Entry 7: A Day in the Life of a Lolita Designer
And, that's a wrap folks!
Actually, not really. But close. Very close.
I've officially shipped all orders that have been paid for in full! That of course includes both Eat Your Heart Out orders placed through the shop and payment plans that have been paid off. There's only a few stragglers left at this point, and it may be premature, but that's cause for celebrating to me. I've put so much work into getting these orders out in the past ~2 months, and it feels great to get to this milestone. Since this print is rather comparable in terms of success and workload to Albino, I'm going to rundown a quick list of lessons I've learned from working on that print last year:
PROBLEM Never underestimate The Power of Sleep. Last year I killed myself with the amount of work I was putting out per day. I successfully turned myself into a sewbot in order to get enough orders out per day/week to feel like I was actually putting a dent into the huge list. Anytime I went to bed before 4a or even though about taking a weekend off, I felt extreme guilt and anxiety. I developed a bad case of insomnia and couldn't even fall asleep most nights because of the panic I felt from all the work that still needed to be done. In my head I was always thinking of how disappointed and pissed off my customers were getting for having to wait and it kept me from ever really relaxing at all during those months of production. Seriously. Even taking short breaks to watch shows like The Walking Dead or the final season of Parks and Recreation, I found myself not being able to pay attention at all. ((True story: my bf and I were re-watching the last season of Parks and Rec not too long ago, and I completely didn't remember whole episodes - it was like watching a whole new story so that was cool I guess, but it also showed how in-my-head and stressed out I was last year. I guess I just blanked out on the couch and got into my head about how much work I needed to do and how bad of a person I was for not doing it.))
SOLUTION This time around I actually took weekends off! Sometimes I took the full weekend, some weekends I found myself just taking one day off, but actually giving myself that time to recuperate was immensely valuable. I also made sure to get better sleep. Yes, I did stay up until ~10a once or twice, but that was it. I tried to get to bed before 6a most nights. And I actually let myself sleep as close to 8 hours as I could. Last year I'd get up early to start working and stay up all night and it was a death sentence. I actually even managed to make it to a meet up as well! (Will be posting about this soon.) Who knew a balanced work/play life could be so beneficial? Yes, I still had a few nights of not being able to sleep due to panicky feelings and generally being overwhelmed, but nothing like last year.
BENEFIT Apart from feeling a lot happier, I'm not at all burnt out. Yes I'm a little tired from the workload, but nothing even close to last year. Last year I wanted to quit after Albino, I was that burnt out. I didn't sew for months and that's part of the reason it took Eat Your Heart Out so long to put out (we began work on it last November-ish, very close to the end of Albino). This also means I won't have to take several weeks/months off to catch up on sleep, etc. and work out how to turn into a human again, which is nice.
PROBLEM Generally feeling shitty. Last year my body felt terrible. I'm sure that not sleeping much/sleeping super weird hours didn't help, but to then hunch over my sewing machine all day and turn around and do it again and again was awful. I think that's also part of why I had trouble sleeping last year as well - my body was just always sore and hurting all over, my back especially.
SOLUTION I can't believe I'm going to talk about this here, but yoga. I actually started doing (nearly) daily yoga at the beginning of this year, purely for the benefit of not feeling physically shitty anymore. And it's worked miracles. I continued to do yoga everyday throughout production of Eat Your Heart Out, and my body's felt wonderful. I didn't feel achy or sore or anything, and I never had issues falling asleep due to back pain from hunching over all day at the sewing machine. Who knew that actually stretching your muscles daily could lead to such amazing results? I don't know how I ever got on without it.
BENEFIT In addition to the obvious physical effects, it also gives me a few moments alone to just let my brain chill the fuck out. I do my best to forget about all the shit I still have to sew/do/ship, and it just puts everything into perspective for me.
PROBLEM Grossly outrageous expectations of myself. I know I'm my own worst enemy. I always beat myself up for not being quick enough, not sewing better, not being good enough, etc. So that's part of the reason why I felt the need to crank out shit as fast as humanely possible last year. I always think to myself, "just imagine all the stuff you could get done if you just didn't sleep?" Yeah it sounds dumb and it doesn't make a lick of sense, but that's where my head was at the time. Sleep/personal time was selfish, and every moment of everyday could be spent sewing another thing to ship.
SOLUTION This of course was not only unhealthy, but just plain unrealistic and ridiculous. So this time around I didn't do that. Yeah I still had that voice in my head yelling at me that I could sew one more thing/start on one more order, but I chose to ignore it for the sake of my sanity and so I wouldn't have to go through the same thing as last year. Coupled with doing yoga and getting a better sleep/recuperation schedule, I also adjusted the expectations I had for myself. I already had to slow it down because the EYHO dresses are way more complex and take a lot longer to get finished than Albino, so of course there was already no way I could compare production of the two series. I did as much as I could in the time given, and that's the best I could do. Yeah it took ~6 weeks or so to get to this point, but I don't think that's terrible for one human. I don't have a team of seamstresses/3rd world country workers to do my work for me, and that's alright. Slow and steady wins the race, or whatever the hell.
BENEFIT Omg I am so much happier. Not only due to the aforementioned changes, but I believe happiness comes from a place inside myself, so when I'm happy and content with myself/my work (instead of yelling at myself all the time with unrealistic expectations), I'm generally in a better mood/feeling more positive and happy about things. This time around I've also continued to be inspired and sketch and work on future collections. Weird, right? Last year it took literal months for me to finally come up with the dress designs for EYHO, and this time I was actually stopping in the middle of seams to hurry over to my desk to sketch out a thing. So yeah, that difference is HUGE. Losing my inspiration and will to create as someone who makes their living as a creator, is the worst thing that can happen. ((Speaking of which, I actually spent... Saturday? working out a new sort-of-print design thing that I'm not really going to get into but I'msoexcitedtogetstartedonitomggg. Should be done in Novemberrrrrr! HINT: I've already mentioned the name of the series in this post, ha.))
All in all, a much better experience this time around! Maybe someday I'll actually have other humans to help (no, not 3rd country factories or anything like that), but until then it's just me and I've got to take care of myself so that I can keep sewing beautiful dresses for you all ❤︎ I really cannot wait to unveil what's to come in the next 2 months before the year's out, so stay tuned! Until then, I've got a plethora of orders to work on that were placed during EYHO production and maybe, actually, for real moving to our house, ha.