Hey there! My name is Megan and I'm the sewing, pattern making girl behind Dolly Henry. This is my blog, where I share my own creative adventures and hope to meet fellow fabric enthusiasts. I also design and sell sewing patterns through my online boutique, alongside a beautiful collection of clothing and dolls. Thank you for stopping by!


Friday, 16 March 2018

Tips for Beating Creative Block

For the past two weeks, I have rebelled against the should do feelings with Dolly Henry and just done what I felt like doing...I know, I live on the edge haha!

It's brought my creativity back with a whoosh and I have enjoyed sewing and making so much I haven't wanted to stop and do the less fun things there are to do in a business.

Which made me think...should I stop and take stock now and then to see what the business you are building is actually turning into? What foundations am I really putting down? In other words, is it the cute country cottage you envisaged or are you building a multi-complex concrete prison?

You can think about your creativity like this too. Are you actually making what you really super duper want to be making or are you on the should do wagon? You can end up on this one quite easily with your sewing I've found. Should make gifts - sometimes you don't actually want to make the gifts, it's okay to go and buy a lovely gift instead! Should do the latest block of the month or whatever is circulating Instagram - but maybe you really don't want to try and keep up with the latest trend!

In my experience, creative block lurks around the corners of the should-dos and the have-to-dos.

It can become a bit like a mouse-wheel this creative business stuff. And I have been there and fallen off my mouse-wheel before. I am not interested in hopping on that ride again.

I found out I am going to be attending the Brisbane Finders Keepers in June, and among the excitement was the knowledge I needed to start getting ready as soon as possible. Because good things take time, and I plan to take a lot of good things.

I have learned the hard way. I am not a highlighters and stickers and charts kind of girl. That works for household chores. It doesn't work for my creativity. It sort of sucks it up like a very hungry sponge and leaves me high and dry. So I have created a very calm mantra I remind myself of when the stress starts to rise up. The stress caused by the fear of not getting it all done.

The mantra is "I will do my best, I will have fun and I will see what I end up with." Very zen I know.

I have really been enjoying making things again this week and it struck me that I would like to do more of this. Amidst helping you to create and be inspired, I have to be careful that I don't spend all my time doing that and not ever getting play with the fabric and threads myself.

Balance...that magical word. So often I reach for it but it's more like wobbling like a jelly all over the tightrope, instead of calmly and steadily executing the act.

My plan to be ready is to do one thing each day for the Finders Keepers - whether I make something new to take or cross something off the to-do list. It would be easy if I could just close up shop for the next few months and focus solely on that one event, but it kind of doesn't work like that so, for now, I am a busy-Lizzy.

Right now, I am really enjoying making some dolls AND not turning everything into a pattern! That's not to say I won't pattern some of these things in the future but I don't want to just now, so I won't.

If you have been suffering any kind of business or creative block here are a few tips to get unstuck and also avoid it next time! Get a notepad ready!

#1 - Identify why you are feeling stuck. Write it down, what you don't like and why you don't like doing it. Let go, don't let the should-do guilt seep in, just say it like a kid who doesn't like his broccoli.

#2 - Write down who or what is currently inspiring you - whatever has peaked your interest lately. Do you fly past multiple pins on Pinterest thinking "I want to make that one day?" or stare at your instagram feed wishing you could do what she's doing? Write all that down.

#3 - Now, as soon as you can, go and make something. Not the project that's been there for five weeks or the one you feel like you should have started yesterday. Go and make something that is something you've wanted to do for ages. If you've been suffering creative block, picking something that isn't a massive project is a good place to start.

#4 - It sounds like retail therapy and no this wouldn't be a good habit to do all the time but sometimes you need a little treat. Go shopping and buy yourself some new supplies, chances are you've wanted these for awhile. You don't have to spend the baked bean money but DO grab a couple of new things to play with. If you can go shopping locally, do it. If you can't jump online and get your order in the mail! Purchase a PDF pattern and you can download and start making that very hour.

#5 - Change it up! Have you wanted to try a new style? Now is the time! Have you wanted to experiment with how you share your things on Instagram? Do that too! Be creative and keep fun at the front of your mind!

