June Happy Highlights and Mid-Year Goals Review! // Sunray Sister

Hello,

Welcome to the Sunray Sister blog! At the end of each month, I like to look back at the little things that made me smile, and the bigger things which I’m pretty proud of. Then I put them into a list which I call my ‘Happy Highlights’. (I’ve also included a bonus mid-year goals review today, so there is slightly more to read than usual if you’re feeling brave!)

This month I…

  1. Completed the #ColourMyEveryDay Instagram challenge by Adventures and Tea Parties… minus a few days. But it has helped me get back into the swing of social media, and take my Instagram game more seriously!
  2. Created a pen pals video – and it now has the most views out of all my videos so far, at 268!
  3. Recorded a music cover video as a special surprise for my dad.
  4. Went home for father’s day, and soaked up lots of sunshine.
  5. Experienced a super hot week, followed by some nice cool weather.
  6. Had a successful interview and got a new job, at the same place where my boyfriend works!
  7. Started a daily yoga practice using Yoga with Adriene‘s ’30 day yoga camp’ video series – and I feel great!
  8. Went on some mini adventures in Bristol – featuring Leigh Woods, Ashton Court and Blaise Castle.
  9. Enjoyed the most incredible vegan chocolate sorbet at Swoon!!! And then my work colleague Allison baked an awesome vegan chocolate cake! Yum!
  10. Felt super creative – experimenting with mixed-media and collage, as well as finishing my next YouTube video and getting endless ideas for other videos to create next!

What were your best achievements and happiest moments from June? Share your stories in the comments below, or join the party over on Instagram!


As a special bonus, I’ve decided to incorporate a 2017 business goals reflection into this month’s happy highlights post, seeing as we are now 6 months into the year!

First of all, here is my original list of goals, as explained in my 2017 business goals post:

  • Focus brand on spreading positivity through creativity
  • Write business plan
  • Stick to products which are sewn/made of fabric
  • Use reduced and sustainable packaging
  • Create YouTube videos
  • Have 60+ items in Etsy shop at one time
  • Have 50+ Etsy sales
  • Get public liability insurance
  • Have a stall at 20+ craft fairs
  • Get products in at least one local shop
  • Attend 5+ Etsy seller monthly meet-ups
  • Increase social media following to 300+ on each platform
  • Use a social media strategy
  • Write blog posts at least one week in advance
  • Gain 20+ WordPress followers

Now I ask: what can I eliminate or change to feel better about my goals? What still applies? What new goals can I add? Using a mid-year review worksheet by Lavendaire, I have gone back over my goals below, and then created a totally new set of goals for the next 6 months.

  • Focus brand on spreading positivity through creativity Before I was set on helping other people first, and myself second. Now I see that if I focus on myself first, I will be happier and be able to set an example. Show don’t tell. So I changed ‘Positivity via creativity’, into ‘Adventures in art and nature’.
  • Write business plan  I still need to clarify my purpose, so I’m not ready to write my business plan after all!
  • Stick to products which are sewn/made of fabric This definitely does not apply anymore, since I’ve been rediscovering my love of collage, paint and paper, and the freedom this provides.
  • Use reduced and sustainable packaging Something still close to my heart, but right now it isn’t relevant, since I’m not selling anything.
  • Create YouTube videos Yes! This is going well so far, and I intend to keep it up!
  • Have 60+ items in Etsy shop at one time Since I’ve gone back to square one, I don’t really have anything to sell right now, except for my sewn products which don’t really reflect the new direction I’m taking! Maybe this will change by the end of the year, but I don’t want it to be a goal.
  • Have 50+ Etsy sales 
  • Get public liability insurance
  • Have a stall at 20+ craft fairs
  • Get products in at least one local shop Even though I don’t have anything new to sell yet, I do still have quite a few of my fabric creations. Right now they’re in my Etsy shop, but this creates a constant expense, so selling them in a local shop could be more beneficial. 
  • Attend 5+ Etsy seller monthly meet-ups I went to one in December, but haven’t been since. This is still relevant, but I don’t want it to be a goal; it just needs to be a natural thing that I feel comfortable doing when I’m ready.
  • Increase social media following to 300+ on each platform I am making gradual progress here, and think this number is still achievable by the end of the year, but only for Instagram.
  • Use a social media strategy This is an area I have been working on recently, especially for Instagram, so I plan to keep this up. I have other social media sites, but I’m not focusing on them right now.
  • Write blog posts at least one week in advance I still can’t quite master this, but it will definitely help to have posts written well in advance!
  • Gain 20+ WordPress followers I’m not sure how relevant this is, since most people only seem to follow on social media sites, and maybe not on blogs. So I will leave this off my revised list. 

