Thursday, May 12, 2016

Learning to run a home-based small indie business -simply.





































                         


First of all, I'm not going to turn this into a sewing blog or an entrepreneur blog. I'm not going to use this blog to sell things. So I started a new blog for my indie business at my website. I'm going to write and post pictures there about the life and inspiration behind HELLIN, post about new clothes, sales, events and things like that. So this blog will stay all about simple, slow and meaningful living, in all it's aspects. Sometimes the topics and pictures may cross over, as my life is one whole, and not clearly separated into sections!
You can make requests for topics, and if I feel like I can write about it, I will do so :) Simple food, simple clothes, simple home, simple child-raising, simple entrepreneurship - ah yes, that's a topic for my current post ;)

At first sight running a business sounds everything but simple. On the other hand, being "self-employed" has been on the wish list of many simple living/minimalism  advocates for years.

How about making STUFF and SELLING it, how is that simple?

People running a business are efficient, energetic, well organized, driven, ambitious, focused, goal setter go-getters. Right?
Yet, I'm none of those things.
Ambition can be a good thing. Goal setting can be great for some people, the go-getters. For me, setting goals is trouble, as it will only make me discouraged. I get tired of just thinking about "what to accomplish in 5 years".
What works for me is concentrating on NOW - the moment and day at hand. Perhaps the week ahead.
There may be an event a few weeks or months ahead, that I have to prepare for.

Right now this means that today I will sew a tunic that was ordered yesterday, if I don't have that size ready (which I think I don't but will check first). I will probably do a little bit more of organizing in my studio, as I gave away the antique architect's cabinet. It was not used enough to deserve it's place here, and it was way too big for a decorative element, as gorgeous as it was.

That's my immediate to-do list. Then there's getting the new blog started. This is something that I will do when I have time and feel like it.
Yesterday I wrote the English version of my website hellinsinua.fi and published it.
On my long-term to-do list is making clothes and designing new ones, mainly for a huge Design Market event that is part of a Helsinki Design Week and draws about 25 000 visitors. That's in early September, so there is my summer job! In addition to being with Indi, that is.

Meanwhile I try to make something new for my shops now as well, and I ordered postcards from some of my photos, to sell and to put in orders as gifts.

But now, today, it's just One Tunic.

It has helped me to hear facts from more experienced people, who started a clothing company from scratch. They tell me it realistically takes 3-5 years to actually start making money. That much time and work, and no certainty! Before I would have just given up easily, given up because nobody could tell me what would happen. Will it take off or fall flat? Now, I don't think about it. I do what I can and should do today. There's always tons of work to do if you are an entrepreneur, the work is endless and I have to set the limits. MY limits, what I'm comfortable with. Nobody else can tell me how much time I should put into it, or how high I should aim.

Usually businesses aim to grow big. Bigger also means more responsibilities, more work, more organizational skills needed, more stress, more things needing urgent attention. More problems to solve.
Big is not my goal at all. If I had to say something, as obviously I am hoping to make more money with this than what I'm spending on it, I would say that approximately one sale per day would be fantastic. That would be 365 pieces of clothing sold in a year. Some of it may be wholesale orders, a lot of it may be sold in an event during a couple of days, and some months I may get an order once or twice a week. A 1000 pieces would probably be my upper limit, depending on what kind of items the number would consist of. If it was mostly scarves and beanies, I could do more than that, but if it was dresses, leggings and jackets, it might be too much.

I expect this first year to be a major learning process. I expect to make mistakes - and I doubt it will stop after the first year, but at least I will learn something new all the time.

So this is my super simple One Day At A Time -Business Model haha!!!

So, how does a simple living advocate decide to sell things, and actual real objects, not just e-books or other non-physical things?

This is something I have thought about a lot. Making things has always been part of who I am. I sewed my first soft toy, a pig I designed myself after I was inspired by a pig in a children's book, when I was four years old. With my mom. I enjoy making things with my hands, creating visible, tangible things. Things to see or touch or both.
Someone may object to making clothes because we have a lot of second hand clothes available. Isn't the world flooded with clothes already? Yet we don't have that many truly ecological and ethical brands. There are some, but they don't fit everyone's tastes and lifestyles.

