I’m publishing this on the week my shop reopens. I’m not exactly sure what went into me the past few months, but long story short, it’s happening: I’m putting it up.
After battling with several episodes of anxiety last year, the littlest decisions affect me on a regular basis. From what to wear to what items to put up on my shop, I have (unfortunately) became susceptible to the idea of failure ruining my life entirely. I’d expand on this but maybe not in this post (I’m thinking of writing about my mental health journey and experiences…maybe soon). I guess this has led me to have a certain level of decision fatigue that has greatly affected my career moving forward. So at some point, I was really scared.
If you’ve known me (online) for quite some time now, you would know that I am an overachieving type A go-getter because I’m a Capricorn. Yup, astrology backed up my personality accurately and I’m positive it has this huge effect on the way I work. I started a little business at seventeen (pre-Abbey Sy) and the years just flew by so fast (I realize I’m already 26). I had to drop my business to focus on Advertising, then eventually landed a job I ended up hating, then quit, and then this is where I am now—several projects and books later, still running a business centered on art full-time.
*If you’re not into reading, you can watch my vlog here instead.
If there’s anything I carried over from my years of being on the ~world wide web~, it’s that you always go back to where you first started (well, it applies for me). In the midst of working non-stop for freelance or writing books, running a shop has always been at the back of my mind. There’s an unusual kind of adrenaline I get from planning budgets, idea generation, accounting, assigning inventory, and supervising production. It feels so geeky and always very unpredictable, but I enjoy it so much.
There was really only one thing I had to factor in: running a shop does not equate to the money I make from freelance and writing books. I knew I had to wait for the benefits to come as time would pass, because a lot of capital comes in when a shop is in the works. Expenses are incurred early on in the production stage, as well as setting up shop, taking photos, etc. I’ve done several rounds of shop operations since h.e.a.r.t.—I started doing lettering by selling framed work of my art, and customizing notebooks. After my books came out, I decided to go all in and sell them myself too. I also made it available to other countries as I traveled and shipped orders from wherever I was. In short, I think I’ve done quite a 360 degree turn in terms of how everything worked in a shop.
So why am I putting myself in this place of uncertainty and (eventually) series of migraines? I don’t know either. But I realized one thing: if it’s going to make me happy, I will do it. At this point, I had thought about money. I have always thought about it since I travel extensively and have been putting my money into my upcoming trips (that I believe will also benefit my well-being and creativity). But I did some calculations and put into consideration that maybe shying off from freelance for a year won’t break the bank for me. I still make money from my books (I get a cut from each purchase, so thank you!) and this year I really just want to pace myself first. It’s easy to think I have it all figured out because I’ve been in this industry for four years now. But it never really gets easier as you get older. I guess it just comes with the maturity to make better decisions and take in previous failures and charge it to experience and learnings instead.
If anything, I never really ran my shop full-time ever in my life—it was always a “by the way” kind of thing. I remember having this problem while I was juggling my day job and freelance gigs at night. What if I had time to do one thing for the rest of my week? Would that be easier and more optimal? I still think about it now that I have decided to work on my shop and really focus on it. If I put my 100% into it, maybe it would become better than just putting 50% of effort into it. So I’m making that decision for now, and see where it takes me.
The shop was supposed to still open in September because I had so much on my plate leading up to the -ber months, but what the heck. I looked at my calendar last February, told myself it was possible anyway, so I immediately got to work. I will be gone the entire summer and have made sure the logistics will be covered while I am away. I only have less than two months to facilitate and supervise another round of production to make sure my inventory is covered until September. I also have a limited timeline to get into designing new merch, while still getting used to drawing on my iPad. So yeah, everything’s pretty much a learning curve still. But I’m enjoying it. I don’t mind making mistakes now, as long as I’m getting somewhere.
Another reason why I wanted to put this up asap is my stash of books here are piling up. I have been getting concerns about my books not being available in their local bookstore. This is the thing: I really don’t get to dictate what is available where and I can’t guarantee that all my published work are still found everywhere. Usually books like ABCs of Hand Lettering aren’t on the shelves anymore because it was published 4 years ago. So I’ve decided to take this into my own hands and resell copies to you all (thank you Summit Books for allowing me to do this!). More than anything, I feel that my mission is to really make it more accessible to anyone who wants to get a copy.
Anyway, that’s where this post ends. Thank you for reading—and if you haven’t yet, head on over to my shop and do some shopping!