How to make the most of National Self-Improvement Month

AlexHughes.jpg

Hello, everyone! My name is Alex Hughes, and I sell my globally inspired prints and illustrations through my business, Wandering Paper Co. I went to college at TCU, where I majored in graphic design, and I now live in the DFW area with my husband Philip and our cat Athena. 

I don't know about you, but I'm so excited fall is here. The breeze is blowing, football season is upon us, and the infamous PSL is back. Yes, I know it’s still 90 degrees outside, but 90 is better than 100, and in Texas, we’ll take what we can get.

It's funny, every year when school starts I have the urge to take up a class or two myself. Maybe it’s the shiny new school supplies (it’s hard to say no to a new leather-bound notebook from Ox and Pine, or a witty to-do list from Kat French Design) or maybe it’s just the feeling of working toward a goal, but I miss the feeling of satisfaction that comes with learning something new. It’s fitting, then, that September is National Self-Improvement month. It's the perfect excuse to take a class, read a book or take on a new challenge. So I've put together a few ways to make the most of self-improvement month. Feel free to give them a try.

Start a Journal
I’m a recent fan of journaling after reading The Artist’s Way and doing the corresponding journal exercises. According to the Huffington Post, journaling can help boost self-confidence, create mindfulness, and even help you achieve your goals. For the full list of benefits, check out the full article on the benefits of keeping a journal. Plus, starting a journal is a great excuse to buy a cool new notebook. 

 Ox & Pine premium leather notebook

Ox & Pine premium leather notebook

 MadeByRori Dickens gratitude journal 

MadeByRori Dickens gratitude journal 

Visit a Museum
The Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Perot Museum are three of my favorites. The best part is, they are all within walking distance of each other. Take yourself on a museum date, then stop by the food trucks at Klyde Warren Park for lunch or a mid-afternoon snack. 

Take a Class
I love Oil & Cotton and the wide array of adult classes and workshops they offer. I’ve taken portrait watercolor and marble paper workshops there and loved both. They have lots of new offerings this fall, including felting, interior painting, photography, and intro ceramics. Check out their full fall lineup here.

Join a Gym
Yes, I know, everyone’s favorite subject. Luckily, there are tons of fun alternatives to a boring 30-minute treadmill jog. Go climbing at Summit Climbing Gym, try kickboxing at Title Boxing Club or join a recreational kickball league at Big D Sports. You may have so much fun you forget you're exercising.

De-Clutter and Decorate
Okay, maybe this is less ‘self-improvement’ and more ‘life-improvement,’ but de-cluttering always makes me happier and less stressed. First, choose a small area of the house, like a bathroom or a closet — somewhere that can be organized in one day. Next, take a page from Marie Kondo and keep only the things that spark joy. Once you have de-cluttered and organized, a new piece of art is a great way to give a space new life. I've always been a fan of these origami koalas from Tokodots, and I've had my eye on this hand-drawn map of White Rock Lake from Joy Street Maps for my living room.

In any case, once you have given away all the clutter, every time you pass that space you will feel lighter and more carefree.

Learn a Language
I love to learn new languages, which is why I’m a big fan of the app Duolingo. It's free, and the exercises are only 5 minutes long, so it’s easy to practice every day. Plus, you can find your friends and keep track of points. 

Take a Bath
You deserve a reward after all this self-improvement. Taking care of yourself will give you the energy you need to stick with you new habit. Winding down with a bath, a book or a good movie is a great way to de-stress and get ready to tackle the day tomorrow. 

What are your plans for self-improvement month? Do you have any self-improvement tips you would like to share? Let us know in the comments.

Must-reads from the team for Read a Book Day

We asked Etsy Dallas members to share their must-reads to celebrate Read a Book Day, September 6, and the highlights are listed below. Read on for our suggestions if you're looking to take your business to the next level, work on yourself and your creativity, or just enjoy some fun fiction reads as we get into fall. Happy reading, bookworms!

Transform your business and working habits

Several of our members have raved about The 4-Hour Workweek, which is full of ideas to help with that elusive work-life balance, whether you have a creative business or not. If you're looking for a way to ramp up the profits and the way you think about your creative business, Profit First will get you thinking about how to trim the fat and start making more money. If you're an artist looking for some guidance about how to better monetize your craft, look no further than Lisa Congdon's essential guide, Art Inc., and move confidently forward in your business.