With all the above in mind, I have written out a new set of goals below for the next 6 months. They are organised into four key areas, with a clear break down of focus points for each.

Offline:

  • Create more art, whilst being mindful of impact on the environment – use recycled materials, avoid plastic packaging etc.
  • Combine love of collage, paint and drawing to find/define my style – see Alena Hennessey, Karen O’Brien and others.
  • Also explore nature/landscape art – see Andy Goldsworthy and Richard Long, also Keri Smith.
  • Absorb inspiration everywhere!

Instagram:

  • Post every day – both on my grid (permanent) and in my ‘story’ (temporary).
  • Plan content for whole week in advance – done by Sunday of each week.
  • Focus on art content, with occasional nature related images.
  • Comment on similar posts by people I admire.
  • Reach 300 followers.

YouTube:

  • Post every Wednesday.
  • Create videos in advance – uploaded by Sunday of each week. Ultimate aim is to have four videos ready at the start of each month.
  • Focus on art & crafts content, with occasional adventure and lifestyle.
  • Comment on similar videos by people I admire.
  • Reach 3,000 total views across all videos – this is the number which will let me ‘monetize’ my channel once I get to 10,000 views!

Blog:

  • Post every Wednesday and Sunday.
  • Write in advance – ready at least 2 days before post day.
  • Focus on ‘Dear Diary’, ‘Happy Highlights’ and YouTube posts.

As you can see, most of my rewritten business goals revolve around the online world. Doing art things in person often requires a large investment. Money is something I don’t have to spare right now, especially not for expenses such as public liability insurance, craft fair fees and ordering products like prints and postcards.

So for the next few months at least, my focus will be on creating original artwork, and sharing it via online content. Instagram, YouTube and WordPress are all free, and I have time to spare. Therefore I have a safe place to experiment with art and share my adventures in nature, without the risk of losing anything.


To summarise I have chosen my top 3 business priorities for the next 3 months, also inspired by Lavendaire’s video and worksheet. What would be on your list? Let me know in the comments!

  1. Create art to share on Instagram.
  2. Create art to share on YouTube.
  3. Share my journey and behind-the-scenes on WordPress.

Coming up I will (finally) have a new YouTube video on Wednesday; this week sharing the process behind a fun, Summer-themed collage. In the meantime remember to come and say hi on Instagram! I’m there every day!

See you soon and enjoy the sunshine sisters!

 

Peace and love,

Rachel x

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2017 Business Goals Review January – March // Sunray Sister

Welcome back sisters!

Following on from my Happy Highlights post – where I reflect each month on the small things that made me smile and the big things that I achieved – today I want to zoom in a little closer to focus on my Sunray Sister 2017 business goals, and think about where to go next.

From now on I will be doing these goals reviews every month (on the Sunday after Happy Highlights), in order to closely assess and re-evaluate my goals (business and personal) as the year progresses.

