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Archive for July, 2009

Lightning Round with June Shin

July 30th, 2009

A few weeks ago, fellow etsian June Shin blogged about some new jewelry she had created, and this necklace (called “Sway”) caught my eye:

Sway Necklace in gold

I told her that if she ever made this piece in silver, she should let me know… Shortly after, she did just that, then we did a fun little swap, and I gave the silver Sway to my dear sis as a belated birthday gift (scroll down to see how it went over).

I also asked June how she’d feel about being next in the hotseat for one of my Lightning Rounds, and she kindly agreed. And so [sound of eggtimer ticking]…

1. What is it about jewelry-making specifically that drew you in?
Honestly, I’m not sure why I chose jewelry, but I wanted to take up a hobby to do outside of work. I figured making jewelry would be fun, so I signed up for classes and really enjoyed it. So it kind of just went from there.

2. Wallflower or first-to-the-dance-floor?
Hmm, I’m a Gemini, so a bit of both. I’m quiet around people I don’t know, but love to dance, so I will be one of the first on the floor, as long as the music is good.

Cascade of Discs - Silver

3. You’re from NYC, and are now in Atlanta. How’d that happen and how do they compare?
I moved for a boy. NYC definitely has a lot more energy and diversity, and I love all the options available to me there. Atlanta is smaller so a lot of times, I will run into people I know at random places, which is kind of nice. I’ve met a lot of small business owners here, and they’re all very helpful. I feel like it would’ve been harder for me to start a jewelry business in NYC.

4. Ideal lazy Sunday?
Laying out by the pool and reading a good fluff book.

5. You work part-time at a yarn store and you knit — any plans to sell knitted stuffs?
I doubt it. The turn around time for each item is just so long, that I don’t think it would be sustainable for me.

6. Who or what is your muse?
I get inspired by my materials: the charms and stones.

Falling Drops Earrings with Sterling Silver and Prehnite - one of a kind

7. You used to be a high-tech computer consultant… Would you ever go back?
Never say never. I would, depending on the job and the company.

8. Early riser or night owl?
I used to be a night owl, but have conformed to my husband’s schedule of rising early. But when I’m home alone, I go to bed late.

9. What is your kryptonite?
I think it has to be sugar.

10. You love shoes. If you could only own three pairs, which would they be and why?
Why would I only be allowed to own 3 pairs??? I think that would be hell and will pretend that this question was never asked.

11. What was the first concert you ever went to?
Erasure at Jones Beach, Long Island.

12. Chocolate or vanilla?

Omega Necklace - Peridot

13. What are you most proud of right now?
Being a business owner doing something creative. It’s something that I never thought I’d do.

14. Happiest kid memory?
One I can think of is the summer where my cousins and I would ride our bicycles all around town and to the mall. We would also find creative ways to entertain ourselves.

15. Who would you thank if you won an Oscar?
Mom, Dad, Husband, family, friends, and whoever gave me my shot at becoming an actor!

16. Congrats on your recent wedding! Can you give us a brief intro to your new hubby?
Thanks! Gene is a Korean guy who grew up in a small town in Tennessee. I didn’t even know there were Asians in Tennessee. Now, he is a business analyst by day and a cook/food blogger by night. He loves food and cooking, so I am a lucky gal.

Icarus Earrings - Gold

17. If you had the time, what’s something you’d work at improving or learning?
I’d like to improve my Korean and continue taking metalsmithing classes.

18. Most often visited website(s)?
Etsy, Facebook, Twitter, which is sad, because it’s mostly work-related.

19. What do you like best and least about being your own boss?
Not having a set schedule is both the best and the worst since I like being able to run errands and go shopping whenever I want, but also, I am a procrastinator and work better with deadlines.

20. Finish this sentence: “I am…”


Ah, my kinda girl! Really though, I find myself mesmerized by June’s shop — and this coming from a girl who doesn’t even wear jewelry or have pierced ears! Absolutely gorgeous stuff.

See and find out more about June and her stunning work via…

And as for how the birthday gift went over with my sis? It was a hit! Thanks to John for taking this shot:

Thanks for dropping by, and if you know of another great candidate for the hotseat, please suggest away!

etsy.com, good peeps , , , , ,

I’m five years old!

July 26th, 2009

Well… my business is, anyway! Five years ago this month, I took the big plunge and became a full-time freelance graphic designer/illustrator.

John shot the photo of me above, clicking my heels in the Bay of Fundy at low tide. I thought it was à-propos because I am happy as a clam with my career, but it can be a bit lonely at times.