#6 - This last one works a treat but it is a little less fun. Tidy up and de-clutter. There is nothing that blocks creativity like a messy me. If you feel overwhelmed, deal with your stash and ruthlessly cull anything you know you are never going to use. There is no room for guilt in craft. Destash it on Facebook or Instagram, or give it to a friend or charity group. There are places your unwanted fabrics would be more appreciated. My friend Michelle at Cole and Taffy has some great destash tips.

If you have any tips to share, I'd love to hear them! And if you try any of mine and find they work, please let me know.

Megan xx

1 comment

Friday, 9 March 2018

Indulging my Creative Whims

Hello blog. Yes I feel the need to greet the blog, as well as my readers today. I have had a stack of blog posts in my head over the past week or so, but for one reason or another, haven't had the time or inclination to sit down and get words onto the screen. I have a cup of tea beside me and the weather has turned crisp and cool all of a sudden. As usual, the words I intended to write for so long are elusive and this post will weave itself into something new.

When you have a blog, you are supposed to give each post a title that comes up in google searches to drive traffic to your site. I have never really managed that because I don't write how to do posts much and also I don't generally write about things that people search for. I also don't really have a professional reason for having my blog, it's probably more of a hobby even as a component of my business. I like to write, stretch out my thoughts and put words down. It's oddly therapeutic.

I've been so busy on the business front lately, working on all the behind the scenes boring parts such as website, inventory and social media marketing. This week, after attending a local market, I had decided to take Monday off and just revel in some good old-fashioned creating. I did this and enjoyed it so much, I felt like a child skipping school. So the creating stretched into Tuesday, then Wednesday...Thursday rolled around and my schedule mentioned something about bookkeeping and I refused to surface from my puddle of creativity. Today is Friday and I mean to finish up my projects for the week, knowing that next week I will have to be a good girl again.

It's been interesting, observing my process and how I work this week. I think I am more efficient when I stay on track of one thing. I probably should have done something about it by now. It seems that I work best when I can just keep going, without interruption. Of course each day has it's own little interruptions, that is the hard part of doing work at home. But I mean structuring each day to have a to-do list of various items. For example, loading stock on the website, chasing up suppliers, writing a blog post, popping onto Facebook and also trying to squeeze in some creating. It just doesn't work terribly well for me I have noticed. If I do all that, the creating gets neglected as my brain goes into admin and computer mode. It's hard to emerge from all that and feel relaxed enough to potter around and create.

So even though this week I haven't put new stock online or attended to me books, I am working in a rhythm and a flow that I've been unable to tap into until I decided to clear the desk and just focus on sewing. It struck me while I was working that I need this time to go slowly and do creative development. Not only finding what it is I want to bring to the world but also work on new ideas for my patterns. This isn't something I can schedule in among the housekeeping of the business.

When I am writing a blog post, I have discovered to keep the words coming I need to do two things.
One: Not be interrupted by anyone or background conversation or even someone mumbling about something invades my process and I struggle to keep the flow going. This is why I am choosy about when I sit down to write and why I am glad that the office has a room of it's own in our new abode with a door I can close.

Two: To just write about whatever first pops into my mind. Forgetting about whether I was supposed to write about Freckles the Fox's new colour change as I meant to, or do a catch-up post about the markets. I just start writing and see what happens. I've learned that making corrections as I go is the best way to stop the flow of writing and introduce creative block. So I leave that until the end now. I've been known to just write the word "something" when the correct word seems elusive, knowing I can come back at the end and look up or remember what "something" was supposed to be.

What I have learned this week is that I need to give into my creative desires more and just go with the flow. Because I do achieve things, even if it is in a lopsided fashion. I need to remember that while I am growing a business, I am an artist first and foremost and that pursuing creativity should be high on my priority list. I also need to remember to have fun and enjoy this journey, it's so easy to become anxious and stressed if I let negative thoughts slip in. Sometimes it's important just to let go and see where the road takes you. It's often when the magic happens.

Megan xx
No comments

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Handmade, Creative Business - Organising my finances

One of the biggest challenges I have faced as a creative business owner is the fact it is so easy to spread myself far too thinly. I have done it countless times and still fall into the trap on occasion. Thankfully I am faster to recognize it these days than I used to be.

How is it do I spread myself too thin? In a way that many other makers I know also do. It's because when you are a highly distractable, enthusiastic creative individual it is so easy to become caught up on a wave of exciting possibility with what you can do, you forget that there is only one you and while all your ideas are indeed possible, the fact that you can do them all successfully is impossible.

