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The Dream Workshop 2.0

Now some of you may remember a blog I posted last year about my less then ideal workshop. Although it was lacking in a number of areas, it did serve me well and I found ways round lots of the challenges it presented me with. However, if the last year has done anything for us, I think it has taught us that we really need to focus on what truly is important to us. I also think it has shown us that we should do the things we want to do while we still can. Now before you go and get excited, no I am not doing anything wild like jumping out of a plane or travelling the world, I just updated my workshop!

The past year has given us all lots of time to think, and as you can imagine, I have spent even more time than usual stuck in my workshop. A number of issues have been bubbling away under the surface for a while now but what really cemented the need for change was inviting my sister into the workshop for a day. I have recently had a lot of people asking me about whether I offer leatherwork training, and I thought I could test this by inviting my sister in for the day to make a belt. It quickly became apparent, that although I have managed to adapt to my set up, it really isn’t ideal. As I sat and watched her struggle to punch holes the only advice I could give is “The wobbly bench doesn’t help as it adds too much vibration, you could try punching them on the floor?”

I suppose it’s also the time of year where we are reflecting on the last year and thinking about our goals for the new year. It goes without saying that the coronavirus pandemic this year has definitely stopped us all from doing the things we would have liked to. Personally, I believe that 2020 was a great learning curve for us in so many ways and I have decided that 2021 is going to be the year to “go big or go home!”

 

So, stage one of the new motto was setting up a better workshop. This mainly consisted of a proper work bench and a change to the layout. The new workbench not only allows me to work in a standing position but provides a much larger working area (which means I no longer have to cut new hides on the floor!) It also provides much better storage for my leather and tools which means they are all easier to access. The new workbench is also positioned along a different wall so I have more light from the window, plus I can watch the squirrels skipping along the fence! I’ve also added a few more practical additions such as a whiteboard for my “to-do” lists and order details and some hooks for hanging up bridles and other leatherwork. (The hooks were made for me by “Horseshoe Hearts” using my horse Victor’s old shoes.) There are a few small additions I plan to make over the coming months, and it still isn’t the idealistic workshops of Instagram dreams, but you know what I blooming love it!

Looking on to the new year, I shall have to remind myself of my new motto. I don’t for one minute believe that when the clock strikes midnight on the 31st, all of our troubles will disappear. I am sure we all know that this pandemic is far from over. However, this is just another challenge life has thrown at us and instead of letting it defeat us we should look for the small window for opportunities we CAN find in these dark times and grab them by the horns!

Happy New Year!

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The Dream Workshop!

As much as I try not to be, I am a social media fan and spend a fair bit of time scrawling through posts and pictures. Recently though, it’s been getting me down. I follow lots of other small businesses and see a lot of beautiful workspaces; picturesque views, clever storage solutions and rustic furniture and equipment plucked straight from a showroom.

 

I couldn’t help but feel a bit bleak looking around my workshop. To start my business, I moved back in with my parents. The room I work in used to be the children’s playroom so hidden in a cupboard you can find old pieces of Playmobil, the sofa wears a pair of rather fetching shoes (apparently a child’s dream…!) and the view from my window is of a rather dull fence. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for my parents’ support and workshop space help, but it’s hardly the stuff of Instagram dreams…

 

It got me thinking about social media in general. Posting pictures of items I’m making and of the things I am doing is a crucial way of getting my name out there. When I’m taking a picture of a lead I’ve made for example, I do take some time angling it in a way that will make it look best, accessorising with some autumnal leaves or putting it on an attractive live model (thanks Beano and Ivy!). I’m selling things that I have worked hard on and am proud of, so always want (and want others) to see them in the best light possible. And sadly, that’s not often with the backdrop of my workshop.

 

I can’t be the only one wanting to make things look the best they can on social media. I am seeing beautiful workshops – who knows if the people posting those pictures even work in those perfect surroundings?! A lovely hut in the country might be beautiful, but maybe can only be an efficient and comfortable workspace for a maximum of a couple of hours since heating is limited and that rustic stool is incredibly uncomfortable!  They could all be in similar workshops to me, a room that’s used for multiple purposes, just altering their online image to something more idealistic.

 

It goes deeper than just businesses portraying products in a certain way. We all have that friend brunching with cliché avocado toast for the third time in a week, or that couple we know who are on holiday for what seems like the hundredth time – we can’t let this make us feel inadequate, we are only getting a glimpse into their lives, not the whole story.

 

So this blog is a quick reminder to not let the beauty of certain images make us feel less worthy – I may work in a small, crammed room that isn’t the perfect workshop, but it doesn’t stop me creating some beautiful things.  Don’t measure yourself by what others ‘appear’ to be doing; be proud of who you are, how you work and what you believe in. I’m going to continue to be proud of my workshop – so keep an eye out, you may be seeing more of it in the future!