Saturday, 29 November 2008

Feeling the festive self-employed pressure ...

Did I ever mention how hard it is to be taken seriously if you have chosen to create teddy bears for your living? Particularly, it seems to me, if you work from home. No matter how many long hours of blood, sweat and occasional tears I put into my business in terms of design work, admin, marketing and so forth, I am still hopeless at saying 'no' to family when it seems they assume my 'hobby' (!) can easily be laid to one side for seasonal visits and the like.

During the year, this usually amounts to no more than the occasional hiccup in my work schedule and of course, I do want to make time for my family and I enjoy catching up with them very much; but despite that, I must admit, when the slippery slope towards December looms on this bearmaker's horizon, she can't help but worry how to make time not only for Christmas (believe me, that's the easy part of the equation!) but also for the many family birthdays and pre-Christmas visits forming a significant element of her (very large) family's December/January calendar.

Unlike those of salaried status, I can't conveniently lay claim to paid holiday leave and a nice cosy office to tuck myself away in during daylight working hours - somehow, even to my ears, it would sound so much more credible to be able say 'oh dear, I'll be at work that day,' rather than 'sorry I'll be busy making a teddy bear that day'! As you know, my workroom is at home, with very much an 'open door policy'! Unfortunately, I don't have a team of helpful elves at my disposal, so credibility issues aside, if my Christmas bears are to be ready for Santa's Sack, I need to work right up until the last possible minute before Christmas Eve, to ensure the smooth running of my bear business during this, my busiest time of year.

So yesterday I decided it might help to plan my personal calendar for December by using a spreadsheet detailing all commitments ... once I'd entered all relevant data, I was shocked to see that in the coming four weeks, there are only ten working days, yes TEN DAYS, available to me to complete my 2008 bear work! Not to mention the fact that I still have my Tax Return to complete and file during that time too! (I promised myself it would be filed before Christmas, so filed it must be!)

So my question is this: please tell me, what is the magic formula for a bear artist trying to balance her December act without offending anyone? All suggestions gratefully received. By the way, I'd be truly grateful if you could work a little sleep each night into my schedule too! Sherry anyone?


  1. How about a nip of sherry while you work?

    Seriously though, I fully understand how bearmaing as a job isn't taken seriously, even by our nearest and dearest.

    I think it's to do with the 'Teddy Bear' element. If we said we were dressmakers, clothes dsigners etc, if would be viewed differently.

    It's all frustrating and I feel your angst.

    Hugs, Sarah x

  2. I perfectly understand how you feel, Paula!
    I am not a 'Bear' Artist, but it is incredible how people- and even more people who live closer to you, are NOT ABLE to understand! They think it is lovely I 'make those pretty little things' from my HOME studio (by the way, they are the ones featured in my blog at the moment!... ) and don't understand I work more than many people out there, as I have not to go out into the traffic and spend time to reach my 'office', and even when it's time to relax ( at night, for example or on Bank Holidays) I just have to sew those last two stitches.... and do not relax at all!

    Warmest wishes,


  3. Working for one's self can be very challenging Paula. Service to your customers is vital to any business.
    Best wishes and hope all goes as planned. - Dave

  4. You certainly have a hectic schedule! Am sure you will finish everything and have time to spare........have 2 sherries that will surely help. :-)


  5. Two sherries sounds like a pretty magic formula to me! Hic!

    I'm sure December will eventually take care of itself and before I know it, January will be here and I'll be wondering what all the fuss was about ... thanks for your support folks, I feel better already!

  6. How I wish I knew the answer to this Paula! I have 13 bears to finish before December 20th, which is when I have to take a holiday, before I will go absolutely and completely nuts. People just don't seem to understand that we are working...Friends come knocking on the door, take their kids with them (and don't get me wrong, I love my friends and their kids), some call and want to talk for an hour during my working hours. They could not have done so if I had been at work, all secured in an office...I know your problem and if I find THE answer, I'll let you know. I might ponder about this a bit more on my own blog;o)
    What bugs me the most is when dear and beloved family members and friends come to the house when they are ill with flu or something like that. That happened to me in the beginning of October and voila...I could not work for 4 weeks due to severe bronchitis caused by the flu. It just does not seem to hit home that I don't have income when I am ill...It can be frustrating at times, but like you I love my family and friends and always enjoy seeing them, but I do wish I found the magic solution to the problem.. Many hugs! Ellen

  7. Paula, I understand exactly what you mean too. I consider you one of the most organized bear artists I "know". I wonder how you accomplish so much ! It is so hard when people just don't consider what we do as a real job. Perhaps we need to establish working hours and let everyone tactfully know what they are. Maybe post them on the front door of the house so visitor will know you are not available during those times LOL.

    I find I had to start screening my phone calls that come when I am working. I can always listen to the message to be sure it isn't an emergency, or return the call later.

    Best of luck getting all your work done in time. I empathize with you.

    Hugs, Tammy


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