I want to start by saying I feel extremely lucky. I am so honored and inspired by my clients. I really mean that. I was raised with a strong work ethic by parents who taught me to have pride in my work. I also grew up without many dollars to spare and have experienced some pretty tough financial times in my life. I value a dollar. These experiences and life lessons lead me to take being an artisan very seriously. When someone trusts me enough to spend their hard-earned dollars with me I want them to love what they purchase. I want it to be better for them than what they could get elsewhere. I want it to make them happy. I want them to feel it's value.
I am not a thick skinned person by nature. I have had moments of tears and self-doubt when an unhappy customer pops up. I am learning to take this feedback for what it is and to shed myself of the anxiety of what it isn't. I'd like to say it's easy to take the feedback and just roll forward. But it's not. I take deep breathes and remind myself that being unhappy with a purchase and letting the artisan know doesn't equal a personal attack. When you put your heart and soul into something it can feel that way. Letting down those who spent their dollars with you can feel soul-crushing.
This roared it's ugly head this holiday season for me. I had a really positive response to my candles and wanted to offer my clients paraben, formaldehyde and phthalate-free wax tarts. Some of them met with a great response and others were not so well received. Some of my fragrances were too subtle. Especially the Forest Walk fragrance, which I created myself. Ugh, this one cut deep. I made these and gave them out as a free gift in hopes of spreading some holiday cheer. What a backfire. :( I know it's not personal and I know that I need to take that lesson and create something better. I'm working through that and coming out on the other side.
Taking control of the response is key here. Having your mistakes hung out before your entire audience is hard. Even when you own it, it's hard! It's embarrassing on a deep level. To help myself still love myself, I am taking control of how I respond. I am having my focus group/product testers help me to get the fragrance balance right. I am reshipping to anyone who wasn't happy with their tarts. It's hard for a small business to take hits like this on the chin. Taking control of it let's me feel like I have done everything that I can to make it up to my clients and maintain their trust. I do my best, and I'll still lose a customer or two, but I will be able to let it go and move forward.
This is the peom Myself by Edgar Guests. I love it and live by it.
I have to live with myself and so
I want to be fit for myself to know.
I want to be able as days go by,
always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don’t want to stand with the setting sun
and hate myself for the things I have done.
I don’t want to keep on a closet shelf
a lot of secrets about myself
and fool myself as I come and go
into thinking no one else will ever know
the kind of person I really am,
I don’t want to dress up myself in sham.
I want to go out with my head erect
I want to deserve all men’s respect;
but here in the struggle for fame and wealth
I want to be able to like myself.
I don’t want to look at myself and know
I am bluster and bluff and empty show.
I never can hide myself from me;
I see what others may never see;
I know what others may never know,
I never can fool myself and so,
whatever happens I want to be
self respecting and conscience free.