Originally published February 26, 2018. Updated July 31, 2018.
I started my own business, and I have no idea what I’m doing.
I started my own business, and I have no idea what I’m doing.
Yep — that pretty much sums up the thoughts in my head right now. This blog is intended to be my place to share my journey as I intentionally repurpose my life — build my dreams out of what is in front of me. This is my diary.
That’s pretty messed up. I realize that I am about to base my livelihood on the personal blogging concept, but a diary used to be the place that we kept our secrets and our most private thoughts and fears. A personal place that we put tiny locks on to keep others out. Now, it’s a potential revenue stream.
My initial reaction to the concept is of disgust. The vanity of our generation to think that our personal struggles and day-to-day lives are not only of interest but also of value to others. It’s a very self-centered approach to life.
(Considering the purpose of my business is to motivate, inspire and teach — I’m off to a very questionable start.)
Last year I made a conscious choice to repurpose my life — to build my dreams with what is in front of me. It sounds so cliché or like one of the quotes I pin to Pinterest each day — but it’s true.
I decided who I wanted to be and started acting like her.
I envied people on Pinterest or Etsy that took a pallet and created something cool out of it. Or just had a problem and found a crafty fun solution. I wanted to be them — have their skill and creativity.
So, I started telling people I do wood working and repurposing projects. It wasn’t a lie — technically I had built things out of wood before and over the years I have repurposed many items around the house. There is a lot more to the story — but in short, because I told people I did DIY projects I then felt obligated to at least try to DIY something.
Now, at this time in my life I’m an emotional wreck. Trying to sell a house (that apparently had mold that needed remediation), buying a house, moving an hour into rural Michigan, Being responsible for 10 acres of land, feeling displaced by the new surroundings, finding a new career after leaving clinical social work, mourning the death of several friends and continuing to cope with already present anxiety and depressive symptoms.
I was exhausted. My beautiful surroundings got me through it. And finding the pallets and scrap wood the previous owner left behind. (During the tour of the house I mentioned to the sellers that I did wood working — when we bought the house the previous owners not only left all their scrap wood and pallets behind but offered to bring all the left-over wood they had from the barn they were constructing at their new home. They did this expressly because I told them I enjoyed wood working and repurposing pallets. If I hadn’t shared, they wouldn’t have shared.)
I just began building stuff. It wasn’t for any real purpose — just to see if I could. I looked at pictures on Pinterest and tried to replicate them. I failed a lot. But what I ended up with was still really good. I was proud of myself. Considering how I was feeling at the time, being able to feel pride instead of grief or exhaustion was exhilarating. And being able to build housing to protect my ducklings made me feel a sense of security I was lacking after recent unexpected deaths.
Now when I told people that I did woodworking I could show them a picture of something I created. Most people responded the same way I would have just a few months before, “That’s cool — I could never do anything like that. How did you do it? Where do you sell them?”
It was never about impressing others — I only wanted to show myself that I could do it. But when others said that I did something that they couldn’t do — I felt good. It may not be a good thing to say out loud — but I really enjoy being better at something than someone else.
But I wasn’t better than them. I wasn’t doing something that they cannot do. They are no different than I was just a few months before. I’m simply doing something that they haven’t tried yet.
This realization in no way impacted my sense of achievement, but it did make me realize that there are a lot of people out there that could benefit from the empowering feeling of a DIY project.
So now I had a barn full of projects I created, ideas for a DIY blog and a need for a new career. Functional Rustic is born. I could sell the stuff I build and write a tutorial for each item. Buy it or Build it Yourself with Functional Rustic.
It’s a great idea — but I don’t actually know how to build many things. There is no way I can pop out an original DIY tutorial on a consistent enough basis to garner any attention. And, DIY tutorials are helpful but not motivational or particularly eye catching. Needless to say, that thought pattern filled me with self-doubt and killed my inspiration and motivation to build anything. I was paralyzed by the magnitude of what I was going to have to do to accomplish my goal. And I was going to be doing it alone.
To get myself out of the pattern of self-doubt I turned again to Pinterest to read through the collection of quotes I have gathered over the years for just such an occasion. As I’m scrolling I see that almost every single quote has the website for a business on it and a link to their page. So I did the same.
