It’s about the journey, right?

A lot has happened this year to make me take stock of where I’m at and what I really want to be doing.  I originally started Romantic Recollections with the vision of a small business I could work from home while I raised children and did some homesteading on our 5 acre property.  It was a big dream, but the business wasn’t really the biggest part of that dream.  It was something I loved doing that I hoped would help make the other dreams possible.

I’ve come a long way from that original vision. The children I dreamed of never showed up, and the efforts we made to bring them into our lives distracted me from making much progress on the business – or the homestead, for that matter. We firmly closed the door on the idea of children this year, which opened up a lot of questions about what I really want to be doing with my life and with the business.  Suddenly, the business is in the position of not being a little thing to help out around my other activities, but in the position of being THE thing that I do.

Frankly, this scares me half to death. I’ve made a lot of false starts over the last few years, meaning to blog, meaning to sew, meaning to grow this business.  It’s not in any position right now to support the dreams of the future that is shaping up in front of me. But you know what else? There’s more than one reason I haven’t put the work into this business that would be needed to really succeed at it. I’m finally being honest with myself, and I’ve realized I just don’t like client work as my main business, and it’s been making me pretty unhappy and stressed out for a while.

Now, I love historical costuming. I love researching and planning and fabric shopping.  I really love making patterns and I love sewing. I love wearing the outfits and talking about it with other costumers, and even talking about it with clients. I have so many ideas and get so fired up at the thought of everything I want to do. I can see how passionate I am about this topic, and it always felt sensible to pursue it as a business.

The reality is that while I love all those things, I don’t often enjoy what I end up doing in my business – usually because I don’t get to do enough of the parts I truly love. It also leaves me with little time and inspiration to sew for myself, so not only do I not love my work, I also don’t participate in a hobby I love. As much as I really wanted to make it work, it isn’t making me happy, and it shows.  Work projects rarely, if ever, make it as far as the blog or the website because I was so drained by the end of projects that I didn’t care enough to document them. I didn’t spend a lot of time searching out new clients, because I was already overwhelmed with the few I had. I’m finally admitting to myself and everyone else that if I intend to have a costuming business, I need to take it a different direction.

But these years of muddling through to this realization haven’t been a complete waste. I’ve met some wonderful people in the costuming world, including some great entrepreneurs who have found their niche and are thriving – and it doesn’t involve sewing for others. I’ve dipped my toes into teaching and writing, I’ve won a competition, I’ve learned a ton about period clothing and I’ve turned out some pieces I am incredibly proud of. I’ve also figured out some of the things that really make me light up, like millinery and embroidery and making silk flowers.

For the last couple years I’ve been full of ideas about the potential of machine embroidery when combined with historic designs. There are so many pieces I would love to bring to life, not just for myself, but for the many costumers out there who wish, like I do, that there were historically accurate machine embroidery patterns available. It’s a topic I’m incredibly passionate about, and everyone I’ve talked to has been excited about the possibilities.

I have a clear vision of what I want to do and I’ve been working on some designs this year, around my client projects. I’ve been justifying the client work as a way to support the embroidery development, but I’m finally seeing that it’s been a huge roadblock instead. By the time client work is finished, the last thing I want to do is go work in my studio, and that’s just wrong. I’ve been letting the thing that makes me unhappy get in the way of the thing that makes me shine.

So I’m walking away from client work as gracefully as I can. I need to move on to the really exciting ideas that keep me in the studio for hours, yet feel like mere minutes. It’s time to build this business into something I love that can also sustain me, and I think this new direction has a lot of promise. I still want to do some hands-on work, and I have some ideas for what that might look like down the road, but I don’t want that to distract me just now.  My big priority for 2015 is launching some beautiful embroidery patterns and helping people use them in their own projects. I can’t wait to show you some of my ideas!

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