Here is my original list of goals, as explained in my 2017 business goals post:

  • Focus brand on spreading positivity through creativity
  • Write business plan
  • Stick to products which are sewn/made of fabric
  • Use reduced and sustainable packaging
  • Create YouTube videos
  • Have 60+ items in Etsy shop at one time
  • Have 50+ Etsy sales
  • Get public liability insurance
  • Have a stall at 20+ craft fairs
  • Get products in at least one local shop
  • Attend 5+ Etsy seller monthly meet-ups
  • Increase social media following to 300+ on each platform
  • Use a social media strategy
  • Write blog posts at least one week in advance
  • Gain 20+ WordPress followers

I have highlighted the ones which I have already made some progress with, and will discuss further below…

Write business plan

At the end of January I attended a Prince’s Trust Explore Enterprise course, which focused on starting a business, and gave us all the tools to go away and write a business plan. Since then I have had a 1-1 meeting with a mentor, which gave me a much-needed boost. I now have more clarity and enthusiasm to continue with my ideas, get serious in terms of creating a business, and get back to making products and art again!

Stick to products which are sewn/made of fabric

Even though I have not yet made many new products, I have been focusing on my sewing behind the scenes, and showed a few examples at my first ever exhibition as Sunray Sister a few weeks ago. At the same time, I have realised in the last week that I really want to create drawings and paintings to sell too! Don’t worry, I have a plan for the art to work alongside my dolls. All will be revealed soon.

Create YouTube videos

I have definitely achieved this one! On Valentine’s Day I launched my first video, and have been creating one video per week since then (expect last week!) Check out my channel and be sure to subscribe to support this new branch of my creative tree! Find my latest video below:

Write blog posts at least one week in advance

This goal hasn’t quite been met. But it is certainly at the front of my mind. Writing this blog feels so important, natural and fun to me. I have started planning my weeks more thoroughly overall, using the ‘bullet journal’ system, and just need to find a good time to focus on blog writing.

Gain 20+ WordPress followers

It may not seem like much, but I now have six followers here on WordPress, and this means so much to me. Clicking subscribe means you believe in someone, and want to support and see more of their content. So thank you, thank you, thank you a million times! If you are not subscribed, what are you waiting for? Simply find the little blue follow button in the menu, or click follow in the bottom right corner if you are already signed up to WordPress.

A few small steps. A gradual journey. It’s hard work, but it is so important to keep my eyes and mind open, keep reflecting, make changes if something isn’t working. And keep going.


I hope to see you again this Wednesday, when I will definitely have a new YouTube video! (It finally uploaded after a few failed attempts!) Have a brilliant start to the new week!

 

Peace and love,

Rachel x

Exhibition Reflection and Moving Forward // Sunray Sister

Good evening sisters! How are you? Have you had a beautiful weekend?

Today was the final day of my first exhibition! The work has been taken down, holes filled and marks painted over. And lots of hugs have been given and friends made!

As I wheeled my suitcase of creations home, I was treated to these beautiful skies and the St Mary Redcliffe bells were ringing out…

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If you weren’t able to see the exhibition in person, please check out my video tour below, which shows the work of all eight artists involved in the show; all the links are in the video description (just press the little YouTube button in bottom right of video). And of course, big, big thanks to Spin of The Spiralling for bringing us all together.

 

It has been a lovely experience. I have met some wonderful, creative people. I also discovered that I can achieve what I set out to do. And I don’t have to give up and quit at the last-minute.

So that’s all in the past now. Where do I go from here?

  • I will re-open my Etsy shop in the next couple of weeks with some new and updated listings.
  • I will continue to upload YouTube videos every Wednesday.
  • I will also continue to publish posts here on Fridays, Sundays and Wednesdays. I have a HUGE plan of the content I want to share with you all, including specific posts planned out until May! So I’m feeling pretty organised.
  • And in the real world… well I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my personal values, and what I believe in, and I’ve started making a few changes which I will probably talk about here at some point.
  • I’ve also been thinking about how my personal values can help inform Sunray Sister: these include focusing on natural products and methods (such as fabric dyed with plants); creating little or no waste from my making process and the packaging I offer my products in; promoting less waste by making useful items like tote bags; simplifying our lives and slowing down; generally helping and informing people about how they can love themselves, all creatures and the planet even more than ever before! 
  • I would love to run workshops helping people in this way; sharing practical ideas for a more earth-friendly lifestyle, as well as getting outside in nature, being creative and having fun. I would love to get involved with forest schools too, and maybe something to do with art therapy.
  • I will finally be writing my business plan, and hopefully discussing my ideas with a mentor.
  • Even though I promised to stick to textile products in my 2017 business goals, I have realised this isn’t true to myself. I love to pick up whatever I feel drawn to, as long as I am being creative. I will be doing a full evaluation of my goals at the end of March, and plan to do the same at the end of every month; goals should evolve as you grow, not be rigid like a prison cell.

