Motherhood

Motherhood is NOT Mundane

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I often try and analyze my life as someone from the outside looking in. It helps me gain perspective and a sense of gratitude for the blessings God has provided. Never would I have thought I'd be a mother of two silly sweet boys. I'mma be honest. I was completely scared of childbirth as a teenager and vowed to never go through it. But I have. Twice. And when your life shifts gears as the journey unfolds, you have to allow your mind to develop a different normal. For the record: there is nothing normal about motherhood.

I don't say this to be disrespectful to my husband or children but growing up, I always had this idea that motherhood was boring. Furthermore, I had the judgmental mindset that anyone who would stay home to raise children instead of having a career was a weirdo. That was basically what I learned from society around the 90's. You know. Besides every dance routine from Britney Spears. Through the years, women became more empowered in the workplace. Which obviously is a great thing. The not-so-great thing is the negativity that was placed on mothers based on outside knowledge of their life. Whether you go to work or stay home (like I actually do now), motherhood is not mundane. Sure, there might be times certain things are repetitious but there is no way I will ever say that motherhood is mundane or boring. At least not in my house! And I'm more than okay with that.

Let me share with you what I've learned in my 5 years as a mother. It is hard. Like punch-in-the-gut-after-eating-cake hard. The kind of hard that makes you look at yourself and every thing you do. EVERY THING. The type of hard that keeps you awake at night, with tearful prayers over and shameful regrets. Motherhood is far from boring when you have screaming contests at 7am. When a toddler pukes for the first time in a crowded restaurant and you look around for help, only to realize it is your responsibility to figure out how to handle it. (I mean, it's your kid.) When you go to reach into the diaper bag and realize there are no more diapers in it. It's literally called a diaper bag! What else can possibly be in there? (Answer: everything. Except enough diapers of course.) Motherhood is that kind of hard.

But motherhood is also the most beautiful gift I've ever been given. The first kiss on my cheek from a little hot face. The first word, step, giggle, painted doodle and unforced hug. When you wake up to the biggest smiles that you helped create. Actually being able to teach something you know to someone you love. Having goofy dance parties in pjs. Watching Paw Patrol for the billionth time because your children giggle so cute during it (and it's more tolerable than Caillou.) Messy baking sessions in the kitchen. Reading cuddles in our king size bed with what seems like every comforter we ever own. Being a mother is exhilarating and fun! A whole lot of fun!

That is...if you allow yourself to experience it in that truth.

No, it is not all rainbows and chocolate. Between house chores, runny noses and tantrums over literal spilled milk, motherhood can make a woman want to curl up in a locked bathroom just for peace! Or at least a good cry and hopefully a cup of coffee that's NOT cold. But those are just moments in a big season. Those things pass. It is up to us to decide just how fast do we want to move past the hard parts after they've lived out their time or drag them out.

I used to do that. One thing went wrong, and I complained about it for days. I let it steal my joy and it made me into a grumpy mama. It made me hold grudges against these little people and it really wasn't fair. Then God started showing me how my behavior and words were affecting my boys. If I automatically say that motherhood is boring, I will have a tough time looking for the excitement in it all. If I'm constantly pointing out the flaws and obsess about the mistakes, that's all my focus will be on. Motherhood WILL be mundane because that's where my eyes are looking.

But if I stay present in the moments that matter, I've learned that I can enjoy my children more. The way they laugh, how they play a certain way, funny mannerisms they do or listening to their mini conversations with other minis. Small pockets of joy! My eyes are no longer on the negative but the reality. I can see my children as people, not supporting actors in my own emotional drama.

If you are a mother, you're life is not mundane. You get to raise humans! As scary as that might be, think of how amazing that is too!! Mothers are brave soldiers, fighting on the front lines for their babies. They are sleep deprived mentors that blow on booboos and hold hands when their little hearts need comfort. Moms are home base. We are the constant thing and if their constant thing is always complaining, always upset, always in a bad mood...how does that make them feel? Or better yet, how will that affect them as they grow older?

