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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Why I will NEVER be a Politician & Other Life Truths

Thank Goodness I'm not a Kennedy or a Roosevelt!  There is no way I could live the "Campaign" Life!

As you know, I am applying for a Grant through Chase Bank's MainStreet Grants.  It's a grant designed for Small Businesses who want to expand and it requires 250 Community Votes to show that the business is serious about their intention and that they have a loyal fan base.

So for the past Month I have been Campaigning for your Vote.  Yours, Mine, ANYONE with a Facebook Account.  I started with nice little reminders like this:

Because of your voting, sharing and supporting we've reached 25% of the 250 Votes we need!!! Thank You! Your Vote shows the Judges that you love what we do and that you want to see North Country Rustics Continue and to Grow! Haven't Voted Yet? Please Vote Here:https://www.missionmainstreetgrants.com/business/detail/6949

And then a bit more urgently when I realized the deadline was only 8 days away and I wasn't even half way to the 250 I needed!
HALFWAY THERE!!! To be eligible for the Chase Small Business Grant we NEED 250 votes ~ and we're nearly half way there! I know many of you have already voted and I am so grateful! Please continue to help us make our goal by Liking, Commenting, and Sharing!https://www.missionmainstreetgrants.com/business/detail/6949

And then that deadline clock started haunting my dreams... As it is I have "Captain Hook" Syndrome (an unreasonable dislike for loud clicking clocks) so my posts became even more intense!

4 Days 15 Hours and 8 Voting Minutes Left! Voting is Quick, Easy and Secure ~ Please Vote and Share! Our dream is to expand our workshop, add retail and shipping space so that I can concentrate on carving more and more custom screen doors!https://www.missionmainstreetgrants.com/business/detail/6949
Then my Rustic Friends, Long Lost Childhood Friends, Community Groups and my Family started Demanding Votes on my behalf too!  Which was incredibly moving and made me remember that I'm not all alone in this world.  There are people who love me and want to see my dreams come true.  Maybe that explains the mushy turn of my next post!
7̶5̶ ̶V̶o̶t̶e̶s̶!̶!̶!̶ NOW ONLY 55 VOTES!!! That's all we need for a chance at a Small Business Grant from Chase for $150,000! We're getting SO close but so is that deadline! Please Vote and Share! Tell Your Friends WHY you Care! Voting is Quick, Easy and Secure! Thank you https://www.missionmainstreetgrants.com/business/detail/6949  

 Much to my amazement ~ This post received 21 Shares in less than 24 hours!  Taking us almost to 200 Votes!

And today, I threw my pride out the window and begged for votes!  I asked my friends, family, aunts, uncles, cousins all to vote!  To make their spouses and children vote!  If they had voted I asked them to share AGAIN!  Yes, I became completely obnoxious!  If it weren't strictly against the rules I would've started offering Free Cookies for Every Vote!

ⓦ̲̲̅ⓞ̲̲̅ⓦ̲̲̅!̲̲̅!̲̲̅!̲̲̅ We've made it to 200!!! Thank You!!! I simply cannot believe the support and encouragement! We still need 50 more votes before the deadline in 3 days 15 hours and 4 minutes ~ Can we make it, Rustic Friends???https://www.missionmainstreetgrants.com/business/detail/6949

 Look at that photo!  It's bright and garish ~ Almost like an advertisement for a Used Car!!!  And it worked ~ In 7 Hours it received 20 Shares and 14 votes! With Only 36 more votes needed I'm hoping to be nearly done with this Campaigning!  I honestly don't know how Politicians do it or WHY they do it!  And maybe that's a good thing!

So what other life truths did I learn ~
  • First Friends are Lifelong Friends!  I've been awed by how many of my childhood friends not only voted but shamelessly and incessantly shared my posts.  Friends that I was inseparable from once in my life but haven't seen in 10, 15, even 20+ years.  And out of the blue they are there for me like we're still passing notes behind the teacher's back.  I'm amazed and so profoundly grateful.
  • Family Ties Bind!  My family has always supported my dream, my uncle let's me invade his workshop on a regular basis, my cousin listens to my constant highs and lows from this wacky business but... They are often SILENT in their support.  They vote but they don't make a big show of it by Liking the Post too!  It's a giant guessing game where I'll never know which cousin voted and which didn't.  Until the next family reunion! LOL
  • Online Voting Contests are not designed for small towns.  Our Facebook page has over 1100 Likes but I've struggled to get 250 Votes for my Application.  Why?  Because Rural Areas don't have access to "just passing by" foot traffic.  Our community is tight knit but widespread. News travels quickly if a married couple has a fight in the grocery store but it's a bit slower paced for "internet" news!  
Still, at the end of the day I have learned so much!  And I am grateful for every vote and every single word of encouragement.  I hope that I can make it to the next round of the Grant.  I dream of the expansions to the workshop and the addition of a retail space.  It would be amazing to have all those dreams come true in one fell swoop but if not... I won't give up.  I'll keep working hard, taking tiny steps towards those dreams and Either Way ~ I hope that you'll stay with me through this journey!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Help Us Grow!

You've heard me say many, many, many times that North Country Rustics is my dream.  I love it nearly as much as my children, almost as much as hubby ~ And in truth, that is saying something because I live and breath for those four people.

However, dreams are complicated, wondrous, difficult, and amazingly fragile.

I have enjoyed an amazing amount of support ~ It's why I call you all my Rustic Friends. I am astounded everyday by how many people like my doors, carvings and art.  I love writing my blog.  I love writing our Newsletters.  I love our Facebook and Pinterest Pages.  And most of all, I really love the challenges of creating custom pieces and hope that I can continue to do so for the rest of my life.

