

 

EASY TO FIND EVERYTHING

My biggest frustration with my last space was that it was basically hard to find anything. And I want to keep giving you great stuff! So now, more than ever, I’m super motivated to offer more tutorials, printables, and lots of great stuff! And, it’s super easy to find.

 

So, I’m going to sign off and let you click around. Get to know the site. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section! And holler if there are any trainwrecks.

I’m really looking forward to a NEW SARAH JANE: More focus on daily activity here, more illustration, Projects and more inspiration!!!

Have fun surfing around, and thanks for all your support of this space. It’s getting better every day!

xo

sarah

 

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New Sarah Jane: Part 3

If you’ve been with me the past couple months, you are starting so notice some changes that I’ve been making to the shop and heard me talk about making more room in my life for creative living.  It’s been an amazing few weeks, and after reading all your 700 comments from the survey that you took a while back, I’ve really been so much more confident to move forward with some changes that I’ve been afraid to make!

One of the biggest reasons, according to the survey, that you come here to visit me on the blog, is to see new art and to get free downloads and tutorials. Which, really, is why I take the time out of my day to read blogs as well! I want to not just get inspired, but I want to DO something with what I see. Download it, craft it, make it, print it. You get what I mean right? We all have such limited time, and I want to be more involved with creating more illustration and design that you can use! That’s where the fun is, right?

So, I came to 3 conclusions:

1) I need to redesign my blog so that you can find and access projects and downloads easier. And then I need to take the time to offer more projects and printables!  Yay!

2) I need to open my blog to sponsors so that I can justify taking the time to offer more inspiration here!

3) I want to help you get to know the people that either carry my products or offer things that you know I’d want to share.

I’ve grappled with the idea of having sponsors for a long time, but the truth is, I want to offer more resources of my own and of other creative businesses that support what I do! So really, it’s a win win.

I’m nearly done redesigning my blog with the talented Melanie of Fifth & Hazel, and I hope it will make getting around this blog and the resources here so much more easy and fun!

Do you have a business that supports what we are doing here at Sarah Jane? Do you have a fabric store that carries my fabric? Or do you offer sewing patterns that you know readers here would love to see? What about parenting or educational services? Are you a creative business that would like to get some notice?

With the holidays right around the corner, this is a great time to hop on board!

Email Ann at ann (at) sarahjanestudios (dot) com for information and rates. We’d love to hear from you!

And PS: Thank you also for entering the giveaway!!! What a turn out. You can see the 5 winners at the bottom of the giveaway post here. 

 

 

 

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NEW SARAH JANE: Part 1

Today is a long post. But stick with me.

I’ve been considering a really big decision for the past year or so, and have finally come to a grand conclusion. And wow, has it been a journey of faith, patience, trust, sweat and tears. It’s hard to make decisions about your business, especially when they are founded upon deep and lifelong dreams, your personal family income and your creative needs as a person. But these past few months, as I’ve battled anxiety, stress, indecision and fear, I’ve learned to listen to God, my heart and my instincts, and I’m moving onward, ready to enter into a  new phase for Sarah Jane.

I’ve decided to shut down most of my online shop.

Gosh. Writing that down so simply doesn’t really seem to be a big deal. Maybe it does. But to me, it’s a conclusion I’ve considered for a long time, but wasn’t ready to try until now.

Let me back up.

5 years ago this month, I sat on my bed, wondering where I was going to get work with 2 babies under 2, no family in town, 1 car and a husband who was working full time and going to graduate school at night. In tears, I finally got my answer: Start selling my art work on ETSY. I had a very strong goal of becoming a children’s book illustrator and a textile designer, but without any art schooling I had no resume, networks or resources. So starting an online shop made sense for 2 reasons: it would bring in a little cash to offset the demands of my husbands graduate schooling, and it would build a portfolio that I desperately needed to start putting myself “out there” as an artist.

In the back of my mind, I also dreamed of branding an online shop with all my creations…a high quality children’s brand with decor and soft goods for children’s spaces. And so as my shop grew, I made that the natural direction of Sarah Jane. I wanted to have a place where people could come and find products for their home that would inspire simple childhood.

But, as my shop grew, it became too much for me to handle. So I got help. And more help, and the business finally grew to the point where we couldn’t handle the orders in my own home, and we decided to fulfill our orders outside of my studio. It was a big move, but I knew what I needed to stay happy and balanced, and running a business this size at home wasn’t one of them.