So please. When you see me totting my youngin's around the grocery store, don't assume I dislike shopping with my kids. Most of our favorite memories have been in stores with the boys helping me, because I didn't want to have those feelings during a stressful errand. So we usually turn stress into silly and that makes everything more manageable for me as a mother! It's not all perfect and sometimes it's not funny. Like not even a little bit. But when we change our perspective, we can change our environment. The key is WANTING to change.

Motherhood is frustrating, challenging and overwhelming at times. But did you really expect to stay the same after having children? Think about it! Why do we think having kids won't change us as people? It has to. To me, having a mundane life is something unfulfilling. Something painfully routine with so much order that being spontaneous is frowned upon. Something that is the opposite of motherhood. I'm beyond thankful that God chose me to watch over these precious angels and teach them things. I'm not going to get it all right and the entire process will not be smooth sailing. I will not be grabbing a megaphone anytime soon shouting "That was easy! Next challenge, Lord!" Uh no. Instead I will take one day at a time, and marvel at the great opportunity I have. Many women desire motherhood but it never happens for them. But it did happen to me and I will not curse this blessing by calling it boring. If you need proof, I have thousands of photobombed selfies to prove it.

Motherhood, Dear Boys...

Dear Boys...

I’ve been blogging on and off for years now. When I became pregnant with my first born, I started a series called “Dear David” where I wrote letters to him about things on my mama heart. In the midst of this crazy life, I stopped. Now I have two beautiful boys and I’d like to start writing letters to them both. So here is the first of many letters addressed to my sweet princes. I pray the Lord will lead me to share the right subjects with the right motives and express how deeply loved they are by their mama and the God we serve. As I approach this next subject that has recently brought about great controversy, I ask that you join me in prayer for my boys to grow up and open to receive these messages with pure hearts.

Dear Boys...

When daddy and I first met, we worked in a place where many people were from many walks of life. Our greatest memories were with others of a different race. They had different lives and different experiences. Not all of our skin colors matched and that was more than okay.

Daddy is French Canadian with a touch of Native American and has family from Maine. Mommy is Puerto Rican with deep family roots straight from the island and was born in Hartford. Our family members don't all have the same skin color or background. That never stopped us from falling in love and blending our amazing families together. In fact, we both feel it has enhanced our view on life and we have learned so much about culture and community. God made us each very special and we both try to respect that.

Boys, mama's heart hurts over a tragic situation that took place in our nation recently. Good people were hurt. As Christians, we must ALWAYS look to the Word of God for answers and comfort in sad situations beyond our control. God tells us that we must love one another, no matter what because God loves everyone and we should too.

"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you." John 15:12

I don't even know how to write this properly but I'll do my best. As an Hispanic American, my skin color was always on the light side and so I didn't have to endure a lot of discrimination. Even though I was 100% Puerto Rican, people treated me differently because of how I looked. Because mommy looked "white". Even though there were many shades in my family, I personally was spared from yucky experiences that other people have gone through. This is the sad truth and I don't consider myself lucky.

You both, by society standards, are "white" because of your skin color. In actuality, you boys have other races in your bloodline. I don't want you to be blinded by what you see in the mirror. I don't want you to be blinded by the opinions of others. I want your eyes to be open to the truth: that every human being comes from the lineage of the Lord Jesus Christ...and, babies, Jesus was not white.

We are all humans, all brothers and sisters. God sees no color. He created us in His image and we are commanded to love as He does. Jesus is no respecter of persons and we shouldn't be either.

"Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons" Acts 10:34

I want you boys to understand something. It is not the color of your skin that gives you power over another. It is not the outside that dictates who to love. That's not God's way. That's not the right way. It is called racism and it is also called sin.