I think a mix of second hand shopping and buying new things from ethical brands is a great combination. I tend to buy shoes and jeans and some outerwear secondhand. I have bought some underwear from an indie business (but plan to also make my own). I have some clothes from a Finnish company, most of it bought second hand, but I also already re-sold  a lot of it, because I tend to grab my own designs to wear these days. And I should like them best, shouldn't I? There are some things I don't make myself, like most knitwear, so those are bought from others.

I figured the world can deal with more ethical indie brands, those are not the problem! People need to work. People still need things, like new clothes from time to time.
Hey, in the Bible Paul made and sold tents, and Lydia sold fancy purple dyed fabrics! If being a maker and seller of THINGS was not below them, it certainly is not below me!

As images of God, we are creative beings. Not all of us want to create physical things or visual things. But I do. So I do it, but I don't stress about it. It will succeed if I give it my best, what I can at the given moment considering my health and time limitations, if the Lord wills so. I don't have to worry about it.

Maybe some day I will write a book or start a counseling business for closet organizing or home and life de-cluttering, who knows :)
Maybe I will just keep that here in my blog as a hobby.

At the moment I have some health issues going on again. It could be a bad case of allergies or a Epstein-Barr reactivation. I went to the doctor once and they gave me antibiotics because my throat and glands are so swollen, but the strep test was negative (which I was almost certain it would be, because this looks and feels different from strep) so I will have to the doctor again.

Good practice for taking it easy and slowly, as my body will set the limits. If I have to sleep, I will sleep. That web page or new design can wait. Those leggings I'm making for Indi can wait. The T-shirts for my husband can wait (except I promised Indi that she can draw on them with fabric markers and she keeps asking about it). This and that, can wait.

One day, one order. That's all I ask of myself today, and all the other stuff I may get done is just a bonus.
The sun shines, and my windows are freshly washed.
God is Good.





Saturday, March 26, 2016

Life right now


































































I decided to just post some pictures today and tell some random stuff about what has been going on. I guess the pictures sum it up: cats, food, making clothes. Well, there is a lot of My Little Ponies -watching, and working on my computer, and taking photos.. There are friends over, Indi and her friend making cat clothes (they have a shop and the proceeds will go to buying a kitten for Indi's friend, they say. Their only customers so far are Valo and Savi, who only have to pay 5 cents for the clothes, out of their donations jar.. :D )

I'm still as lazy cook as ever, but I find I bake more in the bigger kitchen. And since I often take care of the food for Sunday church meeting, it's a good initiative to bake. I've made, lemon pie, blueberry pie, mint chocolate meringue cake, and for salty baked stuff a smoked reindeer, leek and goat cheese quiche with lingonberries.. Hmm, it seems I make more sweet stuff :D

Yesterday I made a super easy pizza and we had iced smoothie sticks (smoothie-cicles?) that I made from left over smoothie. My husband was on a conference trip and I made too much even though I tried to make it for just Indi and me..
She eats too much sweets and I still try to get in healthy stuff in there too. Today I made banana pancakes for lunch. Okay, now I'm sounding like I spend a lot of time in the kitchen whipping up awesome food, which I really don't. And after Indi goes to bed we watch a movie and eat chips and candy, so I'm not really all that healthy eater! :D

There is a local organic food group that I just ordered from for the first time. Several small producers offer their food stuff straight to the groups and we cut the middle hand and get fresh organic eggs, fish and all kinds of stuff from there.

I eat gluten free and Indi has milk protein allergy so that affects our grocery shopping and cooking and baking. When I bake I usually always make it gluten free and dairy free, but sometimes only lactose free if I know for sure Indi isn't going to eat it anyway. Like that quiche with leek..

The news cat-wise is hidden in the pictures! Somehow one thing led to another, and we are having a third cat - well a foster girl who is going to have kittens, and after that she will become ours. Her name is Cupcake but she is called Namu (which means candy, or sweet). She is the owner of the aquamarine eyes and golden stripy fur.