Never stop exploring your creativity or yourself

You've surely heard friends raving about Big Magic, but if you haven't found the time to read it yet, let our members be the next to urge you to read this inspirational guide this fall. It's always a good time to get yourself out of a rut and take a stab at The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron's eye-opening course in discovering and recovering your creative self. And if you just want to find a way to work on some good habits and find small life-hacks to be more productive as we get into the new school year, we recommend Gretchen Rubin's Better than Before (or her Happier podcast, if that's more your thing). 

Get ready for Halloween with some spooky reads

We loved knitter-author Chloe Benjamin's The Immortalists, a story about how one family's life plays out after the children hear a psychic's eerie prophecies. As a bonus, you can follow her writing AND knitting on Instagram @chloekbenjaminInterview with the Vampire is a classic that we've all heard of, but have you actually read it? If you haven't read a good book in a while, this classic will draw you in and give you a passion to read again. Finally, if you need a campy, nostalgic thriller a-la-Stranger Things, check out My Best Friend's Exorcism and you'll surely be ready to decorate for Halloween.

Let's go back to school in style with these handmade finds from Dallas artists

There's more to back-to-school season than No. 2 pencils and late nights wrapping up new lesson plans. We put together a roundup of handmade gifts for students, teachers and parents gearing up for the new academic year. 

  Expressions Bracelets  has wearable inspiration for all you teachers and professors.

Expressions Bracelets has wearable inspiration for all you teachers and professors.

 Get those college or high school beards in shape with  The Immaculate Beard . 

Get those college or high school beards in shape with The Immaculate Beard

 These personalized graduation necklaces from  Kathleen Care  are lovely gifts for grads, moms and college students looking forward to wrapping up their studies. 

These personalized graduation necklaces from Kathleen Care are lovely gifts for grads, moms and college students looking forward to wrapping up their studies. 

 Show your kid's teacher you care with these hilarious cards from  MayaXKiwi  based on that  Dena Blizzard  video you may have seen. 

Show your kid's teacher you care with these hilarious cards from MayaXKiwi based on that Dena Blizzard video you may have seen. 

 Keep it together (or at least keep your earbuds from tying themselves into a hundred knots) with one of these gorgeous cord wraps from  Ox&Pine . 

Keep it together (or at least keep your earbuds from tying themselves into a hundred knots) with one of these gorgeous cord wraps from Ox&Pine

 Pro Tip: Those teachers deserve a relaxing bath and we know the perfect bath bombs. Scoop up some  Whipped Up Wonderful  for yourself while you're at it. 

Pro Tip: Those teachers deserve a relaxing bath and we know the perfect bath bombs. Scoop up some Whipped Up Wonderful for yourself while you're at it. 

 Prioritize coffee before those things you need to get done while the kids are at school, with this  Kat French Design  notepad.

Prioritize coffee before those things you need to get done while the kids are at school, with this Kat French Design notepad.

 Pack all of your kid's essentials in this cute pouch from  Hearts and Sharts .

Pack all of your kid's essentials in this cute pouch from Hearts and Sharts.

 Use the start of the new year to jump-start a new habit with this gratitude notebook from  MadeByRori .

Use the start of the new year to jump-start a new habit with this gratitude notebook from MadeByRori.

 Maybe you would rather list your to-do's on this colorful kantha stitches notepad from  tokodots .

Maybe you would rather list your to-do's on this colorful kantha stitches notepad from tokodots.

 However you start the school year, just remember, it means sweater weather is around the corner.  Right??  Get ready for fall with this mug from  Fresh Out of Ink .

However you start the school year, just remember, it means sweater weather is around the corner.  Right??  Get ready for fall with this mug from Fresh Out of Ink.

Celebrating Etsy's Birthday with Special Sales

We have a roundup of Etsy Dallas member shops with sales celebrating Etsy's 13th birthday. Set a reminder, the sales event is June 18-22. You don't want to miss these deals! 

Expressions Bracelets is offering 20 percent off the entire shop (excluding the sale section). You'll also get free shipping (U.S. domestic orders only) on orders of $50 or more. 

MayaXKiwi is offering 15 percent off all prints and cards. 

The Pig and the Peacock is offering 15 percent off the entire shop (excluding favors and custom orders). 

Sasha's Hand-Poured is offering 15 percent off the whole shop plus free shipping on orders over $40. 

Wandering Paper Co. is offering 20 percent off everything in the shop. 

Whipped Up Wonderful is offering 15 percent off plus free shipping on orders of $35 or more. Cannot be combined with other coupons. Free shipping on U.S. domestic orders only. 

Whispers in the Glen is offering 20 percent off the entire shop.