You should never be ashamed of your skin, your family, your mixed race heritage. That is a beautiful gift. It is how God made you and that should be celebrated. But it should never be used as a weapon against another. It should never be used as leverage to gain control or to spread hate. It should never be used to make another human being feel less than human. Because that is a spirit straight from the enemy, not from Jesus.

"Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door." James 5:9

The enemy's mission is to divide. If he can get us to think or do bad things towards one another, he will take that opportunity every time. Division is not God's mission. One of His greatest desires is for unity especially within His church.

One day, we will be in Heaven with Jesus and our skin color won't matter one bit. Because His church will be made up of all people from many nations. That's how God works. He loves every race, every sinner, every heart. He died for all...not just a select few.

Boys, be love. Every word and deed should be a reflection of the Christ we serve. Spread smiles and joy, not scowls and sadness. The only time you can look down at another person is if you’re helping them up. Hand in hand. Pulling them towards God, not pushing them away. That’s what hate does. It drives out good. Be light. It will push back the darkness and reveal the love of our Father.

Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.” Luke 11:35

See  past the outside and look within everyone you meet. Have compassion on every soul. Love with no limits, no boundaries or requirements. Do better. Be better. We are called to love. There will be consequences after this life for doing the opposite of that. So be love, my boys. Be love to the fullest.

Love Always, Mom

Devotion

I'm not enough. And that's enough for me.

Writing this will probably shake a few branches and ruffle some feathers. As I’m thinking about the content of this post, I can’t help but clear the air of how I feel regarding the feeling of inadequacy. I’ve had this thought on my heart for a long time but have been praying about the right way to express it. Because popular opinion will probably win. Because we want to believe a lie. Because we want to feel validated, relevant, important.

My sweet friend, I don’t mean to write this as an insult. I don’t mean to degrade you or decrease your value as a child of God who is loved with deep amazing grace. You are absolutely loved beyond measure. There is no one that loves you more that the Lord. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, crafted with a reason and purpose. He has sculpted precious plans for you and residing in His hands is the only place to truly feel full. Just read Romans 8:38-39 for a renewed perspective.

Yet we need to be careful. There is danger is thinking that just because we are favored, then we are delivered. That just because His grace is free, means we are automatically free. Without lovely raw repentance. Without turning away from real sin. Without doing our part. Because, sweet sister, faith without works is dead. (James 2:17) While works alone cannot save, it doesn’t mean there is nothing we have to do. He sets the path but we must walk it.

So, no. I will not say that I’m enough. I know there is a saying that is flying through social media faster than wildfire but what I know about who God is won’t allow me to even speak those words. Not when He has identified who He is through His Word.

The very definition of enough makes it very clear. Enough means “Plenty or sufficient.” If I say that “I’m enough”, I am saying that I am sufficient. That there is no more room for growth. That I have exhausted all of my resources and am exactly where I need to be in spiritual maturity. Oh how untrue that is! Maybe you have used this saying and you have your reasons. I personally just can’t bring myself to utter it because even though the Lord has brought me very far, He is not done with me yet. I cannot say I’m enough if I’m still a work in progress.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

God clearly says over and over again that He is enough. It is His grace, His love, that is full and whole. That is plenty and sufficient. Not me. When I research the scriptures, it doesn’t talk about how enough I am. It doesn’t validate my walk with Christ. In fact, it only shows me that I’m a constant sinner in need of a Savior. I’m not enough but He is! And that is enough for me. At least it should be.

For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Colossians 2:9

It is the Lord Jesus Christ that is enough. Yes, we are His children but we are not complete yet. In order to be used by God, He must increase and I must decrease (John 3:30) This is not saying I don’t have value. God absolutely died for us but it was because of His selfless love. It was because He was enough to endure the cross. It was because it not only was enough back then but it is absolutely, fully enough right now! I need to be okay with not being enough because that’s how God works through me. He shares His glory with no one (Isaiah 42:8) If I’m a Christian, I must be His reflection. However I need to be careful and remember that I’m still only human. I am not enough. Yes, I have come from the ashes. Yes, I do believe I have been redeemed and saved. I also believe that repentance is a daily gift that needs to be exercised. By putting God on the throne in the palace of my heart.  

