Arts and Crafts, Ceramic Art Tile, Decorative Ceramic Wall Tile, Handmade Tile, Handmade Tiles, Tile Art - , Emily Margaret Ulm

Thoughts on a New Year

I love this time of year. I wouldn’t want to live with winter all the time, but I am making an effort to appreciate its beauty while it lasts. The days are getting longer now, which gives me a psychological boost.  It is a great time to think about new beginnings, and reflect on where I’ve been.

I am in the midst of my first-ever total shut down of tile production. Prior to this, Emu Tile was open continuously since 2005. In the early years, that was fine. There were slow periods to work on new designs, maintain my workspace, and rest my hands. In recent years, not so much. Selling more tiles has been amazing and wonderful, a dream come true. I am deeply grateful to everyone who appreciates my work; I love making tiles for each and everyone of you. But scaling up production has created some logistical problems. My studio was becoming a dusty mess and my work flow was less than streamlined. By late 2012, I realized it was time to take a break and regroup. With my business model, scheduling time off is a challenge. Making tiles to order can take a month or more, so I have to close the store well in advance of the time I want to have “off.” It felt so extreme, so scary, to shut down the business that I have put so much into. But my recent success made me brave, and I settled on a two-month closure of the online store, which translated into one month of actual down time. The end/ beginning of the year seemed like the most natural time to pause, so I stopped taking orders after November 15th, shipped the last of those orders by December 15th, and scheduled the next 30 days for cleaning, dreaming and relaxing.

Here I am, a little more than half through that time. DRU has been helping me to deep clean and re-arrange the studio. It is a project that is not finished and probably never will be, but the improvement is already dramatic. Less clutter will make it easier to keep clean. Fresh paint is already brightening things up. New worktables will save my back- not more hunching while I trim tiles! I am thinking of ways to improve my workflow and reduce wear and tear on my body. It is going to be great to get back into production in a more orderly environment. 
I am feeling excited to resume taking orders on Jan 16th.  I am also a little scared… after six weeks (!) of not taking orders, and 2 weeks of not making tiles, the whole concept feels distant & dreamlike. Did I imagine the whole thing? Will I still have a business to come back to? But then I remember all of the positive feedback I have received, all of the wonderful people I have encountered through my work, and then I feel like everything is going to be OK. Stepping back has reminded me how much I love my job, and how lucky I am to be able to do it!
It is time to close the books on 2012. It was a good year, but I am more than happy to let it go. I can’t wait to see what 2013 brings.