Indi is being a good model for me, and she wants to be paid in chocolate or candy. She doesn't want money, so that is what I pay her with.

I would love to design my own fabrics, I may do a small test run.. (The prints in the clothes here are not my own but by other Finnish designers: Outi Santaniemi and Leena Renko and Nosh Organics -ETA: I have designed and made the clothes, just not the fabrics :D )
I also want to continue making solid colored things that are easy to combine. I changed my official website to a Finnish domain https://hellinsinua.fi and put a web shop there too. But there are more things in Etsy, and Etsy is having a remodel so I've been working on my own website and looking into the new Etsy as well.

I've started to wear mostly my own brand and plan to make Indi's clothes from now on as well. She still only wants to wear leggings and jersey tops and tunics anyway so that's perfect since that's what I'm making!

I don't know if this thing will take flight or not. I'm not stressing about it. I'm giving it my best shot without letting it consume my whole life, and if it ends up being just an expensive hobby, then so be it!
There's a reason to celebrate too, the divorce that was filed for a year ago was now aborted since it was not confirmed in six months' time after the first six month consideration period.


After last year, I'm quite happy with the way things are right now. Things looked compeletely impossible for a while there, then better, then even worse, then terrible... until better again.  It has truly been a testing time for me.

But how amazing is my Lord and God, who truly lives since eternity and into eternity, whom saves my soul and comforts me in spirit and works all things for His glory in the end!

Happy Passover, dear readers <3 p="">
(Painting: Green Beginnings)






Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Bigger home, pets, working from home.. how to continue to keep things simple?




















That is our new cat Savi Niila Sumu in the pictures, a Siberian cat boy who is now a bit over 4 months old. He is such a  lovable, cuddly, patient purring machine! You could nearly tie him in a knot and he wouldn't mind. He has a curious condition of horned paws, which I'd never heard of before I saw his paw pads and googled it.

I've been working. Indi has been sick and away from school for a couple of weeks, and last week was winter holiday, so I haven't had much time to myself lately. I've just done what I can. I'm painting new pieces for the Painter's Union annual show. I'm sewing a lot and I got a website for my clothing brand: hellinsinua.fi

If you have been following my blog for a long time, you may remember that I was struggling with making things. I want to live simply and be ecological, yet I'm a creative being who loves to make things. I think that this is something that is inherently a part of me, and I just need to have a creative outlet that is in tune with my values.

Creative work with actual material things requires stuff. There is no avoiding stuff when you are a painter and make clothing. I'm a visual person, creating immaterial things is not my main thing, though I do like to write too. So my solution is to keep things organized and edited. I have a set amount of space and that will have to do for now. The storage space sets limits to my materials and how much stock to keep.

Our home is not really minimalist now, but it's pretty simple and cozy. We do have some walls with nothing but white paint on them.
I promptly get rid of furniture and other things we don't use, and our generous basement storage is not used as an indiscriminate dumping ground.

Having so much more space let me have some fun with finding vintage furniture, and to get my mind of the difficult things by concentrating on making a fun and comfortable home for us. It's actually easier to keep clean as there is more space for the dust to spread around, so I don't feel like I have to vacuum clean every day. I have to say I enjoy having a spacious kitchen and a large table so we can have guests over. I love having a bath tub. I had to find a small one to fit out bathroom, and I got one cheaply because it had a flaw in the enamel. I still do our laundry in the common laundry room, I find it convenient and it's great not having to line dry at home, as there is a special drying room as well. I'm not planning on buying a washing machine.

