Big Announcement on Custom Orders

Posted by Beth Cyr Kroh on

While this announcement won't affect most people, it is really important for me to announce anyway.

I'll preface by saying, I will still be making made to order wedding rings - as listed on my site.

For the time being, I have suspended accepting custom orders outside of the standard listings - for jewelry or artwork. Any orders that I currently have will be fulfilled, and if we had discussed something, but no deposit had been made, please feel free to reach out.

Read on for a full in depth discovery:

The bulk of my business for the last 14.5 years has been custom and made to order wedding rings. I've prided myself on being able to work well with customers to create beautiful unique rings, despite having never met them in person or having talked with them on the phone. It has felt like a real skill and maybe even a talent. A lot of my website SEO has been focused on attracting customers that want one of a kind nature inspired rings. I've taken many customers' ideas and created designs that made my heart happy. I've often appreciated how I never would have created some designs without having been asked to and how it stretched my skills and how good it felt to have created that piece. I've also created some designs that I wasn't super excited about, but seemed to be just what the customer wanted.

There are so many things that I've appreciated about the process and I always remind myself of these things when faced with another custom order I'm not initially enthused by. I've seen a pattern in my behavior over the past couple of years that it would take me longer and longer to be able to finish a custom order. Part of my process has been that I think about it for awhile, almost creating a 3d model in my brain, so that when I sit down to create, it just happens really quickly b/c I've already done the work in my head. This time is never accounted for and it has been really draining the more resistance I felt to making someone else's vision a reality.

I haven't totally understood where this resistance was coming from until yesterday. For the most part, I created a loose style, and put it out there, asking for customers to come in and let me create for them, what they wanted. I had a wonderful feeling of comfort and security in having a list of orders, doing what other people wanted, and being able to fulfill that. I have had a ridiculous drive to be "perfect" and always felt like I was happy to go above and beyond to make sure everything was just right. Almost every order I've mailed out is tinged with fear that something would be wrong and a hope that everything would be just right.

I wanted to avoid anyone's disappointment by being perfect.

I'm pretty sure listening to Brené Brown nonstop over the past couple weeks has led me to this place. It's how I grew up and how I spent the first 33 years of my life interacting with those that were closest to me. I started to break away from many of those patterns in my personal life about 7 years ago. But it has also been a foundation of my business. It has been comfortable for me to base what I am doing on what other people want me to do. It is uncomfortable for me to choose what I want to do over what I feel like is expected of me by other people. And when you run your own business, coming to this conclusion feels a bit unsettling. Especially when one of the main reasons I work for myself is that I don't want to do what someone else tells me to do. Quite contradictory I know.

Combine this with the fact that I have tied in my idea of self worth with how many orders I have coming in, how much money I've made, etc. 

And I can see how when I have a slow month, everything starts to come crashing down. In my head, I create this space during slow times that is filled with fun things and creativity and getting ahead and doing all those things I want to do but don't have time for when I'm busy. 

But that isn't what happens. As things start to slow, I start to freeze up and panic. I question what I am doing, why am I doing it, why does no one want what I'm offering, what have I done wrong, am I not marketing properly and so on. Wedding season is seasonal and the same cycle happens every. single. year. And yet I still have the same response. I wonder if my business is over and will I be able to hold out until things pick up again. I want to scramble to make sales in anyway I can. I DO NOT take the time to do fun things, get things done on my wish list of projects, get ahead etc. I become paralyzed waiting for someone to tell me what to do (via getting an order to make some rings)

What has felt comfortable and secure in waiting for orders and always just doing what other people want from me, has started to become uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable but I hadn't fully seen it for what it was.

It is scary and vulnerable to create new things and wonder if they will be appreciated or accepted. It can be heartbreaking to work on something I love and present it to the world only to hear crickets. I want to grab it back and shove it in my heart for safe keeping. I think it is why so many people create based upon what they think people want, what is trendy, or outright copying someone else's work.

It is so much more comfortable to have my sales come from photos of objects yet to be created, knowing that what I am creating is wanted. Just because I designed it to begin with doesn't really change the fact that I have largely been a factory for my own work. It is the reason why I make every ring to order and don't work from molds, because then at least a little spark of that divine original creativity is infused in each piece.

My creativity feels endless, and incredibly sacred. I've wanted to protect it and myself from being too vulnerable and being rejected. I'm a pretty sensitive being and it is hard for me to see the point of creating something no one else wants. It can feel heartbreaking for creations to pile up and feel unloved. Over the past couple of years, I've been creating more and more new things that have been offered up and accepted. I wonder if I was waiting for a threshold to be reached - more orders from ready to ship items than from made to order items. With wedding season being crushed by the need for social distancing (among other things), my orders have dropped to nearly zero. And in the dead silence of the pandemic I've been able to uncover so many of my issues and unhealthy ways of living in the world.

It has been painful and exhausting and now that I'm coming out the other side, it is starting to feel a bit liberating. I can no longer hide behind the list of orders that needs to be made, only working on what other people want and feeling comfortable but unfulfilled. I am being given an opportunity to heal and grow in entirely unexpected ways and I'm going to take it and roll around in it like a cat in catnip.

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