Why I Started Mama Craftista…

I opened up the virtual doors on my Facebook page for Mama Craftista. If you have found your way here from there, welcome! I set up my Twitter and Instagram accounts, and completed a simple and to-the-point portfolio website to start pulling in freelance illustration work. I received my new postcards and business cards in the mail too, and are ready to be passed out and mailed out to potential clients.

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Marketing is the lifeline of any business.

A lot of work on what feels like baby steps. But I honestly feel more ready for business now than I ever have in the past.  The ones that have followed my journey from the beginning know how many different transitions (and names) I’ve gone through. It’s been a lot of lessons in life and in business.  But after 10 years of ebbing in and out of the business of art and trying to find what path I wanted to take, I feel like I have zeroed in on what I want to accomplish and what I’ve learned along the way:

I don’t have to keep myself in a box.

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This is scarily accurate.

The biggest advantage of working for myself is that I don’t have to stick to just one creative path. I’ve tried to do just freelancing, or just selling artwork, but the overwhelming urge to step outside of just that realm got to be too much. I stuck with it because I thought it was the “right” and the “business-minded” thing to do. But somewhere along the line I realized that I can run my business the way I want to. I am the boss, and I can introduce what I want into it. So if that means I extend myself into different realms of creativity, then so be it.

I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago, and my art and approach to my career should reflect that.

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Circa 2006, sitting on the floor and painting. Some things don’t change.

I don’t think anyone can say they are the same person they were ten years ago. I’ve had triumphs and losses, ups and downs, and of course, I had a child, which is amazingly life changing. I feel more settled and confident in myself now than I ever have in my life.  My art should reflect that, and so should my business.

Success does not have a timeline.

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And it’s been a loooooong climb.

This year I will be 33 years old. Sometimes I feel like I’ve accomplished almost nothing, especially since it seems like most of my peers are settled into their careers. But you can’t compare your journey with anyone else’s. Everyone has faced their own obstacles to get where they are, and everyone has their own interpretation of what success is. There are many things that I still want to accomplish, but there are many things I have accomplished in these 33 years. I can’t lose sight of that, and make myself feel like I’m “running out of time.”

Despite my protests, working in “Corporate America” has helped my business sense.

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Yup, how I feel when I’m trapped behind a desk.

I’ve worked office jobs since college. And I’m not going to lie…they bore me. In my defense, creative people tend to bore easily in stale settings. I feel like that working in an office setting is better for type A personalities that are fine with rigid guidelines and little variation in their day. I’m just not that person, and I’ve worked in offices solely for the steady paycheck. I’ve always been at the bottom of the totem pole, doing the most grunt work. I know that for a few places I’ve worked for, I probably could have moved beyond answering phones and filing papers, but life always seemed to have moved me out of the position before that could happen.

Now, this is in no way knocking some of the companies I have worked for. The biggest advantage that has come with working in the administrative field is that I have been able to work for some dynamic small business owners. I hate to even put them into the “Corporate America” category because they aren’t some faceless corporate fat cats who inherited their business in some stock tradeoff. These are people who have put their blood, sweat and tears into building their business from the ground up. The staff was usually always a handful of people, and the owner was always in the trenches with their employees. I had one boss who I saw standing on top of a ladder, fresh out of a meeting and still in her business suit, fixing the garage door of the warehouse. I had another boss who I caught unclogging the toilet herself! Can you imagine the CEO of some hedge fund company doing that? That’s the beauty of working for an SBO. They are hands on with everything, and it’s inspiring. What’s more, several of the SBOs that I have worked for were approachable and easy to talk to, which made them easy to learn from. I’ve gotten first hand exposure on what it’s like to start and maintain a successful business. And I wouldn’t have gotten that opportunity if I hadn’t worked those jobs.

“Corporateness” is a necessity, at least a little bit of it.

I’ve learned that “corporateness” cannot be avoided. As much as I’d like to lock myself in a room and paint and draw and craft for hours, my business isn’t going to run itself. I’ve had tons of working artists tell me that they spend more time on the business side of work than the creative side. About 50% of your time goes to marketing, finances, meetings, contracts, etc. 40% goes towards actually creating so you have something to market and sell, and the 10% left over for some sort of personal life. And because I want my business to expand beyond the realms of just art and illustration, there is probably going to come a time where I do have to put on some dress pants and “schmooze” a bit to rope in a client. I cringe slightly and the thought of it, but if I’m going to make a living doing this, it has to be done.

And finally, my biggest motivation of all…

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This smile can get me through anything.

