The Handmade Today Project

The Handmade Today Project West Oak Design

The Handmade Today Project

One handmade item every day, for one year.

...where it all began.

Scroll down on our Instagram feed to see it all!

It started as a therapeutic daily practice. It was a way to bring myself back to center amidst the whirlwind of caring for my infant son and being there for my mom who was battling terminal cancer. I was trying desperately to keep one foot planted in “real life”; real life being everything outside of the bubble that is watching a loved one fade away.
After the birth of my son, I wanted to find a way to work from home. I knew I wanted to open an online shop, but there were so many things I loved to do… making clothing, jewelry, house wares, knitting, the list goes on. I never took the plunge because I was so afraid of failure. I was afraid of putting myself out there, making a name for myself, and ruining that name if I failed or lost interest in whatever I was making and selling.
I would lie in bed at night, my mind reeling from the days battles, thinking… planning…never taking the plunge and putting myself out there. “Nothing to it but to do it”. Those words kept playing in my head. I needed to just do it! Then it hit me, start small, make one thing a day. It would be a good way to build inventory and discover what I liked making most. If I just pulled up my sleeves and got to work, things would hopefully fall into place. Then the big challenge… how could I be disciplined to do it every day?
I thought back to my most productive days in design school. I needed to mimic the structure of school. The assignments and projects pushed me to work hard and improve. I needed to replicate the accountability that came from having to present my work to instructors and fellow students. I realized that if I put it out there on Facebook in front of all of my friends and family, I couldn’t just quit. They wouldn’t let me. Just like that, before I really thought it through, I jumped in and publicly announced my plan to start the Handmade Today Project.
“In attempt to break through the winter doldrums, I am embarking on a little project that aims to get my creative gears turning. The goal is simple (or so it seems)… to make one thing a day, by hand, every day for one year.”
Instagram was the perfect format; one photo every day developing into a gallery where I could gauge interest. It became an incredibly useful marketing tool. Before too long, people were asking how they could purchase the items I was posting. When I had a nice little inventory, I opened my free Storenvy shop. Then things really started falling into place.
For me, The Handmade Today Project was just the structure of accountability, feedback, and productivity I needed to kick start my business. The project itself brought a nice bit of attention to my work and legitimized me a bit by showing I was tenacious and dedicated.
The project was by no means an easy task. Some days I just wanted a day off. Other days, something that I spent hours on would fail just as the sun was setting, leaving no time to make something new that could be photographed before dark. Those were the days I would thread some beads on a string and call it a day.
It also put a bit of a strain on my home life. As soon as my son went down for a nap, I would get to work on my project for the day. This left little time for housework. Often my husband & son would have to wait as I photographed & edited photos of something I took too long to make. In the end they were incredibly supportive. The process really helped me to find ways to balance being a wife, mom, and business owner… something I am still FAR from mastering.
This type of 365 project is absolutely do-able. It becomes part of your daily routine. If you have the time to sit and watch TV, you have the time to make something… most of the time you can do it while still watching TV. The simple act of taking a little time to do something creative is incredibly beneficial. It is a great stress reliever. Slowing down to hear the rhythmic whir of your sewing machine, or the sound of a paintbrush sweeping across a canvas, is pure meditation. The best part is that when you are done, you will have something nice to look at. Or… if you’re feeling a bit peeved that your creation is a hot mess disaster, it can be incredibly satisfying to destroy.
This project has taught me to set goals and discipline myself to get things done. It was incredibly therapeutic during one of the toughest times of my life AND it helped me to discover what I wanted to be when I grew up.