If you are a hobbyist, it's fine to indulge every creative whim if you choose. If it is your business, your livelihood and your job there simply not enough hours in the day for you to achieve every creative idea that floats into that brilliant mind.

When you make things, it is really easy to slip into the trap of thinking you can add it to your product line or business. Totally easy! What you forget though, is that with each new thing, you will need to also market it and often, buy new supplies for the new thing. And that takes quite a lot of money and way more time. Time to make the product, time to research the new supplies, perhaps photograph or display it differently and the time it takes away from what your business is actually about.

Please don't get me wrong. You can add new products or ideas to your creative business! But make sure you are truly passionate about every aspect of it, it fits well into your plan and most importantly, you are happy to take some time away from your original thing to make the new thing feel at home and bring in the bacon.

I have in the past wasted quite a bit of money and time getting excited, adding a new product line to the things I already do and then forgetting about it because it was quite a spontaneous idea. The supplies left over and the dent in my bank account are the evidence of what wasn't.

These days, I am a little more savvy, and in 2018 my overall goal is organization. Part of getting more organized is looking at my spending and my plans for the direction I want my business to take. I am highly distractable. I need a little bit of a self-imposed guideline to make sure I stay on track. If my business was a physical journey from A to B, I would have turned down half the crossroads, gone up the mountains and quite often taken the scenic route on my way to the destination.

Which is fine, because from mistakes good things do happen. Some of my biggest successes have come from these mistakes. I feel this was okay while my creative business was still a bud, but now the flower is beginning to bloom, I think it's time to employ a bit of wisdom and discipline.

I will still make mistakes, but I want to make different ones. I am learning to become more focused and spend time on the areas of my business that I really love. I suffer from "should do" syndrome rather than what I would REALLY love to do. Listening to the should do guilt, either because I am afraid to jump off that bridge or from comparing myself to others, has often led to unnecessary detours, exhaustion and spending money that would have been better employed elsewhere in my business.

This will sound funny from someone who sells craft supplies in her business, but for the creative business owner, particularly handmade businesses, buying craft supplies faster than you can make the products and turn the craft supplies into cash is not a great idea to make your business work well. The struggle is real, with so many amazing fabrics being pushed, on a monthly basis, onto the market. What you can do when it is a hobby is a bit different to what you should do for your business.

I finally and recently purchased a copy of How to Bake a Business by Julia Bickerstaff. I love Julia's website and have done quite a few of her courses, so as a paper-loving girl I really wanted to have the book on hand. It's been a light, entertaining read and at the same time, an eye-opener for areas in my business that need a little TLC. I highly recommend it to other creatives who struggle with the business side - no not marketing, not making, not branding - finances and bookkeeping - you know the actual heartbeat of a business.

This is an area that is frankly, nearly a turn off for most creatives who just wanted to make pretty things. I had faint whisperings in my own heart of "eeeeeek...I just want to make stuff. I don't think I want a business!" But it is silly to let that become a hurdle. I once had such a hurdle with photography until I learned that I needed to change my attitude and embrace the learning process.

I am learning to do that now with my bookwork. Learning to love, learning to even enjoy that very important side of running a business. Learning to find the excitement in it and being able to see the growth in the business. Because that is where I will see it. It's not in my facebook likes or Instagram followers. It's in the stats, the numbers and the spreadsheets behind the scenes.

Part of my quest for better organization is creating a running expenses spreadsheet as a loose record of what I am spending, and what bills are coming in. I refer to it quickly when I am thinking of adding a new line to my store. I can see quickly what I have spent recently and what I also have yet to pay. It's been an excellent little thing for making sure I make sensible spending decisions for my business and helps me to resist spending money on unnecessary stuff.

I am also looking into accounting software such as Xero. Initially, I balked at the monthly fee and then I realized a) if it took the pain and error out of my bookwork b) saved time for me and c) it actually cost way less than if I employed someone to take the horrid task away from me - that it is worth it!

So those are just some of the things I am doing to tighten the screws on my little creative business and claim some time and sanity back! I will also be looking at restructuring my working week but that's a post for another day!