I was feeling optimistic again. I’d taken a very effective coping skill and turned it into not only a means of advertising but also a source of inspiration for others that need a little boost of motivation. Creating quote pins and posting them is how I start my day now. Every. Single Day. Some people get pumped up going for a run or can’t start their day without taking a long shower — motivational quotes is what I utilize to get a good start to my day. I found a way to make something I love, something that I already have at my disposal — into an integral part of my livelihood.
The quotes have me motivated but, I still struggle with the creative aspect of repurposing at times. When that happens I just go for a walk around the yard. The property is stunning so it isn’t difficult to be inspired. The previous owner designed the landscape with great attention to detail. Many of the plants hold medicinal value and the flower beds are always in bloom with various bright colors. The diverse eco-systems she developed encourages diverse populations of birds, butterflies, frogs, deer and other wildlife.
If these sights and experiences inspire me — sharing them with others may inspire them too! The photos and videos also provide a behind the scenes look into where the items I sell are being crafted. If I had to choose between a wooden sign made in a factory or a wooden sign made in a barn shared with ducks and a turkey — I’m going with the barn.
Once again, I took my coping skill of going for a walk in nature into a vital aspect of my personal business.
Now it’s time to spread the word. Weeks of research on SEO’s hashtags, product tags, html codes etc. I’ve read blogs, watched TED Talks and signed up for several social media sites. (In the future I will detail what I did, what worked, what didn’t) The technical aspects are important but are my least favorite part of this process.
(UPDATE: Several months later I now know how to the technical tasks and really enjoy them. The more I understand how it all works the more excited I get to complete it.)
The part of social media I enjoy is the social part. Most of my time on social media platforms is spent looking for other DIY enthusiasts. I compliment them when I appreciate their creativity and ask questions to learn to do it myself. Asking people how they accomplished something makes them feel good — makes them feel respected and knowledgeable.
I know I feel amazing when someone provides genuine feedback on something I created or takes an interest in what I’m doing. Functional Rustic enables me to do that for others as my career. That single interaction is what all this is for.
All the projects, quotes, pictures, videos and stories I share are done so with the express purpose of having a positive impact on an individual — to hopefully spark a lifelong passion or be a catalyst for change in someone’s life. At the very least, I want Functional Rustic to be a pleasant distraction in an otherwise stressful day.
(UPDATE: analytics I have for my website show that most of my visitors come between the hours of 9 and 5. My goal of being a distraction for people during the work day succeeded!)
Each new addition to Functional Rustic is another extension of me — my quotes, my creations, my pictures, my animals (my God this is a very self-centered, egotistical business plan, ha). Until now though, I have been avoiding what makes Functional Rustic truly stand out — Me.
My choice to live intentionally — my failures — my successes — my sense of powerlessness — my self-doubt — my determination — my creativity — my obstacles — my story is Functional Rustic. For that reason — despite my initial feeling of disgust toward personal blogs as a business — I get it now and I support it.
That’s what this blog is all about — the story of I’m building my dreams with what I have in front of me. I’ve repurposed my actions and thoughts to make my dreams a reality. My insecurities are now advertisements. My being distracted by the ducks is now a reason for people to tune in. My failures in creating a project turn in to amusing How Not To stories.
When I am scouring the internet looking for advice on how to do whatever it is that I’m doing — I am drawn to the stories that are personal. I like knowing that someone else felt the same insecurities when they started their own business or felt scared when they tried something completely new. I am inspired by seeing others face their fears or recognize opportunities where they previously only saw obstacles. I thrive on reading of people succeeding despite the odds being against them.
And that is why I’m sharing my story as I build the life I want with what I have in front of me.
I started my own business and I have no idea what I’m doing — and that’s the point.
Written by Sarah Palmer, Owner – Functional Rustic
Did you know Functional Rustic provides more than just a blog? Find out what others already know by shopping in the Functional Rustic Store.
Below are just a few of the handcrafted items available.
3 Tier Wooden Tea Light Holder – Black
3 Tier Wooden Tea Light Holder from Functional Rustic adds a rustic elegance to any space. The 3 Tier Tea Light Candle Holder is made from repurposed pallet wood and hand painted. Free Shipping.
“Baby It’s Hot/Cold Outside” 2 sided Wooden Ornament
“Baby It’s Hot/Cold Outside” 2 sided Wooden Ornament by Functional Rustic is handcrafted from repurposed pallet wood and hand painted with oil paint. Twine is used to hang the ornament. Free Shipping.