However, there are some business challenges which I do not enjoy.  Currently, my workshop is in my basement which is problematic when carrying lumber up and down a full flight of stairs.  In the workshop I have gathered a mismatched collection of hand-me-down tools.  They are hard working tools but they all have quirks ~ Like my belt sander that is ON and never shuts off until it is unplugged from the wall.  Or my table saw that used to be adjustable but now the blade is permanently all the way up ~ Yes, this is a safety hazard and it is why I refuse to use the table without a second person to help me.  And my biggest workshop challenge is LIGHTING!   My basement has no windows and I have put in as many fluorescent work lights as possible but still I struggle to see the details when I stain and paint.  

But the challenges don't stop in the workshop ~ my kitchen table becomes "Shipping Central" every time an order needs to go out.  Which wouldn't be a problem if I was shipping small items but our doors are bigger than my table!   It requires me to lift and move the door a dozen times just to prep a door for shipping!  It works, and until recently, I thought it worked well but I've had doors damaged twice in recent months.  I put my heart and soul into every door and it breaks my heart everytime one is damaged so I need to upgrade my packaging which means I will now have to carry the wrapped doors back to the workshop to build a "crate" system around the doors and then carry them back upstairs.  I'm getting tired just thinking about it!

But I can make it work ~ I will make it work!  Still, a girl dreams...

And this girl dreams of a Retail and Workshop space where my Clients and Rustic Friends can see their projects as I work.  With Windows.  I dream of tools that are 100% safe and set up properly.  I dream of tools I don't own yet ~ such as a Planer (I currently use my very generous Uncle's in his workshop 30 miles from my home), a Foredom Power Carver and a Power Chisel, and a dust collection system, and well, let's just say the list goes on...

But as much as I like to dream I know that on my own I will never be able to make all those dreams come true because even the most successful woodworking business usually just breaks even.  So why do it?  For the same reason as every other starving artist in the world ~ Because I LOVE IT!  Or maybe I'm addicted.  Either way ~ I cannot give it up.

So my business is at a crossroads.  I can either keep trudging along with the challenges and setbacks or I find a way to fund my dreams and expand the business I love.   That's how I found Chase Bank's Mission: Main St. Grants for $150,000!  A grant to help small businesses rise up to the next level. Grants are not the "Free Money" everyone assumes they are.  It takes hard work and dedication to earn a grant and for this one it requires Community Support.  

To show that Community Support they require 250 Votes ~ Currently, North Country Rustics has 95. Which means North Country Rustics needs 155 of our most dedicated, most appreciated Rustic Friends to Please Vote ~ Share with your Friends and Family ~ Tell them why you Love Rustics ~ And ask them to Vote too!

Thank you ~ Truly ~ for Caring about North Country Rustics and this silly girl's Rustic Dreams!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Highs and Lows

This summer has been full of highs and lows.  Unfortunately, I have to admit that the lows were mostly my fault.  I'm new at owning a business, a rapidly expanding business and I got behind and couldn't catch up.  No matter how hard I tried.  Hard Lessons learned the Hard Way.  But it wasn't all bad ~ I created some of my best work to date, found new ways to carve and create, and was inspired to push my art further.

I love custom orders and this summer I had quite a few.  The doors turned out well despite the repeated setbacks and I hope that they will be enjoyed for many years.

And many of our custom orders were for local "Rustic" Weddings ~ These were great fun!  I love knowing that these Log Card Holders will hold all the well wishes for long happy marriages.  And when the wedding day is over they can be repurposed to hold a flowery potted plant inside the happy home.

This lovely Birch and Burlap Memory Book is still available ~ Includes 10 page protectors and would be perfect for a Rustic Bride!

 I was also asked to carve this sign to Welcome guests to the Wedding and the other side Welcomes guests to the Reception.  I was so pleased that the client's liked the way the hand carved sign turned out.  Many people expect hand carving to be as precise as the laser "carved" signs.  If you want or expect a precise font then please choose laser carving because hand carving is not be precise but it is much more artistic.

Welcome! As Two Families Become One Please Choose A Seat Not a Side.

Happiness is Being Surrounded by Family & Friends.  Please Choose to sit Wherever Makes you Happiest!

The log slices were from the bride's childhood home and although it had some bluestain it was lovely underneath her table centerpieces.

"I Do!" Love a Rustic Wedding!
I was also contacted to do three LARGE wall carvings and although this was a new challenge for me ~ I LOVED EVERY MINUTE!!!  This Moose won my heart from the first moment!  The carvings are now in their home in Saranac Lake overlooking the backside of Whiteface Mountain!  Lucky Moose!

I've also been taking every opprotunity I can to better my pyrography skills.  I love woodburning because I can make it as simple or as complex as I'd like.  And I can work on it in the wee morning or nighttime hours without firing up the loud machinery and disturbing the sleeping household.  LOL
I'm Irish ~ Right down to my Salad Servers!

Irish Hearts & Celtic Knots
Celtic Knots & Shamrocks

Farm Fresh ~ Featuring a Tractor, Cow, Pig and Duck
Blooms & Bees
Summer Love ~ Featuring Lighthouses & Sailboats
Two Hearts ~ Featuring "Hers for Baking" & "His for Tasting"
Plaid Snowmen ~ Featuring Three Primitive Snowmen Celebrating the Holiday
Have a Sweet Holiday ~ Featuring Gingerbread Man, Cupcakes & Pie
 I'm going to end this post with my FAVORITE Summer time projects because it was for my local community.  I am so proud of my community, of the people who truly care for each other, who look out for one and other during these hard times.  The past few years have been extremely stressful for my family as we dealt with my husband's sudden unemployment after 19 years and the worry of starting anew at nearly 40.  But our community gathered around us, helping us and encouraging us and it's only because of that spirit that we are now able to enjoy some new found stability and hope.  So you can see why these signs were just a small part of my thank you to this amazing place!
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