 
 

Tokodots is offering 15% off everything in the shop.

Ahaha Home is offering 15 percent off everything in the shop. 

Earrings by Eryn is offering 10 percent off most items in the shop. 

Here's wishing you a happy 13th, Etsy! And happy summer to all of you. Enjoy the deals and the sunshine. 

How to Plan a Craft Show

Have you ever wondered what happens between, “Hey, let's put together a craft show and call it the Spring Bash!” and “Whew, the Spring Bash is behind us now and I need a nap…”

The Etsy Dallas Bashes are a labor of love for all of us, so we thought it would be interesting to give you a glimpse of what goes into a show like the Spring Bash.

 A line of shoppers wraps around Gilley's Dallas before doors open for the  2018 Spring Bash . The first shoppers arrived at 7 a.m. to wait in line for the event that started at 10:30 a.m. on May 5, 2018. Photos courtesy of  Mirrorless Mind Studio  for Etsy Dallas. 

A line of shoppers wraps around Gilley's Dallas before doors open for the 2018 Spring Bash. The first shoppers arrived at 7 a.m. to wait in line for the event that started at 10:30 a.m. on May 5, 2018. Photos courtesy of Mirrorless Mind Studio for Etsy Dallas. 

Let’s start by picking a date and a venue.

Venues book up way in advance, so in November as we prep for Jingle Bash, we have already been planning Spring Bash. We usually know where we want to be and when we want to do the show. Oh, but wait, Gilley’s isn’t available both dates we want (we need to book two days so we can set up), and the weekend before/after is Earth Day, Mother’s Day, or the same day as some other show that many of our vendors may want to do. Or, as happened with our 2018 Spring Bash, the NRA Convention came to town and POTUS would be coming in to speak. What would that do to traffic? You can't plan for everything!

After some back-and-forth about the venue and dates, we make a decision and put down our deposit. At this point it's time to start cheering. Yay! We can start telling people to save the date!

Shortly after the holidays, people start asking when the applications are going to come out for Spring Bash. Before we can put out the call for vendors, we need a rough budget. Yeah, Bash prep involves a fair amount of administration, accounting, and budgeting.

The budget looks something like this:

Cost of Bash $$$$$ = Venue $$$$$ + Ads $$$$ + Bash Bags $$$ + T-shirts $$$ + Lighting $$$$ + Printing $$$ + Marketing $$$ + Photographer $$$ + Deco $$$

Next we’ll see if we can get some sponsors lined up to offset some of the costs. Big Etsy sometimes sponsors the Jingle Bash, but we are on our own for Spring Bash. This is the time where we hit up our day jobs, friends, former sponsors, and anyone else who might want to sponsor the Bash.

The next question is, “Will that many vendors fit in our venue?” After some measuring and mock layouts, we're good to go. 

Time to get some vendors.
We update the dates and info on the online application and make them live on the website. Applications come (hopefully) flooding in. Yay! But we can only take about 80 vendors and there are so many good ones to choose from. Boo!

It’s time to jury. Out of ~150 applications, we have to narrow it down to ~80. On top of that, we have to make sure there’s a good mix of product categories. Jewelry and home goods are 40% of the applications, so we have to make sure we have the right number of each category and that the one’s we pick are different enough from each other to make sure there is variety within the category as well. We just can't fit all the good shops in.

After a long day of deliberation, we get the vendors down to ~80 and now we need to see how many 10x10s and 8x6s are on our list. There are always more 10x10s requested than we can fit in our venue. A lot more. So we have to review all the vendors who requested 10x10 booths and narrow that down to the ~30 available 10x10 spots (imagine furniture vs jewelry type discussions). We’ve narrowed it down and have the final vendor list with the appropriate number of 10x10 booths. We celebrate with a glass of wine!

More administrative stuff happens.
During the next month or two we send and receive lots of emails about the Bash. Things like we need your logos, don’t forget to pay your invoice, remember to send your Bash Bag goodies in time, no really, we still need your logo, and so on.

We are also updating the Etsy Dallas website to add vendor and sponsor info and promote the Bash and deciding when Deco Party is and what we are going to make. Did I mention that we all have Etsy shops, children, and/or day jobs too… It’s ok, we can sleep again after the Bash.

Time to get the food trucks lined up. What about coffee… that's right, we can't serve food or drinks inside because it's Gilleys. But we can have donuts, right? Yep! Mmm donuts…

There’s also a lot of marketing collateral and graphics to create now. Every ad website wants a different size graphic. Plus flyers, postcards, Bash Bag art, t-shirt art, Facebook frames, Snapchat filters, sharable images for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc., parking passes, Bash Bucks, banners, maps, and more.