But something else happened that I didn’t expect. There is a gap between LITTLE creative business and BIG creative business that I got stuck in. By taking the leap into bigger business, I was forced to be making huge decisions that weighed on my mind far more than I wanted them to. This business isn’t a hobby…it is a necessary part of our family’s income, but going from small to big took decisions and planning that were far more than I wanted to handle, and I found myself more stressed than I had ever been. I had turned into a business guru and a marketing expert….and I wasn’t spending my time getting lost in creative pleasures and projects like I needed to. I wasn’t able to tap into that place all artists go to when they need to get inspired. The best part of me…the part of me that is an artist…was getting squashed by the demands of growing a business. I knew I was losing the joy and the charm, and I didn’t know how to get it back.

But I’m a hard worker. I’m a “figure it out-er.” A dreamer, believer, and I don’t quit. I had some really great things going, and opportunities with promise, and I knew that I could figure this out. After all, it was what I always wanted, right?

But I started to see that maybe the dream I had of the charming children’s boutique filled to the brim wasn’t creating the lifestyle that I craved.  I was building something that I had dreamed of, but as I got closer to that dream, I realized I didn’t want it after all. Which is a hard fact to face. Because you believe that with JUST a little more hard work, you’ll figure it out. Someday it will balance out, ease up, get easier, sail more smoothly. But I wasn’t seeing the horizon. And I was thinking that running a printer out of my bedroom was actually when I was happiest and most creative. Ouch. That was a harsh reality. Was all this growth for nothing?

How do you climb down a ladder you thought was getting you to where you wanted to go?

I realized that by answering the question: How do I wan to feel every day? How do I want to feel in 10 years? And what daily choices will achieve that? stopped the train and made me take a serious look at what I wanted out of all this. Logic was telling me I needed to keep trying harder, find clarity through experience, learning and research, get more business experience, etc. etc. But after all that, I still felt like I was missing something really important and I came to realize the answer was inside me all a long: I need to provide an income for my family, but I’m going to do it in a way that brings me the greatest sense of purpose and power. And accept that in my head, a full shop with pretty things was what I thought would get me there. But it wasn’t.

So this change is ultimately putting myself in a position to make fewer business decisions, and more artistic ones. And as much as I fear what will be in store, I actually have faith that because I’ve made the right decision (as hard as it was!) I will be far better off in every aspect of my life. Since coming to this decision last week, I’ve been more inspired, more creative, more free and much much lighter. I can’t wait to see what comes of all this. And hey…I’ve earned an honorary business degree, learned how to balance and manage a lot of things at once, figured out the difference between when to push and when to let go…and most importantly…I’ve come to realize what I really want out of it all.

Looking back, I started my shop to open up freelance jobs in publishing and fabric. I guess I figured I could run a growing business, mother 3 children, keep house, serve in the community AND illustrate books and fabric too. I felt compelled to try it, and for me the answer was to stick to what I do best & am most passionate about.

And so that brings me to now.

I’ve made the choice to let go of everything in the shop except for art prints and downloads.

No more paper embroidery patterns, cards, holiday calendars, gifts tags, bookplates, or journals.

We are going to sell out, and when they are gone, they are gone! I will sell through the holidays what is currently in stock, and after Jan. 1 the shop will only be shipping prints, and emailing PDF’s.

What that does mean however, is more books, fabric, downloads, art prints, tutorials and creative sharing.

I’m really excited for this new change. It’s a little scary, but I love the idea that I’ll be able to illustrate more books and design more fabric, and take more artistic liberties.

For all of you who have been with me since the beginning…I love you! Thank you for being on this journey with me! I share it, in hopes that if there are others out there who are in that battle ground of figuring out how and what they want out of their creative business, that you will find the support and encouragement you need. Cause changing course can be hard to do, especially when it requires looking deep into your heart and examining closely.

(And if any of you are in this same boat, this blog, this book and this video really helped me shape my decision. This decision of mine isn’t for everyone…but for me at this time, it is!)

But for now, this is where I am. This is where I’ve arrived in  order to shape this next phase for me.

Love to you all, and excited for this new chapter!

xo

sarah jane

PS: the above quote is for you too.

and PPS:  I have a brand new collection of prints launching tomorrow. Nautical prints and new sizes to play with. I can’t wait to show you!

 

 

 

 

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THANK YOU!

Thanks so much you guys! Over 700 of you filled out the survey from last week and it really did give me such a glimpse into what you guys value and love about coming here!

