I want to hear from YOU:

Last year was a big year for Sarah Jane: 2 books, 2 fabric lines, a new assistant, a new website and some new opportunities! But with all that, came a lot less time to work on products for the shop. I look at all your amazing creations on the FLICKR groups, see the pictures of your children's rooms, and I want to be putting more effort into creating products to foster creative play and whimsical design for children.

So, with my 2 oldest in full day school, I'm rededicating to making myself more available to hear what you'd love to see in the shop this year!

I've created a (VERY SHORT!) survey where you can let me know what it is you are currently loving, and what things you'd like to see here at Sarah Jane.

And in honor of a new school year, let's have a sale to go with it:

You'll find the code for a 20% off coupon at the end of the Survey! 

But I promise. It's short. Like 6 questions, but with places for you to write what ever you feel like writing:)

Thanks so much! Can't wait to hear your thoughts. I'm off to the drawing board myself.

Survey ends Saturday and the sale ends Monday August 27


Thank you!!



A mother's heart and some changes:

Oh gosh. Today is a big day. I'm standing by the front door having just sent 2 of my 3 children to full day school today, and I just can't get a grip on how I feel about this.There is one (really adorable) one left. But just one. Not as noisy and crazy, and I'm finding it rather like being naked in a way.

Part of me is so ready. Last year, I spent  most of the day back and forth in the car between full day school, and part day kindergarten, and between that and regular mommy stuff, I couldn't get 2 seconds to myself during the day. Forced to start my work at 8pm, I was exhausted. Plain beat. I don't do well on little sleep, and that's all I could get last year. And the year before that! And...well, you get the idea. We're full speed at this house:)

This year, with both children in school all day, I just have Ella at home which will free me up considerably (and she's even starting preschool...so this is a huge change!). It will be good to spend time with just the baby. Although, she's not so baby anymore!

So, I don't plan on working nights like I have the past 4 years. It will also mean I can get the gym, lose the weight I've gained from the past couple years of no sleep, and get a working day rhythm. I'm really looking forward to that! Illustrating and working in the daylight hours? That's gonna be weird.

But not working when the kids are home has been my goal. That doesn't always happen, especially in the summer, but I really try and just be "home" when they are. With work becoming more and more important for us to sustain, this change really does come at the perfect time! But, oh it really has always been a conflict for me. I love doing what I do, but deadlines drive this industry and it can often make for a stressed out Mommy. So a quieter house will be a welcomed guest.


....at the same time, I'm feeling so lonely. We've been together, the 5 of us, ALL SUMMER and man we have had so much fun. They are my muses. We spent 6 weeks on the East Coast at my parents house, with no other playmates but each other. It was amazing. And now it's going to be really quiet. Do I really have kids old enough to leave home for 7 hours a day? I'm starting to see the wrinkles in my face already:) Gosh, a Mother's heart is so complex, isn't it!

Bottom line, I'm going to miss having everyone home all the time, but I do love creative projects. And it will be VERY good for me to really work without the guilt of squeezing in time when they don't notice, or staying up super late. I really want to build this little space that I've created in Sarah Jane, and I'm ready to hit the drawing board. I've got a lot of really great opportunities and ideas, but with this new start, I also want to hear from YOU!

What would YOU like to see this year at Sarah Jane? I've got more time carved out, and while it's never big enough for the dreams in my head, I really would love to hear your wishes and ideas too.

So are you ready? Ready for a great new year here in the studio? I'm going to be posting a survey where you can share your ideas with me. I'll probably have it up sometime in the next 24 hours, but I wanted to give you a heads up so you can be thinking. I really want to consider the wishes that you have!

So stay tuned, and know that if there are any other mothers out there with that first week of school mother heart syndrome, I'm with you. All the way. Now to get busy making fun and pretty things for them to ease my Mother Heart.



Collaborations and Discussions

Since I've started Sarah Jane Studios, and really from the very beginning, I've been surrounded by inspiring and tenacious friends who want to start a business from their hobby or passion. It's been so great to surround myself with such enthusiasm! And from early on, I've been asked to speak or be a panelist at events where business, creativity, or design has been a key topic. What a treat this has been! Even though I prepare a lot of information myself, I always come away with questions that I never would have asked myself.

I also love being around the creative energy of people like you who love what they do and either do it just for the love, or to put a little aside in their pocket book too. This generation of DIY, bad economy, Mother's having to work more than ever, etc. ...has really generated a HUGE wave of women who are so darn determined to work from home doing what they love (instead of behind a counter in a cubicle with no windows).  And it's empowering to be around these people. So I do it a lot. And I make a lot of friends, and it's wonderful.

But now it's your turn to ask me some questions that I want to start discussing!

I'm going to be speaking at a few events coming up, and want your feedback. The first up, is Creative Collaborative is having another meeting tomorrow night at 7pm, and we'll be discussing:

Alma Loveland- Pricing, choosing how to charge your fees

Mike Loveland- Balancing work with family/social demands

Justin Hackworth- Networking with other artists/businesses/bloggers....