I’m not enough. And that’s okay with me because Christ is enough and in that truth is my strength.  

Devotion

The Dark Before The Morning

Lately, I've been feeling spiritually full. I feel aligned, for the first time in a while, with the Lord and His Word. It is truly amazing. Especially because it wasn't always that way. It was dry land until the next service...but even then, being as a Christian mother in church is not about quenching your thirst. It's about giving. And giving. And even more giving.

You can feel drained when the well is already empty. You can feel worn, torn, like God has abandoned you in a pit filled with laundry and dirty dishes. You can feel confused and bruised, unsure of how to teach a little one how to be a great person when you suddenly realize how awful you really are. You begin to see more flaws then you thought existed and begin to lose sight of the river. How can you drink if your vision is blocked by tears of uncertainty?

God showed up for me. Not because He wasn't there the entire time. Oh, He was. It was when I stopped wallowing and started following. When I stopped looking at the water and started remembering the clouds. Without the clouds, without the storm, there is no rain to replenish the soul.  If we want the rainbow blessings, we have to put up with the tragic rainstorms, the lightning and even the thunder of our carnal thoughts.

This life is not easy. It's even harder for any mother, Christian or not. Shoot, it's hard for any person, male or female! You need to hold on with every ounce of faith. Hear me. You will not see the fruits of your labor, of your struggle, of your pain until later. Much much later. You will not see the results of your hard work or the impact of your influence right away. That doesn't mean that nothing is going on. Do you believe that?

Something is working! Something is steering! In the midst of your battle, in the midst of your heartfelt prayers and tear-soaked pillow sessions. The promise with happen. The deliverance will occur. God WILL show up because He is already doing something. When we are at the very end of our rope, God is still holding it. When we feel our fingers lifting off of the edge, He is at the bottom with a large net. When we look around and cannot find a single person who relates or who cares, Jesus does and is with you. But first you must be with Him.

You have to step out of that boat and meet Him. You have to climb through the dirt, out of your personal grave and crawl into His lap. You have to bury those burdens, expectation and sorrows...and pick up His Word while you pick up your cross. You cannot do this by your own power. I can't be a good wife and raise a child without first being the daughter of the One true King! How can I expect myself to have any answers when I never ask the One who made it possible to have questions?

Jesus gave me a mouth to bless His Name. To praise and worship Him no matter what. Not to complain and speak venom. Jesus gave me hands to help and to serve. Not to be harsh and violent. Jesus gave me emotions to connect and have compassion. Not to have self-pity and manipulate my relationships.

The darkness is only but for a moment. It will not be night forever. The morning has to come sometime and that is where you need to find hope. Forget what the darkness is doing to you right now but imagine how much greater impact the light will have! Light consumes darkness. It eats it for breakfast. Darkness has to flee when the light is near. Remember that. Remember the Light.

Recommended scripture verses:
Genesis 1:4
Isaiah 45:7
Luke 11:35
John 1:9
John 12:35
John 12:46
Romans 13:12
2 Corinthians 4:6
1 John 2:8

Marriage

Be His Constant

Marriage can sometimes be a rocky road. Too often we find ourselves bickering and nagging over the slightest things. Many years from now when the dust has long been settled, we hopefully will realize how unimportant it was to be right. A few years ago, I painted our living room by myself. Not because I wanted bragging rights (did I mention it was 300 square feet? just saying). I did it because I wanted to surprise my husband when he came home from work. Little did I realize the magnitude of the job, thus, I worked until the wee hours of the night finishing it up. Wasn't much of a surprise, at least, not what I had envisioned. However he was beyond grateful and I could tell he truly was touched.