More than anything, I want to set an example for my son. I want to show him that if you work hard enough, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to, and be who you want to be.

I look forward to this new chapter in my career. It’s going to mean a lot of late nights and early mornings, but it’s something that I hold dear to my heart. That alone makes it all worth it.

 

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Okay, if you’re still following me, I want to say thank you for your infinite amount of patience during my long absence. I’ve neglected my poor little blog, something I swore I’d never do this time around. I can’t believe nearly six months have passed already. So much, yet so little has happened. I’ll try to capture the highlights:

So the northeast, and much of the country really, got hit with an unusually harsh winter this year. The subzero temperatures and endless amount of snow seemed to freeze time (ha, see what I did there?)

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This is the courtyard of my building and the park across the street, and this is what it looked like ALL THE WAY up until early May. I can appreciate the beauty of a winter wonderland, it got tiring after awhile. I was over dressing myself and my son in layers, the already-tough commute to work was miserable, cleaning my car and salting the parking space was a hassle, and the “winter blues” and cabin fever got downright depressing. Although there were a few cute moments here and there…

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Finally, Old Man Winter seemed to move on and we’ve enjoyed decent to nice weather since then. There’s a gorgeous park right across from our building, and we’ve spent some time there on the weekends.

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It’s been really great.

Mother’s Day was really nice. We didn’t intend on doing anything, but Angel took me out to dinner and I got to wear my beautiful new dress from Cherry Velvet Plus. This Canadian company specializes in vintage style dresses for full figured women. I managed to snag this beauty on sale:

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I adore the pattern, I have a love affair with butterflies. And the dress fits like a dream, and the material was so breathable, perfect for a spring day.

 

Well, that’s it for now. I vow from this moment to make a serious effort to blog more often. I find it so therapeutic to write and share my thoughts and projects. Thanks for sticking around!

 

Making Moves: From the Urban Jungle to the Garden State

So, it’s about 9:30 in the morning on a Saturday. I’m stretched out on my sofa, watching the sun stream through my living room window, waiting patiently for my coffee to finish brewing. Both of my Angels are still asleep. No TV, no radio, just complete silence.

I’ve learned to appreciate silence.

It’s been a few months since I’ve written, and that’s because we have experienced a lot of life changes recently. The biggest one by far was moving from the hustle and bustle of New York City, and settling into the lofty suburbs of New Jersey. We had been staying with my SO’s father for quite some time, saving and dreaming of starting our life as a family in a house. However, when the realization came that it would take quite a few years to get us where we need to be , we decided to put that particular dream on hold for a bit and find an apartment that we were comfortable enough to be in for some time until we were able to purchase something. After a tireless search around the NYC and Westchester area, we couldn’t find anything that was reasonably priced…no surprise there. So after a few months, we began to entertain the idea of moving to the Garden State. Some friends of ours moved there last year, and said how much they loved it. And when a two bedroom opened up in their building, we figured why not? So we applied and we got in. Four months later, we are moved in, settled, and are living on a tree lined street in a NJ suburb.

Quite a change from the steel buildings and subway platforms of Manhattan.

Other than going back to having a steady stream of bills every month, the adjustment hasn’t been too much of a deal for me. The area that we live in reminds me so much of where I grew up, I almost expect to round the corner and end up at my father’s house. Hearing the rustle of wind blowing through the trees instead of the screeching of the subway train, people sharing friendly smiles as they pass by you on the street,  and the little mom-and-pop shops and cafes where people learn your name if you go in enough times. It’s lovely and comforting, and reminds me of my tiny hometown. Don’t get me wrong, there are many amazing things about NYC that still take my breath away. It just can be quite overwhelming for a small town girl like me. So it’s nice, once again, after weaving my way through the crowds of midtown, where I still work, to then come home to the peace and quiet of my neighborhood.

Angel is adjusting, but it’s taking some time. Although he traveled around the country in his youth, he was born and raised in Manhattan, and the urban jungle runs deep in his veins. The idea of having to drive to the store instead of walking, not being anywhere a near a subway, no street vendors shouting “3 for a dollar!” as he passes by, the steady stream of yellow cabs swirling around…it’s been a bit of a culture shock. But he’s getting there. He admitted (albeit begrudgingly) that this was a good move for us.

Last, but certainly not least, there’s my Little Angel. It always surprises me how intuitive he is, or how children are in general. I virtually grew up around kids (my grandmother ran a daycare center out of our house for many years), but to me they were just my friends, not kids. As a new mom and spending every day and nearly every hour with my kid, I notice things about them a lot more. In AJ’s case, I’ve seen how he noticed, was confused by, and then adjusted to the big change of moving.