Megan xx

No comments

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Finding My Voice

I've had a few little creative pursuits over time. Throughout them all, I've experimented and played with a lot of different styles, tweaking and changing to find my own unique creative voice. It's a process of evolution as I move through different stages and try out new ideas. It's been nearly ten years of full-time creative business. I've learned an awful lot and I'm still learning every day.

Lately, an area I have wanted to refine was my creative voice. To really narrow down what it is I am all about. If there is one thing I have discovered, it's that other's always have a much better perspective of your brand than you yourself do. It's easier on the outside looking in. A bit like trying to see yourself in a mirror, you will never quite catch who you really are. Other people can take in the whole picture, and you need a photograph to be able to have the same perspective.

There's always a lot going on inside the creative vortex in my mind. I think this translates quite well when I make things or write. When I talk about it, however, it's another matter. After all this time, I still don't have a clear and concise way of saying what I do, when prompted. To hear myself mumble out over and over again "Ahhhh...I make stuff" is very frustrating. The person asking has a very underwhelming impression of what I do and it just sounds bad. If another creative told me this was how they responded, I'd give them a friendly slap.

Making stuff, making sewing patterns, dolls, clothing. It doesn't exactly sound very enticing. And every opportunity that comes your way is important when you have a small business. So answering with a rather lame and inaccurate description of what I do isn't exactly a great idea. And it just feels so awkward. I can't walk around with an Instagram feed at the ready, a portfolio of photos to whip out, a doll in my pocket and even business cards will not suffice. My elevator pitch is seriously lacking and not at all inspiring.

So instead of mumbling like an idiot, I am determined to refine my small "what I do speech" so that next time someone asks, I do more than just make stuff. It's a little tricky and feels a little bit uppity but with a bit of practice I hope it comes out much more smoothly, and gives the enquirer a better idea of what it is I do.

Writing an about page helps, but I have to condense several paragraphs into a sentence or two.

So what is it exactly that I do?

I design. I make. I create. I tell stories with thread. The truth is, what I do is ever changing. It doesn't stay the same. It doesn't fit into a square box or come neatly packaged in a "I do this one thing" bag.
It's whimsical. It's original. It's always here, there and everywhere. One day it's a doll, then it's a mug, a pattern, a dress. It's Dolly Henry.

It's so much and I think that's why it's so easy to just say "stuff" Expecting the images in my head to magically transplant themselves into the other person's head. Except I suspect they get other images. Slightly less stylish and more....granny chic. Which would be okay....except what I do isn't like granny made it.

So I have come up with my speech and hopefully when we meet, like my five times table, I will remember to say:

"I'm a designer. I am currently working on a collection of sewing patterns, dolls, homewares and children's clothing."

So much more than just stuff.

Megan xx

To see my collection of stuff, click here.

No comments

Monday, 5 February 2018

Moving Interstate and Meeting Kindred (Crafty!) Spirits

Hello! I feel like it has been ages since I have checked into this neck of the woods. In November 2017, we made the massive move from North Qld to NSW.... and it isn't quite over yet! I am still surrounded by boxes and as you can imagine, moving a business and *cough* sizable craft stash is no mean feat. Organising said stash is also an interesting undertaking at the other end of the move, I can assure you. The shelving that once housed my collection was built into the house we left behind, so I am busy trying to sort fabric, ribbons, boxes, and buttons into some kind of new version of organized chaos.

Things have been more complicated in a lot of ways than I ever anticipated, but that isn't surprising when you take into consideration the large distance and amount of items that had to travel it. In all honesty, I expected to be settled again by or around Christmas (then she laughed and laughed) Not so. It turns out that is also the time of year everyone goes on holidays so sorting out accommodation and even finding a new place to live was a lot more difficult than it would have been at any time of the year. I know, I shake my head at my own naive ideas now too.

The good news is, we have touched down and have been in the new place for just over a week! Despite the amount of work to do ahead, it is such a relief to be in what will become "home". I have lots of exciting creative plans for 2018, they have all been put on the back burner. I packed creative projects for the journey but I have done little more than knit a stitch or two and a bit of journalling. It seems I need to feel settled to be creative, I just can't stitch or sew or even dream of new things while I feel displaced. I am very much a homebody. I had my suspicions of course. I did wonder if the travel bug would hit me once I was on the road but I found very quickly that I am not a happy wanderer. I'm obviously like a little garden plant, needed some soil to spread my roots. Some people are pot plants. I am not.

