Creative Sister’s Artisan Workshop Makeover
Are you a Creative, seeing possibility in everything you touch? Does this thinking have you drowning in materials and craft items?
We recently did one of the largest business overhauls we’ve been a part of and we are so excited to share the story and radical transformation with you.
Creative Sister is more than a business to Owner Wendy; it is her life’s calling. Wendy grew up going to craft and artisan shows with her mom and says she inherited her creativity, resourcefulness, and ideation from her mother.
Creating is therapeutic for Wendy and was helpful to her in dealing with the recent loss of her mother.
Wendy didn’t start out thinking she would be a small business owner, and she is learning the ropes as she goes. After battling a brain tumor over 15 years ago, she has beaten the odds and is actively living out what she feels she was created to do.
Wendy says, “The value of what you do is so great and it’s not just getting organized. For you to help me get to a place where I can do what my God-given talent is – it means so much. I don’t know how much time I have, but you have enabled me to live my purpose.”
Wendy sees possibilities everywhere – she’s what we like to call a possibilitarian! – but things got out of hand at her artisan shop. Powered by creativity and imagination, Wendy has bought way more than she has time to make. She has tried many strategies to manage her materials, but her attempted solutions weren’t working.
This project was about getting Wendy’s life back together! It was an internal work as much as an external work.
On our Facebook page, we chronicled this massive, important project with a week we called “Makeover Takeover”. Visit our Facebook page for a video playlist that documents this transformation step-by-step.
When we began this project we identified goals that would enable Wendy to successfully run her business:
- Reimagined Storefront – see the transformation here
- Workspace – Wendy needed a dedicated space to be able to spread out and complete projects
- Storage – there was a big need for storage for all her crafting materials and tools
Whenever you are undertaking a major organizing project, these 3 things are critical:
This project will walk you through these 3 strategies and show how we approached this massive project and saw it through to completion.
Step 1: Partner
The large and complicated nature of overhauling a business like this required the help of many. We estimate that we put 235 man and woman hours into this project!
So, before you attempt to take on a large organizing project, find people who will partner with you! Whether you call on family, friends, or even hire professionals, you must not go it alone. If Wendy had tried to complete this project by herself, not only would it have taken months, but she would have missed out on valuable outside perspectives and probably would have run out of steam.
Before you attempt to take on a large organizing project, find people who will partner with you! https://ctt.ec/4J1Rp+
We were amazed at the other local shop owners and friends that rallied together to pour their time and love into this wonderful woman and her business.
Step 2: Unload the Space
The first step in re-organizing any space is to unload the space. In Wendy’s project, we needed to clear a space to pull all the materials out from the shop. We worked on the first day to clear the yard to make room to sort.
Thanks to careful planning, even the rain couldn’t stop us! When tackling a large project, plan for weather! You don’t want to have to scramble to return sorted items into a space, therefore negating your work. Plan on the possibility of your items being in a sorting process for a period of time. If the items are outdoors, plan accordingly!
On the second day of the project we began unloading the space, allowing us to really get an idea of the quantity of what Wendy had.
Wendy said, “It was very eye opening; I don’t know how I packed this much stuff in such a small area. And a bit overwhelming at times. It’s been very emotional, too. I’m just really touched by everybody who has come forward and come in to help.”
Step 3: Macro Sort by Type
As items were being unloaded, a macro sort began to develop. We identified the items being removed and established areas for them to be placed. We made sure to label each new “zone” created so there was no confusion or re-sorting that had to occur.
Our zones included: materials, hardware, painted wood, raw wood, and dump. For the macro sorting process, you will want to have garbage and recycle bins on hand. Within each zone, each box and bin was labeled with contents.
Step 4: Micro Sort
This next step is where many people become overwhelmed and consider giving up. This is also a critical component of the process that is foundational for building an organic organizing system.
In Wendy’s project, we went through the macro sort areas and performed a micro sort of the items within, determining what should be kept, donated to other artisans, or sent to the dump.
One of the major parts of this project was micro-sorting hardware; a critical part of her business. We put about 32 hours into sorting through the myriad nuts, bolts, and other hardware previously strewn throughout the workshop.