Sarah Jane- Using Social Media to grow your business

Susan Petersen- setting up shop online, and getting your art out!

Melanie Burk- Building clients, building a website, online presence

Also, in September I'm going to be a panelist at The Creative Connection!

{I am really excited about this. I've never been before, but I hear it's amazing. Key notes include Decor 8, members of the Oprah team and Blogher.Heather Bailey, Patty Young,Betz White and other fabric friends will be joining the scene, as well as other AMAZING representatives from all over: Magazines, Publishing, Media, Product Licensing, etc. You can learn everything from how to knit to how to pitch to an agent; How to host an event to getting a licensing deal. Classes include cooking, crafting, writing, business learning, and so much more! It's going to be amazing. There is a link over on my side bar and you can click right over. }

I'm on a panel that will be discussing e-commerce and having an online shop. And, I know, there are A LOT of you that have online shops, or have always wanted to get your art/creativity out there. I know there are a lot of us that are in this, and we all want to learn more!

So.... I want to hear from YOU!

What questions do YOU have about running an online business with your art? What are the biggest concerns you have, or issues that you want more information/support on?

Leave a comment below, and we can discuss them here on the blog, at Creative Collaborative, etc. I don't have all the answers, but I think this will be a good discussion.

Ask Away!

Take this short survey & get free stuff

Hello! Wow...thanks for all the love on the puppet theater! It was seriously so fun to make and the kids are still playing. Addie has been making the wolf do ballet moves for a couple days now. Love it.

On a more personal level, I've been really interested in making this blog and my shop....what's the word? MORE. More useful, more resourceful, more colorful, more happy. The past few years have been so awesome as I've rather blindly carved out an accidental career for myself. And I really would love your feedback so I can get a better sense of who you are, and what you are liking and wanting to see more of. Would you be willing to take this (very short!) survey? I think there are under 10 questions, and a place for you to leave anonymous feedback with what ever you want to say! I really would love you know your thoughts. For instance, hearing so many of you thrilled about  these PDF Downloads, and how you'd like to do more of these things at home was really telling for me....thank you! So be specific in your feedback....I really read it all!

At the end of the survey, there is a code for a BUY ONE GET ONE FREE coupon to my shop. Yep...purchase just one item, and get a second item of the same price or less for free! I don't ever think I've done that before:) But don't worry...the nice thing is that you can use the coupon through July (since I plan on adding more stuff for you through the spring!)

Ok, so be my friend, and take a small survey. I know we're all busy people here, so I'm signing off now instead of making you read a long blog post. Can you believe it? Not even a picture in the post. That's how serious I am:)

CLICK HERE for the survey.

Thanks a million.....


sarah jane


Commercial meets classic.

Kate over at Centsational Girl (fab interior design blog) just redid her little boy's bedroom, and I have to say I'm totally impressed. For a few reasons: She did a great job with color, but even more impressive to me: she solved a problem that I think a lot of mom's like me deal with: how to make action figures/commercially popular icon characters fit into your idea of a nice/simple space for your child.

Let me just say this first: I don't mind having commercially popular things in our home on occasion. But when it comes to "play" spaces, I am just really big on having spaces that foster creativity and imagination play with many things to do...and not dominated by just the commercial stuff. I've come to find that (for my kids at least) having too many "commercially popular" things around gets in the way of that kind of play. I guess what I am saying is, even for me....who has really strong opinions about good old fashioned play....still has to battle the ever stronger force of commercialism.

But the truth of it is...kids love those things. We don't even have TV (we watch movies...just not television) nor do we have video games. We're not Amish or anything....I just know how incredibly attractive and addicting those are, and I've seen how they can easily win the place over good books, educational play and imagination play. Nothing wrong at all with TV characters and toys....it's just that it gets harder to keep those things in check the older they get.  So how do  you incorporate what your child 'likes' and what you know they will 'like more?'

Enter Kate from Censational Girl.

She bought one of my prints (Whale Dreams) and I knew she was redecorating her son's room, and I was so interested to see how she was going to put the room together.

And I'm so impressed! She made a collage of all the fun things her son loves: Star Wars, Legos, Motercycles, Water, Boating all while keeping it classic and eclectic at the same time.  But this is how she did it: She chose everything to come together in blues. So Smart! It actually looks rather classic and nostalgic with the colors all working together.

And I must say the Whale Dreams print works so well. I never would have though that Sarah Jane art could look so good next to Lego Star Wars Figures.

And like I said: We're big star wars fans here, and lego fans...nothing wrong there. It's just how much the commercial aspect of it is around that I've put a lot of thought to.

Well, I may be walking a fine line here by saying what I would and would not hang up in my kids room...but tell me...have you had the same discussions with your children? Have you ever had to say things like, "No...I will not let you get a Mega Mind Bedspread. Sorry!"