Impressive for a two year old, I’d say.

It makes my heart happy to see how well he as settled to suburban life. That has been the biggest plus about moving. We have moved into an area with better schools, a safer neighborhood, a big beautiful park right across the street, and he has his own room and his own space to call his own. That may not seem like a big deal now, but as he gets older, it will be. It’s a big change from all of us being crowded into one room, trying to figure out what our next move will be.

So that’s been the biggest change so far, and it has set a lot of other things into motion. Eventually we would like to fulfill our dream of owning a home, but for now we are in a nice place, and spending a few years here wouldn’t be bad. I’m still working on making this place a home, a place of comfort and solace. This of course will include an enormous of amount of crafting, organizing, and “pinning” (Pinterest is the devil, I swear), but one thing I’ve been learning in my ripe old age of 32…you have to take life as it comes. One day at a time.

Approaching the “About Me” in a Different Way

My name is Tasha, and this isn’t my first time blogging.

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I’ve actually blogged extensively over the years, mainly with Livejournal when it was at its peak of popularity. That one was pretty personal though, and kept private. But I realized how much I liked sharing my experiences with the world and doing that, I’ve met some pretty awesome people along the way.

 While approaching my 30s and becoming more content with who I am and what I wanted out of life, I wanted to step away from the typical melancholy and dramedy of post college writing. I wanted to focus on subjects that are more near and dear to me. I then tried out an art based blog, a fashion blog, and more recently, a mommy blog. I didn’t focus on those quite as much, because I found myself wanting to write about more things, but since what I wanted to try to stay theme-specific, I didn’t. I got frustrated with the whole thing because I felt like I was pigeonholing myself. Anyone who knows me personally knows I am as indecisive as all get out, and my spectrum of interests is broad and extensive.

Then I discovered the “lifestyle” blog.  So perfect for creatively driven but totally scatterbrained me.

With that said, welcome to Mama Craftista, a lifestyle blog dedicated to…well, my lifestyle. Not just crafts like the title implies (though that is a big part of who I am), but other things that tickle my fancy…music, vintage plus size fashion, photography, first time mommy hood, DIY, relationships, etc.  This is me, tied up in a cute little bow.

A few things about me:

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  • I live with my boyfriend of three years, Angel, and our two year old son, Angel Junior. We are totally opposite and yet so much alike. He given me the peace of a (virtually) drama free relationship and he is truly my best friend. Best of all, he gave me a beautiful, healthy and amazing little boy. For a long time I was convinced that I would never have children, so Little Angel was a complete surprise. They both have changed my life in so many positive ways, and I thank God every day for them.
  • I’m short. Like really short. Barely 5’2″ on flat feet. I never really realize how short I am until I try to reach something in the kitchen cabinet.
  • I’m barefoot 80% of the time. This is mainly because I have such a hard time finding cute, comfortable shoes for my ridiculously wide feet that are not orthopedic.
  • Purple is my absolute favorite color. Pink comes in a close second.
  • I adore flower hair clips…hair accessories in general, really. I try to wear one with every outfit.
  • I prefer natural stones over gems. Opal is my favorite.
  • I love house music, underground neo soul, and jazz. I’m starting to get into country music as well.
  • I prefer lipgloss over lipstick, but when I do wear lipstick, it’s usually a mauve type color.
  • I had my tongue pierced in college, but took it out for a job interview a few months later and it closed up. I never got it repierced after that.
  • I have a tattoo on my left leg.
  • I’m a hair dye addict. I’ve been blonde, blue black, honey blonde, fire engine red, purple, etc. Up until recently I made a conscious choice to not dye my hair and let my natural color grow out, and I had almost forgotten what it looked like.
  • I was born and raised in Westchester County NY, but I lived in the Virginia for four years (2007-2010). As a result, I have a slight southern drawl to my speech that I just can’t seem to shake. Now working in NYC, I can’t for the life of me convince people that I grew up a mere 30 minutes north of Manhattan.
  • I love everything vintage. Fashion, photographs, decor…something about times of old speak to me. I’m particularly fond of the 40s-50s era, during the time my Grandma(my mother’s mother) was young. As a child she used to tell me all sorts of stories of when she was growing up, and she didn’t really do a lot of updating to our house, so it was loaded with old items from back in the day.  Since then, I’ve loved all things vintage. It makes me feel at home.

Well, that’s all I can think of at the moment. Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the internet!