I’ve really learned a lot about what your favorite products are, what you would like to see more of, and what you love seeing here on the blog. I’m just so energized by hearing your input!

It might sound silly, because I have a public space where I can communicate often with you, but designing and creating a business can be a very lonely road. Mostly because my creations are my own….and even though I’ve been doing this for almost 5 years now, there is that nagging feeling of “Will anyone even like this?”  Creating from your heart while trying to make sure that people are still connecting to you and your work is a balance that I find very enjoyable….but it can be lonely at times! So, hearing your feedback and input was just what I needed. Thank you!

Here’s a print I did this weekend and I’ll be making more to release in about a week-ish. More Out to Sea inspired artwork and stuff to go with the fabric that you are starting to find store!

Horray!

Have a lovely Monday, everyone! And thanks again!

PS: The coupon code at the end of the survey is valid only through Monday, so don’t forget!

xoxo

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On the doorstep.

I know I know….

 

It’s not even Christmas, but I need to take your time this morning and say…..

MY  DEBUT PICTURE BOOK IS RELEASED TODAY!

There I said it. I’m done now.

Well, maybe not. I really do want to say a little bit more, but honestly, I get a little shy. Isn’t that silly? It’s like stage fright. My fabric line was such a whirlwind release, and the art I create in the shop is usually the same. There was no time to be nervous.

But books are slow. Created fast and with crazy deadlines, but then you wait. And wait. And wait.

And the waiting has made me a little timid. Like, I want to say, “Are you still there? Do you still care? I made this book for you over a year ago….do you still want to read it?”

(Insert pigeon toes and flushed cheeks here)

Regardless, today it’s happening. All pre-ordered books are being delivered by white and brown trucks all over the country today. They will be (oh so gently laid) onto little doorsteps where a man in uniform will place brown cardboard boxes filled with art that I made in my basement studio, while listening to Christmas Choir music in July. A book with magic in the text that had gave me goosebumps the moment my editor read it to me over the phone for the first time. A book about Jesus and the light He brings to all the world. A book that still has my children begging to read it, even though it’s not even Halloween. A book that I’ve placed little secrets into that no one but myself and my children really know.

 

A book that was illustrated while moving twice, pregnant, going on partial bed rest, having a baby, buying a house, wading through financial difficulties and struggling through post partum, all while trusting in God to pull us through. It was quite literally a miracle in and of itself to be patiently wading through the “stuff” life brings, and then to illustrate the Christmas Story at night. I don’t think there could have been a better release for those emotions…I needed God, and I got to draw my emotions on paper.  This was my place to put in my feelings of my Savior, the miracle of His birth, and all the relationships that were formed around that miracle.

And now you get to be a part of that.

 

I actually didn’t pre-order any. Looking back maybe I should have! But I will have the honor of hand delivering copies to some very special people. And that will make for quite the perfect day.

I won’t post about this any more until the air is a little crisper and colder…but I just had to share a special moment. A life goal. A day that won’t ever come again.

I think I’ll go kiss a little lamb:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Christmas Goodnight Cover Release

“On a quiet but wondrous Christmas Eve, the nativity story comes to life,

and families everywhere celebrate the miracle of Christmas.

Nola Buck’s simple poetic text and tender illustrations by Sarah Jane Wright

make this gentle holiday goodnight book a joy to read and share with those you love!”

So, this is quite early in the game. But I had to share! My first picture book, A Christmas Goodnight, won’t be coming out until the fall, but this is the first time that I can actually start releasing some images! It’s so intersting: I’ve been working on this since August of 2009, and it’s only just now that I can show you what I’ve spent the past year of my life doing:)

I won’t tell you too much right now…there’s still quite a while until any of you will be thinking about Christmas again. But, since you are all friends…and friends just want to share….I thought you’d love to catch a glimpse of what A CHRISTMAS GOODNIGHT is about.

Really, this post should be about my husband, friends and family who supported me all along the way. This has been my dream illustrate children’s books…and I never realized that illustrating a children’s book while mothering young children would be so challenging. But I’ve learned so much a long the way, which I plan on sharing a little later.

But for now: it’s official.

A Christmas Goodnight

By Nola Buck Illustrated by Sarah Jane Wright

Harper Collins Childrens Books

Oct. 1, 2011

Not available for Pre-order just yet…hold your horses.

Merry Christmas!

Or rather, Happy Ground Hog Day!

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