The first thing that many people say when they find out that I work for myself goes something like: “Oh man, you’re so lucky — you must love the freedom!!!” Yes, I’m very definitely lucky. And yes, I do like to have the freedom to make many key decisions. But then… I’ve never worked harder in my life than I have in the last five years. I recently saw a sign in a store window that read “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” (coined by pro golfer Gary Player) — and I found myself nodding emphatically as I walked by.

Being self-employed is not for everyone. But if you do your homework, plan and organize intelligently (big picture and day-to-day), and can figure out a balance between work and life, being your own boss can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever try. I’ve never been happier in my life than I am right now, and my job has a lot to do with it.


A few things I’ve learned:

  • Don’t work in your PJs. It affects everything from how you feel to motivation. Early in my foray as my own boss, I forgot that I’d booked an appointment with my insurance guy; he showed up while I was in my flannel jammies; that was awkward. Since then, I always change before the workday begins.
  • Set boundaries. I never answer the phone before 9 a.m. I (am still learning to) say “No” when necessary. A year and a half of weekend overtime and all-nighters taught me that quality of life is much more important than anything else.
  • Mix things up. I have an overdeveloped tendency to talk to myself (yes, out loud), so I need to remember what it’s like to convene with other humans sometimes. To balance out working solo, I try to plan a lunch date or two with friends throughout my workweek; I also make sure to keep my evenings/weekends busy. Facebook and Twitter also help me make contact with the outer world.
  • Learn to talk about money. This was excruciating for me at first. Once I learned to bring up money forthrightly, things got a lot more comfortable and clear.


A few things I love about working for myself:

  • The reward. Because I work directly with my clients, I hear the positive feedback right from them. Each project is its own source of pride.
  • The challenge. Running a business is so much more than the task at hand — prioritizing, liaising with people, knocking off to-do list tasks… and then the projects themselves, of course. There is absolutely always something to be done and improved, so I’m never bored.
  • My clients. Sure, I’ve had difficult clients before, but here’s the thing: if I find them tough or frustrating to work with, then they probably think the same of me, and things end up petering out… and ultimately I’m left with the folks I DO jibe with. It feels like it’s been a very natural progression in this way.
  • Calling the shots, somewhat. While I always have to consider how my decisions will affect everything, I generally can decide when I want to go away or what projects I do or don’t want to take on.


A few cons about being self-employed:

  • Admin. Invoicing and taxes are killers for me. Bar none, bookkeeping is my most despised task.
  • Anybody there?? It can be tough not to have other peeps in the room, or anyone to get help or a second opinion from… especially for an extrovert.
  • The tug-of-war. Sometimes, it actually doesn’t feel like I’m my own boss at all, but rather, that I have multiple bosses all at once.
  • No benefits or security. I’m incredibly fortunate that my busy-ness has always been pretty constant, but I’ve heard many a designer describe freelancing as “feast or famine”. We’re on our own when it comes to insurance (disability, employment, etc), maternity leave, plus all the schmancy stuff that so many of my friends have like dental, massage therapy, physio, and so on.
  • Constancy. There’s really never a day that passes when I don’t think about something related to my business. It’s tough not to bring work home when the office is in the apartment! My mental task list never stops running in the background of my brain; there is always so much to do.


For anyone in the design or illustration field who’s considering going out on their own, click here to read a terrific article that might help with the decision-making.

Another incredibly helpful resource: click here to use fill out a handy questionnaire to figure out what your hourly rate should be. Someone once told me that if my estimates are never turned down, then my rate is probably too low… food for thought!


Questions for you:

  1. If you are or have ever been self-employed, do you have any wise words to share?
  2. If you’re thinking of taking the plunge into self-employment, do you have any questions?


Enough with all the serious talk now… I’m breakin’ out some cake!

general rambling , , , , , ,

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

July 21st, 2009

John and I recently drove through a nearby town called Arnprior, and we stumbled across a beach… as well as this sign. Call me a “grammar geek”, but misplaced quotation marks “drive me batty”!

Grammar geekiness is one thing that John and I have in common… Below is a shot from Varadero, Cuba:

And then at a music festival in a nearby town called Perth… where, apparently, there’s this one kid who has a tent:

Below are a few other goodies I’ve taken on my travels in past years. Some have spelling errors, some are just plain hilarious.

Again, from Cuba… I promise, we hurtled nothing here:

They don’t like you to scribble while you’re visiting temples in Japan:

Koreans like to keep to themselves:

This sign in Taiwan speaks for itself:

Another billboard in Taiwan… doesn’t help with the “R” vs. “L” teasing:

Again, in Taiwan… a sign kindly letting foreigners know that it’s not a Western toilet:

A last one from Taiwan, and not even a sign… but way too hilarious not to share (unmatched!):

The spelling errors might’ve been intentional here though, to avoid copyright issues. Orrrrr… they’re just mistakes.

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