Altogether, I’m feeling positive, inspired and energised, but also calm, balanced and clearer than ever before! I am happy in the moment. I am not waiting for things to be perfect. I do not want things to be perfect. I am making small changes every day, and taking small steps. I am forgiving myself.

I feel that I have finally realised my whole aim in life: to help others achieve a simple, natural, creative life, (this TED talk actually helped me come to this conclusion, and might help you too!) Who cares if I’m sewing, drawing, singing, walking, collaging, writing, speaking… these are all vehicles for my message of joy!

I hope you are onboard and receiving me loud and clear!

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What have you achieved recently? How will you learn from it as you move forward? I’d love to hear about your experiences; leave a comment below or find me on social media.

Coming up:

  • Wednesday: my fifth YouTube video! This week there will be a tutorial with a twist.
  • Friday: an introduction to another new post series, (did you read about my other new series on Friday? It’s called Love Lessons, and is going to be all about sharing my love of learning with you all!)
  • Sunday: ideas for celebrating Mother’s Day. Because mothers are worth celebrating!

See you soon sisters! Enjoy the start to a fresh new week, and remember to love yourself and look out for others.

 

 

Peace and love,

Rachel x

Market Applications and Daily Planning // Sunday Sunray News

Welcome back sisters! In the past week I have been making some progress towards my 2017 business goals. Not much has actually happened, but I have a lot of exciting plans, so this turned out to be quite a long post! Let’s dive straight in…

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Market Applications

One of my 2017 goals is to have a stall at 20 or more craft markets or fairs. So this week I have applied for one, and am in the process of applying for another! The first is actually an art fair, taking place in Bristol this May, aimed at young artists working in all media including textiles, so I think I would fit in well. Fingers crossed!

The second application, which I am still working on, is for Country Living magazine’s pop-up market in April. The deadline is the 20th of February, but entries have to be sent by post, so I better get on with it. Shout out to my mum who found this one for me!

There are so many markets that I have heard about in the past year, and would love to take part in! Here are some examples to research further:

  • Crafty Fox market
  • Native Makers
  • Renegade Craft fair
  • Made London and Made Brighton
  • Etsy made local markets
  • Made in Bristol gift fair

Of course there are also local markets celebrating handmade every weekend, and below are a few which I will be considering:

  • The Harbourside Market (central Bristol)
  • Tobacco Factory Market (South Bristol)
  • The Nails Market (central Bristol)
  • The Frome Independent (near Bristol)

In order to be eligible for most markets I will first need to get public liability insurance; another goal to tick off my list!

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Planning

This week I have been trying to plan each day more effectively, both on a personal level and for more detailed business targets. ‘Use a social media strategy’ and ‘Write blog posts at least one week in advance’, are two of my 2017 business goals, and ‘Plan each day’ is one of my personal goals, and I feel like I have been making a lot of progress with all of these.

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I am using a simple A4 page a day diary. Inside I have post-it notes for my weekly goals, social media schedule and meal plan. These can then be stuck to each day, since they last for a whole week.

I use the actual pages to record any events at the top of the page, then I track what food I am eating. Underneath that I write my to-do list for each day. The tasks are set using any daily goals I have (such as Veganuary, walking and social media posts), followed by tasks from my weekly goals post-it. These daily tasks are also split into ‘Business’ and ‘Personal’. I still feel like this needs a bit more refining, maybe giving each task a specific time in the day.

