On progress and courage.

Lately I’ve been reflecting on how much has happened in my life and how much I’ve changed in the past few years. When I first moved to Toronto almost 7 years ago, I was keeping busy creating handmade books as gifts to friends and family. I certainly wasn’t taking bookbinding very seriously, although I really enjoyed it as a hobby.

The first year I was living in Toronto, I would drive by a local scrapbooking store on a regular basis. I don’t scrapbook, but I do have a paper fetish, and this store always had beautiful papers displayed in their front window. One day I stopped in to have a look and found many, many pretty papers for my collection. As I was paying for my purchase, the lady at the register (who turned out to be the owner of the store) asked my what kind of scrapbooking projects I was working on. I replied that I wasn’t a scrapbooker, but I was planning to use the papers for my handmade books. She offered me a job teaching bookbinding workshops in her store, right then and there! I was flabbergasted, to say the least… I had often thought that I would like to teach workshops, but I didn’t think that a) I was good/knowledgeable enough to teach, and b) anyone would be interested. I was wrong on both counts!

This then gave me the courage to approach another shop to see if they would be interested in selling some of my handmade books. Again, I wasn’t really expecting there to be much interest, but when I met with the owner to show her my products, she took everything I had – thus wiping out my entire stock! Since then I’ve had a great relationship with this owner, whom I consider to be a trusted advisor/mentor/friend.

Since then my confidence in abilities has increased and my courage has grown in leap and bounds – a significant thing for someone who is as shy and introverted and I am. And with that confidence and courage, I’ve started taking greater risks, which are paying off: I’m getting accepted into prestigious/coveted shows, getting my products into the hands of celebrities (and loving their reaction!), and most recently convinced the Toronto International Film Festival to start carrying my products – I’m thrilled to report that my books will be available in their shop starting later this month!

I’ve made so much progress as a person and artisan and business person. I’m building solid relationships and making great connections. And people seem to really like what I make, which makes me want to make more stuff!

So I encourage you to take a risk – it doesn’t have to be huge – that will bring you closer to one of your dreams. Make a phone call, send an email, apply for that big show – just do something.  You may be quite pleasantly surprised at the reaction you get.


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