We are in the process of sprucing up our condo to sell. Our goal and dream is to own a house for our family, so I've been putting many hours into our place to prepare for our blessing. This year marks 10 years of being together, 8 years since we said our vows. We have been through a lot together. Did you catch that? Together? There have been very trying times when our heads could barely withstand the beating waves of the current storm.

We each made selfish mistakes. Though it may be hard to forgive ourselves, it's so important to let our spouses know we've forgiven them. That we will stand by them even through the murky waters. That we are more than best friends but are soldiers in love, fighting a tough yet beautiful battle, side by side. That they can trust us. Depend on us. That they know we can be their constant.


Constant in forgiveness.

Constant in open embrace.

Constant communication.

Constant understanding.

Constant commitment.

Constant loyalty.

Constant honesty.

These things should never change. If they do, they should be getting better and stronger! I want my husband to feel secure in our marriage. I want him to know that no matter what choices he makes, I'm not going anywhere unless God tells me to. He can rely on me to be next to him even when he falls. I want him to know that we are a team.

He can trust me with his heart, that I won't manipulate it to get what I want.

He can be honest and open because I'm honest and open.

He can share with me his inner fears because I too am flawed and scared.

He can know that when he comes home at night, I'll be eagerly waiting with a tight hug, as if to say "It's okay. The troubles of the day are gone. You are home."

One definition of constant is this: a situation or state of affairs that does not change.

This is where many marriages fail. We fail one another because we change our love based on circumstances and trials. We fail to be consistent in our vows. We lack accountability for our words and actions. The same way that God's love for us is constant and unchanging, our love for our husbands need to be this as well. We live in a world today that embraces change like a new outfit. While change is good, when it comes to true love in marriage, it's important to honor it the way God intended it. Constant.

Business

Grow Your Shop Series: 3 Ways To Make More Sales

Hey beauties! This is one more post for our Grow Your Shop Series and it's one I know we all talk about. Sure we love what we do and being creative but the bottom line is we need sales to grow. This money helps fund our passions so without sales...well, it's really really hard to make ends meet. I've broken down what I want to share in 3 categories so let's go!


SHARE THE PROCESS.

A huge myth in the handmade movement is that we have to be secretive about our craft so "others don't copy." I might get beheaded for this but don't worry so much about that! As a creative person, you received some sort of inspiration from someone else down the line...am I right? I'm not telling you to share the ingredients to your secret successful recipes but what I am saying is don't be afraid to share sneak peeks at your process, your work space and your new projects. I LOVE Instagram for this reason because that's what my customers like and what I like. It's awesome to follow brands I adore and feel like I'm getting an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how they work. It helps me feel more a part of what they are doing and I'll want to buy something not only because I love it but I want to continue supporting such an awesome shop. Just know HOW much to share and be cautious about over sharing. You want to give a taste...not the whole meal!


SHARE THE AWARENESS.

Obviously you're aware of how awesome your shop is but you have to get out there and speak up. Getting more sales is so much more than listing items and praying someone finds it. Here are two things I've done that has helped bring in sales and long lasting customers:

- Collaborate with other shops or brands. Do a project together in exchange for free promotion on each others social media accounts. Customers are real people and as people crave community.

- Guest spot and blog ads. This is one of my favorites because it takes your shop and puts it in a storefront like in the mall. Find blogs you love with a great following and active readers. If they don't provide sidebar advertising or guest post options, email them politely asking if they would consider it. Writing a guest post on a blog shares what you do and who you are. Sidebar ads are like mini billboards on the internet. Any traffic is good traffic and ads are very good traffic.

SHARE THE GOODS.

It may sound weird when I say give something free away to get more sales...but it's true. Having a giveaway or a contest for one of your items whether through your social media, website or someone else's is a great idea. You want people to know about you but most importantly to remember you. Many times it's required that people follow your shop or social media accounts to enter. This boosts your follower numbers which will in turn increase the number of people who see your posts. More than that, you're reaching out to people and being generous. When a shop owner is seen as generous, people start caring more about them. Sure some might just follow to enter because they want free stuff then unfollow after the contest is over. Don't worry about that. The entire point is getting your brand out there and sharing your awesome talent with everyone. Blessing a lucky winner with free stuff will get your shop noticed for sure.