I'd love to know your thoughts: How have you kept that balance between letting your children bring home all the "commercial stuff" while maintaining the kind of environment you envision for your kids? Am I the only one here who is constantly trying to keep the world out just a little bit longer?


So last week my dearest friend and favorite photographer came over to take some pictures of me....and boy, let me tell you: I hate getting my picture taken! Ugh. It's something about that glassy lens that makes me think things like, "Is there stuff between my teeth?" And it's really hard to look natural when you are thinking of broccoli or the likes.

But here's the thing: I have to pick a picture for my publishers to post on the web page...Ya, it's feeling a bit more official now. I'll have a picture of me on this web page? Pinch me.

So, I'm posting some options.  I can't decide, and I'd love some help.

What do you think? Pick a number...any number.

Thanks you guys. This is honestly the first time I've taken pictures of myself in years...and I hope I don't have to any time soon! I much prefer to be on the other side of the camera!

The delicate balance of art and business.

So I'm going to be on T.V. this Monday morning. I know, pretty crazy. I would normally be really shy and nervous, but I get to speak about a topic that I am super passionate about and one that I hope other women and mother's tuning in will benefit from. I'm going to be on my local news station with 2 other women discussing the realities of starting a business from home, as well as tips to get started. I've been wondering what I'm going to say, and I have some ideas...but I'm looking for more.

Starting my business nearly 3 years ago was a really scary thing. But I was so gung-ho and so driven, those fears never really crept in. I was possibly too naive to know what I was getting into, and maybe that was a good thing! But it's interesting, because when you are a business, you have to start thinking of business-y type things. Things like:  "Will people even buy this stuff?" " How am I going to market myself?" " How am I going to pay for it all?" And pretty soon, all those creative ideas start to get mixed in with very non-creative realities that very often yank those creative juices and throw them to the ground. Thoughts like, "You can't do that! No one has done anything like that before, and it'll get run over." Or, "That would be too costly or take too much time." Or, "Sure you think it's a good idea, but it has to appeal to lots more people than just you!"

Do any of these voice sound familiar? It's interesting: the banter that goes back and forth in my head now that my art isn't just a creative hobby any more. It's my work! And I don't like to call it that, because I really do love it, and it's better to think of it as play, or I get stressed about it.  But let's face it. You love to create! You love getting your hands dirty and just making it is what you do best. And to have a business from that? Heaven. But there is the reality that you are a business...you are ultimately in this to be successful, and you must be concerned about outcome. That is the nature of being self-employed! And if I have learned anything, thinking about outcome always inhibits by ability to create good art. Always. Hands down. But how to purely create without letting the natural worries of being a business creep in, is an art in and of itself.  Allowing yourself to truly express without worry or thought is a lot harder to do when there are people on the other side of the table. But, I also have learned, that it can be incredibly motivating  and can help you open up to that truly creative place.

My answer is Love. Love (the opposite of fear) will wipe away all those business-y concerns that we all have to think about. Love will create your best art. Love will inspire you to create from that genius place. Love will keep you going when times are hard and your aren't having the successes you need. Love will bring other people to you who will love what you do too.

Love, Love, Love. I hear a song coming:)

But isn't it true? We must "lose the fear of being wrong" and only then will we be truly successful because our work will be wonderful and beautiful and real.

So, I would love to know your thoughts. I am going to be giving some advice about starting an at-home business and also the realities of life as a stay-at-home-mom business owner. I hope to be taking the spin of how to keep that creative spirit alive when you are juggling all the aspects of starting a business.

What advice do you have about balancing the creative side and the business side of things? Does having a business interfere with your natural instinct to just create and not care what other people think? And if you don't have a hobby based business, what questions do you have about how to get started or what to be aware of when you do get started?

Thanks you guys! I can't wait to hear your responses. I have a feeling there is a lot to be said on this topic.

Halloween ideas.

I can't believe we are starting to think about Halloween here. Well, maybe I feel like I should be thinking about Halloween with how long it takes me to get costumes done.  I mean, every year I think valiant thoughts like, "This Halloween, I'm going to make my kid's costumes!" And then I realize I have to start so far in advance to make sure that they get done. But, what to do about the last minute requests like, "Oh, I really don't want to be a skeleton! I wanted to be a dragon!" And then my weeks of planning and sewing are in vain. Well, at least in my mind. I haven't yet actually sewed one...I always end up procrastinating or thinking that my kids will keep changing their minds, and so we end up making last minute trips to the store. And I vow to not do that again!

So while I sit and stew over this dilemma that happens every year (do I make the costumes or let the children pick them out at the store), enjoy these cute pictures of Halloween past. Notice: no Sponge Bobs, Bloody Vampires or Hannah Montanas. Kinda wishing I could whip up something as wonderful as that European clown in a cone hat. Kinda darling.

What do you do for Halloween? Hand sewn? Online purchase? Cardboard box and taped toiletpaper rolls? Do share. I'm a bit terrified of procrastinating again!