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Goodbye 2021, Hello better days

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cut middle finger

It’s been over a year since I wrote a blog post, and I suppose that’s because life has been hard and I have been short on creativity and time, or maybe it’s because I just want to ignore what’s really happening in the world, but I’m going to sit down and force myself to remember all the good and the bad. My 2021 didn’t start out great. I literally sliced the tip of my finger off on a mandolin making scalloped potatoes. (Side note: I will never make scalloped potatoes again) So I started 2021 giving it a big ol’ middle finger…

balance macrame

That really put a damper on my making, as my finger was sensitive for SO long. Even a year later, my nerve endings on that finger are not back to normal. I fear they never will be! So lesson here is to always use protection when using a mandolin! Don’t be Amy.

 

 

I decided my word for the year was going to be balance. After the crazy holiday season spent working to keep up with the demand for my products and feeling like I had missed out on too many holiday traditions, it was my goal to find a happy work-life balance. So I cut my word into wood and made a lovely macrame wall hanging to remind me of this. It hangs right by my Glowforge so that I remember to take breaks and not work TOO hard. I will even make you a macrame hoop with any word or name on it, too, if you want to make one! I just love all the different textures in the types of cord I used. There’s even some recycled sari silk in there, as well as some wood cut feathers.

 

 

My business focus for 2021 was to get zoo&roo into more local shops, and I definitely succeeded in this with the addition of FIVE new shops to find zoo&roo! I started selling at The Artisan Market at 305 in downtown Durham, NC, right next to the statue of Major the Bull. Such a wonderful collection of handmade items in this lovely little shop.

 

Major the Bull

 

Zoo&roo joined Crafts Made By You in downtown Cary, NC. This is a fun hybrid shop where you can buy supplies to DIY your own creations, but Elyse also hosts a maker’s market with all sorts of beautiful handmade items. She even holds classes. I’ve been dying to get to a mixology class! But if you got a Cricut for Christmas and don’t know what to do with it, you must check them out.

 

I added two additional shops under one umbrella with A Prideful Place. They have a huge shop in Franklinton, NC, Mercantile on Mason, with so much handmade goodness your head might explode! They also create gorgeous floral arrangements and have a fun maker’s space there to do some of your own creating. There’s also Sweets & Stems in Fuquay-Varina, NC, which offers delicious hand baked goods as well.

 

Starting just before the busy holiday season, I expanded to downtown Raleigh at Curate, a Triangle Pop Up shop. I love being a part of this eclectic community of artisans. My top seller there was my Raleigh map coaster, in addition to Raleigh ornaments. You can check out all my Raleigh items here.

 

But as with all good things, sometimes they must come to an end, and one of my locations, Our Moments in Time in Holly Springs, closed their doors. It was/is incredibly sad, as I’ve learned a lot about myself and my business the three years I’ve been with them. So I no longer have a shop in Holly Springs, but you can still find all my Holly Springs themed items on my website!

 

One of my highlights of the year was being mentioned in Martha Stewart Weddings! A customer had me create wood place names for her tropical destination wedding. They were a perfect finishing touch to the tables, and I was honored to be a part of Dana and Shawn’s special day. You can see the whole wedding here  though you’ll need to zoom in on the pics to see my monstera leaf place setting names! 😉 

 

Olszaks in Topsail Beach

Throughout 2021, I tried to remember my word of the year, balance. I did well throughout the year to have a lot of fun mixed in with my work (which I usually do label as fun as well). My son finally celebrated his First Communion. We got to watch our beloved Carolina Hurricanes in the NHL playoffs. My husband and I went to St. Lucia to celebrate a dear friend’s 50th birthday (don’t get me started on the efforts and hoops to jump through to get there, but we did and it was amazing). My family spent a week at Topsail Beach, sunning and searching for shark teeth. The boys got back to playing in their hockey leagues (both making the advanced teams I might add; proud hockey mom here!). We even finally got to go to two of our favorite concerts, Michael Bublé and Harry Connick, Jr. And my husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary! Ok, so our big Mediterranean cruise got cancelled, but there was a lot of good this year, too. Oh, and my whole family got vaccinated against Covid 19! Yay!

balance macrameThis led to my “ornament of the year.” 2021 became known as the year of the shot. Whether you are pro-vaccine or deeply against it, it’s all people seemed to talk about all. year. long. So of course I made an ornament to commemorate it, complete with Covid “snowflakes!” As my cousin said, I managed to make a pandemic look festive, LOL.

So before the holiday season began, remembering that “balance,” I attempted to pre-make as many ornaments as I could in hopes to get ahead of the game. But now being in so many different shops, I quickly realized I had nowhere near enough inventory pre-made and each location had it’s own hot sellers and in-demand items. So, balance went out the window come the last quarter, but I did really well with it for the first 3/4 of the year! (Insert shrug here; I tried)

In December, I participated again in the Holly Springs Tree Trail. It started last year as a way for people to safely enjoy holiday decorations in an outdoor, socially distanced way. I loved my tree last year, filled with positive messages in rainbow colors. My tree’s theme this year was a celebration of North Carolina, and I turned ten of our state symbols into ornaments, which you can now purchase on my website to create your own North Carolina themed tree at home. I added an interactive game aspect where I invited people to scan a QR code to enter the state symbols they found, so they could learn some history while enjoying the tree. It had rave reviews from so many in the community that it made my heart very happy and my efforts worth it. If anyone has ideas for next year’s tree, please let me know! LOL!