Friday, March 26, 2010

Etsy Thoughts: Becoming Real

I feel like I'm becoming real. A real business. It's an uncomfortable feeling. I just received my 3000th sale.

Have you read the classic children's story, The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams? I was reminded of it when musing over some recent Etsy growing pains.

Part of my love of Etsy is that it has been, up to this point, basically a continuous flow of affirmation that I'm good at something, that someone out there who doesn't know me personally is glad that I exist. In a world of kids too young to think about how mommy feels, and a husband who is very grateful for me but perhaps not overly verbal about it, my Etsy interactions have become a big confidence booster and something to think about on down days. But now, after some recent harsh and unwarranted comments, it's a whole lot harder to use that as a pick-me-up.

But when I dug up our copy of The Velveteen Rabbit and re-read the part about becoming Real, I felt better. This is from the book:

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

I do want to be Real, and maybe this is the kick I need to get over my perfectionism. It is truly impossible to please everyone, all the time. While I never want to stop trying, the sooner I incorporate that reality into my business philosphy, the sooner I'll be able to accept my successes and failures as they are and deal with the more important issues of staying viable, providing great customer service, and continuing to create products I am proud to call my own.


Jesse Ray said...

The Velveteen Rabbit was always a favorite, and I grew up with the George Winston music that played along with the audio version...but I feel like I read that dialog for the first time today. (Seriously: an electric spine). There is real business and life wisdom contained in this little childrens' story and I never realized it.

Thanks for sharing your growing pains. Your perfectionism may never go can be said that it is a blessing and a curse (but I think it is mostly a blessing). I love that you have found a way to use your creativity to share beauty with others, and I hope it continues to brings you joy, positive feedback, and wealth.

Karen said...

I totally agree... definitely made me think about so many life areas, business being only a small bit if that, where a little fortitude can bring huge personal growth. I embrace that. And thanks for being so awesome :) Anna was so sweet to call me yesterday, and I am so grateful to have such wonderful friends! I hope your weekend is lovely!