I launched my Etsy shop selling holiday cards last year (December 2016). I decided to name it écrivons! which means "Let's write!" in French, hoping to convey a message that encourages handwritten correspondence via greeting cards and letter stationery. I envisioned a product line where proceeds would someday go to inner-city public schools or literacy programs. And while I don't think this vision is totally unattainable, I realized that isn't where I had originally wanted to be with my greeting cards and Etsy shop.
The écrivons! launch last Christmas was honestly two parts challenging for every one part rewarding. I quickly learned that I didn't want owning a small stationery business to be my career path (for reference, I want to be in the education field). But then I would compare myself with others who were doing similar things as their livelihood. I would feel inadequate, but I wasn't even playing in the right league. I also found myself wondering which sorts of designs would render more popularity and profit instead of letting new ideas flow freely. Months after the écrivons! launch, I still felt worn out by the experience and was stuck in a creative rut.
I had set the wrong standards for myself and for my shop, so naturally when I wasn't meeting them, I immediately dismissed my shop as a failure. I had stopped creating for myself and from myself but was rather doing so for others in order to prove something.
But to prove what? I began to take a few steps back and ask myself this question. Why had I even wanted to do this in the first place? Which lofty expectations and irrational points of comparison were feeding me lies? What did I want from this and where is its rightful place in my life?
I have nothing to prove to anyone else or even to myself! I never did this with the purpose of making money. I didn't start this intending to create my own full-time job. I've always enjoyed making my own greeting cards for friends and occasions. I enjoy the creative stimulation of teaching myself calligraphy or experimenting with watercolor. The original place making cards had in my life was as a hobby and personal creative outlet that energized and excited me enough to want to share with others. I decided that's how I'd like to keep it: a side gig that stays fun to me and hopefully also to others.
This is where sister paper comes in--the new name I am giving my Etsy shop. A "sister paper" is one of two or more newspapers that share the same ownership. However, they can be vastly different in content and aesthetic. In the same way, making cards is not going to be my "primary publication." My other life pursuits will take priority over my Etsy shop often if not always. But I will strive to be involved in this part of my life as much as I feel I can at any given time.
The name sister paper is also inspired by.... my own sister!
This past year was my first year out of college, during which I returned home to live with my family. My teenage sister is beyond her years in understanding, intuition, and ability to read a situation and advise accordingly. In the past year, we've nurtured a friendship out of a big-sis-little-sis relationship.
She has been one of my most present and immediate supports. There were numerous times during the écrivons! run where she helped me refocus in the midst of stress, reminding me to breathe and offering unlimited hugs. One of the earliest steps in the écrivons! process consisted of her sitting a frustrated me down and then organizing the loose thoughts I rambled out into a written list, all by her own initiative. She will continue this role in a more fixed capacity as she helps me with Etsy shop operations.
She's a rockstar, and I dedicate sister paper to her.