Keep in mind that not every follower will be a customer. That's fine! The key is to branch out so far that more people will see your brand and increase the likelihood of future sales. Oh and a bonus: list often!! I always notice a boost in my shop views and sales when I list a few times a week. If you have enough inventory to list items one to three times a day, do it! List an item in the morning, then afternoon, then night. I list a couple times a week and believe it is essential to showing people that your shop is alive and constantly spitting out items like a boss.

So be active, share who you are and what you do, remember your audience and list like crazy. May the force be with you, grasshopper. (er yeah, just good luck!)

Business

Grow Your Shop Series: Find The Financial Flow

Finances, ahhh!!! Cue the running and screaming! Okay okay slow down. Let's talk about this. Here we are again with one more topic of the Grow Your Shop Series. I'm glad you're here today because I'm talking about money...yay!! First a disclaimer...I'm not the best with it. Just being honest. It's only by the grace of God that I get to keep doing what I love. So for the record, this post isn't a cookie-cutter finance plan to keep your business floating. I believe there are plenty of articles from more professional and more qualified people out there than myself. We'll be talking about the flow of income and how it can help launch your business.

Utilize All Your Gifts

Apart from being an artist I'm also a writer. Having a successful online shop was always my #1 goal but I knew that I needed a financial flow to help build that. A few years back, I started working with Demand Media Studios creating content for various popular websites such as Apartment Therapy and eHow. For every article that was accepted, I was paid $25. That would change depending on topics and sections. I also then started being a contributor to two high traffic craft blogs submitting tutorials and was paid for each post. That money would then be used to market my online shop, purchase new materials and be saved towards new products. It worked so well, I even got to pay myself once in a while!

Think about your skills...all of them. Do you write good blog posts? Take amazing photos? Are a social media whiz? You can freelance your services to help others and in turn create financial flow back to your online shop. Work with websites who will pay you for content. Sign up to be a stock photo photographer and reap the rewards of royalties every time someone downloads your photos. Ask big blogs if they could use a hand with their social accounts or emails and become their virtual assistant. Branch out rivers of possibilities to lead back towards your financial pool.

Provide Different Price Points

Another way to start a financial flow is by making sure you have a variety of different price points within your shop. For example, I used to design and sell graphic tees. These were very popular and brought in great financial flow. Knowing my customer base, they are very creative and many are entrepreneurs themselves. So with that in mind, I started providing painted quotes as prints for a lower price. This gives the buyer other options which in turn helps the financial flow. A customer could like a tee but also an uplifting art print and illustrated coffee mug.

Many customers would be more likely to buy from a shop if they see variety in pricing. Think about it. It's pretty psychological. How many times have we been in Target and have gone "Oh that top is great, $20!" then turn around just to go "What? Fuzzy slippers are only $8? Yup that's happening." Both end up in your cart in a heartbeat. Of course, it's Target...they know what they are doing. You can use that same mentality for your shop to create a financial flow. Here's a great article from the Etsy Blog about pricing and the worksheet they provide to help price out your products. It's a tricky game; just try one different things and track the results.

Share Your Brand

A very big myth that I see with many shop owners especially new ones is that you have to have one platform for your shop. For many, it's either between Etsy or Storenvy. I actually have written my own thoughts about the pros and cons of each and will share them at a later date. Hello Awesome, my shop, used to be found both on Etsy AND Storenvy. Now I understand most people don't want the hassel of handling two different shops. That is understandable and right now I'm primarily on Etsy. But my take is go where the customers go. If you are not having many sales and are struggling to bring traffic to one shop, you should consider opening another one on a different platform to try and bring in customers. I personally have had great luck with Storenvy but it took a while. Years back I ran a graphic design shop on Etsy that was hopping. You should share your brand across different platforms to provide more opportunities for people to buy your stuff. It's really that simple. You don't have to provide all your products on both unless you want to. Think about the platform and the kind of people it attracts. What do they like? What do they don't like? What are the trends and fads? Don't compromise your work but use what you have to draw them in.