Whew…

Where's my booth?
If you have ever planned a wedding reception where your aunt Jo can't sit next to your Aunt Jane, your friend can't sit next to your other friend because she stole her boyfriend in high school, and this side of the family can't be in the same side of the room at the other side of the family because of that thing Uncle Bob did in '82, then you know what planning the Bash booth layout is like. Except instead of family, it's product categories.

We work hard to keep like products away from each other in the booth layout. This is harder than it sounds because we have to consider the booth sizes and products, then sometimes shops drop out, but the next shop on the waiting list sells the same product category as the booth next to the one that dropped, so now a couple people have to move around to make it work.

The day before. It's almost here!
We made it through all the planning and now we are just 1 day from the Bash. Woohoo? We show up the morning the day before and… umm, was that column there in the floor plans? Wasn't this a door last year? Welcome to the chalk game we call booth marking.

Ok, we got this. Move this booth here and those a few feet to the right, a couple more moves and we're good to go. Booths marked, signage up. We have 12 hours before Bash day load in. We are so ahead of schedule.

 We always have our vendors come out for a group photo before the doors open. 

Bash Day! Bash Yay!
Back to the venue bright and early. I know it seems like we are yelling, "Unload on the curb and move your car" a lot, but we have to keep this traffic flow going. We've got to get about 30 shops an hour to load in. About 6 cars line up on the curb at Gilley's, that only gives us about 10 minutes per car.

By this time, the volunteers are running around, people are in line for the Bash Bags, and you can feel the excitement. It's time to have a great show!

Thank You for Supporting the 2018 Spring Bash

We want to give a huge thank you to everyone for supporting the 10th annual Etsy Dallas Spring Bash. Thank you to the 80 artists who brought such incredible work to share with our more than 2,200 shoppers who came out to Gilley's Dallas on May 5. 

   
  
   
  
    
  
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  Thank you to  Animal Rescue of Texas  and to the adorable and very good boy, Nigel. 

Thank you to Animal Rescue of Texas and to the adorable and very good boy, Nigel. 

   
  
   
  
    
  
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  Thank you to  7-Eleven  for the yummy coffee, snacks and great coupons before doors opened. 

Thank you to 7-Eleven for the yummy coffee, snacks and great coupons before doors opened. 

   
  
   
  
    
  
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 /* Style Definitions */
 table.MsoNormalTable
	{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
	mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
	mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
	mso-style-noshow:yes;
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	mso-style-parent:"";
	mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
	mso-para-margin:0in;
	mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
	mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
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	font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;
	mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
	mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
	mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
	mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;
	mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}
 
  Thank you to  Tacos, Bites & Beats ,  Dough Boy Donuts ,  The Hot Potato , and  The Guava Tree  food trucks. So much delicious food, y'all! We are still talking about it. 

Thank you to Tacos, Bites & Beats, Dough Boy Donuts, The Hot Potato, and The Guava Tree food trucks. So much delicious food, y'all! We are still talking about it. 

   
  
   
  
    
  
   Normal 
   0 
   
   
   
   
   false 
   false 
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   EN-US 
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 /* Style Definitions */
 table.MsoNormalTable
	{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
	mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
	mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
	mso-style-noshow:yes;
	mso-style-priority:99;
	mso-style-parent:"";
	mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
	mso-para-margin:0in;
	mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
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	font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif;
	mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
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	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
	mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;
	mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}
 
  And thank you to Julie and  Beech-Nut  for generously keeping our youngest Bash attendees full and keeping them (and their grownups) happy. 

And thank you to Julie and Beech-Nut for generously keeping our youngest Bash attendees full and keeping them (and their grownups) happy. 

   
  
   
  
    
  
   Normal 
   0 
   
   
   
   
   false 
   false 
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   EN-US 
   ZH-CN 
   AR-SA 
   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
   
   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
  
   
 
 /* Style Definitions */
 table.MsoNormalTable
	{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
	mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
	mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
	mso-style-noshow:yes;
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	mso-style-parent:"";
	mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
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	mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
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	mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
	mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
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	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
	mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;
	mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}
 
  Thank you to  Craft Guild of Dallas  for the fun make-and-take crafts. 

Thank you to Craft Guild of Dallas for the fun make-and-take crafts. 

And a huge thanks to our photographer Cigi, of Mirrorless Mind Studio, for documenting it all. You can browse all the photos on flickr.