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Spotted Dog Farm Blog

The Retropolitan

I ventured away from home yesterday for the first show I've ever done outside of the Asheville area.  Which seems really weird, but for so long my business was primarily online, so I didn't do many shows, and the ones I did were done somewhat grudgingly.  But lately that seems to be taking a turn - I'm enjoying the shows and having fun meeting new people.  And so I applied for a show in Knoxville, which, while only a couple of hours from here, is still the furtherest I've gone.

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Show Season

It is craft show season again... I'll be out and about for the next three weekends. To be honest I go through phases where I do a ton of shows, and then hardly any shows, because the prep for a show can feel a little overwhelming, but the shows themselves are always fun.  

Working in a studio on the farm is great, and communicating over a computer is an incredible way to be in touch with a lot of people, but seeing people in person is the best.

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Stay In Your Lane

I've been working on staying on track during my work day - which can be surprisingly hard to do when you work from home.  Basically I'm in total control of my schedule - which is awesome! - but also leads to lots of opportunities for detours.

Yesterday drove home the importance of staying in my lane.  I was supposed to be doing some computer work, but I wanted to go dig up some stuff and investigate a farm issue that I am utterly unqualified to address.  So, when faced with the option to do what I was supposed to vs what I wanted to, I picked up a shovel.  And then I created slightly more of a problem than previously existed, and totally freaked myself out since I had zero expertise in what I was playing with anyway.  Yeah - totally should have stayed at the computer for the hour.  Then my accounting would have been done and I wouldn't have found myself freaking out over something I shouldn't have been in the middle of anyway. 

Turns out my giant problem - not a giant problem once I talked to the expert.  Just not a problem I personally can solve.  Yeah - here's to staying in my lane.

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Evolution

I've been reading a bit lately.  (Well, I'm always reading, but my taste usually runs towards frothy fun fiction and I devour those like candy, but lately I've also been adding some substance into the mix.)

One book recommended by a friend:  Executive Toughness.  I think this title is kind of a misnomer, in that you in no way need to be an Executive or have aspirations thereof to benefit from this book.  It's more of a "figure out what you want and make a concrete plan on how to get there" kind of book.  Count me in.

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The Creative Process

People like to ask about the creative process - as in, where do my ideas come from?  And I usually have no good answer, but today I sort of do.  Because it has occurred to me that all of my good ideas come from doing something.  Rarely from thinking about something - as in, I can't think my way into my next good idea (which is kind of a bummer because it would certainly be easier and less time consuming.  But also a lot less fun.) 

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Showing Up

I went to a photography workshop with the amazing Nicole McConville a few months ago, and among many other good pieces of advice, she recommended that small business owners take pictures of themselves at least once a month (I think, I'm paraphrasing here.)  Anyway, the point was that amidst all of the other things we enjoy photographing, don't forget that the common thread in everything you're doing is... you.  And I recognized this as good advice, and then kind of forgot it.  Because, you know, busy, distracted, other stuff going on. 

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How to Run 100 Miles. Or a Creative Business.

I read the best blog post yesterday - over at Oiselle.  Oiselle's high on my list to begin with - they're women-centered creative badasses, and they make the best running shorts I've ever worn.  I tend to yoga more than run these days, but their roga shorts are still my summer uniform.  One of the perks of being a creative entrepreneur that works out of a treehouse?  Running shorts as uniform.

(seriously, if running shorts are your thing check these out.)

One of their runners, Devon Yanko, wrote an essay yesterday about how to run a 100 mile race.  And it was interesting in its own right - I've sometimes thought about ultras.  But what really struck me was the parallels to creative entrepreneurship.

Yes, it's amazing to chart my own course and decide what I want my business to look like, and then chase down that vision.  But you know what?  It's a heck of a lot harder than just showing up for work and letting someone else chart your course for you.  Now to be honest I'm not all that great at being told what to do, so for me having my own business is a dream and I'm incredibly grateful for it.  But still... it can be hard.  When things aren't working out exactly the way you'd hoped, or a project that you thought would take a week is now on week 5, or your amazing new idea ended up being neither amazing nor new... it can be a bit of a gut check.  So this essay hit some of the spots I've been pondering lately.  I encourage you to check it out, but here are the parts that I particularly liked.

 

 

Yes! How powerful is that?  Our perceptions of our own capabilities and limits are the most powerful thing.  That's one of the things I try to keep in the front of my thoughts - change all of your possibilities just by changing your mind.  Because the only person who defines my possibilities - that's me.

 

This one made me laugh because it such a perfect restatement of one of my mantras of the last year: "prepare to be uncomfortable."  Because the sad truth is that growth never happens when you're inside your comfort zone.  In fact I had this exact same conversation with a friend of mine who's a new yoga teacher - she's so looking forward to teaching, and a little freaked out at the same time.  So, just like any new venture - get ready to feel uncomfortable.  Because it won't be easy, but it will be rewarding, if you can just make yourself keep going.  In fact, that leads in to some of my other favorite parts of Devon's essay:
This last one might be my favorite of all.  I tell Sam this all the time - and try to remember it myself - that perseverance trumps almost anything in life.  Talent is great, luck might be even better, but for the long run it's perseverance that gets you where you want to go.  And that's why this mug from Shop Compliment is sitting on my desk:
It's an homage to Elizabeth Warren, of course, but in the bigger picture it's the blueprint of getting the life and business I want.  In the end, what counts the most is determined forward movement towards the goal.  So for all of us out there:  nevertheless, we persist.

 

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Back to the Picnic Deck

You guys!  It is February 12 and it is 70 degrees in Asheville.  And that means I am back to basking on my picnic deck for journaling and reading random New York Times stories and getting some work done (unfortunately in that order).  If there is a better way to work than outside listening to the birds chirp I definitely don't know what it is.

You'll notice that my "overlooking the pond" vista is currently an "overlooking world's largest mud puddle" vista.  Which, strangely enough, indicates progress.  That's right, we got the pond drained (finally!) and are now awaiting the arrival of the big equipment.  I'm fully aware that the problem of "my pond needs repair work" is about the most first world problem imaginable, and thus it won't exactly be a catastrophe if takes a while.  But still... fingers crossed this thing has water back in it by summer.

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Team Outing

This past fall I realized that I needed some help.  My niece, Meredith, has been helping me for a while now with packing orders and doing prep work, but it was becoming apparent that we needed another person.  Meredith's going back to school, and we needed another set of hands so that we could keep dreaming up new ideas and creating new collections.  Otherwise we were just barely keeping our heads above water, no time for fun new things.  And fun is one of my business core values.  (For real.  Fun, Evolution, Creativity and Tenacity.  That's Spotted Dog Farm in a nutshell.)  

So, I created a job description describing the perfect person to join us, and then I figured we'd just see what happened.  And what happened was that the actual perfect person showed up!  Trust me, no one was more surprised than me.  I mean, I figured we'd find him or her eventually, I just didn't know that she'd be the very first one.  But she was, and we've had the best time together this fall... Katie, Meredith and me.  Kind of like the Three Musketeers, but creative, and surrounded by the glow of the twinkle lights in my studio.

So, I wanted to celebrate the close of a great year, but I couldn't quite figure out how to do it.  Lunch?  NO, boring.  A drink?  No, Meredith's 19, and also going out for a drink lacks a certain spark.  Finally it hit me - ballroom dance lesson!  Not because I ballroom dance - I don't - but because they do and it seemed like good fun potential.  So, off we went, and it turns out it was super fun - who doesn't like to laugh and listen to music and wiggle your hips?  I highly recommend.  We're already gearing up for our next outing - I saw a sign for Beginning Bellydance.  

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