Without a designated organizing system for her hardware, Wendy had been re-purchasing items when she couldn’t locate them. Not only did this waste her time in looking for and then having to go purchase the item, but it was not good stewardship of the investment she had already made into hardware.
Step 5: Prioritize
As we got further into the macro and micro sort, we knew that there was far more material than space. It was time for Wendy to make some tough decisions.
Before deciding what should stay and what should go, Wendy had to prioritize what was most impactful for her business. We determined that the non-negotiables were her tools, paints, hardware, found metals, and patchwork painted wood. With these materials she makes her unique metal garden flowers, word art signage, and patchwork hearts, crosses, and Oregon signs.
One of the outcomes of this project was identifying a profit center for Wendy including her commissioned pieces and her works-in-progress. It is important for creative people to have a system! Now, instead of spinning from one incomplete project to the next, Wendy can finish items and tackle projects as they come, and then get them out into her storefront for her customers.
Step 6: Prune
Once we identified the profit center of her business, the decisions of what to keep and what to let go of became more clear. However, with the amount of stuff that Wendy needed to part with to have a workable space, a major purge was needed. This included many trips to the dump, setting items out on the sidewalk listed as “free,” and donations. We set up “blessing boxes” labeled with friends and organizations that could benefit from Wendy’s excess goods.
One thing that we encourage our clients to do is to give well. We understand that the attachment to things can make getting rid of them emotional. However, allowing your excess to be a blessing to others can not only ease the pain of letting go, but can motivate you to clear out even more for a good cause!
Pruning not only cleared Wendy’s space, but her mind as well. That’s what a good organizing process does! Getting rid of excess stuff cleared Wendy’s thinking so she can now focus on what is most important, which is bringing her gift to her clients.
Donating your excess to bless others can ease the pain of letting go & motivate you to clear out for a good cause! https://ctt.ec/3A0T7+
Watch the first half of Creative Sister’s Artisan Workshop Makeover as featured on More Good Day Oregon.
Step 7: Reload the Space
As we mentioned, our goals in this project were to give Wendy a workspace for creating, along with more storage. She already had a make-shift workshop behind her shop, but it was not weather proof and needed updating.
We thought it would be wonderful to put the heart of Wendy’s business – her workshop – in a location that could be seen from inside her storefront. Currently, an old, tired shed stood in the way. So, we moved her shed over and built a workshop, turning her store and workshop into one conjoined, functional, productive, profitable space.
A weatherproof structure was erected and we acquired the necessary shelving and storage. We chose clear bins for uniformity and so Wendy – a visual thinker – had her materials at eye level. We also used lids so her product would no longer get covered in sawdust!
Now, here is where the truth about creating organic organizing solutions comes out. When we begin reloading a space, it is not the final step! That’s not how creating solutions that are sustainable over time works! It is a process of trying things, tweaking them, and sometimes completely starting over, until the solution truly matches the person for whom they are created. It is labor-intensive, but well worth it!
When asked about her new workspace Wendy said, “It is very freeing! If I could dream up a workshop this would be it!” She can now be out in her shop creating and she can see people who enter her store and they can see where the magic happens.
The tired shed was repurposed with new paint and shutters and a repaired roof and now houses the unruly items and raw wood that didn’t fit in the workspace.
We called it the “love shack” because of the labor love that was poured into creating this new space.
It was such an honor to help Wendy reclaim not only her storefront, but her workshop behind the scenes to create a working creative space for her. (See how we made over her storefront here).
This project had a huge impact on Creative Sister as a business, and also on Wendy’s personal life. “I consider it a major victory. It has really empowered me with the amount of time that is saved from not searching for things. And I have been better about finishing at a certain time so I can give my daughter my full attention. Having this victory has inspired and empowered me and I feel like anything is possible.”
As you embark on your own organizing challenge, remember there is nothing too hairy! Become a possibilitarian and believe there is always hope!
Watch the big reveal of Creative Sister’s Artisan Workshop Makeover as featured on More Good Day Oregon.