Hello! Big news today, if you are interested in very cool stationery and accessories: I am closing my shops on 1st September. I may reopen in December or January, depending on my workload. I’m juggling one too many plates, so I thought I’d put this one down before it smashes, aka something goes wrong in the Christmas season and I cry in the post office. So get your shopping in while you can, in case I don’t reopen!
I don’t currently have anything for sale in any local shops (although if anyone who runs a shop, especially in the Southend area, wants to stock some pieces, give me a shout!). It’s all available on Folksy or, if you prefer, Etsy (item prices are the same in both shops; international postage is a little cheaper on Folksy because of how fees work). There’s 20% off a lot of items at the moment, so grab those pieces while you can! My last mailing day will be 31st August.
Give me a shout if you have any questions! Here is a selection of what’s available:
Here’s the link to my Folksy, hint hint, and to my Etsy, hint hint…
Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my book, The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailersand as a paperback from Amazon.(That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)
I got a pitch email earlier from an SEO company saying ‘your Instagram is great and deserves to be seen by more than 186 people!’ I nearly replied with ‘actually that’s 185 people, get with the programme – some new bookstagram account followed me yesterday and has since disappeared back to the Instasphere. Thanks for the encouragement though!’
It’s funny that should happen today though, as I was already going to talk about goals and growth. 2017 is drawing to a close, thank god, and although 2018 will probably be another tyre fire of bullshit, I would like to start it off with good intentions. Case in point: new year’s resolutions. I didn’t have any last year, because I had already resolved to get the hell out of England and did so in the first week of January, but twelve months on I have the itch to resolve… something. I also know that I’m more likely to keep to the resolution if I talk about it publicly, so I thought I would talk about different types of resolutions and the things I’d like to do in 2018.
Resolution 1: The Vague Gesture
My resolution: learn to do my hair? A bit?
I think I may have mentioned my hair is sometimes-often-frequently partially purple. It’s also getting really long, because I enjoy the illusion that I’m a princess in a kingdom with favourable tax laws, but I do nothing to it. Literally nothing. I wash it twice a week, comb out the knots with a tangle teezer and tie it in a bun or ponytail if I’m working. Then I ignore it until it needs another wash. I read somewhere that the longer your hair is, the less you do with it and I want to call bullshit on that. I also want to channel Daenerys Targaryen wherever possible, so in 2018 I resolve to learn how to, like, braid my hair or something. That’s not a huge commitment, and if someone says ‘hey Francesca nice fishtail plait’ I’m going to know it’s working. It’s also not the end of the world if life gets in the way and I don’t learn a fishtail plait, because my hair looks great they way I wear it already (there’s a reason I never brush it dry and that reason is frizz).
So in theory, the Vague Gesture is a good resolution to have. There’s no pressure and I won’t feel bad if I get to June and realise I’ve forgotten it. I suppose a similar one would be something like ‘eat less processed sugar’, because instead of saying ‘eat no processed sugar’, there’s no line to cross, no crushing disappointment of one’s self esteem. It’s something that would be nice to do in the long run but no one cares if you don’t do it, including you.
Resolution 2: The SMART Goal
My resolution: Look after myself better? Look after myself more? Practise self care a day a week until I achieve nirvana?
I looked at a bad website today – not bad as in broken links but bad as in the two thirds of the page was bright pink and white diagonal stripes. My eyes hurt. I’m not even going to link it, it was so hard to look at. Good for marketing, bad for retinas. Especially bad for retinas that already require glasses. And since I am heading into my 23rd year of life and already have to run a bath to get my bones to stop aching when it rains, it’s about time I sopped complaining about my ailments and found a form of exercise that wasn’t physiotherapy. It’s about time I got some sort of blue light blocker on my computer. It’s about time I stopped overriding the Freedom app to check Twitter at 10pm. My 185 followers clearly do not care if I am tweeting at 10pm, so I probably shouldn’t either.