To find the financial flow is to go beyond the normal "list-sell-buy" attitude; where you list, sell for a price, they buy. Businesses rarely just run like that. Let's use Target again: do they really need Starbucks to get customers? No but it helps! Adding a Starbucks is something that pleases the customers and adds a different financial flow. It's possible that Starbucks has to pay Target a percentage to have a kiosk in their stores.

As you can see, there are many ways you can financially help your shop grow. Be creative and think of something yourself! Being flexible is essential to running a business. You've been given infinite resources to do the incredible. Try to get past the cookie-cutter mindsets to find the financial flow for your shop.

Business

Grow Your Shop Series: Customer Satisfaction

Hey hey! Here we are with another topic for the Grow Your Shop Series. As a shop owner, customer satisfaction has to be top priority. Actually if you are in the customer service business anywhere, it has to be top priority. I've had my share of real job experiences on the front line whether it was a fast food cashier or bank teller. It can be difficult to separate our own personal emotions and professional obligations. Let's talk about how we can make sure our customers are satisfied without losing what we stand for or the quality of our business.

Be A Servant.

First thing is first, it is part of our job to make sure we are being servants. That's right. I didn't say "slaves" and let me explain. There are two types of people who work with customers: servants and slaves. The slave does everything the customer asks even if it means jeopardizing quality and integrity. They are a people-pleasers and will sell customers a service for pennies to make them happy. This eventually causes lack of passion for their brand and in turn makes it all about the mula. Slaves are more prone to lashing out verbally to customers whether or not the customer was in the wrong.

We don't want to be slaves. You cannot build a business with that mindset. The servant has the customer's best interests at heart, they are passionate and compassionate but also for what is best for the business. Servants accommodate requests according to the high standards they have for their work. How does this make the customer satisfied? Most people prefer buying or working with someone who has purpose yet is willing to be flexible enough to bring forth a product they want. In the end, they will feel good about spending their hard earned money on something you created.

Being a slave will leave you burnt out because not everyone can be pleased (shocker I know!) Being a servant, however, not only takes care of what the customer wants but your business still maintains it's value.

Reputation Has Worth.

We've seen it many times. A very upset seller takes to the internet and publicly blasts a customer. Many of us have done this especially in the early stages when we are learning and have so many high expectations. There have been a few times that I've even seen shop owners respond to negative feedback in their shop with a rebuttal as if they are on trial and are stating their side of the story.

Let's think about this. How would we feel about McDonald's if they published a statement claiming one of their customers deserved the service they got because they were wrong. Regardless if the customer was in the wrong, it is never professional or right to argue especially publicly.

Your reputation as a shop owner has worth. I personally would not feel comfortable purchasing from someone knowing they are comfortable with humiliating customers just to be right. This creates a web of distrust. Customers will not be satisfied...CANNOT be satisfied...if they can't trust you. We have to be shields. When someone throws bullets, we need to be strong enough so they don't penetrate but are close enough for us to learn a lesson. And we shouldn't manipulate the situation so that the bullets fire back at our customers. How we handle relationships shapes our shop reputation.

Love On Them.

Leave love notes in their packages. Include sweet gifts in every envelope. Thank them non stop, email them to make sure they've received their order, throw them a discount code for next time. Just be nice and love on them! It's not rocket science. It's appreciation. It always feels good to know someone appreciates you. Our customers need to know we do. We can't just assume they will be satisfied because they bought something they wanted from us. They aren't buying a product...they are buying a piece of you. They are buying a part of your brand.

