Status Reports & Other Ramblings / my opinions let me show you them

why I don’t do Black Friday

This is a repost of a blog post from 2014. I don’t regret my decision for an instant. It was one of the best choices I’ve ever made for my business, and I continue to stand by it: Black Friday just doesn't happen at Wyrding Studios.

BUT! The anniversary bash does happen every year, the first week in November. Except I'm going to be in Wisconsin for a big chunk of the first week in November (at a music retreat/conference that I am super excited to be attending) so this year we're going to do it a week early, starting on October 25th and running through the 31st. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing this year, but I'll figure it out as I go along. It'll be awesome.

(WS is turning 12 this year, y'all. TWELVE. I almost have a teenager.)

But anyway, here's my Black Friday manifesto: 

I have decided that Wyrding Studios will not actively be participating in Black Friday this year. Instead, for the rest of the year, I will be focusing on offering a wider range of affordable items in the store, with occasional flash sales, coupon codes, and special offers via social media.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about this over the past few weeks, and this is not a decision I’ve made lightly. The short explanation is that Black Friday has become something that conflicts strongly with my personal values, as well negatively affecting my creativity and putting undue stress on my physical and mental health.

The longer explanation is significantly more complex.

Like most retail business owners, I usually see a substantial increase in orders between October and December. (The origin of the phrase Black Friday is sometimes attributed to it being the time of year when retail businesses tip over from running in the red to making a profit.) However, over the past decade, I’ve watched Black Friday creep earlier and earlier every year, put more and more strain on retail workers and business owners, and become more and more violent and mindless.

As a one-woman business, I have a great deal of flexibility about when and how much I work; I have to maintain a consistent level of inventory and keep up with website orders, subscriptions, commissions, and wholesale orders… but when I do that work is mostly up to me. If I want to start working at 2am on a holiday I don’t celebrate, it’s my choice to do so and no one else is significantly impacted by my actions.

But if I continue to participate in Black Friday, I’m tacitly involving myself in something that I’m finding more and more at odds with my personal ethics every year. As many of you know, 2014 has been a very difficult year for me. It has also been profoundly transformative. Some of you have probably heard me talk about my belief that tikkun olam - literally, “heal the world” - is part of the responsibility of being an artist. Part of that work is making the conscious decision to live as mindfully and compassionately as I can.

As Black Friday loomed every closer on my calendar, I found myself more and more uncomfortable with both the prospect of trying to take on the additional workload and the implications of continuing to participate in something that becomes more materialistic, violent, and disruptive every year. When I decided yesterday that I needed to opt out of it, it felt like a giant weight had dropped off my shoulders. For the first time in entirely too long, I truly looked forward to going into the studio today.

That alone tells me I’m making the right choice for myself. Whether or not it will be the right choice as a business owner remains to be seen, but I think it’s the only choice I can make in good conscience.

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be the resistance you want to see in the world

I have been... struggling this month. Physically, mentally, emotionally: winter is a hard time for me, and the state of the world isn't helping.

So I'm making art, because it's what I can do. I'm trying to be a good parent, even when I'm exhausted and don't know how to explain any of what's going on. I'm bearing witness to as much as I can, and taking care of myself when I can't bear witness any longer, and trying to hold space for the people I love to process what they're feeling. I'm feeding people, and singing at the top of my lungs, and trying to build bridges. 

I came up with a new wirework design idea yesterday, and this morning a bunch of things collided in my head, and after a quick run to the bead store, this happened: 

If you need me, I'll just be over here at the workbench...

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Black Friday, or the lack thereof

In 2014 I opted out of Black Friday, for Reasons. I've been surprisingly pleased with both the feedback I got from customers and the numbers I've seen at the end of each year, not to mention the part where I get to not be a frazzled wreck for the last week of November.

Today I woke up to a flood of Black Friday emails: BUY! SHOP! SAVE! SKIP DINNER AND GO SHOPPING!, they shriek. I deleted all of them unread. 

There will be no sale tomorrow, nor in Black Friday, or Small Business Saturday, or Goodshop Sunday, or Cyber Monday, or any other day this week. Life will go on exactly as usual: I'll make shinies, I'll put them on the website, people will probably buy them, I'll ship them out in a reasonably timely manner, and I'll continue to support various charities by donating money or volunteering my time the same way I do all the rest of the year. 

I am making one small change, which I've been meaning to do for about a week now: the minimum order for free US shipping + a gift is now $25 instead of $50, and that change is sticking around through the end of the year. [Editor's note, November 2019: It's $35+ now, because postal rates went up again.] I've been considering lowering it for a while, so consider this an experiment; if it does what I think it will do, I'll probably make it a year-round offer. 

If you're looking forward to celebrating with family and/or friends tomorrow, I wish you a delicious and peaceful holiday full of good company and stress-free conversation. If you're hiding under the covers waiting for all of this to be over, I offer you some virtual blankets and excellent books and a calming cup of tea for your pillow fort. If you're not in the US, I hope your Thursday is an excellent Thursday. 

As for me: I have invitations to at least three Friendsgivings tomorrow, only two of which I expect to be able to attend *shakes fist at the lack of transporters, time-turners, and Tardises* and I'll be happily sleeping in every morning until Monday thanks to my child being old enough to get her own breakfast and us not needing to be ANYWHERE at any specific time for the next few days. 

I will proabably build a pillow fort. I will definitely read books and drink tea. 

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fighting impostor syndrome (or How To Be A Real Artist)

Here, internet, I made you a thing real fast this morning while I was waiting for the pain meds to kick in. Click it to get a printable .pdf file that you can print out and hang on your wall if you want.

I'd talk about why I'm so annoyed about That Internet Kerfluffle, but I have to go be an artist now and then I have to go be a single mom at 5pm and then I have to go be a tenor for Shabbat Shirah at 7pm and then eventually I'll get to go to sleep.




Creative Commons License

Certificate of Creativity by Kythryne Aisling is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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ethics in jewelry marketing

For the past few weeks I've been reading up on leveraging Instagram as a marketing strategy. In the process of noting what hashtags are being used by jewelry artists with large followers, I keep spotting variants of one word over and over and over again: "gypsy."
Every time I see it, I wonder: do the etsy sellers using it so liberally to describe their products have any idea what it actually means? Do they care that they're hurting people?  Or is the lure of marketing to the enormous demographic of consumers who've co-opted a racial slur to describe a fashion aesthetic and/or lifestyle simply too tempting to resist? 
I took the word out of my vocabulary as soon I learned it was a slur, but I have to admit there are times when I post something to Instagram and wonder how much traffic I could drive to my products if I was willing to use those hashtags. At the end of the day, though, I have to live with myself: my religion requires me to be mindful of  my actions and my speech and to work to heal the world. Intentionally marketing my work to a demographic that insists on perpetuating the use of hate speech is not something I can do, no matter how much it might increase my sales figures. There are far more important things than money, and this is one of them. 
(Please do NOT come into the comments to argue about how it's okay for you and everyone else to use the word gypsy because it's come to mean free-spirited. Yes, language shifts over time, but as long as there are people who find it hurtful, it's not welcome around me. If you're actually Romani and you've intentionally chosen to personally reclaim the word, this queer gimpy feminist has your back; everybody else is cordially invited to go exercise their freedom of speech somewhere else.)
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