The problem with the resolution to ‘look after myself better’ is that there’s no qualifier. How do I know if I’m looking after myself? I will never not need glasses and I’ll never not ache when it rains. Realistically I will need stronger glasses and more baths year on year. So maybe I should take a leaf out of every business blog’s book and set specific goals I can measure in an achievable, realistictime frame. Something like ‘I will download a blue light blocker to my PC by January and I will sign up to a running club that requires payment in advance because the only thing I hate more than running is wasting money.’ (I actually don’t hate running. I hate that feeling that I’m about to puke up my lungs while I run. Aren’t lungs supposed to keep calm and carry on in those situations?)
I’m going to sleep on the running club, but this type of resolution sounds like one of those you should set if you want to get to December and think ‘fuck yeah I want to high five myself for SMASHING IT’. I kind of think everyone deserves that ‘fuck yeah’ thought.
Resolution 3: The This Has to Work and I’m Going to Make it Work Come Hell or High Water
My resolution: earn more money from my work? Earn increased amounts of money? Don’t sell a kidney to support a hobby?
This is the hardest type of resolution, because it’s a mix of the other two. Saying ‘I want to earn more money’ could just be another way of saying ‘I earned some money this year and would like to continue earning next year’. Realistically I will; my stationery and accessories will still be for sale and I will still crowdfund my writing. There will be money! But I don’t just want to continue, I want to expand. I need to expand if I’m going to continue to justify putting time into both those things. I know the numbers I have to hit if I’m to continue publishing writing with no upfront fees (about $10 a month would cover my website expenses, and $30+ would cover some writing time contribute to my bills). I know I need to double my stationery sales – and grow those follower counts, damn it – to justify using prime space in my bedroom to store stock and to justify spending my evenings and weekends thinking up jokes about Greek gods.
I also can’t ask people for anything other than moral support, because most of the people I know – in real life and online – are as broke as I am. A short story or a funny print is a luxury and if people won’t buy or pledge, there’s nothing I can really do about it except plug away until they go up a wage packet or change their priorities. So going into 2018 I know that, if I don’t get more sales or pledges, I will be shutting up shop eventually – and that’s shutting my Etsy shop, my stories blog and possibly even this place because my spare time will only ever decrease and my bills will only ever increase. I’m not 14 anymore and I have to be pragmatic about where I put my energy – especially if I want to look after my health, because running a shop is eighty per cent adrenaline and twenty per cent pure relief when something goes right. There’s a reason most successful entrepreneurs retire early. They want to spend as much time as they can with their remaining nerves… There’s also reason most novelists have day jobs and eke out books on the weekend – statistically I am not playing a winning game.
So although my resolution is to make my work fucking work, I also know that ‘hell or high water’ will come in the form of a bill I can’t pay in my current status as an intern/freelancer/stationery designer/storyteller. Or in a final argument with one of my parents. Or when I finally decide to trade following what teenage me wanted for adult me and start following what other adults want for adult me.
That took a dark turn there, I didn’t actually mean for it to. I want to know about your resolutions! Tell me the ones you’ve succeeded in keeping, the ones you stopped caring about, the ones that didn’t make it past 1st January. Tell me what you want for 2018, what you don’t want for 2018. Tell me what you did in 2017. Other than swear at the news and drink a lot, presumably…
Today I spent four hours in a virtual queue waiting for tickets for The Cursed Child, only to spend my allotted twenty minutes of browsing time searching fruitlessly for the right number of tickets on the right number of days in the correct type of seats.
So ‘miffed’ doesn’t really cover it.
Anyway, the good news: I made some things to help you survive – and, dare I say it, thrive – during the upcoming general election.
Here’s something to encourage the youth in your family to vote:
Here’s something to help you all decide how to vote:
My constituency hasn’t announced its candidates yet (something tells me the Conservatives will win) but I’m considering the Women’s Independence Party. Or signing up for that Mars mission. You can buy and print those designs here if you want (actual prints are coming this week, hopefully) so you can spread the democracy and all that. I suppose if someone decides to vote after seeing them, or if the shop makes some money on them, the current state of British politics won’t be entirely a waste of human intelligence…
Indifferent Ignorance has started snowing, so it’s time my darlings for this classic carol.