Take some time to make sure things are wrapped clean and include extra goodies. I learned this early especially since people are buying handmade. It's personal. Customers are real people with real feelings, not just numbers on a stats sheet. Do what you can to make sure those feelings are warm and fuzzy. Showing love doesn't cost anything but the rewards are so much sweeter. 

Business

Grow Your Shop Series: Social Media Etiquette

Hey there! I'm kicking off a short new blog series called Grow Your Shop, dedicated to all you hard working entrepreneurs out there. There are four posts that can be read in any order. While some of you blog, many of you also run online shops (or maybe you would like to). I'm still learning every day when it comes to growing a successful online store but have learned a lot in the last 7 years by getting my hands dirty. From name changes to product launches to social media oops, mistakes happen. The key is to keep taking those mistakes and using them as bricks towards building your goals. Today is all about social media etiquette and how this effects the growth of our brand overall.


What is Social Media Etiquette?

Oh glad you asked! In order to define what it is, let's break down the phrases first:

Social Media = websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. For example, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest...you get it. (I know this seems basic but bare with me!)

Etiquette = the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.

Social Media Etiquette is the customary code of polite behavior within the context of social networking. Short version: how you should act online. Seems simple right?

The funny thing is, though it may seem trivial, I've come across many different people who are so focused on growing their shop and are not educated in the proper behavior to promote their shop through social media. I've also made some not so great moves when it came to social media etiquette. Here's a few things I've learned.

"FOLLOW ME!"

Time and time again this is what I used to leave as comments with a link to my shop. Not only is this improper etiquette but it really is ineffective. The reader can sense the newbie desperation jumping off the screen. It is not polite to ask for a favor when you haven't taken the time to get to know the person first. And even if you are a huge fan on Instagram and double tap all their photos, it's basically telling them what to do. Come on, we don't like to be told what to do!

Honestly when I see this, it takes every ounce of me not to call the person out on it. You want to gain followers? That's fine! Leave comments about how you really feel about a person's work, how they inspire you, love their style and flair. After you can simply leave a link under your name. That's it. A genuine comment about that other person or their work and then add your shop under your signature. It's professional and puts you in a different category.

LINK VOMIT

It seriously is as gross as it sounds. There have been times I loved a person's shop, visited their Twitter page and was doused with a bunch of links to their products. Nothing else. Social media is about social networking. To mingle, chat, exchange information with other talented folks. It's not just a platform for your self promotion. A good balance helps followers digest things easier. When we keep shoving links, links, links...it will soon get old and mundane. You have to show people you care about what they care about before they care about what you care about. Did you get that? Phew!

A great rule of thumb (mainly on Twitter and Facebook) is to share four other posts or links from other people then one of yours. It might sounds backwards like we are giving them more exposure but being nice always pays off. Make sure you share things you really like. Be genuine. Don't worry about them getting exposure. The reality is that the link to your shop is attached to your social media accounts. Whatever you share will be seen even if it is someone else's and most people will want to check out your profile for more inspiration.

GET ENGAGED

Let's say social media was a big company party. There's Lulu against the wall speaking to no one. Marty is too busy talking about himself that everyone is annoyed. Henry is just plain rude and knows everything about everything. Then there's Justine. She's friendly, shakes people's hands, introduces herself. She asks people about what they do, makes them feel special and keeps the conversation lighthearted. If these four different people were shops on social media, which one would you buy from?

We will automatically gravitate towards the person that is showing interest in who we are. It's selfish human nature. We really can't help it. If your shop were one of the people above, which one would it be? When we break the mindset that our shop is "ours" and concentrate on a target audience, this is when things will blossom. Ask your followers questions. Get feedback on new products. Talk about what they love and share your heart.

Social media etiquette goes so much deeper than just sending your link out to potential customers.  It's a chance to share your story, your knowledge, your journey. To connect with others who love what you love. Don't worry about gaining followers. If you can make the followers you have into friends, more will come. And anything grows when you have good friends.