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My key business weekly goals this week are market applications, daily social media posts, sewing new products and planning my blog. In the past hour I have created drafts for my next 10 or so blog posts! And it feels great! Mainly because I actually have a clear path, and I know where I am taking Sunray Sister next. All I can say is, I’ve got lots of exciting things coming up soon, and lots of hard work too!

(As an example, today is actually Friday the 13th, and I’ve already got Sunday’s post done, and drafted the next few weeks worth of posts, including a BIG surprise coming in February! What!?)

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Phew, I think that’s enough for one post! What big goals have you been working on this week? What positive changes have you made? Let me know in the comments!

In case you missed my latest posts, here’s a quick summary:

Coming up on the blog will be a fun Random Round-Up post on Tuesday, and more on that big surprise that I mentioned, in a special update post this Friday. Hope you have a positive and productive week!

 

Peace and love

Rachel x

Personal Goals for 2017 // Sunray Sister

Hello sisters! How is your week going so far? Today I want to share a few personal things with you, because this business is a huge journey for me, and I want you to know what’s going on behind it. I want you to know what matters to me.

Last month I shared my business goals for 2017. Those goals are about fixed targets and going out of my comfort zone to achieve new things. My personal goals are about coming back to myself, so that I can create my best self. They are about being able to have a solid foundation from which I can jump up to my business goals, and then still have something comfortable to land on!

For my personal goals, I have created four main categories: Health, Habits, Finance and Fun. These are four broad areas which I want to improve throughout the year. Let’s see what’s in each one…

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Health – diet and exercise

In 2017 I will get better at looking after my body and my mind.

I have already made a major change this year by becoming vegetarian. I have always eaten meat, but I suddenly realised that I don’t need to, my body doesn’t need it, and I no longer need to harm animals. What’s more I am taking part in Veganuary, a vegan challenge for January.

I also want to move more, and breathe in more fresh-air. In 2017 I aim to walk outside everyday. Doing a lot of work from home often means I get stuck inside all day. When I get outside I feel a million times better. Obviously I need to build up to doing serious exercise eventually, such as running and cycling.

By eating well and exercising regularly, my mind will become clearer and my body will feel happier. To add to this, I want to revisit yoga and meditation. I have done some basic meditation in the past using the Headspace app on my phone, and I have learnt some yoga moves from a class and books, so I would like to pick these up again in 2017.

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Habits – planning and possessions

In 2017 I will become more organised and have fewer possessions.

Time is my biggest demon. Yet I know that I can conquer it, with the power of lists! And lists! And more lists!!! Plus a lot of willpower. If I want to be self-employed, or at least to begin with be able to juggle a job with running a small business, I need a daily routine. That means no lie-ins, no late nights. It means creating effective to-do lists, daily and weekly schedules, and prioritising.

Aside from all the serious stuff, I need to remember the mundane things. Cleaning and chores. Planning meals and doing food shopping. These basic things often get forgotten. But in 2017 I want to give them a place and respect my chores with a set routine and plan.

Before I can truly see clearly however, I need to get rid of the physical things that are in my way. I’m talking about clutter. Possessions. Stuff. There is a big trend at the moment for minimalism and I think this is great. So over the next couple of months I will be clearing out a lot of my belongings. I might also film the process to share later, when I launch my YouTube channel, which is one of my business goals!

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Finances – the necessary stuff

In 2017 I will be financially secure and be in control of my money.

To me, money is such an abstract concept. Quite similar to time. In the age of plastic cards, and online shopping and banking, I basically never see money. And yet it makes me miserable. So it is another demon which I need to conquer, this time with the power of spreadsheets!!! And possibly an accountant. Money is also quite a private thing, so I won’t say anymore here.

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Fun – the nice stuff

In 2017 I will have fun and do things that I love.

There are a lot of things that I love to do, but I hardly ever do them. So this year I am determined to make some time for fun.

I love music, but it has got slightly buried in my life recently. In 2017 I want to start practicing piano and singing regularly again; just for me to start with, and eventually for sharing at gigs and in YouTube videos again.