And this one.
Honestly if I don’t post these somewhere at this time of year, assume I’ve died. Anyway now I am actually feeling quite Christmassy. The sun sets at 4pm; the shop I work part time in is full to the brim with stockings, cinnamon candles and novelty bedspreads; my freelance work is nearly done and I have even managed most of my shopping. I accidentally bankrupted myself in the process, because my brother and I are getting presents between us but I went a bit overboard with my debit card before he gave me any cash, but still. Christmas is nearly here and I’m not completely immune to the odd Micheal Bubble song.
That being said, I am worried (and by worried I mean ‘just fending off panic’) about the following:
Getting visas in time for Asia
Getting cash for petrol so my mum can use my car when I’m in Asia, thus making my extortionate insurance worth having
Selling as many notebooks as possible this side of Christmas because they take up valuable wardrobe space (minimum orders of 100 units always seem like a great idea)
Selling as much from my shop as possible this side of Christmas because although my mum has offered to send things out while I’m away, I’d rather clear as many of those 100 units as I can while I’m in the country because I have an irrational inability to delegate tasks and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to cope watching someone else parcel up my precious merchandise
I’m on overtime at the shop next week (so byeee Christmas spirit) but because I’m leaving at New Year and I’m almost done freelancing I’m going to probably be broke as a joke when I’m back from Asia
I’ve already eaten too much chocolate and it’s only the 14th.
I have control over roughly two-thirds of that list, so I’m going to nip back to freelancing, text my brother about visas and work on holiday promotion. And by work on holiday promotion I mean remind you all that UK customers can get free postage on orders over £8 with the coupon SNOWFLAKE16 until 3rd January, and that shipping will be UK-only from January through April so if you’re overseas and you like something, get a move on.
S0 you might have noticed that I sell quite a lot postcards. One of the most frequent questions I’ve had since stocking them is ‘do you do envelopes with these?’ or ‘why don’t you do these as proper cards?’ Good question, I beam. The answer is threefold (pun intended) and since I just released seven more postcard designs, I thought I’d itemise my reasoning.
I actually wanted to make greetings cards originally. Back when I first started to migrate from fan art into original designs, everything I did was in poster format – text whacked on a Photoshop document. When I decided to try out Etsy, I actually bought a bunch of blank photo cards and foldable blank greetings cards to print myself… they are still in a box, because they are fucking fiddly. Also, my printer is about 10 years old and a lot of things come out wonky. If I wanted to be a pro, outsourcing the printing was the only way to work. When I looked into professional printers, I discovered that greetings cards are mad expensive. I have five different lines in my Etsy, each with a minimum of four designs. I’d get a quote for 3 of each design and pass out. Most postcards weren’t much cheaper. Then I was recommended Moo, which although its greetings cards were out of my budget, their postcards weren’t. They also let you print up to 10 designs in each pack of 10 cards – perfect! Thus my postcards were born.
I don’t sell envelopes alongside them because they are another cost, another product to store and another material to source. I’ve made entire products because friends have said ‘that’s a great idea, I’d buy that!’ only for them to go unnoticed by the universe. One day I might add them as an option if there’s a large demand and I find a stockist I like (Etsy is fairly strict about its handcrafted ethics, too, most of the time and I don’t really want to bulk import tree-ruining crap from China).
Postcards are actually way better than greetings cards. Think about it. There’s a nice sized space to write a note, but not so much you have to spend hours writing a memoir. They are so light they cost very little to send, and all you need to do is plop on a stamp and the address. No cuts from envelopes. No wasting of paper. No envelope-licking. They double as gift tags or little presents by themselves. You can stick them on the wall as mini posters (some of my favourite Etsy sellers actually sell their art on Moo’s postcards as gloss prints). You can write insults to the postman. You can buy them anywhere in the world and send them anywhere in the world.
In conclusion, postcards are a fun, tiny and greatly under-appreciated like myself.