How about my clothes, how are they simple? Well, they are all super comfortable because I use jersey fabrics. there are no zippers or buttons. They can be easily modified by the top stitched seams I use to contour the pieces.
They are pretty multi functional, comfortable enough to lounge at home in and nice enough to wear out. I even make fancy gowns from jersey fabric.
I use mulesing free merino wool jersey, organic cotton jersey, and factory overstock. I love merino wool for the warmth, softness, durability and anti-bacterial properties. I get most of my fabrics from Europe and Finland. I will make some solid colored pieces but I also love patterns, and I think I would get bored if I had to just make clothing out of black and grey fabrics :D

I don't like a lot of color in my home decor (I like wood, white, dark brown, grey and shades of green mostly) but I like color in my clothes and in my paintings and could never be an ultra minimalist person style wise.

Simplicity can be 30 or 50 perfect, multi functional pieces of clothing that you want to live in, it can be having a few pieces of art you adore, be it your children's artwork, your best photographs, grandma's wall hanging or purchased art. If you love bare walls better that's good too! If you like bare walls AND grandma's rug, have it both ways! If your child's messy room gets on your nerves, close the door and keep the living room neat.

Make your bed in the morning, do the dishes and return wandering items back to their places. Just 15 minutes a day makes a huge difference. You can even spread it out for just a couple of minutes at a time. For example I clean the bathtub before I run the bathwater and I clean the sink while brushing my teeth. I tidy up the living room before going to bed. Sometimes it gets a bit messy in my studio (I make a mess, or it's Indi's Pet Shop or a bunch of little drawings or notes she makes while sitting at my computer..) or I leave Indi and her friends' mess in the living room to the next day. It's okay too if I feel too tired. I'd rather have her friends over often and let them use my left over fabric bits and mess up my studio and living room than have an always neat home with no friends over.

Organizing your excess stuff isn't simple, it's still stuff you don't need. But organizing the stuff you do need makes a huge difference. It's nice to know where things are, and being able to put away things to their designated place without five other things falling on your head is pleasant.

I do love that feeling when my home is in order, I have nothing on my calendar, and I can concentrate on work for hours at a time.

Working from home is simple. I walk Indi to school, then I go put a load of laundry on or run errands, check e-mails and do stuff on computer with a cup of coffee, then start either painting or sewing. I go hang the laundry to dry, have a snack, surf the web for a while, then continue working until Indi comes home. Often I continue working while she is watching programs on my computer.
I sit with her when she does her home work. I cook a meal, or we might eat smoothies and sandwiches, or fruit and cereal. I freed myself from the idea that I have to make dinner every day. Indi eats a warm meal at school and doesn't always want another one. If she wants one, I have things in the freezer that I can whip up a  dinner with. She loves Tom khaa kai. Yesterday I made hamburgers but she didn't want them.

Oh, and Savi?
Savi means Clay. Niila is a Finnish Sami name (like Hellin) and Sumu means Mist.

He keeps Valo company and makes us happy!









Tuesday, February 2, 2016

New year, new tricks







I will post some photos from our recent holiday trip to Israel soon.

But now just a quick update. My Etsy shop HELLINsinua is active again and I've been making clothes - but it will take 3-4 weeks for me to get the labels and hang tags I've ordered, and get things photographed for the shop. I'm really looking forward to getting it properly running. I'm enjoying drawing patterns and sewing.

*HELLIN = Superlative form of hellä ( gentle -the gentlest) .
Instructive plural form of hellä.
First-person singular indicative present form of helliä (I'm being gentle).
First-person singular indicative past form of helliä. (I was being gentle)*

Hellin is also a Finnish Sami woman's name running in my family.

Also, one of my paintings had ended up in Wall Street Journal which was pretty cool. I found out about it because someone saw my painting and name on WSJ and contacted me about available works.

It has been really cold and snowy here, but now kind of wet and sloshy.

In 10 days we will also get a new kitten!!!

So stay tuned :D


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Joyful, peaceful Christmas and a blessed new year to all my readers!




























































Indi had a small operation yesterday, but the anesthesia was like a power nap and she stayed up late.. so tonight I was happy that she fell asleep early, so I could finally finish the gift I was making for her. I had started earlier but I didn't have everything I needed, so I was a bit late. Then I grabbed a beer and started gift wrapping. Valo had a drink of his own. Now we both need to go to sleep :P

xo xo Vappu