Still it was an adventure and there were definitely amazing highlights!

Hazel went to the beach on the Sunshine Coast and if you are ever in Noosa definitely do try the Yum Cha at Embassy XO - amazing!

I also enjoyed several amazing visits with a dear friend, Kellie of Sew MimiK, who I met through my blog when it was a baby. That was such an interesting experience, meeting someone I knew so well through daily online chats and phone calls that had been had for the past couple of years, while never having met at all. Would we really be kindred spirits? Turns out, we actually were. Right down to admitting that we'd both wondered if our friendship would work in reality as it did in the online space. That probably sounds a bit odd, but really it isn't. Meeting face to face and having to whisper quietly about our fabric stash in public, rather than enthusing in text AT TOP KNOTCH volume with countless emojis is totally different. It is!

We did the ultimate creative friend things. We ate cake and drank tea and talked fabric. We ate cake and drank tea and squealed over each other's projects. We ate cake and drank tea and went fabric shopping. It was a fabric/crafty friend fairy tale. I bought a delightful selection of fabrics that will serve as a wonderful souvenier of this time, and any projects I create from them will have a little extra fairy dust, I am sure.

We, of course, stopped occasionally to wonder if this was actually us enjoying all this crafty fun or our holograms that had mythically been transported to a magical place where we took our makes out to cafes, divulged the secrets of the sewing circles and spoke in the language of fabric collections. We also got to enjoy swapping Christmas gifts, here is the snail I crocheted for Kellie just before we left home.

Her pattern is Saffy the Snail, available here. I used this cotton from Say! Little Hen - her stitch markers are also a must have if you are doing amigurumi!

I must admit I was sad to pack away my fabric and say goodbye to Kellie. It is rare to find such a kindred spirit and even rarer still, to find someone who shares my same passion for all things fabric and sewing. I expected to cross the border into NSW to have some kind of fanfare but sadly, it is just a little sign on the highway announcing the fact in the most dull way possible. Was it unrealistic to think there would be an opportunity to pull over for a selfie and a parade of confetti to rain down on all newcomers? Something odd did happen. We lost an hour in the day. The clock had to wind forward as we changed to daylight saving. For the record, after a month, my internal clock that must be hardwired to the sun is still not used to it. I can see the benefits in some ways but my QLD side still thinks it is silly. I am not obstinate very often so please allow me this.

The climate is a definitely a lot milder. The many poor locals I have encountered will stand there sweating and discussing the humidity. I don't know whether to feel sorry for them, or feel smug that I keep forgetting it is summer. I actually don't know why there are air conditioners here. Unless you need them on reverse cycle for winter. I think the climate will have it's revenge on me come Autumn... I suspect I will freeze my North Qld behind off....

The beaches are beautiful in Northern NSW. The water is totally unlike the sticky, warm waters of the North of Qld. I know I sound like a total tourist here but the truth is I am. I have been in the far north of this great continent for most of my life and this is all so new. The waters are cold and clear and I actually felt like swimming. This is probably coupled with the fact you can walk your dog on the beach here without risking a crocodile making a meal of it. That is freedom, my friends. No reptilian ankle biters here!

So that is a quick summary of life as it sits right now. I am sorry if it was about as interesting as having to watch a slideshow of your great-Aunty-Jane's african safari... I am busy making a new website for Dolly Henry in between wondering where I am going to put all this fabric. I've got some exciting plans for 2018 and I can't wait to share them!

Megan xx


Wednesday, 22 November 2017

On Vacation Until 2018

It's moving + holiday time! The online Dolly Henry stores will be closed until early 2018, with exception to our pattern store, you will still be able to purchase the downloadable PDF patterns.

I will be offline for most of the time, so please note I will be unable to answer any emails or messages. If you need assistance, I return in early 2018. It's hard to shut up shop and switch off, but I am really looking forward to a much-needed break. Thank you so much for your understanding.

I just want to thank all our amazing customers + supporters for such an amazing year, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.

The Dolly Henry Co. collection will be available from the Sonlia Fashion Pop-Up store in Mareeba for a limited time, so if you would like to purchase a gorgeous Dolly Henry handmade piece for Christmas, you know where to go!

Happy Holidays,

No comments
© Dolly Henry • Theme by Maira G.