Friday, June 24, 2016

My experience as a bead vendor/teacher

You are so lucky!  You must have so much fun!  I wish I could do that!

I hear these comments and ones similar to them so often I cannot begin to count how many times.
And yes…..I am very lucky, but I also work my tail off to keep that luck in tact!
And yes….I do have tons of fun, but it is at a pretty big risk.
And….remember what your Mom used to say?  Be careful what you wish for!

Every single day of my life I am thankful for what I do for a living.  Seriously, every single day.  I am surrounded by beads, by like-minded people who also love beads, by color and beauty and artistic minds and creativity swirling all around me sweeping me away sometimes into a beautiful world of color and sparkles and happiness.  It’s like a dream!

But there is another side to it that is not always discussed.  Not really seen or understood…or…gasp!  Appreciated!
It’s the side with all the work, long hours, stresses, chaos.  The side that keeps that beautiful side operating.

This year at the Bead&Button Show I had a classroom full of students who, for some unknown reason, were very curious about the workings of my “job”.  So, I shared some of it with them.
I started with the teaching side of it.  
First there is the idea for a design.  Sometimes it’s quick and easy and it falls into place.  Sometimes it is long and troublesome and even after weeks or months it may need to get tossed into the UFO bin. 

While designing I need to keep in mind three really important things –
Can I teach how I’m doing this?
Are there enough teachable moments in this?
Are these beads readily available?
Just meandering along adding beads here and there is not a good philosophy for a bead teacher.  Heck, I might not even be able to replicate it again, I certainly can’t expect to then show others how to do it!

And also there needs to be consideration placed into the design on whether or not there are new skills I can teach, or a new trick or tip.  If it’s too boring the class will not be dynamic. 
These thoughts can create a lot of stress when designing and can sometimes force me to just scrap that design and move on.  Sometimes I comply quickly….sometimes I “waste” time trying to force the issue.
But that wasted time is at a high cost if I have deadlines to meet.  So I MUST keep myself in check. 
It sucks having to be your own adult!  


Also while I am designing I have to keep in mind whether the products I’m using are easily obtainable because supply lists and/or kits will be needed.  Ugh! 
And what is readily available today might be totally unobtainable by next month.  Stress!

Next up is putting into words how I created this pretty little bauble.  Ummm…..did I take notes?  I told myself to take notes!  But, of course, I got all lost in the bead hole and completely forgot to take notes.  And really, how did I do this?  There are too many layers and I cannot see the thread path!  Yikes!

This process might take a few weeks also….because I might need to rip it apart in the hopes I can bead it again.  Or I might need to spend the next 6 evenings and both days on the weekend trying to recreate it.  (Let’s hope I don’t get distracted!!  LOL)

Finally, I’ve got the instructions written.  Now comes the photos/illustrations!  The learning curve for that little chore was years in the making!  And after I finally was good enough at it I decided I didn’t have enough time because I’m too slow of a beader!  So now I pay someone else to make them for me.  Huge time saver for me because it used to take me about 3 full days to create the illustrations for an average project.  This took a huge toll on my back, neck and wrist at the computer.  NOT good things for a beader to do to herself!

Next up is testing and editing.  This requires an ability to be humble….like really, really humble!  Because these peeps are going to point out some serious mistakes!  Repeatedly.  But thank goodness for them, because better I be told I was clueless about what I wrote BEFORE class begins than during it, right?  ;)

And then…. sourcing of the supplies to create kits begins. 
Ever place an order and the one exact bead that you really, REALLY needed was out of stock?  Yeah…we’ve all experienced that.  Now times that by 10!  Now add in that the bead might not be available for months.  Or….horror of horrors…the dye lot has changed!!

But what’s even worse is when you don’t learn these things until after the other 11 items have been ordered, paid for and shipped!  Sometimes to the tune of several thousand dollars!  So you’ve got 11 out of 12 items, $2,458 dollars invested in them…and item #12 (usually something important) is not available!  Stress times 10! 
Oh…and don’t forget that while all this is going on you:
1) Have another full time job of running a bead store and mail-order business
2) Your deadlines are starting to make that whooshing sound.
3) The date to be prepared for this event is marching quickly towards you like an army of locusts.
4) You need to remain nice and polite at all times.

Are we having fun yet??  ;)

I’ll post about the bead vendor side of my job in another day or two.  I need to go breath into a paper bag right now!  ;)

1 comment:

Marcia L. Balonis said...

Yup. Only on a tiny scale for me. I don't have the other stuff going on that you do. But it seems every year there will be some bead I can't get even when I start in January for June. It amazes me that you still love it so. We certainly LOVE you doing it for us.