Of course I love art and crafts as well. This year I want to start building a handmade wardrobe by sewing clothes from patterns that I already own (I have quite a lot of dress patterns!), and I will probably film the process for YouTube as well. I also want to get back into collaging and start a journal that combines collage, drawing, paint and my written thoughts, in order to reflect on my emotions.

I often forget about the people in my life, so I also want to add a final, and most important goal for 2017, to plan special dates with Fraz, my boyfriend. These could be dates out to the cinema, for a walk, for a meal, or dates in to watch a film or play games.

 

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My 2017 personal goals list

  1. Be vegetarian and try being vegan
  2. Walk outside everyday
  3. Practice yoga and meditation
  4. Plan each day
  5. Respect chores and create a routine for them
  6. Plan meals and prepare in advance
  7. De-clutter and become minimalist
  8. Become financially secure and track finances
  9. Practice piano
  10. Learn cover songs
  11. Sew clothes from patterns I already own
  12. Keep a collage journal
  13. Plan special dates with Fraz

 

What are you planning this year? Do you want to change? Are you going to be your best possible self? Let me know about all of your crazy plans in the comments or via social media. You could also follow me on Instagram for more personal insights and daily inspiration.

See you again this Friday for episode six of Playtime. Have a great week sisters!

 

Peace and love

Rachel x

Etsy Shop Update // Dolls and Brooches // Sunday Sunray News

Hello again sisters, and welcome to a new edition of Sunday Sunray News. If you’re new here (HELLO!), this is my weekly update all about new products in my Etsy shop, plans for the near and far future, and any milestones that I reach!

So grab a cup of tea, and let’s see what I’ve been up to this week…

My main news is that I re-opened my Etsy shop after a lovely long winter break. I gave everything a little spring clean with some new photos and writing, and added a couple of new items.

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This is how my Etsy shop currently looks. I have tried to make all of my photos consistent, and I am a big fan of ‘flat lay’ compositions. Other small things include not using a banner; instead of being distracted by a huge image at the top of the page, customers can instantly see my listings.

Old products, updated!

There are three dolls still available from my original batch, but I realised the photos could be improved, so I took some new ones! My photography is not amazing, and I only used natural lighting and basic editing software. I also don’t have a tripod yet…!

Compared to the original photos, I simply did more in the editing stage, by eliminating shadows, and adding brightness and contrast. Plus of course adding the new flat lay arrangements!

Below are examples of the before and after photos, click on each one for a closer look…

Amelie’s close-up; from boring and dull, to interesting and bright!

Subtle adjustments to Austen’s held-by-my-hand shot.

The addition of a flat lay photo adds so much interest to Anouk and her sisters’ listings!

Current new products, and more to come!

Before Christmas I finished two new brooches, which are available now. I also created a few other things, but of course they were made as Christmas presents for my loved ones! Do not fear though, there will be new things coming your way in the next few weeks in the shape of embroidered zip pouches and bookmarks with monograms. Exciting stuff!

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These are the two new embroidered brooches with the messages ‘be kind’ and ‘keep going’, with a third brooch from my original batch which says ‘be brave’.

Sunray Sister is all about positivity and self-love, so these messages are intended to inspire the wearer (and those around them!) to turn the message into positive action. I have the first brooch I made on my Kånken backpack, and it tells me to ‘keep going’ each day!

 

What would you like to see in my shop? As my potential customers, I would love to know what you think of the things that I currently offer, how I present them, and what I could do to improve. You can comment below or reach me on social media.

Coming up on Tuesday I am going to be sharing my personal goals for 2017, as I want you to know the person behind this blog, and what is important to me; I would love to get to know you too! In my final post of 2016 I showed you my 2017 business goals, did you see it? There will be a new series of posts on the blog soon, documenting how I am breaking each goal down into actionable steps, and updating the progress of each one. I am determined to meet them all!

Wishing you all a productive second week of the new year!

 

Peace and love

Rachel x