Status Reports & Other Ramblings / nope nope nope

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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cars are very exciting

(This is a stock photo for the purpose of drama and hyperbole. My car is surprisingly not rusty considering how many New England Winters it's survived.)

So, my weekend has been super exciting so far. For the definition of "exciting" that involves having a tire blow out on the interchange between NH101 and I-93, not being able to pull over for at least a mile because see previous statement about location, having to call a tow truck because I was way too brainfogged to safely do a double tire change myself in the dark on semi-muddy ground (it was a front tire, and apparently you can't put a donut spare on the front of a Subaru? I don't know, I'm an artist) and then buying four new tires on a holiday weekend when most of the reputable tire places in town were closed. 

And I did all of this with a cranky child who recently lost her screentime privileges in tow, for extra fun and excitement! Because that's how you roll when you're a single mother. 

(Or, y'know, don't roll, because spectacularly flat tire.)

(I'm funny.)

Completely unrelated to this or the fact that my out-of-warranty car was already scheduled to go to the mechanic for its annual checkup tomorrow, I'm having a sale! Completely unrelated, I tell you. Pure coincidence. Yup. 

Coupon code MAY takes 25% off everything. I expect I'll be moving some stuff into clearance later today too, just because it's been a while since I did that. 

Go forth and buy yourself something shiny! Or tell your friends. Or tell the stranger sitting next to you at the coffeeshop, although that may make them look at you funny.

(And if your car is vibrating and/or making alarming noises on the highway, don't assume it's just the alignment and that you'll be fine until your appointment with the mechanic on Tuesday, because it might be a tire coming apart and that is not really the sort of excitement you want in your life. Trust me.)


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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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In Which Mittens Has An Anger, part 739 in a series

This is a typical small cheap baker's rack. About waist-high, kinda wobbly. Until earlier today, it was in one corner of my studio with a fairly large and rarely used inkjet printer/scanner/fax multifunction machine on the middle shelf, packing supplies on the bottom shelf, and assorted clutter (including my old Nikon D40) on the top shelf.

As you can see, it is now empty and in the bathtub.

This is Mittens. Mittens has anger management issues. When he gets mad, he pees. Very creatively. And when I say "very creatively" I mean "he once balanced on top of a small wastepaper bin so he could pee on a houseguest's sock." He has quite literally peed in my shoes. He has peed on the sump pump in the basement. We think he probably peed on the baby at least once. Mittens no longer has the cozy basket you see in this photo, because he peed on it. His peeing skills are truly impressive, but I didn't really think he could outdo the wastepaper bin incident.

I was wrong.

When I went into the studio this morning, I immediately caught a whiff of Angry Pee. I tracked it to one corner of the room easily enough, but the floor was completely dry. Mystified, I then pulled everything out of the nearby closet (many dust bunnies, but no pee) and checked the recycling bin (nope) and my filing crates and to-be-filed basket (I need an assistant). I stood up to reevaluate the rest of the floor.

And then I realized the automatic sheet feeder on the top of the printer was... damp.

Very damp.

The packing supplies on the bottom shelf were completely unscathed. So was the camera and all the other items on the top shelf. Mittens had clearly carefully aimed his butt into the sheet feeder. I'm not sure how, since if you had asked me yesterday I would have told you there wasn't enough room for a cat to fit between the top of the printer and the shelf above.

I... rapidly came to the conclusion that I don't actually need a scanner anymore.

(And no, there is absolutely nothing medically wrong with him, and while he only has about two functioning brain cells - both of which get used for peeing - he's also not senile. He has been to many vets who have performed extensive and expensive testing only to ultimately diagnose him with a bad case of Your Cat Hates Everybody. And yes, we've tried that. And that. And that too.)

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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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